One alumnus expresses shock and dismay over the trustees' decision to keep Veitch, and Bob McMillen '53's Olympics moment prompts old memories and new questions.
I was shocked and dismayed to read that Jonathan Veitch has been offered a new contract that will permit him to continue as president of Occidental College for six more years. In claiming in the Board of Trustees' announcement that Veitch has "provided Occidental administrative stability, vision, and forward momentum," board chair Chris Calkins '67 displays a stunning detachment from reality. Instead of offering him a new contract, Occidental's trustees should have jettisoned Veitch months ago.
Occidental is one of 63 [now 85] colleges and universities against which serious allegations of mishandling of sexual assaults and violations of Title IX have been filed. Those allegations have resulted in investigations being launched by the Office of Civil Rights and the Department of Education into the College's actions and policies. It is inexplicable that, in the midst of this turmoil, and with the possibility of highly critical reports being issued by the federal government, the trustees would reason that Veitch deserves a new contract.
It is the responsibility of the College's trustees to safeguard Occidental's reputation and future; it is not their job to protect this errant and divisive college president. The trustees must withdraw their new contract offer, and immediately remove Veitch as president. The College's future is at stake.
Sean Goldrick '78
Speaking of Sports
Gil McFadden '54's letter about the success of Bob McMillen '53 at the Helsinki Olympics ("What About Bob?," Summer) stimulated some thinking about the status of intercollegiate athletics at Occidental. President Veitch's column in the Summer magazine—"A Double Play, the Global Way"—had a catchy title containing baseball jargon, but the content was not about baseball.
Participation in athletics provides a venue for learning life skills: teamwork, leadership, time management, the importance of practice, and perhaps most valuable, lessons associated with winning and losing. While the College's primary mission must be academics, sports programs accrue benefits for the participants: Students may enjoy a respite from studies, and perhaps the surrounding community gains as well.
In this time of financial austerity, the College cannot be expected to support sports at the Division I level. After five years in office, however, what is the president's vision for intercollegiate athletics at Occidental?
Jim Sanborn '67
To Gil McFadden's recollections of distance runner Bob McMillen, let me say, "Bravo, bravo!" I want to add that after the 1,500 meters, McMillen embraced gold medalist Josy Barthel of Luxembourg and said (I cannot quote exactly): "I really wanted to win this race, but if I had to lose, I'm glad it was to someone from a small country like yours." This was picked up by the media and given nationwide attention as a wonderful example of sportsmanship. Barthel was a Harvard student at the time. Harvard and Oxy running one-two at the Olympics—how about that!
David Cole M'48
Professor Emeritus of Psychology
As a freshman at Oxy in September 1946, after 34 months of Navy duty, I met the dean of students, Ben Culley, by appointment. As we became acquainted, Ben immediately changed my Swan Hall roommates from two 18-year-olds to two returning vets he felt would be more compatible. He was right!
Sometime later, I was taking a required statistics course in which Ben informed us that he would drop our worst test in arriving at our final grade. I misunderstood what was asked on the very first test—and I knew who the lowest dot was when he graphed the bell curve test results on the blackboard at the next class. Ben suggested anyone having difficulty should stop by his office as he glanced my way. I showed up at his office about two weeks later and explained that I understood the material but just didn't read the question carefully. I received a good final grade and later signed up for a fascinating advanced statistics course with Dr. Cecil Dunn.
Dolores and I are pleased to become members of the Ben Culley Society.
Marshall C. Johnson Jr. '50