On Campus newsletter February 27, 2023


A $5 million gift from the W.M. Keck Foundation will make possible the launch of a multi-phase renovation of Oxy's 63-year-old Norris Hall of Chemistry on a campus where 40 percent of students are pursuing degrees in the sciences.

The Keck gift will fund the first phase of the project, which will see the underutilized basement turned into state-of-the art teaching laboratories and the creation of the Academic Mastery Program Center on the ground floor, a flexible indoor/outdoor space that can be used for classroom teaching, lectures or receptions. Continue reading


Mark your calendars! On March 23, Oxy's 403(b) retirement plan vendor, TIAA, will be presenting on-campus informational meetings to provide an overview of the College's retirement plan benefit. On April 13 HR will be hosting a Mind and Body Wellness Fair, with a focus on mental wellness resources. More details to follow soon.

Just added! For easy access to mental wellness resources available through the College's Employee Assistance Plan and medical carriers, check out the newly created Wellness Resources section on the HR webpage.

Here are the latest employee arrivals and departures from January 24 to February 17:

Florencia Fabian Ferrer, cleaning services
Dolin Leng, vendor maintenance specialist, business office
Jeremy Noethens, cook, campus dining

Devon Dobbs, residential director, REHS
Jennifer Heetderks, director of counseling, Emmons



Seven Win 2023 Alumni Seal Awards
A scientist/school board member, a young people's storytelling activist and a singing CPA are among this year’s recipients of the Alumni Seal Award, which will be presented by the Alumni Board of Governors during Reunion Weekend, June 9–11.

Occidental College Names 2023-24 Science Scholars
Five Occidental seniors collaborating with faculty mentors in the fields of chemistry and biology make up this year’s cohort of Science Scholars. They have been presented with research grants funded by the Fletcher Jones Foundation.

Occidental Is Top Student Fulbright Producer
For the 18th consecutive year, Occidental is one of the country’s top producers of student Fulbright Awards, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education’s annual Fulbright rankings.

Ashon Crawley Named 2023 Stafford Ellison Wright Black Alumni Scholar-in-Residence
Crawley is a scholar, artist, and associate professor of religious studies and African American and African Studies at the University of Virginia.

Cal Grant Promise Program Makes Oxy Even More Affordable for California Students
California students admitted to Occidental who qualify for a Cal Grant will have 100% of their tuition covered by grants and scholarships under a new program to increase the affordability of an Oxy education for California families.


From Mary Christianakis, professor of language, literacy, and culture: I would like to give a shout-out to Martha Matsuoka and Maureen Royer and her IA team for teaming up to help raise five years worth of funding for the Immigration Rights and Social Justice student summer Internships.

From Linh Vo, department services coordinator for economics, mathematics and religious studies: I wanted to shout out to Ron Muñoz (Master Calendar) for all of his hard work to help us reserve spaces for classes and events at the beginning of the semester. Thank you for your support, Ron!

From Seva Rodnyansky, assistant professor of urban and environmental policy: To Sylvia Chico, thank you for all the work that you do! You have steered our faculty searches and gone above and beyond in making sure we have a smooth process and give our all to the candidates! Thank you - UEP Department!

From Judy Runyon, director of operations for hospitality services: Shout out to Lori Fiacco, director of conference services and filming, from Hospitality Services. Thank you for your 20 years of service to the College and for all your hard work in coordinating the many complexities of summer conferences and filming. You have been a great mentor to generations of students who worked for you. You have been a great colleague, and we cannot thank you enough for your contributions to the college. You will be missed greatly, but we are so happy for you on your retirement.

From Erica L. Ball, Mary Jane Hewitt Department Chair in Black Studies and professor of Black studies: I'd like to say thank you to Allie Gordon (marketing manager, OMC) for creating posters to advertise the Mary Jane Hewitt Reception at the ABWH symposium at the end of last semester. I appreciate you, Allie!!!



In a new article in The Journal of Social Psychology, Assistant Professor of Psychology Nicholas Alt and co-authors examine how power impacts the confrontation of sexism. First, they find high power is associated with higher confronting of sexism in daily life. Further, in an experiment, they find that priming women with high power, compared to low power, increased confronting rates of sexism.

Visiting Assistant Professor of Psychology Susan Geffen has two entries in the new Professors at Play Playbook from ETC Press. The book features both research on active learning and almost 100 playful techniques. Professor Geffen's entries are "Stuck at Home Science Projects: Psychology Edition” and “Can You Tell Me How To Get Started: Using Sesame Street as an Example for Developing a Themed Course.” 

Helena de Lemos (special collections instruction and research librarian) has had a busy month. Helena kicked off the month by giving a talk entitled, "The Game's Afoot: Collecting Sherlock Holmes," to members of the Zamorano Book Club. She also curated an exhibit featuring Sherlock Holmes materials from Special Collections and College Archives' Ned Guymon Collection for the 55th Annual California International Antiquarian Book Fair in February. At the Fair, she participated in a discussion panel along with Jim Tranquada (he had a history of ukulele literature exhibit) and the three other exhibitors led by LA Times columnist, Patt Morrison. Helena was also featured in an article by Anissa Rivera in the Pasadena Star-News, "Collectors Swoon for the Rare Items at the Antiquarian Book Fair in Pasadena. Exhibit of Sherlock Holmes books are a highlight at the book fair" and in Erik Pedersen's "The case of the Sherlock Holmes First Editions," in Orange County Register's "The Book Pages."

Why did Chilean voters reject their country’s new constitution? In their analysis for Journal of Democracy, Associate Professor of Politics Jennifer Piscopo and coauthor argue that fake news, fearmongering about the constitution’s likely effects, and disapproval of the sitting government combined to defeat what would have been the world’s first feminist constitution.

New work by Chilean scientists and Visiting Assistant Professor of Geology Nikki Seymour examines the Liquine-Ofqui Fault System. The authors used field work, laboratory analyses, and computer modeling to differentiate the thermal signals of magma, fault motion, and geothermal fluid flow. This work contributes to the characterization of potential geothermal energy sites in southern Chile.

What do cows drink? Water, but you may have been tempted to say milk. Children's ability to answer brainteasers like this one predicts their rational thinking and science understanding independent of age, executive function, and cultural context, as discussed in a new article in Child Development Perspectives by Professor of Psychology Andrew Shtulman and former Occidental postdoc Andrew Young.

Assistant Professor of Physics Sabrina Stierwalt gave a plenary talk at the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society, the main professional society for astronomers in the United States. She highlighted the student research being done in the Oxy Galaxy Group and received a standing ovation from the ~3,000 people in the audience.

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



  • Thursday, March 2: The Community Book Program Presents "30 Years On: Pan–Asian and Black Solidarity and Conflict Since the LA Uprising" at Oxy Arts.
  • Thursday, March 2 and Friday, March 3: The annual Humanities for Just Communities Spring Showcase highlights and celebrates the social justice projects of fall semester HJC students. This two-day showcase (4:30-6:30 p.m. each day) is open to the entire Oxy community and this year will focus on the 2022-23 HJC theme of health justice.
  • MAC Cinematheque continues this month with
    • Manscaping on March 2, featuring a feature documentary directed by Professor Broderick Fox
    • The Grab on March 9, showcasing Gabriela Cowperthwaite '93's latest feature documentary
    • Dramarama on March 23, a feature film by Visiting Professor Jonathan Wysocki
  • Thursday, March 23: Join us for an intimate evening of jazz with Jonathan Richards, director of the Occidental Jazz Ensemble. The ensemble will perform a set inspired by the exhibition on view, Kenturah Davis: Dark Illumination