At Scripps College, some feel that President Frederick “Fritz” Weis has made a notable and lasting impact on the college, in spite of the fact that he was originally selected merely as a reliable substitute as the college searched for a permanent president.
After selecting Lori Bettison-Varga as the next president, the Scripps Board of Trustees voted to remove the word “interim” from Weis’s title. Doing so officially made him the seventh president of Scripps College.
Weis assumed the position after Scripps’s sixth president, Nancy Bekavac, resigned in 2007. A 1965 graduate of Claremont McKenna College, Weis also holds an master’s degree in higher education and an M.B.A. in management and finance from Claremont Graduate University.
Weis was a familiar face at the Claremont Colleges prior to his presidency as he was a lecturer at Pomona College, CGU, and Claremont McKenna. He was vice president and treasurer of Claremont McKenna from 1982-2002, and served as executive practitioner in residence at Claremont McKenna from 2003-2007.
According to Dean of Students Debra Wood, the Board’s decision to officially change President Weis’s title was a reflection of Weis’s hard work and successful leadership.
“Without his advice and support, we never would have been able to handle the housing shortage in fall 2008 as well as we did,” Wood said. “He has been a wonderful advocate for students.”Wood said that although interim presidents often do not impact the college much one way or another, Weis was exceptional in his service to Scripps.
“President Weis did an excellent job stepping in and furthering the goals of the college during these difficult economic times. He really was more than just an interim president,” Wood said.
During his time at Scripps, Weis worked with the dean of faculty and the Scripps community in hiring new professors for the upcoming academic term. His accomplishments also include improving the Joint Science agreement, educating the Board of Trustees about finances, improving financial aid, and bringing a Photobooth installation to the Scripps campus to showcase different faces of the Scripps community.
“I have been building on the skills and the strength of the great faculty, staff, and students that are here. Scripps has great bones and I don’t mean to take credit for what others have done,” Weis said.
According to Weis, one of the most rewarding aspects of working at Scripps is gaining a better understanding of the benefits of women’s education and a broad, liberal arts curriculum evidenced by the CORE program in interdisciplinary humanities.
Weis has familial connections to Scripps and the other Claremont Colleges as well. His wife, Mary Fraser Weis, is a 1966 Scripps graduate. Their children, Annie Weis and Matt Weis, are graduates of CMC and Pitzer College.
Weis’s connection to Scripps through his wife contributed to his interest and insight into the institution and the administration, according to his wife.
“Fritz has been really involved as an accompanying spouse for a lot of Scripps events and got to know many alumnae across the country,” said Ms. Weis, who was involved in volunteering for Scripps for many years and now works in the Scripps Alumnae Relations Office.
The couple met while both were students in Claremont and recall sharing fond memories in their college years. Ms. Weis reminisced about their first meeting at a formal lunch in Browning Hall, where she spilled part of the meal she was serving on her future husband. The couple got engaged after Weis had graduated from CMC.
Although their memories of formal dinners and curfew at Scripps may seem archaic to Claremont students today, the Weises also had their share of fun experiences at Claremont. “We both really liked to dance and there were a lot of dances, particularly at McKenna auditorium. Those were really fun times,” Ms. Weis said.
As for the future, Weis is still uncertain about plans following the culmination of his term as president. “I’ll be fishing in the Sierras in July,” he said. “After that I’ll be back to work at something, not sure what it will be.” However, he hopes to remain in his home in Claremont, where he has lived for 39 years.
Weis will step down as president on July 1.