Presidential Post-Board Community Communication

Posted: May 22, 2015

Dear Members of the Scripps College Community,

Another academic year, filled with discovery and growth, is over, and there is much to celebrate! As always, our Commencement ceremonies were meaningful and memorable for the graduates and their families. Two hundred forty-four candidates received their degrees from the College on Saturday, May 16. I invite you to review their theses topics and the poem and speech from this year’s Commencement speaker, spoken word poet Sarah Kay.

As we celebrate the close of this academic year, I am glad to share with you campus news and updates, as well as key actions from the Board of Trustees meeting on May 16.


I am pleased to announce that Scripps continues to be a top choice for high school students, as evidenced by our admission results for 2015-2016. This year we admitted 28 percent of the applicant pool and projected a yield of 33 percent. Our regular decision admission yield far exceeded expectations at 39 percent, and to date, 285 students have paid the commitment deposit. The quality of class is excellent, with an increase in underrepresented students from 16.5 percent in 2014 to 19.9 percent, and nearly 60 percent of the class is from outside of California.

The Dean of Students Office will launch a plan to ensure all first-year students will be comfortably housed on campus. The high level of demand for a Scripps education is unusual at a time when many of our peer institutions face declining enrollment and financial pressures; this is attributed to the high-quality academic and residential college experience provided by our faculty and staff, as well as the excellent work of our admission team. We are all very excited that NEW Hall is on schedule to open August 2016, which will allow us to decrease forced triples in the current residence halls and to house all of our students in true Scripps style!

Endowed Chairs

Based on the recommendation of the President and the Dean of Faculty and the endorsement of the Appointments, Promotions and Tenure Committee, the Board unanimously approved four Scripps faculty to endowed chair positions. Faculty in named chairs are expected to provide leadership in their designated field by organizing and participating in campus events related to their area of expertise, by maintaining high-quality teaching, and demonstrating a willingness to participate in campus governance.


  • The Margaret McKenzie Distinguished Professorship in Modern Foreign Languages was awarded to Professor of French Nathalie Rachlin.
  • The Mary W. Johnson and J. Stanley Johnson Professorship in Humanities was awarded to Professor of Religious Studies Andrew Jacobs.
  • The Nathaniel Wright Stephenson Chair in History and Biography was awarded to Professor of History and Africana Studies Rita Roberts.
  • The Richard Armour Chair in Modern Languages was awarded to Professor of Hispanic Studies Marina Pérez de Mendiola.


These four faculty bring distinguished teaching records and active engagement in scholarly and/or creative activities to their new positions, and I congratulate them on their scholarly achievements!

Water Reduction Mandate

In response to an executive order by Governor of California Jerry Brown, the City of Claremont has passed a resolution limiting watering to two days a week for 15 minutes at a time, which is more than 50 percent less than the College’s current watering schedule. The resolution further limits watering during colder months. To comply with the water usage reduction mandate and to conserve water, the Board of Trustees approved funding to implement landscaping projects, showerhead replacements, and a new pool filtration system.

While these actions will result in some changes to the appearance of the grounds, we are committed to preserving the natural beauty of the campus. I am proud to tell you Scripps is viewed as a leader in this arena, thanks to the creative work of our Director of Grounds Lola Trafecanty.

Campaign Update

The Scripps Campaign total stands at $114 million as of May 11, which is an increase of $22 million since last July. The Scripps Fund will finish above last year’s record $3.5 million, and net additions to the endowment total $8.3 million in cash and $500,000 in outstanding pledges. In terms of participation, The Scripps Fund has increased the number of donors by nearly 500.

I invite you to join the Weekend of Giving June 12-14. This is a participation challenge; if the College is successful in achieving 952 gifts (one gift per student), it will earn an additional $200,000 through a challenge by trustees Roger Engemann, Mark Herron, Laura Hockett ’85, and Nancy Katayama ’77.

New Board Members

The Board approved the appointment of two new members effective July 1, 2015 – Kalpana Singh Rhodes ’94 and Linden Wise P’18. They will join Bonnie Wozencroft P’16, elected at the March Board retreat, as new trustees. The Board also ratified the election of Victoria “Tori” Claire Sepand ’15 as Recent Graduate Trustee, and Cheryl and David Scheidemantle P’17 as the new Scripps Association of Families Co-Chairs. Please join me in welcoming our new and distinguished leaders.

NEW Hall Groundbreaking

The College celebrated the future home of NEW Hall at a groundbreaking ceremony last weekend. The project is proceeding as scheduled as we work toward delivering our highly anticipated tenth residence hall on time and on budget in fall 2016. This residence hall could only become a reality with dedicated planning and support, and the ceremony allowed us to acknowledge the benevolence of the donors who made the project possible. We honored the anonymous donor family who gave an extraordinarily generous $10 million lead gift, the Georgia B. Ridder Foundation, trustee Charlotte “Chalan” Helmholz Colby ’61, Joan Isaacs ’71, and the family of Miyako Yamane ’53.

Scripps continues to thrive as a result of our shared commitment to preserve an environment of academic excellence and to strengthen our vibrant and inclusive community as we live, learn, and grow together. I am honored to share the Scripps experience with each of you, and I am grateful for all of the ways you contribute to our community.


Lori Bettison-Varga


« »