Campus History

Scripps College aerial, 1930s

Scripps College is frequently described as one of America’s most beautiful college campuses and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Ellen Browning Scripps’ “experiment in education” called for a setting with an artistic connection between buildings and garden landscape on an intimate scale. In general, the campus plan prepared by Gordon Kaufmann in 1926 has been carefully preserved, with major vistas linking the central areas and the overall planting schemes devised by Edward Huntsman-Trout still followed.

Some newer areas of campus, especially the buildings west of Columbia Avenue acquired in the 1980s, have diverged from the Mediterranean style of architecture popular in Southern California during the 1920s and ’30s, but the newest residence hall on campus, Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Hall, completed in 2000, and the Malott Commons, renovated in 2000, have been designed to be in harmony with the distinctive look of the original campus.

A Campus Timeline

2014 The Katharine Howard Miller ’55 Wing of the Bette Cree Edwards ’49 Humanities Building opens during the summer break.
2013 Scripps College launches its largest-ever campaign in November: We Want More: The Campaign for Scripps College. It is an unprecedented $175 million campaign to further our academic excellence, national leadership, signature campus and financial strength – fueled by the collective power of the Scripps community.Scripps awards the Ellen Browning Scripps Medal to former U.S. Representative Gabrielle “Gabby” Giffords ’93.

The LASPA Center is founded.

2012 Scripps College Academy celebrates 10 years of successful year-round programming for middle and high school young women.
2011 The “Nellie” Scholarship, established in honor of Ellen Clark Revelle ’31, is made available for continuing students.The College actively participates in “Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980,” a collaboration of more than 60 cultural institutions in Southern California.
2010 Scripps College Academy receives National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, the highest recognition given to youth programs, in a White House ceremony.2010: Elizabeth Turk ’83 wins MacArthur “Genius” Award.
2009 Lori Bettison-Varga is appointed eighth president of Scripps College.
2008 The Sallie Tiernan Field House opens its doors to students, faculty, and staff.
2007 Nancy Y. Bekavac announces her resignation as president, effective July 1, 2007. Frederick “Fritz” Weis is appointed interim president while a national search for Scripps’ seventh president takes place; he will be named a full president in 2009.An anonymous donor, on behalf of the Board of Trustees, makes a $10 million gift to the College to support faculty initiatives as outlined in the new strategic plan. This is the largest single gift to the College since its founding.
2006 The College breaks ground on the Sallie Tiernan Field House, a state-of-the-art recreational and athletic facility to be located on the east side of campus adjacent to the swimming pool, in October.In December, the Board of Trustees approves the strategic plan -“Scripps College in the Next Decade: Leading with Excellence.” Academic excellence and women’s leadership are the main foci.
2004 The most ambitious fund-raising campaign in Scripps history surpassed its original 85 million dollar goal, with gifts and pledges totaling over 101 million dollars. Over 87% of Scripps alumnae donated to the Campaign for the Scripps Woman, which began its public phase in 1999, and concluded June 30, 2004.In April, the Scripps College Landscape and Architectural Blueprint is completed. The document lists historic principles, according to the values and priorities of Gordon Kaufmann and Edward Huntsman-Trout, and recommends policies to be used as guidelines for maintenance, repair, development and redevelopment of the campus. Scripps begins its third strategic plan within the past 10 years; committees with trustee, faculty, staff, and student representation meet regularly over the next two years.
2003 In fall, the Performing Arts Center opens, which is an expansion and renovation of Garrison Theater with the addition of music practice rooms, music classrooms, faculty offices, the Nancy Hart Glanville Music Library, and the MaryLou and George Boone Recital Hall. The new center becomes the permanent home for the Claremont Colleges Joint Music Program consisting of Scripps, Harvey Mudd, Pitzer, and Claremont McKenna Colleges. Boora architects of Portland, Oregon and landscape architect, Wayne Romanek, manage the renovation.
2002 Scripps celebrates its 75th Anniversary with yearlong events: the Bradford Blaine Faculty Lecture Series; a Distinguished Speaker Series that includes Dr. Susan Love, financial guru Susie Orman, renowned author Sandra Cisneros, political commentator Molly Ivins, and pioneering architect Norma Sklarek; and the Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Inaugural Lecture featuring former President of Poland Lech Walesa. To conclude the festivities, the College hosts a special dinner-dance on Bowling Green Lawn featuring a short retrospective film of the last 75 years of Scripps history. Scripps College receives a Getty Campus Heritage Initiative grant to produce a Landscape and Architectural Blueprint to codify standards for renovation and additions to the Scripps campus, as well as chronicle changes made to the landscape over time.
2001 The Ellen Browning Scripps Reading Room is added to Denison Library. The room is an existing space, renovated to house the collected papers, books, and personal letters of the College’s founder.The new Scripps Pool is completed and open for business. The pool is phase one of a three-phased transformation of the east campus, which will eventually offer a fitness and recreational facility and an athletic practice field.
2000 February 14, Elizabeth Hubert Malott Commons opens as the central dining facility for the campus, together with various student services and offices such as the Motley Coffeehouse, the mail room, and the Career Planning & Resources office. The building is named for Elizabeth Hubert Malott ’53, whose family gave the generous lead gift to make transformation of the building possible. The Malott Commons is built by thoroughly renovating the existing Lang Art Building, which housed the Art Department for 50 years. (The new Florence Rand Lang Art Studios are now located within the Millard Sheets Art Center on 12th and Dartmouth.) The Malott Commons now consists of a central servery, reception area and banquet hall, two meeting rooms, and a four separate dining rooms. An annual Valentine’s Day party commemorates its creation and provides a new tradition for Scripps students.In fall, Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Hall opens to students. This hall, designed by architects Backen, Arrigoni & Ross (BAR), boasts a return to the graceful Mediterranean style seen in the Kaufmann campus plan, and is named for alumnae Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler ’72 of London, who provided key guidance to architects on this project in addition to supporting student scholarship programs, an endowed faculty chair in contemporary European studies, a lecture series at the European Union Center of California, and other academic programs.The President’s House is renamed and dedicated to trustee and graduate of the first class Ellen Clark Revelle ’31, the niece of Ellen Browning Scripps, and no longer is used as a permanent residence. Instead, the newly-named Revelle House becomes a primary location for entertaining, events, and meetings, in addition to housing the Office of Alumnae Relations.
1998 Supreme Court Judge Sandra Day O’Connor is awarded the second Ellen Browning Scripps Medal.
1994 A committee of students, faculty, and alumnae select quotes from famous women in the arts, letters, and sciences to inscribe a pathway connecting the W.M. Keck Science Center to the main part of the Scripps campus. Aptly named “Inscription Walk,” the pathway is located just south of the President’s House. Moving eastward toward the Keck Science Center, the walk features quotes by scientists: Maxine Singer, Rachel Carson, Maria Mitchell, and Zora Neale Hurston. Moving westward toward the campus, the quotations are from women in the arts and letters: Virginia Woolf, Beverly Sills, Adrienne Rich, Emily Carr, and Helen Frankenthaler. Landscape architect Pamela Burton of Santa Monica designs the pathway plantings.In October, the Millard Sheets Art Center is dedicated in honor of longtime Professor of Art Millard Sheets, who was important in establishing the Art Departments at Scripps and the Claremont Graduate School. Sheets’ paintings hang in the permanent collections of fifty museums, including the Smithsonian. He is also known for his murals, one of which is on Scripps’ Garrison Theatre (now The Scripps College Performing Arts Center). As permanent home for the Scripps Art Department, the Millard Sheets Art Center includes the Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery, the Florence Rand Lang Art Studios, Baxter Hall, and the Scripps Press.Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery opens as a new 4,000-square-foot exhibition space. Designed by Anshen and Allen of Los Angeles, the Williamson Gallery hosts four exhibitions per year, which includes the Scripps College Ceramics Annual, the highly anticipated and longest-running show of its kind in America. Other recurring exhibit themes include the Annual Senior Art Show and the popular Faculty Exhibition. Alumnae-trustees Victoria Andrew Williamson ’58 and Alyce de Roulet Williamson ’52 are instrumental in planning the Gallery named for their mother-in-law, Ruth Chandler Williamson, a vital patron of the arts in the Los Angeles area.In April, the first Ellen Browning Scripps Medal is awarded to First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton. The Medal honors women whose pioneering accomplishments, like those of Miss Scripps, have made a significant and positive difference for women, are in keeping with an institution dedicated to educating women, and reflect the moral, ethical, and humanitarian standards exemplified by Ellen Browning Scripps.
1992 In fall, architects Anshen and Allen of Los Angeles, design the W.M. Keck Science Center, which provides laboratories and classrooms for the W.M. Keck Science Department of Scripps, Pitzer, and Claremont McKenna Colleges.When the W.M. Keck Science Department moves from its previous home in Steele Hall and the neighboring buildings, a two year renovation begins to develop a dedicated Scripps art center, and provide a permanent home for Scripps Information Technology Services and other administrative needs. Anshen and Allen of Los Angeles is the architectural team selected to oversee this renovation and expansion project.
1990 Nancy Y. Bekavac, graduate of Swarthmore College and Yale Law School, begins her term as Scripps College president, becoming the first woman fully appointed to this position.
1989 E. Howard Brooks assumes the Scripps presidency for a single year.
1984 Buildings and gardens at the center of Scripps campus are selected for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places.
1976 John H. Chandler is appointed president of Scripps College, serving until 1989.When the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference begins sponsorship of women’s sports, the existing Claremont Men’s College/Harvey Mudd competitive athletics program expands to include students from Scripps. The new program, CMS, takes team names Athenas (women’s teams) and Stags (men’s teams).
1975 In spring, Scripps’ student-run campus coffeehouse, The Motley to the View, opens its doors for business. Over the years, the Motley has changed venues from Balch Hall to the basement of Old Lang to the Frankel-Routt complex, and finally to its current location in Malott Commons.
1972 Scripps honors its first president, Ernest J. Jaqua, by renaming the central grassed area Jaqua Court and Quadrangle. The primary green remains a gathering place for residents and visitors alike, and it is the site for several annual College events during Fall Orientation, Family Weekend, and Commencement, among others.
1970 Bette Cree Edwards Humanities Building opens to serve as the principal classroom facility for the campus and the interdisciplinary Humanities Program. It is named for Bette Cree Edwards ’49, a former member of the Board of Trustees. Architect John Carl Warneke combines modern forms with the traditional Mediterranean style of the 1920s buildings. The Humanities Building includes classrooms, an auditorium, a slide library, faculty offices and lounge, and a gallery.Clark Humanities Museum opens. Designed as a teaching museum for students and faculty to mount exhibitions. Students select objects from the permanent collections, organize and install the items, and write the wall labels and brochures.
1969 Proving that the Civil Rights movement of the 60s powerfully affects Scripps, on February 25, Claremont feels the explosion of two bombs, one in Balch Hall, and the other in Pomona College’s Carnegie Hall. The bombings happen concurrent with teach-ins regarding the development of a Black Student Union on campus.
1968 Staging a protest against the demolition of the Olive Grove and surrounding gardens-the proposed site to build the new Humanities Building-students take to the trees, literally. In May, students occupy the more than 60 trees, refusing to allow them to be cut down. The final resolution to the startling controversy is that the majority of olive trees are dug up, boxed, stored, and replanted around the campus once the Humanities Building is erected. Eight of the original trees still flourish in Lyddon Court within the Humanities Building.On the northwest corner of campus, just across Columbia Avenue, two new buildings are constructed for use by many of the Claremont Colleges. The four-story Harry and Grace Steele Hall and later-named Lang Art Studios are designed by Caudill Rowlett Scott of Houston in the brutalist style of concrete construction popular in Europe during the 1960s. Upon completion, the buildings house the early W.M. Keck Science Department, and later become exclusively used by Scripps for classrooms, offices, laboratories, and art studios.
1966 In spring, to accommodate the expansion from 300 to 500 students, two new residence halls are built on the east side of campus: Frankel and Routt Halls. Originally conceived as a single facility with three wings by architects Criley and McDowell, the structure was reconfigured to offer a greater variety of room arrangements (singles, doubles, triples, suites, and kitchenette apartments)-all sharing an unprecedented feature: air conditioning. Frankel Hall is named for Los Angeles residents Cecil Frankel and Bessie Bartlett Frankel, an honorary alumna of the College since 1931. Routt Hall is named for journalist and philanthropist Mary Patterson Routt, a founding trustee of the College.
1964 Mark H. Curtis becomes Scripps’ president, serving from 1964 to 1976.
1963 Garrison Theater opens to provide a facility for all the Claremont Colleges to use for theatrical productions, concerts, movies, lectures, and other events. Longtime Scripps trustee Robert H. Garrison and his wife, Catherine Garrison, who graduated from Pomona College and Claremont Graduate University, provide the initial funding.
1960 In fall, Mary Kimberly Residence Hall opens to students, and becomes the fifth residence hall on the campus-and becomes the most modern in design. Conceived by Claremont architectural firm Criley and McDowell, the hall is funded in part by gifts from friends and the trustees of Harvey Mudd College, whose women students are housed in Kimberly from the 60s through the 80s. The hall honors Mary Kimberly Shirk of Redlands, a longtime trustee (1926-1966) and interim president of Scripps College from 1942-44.Also designed by Criley and McDowell, Wilbur Hall is completed as a suite of living and dining rooms for special events on campus. The structure is named for Pasadena residents Van Rensselaer G. Wilbur, a member of the Board of Trustees from 1937-1962, and his wife Marguerite.
1958 Designed by Smith and Williams of Pasadena, the Music Building opens with a recital hall seating 150, a music library, classrooms, practice rooms, and faculty offices. The hall is named in honor of pianist Lee Pattison, or “Mr. Pat” to students, a Scripps professor of music. The Caster Music Library is a memorial to J. Edward Caster, a Scripps professor of music, and to Doris Caster, director of the Choral Club.The Richardson Dance Studio opens, named for Beatrice E. Richardson, the first professor of dance at Scripps. Longtime trustee Lucille Phillips Morrison funds the project; Smith and Williams also design the dance studio.
1947 For the first time, Commencement is held on Elm Tree Lawn. Previously located on Bowling Green, the new location provides a symbolic movement from the college classrooms to the alumnae house, located at the Revelle house on the east end of the lawn.
1946 Alfredo Ramos Martinez, the “Father of the Mexican Mural Movement of the 20th Century,” is commissioned to create the extraordinary mural in Margaret Fowler Garden, “The Flower Vendors.” He sketches the entire composition on the plaster wall, which is over 100 feet long, and then begins work on several panels. He becomes ill and dies on November 8, 1946, leaving the mural unfinished.In May, Scripps receives an autographed first edition collection of T.S. Eliot’s works, whose relationship with Scripps began when he lectured at the College in January 1933.
1944 Distinguished Shakespearean scholar Frederick Hard is named Scripps’ new president. Hard serves the College for a period of 20 years–the longest tenure of any Scripps president.
1942 With American involvement in World War II, the search for a new president of Scripps is temporarily halted and an interim female president is appointed: Mary Kimberly Shirk. Shirk, who was asked by the Board to “serve for a month or two,” remains in the position until the War concludes.
1941 The Scripps College Press is a gift from the class of 1941 and begins printing that year. Frederic W. Goudy, one of the most prominent type designers of his era, designs a special font for the press: Scripps College Old Style. The press runs until 1971 and is revitalized in 1980.
1939 The President’s House is built, following Gordon Kaufmann’s design. The first six presidents of Scripps resided in this structure during their respective tenures.The 16 American elms that comprise Elm Tree Lawn and flank the allée between the President’s House and Balch Auditorium are planted. Mrs. Denison donates the 21 stained glass windows that line the first and second floors of the north wing of Denison Library; each window portrays signature marks of early printers and book makers.
1938 March 2, a flood occurs in Claremont, causing about $7,000 of damage to Toll and Clark Halls. Residents took refuge in Browning and Dorsey Halls, which are unaffected. Soon after, the famous floodwalls are erected to prevent further water damage. Today the students joke the walls keep the “mudd” out, referring to Harvey Mudd College.
1936 In the summer, the central quadrangle is grassed, primarily due to the energy of two Grace Scripps Clark Hall residents from the class of 1936: Cynthia Criley Williams and Helen Ely Brill. In their sophomore year, the two women began an adamant “Grass Before We Graduate” campaign. For two years, students opted without dessert two days a week to raise money. When they had raised $1,500, Mrs. William Honnold supplies the balance to install the expensive sprinkler system, while Mr. John M. Ely of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, generously supplies the grass seed.The Slocum Award, which rewards those seniors with the best book collections accumulated during their college career, is established. The Slocum Award is still given today.
1935 Mrs. Florence Rand Lang makes an initial gift that will eventually become the anchor for the south campus. The original Lang Art Building begins as two studios, though the design for the complete two-story structure is sketched by Professor of Art Millard Sheets, then drawn into a viable plan by architect Gordon Kaufmann.
1934 Mrs. Charles Stinchfield and a bequest from Mrs. Eldridge M. Fowler funds the donation of the Oratory, which features selections from Mrs. Fowler’s collection of antique Italian furniture and fine textiles. This Oratory later becomes a key part of Margaret Fowler Garden.Architect Gordon Kaufmann designs Margaret Fowler Garden, an enclosed, European medieval-style cloister garden for the east side of the campus to accompany the Oratory. The garden is dedicated to the memory of Margaret Fowler and financed by her friends (Mrs. Stinchfield, Mrs. E.C. Harwood) and family (Mrs. Fowler’s daughter, Mrs. Katherine Merle-Smith, and sister, Ms. Henrietta Brewer).
1933 The first swimming pool and units of the field house are completed at Alumnae Park (an area that eventually became part of Harvey Mudd College campus). Alumnae Park is dedicated to the honorary alumnae from the early years of the College before there was a true alumnae association. The Association of Honorary Alumnae is originally composed of 50 women who contributed $500 each year.
1931 In June, the first class graduates from Scripps College on Bowling Green Lawn.
1930 In fall, Susan Miller Dorsey Hall is ready for occupancy, and remains the youngest residence hall at Scripps for thirty years. Financed almost entirely by women, the hall is named for Mrs. Dorsey, who was the first woman superintendent of schools in Los Angeles and one of the first trustees selected.In fall, philanthropist Ella Strong Denison of Denver and San Diego donates the library that bears her name. Gordon B. Kaufmann designs the building in a cruciform shape, resembling the Spanish renaissance chapel that Mrs. Denison frequented in Europe. The large stained glass window in the main room, around which the building was planned, is called the Gutenberg Window, designed by artist Nicolo D’Ascenza, featuring the theme “Evolution of the Book” and centrally depicting the figure of Johann Gutenberg. Today, the library houses more than 2,000,000 volumes and several permanent collections primarily emphasizing the humanities, performing arts, art history, and women’s history.The Rose Garden, designed by Edward Huntsman-Trout, is planted for students to cut and enjoy fresh flowers. The garden has been restored to include varieties of roses used in the original plan. Senior Wall, now called Graffiti Wall, is also instituted, and becomes a place for each graduating class to create an artistic logo or image unique to their class and sign their names.
1929 Designed by architect Sumner Hunt of Los Angeles, Janet Jacks Balch Hall is completed in fall and becomes the primary academic facility. The building is a gift of Mr. and Mrs. Allan C. Balch of Los Angeles, and named in honor of trustee Janet Jacks Balch. Today Balch Hall is the administrative center and the adjoining auditorium is a key location for lectures, plays, community meetings, convocations, and musical events.Ellen Browning Residence Hall is finished. Although she did not wish to have a building named for her, this hall bears the first two names of Miss Scripps and is dedicated to the memory of her brother, Edward W. Scripps. Manana Court, the central courtyard within Browning Hall, earns its name because the original vegetation planted is almost entirely native to Mexico. (Today, the courtyard boasts both Mexican and native California plants.)
1928 In fall, Grace Scripps Clark Hall is completed. It is the joint gift of Grace Scripps Clark and Ellen Browning Scripps, in memory of James E. Scripps, founder and editor of the Detroit Evening News and father and brother of the donors. The building features a high-ceilinged baronial dining room, inner courtyards, and balconies, and the mosaic-paved Olive Court, which externally joins Clark Hall to Toll Hall.
1927 Ernest J. Jaqua, for whom Jaqua Triangle is named, is elected the first president of Scripps. Jaqua recruits an initial faculty dominated by men, even though women trustees had requested that one-half of the faculty be female.In the fall, Scripps College opens. The College consists of three small cottages: one for classes, one for the library, and one for miscellaneous use.Eleanor Joy Toll Hall opens as the first building and residence hall in the Kaufmann plan. Eleanor Joy Toll was one of the original trustees and prominent leader of women’s interests, such as education, music, and civic progress, in Southern California.Professor Hartley Burr Alexander, a versatile philosopher and anthropologist from the University of Nebraska, and the Board of Trustees develop a two-year core humanities program focusing on the history of Western Civilization, a program that soon develops into the capstone program, “The Humanities: History of Occidental Culture.” The women trustees focus on building a curriculum with a strong emphasis in art, psychology, literature, and the social sciences.The tradition of afternoon tea begins and continues today, each Wednesday afternoon, in Seal Court. The “two cookies only” rule, enforced in early days, when high tea was observed in individual residence halls, is generally ignored today.
1926 Ellen Browning Scripps endows a college for women as the first element in a coordinated system of affiliated colleges and graduate schools surrounding Pomona. The College was to offer to women an education designed to “train her for the fullest and richest life that she herself may have, as well as the chance to give to society her greatest contribution”; i.e., work combined with marriage.Construction of the Scripps College campus and development of its academic program begins under the leadership of Ernest J. Jaqua, formerly dean of the faculty of Pomona College, who eventually becomes Scripps College’s first president.In May, the original 20 members of the Board of Trustees—one half of whom are women—assemble at the home of Margaret Fowler in Pasadena to welcome Scripps’ birthday.Architect Gordon Kaufmann, along with landscape architect Edward Huntsman-Trout, designs a campus built as a great courtyard, facing inward, with great stucco walls entered through archways, doors, and wrought-iron gates. Kaufmann was one of the pioneers of the Mediterranean Revival or “California Style.” The trustees direct Kaufmann to “give to the dormitories the appearance and atmosphere of a beautiful home.”
1923 James A. Blaisdell, president of Pomona College, writes to Ellen Browning Scripps, of La Jolla, his hopes for a “group of institutions divided into small colleges—somewhat on the Oxford type.”Ellen Browning Scripps becomes one of the founders of a new corporation, named The Claremont Colleges.