Committee Moves Forward With Scripps Presidential Search

The Scripps College Presidential Search Committee announced on Oct. 21 that it had established a prospectus and will now move forward with identifying potential candidates, according to trustees and committee co-chairs Bob Sacks and Betsy Weinberg Smith SC ’74.

The prospectus, which can be found on the Scripps Presidential Search website, highlights the school’s exhibitions of growth and stability while reiterating its mission “to educate women to develop their intellects and talents through active participation in a community of scholars, so that graduates may contribute to society through public and private lives of leadership, service, integrity, and creativity.” 

It also offers an official position profile created based on feedback from approximately 700 community members through surveys and various outreach efforts to assess the campus’ priorities and goals in establishing a new leader. It outlines the president’s role, expected opportunities and challenges as well as desired qualifications and personal characteristics.

Former Scripps President Lori Bettison-Varga announced her resignation in July to accept her new position as president and director of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. In October, Dean of Faculty Amy Marcus-Newhall assumed the role of interim president.

“The community’s input reflected candor, passion, and a shared belief that Scripps deserves a president who appreciates and values this institution as much as its students, faculty, staff, and alumnae do,” Sacks and Smith wrote in an email to TSL.

The president will be responsible for overseeing the development of Scripps’s next strategic plan, financial resources and relationship with the Claremont consortium, as well as increasing diversity and inclusivity on campus. The next president is also expected to support the school’s community and academic growth with attention to its value of creative and thoughtful exploration and service as well as, in the words of founder Ellen Browning Scripps, “the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.”

“[It’s] important [for the new president] to understand the new Trans inclusive policy, have ways to support marginalized students on campus, and be able to respond quickly and with grace to anything that comes their way,” wrote Julia Black, Scripps New Student Program coordinator, in an email to TSL. “[They need] to understand that Scripps students are smart and opinionated and how to navigate a space with diverse student backgrounds.”

With diversity and inclusivity as a priority, the committee has been constructed with special attention to its ability to represent all of Scripps’ voices.

“Although I would have liked to see more students on the search committee, I do actually believe that the committee is doing a lot to include student voices," wrote Rebekah Manikowski, Student Activities chair of Scripps Associated Students (SAS), in an email to TSL. "They have gone to great lengths to procure feedback and to inform the different constituencies of Scripps. It may seem a little ‘behind closed doors’ at this stage, but that's actually because in order to obtain the best possible candidates, it must be a closed process. I understand and respect that.”

The committee is currently comprised of eight trustee members and Marcus-Newhall under the guidance of Storbeck/Pimentel & Associates, a search firm that has worked previously with fellow Claremont Colleges, Harvey Mudd College and Pomona College. In its previous update on Sept. 2, the committee also announced its inclusion of SAS President Minjoo Kim ‘16 as well as peer-selected faculty members Nancy Neiman Auerbach, Mary W. Johnson and Lara Deeb in the search process. 

“Although eight of the thirteen members of the committee are trustees, which reflects the fact that the appointment of the College’s president is the Board’s responsibility, the composition of the committee has been designed to provide input from different perspectives,” Sacks and Smith wrote.

In addition to faculty and a student elected by their respective peers, “the eight trustee members include alumni, parents, and children of alumni, and represent a varied mix of age, tenure on the Board, gender and ethnicity,” according to Sacks and Smith.

Moving forward, the committee is now preparing to review candidates based on the criteria and goals laid out in the prospectus. The increasing national visibility of Scripps’s presidential search, the co-chairs note, has already led to a number of nominations and expressions of interest. The committee is expected to present its candidate recommendation to the Board of Trustees by March 2016.