September 8, 2021
Dear Scripps College Community Members,
As the academic year begins, I am incredibly grateful to witness so many moments of joy and celebration as our Scripps community returns to campus after more than a year of remote instruction. Our motto, Incipit Vita Nova, means “Here begins new life,” and for many of us, the return to in-person learning represents a new phase of our journey at Scripps while also reinforcing the value of face-to-face instruction and interaction, which is one of the hallmarks of a residential liberal arts education. You have weathered the unprecedented, multifaceted challenges of this time apart with perseverance, resilience, courage, and hope, and I look forward to seeing the ways in which we continue to learn and grow together this year.
Although we have been eagerly anticipating this return for a long time, COVID-19 continues to impact the ways we come together, and we will need to continue to practice compassion and flexibility as protocols shift and evolve. To prioritize the health and safety of our community, the College has developed policies that align with Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance, including trainings and community expectations. Information about these policies has been communicated to students, families, faculty, and staff via email and is also available on the College’s Scripps Strong site. The College will soon launch a dashboard for the Scripps community that will include data on tests administered, positivity rates, and quarantine and isolation capacity.
As we resume our in-person academic, residential, and work lives, I’m pleased to share the following College news, updates, and announcements:
New Community Members
Please join me in welcoming new students, faculty, and staff to the Scripps community. First-year, sophomore, and transfer students began arriving on campus on August 25, experiencing our vibrant community in person for the first time. The Student Affairs team has created programming that welcomes students while prioritizing our community’s health and safety.
The College is also fortunate to welcome new faculty and staff who will contribute to Scripps’ academic, residential, and professional environment. A complete list of faculty and staff joining Scripps this academic year is available here.
The College will celebrate the beginning of the new academic year with our virtual Academic Convocation ceremony on Monday, September 13 at 11 a.m. Professor of Chemistry and Sidney J. Weinberg, Jr. Chair in Natural Sciences, and inaugural Associate Dean for Racial Equity, Mary Hatcher-Skeers, will deliver a keynote address entitled: “Building a Trauma-Informed Community.” I look forward to gathering virtually as a community for this important highlight of the academic year.
I am pleased to see faculty and students making use of the new outdoor classrooms, which provide technologically advanced instructional spaces while mitigating health risks for our students and faculty. The College also has increased outdoor seating and meeting areas where community members can socialize, study, and enjoy meals.
In consultation with experts in the field and guidance from local, state, and federal health authorities, the Facilities Department has made numerous health and safety improvements to campus over the past year. These improvements include key modifications to the HVAC system in classrooms, offices, and common spaces, upgrades to existing air filters to grades that meet or exceed current filtration standards, the addition of UV air scrubbing technology in the form of inline duct equipment, deployment of portable air purifiers, and the installation of plexiglass barriers and social distancing signage in shared spaces that serve students, staff, faculty, and visitors. Custodial staff have established regular cleaning schedules that follow Los Angeles County and Cal-OSHA requirements. Additional information about these improvements is available on the Scripps Strong site.
Scripps College Centennial Plan
As the College returns to on-campus academic and residential programming, we are eager to also resume our work on the strategic plan. The Scripps College Centennial Plan, which envisions the College at its 100-year anniversary, was developed by Scripps students, faculty, staff, and alumnae and adopted by the Board of Trustees in 2018. To date, the College has launched 10 initiatives under four central themes. New and ongoing programs successfully implemented by the Centennial Plan include: Public Humanities and Interdisciplinary Computational Science programs, the Presidential Scholarship Initiative, the IMPaCT community-based organization partnership and service learning program, and the maximizing campus revenue project.
This year, the Strategic Plan Committee will focus on implementing the following initiatives:
- IDEA 2.0—Build a stronger, more inclusive community in which members understand, appreciate, and learn from each other’s differences of identity, experience, and access to resources. IDEA 2.0 will cultivate a greater sense of belonging and enable our students to build more diverse, accessible, equitable communities in their lives after graduation.
- Advising 360—Build robust teams that integrate academic and other forms of advising to support students navigating the entirety of their experience.
- Staff Leadership Program—Expand resources to develop employees’ skills through enhanced training programs for new supervisors and emerging leaders.
As we complete implementation of Strategic Plan initiatives, we continue to be open to new ideas from the Scripps community. Consider sharing a suggestion for new initiatives through the Centennial Plan’s online form.
The Committee on Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity (CIDE) is part of the IDEA Initiative and advises the College on how we can continue to make progress toward our goal of being an anti-racist campus. In 2020, members formed three working groups—Decolonizing Scripps, BIPOC Student Support, and Microaggressions. The groups made recommendations for improving College practices, a number of which are currently being implemented and under development, such as recognition of Indigenous people on the College’s historical timeline, land acknowledgment, facilitated sessions to engage first-year BIPOC students and introduce affinity CLORGS, exploration of integrating the Diversity and Inclusion Module within Everfi, and ensuring that microaggressions continue to be addressed (as they have been in the past) in new faculty onboarding and training. I invite you to apply for the staff, faculty, or student openings on the committee by September 15.
As Inaugural Associate Dean of Faculty for Racial Equity, Mary Hatcher-Skeers will work as part of the Equity and Justice Leadership Team with VP/Board Secretary/Convener of the IDEA Initiative Denise Nelson Nash and Assistant Dean and Director of SCORE Marissiko Wheaton. Together, they will identify and implement antiracism and equity goals at Scripps by providing guidance on policies, procedures, and structural initiatives. This structural change allows Scripps to name, build on, and replicate successes throughout the College that might otherwise remain disjointed and siloed. From October 12 through November 9, Scripps will administer the National Assessment of Collegiate Campus Climates (NACCC), a survey about the racial climate on our campus. I hope that all students will participate in this inaugural effort; in future years, the survey will also be administered to faculty and staff.
To ensure the health and safety of Scripps and our surrounding communities, Scripps Presents, the IDEA Initiative, and the Humanities Institute have announced that this semester’s programming will primarily be virtual, with a select number of in-person programs that will comply with COVID-19 protocols. Additional information about online and on-campus events is available on the College’s event calendar.
The Scripps Presents fall lineup includes the National Book Critics Circle Award-winning writer Cathy Park Hong; musician and novelist Josh Ritter; journalist and former “Code Switch” contributor Kat Chow (in conversation with KPCC’s Josie Huang); and critic and essayist Rebecca Solnit. Scripps alumna Elizabeth Turk ’83’s Look Up event will be one of few in-person programs open only to students, faculty, and staff at The Claremont Colleges. The Denison Library is presenting an exhibit related to the Look Up event which explores how Scripps has responded in times of crisis throughout its history.
Elsewhere on campus, the Clark Humanities Museum will present an exhibition of historic and contemporary photo-based works curated by the students in Professor Julia Lum’s Core III seminar Photography and the Archive (fall 2020). The Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery’s current exhibition is “LA Edge: Scripps Faculty in Art and Media Studies,” which highlights the work of Scripps faculty.
Last fall, the Laspa Center for Leadership, Career Planning & Resources (CP&R), and the Office of Alumnae Engagement launched Olive Grove, Scripps College’s official online community to help students, alumnae, families, and friends flourish through lifelong, purposeful connections. As a member of the Scripps community, you can engage with this thriving online platform and build community with close to 1,500 students, alums, and parents across Olive Grove who have already joined.
Olive Grove allows you to connect with the powerful alumnae community across decades and around the world; expand your network and seek insights from students, faculty, and staff who have the experience and perspectives most valuable to you; join curated groups based on common interests, backgrounds, and shared Scripps experiences; access on-demand content from offices across campus in the Resource tab; and seek internships or job opportunities shared by members of the Scripps community. Join Olive Grove today!
Unfortunately, we will be postponing several annual campus-wide events such as the community lunch that we intended to follow convocation, the fall garden party, and departmental gatherings as we work to de-densify our campus until regional COVID-19 transmission rates subside. I very much look forward to rescheduling these events later in the academic year.
Your dedication to our Scripps community remains as vital as ever as we embark on this fall 2021 in-person residential experience together. Although this summer did not bring the post-pandemic certainty that many of us had anticipated, I hope that you and your loved ones found an opportunity to rest, and that you are looking forward, as I am, to the excitement and rigor of this academic year.