Scripps College Honors Retiring Faculty

This spring, Scripps College honors retiring faculty and thanks them for their years of teaching and service.

Kersey Black, Professor of Chemistry

We all hope to look back over a career and see it as time and effort well spent. I feel very fortunate that in my case this assessment is easy. Helping our very talented and engaged students as they have worked to grow and define a future for themselves has been a fun, challenging, and satisfying endeavor. To have worked on that endlessly interesting puzzle of teaching/learning with my colleagues in the Keck science department, who are so committed to doing the best they can by our students and so thoughtful and creative about the process of education, has really been key to having a sense of accomplishment. And, that the colleges have supported me as a scholar as well as a teacher has added much to the richness of my intellectual life by allowing me to work at the interface of what we understand and what has yet to be revealed. To any student reading this and thinking about their future, I end with my last piece of free advice: Take note, this is a good gig.

Gayle Blankenberg, Lecturer in Music

Looking back on my 41 years of teaching at Scripps College, I’m pretty sure I’ve learned as much from my students as they’ve learned from me.

My work at Scripps consisted of teaching one-on-one piano lessons to students who often enrolled in piano with me every semester during their four years in college. What a privilege it has been to watch these students grow from teenagers into confident adults, ready to affect the world in all sorts of positive ways. Very few studied the piano because they planned a career in music; most studied for the best reason imaginable: they were dedicated to their study of music simply because having a hands-on experience in the arts was important to them. Kudos to Scripps College for providing them that opportunity.

My own career as a performing pianist flourished during my years at Scripps. Instead of being a barrier to my professional activities, the College fully supported and encouraged those activities, ranging from almost two dozen CD recording projects to concert/teaching tours to New York City, China, Europe, and New Zealand.

I will always cherish the memories of my time at Scripps College.

Ellen Finkelpearl, Professor of Classics
Helen Chandler Garland Professor of Ancient Studies

When I arrived at Scripps in 1988, my daughter was not even two years old. Now she has a son that same age; I’ve been at the College for a neat generation. There’s the nurturing beauty of the campus and the way that Scripps is a part of me and I a part of Scripps, but these are my memories: The intensity of teaching on 9/11 when some students still wanted to learn Latin or the day my class produced Aristophanes’ Birds and I gave birth to my son that night, or the mutual support we have all felt during the pandemic when my students have been friends as much as fellow learners. I’ve enjoyed learning from my colleagues in Core 1 and hearing their well-wrought lectures, as well as becoming more visually aware through co-teaching classical mythology with a Pitzer archaeologist. Scripps’ focus on interdisciplinary study made me a better scholar and I pity those at large universities who only converse with their departmental colleagues. I will not miss committee service, though the amazing Scripps pool offered a way to work off tension. Above all, Scripps, do not forget ancient studies when I am gone.

Anthony Fucaloro, Professor of Chemistry
George C.S. Benson Professor of Public Affairs

All our faculty recognize the privilege of teaching students, and this makes retirement so bittersweet.

The request by the administration for this statement spurred me to review my CV to refresh my memory of those things for which I am most proud. The one thing that jumped out at me was the realization that I have had 37 Keck Science student co-authors in publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Moreover, I’m now completing a paper that should add five more students to the list. Over the years, collaborating with students on research projects has been a true joy for me.

It’s been a good run. I’ll move on, but I’ll not sever my connections to the department and to the three colleges it has served so well. I remind my dear colleagues of the old country western song, “How can I miss you if you won’t go away.” I’ll be around.

Julia Liss, Professor of History
Mary W. Johnson and J. Stanley Johnson Professorship in Humanities

How to summarize over 30 years at Scripps? Impossible. My keenest memories are of working together with students, faculty, and staff. This is especially true of teaching—the spark of class discussion, the triumph of completed senior theses, the connections that continue after graduation. I am grateful for the freedom to pursue my intellectual interests and scholarship inside and outside the classroom and for the opportunity to team teach in the American Studies Program, the Core Curriculum in Interdisciplinary Humanities, and the Department of History. During my three years as director of the Humanities Institute, I drew on the collective wisdom of faculty across the Claremont Colleges and enjoyed the challenge of developing interdisciplinary programs that brought scholars, artists, and activists to campus. Sharing this experience with the junior fellows was a privilege. Participating in the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program during the past two years transformed my sense of purpose. Through several stints on the Faculty Executive Committee and one as interim dean, I worked with my colleagues to improve sabbatical compensation, institute the 2-2 teaching load, and bring in the Mellon grant that helped establish the Center for Teaching and Learning in Claremont. I am particularly grateful to the generous and supportive staff who make everything we do possible. Thank you.

Mary MacNaughton, Professor of Art History
Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Director of the Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery

It has been an honor to serve as a professor of art history and the first Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Director of the Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery. It has been a joy to work with the talented team of Kirk Delman, Margalit Monroe, Colleen Salomon, and John Trendler. We have expanded the Scripps permanent collection, adding new holdings of African American art, Asian art, international ceramics, and photography, to enhance teaching across the curriculum.

In addition to producing exhibitions and publications that illuminate the Scripps permanent collection, I have enjoyed creating and managing 28 years of paid internships at the Williamson Gallery and mentoring students over three decades. Many of our alumnae have earned graduate degrees and are becoming leaders in the visual arts.

It has been rewarding to develop a new major in art conservation and to see Scripps students being admitted to leading graduate art conservation programs in the United States and Britain. Most enjoyable has been mentoring students and following them as they build their careers and lead full lives. I have had a rewarding 35 years of teaching in the art history program and enhancing the permanent collection at Scripps College.

John Milton, Professor of Biology
William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Computational Neuroscience

As the Kenan Chair in Computational Neuroscience since 2004, I have had the opportunity to work with many students, faculty members, and staff colleagues at Scripps College. We have achieved tremendous accomplishments, and I thank everyone for their support over the years. Given all the classes, projects, and other activities with which I have been involved, it’s kind of amazing to realize I will actually retire. But I don’t think of it as retirement, I think of it as the start of a new adventure. Thank you again and my best wishes for future success.

Rita Roberts, Professor of History and Africana Studies
Nathaniel Wright Stephenson Chair in History and Biography

As a faculty member of Scripps College since 1987, I have experienced incredible joy and delight in teaching very smart students, working with brilliant colleagues, and interacting with very caring staff from all The Claremont Colleges. Besides exciting students about learning how the past is the present in various history courses, teaching Scripps students and collaborating with inspiring colleagues in CORE was a highlight of my teaching career. Several exhilarating moments occurred while teaching CORE II with Warren Liu. Warren, like so many other Scripps colleagues, is why Scripps works. I am honored to have spent more than three decades working with some of the most generous and collegial academicians in the country.

Faculty generosity extends far beyond the classroom. I treasure colleagues with whom I have worked in the Faculty Executive Committee and in other committees involved in helping to make the Scripps College curriculum and policy reflective of current and future needs, especially establishing requirements such as the R&E requirement and colleagues who, for example, joined David Roselli and me in creating a more useful and fair evaluation tool for faculty courses and performance. And while I served on far too many searches in Claremont and specifically at Scripps, these searches proved to be one of the most important aspects of service to the College in meeting and interacting with some of the best and brightest young scholars who joined other young colleagues to ensure the future success of Scripps and Claremont. I will miss being with all of you and wish you continued success.