Search for Scripps Dean of Students Continues

The search for a new vice president of student affairs and dean of students (VPSA/DOS) continues at Scripps College. Four candidates are being considered to replace Bekki Lee, who died in October 2013 from a stroke. 

Nathalie Rachlin, a French professor serving as interim vice president of student affairs, said that a search committee comprising students and faculty and staff members will choose a candidate to recommend to Scripps President Lori Bettison-Varga after considering student surveys, campus visits, and interviews with the candidates.

“The qualities the committee considered in identifying the finalists included evidence of being an effective community builder, [such as] an ability to ensure that student concerns are being heard and addressed within student affairs and the College as a whole,” she said.

Lindsey Martinovich, administrative assistant to Deborah Averett in the Office of the Dean of Students, had similar qualities in mind. 

“I hope that whoever is hired is able to successfully connect with the students as, well as the Student Affairs Staff,” she wrote in an email to TSL. “It is important that this person be a positive voice for the staff and the students. I like the idea of the new VP/DOS really believing in having an open door policy with students and staff.”

The job search comes on the heels of the administration’s decision in February to restart the search for a director of the new LASPA Center for Leadership, which sparked a range of student reactions, including a protest. Administrators and students do not expect this job search to be as divisive. 

“I don’t anticipate any controversy, as I don’t think there is a misconception out there of what a VP of student affairs is supposed to do,” Rachlin said. “I think people pretty much know what that job is like. Whereas, in the case of LASPA, because we don’t have a center yet, I think there may have been different visions—or several competing visions—about what the center and the director would be, but I don’t think that in the case of a VP of student affairs, the same issues are there at all.”

Vice President and Secretary of the Board of Trustees Denise Nelson Nash agreed with Rachlin on the uncontroversial nature of the search, but still emphasized the importance of student involvement.

“While there were a group of students who expressed their specific hopes/desires for LASPA Center programming after the search concluded, we have received a considerable amount of input from students throughout the search process for the VPSA/DOS,” Nash wrote in an email to TSL. “The student input received in advance was incorporated into the search profile and review of candidates to ensure we identify individuals who can meet the needs of students.”

Kimberly Felt SC ’17 also noted a difference between the two job searches. 

“I don’t think there will be any controversy,” Felt said. “We’ve had deans of students before, and so we all know what they’re supposed to do, and the search committee knows that too, so I don’t think anyone’s worried about this decision.”

Two candidates for consideration have already visited Scripps’ campus. The remaining two candidates are scheduled to visit April 15-16 and April 17-18.

“I encourage students to take the time and meet with the remaining candidates and give their feedback to the search committee,” Martinovich wrote. “All input is definitely appreciated!”

The new VPSA/DOS is scheduled to begin work by July 1, according to Rachlin.

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