Author: Riley Kimball
President Jonathan Veitch spoke before Oxy’s faculty and staff in a town hall-style meeting Feb. 1 about what his administration accomplished first semester, and what he hopes to accomplish in the remainder of the year. Faculty and staff from all academic departments, as well as representatives from Campus Safety, Athletics and Residence Life and Housing Staff, attended the meeting.
The president said the meeting was designed to increase the administration’s transparency. He also shared the progress of plans concerning this year’s graduation speaker, a campaign to bring President Obama to campus, the development of the Swan Hall renovations and the re-imagining of the library.
Veitch announced that conservative New York Times journalist David Brooks will be the graduation speaker this May. In addition, he shared that Oxy has been shortlisted by the White House for a campus visit from President Obama. He also said that, with the receipt of a $1 million grant from the Ahmanson Foundation, renovations for Swan Hall are close to breaking ground.
Some of Veitch’s presentation also focused on proposed plans to reinvent the library into a state-of-the-art academic commons. Veitch acknowledged that this project will be the headliner of an upcoming capital campaign to fundraise for the college. He said that after having completed a series of forums discussing possible changes to the library, the project is ready to move on to the design stage.
“There is potential to re-imagine it, to create a commons,” Veitch said. “We hope to make more public spaces around campus.”Veitch unveiled a new funding and investment plan for the school revolving around what he called “The Oxy Experience” – a chart Veitch compiled as the foundation for his new plan based on an analysis of the typical experience of a four-year Oxy student. Veitch said he hoped it would streamline the process of investing in Oxy’s future by defining the college’s most important components.
In addition to Oxy’s financial future, Veitch spoke briefly about the future of the school’s size. He said that there is indecision within the administration as to how large next year’s incoming class should be. He guaranteed a size of at least 510, but no more than 575. He said that he is interested in hearing faculty members’ opinions regarding the matter, and acknowledged that a discussion would need to be held soon.
Toward the conclusion of the meeting, Veitch opened the floor to questions and posed one of his own to the faculty and staff present: “What frustrates you about working at Oxy?”
Some faculty, especially newer professors, revealed that they had a hard time adjusting to daily life at the college. Some professors said they were concerned that, while students receive an elaborate welcome and orientation, new hires are expected to fulfill their new roles with little introduction. Bringing the issue to light produced a number of suggestions, from a buddy system to a more thorough job orientation.
“It’s time to rebuild trust with the faculty,” Veitch said of these concerns.Altogether, the progress documented at the meeting indicates a realization of Veitch’s original promise to swiftly implement changes within his first year in office.
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