Trustees Pledge Millions to Scripps

Scripps College President Lori Bettison-Varga announced a $5.3 million pledge to Scripps on Feb. 18 from current Scripps Board of Trustees member Nancy Katayama SC ’77. This pledge comes on the heels of a $2.5 million pledge that established the Elizabeth Hubert Malott Endowed Chair for the Core Curriculum in Interdisciplinary Humanities in December and was followed on Feb. 26 by an additional $5.5 million from the Sidney J. Weinberg, Jr. Foundation.

Including both immediate and estate commitments, the allocation of Katayama’s pledge is still largely undetermined, though the first $1 million dollars will be spent this summer to help complete the expansion of the faculty offices in the Bette Cree Edwards Humanities Building. Groundbreaking for that project will occur Friday, May 17. In addition, $300,000 will be given to the Scripps Fund over the next five years, which is meant to support the college’s operating budget without restrictions.

As for the rest of the money, the allocation process is still ongoing. According to Vice President of Institutional Advancement Michael Archibald, the process consists of working with various constituencies within the college, such as students and faculty, to determine priorities and then working with the donors to establish how their interests connect with those priorities. As of now, not all of those decisions have been made. Archibald also said there are issues with timing.

“Some of the money comes in the next few years, while some of it comes a long way down the road, since some is an estate pledge,” Archibald said.

In deciding how these pledges will be used, the college will be looking to its students for feedback.

“At the college for the last several years, particularly during about 2007-2010, there was a committee that involved faculty, students, staff, and trustees that helped to prioritize the college’s needs in terms of how funds would be allocated in the future,” Archibald said. “They issued a report as an ad hoc committee in the summer of 2010, and there was substantial student representation on that committee. That really set the stage for what we would raise money for in the future.”

The current discussions about how these grants could be utilized have largely been vague, though mentions of the new residence hall that is in the works have been a recurring theme. However, since those plans are currently in the range of $16-$18 million, a new residence hall is certainly not coming in the very near future. In the case of Katayama, Archibald believes these concrete plans are not central to understanding the pledge.

“She’s a trustee of the college, so her motivation to give, I think, was more her commitment to Scripps overall than it was one particular project on the campus,” Archibald said.

Vice President for Communication and Marketing Marylou Ferry reiterated the importance of this point.

“The fact that these last three gifts are from trustees is really important to us, because they know the college best and they know what the college needs,” Ferry said. “Knowing that they’ve made that kind of commitment, their belief in the college is an inspiration to anyone else that we’re then going out and matching those priorities to. We can say our own team believes in the future of the college.”

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