August 31, 2020 | On Campus Newsletter


As classes have begun and we embark on a new academic year, with all the excitement that it brings, it is clear that worldwide developments have created the need for resourcefulness, adaptability and understanding. As the Oxy community continues to work to address the needs of our students, staff and faculty, the Human Resources team is committed to assisting and supporting you throughout. A key aspect of that support is guiding staff and faculty through open enrollment for benefits in October, which we will highlight in a future edition. However, at this time I want to remind you that we have prepared a detailed set of FAQs for information on workplace guidelines for those who will be working on campus and as well as for employee furloughs. Even while working remotely during this time, we remain a community and HR is available to meet your needs. As always, if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us. We're here for you.

Helpful contact info:
Benefits: Karen Salce,
Vacation payout related to furlough: Karen Salce,
Student employment: Linda Escobar,
Unemployment filing assistance or questions: Linda Escobar,
General employee relations: Jacalyn Feigelman,
Furlough scheduling: Jacalyn Feigelman,
Other furlough-related questions: Randy Glazer,
Employee Assistance Program: 800-854-1446



The Oxy Employee Relief Fund was established by members of the College community to support colleagues at Occidental who are experiencing unanticipated or emergency financial hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Find out how to give or apply.



NSF Grant To Fund Study of How Race and Immigration Status Shape Public Understanding of Science
Using a case study of skin-whitening beauty products, a three-year, $479,480 National Science Foundation grant will fund an Occidental study led by Bhavna Shamasunder, associate professor of urban and environmental policy, of how the intersection of race, immigration status and other identities shape public understanding of science in the United States.

Oxy Community Book Program Launches With Jacqueline Woodson
In a wide-ranging conversation about her newest novel, Red at the Bone, award-winning author Jacqueline Woodson and President Harry J. Elam, Jr. covered everything from literary technique to class and racism to kick off the College’s new Community Book Program on August 18.



We are excited to welcome a new group of faculty and instructors to the Oxy community:
Tenure and Tenure-Track
Stephen Klemm, assistant professor of comparative studies in literature and culture
Igor Logvinenko, associate professor of diplomacy and world affairs
Viviana MacManus, assistant professor of Spanish and French studies
Katarzyna “Kasia” Marciniak, professor of media arts and culture
Will Power, assistant professor of theater
Irina Rabkina, assistant professor of computer science
Robert Sanchez Jr., associate professor of philosophy
Amanda Tasse, assistant professor of media arts and culture
Mai Thai, assistant professor of sociology
Benjamin Weiss, assistant professor of sociology
Jason Wong, assistant professor of economics

Leslie Butler, Ray Allen Billington Visiting Professor in U.S. History

Full-time Non-Tenure Track
Kelly Bauer, assistant professor of politics
Zachary Fleming, assistant professor of geology
Rico Hiro, assistant professor of art and art history
Vivian Lin, assistant professor of media arts and culture
Candace Mixon, assistant professor of religious studies
Teddy Pozo, Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Scholar
Cynthia Rothschild, director, Kahane United Nations Program
Charlyne Sarmiento, assistant director, Writing Center, and assistant professor of College
Thomas Yeh, assistant professor of computer science

Part-time Non-Tenure Track
Alice Bag, professor of the practice in critical theory and social justice
Brian Cantrell, assistant professor of media arts and culture
Enrique Castrejon, professor of the practice in art and art history
Carolina Caycedo, Wanlass Artist in Residence
Matthew Dempsey, assistant professor of politics
Paula Donnelly, instructor in theater
Pilar Escontrias, assistant professor of critical theory and social justice
Tracy Ewing, assistant professor of psychology
Matthew Hayes, professor of religious studies
Peter Howard, assistant professor of theater
LeKeisha Hughes, assistant professor of critical theory and social justice
Gloria Lum, instructor in music
Curtis Maughan, assistant professor of comparative studies in literature and culture
Brandon Shimoda, assistant professor of English
Kimberly Shriner ’80, assistant professor of biology
Melissa Withers, assistant professor of public health

A recent podcast episode of The Transformation of European Politics featured Phillip Ayoub, assistant professor of diplomacy & world affairs, as a guest. In this episode on LGBT+ politics, Ayoub links his academic work to broader debates within political science as well as current political developments. Listen to the episode here.

Jongnic Bontemps, music production instructor, wrote the original score for two recently released, critically praised films, Murder to Mercy: The Cyntoia Brown Story on Netflix and The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel on Lifetime. In this Variety review of Murder to Mercy, JB and his score are singled out for praise.

Art and Art History Professor Mary Beth Heffernan's PPE Portrait Project social practice art project is now supporting COVID care at five hospitals in California and Massachusetts and advising over a dozen others in the United States and abroad. Teams at Stanford Medical School and UMass are studying its effectiveness in humanizing care and activating patients' own healing mechanisms.

Associate Professor of Politics Thalia González and her colleague Rebecca Epstein from Georgetown Law were awarded a $25,000 grant from Grantmakers for Girls of Color for their Initiative on Gender Justice and Opportunity to address the immediate impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on girls, fem(mes), and nonbinary/gender expansive youth of color. González will serve as the research lead for the project examining how youth-led restorative justice practices may mitigate the pandemic-related experiences of girls of color and promote inclusive learning environments.

In an article for the University of Cambridge's Coronavirus Collection, "Women Leaders and Pandemic Performance: A Spurious Correlation," Associate Professor of Politics Jennifer Piscopo tackles the popular media narrative that women presidents and prime ministers were better at containing the coronavirus. Instead, she argues that countries with high capacity —meaning countries that are wealthy, democratic, with strong bureaucracies and citizens that trust the government—are more likely to be better at containing the pandemic and more likely to elect women. In other words, pandemic performance is not about women leaders, but about the kinds of countries that elect women leaders. Piscopo explored the topic further in an August 26 Washington Post article she co-authored.

In a new issue of Facilities Manager Magazine, Associate Vice President of Facilities Management Tom Polansky interviews a fellow facilities manager on management behaviors in the facilities management industry. Polansky continues to be a leader in the APPA, an organization for educational facilities professionals.

Along with two Oxy alumni, Ilana Share '17 and Rosie Silver-Marker '17, psychology Professor Andrew Shtulman explored the input that children receive about Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) from their parents and what they learn from that input. The group found that parents shape their children’s conceptions of GMOs, through their descriptions and use of moral language, despite knowing little about them. The study can be read here.

For more information on faculty scholarship and accomplishments, visit the Center for Research & Scholarship.



Teresa Williams, Assistant Controller, Business Office

I hail from: Yankton, South Dakota  I was born while my dad was a student at University of South Dakota.
My current neighborhood is: Sierra Madre, home of the visiting bears. Recently one of the local bears helped himself to some ground turkey in my garage freezer.
I've been involved with Oxy for: 6 years.
My workplace currently looks like: a mash-up of a yoga studio and a teenage boy's bedroom with Angel Baseball theme.
My new favorite office snack is: iced barley tea.
A recent accomplishment I'm proud of is: getting my husband to try yoga.
A podcast you should listen to is: NPR’s Rough Translation “Hello Neighbor” episode, a lovely episode about Ireland's cocooning policy and how neighbors helped each other. I love the word "cocooning."