Jonathan Veitch arrived at Occidental College as president in 2009 and soon came up with a strategic plan for the school. His plan included not only constructing and renovating buildings, but increasing civic engagement, enhancing the arts in the community, starting global literacy programs, and creating partnerships with cultural organizations of Southern California.
President Veitch, 59, came to Occidental from The New School’s Eugene Lang College where he was dean and also taught American literature and cultural History. It was there that he also developed a strong interest in innovation and engagement with the surrounding community. He saw community relations as very important.
Prior to his tenure at the New School, he was a professor in the English department at the University of Wisconsin.
A native of Los Angeles, president Veitch came from a famous Hollywood family. He was the son of John Veitch, president of Columbia Pictures international productions. His step-father was actor Alan Ladd. He graduated from Stanford University and received his PhD from Harvard University in the History of American Civilization. During his academic career, he wrote several books and articles. He wrote the award-winning American Superrealism: Nathaniel West and the Politics of Representation in the 1930’s and Colossus in Ruins: Mythic Geographies and Lost Histories in the American Provinces. He was the associate editor of Contemporary Literature from 1992 to 1997 and editorial consultant for American Literary History from 1993 to 2000. Articles of his have appeared in The American Quarterly, Los Angeles Times Book Review and The Boston Review.
In addition to building renovations on campus, he was able to place a one-megawatt solar power installation, the largest in Los Angeles, placed. The school provided outreach programs and worked to enhance education in the area. Under president Veitch, the student body became more diverse, both nationally and internationally.
Jonathan Veitch has a wife, Sarah, and three daughters.