Post-Board of Trustees Retreat Update

Posted: March 13, 2014

Dear Scripps Community,

Before I share highlights of the Board Retreat, please note that a Community Forum is scheduled for March 25 at 4:00 p.m. in the Humanities Auditorium. The primary focus of the forum will be to report on and discuss the 2014-15 budget, as approved by the Board of Trustees at their meeting on Sunday, March 9.

The annual Board of Trustees retreat was held the weekend of March 7-9, and, as always, it is gratifying and invigorating to work with a group of talented, visionary and generous individuals who have made Scripps their volunteer and philanthropic priority. The retreat enables trustees to come together with the senior leadership team, faculty, students, and staff – this year 17 students and 19 faculty members joined the retreat – to focus in-depth on topics critical to the College, for the present and future. From analyses of strategic indicators in comparison to those of our peer and aspiration colleges to an exploration of the impact of technology on higher education, the discussion content at the retreat inspires the kind of critical thinking necessary to advance the College’s strategic priorities.

Current Board Chair Linda Davis Taylor P’11 was celebrated for her term of service. She has brought to the board not only a passion for Scripps but also experience as a professional in college and university fundraising and admission and in the financial services field. Ceremonially, Board leadership was turned over to incoming chair Mark Herron. He joined the Board to continue the commitment of his mother, Scripps alumna Jeannette Pierson Herron ’45, who is a past trustee. He begins his term as chair July 1, 2014.

Among highlights of the retreat discussions and activities:


Thanks in no small part to the efforts of the President’s Advisory Committee on Budget, the Board approved the 2014-15 budget. Committee members devoted significant time to reviewing, vetting and prioritizing the many worthwhile budget requests – not an easy task given all the fantastic ideas that come from so many members of our campus community! Don’t miss the Community Forum on March 25 to learn more about the budgeting process and the budget itself.

Faculty Personnel Actions

Congratulations are in order: The Board approved the promotion of Lara Deeb to professor of anthropology, effective July 1, 2014 and Damien Sojoyner has been renewed as an assistant professor of Africana studies. I know you join me in celebrating the contributions of both Professors Deeb and Sojoyner to the academic excellence of Scripps College as well as to the life of the community as a whole.

Diversity and Inclusivity

The trustees spent significant time discussing the recent letter from student clubs and organizations and other concerns regarding issues of diversity and inclusivity during various committee meetings as well as at the regular business meeting. The Board reaffirmed their ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusivity through the establishment of an Ad Hoc Committee of the Board of Trustees. The charge and composition of this committee will be developed by the Board in the weeks ahead.

Career Planning and Resources Enhancement

One of the goals of CP&R is to build networks and develop relationships aimed at helping students and graduates transition into and advance in their careers. Members of our external community care passionately about enabling our students to advance their career goals, and our alumnae, parents and friends collectively represent the myriad opportunities awaiting our graduates. To deepen these connections and relationships, CP&R will become part of the Institutional Advancement Division, the area of Scripps that is most directly and widely involved with relationship building. This change will connect students directly with our critical network of alumnae, parents and friends in all areas and fields of interest, allowing for greater breadth and depth in our network. The College’s primary internship program will remain within the CP&R office, which will work closely with the LASPA Center to develop and support LASPA specific internships. Vicki Klopsch, CP&R executive director, will report to Michael Archibald, vice president for institutional advancement; the office will remain in its current location near Seal Court in Malott Commons. The move becomes effective July 1, 2014, and we expect no substantive changes to programming other than enhanced networking for our students and alumnae.

WASC Update

I am thrilled to announce that we received word last Friday morning from our accrediting agency, Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), that Scripps has been reaccredited for the coming nine years! While this means we will not need to undergo a comprehensive review until 2022, we will continue to build on the enhancements we have made to assessment and other key areas upon which WASC focuses its reviews. We have a mid-cycle report due in 2018. Of course, we knew we would be reaccredited, but not every school is fortunate to receive such a long period of time between formal reaccreditation cycles. Kudos to all who gave their time and energy to making the team visit a success for Scripps College! If you are interested in learning more about WASC accreditation, feel free to visit our WASC web page:

Focus Topic: Online Education

The focus topic for the retreat was online education. We were fortunate to have Elizabeth Garrett, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at USC, share the approach they have taken to developing online graduate degrees, with an emphasis on USC’s clear philosophical reason to not pursue online undergraduate programming. Adam van Arsdale, associate professor of anthropology at Wellesley, joined by Donna Ng, our vice president for business affairs, took us through his implementation of an online anthropology MOOC through edX, focusing on the connections developed with the external community and his own growth as a teacher that resulted from the experience. Faculty, students, trustees and staff engaged in roundtable discussions following the presentations, with the consensus being that online technology has tremendous potential for us in terms of outreach with alumnae, parents, and friends of the College.

Use of Technology on Campus

New software that will enhance the student experience and efficiencies on campus was announced at the Student Affairs Committee. Admission will be migrating to new software that will allow for online reading of applications. This move will eliminate paper applications and is aligned with our campus sustainability efforts. Student Affairs will be deploying a new housing system that will allow for online hall draw and roommate matching and another database to be used for record keeping.

Campaign Update

To date, the campaign has raised $87 million, of which trustees have committed $47 million. The campaign name – “We Want More – The Campaign for Scripps College” – continues to serve as an entry point for engaging donors in discussion about supporting the Scripps of today and the Scripps that will await future generations to come. The Institutional Advancement Committee had a robust discussion about responses – both positive and negative – to the campaign theme, and will use the feedback to frame future newsletters and materials that will explain the campaign goals.

I hope to see you at the March 25 Community Forum.


Lori Bettison-Varga

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