J.R. Kirkpatrick, A. Roy Thompson, Charles F. Bazata, A.W. Buell, Glen E. Huntsberger, and Lea Gorham—all members of the Class of 1904—celebrate the beginning of their junior year by donning the traditional plug-uglies in October 1902.

Our History

Our History

A Brief and Almost Entirely True History of Oxy

A lot can happen when you've been around as long as we 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, we'd 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 our notable alumni. 

Top 5 Things That Might Have But Thankfully Didn't Happen At Oxy

5. Oxy and Pomona didn't merge in 1910. Was it the football that came between us? The world may never know.

4. Oxy didn't become an all-men's college...twice. The matter was debated and rejected in 1912, then reconsidered and again turned down in 1932, just for good measure.

3. Oxy was quite peripatetic in its early years, having moved from Boyle Heights to Highland Park (1898) to Eagle Rock (1914), but it turned down opportunities to move to Inglewood (too remote) and Bel-Air (too many Bruins).

2. Oxy's 1965 master plan called for a carillon tower at the summit of Fiji Hill and three massive academic centers on the surrounding hillsides. Today, the hillsides remain undeveloped except for Oxy's new solar array.

1. Despite having two pieces published in Feast in 1981, a career in poetry never took shape for a young man known around the campus as Barry. He had to settle for becoming the 44th president of the United States.