Scripps College welcomed Charlotte Johnson as the new Dean of Students and Vice President of Student Affairs this semester. Johnson’s appointment to the position, announced May 2, ended a search that began last spring after Johnson’s predecessor, Bekki Lee, died Oct. 12 after suffering a stroke.
Johnson came to Scripps after serving as the dean of the college at Dartmouth College for three years.
“In many ways this position is meeting and exceeding my expectations in terms of my colleagues, the students, the serious-mindedness of the students and the close-knit community,” she said. “I wanted the ability to work more closely with students and promote peace and the educational aspects of what it means to be a leader. Dartmouth was more broadly focused, and here I get to focus more on the students and their needs inside and outside the classroom.”
Johnson plans to enhance community life at Scripps by focusing on issues such as health and wellness, education and diversity.
“The $64 million question for me and lots of my colleagues across the country is: How do you get students to have meaningful interactions across differences and really appreciate the role that different perspectives play in the learning process?” she said.
She also highlighted her responsibility to further the educational experience of Scripps students.
“I view my role as the Chief Student Affairs Officer to work in conjunction with the academic side of the house and to ensure that students have a quality, holistic educational experience—one where the learning inside and outside of the classroom augment each other,” she said.
Scripps Associated Students President Alex Frumkin SC ’15 meets monthly with Johnson to discuss ways that they can collaborate.
“She has been, and will continue to be, a great source of insight and guidance as the year progresses in many different arenas but specifically on the ways that I can best communicate student opinions to the administration,” Frumkin wrote in an email to TSL.
She added that she and Johnson have discussed setting up dinners at Johnson’s home to allow groups of campus leaders to discuss student concerns.
Scripps President Lori Bettison-Varga expressed her confidence in Johnson as the new dean of students, given the rigor of the search to fill the position.
“The search committee was impressed by Dean Johnson’s drive, vision, and passion, her extensive experience as a senior leader in elite private institutions, and her firm grasp on the role of the VP of Student Affairs in an environment like Scripps College,” Bettison-Varga wrote. “She is approachable and understands the needs of students, and she has already proven to be a great addition to the Scripps College community.”
Among her duties as Dean of Students, Johnson oversees various student organizations. She highlighted her involvement with Residential Life, Judicial Affairs, the Scripps Communities of Resources and Empowerment office, Sallie Tiernan Field House and the upcoming Leadership, Analysis, Scholarship, Public Service and Action (LASPA) Center.
“Right now, I am just meeting students and learning the culture of Scripps,” Johnson said. “I am educating myself on the culture, the issues and what’s important to people. I am listening to those as I devise a plan to go forward.”