Welcome Back Scripps College Community

Posted: August 24, 2015

Dear Members of the Scripps College Community:

The 2015–16 academic year will begin in just a few days, and I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome our new and returning students, faculty, staff, alumnae, parents, and friends who will come to campus over the next several weeks.

The new academic year brings excitement, activity, and opportunity—the chance to greet familiar faces, welcome new community members, and seek new ways to improve the academic and residential experience for our students. This fall term is particularly poignant for me because it will mark my last as president of Scripps College.

While it will be very difficult for me to leave this place I’ve grown to love so much, I take comfort in knowing that Scripps will remain unchanged in the ways that matter most—we will continue to be a community of brilliant students, accomplished faculty, committed staff, loyal and engaged alumnae, and supportive families united by our love for this College and our belief in its ability to nurture the next generation of women leaders.

As we celebrate the final days of summer and prepare for the new experiences, relationships, and discoveries ahead, I’d like to call your attention to these newsworthy items:

New Faces
Starting August 27, the Class of 2019 and their families will participate in a robust New Student Orientation program. As the 278 admitted students move their belongings into the residence halls, they will also bring new ideas, energy, and perspectives to enrich the Scripps community. I look forward to welcoming the first-year students to their new home away from home.

I am pleased to introduce the following new tenure-track distinguished faculty: Assistant Professor of Hispanic Studies Claudia Arteaga; Assistant Professor of Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality studies Jih-Fei Cheng; Assistant Professor of English Michelle Decker; Assistant Professor of Art Kasper Kovitz; Assistant Professor of Biology at the W.M. Keck Science Department Rory Spence; Assistant Professor of Politics Vanessa Tyson; and Assistant Professor of Dance Kevin Williamson. These professors will continue the tradition of high-quality instruction and research that makes Scripps a top-ranked liberal arts college and destination for promising young scholars.

New to senior staff is Dean Calvo as vice president for business affairs and treasurer. Please join me in welcoming all of the new members of the Scripps College community.

Summer Updates
This summer has been especially busy, as staff have advanced key initiatives to enhance the academic, fiscal, and environmental health of our campus. I’d like to thank all staff for their invaluable contributions to moving these projects and programs forward over the summer and to highlight the following achievements:

Campaign: The Scripps Fund, the College’s annual giving program, grew to $3.65 million, even after last year’s growth of more than $1 million. A successful trustee matching gift challenge helped the College achieve this level of growth. I applaud Scripps alumnae, parents, and friends for rising to the occasion for the Weekend of Giving campaign challenge. Your generosity generated over $555,000 from more than 1,000 donors, exceeding the targeted participation rate of 952—one gift for each student. To date, the Scripps campaign has raised $116 million in gifts and pledges toward its $175 million goal.

Campus Facilities: Kimberly Hall is nearing the final stages of a substantial renovation that includes a new roof, air conditioning, an elevator, moving the formal entrance, lobby renovations, office additions, ADA accessibility, new carpet and paint, and furnishings for the public areas. Construction of NEW Hall is proceeding on schedule and the residence will open in fall 2016.

Water Conservation Projects: The grounds team has been exceptionally busy this summer expediting water conservation projects to comply with the state’s water reduction mandate. Recently completed projects include replacing the Jaqua, Bowling Green, and Elm Tree lawns with less water-intensive grass, replacing the Revelle House and Dorsey/Margaret Fowler Garden perimeter with low water-use plants, and replacing the lawn north of the Sallie Tiernan Field House with a sand volleyball court. These changes are expected to reduce water use by 30 percent while maintaining the beautiful landscaping for which our campus is known. I applaud the grounds team for their hard work!

Rankings: Once again, our students voiced satisfaction with their Scripps experience in a survey conducted by The Princeton Review. The annual report, based on student opinions, ranked Scripps among the top 10 U.S. colleges and universities for “best quality of life,” “best classroom experience,” “most liberal students,” “most beautiful campus,” and  “best college dorms.” The College was ranked #16 in the nation for “best financial aid” and #12 for “best campus food.”

Diversity and Inclusivity: The Inclusivity, Diversity, Equity, and Access initiative (IDEA) will build on last year’s success and progress toward creating a more inclusive climate on campus with a new set of workshops and trainings this month.Perception and Impact: How Language Affects Relationships examines the importance of using effective communication to maintain good interpersonal relations with staff, students, and faculty. By the end of this workshop, participants will understand how to capitalize on their communication strengths and adjust their conversation styles to increase understanding. The 30 Minutes: Identify, Strategize, Act half-hour consultation sessions are designed for small groups of faculty and staff to pose questions about or share experiences they’ve had in classrooms or on campus and discuss effective response strategies. I hope you will take advantage of these unique and valuable opportunities to strengthen our community by reinforcing its core values.

Presidential Transition
As many of you know, Amy Marcus-Newhall, vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty, has stepped into the role of interim president-elect and will begin serving as interim president October 4. She has the full confidence and support of the Board of Trustees and the Scripps community, and I know that she will ensure that the College sustains its momentum and focus this academic year during the search for our next president. Professor Julie Liss assumed the role of interim vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty on Friday, August 21, to ensure stability for the Academic Affairs division during the transition, and we are grateful for her willingness to serve the College in this way.

Scripps’ future is very bright. We have the best students, faculty, staff, alumnae, and parents in higher education, a growing reputation for excellence, and a legacy of individual and societal impact. And you have a lifelong cheerleader, advocate, and supporter who will sing Scripps’ praises every chance I get. I am very grateful for the opportunity to serve alongside you and for your dedication to Scripps College.

Incipit vita nova.

Lori Bettison-Varga
President

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