Occidental College’s Jonathan Veitch: An Advocate for Higher Education

Jonathan Veitch has spent the better bulk of his career as a strong advocate for the liberal arts. So it’s no surprise to see today that he serves as the President for the Los Angela’s based Occidental College; a post where he has already managed to make an impressive mark on the schools expansion, civic engagement and future sustainability. In the past few years alone Veitch has effectively managed to expand and renovate the campus while working the local neighborhood to ensure slower, more organic growth that compliments instead of crowding out the community. As a support of innovative and sustainable technologies he also oversaw the instillation of a 1-megawatt solar array which now accounts for more than 11% of the campus’s entire electrical usage.

A native to LA, Veitch grew up in one of Hollywood famed film dynasties. His step-grandfather was the popular westerns actor Alan Ladd while his father John Veitch was the president of Colombia Picture’s world-wide productions. After graduating from Loyola High School he attended Stanford University where he earned his BA in English and American Literature. After completing his Ph.D. in the History of American Civilization at Harvard University Veitch went on to become an associate professor of English at the University of Wisconsin. Soon after, in 1997 he wrote his seminal work entitled American Superrealism: Nathanael West and the Politics of Representation in the 1930s which subsequently published through the University of Wisconsin Press.

Upon finishing his work Veitch then took another associate professor position teaching course in Cultural History at The New School in NYC. In addition to his teaching posts he had served as the Dean of Lang College from 1994 up until 2009 when he took his current post at Occidental. While his impressive credentials and background surely helped him to land this position he has wasted no time in distinguishing himself from his predecessors. Veitch managed to take a firm hold on the leadership role at Occidental which had often been rocky in the past. Aside from his successful expansion of the college in cooperation with the local community he also works to make higher education more accessible to the urban community by implementing college sponsored tutor programs for the counties various public school systems.

Veitch currently resides in LA in the college’s presidential house with his wife and three kids.

Man Sends His Former Teacher $10,000 as a Thank You

It’s been almost 40 years since Kevin Perz graduated from Parkway Central High school in Missouri, but he never gave up on finding his former teacher Marilyn Mecham. He was finally able to call her on the phone and talk to her in January and let her know just how much he enjoyed being a student in her co-ed food class during her first years of teaching.

A few days later, she got a letter with a hand written note and a check for $10,000 inside. She couldn’t believe it. She called Perz about the check a few days later and told him she had spent the whole weekend crying.

Sam Tabar has learned that this is not the first time Perz has sent a former teacher of his money. He started tracking down his favorite teachers in 1992 and has given each of them gifts to show his appreciation and because he felt blessed and that his teachers were largely responsible for how his life had turned out.

Perz’s gesture and Mecham’s reaction to it has inspired a wave of gratitude that has resulted in many other people contacting their mentors and former teachers to thank them for their impact on their life.