By Maureen Cowhey '19
As Scripps College President Lori Bettison-Varga moves on to a position at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, the search for the College’s ninth president is underway. The Presidential Search Committee will work closely with the search firm Storbeck/Pimentel & Associates to recommend a candidate to the Board of Trustees by Spring 2016.
The Search Committee consists of thirteen members of the Scripps community, co-chaired by Bob Sacks and Betsy Weinberg Smith. Sacks, a parent of a 2014 Scripps alumna, has been a trustee since 2014. Weinberg, a graduate of the Class of 1974, has served as a trustee since 1995 and as vice chair of the Board of Trustees since 2009. Sacks and Smith work as the liaisons, among other duties, between the Scripps community and the search firm Storbeck/Pimentel.
The executive search firm Storbeck/Pimentel specializes in higher education executive recruitment, according to their website. They have conducted around 2,000 executive searches in the past two decades for higher education establishments and non-profit clients. Named partner Shelly Storbeck is also particularly familiar with the Claremont community, having conducted searches for other Claremont institutions such as Pomona College, Pitzer College, and Harvey Mudd College.
The Search Committee is currently looking for community feedback through input forums, online surveys, online comment forms, and recommendations in order to recruit a candidate that will best serve the specific needs of the College. Students, faculty, staff, alumna, trustees, and parents are encouraged to visit www.scrippscollege.edu/presidential-search.com to provide feedback in order to solicit a suitable candidate.
According to Sacks and Smith, the recruitment process is expected to ramp up next month, after a position description has been crafted. Sacks and Smith stated that “the search committee will personally interview a small group of the strongest candidates, and ultimately, recommend a single candidate to the Board to appoint.”
The entire process will be conducted as a “closed search” in order to maintain the confidentiality of the candidates. According to the co-chairs, this approach was adopted based off of expert advice and in line with the way most top-tier institutions operate. In order to obtain the most qualified candidates, Scripps must ensure these candidates complete privacy throughout the process. Ultimately, the only candidate that will be named outside of the Search Committee and Board will be the next president.
While similar premier colleges like Wellesley are also searching for new presidents, the Search Committee is confident that Scripps College’s strong reputation, dynamic and accomplished students and faculty, increasing demand and participation in the Claremont Consortium will attract top candidates. While other colleges also find themselves in this transitional state, the committee believes that it will not hinder Scripps’ ability to obtain a president. However, Storbeck/Pimentel will still use recommendations and community input to solicit persons they believe to be the best fit.
Shelly and her colleagues conducted extensive interviews with different areas of the community as well as meeting with the Board of Trustees and the Search Committee on Sept. 24 and 25. They encourage the community to submit their input and recommendations as soon as possible in order to begin recruiting. Despite the closed search, the Committee will continue to give updates on the milestones reached in the search process.