Dear Scripps Students, Faculty, and Staff,
The recent police shootings of Jacob Blake and Dijon Kizzee, despite months of global protests calling for an end to violence against Black people, are stark reminders that racism, much like the coronavirus epidemic, is a plague that will only be cured through vigilant, sustained, determined, and concrete action by individuals and organizations to make necessary changes. As we begin the 2020-21 academic year, Scripps College reaffirms its goal to address institutional racism at Scripps and support the health and well-being of our Black students, faculty, and staff. Education is a crucial element of creating a more just and equitable society, and our community is eager to actively engage in conversations about structural racism and racial inequality.
In our June 23 message, we outlined a series of actions the College will take this year to expand support for Black students, elevate the community’s consciousness about race and racism, and measure and communicate the progress of our efforts to address inequalities experienced by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) students, faculty, and staff. As we begin the fall semester, we want to inform you about initiatives, resources, and programs underway to foster an antiracist environment at Scripps.
Racial Justice and Equity Fund/Campaign
We are pleased to announce a generous $1 million gift from Trustee and parent of two alums, Gale Picker (P’19, P’14), to support a multi-year comprehensive approach to advancing antiracism and racial justice at Scripps. The funding will enable the College to increase recruitment and retention of Black students, expand resources to develop antiracist curricula, modules, and dialogue, and fund opportunities for research, scholarship, and work examining systemic racism and inequality. We are immensely grateful for Trustee Picker’s transformative gift, which provides significant momentum for the Scripps Racial Justice and Equity Fund established this summer. Other trustees have already committed to support this campaign, and in the coming months, the College will invite alumnae, families, and friends to contribute to diversity, inclusion, equity, and access at Scripps by giving to this fund. It is our hope that as a community, we can match Trustee Picker’s gift and continue to expand the impact of this important work.
Addressing Systemic Racism
This new funding has enabled the College to begin implementation of the following initiatives this semester:
- Faculty Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. This new role will develop strategies for hiring and retention of underrepresented faculty and inclusive pedagogy, while serving as a resource and collaborator for diversity and inclusion efforts Collegewide. This Associate Dean will be appointed from within the Scripps faculty and will continue to have partial teaching responsibilities. Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty Amy Marcus-Newhall is assembling a working group to articulate the role and responsibilities of the position and determine a structure that will advance equity and inclusion efforts across the College.
- Racial Justice and Equity Fellows Program. This new program will provide grants to faculty and students for research, internships, and service projects designed to advance scholarship and explore topics relevant to racial justice, inequality, equity, criminal justice reform, and related areas. Additional details about the fellowship focus, eligibility, timing of award, application components, implementation timeline, and funding will be forthcoming this fall in preparation for launching grant opportunities in the spring semester.
- Anti-Racist Learning Modules. The College has partnered with the California Conference for Equality and Justice (CCEJ), a human relations organization dedicated to eliminating bias, bigotry, and racism through education, conflict resolution, and advocacy, to present a racial justice training series for students, faculty, and staff. Topics will include “Building an Anti-Racist Identity,” “Valuing Black Lives,” and “Communicating in Emotion and Conflict.”
- Assessment of Institutional Climate and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Programs. Scripps is conducting an inventory of College programs related to diversity, equity, and inclusion to identify opportunities for integration and enhancement. Scripps has joined the USC Race and Equity Center’s Liberal Arts College Racial Equity Leadership Alliance, which provides professionals in postsecondary institutions with learning opportunities, tools for assessing climates of inclusion for people of color and other marginalized groups, and access to an online repository of resources to advance racial justice and equity work on campuses. The College will utilize this membership to conduct a campus climate assessment to be administered later this year.
- Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Dashboard. The IDEA website now features the first iteration of a public dashboard highlighting data about the diversity of our student, faculty, and staff community and key performance indicators of student success, segmented by gender, race, and first-generation status. The dashboard also includes a link to historical data in the Scripps College Factbook.
- Educational and Community-Building Programs. The fall season of Scripps Presents features a diverse slate of authors, scholars, and performers who will provide thought-provoking opportunities for education, dialogue, and reflection in a series of programs designed to confront the political, social, and economic ramifications of racism, bias, and cultural divergence. Programs will offer student discussion sessions for deeper exploration of the ideas raised by presenters.
- Mental Health and Wellness. Effective this semester, the Off-Campus Therapy Referral Program for mental health services will expand students’ access to therapists from diverse backgrounds and eliminate limitations on the number of sessions.
The College continues to examine existing processes, practices, and systems to eliminate barriers or obstacles to the advancement of BIPOC students, faculty, and staff at Scripps, and to determine how resources may be allocated to enhance support for Black and other underrepresented groups at Scripps. I am optimistic that the initiatives outlined above will help to define and advance our efforts to dismantle systemic racism at Scripps, demonstrate the extent to which BIPOC students, faculty, and staff are valued members of our community, and reinforce the College’s commitment to their success.
Call for Partners/How to Get Involved
In my welcome message to the Scripps community last week, I shared that the College’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA) Initiative will continue its critical work to cultivate an inclusive culture. The Committee on Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity (CIDE) is part of the IDEA Initiative and serves in an advisory capacity. CIDE’s charge includes proposing policies, practices, and initiatives that align with our principles of community and enhance public dialogue on gender identity, ethnicity, religion, race, diversity, and other topics critical to the future of the College. CIDE includes faculty, staff, students, and an alum. We are seeking members of the campus community who want to help Scripps discover, develop, and execute concrete approaches to improving our culture and practices. Your voices and perspectives are invaluable as we continue our progress toward creating the inclusion, diversity, equity, and access we envision for the Scripps community.
I invite you to apply for the staff, faculty, student, or alum openings on the committee by September 15. I also encourage you to review and comment on the Revised Principles of Diversity drafted by the Project Together working group of last year’s CIDE.
Thank you for your commitment to making Scripps the antiracist, inclusive, and equitable community we aspire to be.
Lara Tiedens, President
Dean Calvo, Treasurer and Vice President for Business Affairs
Binti Harvey, Vice President for External Relations and Institutional Advancement
Charlotte Johnson, Dean of Students and Vice President of Student Affairs
Amy Marcus-Newhall, Dean of Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Denise Nelson Nash, Vice President, Secretary of the Board, and Convener, IDEA Initiative
Victoria Romero, Vice President for Enrollment