Ellen Browning Scripps, a reporter, global adventurer, suffragist, businesswoman, and philanthropist—a woman ahead of her time. She would have been an exceptional woman in any era—her lifetime achievements were truly remarkable.
With a small bequest from her late grandfather and savings from her wages as a schoolteacher, Ellen and her brothers founded one of the country’s leading newspaper and publishing enterprises. Her business acumen, on which her brothers depended, was a tremendous benefit to the venture, and her daily column was one of the nation’s best-read features in more than 1,000 newspapers.
Ellen was an early and ardent supporter of women’s suffrage and a devoted philanthropist. Her generosity supported innumerable educational and scientific endeavors, including the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, the Scripps Clinic, the San Diego Zoo, and Scripps College, her “crown jewel.” Her leading influence at The Claremont Colleges led to the purchase of land on which not only Scripps College flourished, but provided space to establish Claremont McKenna, Harvey Mudd, and Pitzer Colleges. Her role in the launching of the Claremont group plan led to her feature on the cover of Time in 1926.
Ellen Browning Scripps characterized her involvement with Scripps College as her most important work in a rich lifetime of creating opportunities to widen human knowledge. Her words still deeply resonate today:
“The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.”
Inscribed on Scripps College’s Honnold Gate