By Kayon James '16
Since August 2013, Scripps students have been notified of eight staff departures via e-mail, the latest of which was two weeks prior to the commencement of the 2014-15 academic year: the resignation of Marla Love, who held several key positions on campus, including Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Scripps Communities of Resources and Empowerment (SCORE). Due to the the relatively small size of the college’s community, each resignation has left both practical and sentimental ripples in its wake.
Zandy Springs ‘15 says that she was “devastated” after the departure of Chris Guzaitis, Assistant Professor of Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies (FGSS). “[Professor Guzaitis] gave her all to students,” Springs said. “She inspired you to give your all and brought to class an enthusiasm that was infectious.”
The e-mail notice for Dean Marla Love’s resignation appeared to hold a similar sentiment; Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, Charlotte Johnson opened the letter by stating “it is with mixed emotions that I write today.”
Addressing stories that might be circulating Scripps College, President Lori Bettison-Varga says that the resignations are due to external circumstances rather than internal procedures.
“We have seen more faculty resignations lately, in part because institutions across the country have rebounded in their hiring [after the 2009 recession],” President Bettison-Varga stated via e-mail correspondence this Saturday. “There was a period of time (2009-2012) where I think there was greater stability, in general, across the country due to decreased faculty and staff openings.”
In this sense, resignations at Scripps represent a season of renewed opportunities for professionals in academia.
“Faculty and staff who have particular reasons to leave – promotional opportunities for their scholarship and/or family, career ladder move etc. can [now] career ladder move etc. can [now] do so,” President Bettison-Varga said.
The Human Resources director at Scripps also indicated that many of the departures in previous years were retirements. President Lori Bettison-Varga added to this by stating, “The number of offer letters has been about the same over the last four years, so staff turnover is consistent.”
While there have been resignations, there have also been a number of new hires. Amongst them are President of Student Affairs/Dean of Students, Charlotte Johnson; Vice President Business Affairs/Treasurer, Donna Ng; Vice President/Secretary to the Board of Trustees, Denise Nelson Nash; Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Binti Harvey; Christine Costanza, Executive Assistant to the President, and Linda Riggall, Administrative Assistant to the President and Board of Trustees.
Since August 2013, six tenure-track faculty members have also joined the Scripps community: Thomas Koenigs, Assistant Professor of English; Sumita Pahwa, Assistant Professor of Politics; Martha Gonzalez, Assistant Professor of Intercollegiate Chicana/o Latina/o Studies; Corey Tazzara, Assistant Professor of History; and Liat Yossifor, Assistant Professor of Art.
Questions still remained regarding staff transfers to Scripps’ sister institution down the road: Pomona College.
When asked if the occurrences were related to issues of “brand” or prestige, President Bettison-Varga stated, “there is quite a bit of movement among institutions in the consortium,” describing two instances where staff transitioned from another consortium member to Scripps: Vice President Victoria Romero, our Vice President of Enrollment and Kelly Hogencamp, our Registrar, both of whom came from CMC.
“Our ‘brand’ is strong!” President Bettison-Varga continued in response to questions of each school’s respective prestige. “However, a move from one institution to another is really about the opportunity presented and how it suits the individual’s career goals.”
Despite the past year of resignations, new staff members were quick to comment on why they chose to move from their previous institutions to Scripps.
“I am inspired by Scripps’ commitment to a holistic, participatory and diverse educational experience and I chose to come here for the outstanding faculty, wonderful engaging students, committed and expert staff, top notch facilities and dedicated and supportive alumnae,” Johnson said. “I would like to create additional partnerships between the faculty and student affairs...and help students build diverse coalitions as a way to strengthen community.”
“Faculty members are enthusiastic about working for a college at the Consortium because they not only benefit from their colleagues at their home institution but also from their colleagues at the other consortial institutions,” President Bettison-Varga said. “We share positions across the consortium, allowing us to hire faculty who we might not be able to as an individual college.”
Pahwa expressed her interest in Scripps College as an independent institution and as a women’s college. “I’ve never taught at a women’s college before and I’m curious to see what classroom dynamics are like with a different gender balance,” she said.