September 17, 2020 | On Campus Newsletter


Four weeks into the fall semester, I could not be more impressed with Oxy staff, faculty and students. My interactions with everyone affirm everything I heard about Oxy before I arrived and leave me very optimistic for our future.
There is much to be impressed with. With time to prepare, and through summer workshops and tutorials, faculty have been able to rethink curriculum and instructional methods so that they can deliver the kind of high-touch, personalized educational experience that you would expect. Staff across the College have also worked hard and found innovative ways to support our students and our academic mission. Information Technology Services, for example, has helped more than 200 students with their computer, software and wireless access needs.
Having moved into the Annenberg President's House over the Labor Day weekend, Michele and I miss the opportunities we would otherwise have to host students and other members of the campus community in our home. We would love to be able to interact with everyone as we walk across the Quad or grab a bite in the Marketplace. In the meantime, I’ve been meeting regularly with student government and have started holding virtual open office hours for students, staff and faculty. These kinds of interactions are indicative of one of my major priorities for this coming year: conducting an active listening campaign—virtually and eventually in person--with alumni and other members of the Oxy community to hear your views, your concerns and your aspirations for the College. You can find my office hours here. Please email Rocio Ramos to schedule a time.


Mark your calendars for our first staff meeting of the semester on Tuesday, September 29 from 11 a.m. to 12 noon PT. Zoom info and agenda will be sent in a follow-up email from the Human Resources office. Staff are invited to send in thoughts and questions ahead of the meeting via this form.

We are in unprecedented times as we navigate the impacts of COVID-19. If you are experiencing personal, family and work issues (including stress, anxiety, addiction, and more), the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available to full-time, regular employees and their families at no cost. The EAP provides outside confidential professional assistance on a 24-hour basis. Learn more about what services EAP provides at or by calling 1-800-854-1446.



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. More than $91,000 in gifts have been received or pledged thus far. Find out how to give or apply.




New biology course explores the COVID-19 pandemic in real time
Co-taught by an Oxy professor and an Oxy alumna who is an infectious disease expert, the class features an impressive lineup of guest speakers including primatologist Jane Goodall and Pasadena Director of Public Health Dr. Ying-Ying Goh.

Virtual Learning Heads to the Solar System for Physics Students
Students in Assistant Professor Sabrina Stierwalt’s Physics 162 class are headed out of this world by way of virtual reality headsets this fall.

“WE LIVE! Memories of Resistance” Opens at Oxy Arts
Oxy Arts’ Fall 2020 exhibition "WE LIVE! Memories of Resistance" brings together 14 In Plain Sight artists that engage the contemporary stakes of historical remembrance and collective memory.

Dean’s Award Winners 2020
Each year, the Dean of Students recognizes seniors who, through their involvement on- and off-campus, embody Oxy’s four pillars of Equity, Excellence, Community and Service.



From Candice Kim, Urban & Environmental Policy Institute:
Shout out to Christine Chuong, grants and finance manager for the Urban & Environmental Policy Department. When it comes to crunching numbers, Christine is second to none. With her help, I applied for and received three grants over the Summer. I couldn't have done it without Christine's expertise.

From Kat Wang, Director of Pre-Health Advising:
Cathreen Oracion from the Office of Pre-Health Advising: Thank you for going above and beyond for our students! Thank you for embracing changes with me, working around the clock setting up our virtual advising system, our new weekly news digest, and our new website! Your impeccable attention to detail and thoughtfulness always wows me.  

To Laura Paisley, the magician behind the curtain, you made it possible for us to launch the resourceful pre-health website timely. Students were excited about this powerful online tool!

To Allie Gordon and the marketing team, what can I say about your top-notch design? The Pre-Health Guide is now the go-to hand-out for our students, alumni, prospective students and parents. I'm so grateful for the beautiful product you created!

From Caryn Rothschild C'71, Senior Director of Major Gifts, Institutional Advancement:
I would like to give a shout out to Patrice Cablayan, Denise Frost, Miki Springsteen, and Shannon Yasman for being such collaborative and thoughtful colleagues. I have especially appreciated their support as we continue to work remotely.



Spanish and Linguistics Assistant Professor Mariška Bolyanatz Brown and her co-author have published a new chapter in Recent Advances in the Study of Spanish Sociophonetic Perception. It is a study of sociophonetic perception of intervocalic /k/ voicing (in which words like "chica" sound more like "chiga") which shows that Chilean Spanish-speaking listeners are not very sensitive to this pronunciation difference. Brown hypothesizes that this lack of sensitivity is related to the novelty of this change in progress among these speakers.

Faculty members in the Chemistry Department Jeff Cannon, Emmanuelle Despagnet-Ayoub, Michael Hill, Raul Navarro and Andrew Udit were awarded a Major Research Instrumentation grant from the National Science Foundation to purchase a new 400 MHz nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectrometer for research and teaching in chemistry. Nuclear magnetic resonance is the go-to method for the study of molecular structure. This new instrument expands Oxy's instrumentation capabilities in chemistry and provides new opportunities for research and undergraduate teaching.

Assistant Professor of English Ross Lerner has a newly published essay, “The Astonied Body in Paradise Lost,” available to read here. The essay develops an analysis of "astoniment" (or “astonishment”) in John Milton's Paradise Lost, examining the poem's complex thinking about the experience of being overwhelmed by an experience you cannot cognitively or emotionally process. The essay was inspired by several students in Lerner's English 287 class, with particular thanks to discussions promoted by Grace Baranowski '18, Promise Li '17, and Marshall Meyer '18.

Head Golf Coach Will Morris was invited by the Southern California Golf Association (SCGA) to be a featured presenter on a panel of college golf coaches who spoke on the college recruitment process for student-athletes interested in pursuing competitive golf. Morris has been active in assisting SCGA for several years and regularly collaborates with the organization to recruit prospective students and their families.


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