Local Boy, Jonathan Veitch, Guides Beloved Occidental College

Local Boy, Jonathan Veitch, Guides Beloved Occidental College

Jonathan Veitch is home at last. At least, that is how he must feel. He was born in Los Angeles in 1959 and attended Loyola High School. Like a good Southern Californian, he got his bachelors from Stanford. And then he moved. He got his doctoral degree in History of American Civilization in Harvard and got a professorship teaching English at the University of Wisconsin, in Madison. There he wrote the classic ‘American Superrealism: Nathanael West and the Politics of Representation in the 1930’s.’ After his stint there, he became a dean of Eugene Lang School, which is an urban liberal arts college in Greenwich, New York City.

In the mean time, his hometown had a college in need of a president. The private liberal arts college in the Eagle Rock neighborhood of Los Angeles had been founded in 1887. On July 1, 2006, Susan Prager became president of the venerable institution. She stepped down in November of 2007, and an interim president, Robert Skotheim, acted as president until July of 2009. Then they needed another president, and Veitch took this chance to come back to his hometown.

Since taking the reins of Occidental College, he has worked hard to improve the school. He oversaw the completion of the Samuelson Alumni Center, launched a planning process for the college to better control their future, and had the 98-year old Swan Hall expanded and renovated.

Veitch made another smart move when he put up a solar array to defray the school’s energy cost. The solar array is one of the largest in Los Angeles and will provide 11% of the school’s electricity needs.

He has strengthened the school’s social standing as well. He has beefed up their civic engagement, arts and global literacy programs. He has reached out to cultural institutions in Southern California, giving the students a chance to intern at places such as NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, the Autry National Center of the American West, the Grammy Museum and the Huntington Library.

He specializes in 19th- and 20th-century American literature and cultural history, and American film. He is currently studying the history of higher learning in America while living on campus with his wife and 3 children.

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