On Campus - April 26, 2022


This past weekend, President Elam was inaugurated as our 16th president in a joyous Hillside Theater ceremony featuring a number of musical performances, as well as a call to bring “New Harmonies” to an Occidental liberal arts education. Thank you to everyone on campus who made the beautiful event possible. You can find a recap of the event, including the livestream video and highlight photos, here. 


Save the Date for the Annual Employee Recognition Ceremony in the Academic Quad on Thursday, May 19 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., where we will honor staff for achieving their milestone years of service as well as present Distinguished Service Awards. Lunch service starts at 11 a.m. and will run throughout the ceremony, with a family field day on Bell Field to follow.

Pencil it in: The next All-Staff Meeting hosted by HR will take place on Wednesday, May 4 at 11 a.m. via Zoom. Link to come.

Beginning this month, HR will provide a list of new employee hires and recent departures. You can see the most recent list (from January 2022 to mid-April) here. 

New hires:
Brian Cohn, Research Associate, Vantuna Research Group
Marcus Fleming, Stockroom Assistant, Stockroom
Kristopher Turner, Executive Assistant for Equity & Justice, Equity & Justice
Roxane Gay, Presidential Professor, Critical Theory & Social Justice
Britney Bagley, Financial Aid Counselor
Douglas Boldon, Assistant Director of Financial Aid
Devon Sakamoto, Assistant Dean of Students, Emmons Wellness Center
Mary Maher, Interim Director of Human Resources
Ronald Munoz, Master Calendar Coordinator, Hospitality Services
Jason Feingold, Programmer/Analyst, ITS
Valeria Mena, Faculty Services Assistant, Diplomacy & World Affairs
Sarah Hall, Department Services Coordinator, Physics
Emily Nuckols, Associate Director of Oxy Fund, Leadership Giving, Institutional Advancement
Russell Campbell, NSF REPS Participant, Moore Lab
Mario Hess-Winburn, Senior Associate Director of Major Gifts, Institutional Advancement
Stefanie Renaud, Assistant General Counsel
Luz Forero, Specialist for Language Education, Library Materials
Samantha Hilton, First Year Experience and Student Success Librarian, Library Materials
Manuel Monge, Chief Engineer, Facilities
Leondre Avington, Campus Safety Officer
Rocio Marquetti, Administrative Assistant, Financial Aid Office
Veronika Anais Garcia Figueroa, Executive Assistant to VP of Finance and General Counsel, VP for Finance and Planning
Joaquin Caro, Project SAFE Prevention Education, Project SAFE
Brynn O'Hara, Research Assistant, Vantuna Research Group
William Power, Research Assistant, Vantuna Research Group
Elio Castaneda, Irrigation Specialist, Facilities
Alanna Quan, Resource Sharing Specialist, Library Materials
Ying Anna Zhang, Analytics & Rep. Programmer/Analyst, ITS

Cristian Castro, Academic Advisor, Neighborhood Partnership Program
Danielle Brown, Senior Research & Prospect Management Specialist, Donor Research
Randy Glazer, Associate VP for Human Resources
Erin Jaco, Research Associate, Vantuna Research Group
Lilly Linden, Science Librarian, CDLA
Amy Munoz, Associate VP for Hospitality Services
Dale Ann Stieber, Special Collections Librarian and College Archivist
Lisa Mattia, Director of Support Services, ITS
Jesse Montanez, Irrigation Specialist, Grounds Maintenance
Jean Reyes, Ground Maintenance
Maria Carrillo, Cleaning Services - Residence Halls
Louis Franco, Campus Safety Officer
Elisa Ruiz, Administrative Assistant, Geology
Jessica Tovar, Project Manager, UEPI
Katherine Izumi, Department Services Coordinator, American Studies, Cognitive Science, Computer Science, English, History, Philosophy, Psychology, Sociology
Tamara Himmelstein, Associate Director of Oxy Fund - Parent Giving, Institutional Advancement
Kyle Hyde, Assistant Director, Technology Apps Manager, Oxy Card Services
Elizabeth Braxton, Associate Director of Residential Education, REHS
Esmeralda Galicia, Academic Advisor, Neighborhood Partnership Program
Rodney Smith, Campus Safety Officer
Sandra McLean, Executive Assistant to VP Finance and General Counsel, VP for Finance and Planning
Victor Kerney, Associate Director of Student Life - Leadership, SLICE
Bronwyn Beck, Director of Product/Technical/Web Admin, ITS
Regina Frazier, Operations Manager, Campus Dining
Jaime Saucedo, Coffee Cart Assistant, Coffee Cart
Jennifer Martinez, Academic Advisor, Neighborhood Partnership Program
Jacob Eagleton, Research Associate, Vantuna Research Group
Micol Garinkol, Program Coordinator, Intercultural Community Center


Artist Linda Besemer Named 2022 Guggenheim Fellow
Besemer, Occidental’s James Irvine Distinguished Professor of Art and Art History, has been honored with a 2022 Guggenheim Fellowship.

Professor’s “Cinematic Concerto” Explores Intersection of Human Emotion and Artificial Intelligence
Grammy-nominated, Emmy-winning composer Adam Schoenberg’s cutting-edge new work invites listeners to consider the conflicts and connections between human and machine. It also yielded an exciting interdisciplinary collaboration at Oxy.

Top Warner Music Executives Offer Insight, Advice to Oxy Students
Three top executives from Warner Music Group (WMG)—two Oxy alumni and a parent of a current student—provided insight into the rapidly evolving music and entertainment industry and offered some practical advice on how to break into the business in a March 28 panel presentation on campus.

Odelia Putterman ’23 and Jack Thomas-Colwell ’23 Named Goldwater Scholars
Continuing a 34-year Occidental tradition, Odelia Putterman ’23 and Jack Thomas-Colwell ’23 have been named 2022 Goldwater Scholars. Putterman and Thomas-Colwell are the 44th and 45th Oxy students to win the country’s most prestigious undergraduate scholarship in the sciences since the award was established in 1989.

New Frontiers for Oxy’s Ethics Bowl Team
Five students made history as the first team from the College to compete in the National Ethics Bowl Competition last month, showcasing Oxy students’ ability to engage in civil discourse surrounding tough, divisive issues.



From Human Resources: In recognition of everyone working in Student Affairs–It's been a unique, challenging year of returning and re-engaging. For many of you, this year has offered more than maybe you thought you could shoulder, but you did and as we've watched, sometimes from afar, and partnered with you, we are so thankful for every effort and support you gave our students and staff–putting them first before your own needs. It is an honor and privilege to work with you. 

From the faculty: Shout out to our fabulous Admission staff for their tireless and careful work with applications and prospective students. A special kudos to Courtney Stricklin Burgan '03 for producing two phenomenal Experience Occidental events, and to Mari Martinez for her exceptional leadership. We are grateful to you for giving us wonderful students to work with!

From Jennifer Locke, director of national and international fellowships: To Stephanie Espinosa, Hameetman Career Center Administrative Assistant--thank you for your excellent work organizing our Sophomore Fellowships Meet and Greet event! All of the components were coordinated beautifully, and because of you many more students now know about the fellowships office and how to apply for awards. I'm so grateful for you and your work!

From Dana Benton, Development Coordinator, Office of Strategic Initiatives: I would like to give a staff shoutout to Rachel Park, associate director, strategic initiatives in OSI, who will be directing a play at the MOCA at the end of this month! 

From Mariška A. Bolyanatz Brown, assistant professor of Spanish and Linguistics: Shout-out to Dean Rob Flot, Asst. Dean Isaiah Thomas, and their entire staff for getting us through the recent Covid spike among our students. Faculty so appreciate all that you do to help keep the College running and keep the students safe!

From Maricela L. Martinez and Courtney Stricklin Burgan, Office of Admission: A huge thank you to all of the staff and faculty who partnered with the Office of Admission for our Experience Occidental admitted student days! Between the two programs we welcomed over 300 admitted students and their families to campus, over half from out of state and over 70% who had never visited Oxy before. They were incredibly impressed by Oxy's welcoming community and the range of expertise presented on the panels, micro-tours, class visits, and while speaking with you all between sessions. Thank you for helping represent the Oxy experience to these future Tigers!

From Maricela L. Martinez, Charlie Leizear, Sheryl Reinschmidt, Robin Hamilton and Courtney Stricklin Burgan, Office of Admission: We are so grateful to our colleagues in Admission and Financial Aid who have been working tirelessly to build the Class of 2026. This includes months of reading applications and determining financial aid awards, and now spending the month of April answering questions over email, phone, and in-person conversations. The College is lucky to have such a dedicated group of ambassadors who have been doing everything they can to bring in another amazing group of Oxy students. Thank you for your dedication to Oxy and the enrollment team!

From Lan T. Chu, Associate Professor, Department Chair of Diplomacy and World Affairs: Shout out to Romy Corona and Cristina Altamirano who have supported me in my last six years as DWA department chair.  I certainly could not have done it without them!


In a new article in Labour Economics, Assistant Professor of Economics Jorgen Harris finds that increases in women's work and education in the second half of the 20th century led to big changes in female representation in many high-education occupations. This increased female representation led to declines in wages for both men and women, even after accounting for changes in labor supply.

In a blog post for the Public Religion Research Initiative, Associate Professor of History Jane Hong considers how differing racial perceptions of Asian Americans may affect Georgia officials' approach to prosecuting the March 2021 Atlanta spa shootings.

Hong also published a new article in the Journal of Asian American Studies that examines the role of religious organizations in the Asian American Movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Applying a religious lens to what is often seen as a wholly secular movement, it illuminates how people of faith contributed to Asian American activism, community development, and the formation of Asian American Studies as a field.

In her "Critical Acts" article for the journal TDR, Associate Professor of Theater and Performance Studies Sarah Kozinn considers the essential nature of liveness in a performance that bills itself as "theater," using her own experience as a performer to unpack what happens to theater's "essence" when it goes online.

Rachel Park, associate director of strategic initiatives in Institutional Advancement, will be stepping in as the Tour Director for the upcoming production of Honor, created by Suzanne Bocanegra, at the Museum of Contemporary Art downtown on April 29-30, 2022. The piece is transferring to MOCA from The Met in New York and will feature the actress Lili Taylor. Alongside her work in IA, Park is a theater director focused primarily on collaborative new play development and interdisciplinary theatrical experiences—a passion which drives her ability to help fundraise for education communities and the arts.

Associate Professor of Politics Jennifer Piscopo contributed an article to the Washington Post for International Women's Day. The article analyzes how the pandemic impacted and hurt gender equality and how economic recovery could be reached.

In "Living with Absurdity: A Nobleman's Guide," which will appear in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Associate Professor of Philosophy Ryan Preston-Roedder explores the meaning and absurdity of life. Preston-Roedder uses Leo Tolstoy's memoir A Confession to characterize a form of faith in one’s values, and to argue that such faith offers an appealing response to life’s absurdity.

In a new article in Cognitive Science, Assistant Professor of Computer Science Irina Rabkina and her co-author present a computational cognitive model of how children reason during pretend play. The model shows how children apply pretend scenarios to the real world and why they might make errors. It also makes predictions which may lead to an improved understanding of early childhood development.

Solar lanterns serve as substitutes for kerosene as a source of lighting in parts of the developing world, but the uptake of these lanterns has been slow. Using a randomized control trial in India, Assistant Professor of Economics Jason Wong and co-authors find that when of equal value, vouchers increase household willingness to pay for solar lanterns more than cash transfers and microfinance schemes. Their findings were published in Energy Economics

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


Thursday, April 28: Moore Lab and FEAST's Bruce Steele Garden Celebrate Earth Month

Friday, April 29: Occidental Symphony Orchestra | Spring 2022 Concert

Sunday, May 1: Spring Choral Concert 

Thursday, May 12-Sunday, May 15: Commencement Weekend