President Jonathan Veitch and senior administrators discussed topics such as campus renovations, fundraising and diversity at the the first in a series of campus community meetings in Choi Auditorium on Tuesday. Students, staff and faculty packed the auditorium to hear from college officials on these issues and the strategic plan underlying administrative actions.
At the meeting, Vice President for Finance and Planning Amos Himmelstein announced plans to renovate the Academic Commons, the main entrance to campus and the Career Development Center. According to Himmelstein, the college has also brought an outside contractor onto campus to assess the conditions of facilities and provide a report to guide the direction of future projects.
The college has a higher fundraising goal this year than in previous years, according to Vice President for Institutional Advancement Shelby Radcliffe. These funds will support the school’s scholarship fund as well as campus renovations and improvements. Veitch also noted in his remarks that fundraising is essential to ensure that students from various backgrounds will have access to an Occidental education.
Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the College Jorge Gonzales announced plans to hire eight tenure-track professors by next fall, the largest cohort of new hires in recent years. The new positions are part of an effort to improve the ratio of students-to-tenured-professors. Eight professors are also planning to retire at the end of this semester, according to Gonzalez.
Radcliffe concluded the meeting by addressing the issue of diversity among both students and faculty – an issue which was also raised later in the question and answer portion of the meeting. As part of an effort to increase diversity, the school plans to create a new minor in Africana studies and focus next year’s academic theme on “emancipation.” Senior staff will also attend training on the issue and a survey will be distributed to measure diversity on campus.
According to Gonzales, the administration intends to host two community meetings per semester to continue campus dialogue.
“We had a lot of these kind of meetings when we were at the beginning of the strategic planning process,” Gonzalez said of Tuesday’s meeting. “But we just came to realize that we haven’t done one of these since about a year ago, and we thought it was absolutely important to do this.”