Letter to the editor: Open letter to the Occidental College Board of Trustees recommending the revocation of Occidental’s Honorary Degree to eugenicist Paul Popenoe

Dear Occidental College Board of Trustees:

We, the undersigned Occidental College faculty, staff members, and administrators, urge the Occidental College Board of Trustees to revoke Paul Popenoe’s Honorary Degree, awarded in 1929. Please see The Occidental, March 20, 2019 for an article about Paul Popenoe and his Honorary Degree, written by Dr. Peter Dreier.

We affirm that Occidental College can and should rescind an honorary degree if the recipient has brought dishonor to the college. The Statement on Honorary Degrees, adopted by the Board of Trustees in 2003, states: “As an institution committed to opportunity and access, Occidental awards honorary degrees to men and women whose work helps create and sustain opportunities for those to whom opportunity is often denied by history, policy, or circumstance policy.” Furthermore, the Occidental College Honorary Degree Revocation Policy, adopted by the Trustees in 2015, states: “An honorary degree shall be revoked if a majority of the College’s Board of Trustees determines in its discretion that circumstances warranting revocation are established, andthat the failure to revoke would have a material and deleterious effect on the well-being of the College community or core College values.”

We affirm that awarding eugenicist Paul Popenoe an honorary doctorate violates the letter and spirit of the College’s policy on Honorary Degrees and will continue to have a material and deleterious effect on the well-being of the College community and core College values. Paul Popenoe’s ideas, writing, and actions played a major role in fostering the pseudo-science of eugenics, which promoted the stigmatization and sterilization of people deemed by some as “unfit” to reproduce: specifically, women, people deemed mentally or physically ill or deficient, and so-called “inferior” races, singling out African Americans, Native Americans, and Latinos. Many of the eugenicists’ ideas and stereotypes used to justify sterilization and other forms of violence against marginalized people are still in circulation and apparently gaining influence. Racial and other stereotypes continue to justify the persecution and denial of opportunities to people of color, immigrants, people with physical disabilities, and others.

Revoking Popenoe’s Honorary Degree provides Occidental with an opportunity to educate students, faculty, alumni, trustees and others about how a society normalizes bigoted and stereotyped ideas. Because we find it hard to understand how Occidental could have ignored Popenoe’s abhorrent views when it honored him in 1929 (and again in 1976 with its Auld Lang Syne award), revoking that degree forces us to examine Occidental’s institutional culture, past and present. We need to stand up against aspects of that culture today so that future generations might look back on and wonder how we tolerated or normalized such views or practices. We need to reckon with our past in order to move forward.

Respectfully submitted,

Occidental College Faculty Council
Gretchen North, Professor of Biology & President, Faculty Council
Aleksandra Sherman, Assistant Professor of Cognitive Science, Faculty Council
Erica Ball, Professor of American Studies & Black Studies, Faculty Council
Michael Shelton, Associate Professor of Spanish & Linguistics, Faculty Council
David Kasunic, Associate Professor of Music, Faculty Council
Brian Kim, Associate Professor of Psychology, Faculty Council
Laural Meade, NTT Professor of Theater, Faculty Council Representative

Gretchen North, Professor of Biology & President, Faculty Council
Aleksandra Sherman, Assistant Professor of Cognitive Science, Faculty Council
Erica Ball, Professor of American Studies & Black Studies, Faculty Council
Michael Shelton, Associate Professor of Spanish & Linguistics, Faculty Council
David Kasunic, Associate Professor of Music, Faculty Council
Brian Kim, Associate Professor of Psychology, Faculty Council
Laural Meade, NTT Professor of Theater, Faculty Council Representative
Woody Studenmund, Professor of Economics
Peter Dreier, Professor of Politics & UEP
Regina Freer, Professor of Politics
Jean Wyatt, Professor of English
Wendy Sternberg, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College, Professor of Psychology
Zinzi Clemmons, Professor of English
Richard Mora, Associate Professor of Sociology
Nancy K. Dess, Professor of Psychology
Aleem Hossain, Assistant Professor of Media Arts and Culture
Annabelle M. Rea, Professor of French Emerita
Thalia González, Associate Professor, Politics
Susan Grayson, Professor of French
Clair Morrissey, Associate Professor of Philosophy
Renee Baran, Associate Professor of Biology
Nina Gelbart, Professor of History
Nalsey Tinberg, Professor of Mathematics
Felisa Guillén, Professor of Spanish
Kathryn Leonard, Professor of Computer Science
Mary Beth Heffernan, Professor of Art and Art History
Dolores Trevizo, Professor of Sociology
Sophal Ear, Associate Professor of Diplomacy & World Affairs
Anthony Tirado Chase, Professor of Diplomacy & World Affairs
Linda Lyke, Professor of Art and Art History
Julie Prebel, Associate Professor of Writing & Rhetoric
Joseph Schulz, Associate Professor of Biology
Tsung Chi, Professor of Politics
Laura Hebert, Associate Professor of Diplomacy & World Affairs
Marla Stone, Professor of History
Eileen M. Spain, Professor of Chemistry
Ron W. Solórzano, Professor of Education
Daniel D. Fineman, Professor of English
Jennifer M. Piscopo, Assistant Professor of Politics
Alexandra Puerto, Associate Professor of History
Brandon Lehr, Associate Professor of Economics
J. Mijin Cha, Assistant Professor of Urban and Environmental Policy
Mary Christianakis, Professor of Critical Theory & Social Justice
Sharla Fett, Professor of History
Carolyn Brighouse, Professor of Philosophy and Cognitive Science
Shana Goffredi, Associate Professor of Biology
Salvador Fernandez, Professor of Spanish
Alan Knoerr, Associate Professor of Cognitive Science and Computer Science
Xiao-huang Yin, Professor of East Asian Studies
John T. Lang, Associate Professor of Sociology
Eric Newhall, Professor of English/American Studies
Cheryl Okumura, Assistant Professor of Biology
Stuart Rugg, Professor of Kinesiology
John Chung-En Liu, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Jacob L. Mackey, Assistant Professor of Classics
Bevin Ashenmiller, Associate Professor of Economics
Jaclyn Rodríguez, Professor
Christopher Oze, Associate Professor of Geology
John Swift, Professor of English
Alexander F. Day, Associate Professor of History
Amber Stubler, Assistant Professor of Biology
Lan Chu, Associate Professor, Diplomacy & World Affairs
Jim Brown, Professor of Mathematics
Irene Girton, Professor of Music
Bhavna Shamasunder, Associate Professor of Urban and Environmental Policy
Amanda Zellmer, Assistant Professor of Biology
Robert R. Ellis, Professor of Spanish
Courtney R. Baker, Associate Professor of American Studies & Black Studies
Kristi Upson-Saia, Professor of Religious Studies
Jeff Cannon, Assistant Professor of Chemistry
Amy Lyford, Professor of Art History
Broderick Fox, Professor of Media Arts & Culture
Carmel Levitan, Associate Professor of Cognitive Science
Maryanne Horowitz, Professor of History
Ron Buckmire, Professor of Mathematics
Marcia Homiak, Professor of Philosophy
Ross Lerner, Assistant Professor of English
Ryan Preston-Roedder, Associate Professor of Philosophy
James Ford, Associate Professor of English
Robby Moore, Professor of Economics
Martha Matsuoka, Associate Professor of Urban and Environmental Policy
James Sadd, Professor of Environmental Science
Lisa Wade, Associate Professor of Sociology
Damian Stocking, Associate Professor, Comparative Studies in Literature and Culture
Elizabeth Braker, Professor of Biology
Marcella Raney, Associate Professor of Kinesiology
Adelaida Lopez, Professor of Spanish
Lisa Sousa, Professor of History
Scott Bogue, Professor of Geology
Kirsten Wandschneider, Professor of Economics
George Schmiedeshoff, Professor of Physics
Caroline Heldman, Political Science
Phillip Ayoub, Associate Professor of Diplomacy & World Affairs
Margaret Rusmore, Professor of Geology
Janet Scheel, Associate Professor of Physics
Amy Holmes-Tagchungdarpa, Associate Professor of Religious Studies
Patricia Cabral, Assistant Professor of Psychology
Arthur F. Saint-Aubin, Professor of French
Mary Lopez, Associate Professor of Economics
John McCormack, Associate Professor of Biology
Eric Frank, Professor of Art History
Roberta Pollock, Professor of Biology
Emmanuelle Despagnet-Ayoub, Associate Professor of Chemistry
Diana Ngo, Assistant Professor of Economics
Lesley Chiou, Professor of Economics
Heather N. Lukes, Associate Professor of Critical Theory and Social Justice
Hanan Elsayed, Associate Professor of French and Arabic
Adam Schoenberg, Assistant Professor of Music
Jan Lin, Professor of Sociology
Saul Traiger, Professor of Cognitive Science and Philosophy
Lynn Mehl, Professor of Kinesiology and Psychology
Leila Neti, Associate Professor of English
Ari Laskin, Assistant Professor of Media Arts and Culture
Thomas Burkdall, Associate Professor of Writing and Rhetoric
Susan Gratch, Professor of Theater
Kelema Lee Moses, Assistant Professor of Art History
Chris Craney, Professor of Chemistry/Biochemistry
Michael Hill, Professor of Chemistry
Jane Hong, Assistant Professor of History
Shanna Lorenz, Associate Professor of Music
Alec Schramm, Professor of Physics
Andrew Jalil, Associate Professor of Economics
Sarah Wei-Ming Chen, Professor of Chinese
Sarah Kozinn, Assistant Professor of Theater
Yurika Wakamatsu, Assistant Professor of Art History
Raul Villa, Professor of Latino/a & Latin American Studies
Ainsley LeSure, Assistant Professor of Politics
Movindri Reddy, Professor of Diplomacy and World Affairs
Daniel Pondella, Professor of Biology
Erica Preston-Roedder, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow
Gary Schindelman, NTT Associate Professor of Biology
Natalie Muren, NTT Assistant Professor of Chemistry
Jen Hofer, NTT Assistant Professor, Art and Art History
Peter Lanfer, NTT Assistant Professor, Religious Studies
Jamie Angell, NTT Associate Professor of the Practice of Theater
Jeremiah Axelrod, NTT Associate Professor of History & Director of the ISLA
Clinton Chapman, NTT Associate Professor of Psychology
Brian Fitzmorris, NTT Professor of the Practice of Theater
C. Brady Potts, NTT Assistant Professor, Sociology
Walt Richmond, NTT Professor of Russian
Amy Tahani-Bidmeshki, NTT Assistant Professor of American Studies
Jan Breidenbach, NTT Professor of UEP
Q. Sarah Ostendorf, NTT Assistant Professor of Writing and Rhetoric
Viviana MacManus, NTT Assistant Professor, Critical Theory and Social Justice
Simeon Pillich, NTT Professor of Music
Suzanne Roszak, NTT Assistant Professor, CSP
Brian Clearwater, NTT Assistant Professor of Religious Studies
Kevin Urstadt, NTT Assistant Professor of Cognitive Science
Sydney Mitsunaga-Whitten, NTT Professor of Comparative Studies in Literature and Culture
Alicia González, NTT Assistant Professor of Spanish
Jocelyn Pedersen, NTT Assistant Professor of Book Arts
Jane Schmitz, NTT Urban & Environmental Policy
Dylan Sabo, NTT Assistant Professor of Philosophy & Cognitive Science
Jeff Miller, NTT Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science
Spencer Jackson, NTT Assistant Professor of English

David Foley, Athletics
Sylvia Chico, UEP & UEPI
Julius DiLorenzo, Admission
Maureen Royer, IA
Krista Place, Emmons Wellness Center
Cris Sevilla-Pappas, Library Resource Acquisitions Specialist
Krizia Oasin ’12, Biology & Kinesiology
Whitney Tsai Nakashima ’11, MLZ
Katherine Izumi, Department Services Coordinator, Swan Hall
Sarita Zaleha, Faculty Services Coordinator, Swan Hall
Darius Fatemi, Emmons post-doctoral therapist
Cory Reider, ITS
Beatrice Gonzales, Theater and Performing Arts Facilities
Diana Cruz, Student Affairs
Jacquelyn Moon, Music & Education Dept.
Isabelle Dunne, Athletics
Eliza Diliberti, Student Affairs
Kristy Goldy, Disability Services/Writing & Rhetoric Dept.
Rosa Romero, UEPI
Jessica Tovar, UEPI
Raquel Galarza, UEPI
Allegra Padilla, Coordinator of Community Programs, CCBL/ISLA/Oxy Arts
Nora Killian ’18, Advancement Services
Anna Rivera, Emmons Staff Psychologist
Zachary Martin ’10, Facilities Management
Leah Eberhardt, IA
Theresa Natividad, Business Office
Danielle Brown, Advancement Services
Robert Fung, Library
Marguerite Dessornes, Senior Administrative Assistant, Fowler Hall
Lisa Guglielmino, Business Office

Tom Wesley, Student Affairs and ASOC Honor Board
Jesus Maldonado ’00, Student Affairs
Michelle Naito-Lo, Admission
Keane Tarrosa, Admission
Elizabeth Braxton, Student Affairs
Patricia Micciche, Academic Affairs
Elizabeth Boyd ’96, Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs
Edmond Johnson, Advising and Core Program
Marianne Frapwell, Student Affairs
Jordan Brown ’13, Admission
Xiaoling Hong, ITS
Staahl Almeida, ITS
Erik Quezada ‘09, Student Affairs
Rick C. Tanksley, Director of Campus Safety
Samantha Alfrey, Center for Digital Liberal Arts
Andrew LaFave, CDLA
Lilly Eluvathingal, CDLA
Curtis Lush, ITS
Robin Craggs, International Programs
John de La Fontaine, Library
Marisa Grover Mofford, International Programs
Jennifer Locke, National and International Fellowships
Matt Robart, VRG
Aubree Cedillo ’95, Theater
Monique Hankerson, Student Affairs
Brisa Ponce, ITS
Allison Keeler, IA
Marcel Hite, Admission
Bronwyn Beck, ITS
Amos Himmelstein, VP & Chief Operating Officer
Anahit Aladzhanyan, Athletics
Kimberly Uribe, Office of the President
Alanna Bailey, Student Affairs
Anne Mar, Library
Carola Donnerhak, IA
Erica O’Neal Howard, Student Affairs
Courtney Robertson, IA
Desanka Beslic, IA
Janet Morris ‘87, Undergraduate Research Center
Jim Herr ‘86, Registrar
Victor Chico, POC
Lisa M. Loya, Campus Dining
Ella Turenne, Student Affairs
Yadira Barajas ’97, Student Business Services
Maria Mancera-Yamanaka
Gina Becerril, Director of Financial Aid
Vannessa Alvarado, Registrar’s Office
Maricela L. Martinez, Sr. Associate Dean and Director of Transfer Admission
Jacalyn Feigelman, Assoc Dir of HR
David Dellinger, ITS
Jenny Heetderks, Emmons
Luci Masredjian, Student Affairs
Robin Hamilton ’08, Admission Office
Kerri Ann Miller, Student Affairs
Rob Flot, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students
Jacob Alden Sargent, Associate Director, Center for Digital Liberal Arts
Diana Keeler ’09, Media Arts & Culture
Kristi Allen, AVP Institutional Planning & Budget
Patty Lu, ITS
Celestina Castillo, Center for Community Based Learning (CCBL)
Lindsay Trumbull, IA
Caryn Rothschild, IA
Brian Chambers, Library/CDLA
James Maley, Moore Laboratory of Zoology
Chelsea Williams ’10, Vantuna Research Group
Lisa Mattia, ITS
Susan Young, Office for Religious and Spiritual Life
Sara Semal, Emmons Wellness Center
Mario Bonilla, Facilities Management
Denise Frost, IA
Alisa Fishbach ’87, IA
James Uhrich, ITS
Caroline Kim Palacios ’07, IA
Meldia Yesayan, Oxy Arts
Rithika Mukerjee-Mora, Academic Affairs
Amy Andrews Munoz P ’10, P ’14 Hospitality Services
Chris Ferguson, AVP of Enrollment
Debbie Afar ’10, IA
Rhonda L. Brown, VP of Equity & Inclusion, CDO
Horacio Aceves ’03, Upward Bound
Leonel Sanchez, Student Affairs
Darren Hall, CDLA
Helena de Lemos, Library

This letter was revised April 10, 2019 at 5:20 p.m. to combine all tenured, tenure track and non-tenure track faculty names under “Faculty.”