A Letter from President Lori Bettison-Varga to the Scripps Community

February 18, 2014 

To the Scripps Community~ 

Freedom of the press isn’t just an expression. It’s an imperative about American society and our campus culture. As The Scripps Voice has reminded us in its Feb. 17, 2014 Special Edition, it is also protected by the California Penal Code. 

On Monday afternoon, Feb. 17, I learned that a significant number of copies of The Scripps Voice were found in the mailroom recycling bin the morning of Friday, Feb. 14. If this was done in error, it was unfortunate. If this was intentional, the situation is reprehensible and an outrageous affront to all that I cherish and value about our Scripps community. 

Whether intentional or in error, I will provide funding should The Scripps Voice choose to reprint that edition. 

When I learned about the newspaper issue, it was at about the same time as a number of students were exercising their freedom of speech rights at a protest in the front of the president’s house during a lunch and conversation I was hosting with the President’s Advisory Committee on Diversity and Inclusivity. With pride, I commend students and campus community members who take a stand on issues that are important to them. However, I realize that there are some college-related processes that may not be well known or even researchable, which may lead to misconceptions about how appointments are made. One example is the hiring process of college administrators. While I ask for input, perceptions, and opinions on candidates, and while I listen to all that is shared with me, at the end of the day the final hiring decision is mine. As president, I am charged by the Scripps College Board of Trustees with the responsibility for making the key administrator hiring decisions, sometimes with final approval by the Board itself. Procedural parallels to this are that faculty recommend and approve faculty hires and recommend renewal, tenure and promotion of their colleagues to the president and the Board; students elect SAS officers and recent graduate trustees; alumnae select fellow alumnae to represent them on the Board; and trustees nominate and elect fellow Board members.

It’s also important to understand that the input, perceptions, and opinions I receive reflect the diversity of not only the various constituent groups themselves, but also the diverse opinions from within 
each group. Students or faculty or alumnae or parents do not necessarily share the same impressions just because they are members of the same constituency group. 

Across all constituencies, I know that despite our differences of opinion, we are united in our desire for the continued success of Scripps College. Our top goals for the $175 million campaign for the College include: $35 million for financial aid and scholarship support; $34 million for faculty and academic program support; $38 million for new buildings, including the new residence hall ($18 million), dance facility, and renovation of the Denison Library. These priorities were developed through the collective work of faculty, staff, students, the administration and the Board of Trustees over a multi-year period. I invite you to go to http://campaign.scrippscollege.edu to see the full outline of the campaign as well as to see the campaign video. Our continued work together is vital to address the current needs of Scripps as well as the long-term future of the College. 

Sharing your opinions on campus carries on the spirit and intentions of our founder, Ellen Browning Scripps. I will continue to listen, and I will continue to make decisions that I believe are in the best interest of the College, knowing that it is not possible for everyone to agree with me.