What Is Oxy?
A place of intimate scale and infinite scope. For more than 125 years, their tight-knit community of students and scholars has come together in the heart of Los Angeles, one of the most stimulating and creative cities in the world.
A leader in the liberal arts and sciences. One of the original campuses where Upward Bound got its start and home of one of the first West Coast chapters of Phi Beta Kappa, Oxy boasts a firmly rooted tradition of academic achievement and dedicated community service. Their students go on to become leaders in their fields—pursuing graduate degrees and careers in politics, diving headfirst into the Hollywood hustle and breaking new ground in medical research.
A community in conversation. When they speak, their leadership listens. Professors don’t pontificate; they discuss, debate and engage. With only 2,100 undergraduates, everyone is face to face with faculty, staff and other students. They seize the opportunity to create and sustain conversations around the issues that matter most to them.
A home. They respect and encourage one another’s ideas, interests and creative impulses. They root for their own and celebrate their successes—big and small—as a community. This campus and this culture inspire love and loyalty, and make them proud to call Oxy home.
A Brief and Almost Entirely True History of Oxy
A lot can happen when you've been around as long as they have...
In 1887, the year a group of knowledge-thirsty Presbyterians founded "The Occidental University of Los Angeles, California," a Kansas prohibitionist named Harvey Wilcox purchased a ranch just west of the city, naming it Hollywood.
Tuition in 1888, the year Oxy opened its doors, was $50. The new college wasn't exactly swamped with applicants: 40 students enrolled that fall.
Southern California's oldest football rivalry? Not UCLA-USC. Oxy and Pomona first squared off in 1895—preceding those other guys by more than 30 years.
Student body president Clarence Spaulding became Oxy's first Rhodes Scholar in 1908. Today, Oxy still has more Rhodes Scholars (10) than USC (9).
Big changes came to campus in 1926: freshmen were required to live on campus for the first time, and the Oxy basketball team had to adjust to playing indoors after Alumni Gymnasium was built.
Sammy Lee '43's first gold medal in diving at the 1948 London Games wasn't Oxy's first Olympic hardware: Tigers have won a total of seven medals. If Oxy were a country, they would be tied with Israel and Tunisia.
In 1992, with the nation's eyes on Los Angeles during the largest riots the country had seen since the '60s, Occidental was recognized on the front page of The Wall Street Journal for its forward-thinking stance on diversity.
A knight who hits people with a chicken? A commanding officer of a naval base and the Girl Scouts? The James Dean of disability studies? There are some brilliant characters among their notable alumni. See more