Scripps President Tiedens Transitions Smoothly

Scripps College President Dr. Larissa Tiedens, who took office on Aug. 1, 2016, has already become extremely involved in campus life.

Tiedens is a social psychologist and former senior associate dean at Stanford Graduate School of Business. She is replacing former President Lori Bettison-Varga, who left Scripps in fall 2015. The position of president was filled by Interim President Amy Marcus-Newhall, who has now returned to her prior position as Scripps’ dean of faculty.

So far, students and faculty agree that the transition has been smooth and that Tiedens is a valuable addition to Scripps’ campus.

“The transition has been great—President Tiedens is a clear communicator, a thoughtful leader, and an accomplished scholar, and the community is very excited to have her here on campus,” Scripps Vice President Denise Nelson Nash wrote in an email to TSL.

Scripps Senate President Sneha Deo ’17 agreed with Nash’s assessment.

“In general, the transition has been smooth so far,” Deo wrote in an email to TSL.

Deo also praised Marcus-Newhall’s efforts to lend her experience and knowledge of the college to support Tiedens in the transition.

In her first two months on campus, Tiedens has been busy meeting members of the Scripps community and learning more about the campus and its culture, in addition to working on ongoing initiatives to improve and advance Scripps.

“The President’s office has been busy since she arrived Aug. 1,” Nash wrote. “We have focused on facilitating introductions to a variety of stakeholders, assisting with planning visits with alumnae and parent groups across the U.S., as well as for her first meeting with the Board of Trustees.”

As senate president, Deo has helped introduce Tiedens to the student body.

“My primary role in the transition is to provide context for current student concerns for President Tiedens; I've spent a significant amount of time briefing her on student perspectives and the recent history of student activities on campus,” she wrote.

Tiedens has quickly become involved in campus issues and initiatives.

“She has already begun to contribute to enhancing curricular and co-curricular innovation; expanding the College’s financial resources and ensuring its financial health going forward; [and] nurturing an inclusive environment and enhancing resources, programming, and support for underrepresented students,” Marcus-Newhall wrote in an email to TSL.

Tiedens has also begun working with the rest of the administration on an updated Strategic Plan and on continuing initiatives started by Bettison-Varga and Marcus-Newhall, including instituting a new faculty teaching load and initiating Scripps’ new Center for Teaching and Learning, according to Nash. Moreover, she has been working with the presidents of the other colleges in the Claremont consortium on plans to upgrade the Keck Science Center and other 7C initiatives.

For the administration, the most challenging part of the transition has been managing Tiedens’ schedule.

“It is challenging to fit all of the meetings, introductions, events, and travel the president wants to schedule as she immerses herself in her new role," Nash wrote in an email to TSL. "There is a lot of excitement about her presence on campus and there are often not enough hours in the day to fit all of the conversations she wants to have into her calendar and still allow time for her to eat and sleep!”

“The most difficult part of the transition, from my perspective, has been gauging President Tiedens' perspective on her relationship to the student body,” Deo wrote in an email to TSL. “In many ways, the role of a President is ill-defined with regards to forging a relationship with the student body—but so far, I have nothing but the highest trust that President Tiedens is invested in getting to know campus climate and individual student experiences in an authentic way.”

Tiedens has connected directly with the student body by giving speeches and attending student events. She is also planning a series of community teas to connect with the Scripps campus, according to Nash.

Scripps is planning an official inauguration ceremony for Tiedens in spring 2017.