Community Update from President Lara Tiedens

Posted: December 13, 2016

Dear Members of the Scripps Community,

Reflecting on the past several months, it’s hard to believe that my first semester at Scripps is already drawing to a close. As I continue my “Scripps education,” I am amazed at the depth and breadth of achievement among our students, faculty, and staff, and at the strong bonds shared by the members of our community as a result of a common love for this wonderful institution. As the final days of classes wind down, I want to share some campus updates as well as some of my own observations about these last few weeks.

Watson Fellowship Nominees
Scripps College has nominated three graduates from the Class of 2017—Laura Casaregola, Hannah Sands, and Julia Thomas—as finalists for Thomas J. Watson Fellowships. This selection puts them in the running for the prestigious grant, awarded annually to 50 students out of hundreds of graduating seniors from 40 colleges across the United States. The grant supports one year of international travel, exploration, and independent study as outlined by each student’s proposed project. Scripps’ finalists are interested in topics related to agriculture, athletics, and journalism.

Grant Awards
The Claremont consortium has received a $1.5 million grant from the Mellon Foundation to establish the Center for Teaching & Learning. Scripps will serve as the lead college in the inaugural year. The Department of Justice (DOJ) Office on Violence Against Women recently announced The Claremont Colleges will receive a grant totaling $749,998 to help students who are victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. The DOJ award will strengthen existing resources and fund new programming and supportive services delivered by the EmPOWER Center, established in 2015. The funding will benefit students from all seven of The Claremont Colleges, which include Scripps, Harvey Mudd, Pomona, Claremont McKenna, and Pitzer Colleges; and graduate schools Keck Graduate Institute and Claremont Graduate University. The Claremont Colleges were among 45 colleges and universities in the nation, and the only higher education institutions in California, to receive the DOJ award.

“More Scripps” Campaign
The “More Scripps” Campaign received a significant boost this semester with the addition of two endowed professorships. Scripps College Trustee Laura Vausbinder Hockett ’85 of Wellesley, Massachusetts, and her husband, Robert Hockett, have established the Laura Vausbinder Hockett Endowed Professorship with a gift of $1.5 million. Distinguished professors from all academic disciplines will be eligible for the Hockett Professorship, which begins in the 2019-2020 academic year.

Trustee Suzanne Ely Muchnic ’62 increased her campaign pledge to $2 million with the creation of the Suzanne ’62 and Paul D. Muchnic Endowed Professorship, honoring her late husband, Paul, who passed away this fall. The Muchnic gift was made in honor of Mary MacNaughton ’70, professor of art and director of the Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery, in recognition of her extraordinary life of service and teaching during her career at Scripps College.

These gifts bring the number of campaign-endowed professorships to four and increase the “More Scripps” Campaign total to $132 million. As the first two professorships to qualify for the Weinberg Family Challenge, these gifts generate a $500,000 matching gift from Trustee Betsy Weinberg Smith ’74. We are very grateful for the generosity of these trustees and their families, whose gifts will help recruit and retain the distinguished faculty at the heart of Scripps’ academic excellence.

Early Admission Applications
Scripps College continues to be a top choice among high school seniors as evidenced by a record number of early decision applications submitted for the 2017-2018 academic year. Early Decision applicants are students who know Scripps is their top-choice college and are committed to accepting an offer of admission in advance of the regular decision process. The Admission team continues to work diligently to build a strong applicant pool, and we look forward to welcoming the Class of 2021 next fall.

Campus and Community Events
The campus community has enjoyed a diverse slate of public and community events this semester. The Scripps Presents fall series included speakers such as Melissa Harris-Perry, Nicholson Baker, Maria Hinojosa, and Eddie Huang, all of whose engagements were followed by student, staff, and faculty-led ConverAction discussions. The Humanities Institute series, “The War on Terror 15 Year Later,” hosted scholars, authors, and artists, including Sumita Pahwa, Michael Deutsch, and Molly Crabapple. The 10th anniversary Elizabeth Hubert Malott Public Affairs program featured columnist and policy expert Norm Ornstein, and, Scripps and Pomona Colleges hosted an interdisciplinary festival of Japanese Noh Theatre that included lectures, workshops, art exhibitions, and performances, as well as the world premiere of Nakano’s Imagined Sceneries, commissioned for the occasion. These programs showcased Scripps’ rich intellectual environment and were well attended by the Scripps and Claremont Colleges communities, and residents of the Inland Empire and Los Angeles regions.

Off campus, I had the pleasure of meeting hundreds of alumnae and parents at the “In Person” regional events held in San Francisco, New York, Boston, Pasadena, and Orange County. I’ve enjoyed the thought-provoking discussions and questions posed by trustees and alumnae at these events, and I’d like to thank all who have attended and welcomed me so warmly into the Scripps community.

Post-Election Campus Climate
I’m very proud that despite the highly charged emotions surrounding the election, our students, faculty, and staff have responded first by expressing their support and care for one another, and second by reinforcing their commitment to civic engagement, social responsibility, and Scripps’ core values. We’ve taken advantage of the expertise here at the colleges in order to have both in-class and outside-of-class panels and discussions about the election results. As some of you may have heard, we also had unfortunate incidents of graffiti related to the election outcome, using symbols of hate. This has been investigated by Campus Safety, and although the perpetrator has not been identified, we believe the graffiti was created by someone who is not a member of our community. Although these events were deeply disturbing and created significant fear within our community, I once again observed the Scripps community pulling together to support one another in response.

In the recent weeks, as many of you are likely aware, there has been a growing discussion about possible changes to immigration law and how that might impact campus life. As a campus that values diversity and seeks to provide a safe environment for our students, we have been paying close attention to that conversation. We are sensitive to the fear a number of our students have expressed about their vulnerabilities should these laws change. We have long seen ourselves as a sanctuary for our students—a place where talented young women can focus on their intellectual and social development, free from harassment and persecution, and thus we have decided to designate ourselves a sanctuary campus. The sanctuary declaration conveys that we will continue to protect the privacy and civil rights of students and faculty while also fulfilling our legal and fiduciary obligations.
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Our mission at Scripps College is to educate women to develop their intellects and talents through active participation in a community of scholars, so that as graduates they may contribute to society through public and private lives of leadership, service, integrity, and creativity. Whether post-election or pre-election, this goal is of the greatest importance. Each day, I consider what is happening on campus and try to determine what we can do better to produce an environment that will achieve this goal more fully. The best part of my job is seeing our students engaged in a learning process that will allow them to become amazing leaders. They leave me optimistic for and excited about the world they will produce.

As we wrap up the semester, many of us here at Scripps College look forward to a break from the intensity of classwork and to spending time with family and friends. December is a busy month for many, but I hope all of you are also able to find time during this month to connect with your loved ones.

Sincerely,

lara-tiedens-signature

Lara Tiedens
President

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