Fall Welcome from Scripps College

Posted: August 18, 2017

Dear Scripps College Community Members,

At the beginning of each academic year, we have an opportunity to recommit to building a thriving community of scholars who contribute to society through lives of leadership, service, integrity, and creativity. On campus, we do this through our orientation programming, our opening events, and in our greetings to one another after a summer that we hope brought fun, relaxation, and new experiences for all. The hatred, racism, and violence perpetuated by white supremacists in Charlottesville has left many of us not only horrified, but also apprehensive about this attack on our nation’s ideals and its implications for the future.

Institutions of higher education like Scripps exist to elevate the human condition and spirit through knowledge, inquiry, and discourse. Prejudice, discrimination, and bigotry have no place on campuses or in our society. At Scripps College, we respect the dignity of all members of our community and strive to create a culture and climate that fully supports learning, intellectual engagement, mutual respect, and warm friendships. Adherence to these values is crucial to our stance against hate and our love for humanity. This academic year, we will advance this commitment and build on the work of prior years by focusing on community resilience, equity and access, and the future direction of Scripps.

Community Resilience
Student Affairs
Last spring, the Scripps community engaged in a rigorous examination of the student experience, and this summer we planned a number of initiatives to enhance residential life, strengthen community, and promote student health and wellness. Over the summer, Charlotte Johnson, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, led a comprehensive effort to evaluate, enhance, and expand programming related to mental health, cyber safety, residential life, first-year programming, and alcohol policies. Once classes resume, Dean Johnson will report on Student Affairs projects underway.

Recognizing that campus life is at the heart of the Scripps experience, our goal is to cultivate a sense of belonging and support for every student. As we implement and evaluate new programs, activities, and services, we will continue to seek student input to help determine what is working and where to make improvements. We are committed to creating a living and learning environment that ensures student success and deepens our connections to one another, and this will serve as the guiding principle for Student Affairs and Residential Life programming in the year ahead.

IDEA Initiative
This fall, the Inclusivity, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA) initiative will sponsor a series of Intergroup Dialogues (IGD) for faculty and students designed to develop understanding of social identities and statuses (i.e., race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religious identity, ability status, citizenship/immigration status, socio-economic background, etc.), foster empathy and motivation to bridge differences, and build personal and collective responsibility for social justice. Participants will also share their perspectives on diversity and campus climate issues. We will also hold workshops for staff to build a more inclusive community by engaging participants in reflection on identities and experiences, communication across difference, and individual, group, and system dynamics related to identity.

Equity and Access
Committee on Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity
As we continue to monitor and document our progress toward creating the equity and access we envision for the Scripps community, we have recognized the need for more robust channels of communication and input from Scripps community members. To this end, I have established the Committee on Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity (CIDE) to replace the President’s Advisory Council on Diversity and Inclusion (PACDI). CIDE’s charge will include proposing initiatives that will enhance public dialogue on gender identity, ethnicity, religion, race, diversity, and other topics critical to the future of the College and facilitating campus conversations on race, equity, and inclusion. I will also rely on CIDE to help the senior team and me by developing recommendations for improving College policies and practices that have an impact on equity and access. CIDE will include faculty, staff, students, and an alumna.

Financial Aid
Our ability to provide robust financial aid for students and families is a critical component of our efforts to expand access to Scripps College academic and co-curricular experiences. Last year, we were able to allocate an additional $500,000 to increase the financial aid budget. We will utilize the additional funds to increase the proportion of students receiving scholarships, reduce the number of students with loans, and cap the minimum student contribution. Additionally, work is underway to launch a redesigned financial aid website later in the semester that will make financial aid policies more transparent and understandable to students and families, while providing more resources to help navigate the application and renewal process. We hope to raise more funds toward scholarships so that we can provide better and more support to our students.

Later this fall, the Financial Aid Office will move to Balch Hall. The goal of this move is to make it easier for students to visit the office and obtain information and ensure regular communication between Financial Aid and the student deans, registrar, and Student Accounts.

Future of Scripps
Strategic Plan
Among the primary charges assigned to me by the Board of Trustees upon my appointment as president of Scripps was the creation and adoption of a new strategic plan for the College. Community input will be invaluable throughout the strategic planning process, and we have developed several opportunities for engagement and feedback during this first phase of thinking about Scripps’ evolution and future. Faculty and staff are invited to participate in one of two planning workshops over the next month. In addition, we will offer workshops for students and the Alumnae Leadership Council, as well as an online survey for the entire community later in the fall. Your ideas, observations, and perspectives are crucial to envisioning Scripps’s future, and I hope that you will participate thoughtfully and enthusiastically in this phase of engagement.

Please see our fall news and events announcements for more College news and information. I look forward to the year and the growth and development our students will experience both in and outside the classroom. Again, I wish you great success this semester, and I look forward to our work together to build and sustain a stronger Scripps. Thank you for all of your contributions to our community.

Sincerely,

Lara Tiedens
President

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