Malott Commons Director Will Retire After 24 Years

Suzanne Zetterberg PZ ’68, Director of the Malott Commons at Scripps College, will retire Sept. 30 after 24 years of service at the Claremont Colleges. Prior to serving in her current position, which she has held since the dining hall’s inception, Zetterberg worked as the Director of Development and Director of Alumni Relations at Pitzer College.

As the director at Malott, Zetterberg’s organizes and coordinates programs to engage community.. Some of the speaker series that Zetterberg has initiated include the Tuesday Noon Academy and the Alexa Fullerton Hampton “Voice and Vision” series. She also initiated the Celebrating Women in Science series and the Katharine Howard Miller Endowed Speakers Program, which bring to campus role models in science and entrepreneurship, respectively.

Zetterberg also helped coordinate the Levitt on the Lawn series, which hosts free concerts for students and is funded through an endowment from Elizabeth Levitt Hirsh SC ’74 and the Levitt Pavilion for the Performing Arts. She also brought back older traditions that had fallen out of practice such as Candlelight Dinners. And, to celebrate the opening of Malott Commons on Feb. 14, 2000, Zetterberg helped organize an annual Valentine’s Anniversary Party, where “local businesses and vendors donate gifts and certificates, which are raffled off to attendees.”

During her time in Claremont, Zetterberg experienced firsthand the development of the 5Cs over the last 20 years. She was a member of Pitzer’s first graduating class, when the school was still a women’s college, but as an art and art history major she spent much of her undergraduate years at Scripps. Zetterberg expressed astonishment at the changes she has seen at the 5Cs since her time as a student. “I look back and think, ‘Could I get into Pitzer today? Or Scripps today?’ I don’t think so.” She praised the greater degree of integration between the campuses and the new technologies available, such as the Sakai academic and community software.

In Sept. 1999, the vacancy at Malott Commons appealed to her because “[it] sounded like something new and different,” she said. In a letter to the Scripps student body announcing Zetterberg’s retirement, Dean of Faculty Amy Marcus-Newhall wrote, “[Suzanne] embraced the challenge of being the first director of the Malott Commons, bringing boundless energy, professionalism, and creativity to [the] nascent position.”

Although Zetterberg said she was proud of all the programs she helped organize at Malott, one stands out to her in particular.

“I always learn the most at the Tuesday Noon Academy,” she said. “We get a lot of people from the outside community.” One of Zetterberg’s core goals throughout her tenure was to include the 5Cs and the broader Claremont community in intellectual discussions, she said.

Zetterberg said that some of her most interesting memories will be her encounters with speakers and their vibrant personalities.

“I’ve worked with divas and I’ve worked with really down-to-earth people,” she said. “I remember when I got Mark Zuckerberg to speak at Scripps, only a year after Facebook started… I picked him up at the airport and [the whole ride] he was just texting on his Blackberry… I remember thinking, ‘Wow, what a nerd.’”

According to Zetterberg, however, one facet of the 5Cs that has remained fairly constant is the personalities of the schools.

“I would say the stereotypes have pretty much run true,” she said. “One thing that’s changed is that Scripps used to [be more oriented toward] arts and humanities, but now you have a lot of people in the sciences.”

Zetterberg said she will retire to Oregon, where she hopes to build an off-the-grid, self-sustaining home with her partner, in addition to spending more time on her artwork. She said she expects to find clean air and healthy living in the state, but emphasized that new adventures are always just around the corner.

“We may live there for three months and say we can’t stand the winter,” she said. “You might say Oregon isn’t really the final destination.”

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