September 2017

Hints of autumn are coming to campus, from a chill in the mornings to a settled-in routine now that students have been welcomed back. Catch up on what’s new among the College community this semester.


Groundbreaking Barack Obama Scholars Program Launches

Occidental announced the launch of its Barack Obama Scholars Program to empower exceptional students committed to the public good as it honors and perpetuates the principles President Obama has advanced throughout his life.

TOPS Program Wins Phi Beta Kappa Prize

Acknowledging that computers now impact nearly every aspect of our everyday lives, as well as strong student demand, a new computer science major and department is rolling out this fall. The national Phi Beta Kappa Society has recognized Occidental's TOPS science education outreach program with a $5,000 cash prize, given to just four honorees in Los Angeles for their successful efforts to engage broader audiences with the arts, humanities, social sciences, natural sciences or mathematics.

History Prof. Sousa Named Getty Scholar-in-Residence

History professor Lisa Sousa has been named one of 40 Getty Center Scholars-in-Residence for 2017-18. The academics and artists will work on a range of topics at the Getty Center on the theme of "Iconoclasm and Vandalism."

Start of the School Year Video

A flurry of activities welcomed students to the new school year, from Convocation to Welcome Weekend, hosted by the Office of Student Life. Watch the highlights in a new video from Admission student-workers Jeremy Bloom ’18, Neah Bois ’19 and Cleo Juster ’20.




Autumn Cunningham, first-year advisor, Neighborhood Partnership Program
Julissa De La Cruz, program assistant, Neighborhood Partnership Program
Maria Gonzalez, Cleaning Services
Shoshanna Lang, research & prospect management specialist, Institutional Advancement
Sophia Lee, first-year adviser, Neighborhood Partnership Program
Xiang Li, first-year adviser, Neighborhood Partnership Program
Noe Lopez, senior academic adviser, Neighborhood Partnership Program
Oswaldo Lopez, administrative coordinator, Upward Bound
Rachel Manasse, head coach, men’s and women’s tennis
Gladys Mendez, first-year adviser, Neighborhood Partnership Program
Rithika Mukerjee-Mora, Mellon grants administrator, Dean of Students
Caroline Kim Palacios, associate director of the Oxy Annual Fund
Kelsey Picken, assistant director of gift and estate planning
Michael Witt, assistant director, employer/engagement recruiting, Hameetman Career Center


In a podcast by the Emmett Till Project, American studies associate professor Courtney R. Baker discusses visual activism, Emmett Till and the brave genius of Mamie Till with Myriah Towner of the Emmett Till Project. The podcast, along with a chapter of Baker’s book, Humane Insight: Looking at Images of African American Suffering and Death, is currently available on the Emmett Till Project website.

A new article by history professor Nina Gelbart explores women of science in the early modern period whose contributions have until recently been effectively erased from the historical record. The article, "Adjusting the Lens: Locating Early Modern Women of Science," appears in the book Early Modern Women.

A chapter in the new volume of Women in the Indian Diaspora written by associate professor of diplomacy and world affairs Movindri Reddy focuses on the identity of Indians indentured to South Africa under British colonialism. Reddy explores the indigenized and hybridized identity that is visible through gender relations, political activism and cultural practices. The later is particularly evident in diaspora food.

Deena Selenow, director of Oxy Arts, will be directing the West Coast premiere of the play Exit Strategy by Chicago-based playwright Ike Holter at the Los Angeles LGBT Center's Lily Tomlin/Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Center. The drama follows the chaotic final days of an urban high school and opens September 29. Selenow will also direct an excerpt of The Bumps, a play made for a cast of pregnant performers, at PRELUDE 2017, a festival of contemporary performance in New York this October 6.

Sasha Sherman, assistant professor of cognitive science, recently published an article for the multidisciplinary Open Access journal, PLOS ONE, that demonstrates pattern classification techniques that sensitively decode people’s brain states while they perform visual perception and attention tasks. Sherman’s study provides insight for characterizing the neural correlates of perception and attention.

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



Valerie Lizárraga, program coordinator, the Occidental Partnership for Community Engagement

I hail from: Montebello & East L.A.

I graduated from: University of San Diego

I've been involved with Oxy for: 2.5 years

A typical day on the job looks like: Lots of meetings, emails, phone calls and walks along the Quad.

The favorite part of my job is: Collaborating with our community partners, my colleagues and students to find ways to support work that uplifts communities.

My favorite thing to do in Los Angeles is: Eat yummy vegan food and go to music shows.

A recent accomplishment I'm proud of is: Starting our new OCE Neighbor to Neighbor Program last semester in collaboration with local community partner Recycled Resources for the Homeless.

Cooler or Marketplace?: Green Bean

If I could invite any famous person — living or dead — to a dinner party it would be:  Sam Cooke

My nickname is: I don't really have one…

Something people don't know about me is: I love motorcycle rides (as a passenger).

A good book I've read lately is: Opens Veins of Latin America by Eduardo Galeano


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Eos, companion to Margot Clifford ’12, assistant director of Alumni and Parent Engagement

Introducing Eos, my cat. She's a rescue — I adopted her this past March. One of my roommates (Anne Kelly '11) has a fabulous but dangerous way of de-stressing: she looks at PetFinder. I came home one day to Anne looking at adoptable dogs while taking a break from grading papers. While I love dogs, I've always been a cat person at heart — so after a solid 15 minutes of fawning over nearby dogs, I switched over to the cat section of PetFinder. I had absolutely no intention of actually getting a pet until I saw Eos's picture, when I instantly knew that I was in trouble. After making sure my roommates were on board with the idea of a cat, I drove from my home in Pasadena to Stevenson Ranch to meet Eos, and was immediately smitten.

Nine-year old Eos is very shy, particularly around strangers. The first time you meet her she'll probably run away from you before you take a step towards her. But, once she's comfortable around you, she's extremely snuggly and loves to be the center of attention. She loves belly rubs, ear scratches and curling up next to me for a nap, and if you stop petting her before she's ready for you to, she'll tap your hand with her paw as you walk away. Which means that I've basically been late to everything since March.