Scripps College recently renamed its Office of Public Relations the Office of Communication and Marketing and hired two new staff members for the office as part of the school’s 2007 Strategic Plan, which was designed in part to increase the school’s presence on the national level.
According to Scripps’s website, one of the initiatives of the Strategic Plan is National Leadership, which involves “[undertaking] a review of the College’s marketing and public relations program with the goal of gaining greater national and international recognition as a premiere liberal arts college.”
In August, Scripps appointed Marylou Ferry the new Vice President for Communications and Marketing, which replaced her previous position as Director of Public Relations.
According to Ferry, an increased national reputation for Scripps will help the school recruit more students and faculty and open up new opportunities for student internships, but she emphasized that the school has realistic goals.
“We are not trying to be a household name,” Ferry said. “That’s not appropriate at all; we’re not trying to reach everyone. My job is to work on reaching the people that should know Scripps College and don’t.”
Prior to the changes, Scripps’s Director of Public Relations reported to the Department of Advancement. Now, Ferry said, she will report directly to President Lori Bettison-Varga.
Mary Bartlett, College Editor at Scripps, said that these changes will help fulfill the goals in the Strategic Plan.
“The college, in order to really focus and consolidate its communication efforts, created a Vice President for Communication and Marketing that will really provide support to all areas of the college, not just communication and marketing,” she said.
Associate Director of Communications and Marketing Carolyn Robles said that the changes should help streamline the office.
“Before, we all were wearing a lot of hats because it was a small office, but now with the [Vice President] position, it allows us to focus on a specific job,” she said.
Bartlett agreed the new hires will help spread out responsibilities.
“Our office has truly been understaffed for as long as I’ve been there,” she said. “If you compare the size of our staff of Media Relations and Communication with the staff of any other liberal arts college, we are one of the smallest.”
The realignment also included the hiring of Rosa Maria Santana as the Associate Director for Media in Public Relations and Toni Tucker Aeschliman as an administrative assistant. But Ferry emphasized that these new hires did not require the creation of new positions or an increased budget, but instead a shifting of existing positions within the office.
These changes included splitting the position of Director of Public Relations into two positions and funding Ferry’s salary from the college’s senior staff. Ferry added that one staffer in the office is being shifted from full-time to 60 percent employment.
“I was able to do two positions for [the] cost of one position because, with me here, my salary is funded out of senior staff, so it is not an addition to the base of this department,” she said.
“It’s a reorganization… rather than any additions to the office,” Bartlett added.
Going forward, Ferry said that one goal of her goals is to remedy the misrepresentation of students in Scripps publications.
“There was an issue of whether women of color were being tokenized in Scripps publications.” she said, referring to comments she had received from other Scripps administrators about the campus climate. “My thirty years in communications says being authentic is the [most] important thing you can be.”
In order to address this issue, Ferry created focus groups composed of students and other members of the Scripps community. The groups found that there was a lack of photography representative of the entire student body. Since then, Ferry said the school has been taking more candid photography in an effort to better represent the Scripps community.
“I think that there’s a good dialogue going,” Ferry said.