Scripps College invited three candidates for the position of director of the LASPA Center for Leadership to campus to meet with students. The school hosted these three finalist candidates Feb. 12, 16 and 18 at the Scripps Student Union.
The LASPA Center, named in honor of Eileen Schock Laspa SC ’67 and Jude Laspa HM ’65, is the acronym for Leadership, Analysis, Scholarship, Public Service and Action. According to the Scripps website, the center “will embody programming focusing on 21st-century leadership.”
“The LASPA Center will be an additional resource for our students to support their goals of making a difference in whatever communities they find themselves after leaving Scripps,” Scripps President Lori Bettison-Varga wrote in an email to TSL.
The search for a LASPA director was originally conducted in early 2014. Tension then rose between the students and the administration when Bettison-Varga announced that the administration had decided to renew the search process instead of offering the position to Margo Okazawa-Rey, who had been chosen by the search committee at the time as its first-choice candidate.
According to Bettison-Varga, “the director’s primary responsibilities will be to develop innovative programming and create internal and external partnerships aligned with the Center’s goals.”
“Specifically, I’m looking for a director that can help students bridge their commitment to social justice with fulfilling careers in the for-profit and entrepreneurial world,” said Michelle Guan SC ’15, Scripps Associated Students co-treasurer and a member of the LASPA director search committee.
Bettison-Varga wrote that the LASPA director candidate search has become more inclusive to students.
“This year, we expanded the role of students by including representatives on the LASPA steering and hiring committees, which played a significant role in shaping the job description and vetting the first round of candidates,” Bettison-Varga said. “We will weigh students’ perspectives heavily in our evaluation of the candidates.”
Guan said that there are two students on the committee, and she has seen a “much more collaborative process.”
When Scripps first announced the creation of the center, many students were concerned about the vagueness of the center’s description. Nancy Herrera SC ’17 said that she still finds it unclear as to how the center will serve students.
“That’s one of the confusing parts about the LASPA Center,” Herrera said. “It’s just the fact that we don’t know specifically what it provides.”
Herrera also said that it is unclear whether the center will be able to assist students with academic interests that do not pertain to social justice or business and entrepreneurialism.
“A lot of students are interested in the sciences, [but] they don’t know how LASPA would be able to serve them,” Herrera said. “The new director should be able to work across groups … and bridge the gap between students and their interests and the administration.”
According to a Feb. 2 email by Bettison-Varga to the Scripps community, the LASPA Steering Committee is planning to launch the center with a celebratory community event April 2.
“For me, the LASPA Center will be an important resource on campus that connects Scripps to the outside world,” Guan said. “That means building connections between the local and international business, non-profit, social justice and academic communities in order to broaden opportunities for Scripps students.”