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Boesche Society

Support an Obama Scholar through The Boesche Society

Roger Boesche, Arthur G. Coons Distinguished Professor in the History of Ideas, spent 40 years teaching and mentoring the students of Occidental College. Students have called his political science courses transformative, brilliant and engaging. Those he inspired—including Bill Davis ‘80, Janette Sadik-Khan ‘82 and, of course, Barack Obama ‘83—have gone on to leadership roles on the national and global stage. Over the course of his tenure at Oxy, he was honored with every teaching award the College has to offer, but most notably, by the success and abiding respect of students and fellow professors over four decades.


In perhaps the best-known example, Roger famously spurred young Barack Obama to study the political writings of great thinkers and to consider a life of public service. His courses helped shape the future president’s leadership values. Upon learning of Boesche’s impending retirement from Occidental, President Obama wrote his mentor:

“Your classroom is where my interest in politics began …Your teaching and research remind us of the importance of constant inquiry and debate, lessons that are the core of our democracy, and that I’ve drawn on throughout my life, particularly in this Office. You helped instill passion for ideas, not only in me, but in the generations of students who found in your courses inspiration that would guide them forward.”

Roger passed away peacefully in his sleep on May 23, 2017, just two days after we celebrated his recent retirement and innumerable contributions to Oxy at our 135th Commencement. Before his passing, Roger had graciously agreed to establish The Boesche Society to honor his most famous student, Barack Obama, as well as the thousands of other students whose lives he touched through the years. Roger’s wife, Mandy, tells us that Roger was enthusiastic about establishing The Boesche Society. As his colleagues and friends, we are privileged to carry on Roger’s legacy in this way.

The Boesche Society Co-Chairs

These former students who were inspired by Professor Boesche have come together to honor his legacy and provide the same opportunity for future Oxy students.

Janette Sadik Khan

Janette Sadik-Khan

Janette Sadik-KhanOccidental College Class of 1982
Urban Transportation Planner

Janette Sadik-Khan is one of the world’s foremost authorities on transportation and urban transformation. She served as New York City’s transportation commissioner from 2007 to 2013 under Mayor...

Suzanne Greenberg Headshot

Suzanne Greenberg

Suzanne GreenbergOccidental College Class of 1982
Financial Products Professional

Suzanne Greenberg has had a career at the forefront of financial innovation, working to design and implement many different types of novel financing and investment strategies. She worked for many...

Liz Blackman Headshot

Liz Blackman

Liz BlackmanOccidental College Class of 1980
Animal Rescue Advocate

Officially, Liz Blackman majored in political science at Occidental. But she will tell you that in every way that matters, her true major was in hanging on Roger Boesche's every word. From the day she...

Mandy Boesche with her husband, the late Prof. Roger Boesche

Mandy Boesche

Mandy BoescheHonorary Co-Chair
Wife of Professor Roger Boesche, Retired Educator

Mandy Boesche recently retired after 45 years as a high school performing arts teacher and director. She has mentored and inspired thousands of young people to expand their view of themselves and...

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Support an Obama Scholar through The Boesche Society