All Hail Occidental College

Yale, Georgetown, USC, and other universities were hit by operation Varsity Blue, the largest college-cheating scandal in history. Mastermind Rick Singer funneled money to the universities in exchange for their admission of the children of the wealthy. However, when Singer called the admissions officer of Occidental College and asked Mr. Vince Cuseo to reconsider the rejection of an “academically challenged daughter of a wealthy family,” he hit a closed door in his side-door, back-door, basement infiltration approach to admissions. Singer said Occidental was “dumb” for having “too thick of a wall between admissions and fundraising departments.” Jennifer Levitz and Douglas Belkin, “L.A. College Rebuffed Admissions Scammer,” Wall Street Journal,, November 7, 2019, p. A1.

Singer was flummoxed because he referred to what he was proposing as a “win-win” for the young woman and her family and Occidental. But, Occidental had made the decision back in the 1980s that it would not admit the children of the wealthy because they were the children of the wealthy. Occidental went with upholding standards and a strategy of raising money for scholarships for minority students.

The campus does not have the trappings of the schools with legacy admits and the children of the wealthy, but the school seems to have a credo, lines it does not cross. One is not gaming the rejection rate. Occidental has not lowered its standards in order to increase the number of applications and appear to be more selective. Faculty members report discussions of those strategies but also a simple shut-down, “It’s not who we are.”

FYI — 43% of Harvard white students are athletes, legacy admits, or the children of donors or faculty. Parents, please let your children grown up to be Occidental students. Occidental — stay the course. To the Wall Street Journal, gratitude for showing us that there are those who do not rationalize, who have clear lines, and whose employees know those lines and live them.

About mmjdiary

Professor Marianne Jennings is an emeritus professor of legal and ethical studies from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, retiring in 2011 after 35 years of teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in ethics and the legal environment of business. During her tenure at ASU, she served as director of the Joan and David Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics from 1995-1999. In 2006, she was appointed faculty director for the W.P. Carey Executive MBA Program. She has done consulting work for businesses and professional groups including AICPA, Boeing, Dial Corporation, Edward Jones, Mattel, Motorola, CFA Institute, Southern California Edison, the Institute of Internal Auditors, AIMR, DuPont, AES, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Motorola, Hy-Vee Foods, IBM, Bell Helicopter, Amgen, Raytheon, and VIAD. The sixth edition of her textbook, Case Studies in Business Ethics, was published in February 2011. The ninth edition of her textbook, Business: lts Legal, Ethical and Global Environment was published in January 2011. The 23rd edition of her book, Business Law: Principles and Cases, will be published in January 2013. The tenth edition of her book, Real Estate Law, will also be published in January 2013. Her book, A Business Tale: A Story of Ethics, Choices, Success, and a Very Large Rabbit, a fable about business ethics, was chosen by Library Journal in 2004 as its business book of the year. A Business Tale was also a finalist for two other literary awards for 2004. In 2000 her book on corporate governance was published by the New York Times MBA Pocket Series. Her book on long-term success, Building a Business Through Good Times and Bad: Lessons from Fifteen Companies, Each With a Century of Dividends, was published in October 2002 and has been used by Booz, Allen, Hamilton for its work on business longevity. Her latest book, The Seven Signs of Ethical Collapse was published by St. Martin’s Press in July 2006 and has been a finalist for two book awards. Her weekly columns are syndicated around the country, and her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Reader's Digest. A collection of her essays, Nobody Fixes Real Carrot Sticks Anymore, first published in 1994 is still being published. She has been a commentator on business issues on All Things Considered for National Public Radio. She has served on four boards of directors, including Arizona Public Service (1987-2000), Zealous Capital Corporation, and the Center for Children with Chronic Illness and Disability at the University of Minnesota. She was appointed to the board of advisors for the Institute of Nuclear Power Operators in 2004 and served on the board of trustees for Think Arizona, a public policy think tank. She has appeared on CNBC, CBS This Morning, the Today Show, and CBS Evening News. In 2010 she was named one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Business Ethics by Trust Across America. Her books have been translated into four different languages. She received the British Emerald award for authoring one of their top 50 articles in management publications, chosen from over 15,000 articles. Personal: Married since 1976 to Terry H. Jennings, Maricopa County Attorney’s Office Deputy County Attorney; five children: Sarah, Sam, and John, and the late Claire and Hannah Jennings.
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2 Responses to All Hail Occidental College

  1. Kenneth K. Goertz, MD (class 1972) says:

    I’m a graduate of Occidental College in 1972. I was gratified to read the Wall Street Journal article, and your comments for two reasons: 1. the ethical standards that operated during the admissions process, and 2. the desire of Occidental to admit more students of color, of economically disadvantaged circumstances-to put its resources into trying to rebalance the advantages of privilege.

  2. mmjdiary says:

    You should be a proud alum. Occidental made a critical decision years ago while the rest of us took the road most traveled. We are now reassessing, realigning, revising, and, sadly, regretting. Again, All Hail Occidental.

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