Pitzer trustees Fairbairn and Weinholtz to step down May 2021

A man walks into a building that has red chairs and a yellow, paper dress.
Pitzer College sees two trustees retires, three new members join board of trustees. (Domenico Ottolia • The Student Life)

Pitzer College’s board of trustees will see significant reshuffling at the end of the 2020-21 academic year as two trustees retire and three new members join the board. 

Vice Chairman Robert Fairbairn and Michael Weinholtz will retire from the board May 2021, with the latter serving for eight years. Jonathan Graham PZ ’82 and Gulnar Vaswani joined the board recently, according to a statement by the college. They will be joined by recently elected trustee Derek Mitchell, who is the CEO of Partners in School Innovation and a trustee of the California Academy of Sciences. 

Graham previously served on the board from 1997 to 2011 and is currently the executive vice president, general counsel and secretary of Amgen, an American biopharmaceutical company. 

“We are delighted to welcome [Graham] back to provide both his familiarity with Pitzer and his wisdom as we further invest in the sciences,” the statement read. 

Vaswani joined the board last fall and is a diversity and inclusion consultant, social impact advocate, board adviser and executive coach to CEOs, according to the statement. She is also the recipient of the Diversity List 2020 Award from the Zubin Foundation in Hong Kong. 

Fairbairn’s position as vice chairman of BlackRock — the world’s largest global investment management firm — has made him a controversial figure for many Pitzer students in recent years. The company has purchased GEO Group shares, one of the largest operators of private prisons in the United States and owner of a U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement processing center in Adelanto, California. 

When a Pitzer student submitted a manifesto to the college’s art gallery that criticized Fairbairn by name on most of its pages in late February, Pitzer rejected the piece, citing community guidelines that forbade directly naming a community member, according to past TSL coverage. The decision was later reversed by the college March 4.

In 2019, a message painted on Pitzer’s Free Wall accused Fairbairn of profiting from “concentration camps.” It was soon painted over, according to past TSL coverage.

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