Oxy vs. LA?

We’re urban—we won’t suddenly wake up to find ourselves in a cornfield in Iowa. (Jonathan Veitch, “Rolling in the Deep,” Occidental Magazine, Summer 2012)

The atmosphere is, in a word, idyllic –students visit and never want to leave. Somehow the L.A. traffic seems miles away, though the city is really just outside our door. An urban oasis if there was one. (bold added; Oxy website)

• • • • •

Occidental College is one of a handful to be located in a major urban environment. In addition to the mission, Oxy’s location places it above its peers. This is acknowledged by the Oxy administration. Then, why does it seek to insulate Oxy from the diversity and richness of Los Angeles?


LOS ANGELES: a global city with 28% Caucasian and 70% people of color

OCCIDENTAL COLLEGE: 71% Caucasian faculty and 29% faculty of color.

Compare this with the percentage of Caucasian faculty at:

  • Kenyon College:  Gambier, Ohio, 76%
  • Whitman College: Walla Walla, Washington, 68%
  • Pomona College: Claremont, California, 65%
  • Bates College: Lewiston, Massachusetts, 75%
  • Ft. Lewis College: Durango, Colorado, 74%
  • Carleton College: Northfield, Minnesota, 75%

Walla Walla, Durango, Ohio, Oxy: all the same?

Fac Div by Campus & Community

So how is Occidental different from Iowa?


An urban oasis if there was one.”

National Imperative

Is Occidental really preparing our students for leadership in an increasingly complex, interdependent and pluralistic world?


2 thoughts on “Oxy vs. LA?

  1. Patricia Alireza

    Comparing LA and Oxy demographics is a totally misleading argument. One cannot use urban demographics as an example of diversity relative to an institution of higher education. The fair comparison would be with the demographics of the potential applicant pool. The correct question would be: What is the percentage of minorities with a PhD that would be qualified to be
    considered as potential tenure track faculty in an institution like Occidental College?. In the 2006-2007 period, the breakdown of doctorate recipients in the U.S. was: African Americans 7 %, Asian 6 %, Hispanics 5 % and white 79 % (http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/doctorates). This is representative of the potential faculty applicant pool, not the whole population of LA.

    1. CODE Post author

      Thank you for your comment. It has been posted to the codeoxy.tumblr.com site under the heading “Oxy Board of Trustees Member,” which has a bigger readership. In addition, our response to your comment follows below and has also been posted to codeoxy.tumblr.com.


      As an urban college that includes “Los Angeles” and “Inclusive Excellence” as two of four focus areas in our strategic plan, Occidental should not measure success against overall pools of recipients of doctorates in the U.S. The College frames itself in terms of a global city, a nation, and the world: human spaces where we should take a lead, given our stated commitments, rather than look solely at numbers in applicant pools. As earlier posts demonstrate, the quality of experiences on campus for students, staff, and faculty does not match with what we need to be as an institution with these stated commitments. Numbers are important but they do not represent all that “excellence and equity” means.

      Yet as the previous post shows, we need to have structures and resources to be able to know how we are doing. In order to track success in each discipline, for each search, rather than an overall number recipients of doctorates, Occidental needs to be designated as an affirmative action institution, with the requisite office and resources, to do this work.

      In addition, the mention of the “potential applicant pool” of faculty of color is important and we should keep our eye on the ball of contributing to that pool by admitting, educating, mentoring, and graduating students of color who will become the faculty of the future.


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