Scripps appoints Suzanne Keen as 10th president

Suzanne Keen smiles at the camera.
Suzanne Keen will serve as Scripps College’s president beginning July 1, 2022. (Courtesy: Janelle Rodriguez via Wikimedia Commons)

An eight-month search to fill the top job at Scripps College concluded as Suzanne Keen was appointed the school’s 10th president, Board of Trustees Chair Lynne Thompson SC ’72 announced in an email to the Scripps community Thursday afternoon.  

Keen will take up her position as the W. M. Keck Foundation Presidential Chair beginning July 1, 2022. She currently serves as vice president of academic affairs, dean of faculty and a professor of English literature at Hamilton College in New York. Keen previously served as dean of the college and chair of the English department at Washington and Lee University.

During her time at Hamilton, Keen led initiatives for faculty development and retention as well as integrated advising and student support. She also focused on implementing experiential learning programs, such as off-campus study, internships and vocational exploration and collaborative research opportunities.

“The Board believes that Dr. Keen’s proven track record of academic and administrative leadership, strategic planning, and fundraising, as well as her commitment to inclusivity, access, and affordability, will establish the framework for her success at Scripps,” Thompson said.

Keen’s academic expertise lies in narrative empathy and feminist rhetorical narrative theory. She received her bachelor of arts in English literature and studio art from Brown University, where she later received a master of arts in creative writing. She then earned her master’s and Ph.D. in English language from Harvard University.

She is the recipient of several awards and honors, including the Academy of American Poets prize, the Outstanding Faculty Award from the State Council for Higher Education in Virginia and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities. 

Keen was unanimously selected from a pool of 64 applicants and 14 semi-finalists, Thompson said. The board thanked the members of the Presidential Search Committee and the Scripps College community for their input.

Hamilton President David Wippman told the college’s community in an email on Thursday that the pick is “a well-deserved honor for Suzanne and a great loss for Hamilton.” 

“Scripps saw in Suzanne what we have witnessed since July 2018 at Hamilton: a highly effective scholar, teacher, and administrator with great integrity, character, and vision who works tirelessly and creatively to advance academic priorities and the primacy of the liberal arts,” Wippman said. “She advocates strongly for the faculty, always mindful of what’s best for our students.”

Scripps’ search didn’t unfold without controversy. The 7Cs’ chapter of the American Association of University Professors objected to the terms of the process in June, arguing it lacked faculty input.

Interim President Amy Marcus-Newhall will return to her previous position as vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty on July 1. She has served as interim president since April 16, when former president Lara Tiedens left Scripps to serve as executive director of the Schwarzman Scholars international study program. 

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