Jonathan Veitch was born in 1959, and became Occidental College President in July 2009. He has an extensive educational background, having attended both Stanford and Harvard, earning a Ph.D in the History of American Civilization from Harvard. In addition he was a teacher in the English department at the University of Wisconsin/Madison for several years, as well as the dean of the Eugene Lang College at New School in New York City.
Undoubtedly his Hollywood connections helped as well; his step grandfather is actor Alan Ladd, and his father John Patrick Veitch, was Columbia Pictures president of world wide production, overseeing the production of more than 300 films. One of President Veitch’s most cherished memories growing up was seeing his father at a movie set, observing how movies are made.
A really cool fact is that U.S president Barack Obama was a student, from 1979 to 1981. Dr. Veitch is the first President who’s a Los Angeles native, as in the past it was a common practice for the school to hire from outside the region.
His long time success has been marked by Dr. Veitch’s pragmatism and his ability to reach consensus in various issues with the Board of Trustees. This is a marked contrast to the 3 previous school Presidents, all of whom had constant clashes with the Board and were not able to reach agreements.
One of his core beliefs is that the school should take advantage of the educational opportunities the city of Los Angeles features, as well as having a great working relation with the city. This is something he actively worked on alongside former mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s administration, and with current mayor Eric Garcetti as well.
While at the University of Wisconsin/Madison, in 1997 he wrote a controversial book about writer Nathaniel West and his negative portrayal of Hollywood in general – The Politics Of Representation In The 1930s.
Dr. Veitch over the years has demonstrated the positive influence a school can have on its surrounding community and the educational experiences a school can provide its citizens. Here’s to continued success!