New Dean of Students: Bekki Lee

By Szeyin Lee '14Business Manager

Rebecca Lee was appointed this past summer by President Lori Bettison-Varga as Interim Dean of Students of Scripps College. My first impression of Bekki Lee was the powerful, inspiring speech she gave at the “Women of Color” Dinner, and I was grateful for the opportunity to find out more about our new Dean through the interview.

At the beginning of the interview, Lee shared the story of her mother’s , who influenced her to take on a position with an institution that focuses on women's education. Dean Lee's mother was told not to go to school because she was a woman. However, she decided to combat the social standard and work to gain the financial resource to pursue her degree in social work. She even told Dean Lee's father that he could wait for her to finish her graduate degree if he truly wanted to marry her. The determination, courage, activism, and wisdom of her mother serve as inspiration to Dean Lee in becoming an advocate of women's rights.

During the past three months of working at Scripps College, Lee was most impressed by the quality of Scripps students, who are “highly committed to learning.” All Scripps students take on the challenge of the Core Curriculum, an interdisciplinary approach to education that helps Scripps students to rapidly develop critical thinking skills. Dean Lee said she wishes she had been exposed to that type of intensive learning in her education. Lee also noticed that Scripps students are notably respectful of each other’s voices and appreciative of what Scripps has to offer.

When asked of what she thinks of Scripps College, Rebecca Lee described Scripps as  “an absolute gem” of a school, one which is at the stage of “becoming a community at leadership role as a center of research and education that emphasizes the principles of community and diversity and development of an inclusive learning community.” Rebecca Lee's goals as Interim Dean of Students are still being shaped. “We need to find out how are we doing and position ourselves to fit students' needs. Especially with all the changes going on (a plan to build a new residence hall, establishment of Student Union), we want to know what are you [the students] are looking for in student affairs.” She strives to balance the planning for future and the work on daily basis in the present. To accomplish her goals, Dean Lee plans on having more office hours, attending smaller gatherings, responding to different groups, and meeting with student leaders as well as first years. Dean Lee is open to listening closely to students’ thoughts and concerns.

As one of the few Asian American senior staff members of Scripps College, Dean Lee says that her Asian American identity provides her the opportunity to develop consciousness of different identities and to think about diversity more broadly. The experiences she had growing up in this country showed her the societal expectations and norms towards minorities, and helped her better communicate cross-culturally in serving other students from different backgrounds.

Dean Lee’s hobbies are taiko, cello, and tennis. Dean Lee is looking forward to meeting speaking with every Scripps student about concerns and ideas. Feel free to drop by during her office hours and say hello!