Office of the President

“Continue to think deeply and critically about the issues of our day; continue to challenge your assumptions and the assumptions of others; continue to think for yourself, rather than bow to the thoughts of another. Feel free to change your mind, if the evidence warrants.”

— Lori Bettison-Varga, from her charge to the Class of 2012

Farewell to President Lori Bettison-Varga


Dear Scripps College community members,

It is with mixed emotions that I write to you today with the news that I will be leaving Scripps College this fall to become president and director of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, pending approval by the County Board of Supervisors. I envisioned myself remaining at Scripps and continuing my rewarding and promising work on behalf of the College for several more years. However, the unexpected opportunity to lead the Natural History Museum calls to my roots as a geologist and educator, and the ability to impact the public through serving its mission “to inspire wonder, discovery, and responsibility for our natural and cultural worlds” is deeply compelling. Even as I look forward to this new opportunity, I know I will always look back on my time at Scripps as one of the highlights of my personal and professional life.

It has been an honor and privilege to serve Scripps College for the past six years.  I was attracted to Scripps for its legacy of foundational coursework in interdisciplinary humanities, the capstone senior research experience, and its commitment to the liberal arts in its mission to develop future generations of women leaders. I have thoroughly enjoyed the relationships I have built with each constituency of Scripps: students, faculty, staff, alumnae, parents, Board members, and friends of the College, as well as my colleagues in the Claremont University Consortium.

I have come to know the faculty as committed teachers/scholars who maintain the rigor of a Scripps education and are passionate about mentoring students through their four years of professional and personal growth at the College. The scholarly endeavors of Scripps faculty – books, journal articles, conference presentations, performances, and exhibits – provide an intellectually rich foundation for the curriculum while contributing to the national and international recognition of the College. It is no surprise that The Princeton Review lists Scripps among the top 20 for best classroom experience!

The staff are singularly focused on advancing the work of the College, supporting our students and faculty; maintaining and enhancing the beauty of the campus; providing delicious meals daily and during countless events throughout the year; expressing the value of the College to external audiences and prospective students; and engaging alumnae and friends in our collective work advancing the College. I also want to thank my talented senior team for their wisdom and support, and for their commitment to our shared values and goals.

My work has been supported by a Board of Trustees that exhibits true commitment to the College through their gifts of time, talent and treasure.  The heartfelt connection our alumnae have to their alma mater is beyond compare, and Scripps is enhanced by their accomplishments and contributions to the life of the College.  Our parents have formed a robust leadership council that supports the College, expressing their belief in the value of a Scripps education through the programs they have developed and the resources they provide.

It has been a unique privilege to collaborate with the presidents of our sister colleges – Pomona College, Claremont Graduate University, Claremont McKenna College, Harvey Mudd College, Pitzer College and the Keck Graduate Institute – in our collective efforts to advance Blaisdell’s vision for Claremont. In my relatively brief time at Scripps, I know we have increased the visibility of all of our institutions and articulated the value of what we do together in the Consortium’s unique model for higher education.

Undoubtedly, the most rewarding aspect of my time at Scripps has been that spent with our students. I have found Scripps students to be brave in pursuit of their passions, bold in expression of truth to power, wickedly brilliant, and committed to creating a community that aspires to inclusion and empowerment. You are the legacy of this College – each and every one of you is woven into the fabric of Scripps.  Each of you is unique in your genius and collectively you and our alumnae represent the universe of the College, across the decades and into the future.  You lead your lives with the four pillars of Scripps’ mission: leadership, service, integrity and creativity.

I thank all of you for your support these past six years as we have worked together to build on the College’s legacy. I leave with confidence, courage, and hope as I embark on this next chapter of my life, knowing I am a better person for having been the president of this extraordinary institution and that I have made many lifelong friendships in my time here.  I am proud of all that we have accomplished together these past six years. It has been a joy to be on this journey with you, and I know the future is bright for Scripps!


Lori Bettison-Varga