“The Future of Higher Education: Three Presidential Perspectives”

Lori Bettison-Varga became Scripps College’s eighth president on July 1, 2009, continuing a distinguished career in academia. Dr. Bettison-Varga was unanimously elected by the Board of Trustees in recognition of her outstanding achievements, as well as for her enthusiastic commitment to the Scripps College mission of educating women for lives of leadership, service, integrity, and creativity. She holds the W.M. Keck Foundation Presidential Chair at Scripps College, established in 1980. Prior to coming to Scripps College, President Bettison-Varga was provost and dean of the faculty at Whitman College, in Walla Walla, Washington, from 2007 to 2009, following 15 stellar years at The College of Wooster. There, she was a member of the faculty in the department of geology and rose to become chair of the department, chair of the assessment committee, and associate dean for research and grants. From 2004 to 2007, she served as director of the Keck Geology Consortium, a multi-college collaboration focused on enriching undergraduate education through development of high-quality research experiences. She also codeveloped an innovative course at Wooster to explore the relationships between science, gender, and the environment, and to generate appreciation for models and programs that effectively promote gender justice and environmental sustainability. President Bettison-Varga has written on the topic of gender equality, moderated panel discussions on cutting-edge research, and regularly interacts with women leaders from around the world to promote women’s education.

David Oxtoby became the ninth President of Pomona College in Claremont, California, in July 2003. An internationally-known physical chemist, he previously served as Dean of the Division of Physical Sciences at the University of Chicago where he was William Rainey Harper Distinguished Service Professor. At Pomona College, he is also Professor of Chemistry, and annually teaches a course in environmental chemistry. Under President Oxtoby’s leadership, the College has launched initiatives in sustainability—including integrated academic and campus planning and an office of sustainability—completed three new academic buildings, and carried out renovations of several historic campus buildings. Pomona has maintained a commitment to meet 100% of students’ demonstrated financial need through scholarships and financial aid, and has replaced loans with grants in student-aid packages, in order to enhance low-income and under-represented students’ access to a Pomona College education. President Oxtoby is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, has served on the Board of Argonne National Laboratory, and currently serves on the Boards of Toyota Technological Institute-Chicago, the Consortium on Financing Higher Education (COFHE), the Claremont University Consortium Board of Overseers, the Association of American Colleges and Universities, and Harvard University’s Board of Overseers. He was a member of the National Science Foundation’s Mathematics and Physical Science Advisory Committee and the Advisory Committee on Cyberinfrastructure, and the boards of trustees of the Webb Schools and Bryn Mawr College. In 2005 he received an Honorary Degree from Occidental College.

Laura Skandera Trombley is the fifth president of Pitzer College, now in the ninth year of her presidency. Under her leadership the institution’s faculty and student excellence has become widely recognized and its progressive ideals highly regarded; since her arrival the College has received more Fulbright Fellowships per 1000 students than any other college or university in the US; and the College is respected as a leader in sustainability efforts with three Gold LEED certified residence halls and current plans for three new Platinum LEED buildings. Previous to joining Pitzer College, Trombley earned tenure in three years as an associate professor of English at SUNY Potsdam and held several administrative posts including assistant provost. In four more years, she was named full professor and dean of the faculty and vice president of academic affairs at Coe College. Dr. Trombley attended Pepperdine University at age 16 and, after graduating summa cum laude, continued there to earn her MA. She received her PhD in English from the University of Southern California where she was the Lester and Irene Finkelstein Fellow and received the Virginia Barbara Middleton Scholarship. As a graduate student she discovered the largest known cache of Mark Twain letters to date and she appeared in Ken Burns’ documentary on Mark Twain. An author of five books three about Mark Twain, Knopf recently published Mark Twain’s Other Woman: The Hidden Story of His Final Years, which is now in its second printing.