Awards to Advance Gender and Women’s Studies Program
Scripps is the recipient of two monetary awards–one from the private estate of Dorothy Cruickshank Backstrand ’32,
who died August 21. 2002, and one from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation–which are to be applied to the Gender and Women’s
Studies Program. Funds from the Backstrand estate will establish Scripps’ first-ever endowed chair in gender and women’s
studies, while the two-year $250,000 Mellon Grant will be used to significantly bolster the existing academic
program through subsidizing such opportunities as research projectS, conferences,and a scholar/practitioner-in-residence
“These awards have come to Scripps at a particularly crucial time,” said President Nancy Y. Bekavac’ “We have
long recognized our need to lead The Claremont Colleges in the area of gender and women’s studies,and we will now be able to meet the demands of a rapidly growing department. These gifts help establish the leadership leadership necessary to strengthen and expand our existing curriculum.
“Scripps’ mission is to deliver the best possible education,” Bekavac continued.”And now, with Mrs. Backstrand’s personal
generosity and the Mellon Foundation’s visionary endorsement, we will be able to adequately address a field that has grown
radically in the last century-and one that is of vital importance to a women’s college.”
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation encouraged Scripps College to apply for a grant, due in large part to Bekavac’s leadership
over the last 12 years, and specitically recommended the proposal be made to address an area Bekavac identified as a
priority initiative. The resulting $250,000 grant will not only support the College’s strategic objectives in the area of gender and women’s studies but will advance Scripps as a national leader in the field of women’s higher education.
The directives outlined in the award include monetary provision for the creation of key programs, such as establishing a
scholar-in-residence, supporting and promoting collaborative student-faculty research opportunities, and fortifying
Scripps’ relationship with peer institutions through improved channels of communication and scholarly exchange.
“In essence,” Bekavac noted, “this Mellon Grant will enable Scripps to converse with and learn from those sister colleges that currently operate successful women’s studies programs. With that research, we will be able to create a unique
Program that combines the best possible elements with an eye toward how the discipline will evolve over the next several
years. And we strongly believe that Scripps’ ability to address both present and future needs in this area will ensure our position as a leader in the field of women’s education.”
Along with the Mellon Grant directives, the creation of the chair is expected to impact significantly the existing gender
and women’s studies program, as well as raise the profile of the Intercollegiate Women’s Studies Program at The
Claremont Colleges, of which Scripps is the lead college. Over the next several months a faculty committee will create a
detailed description of the new chair’s responsibilities. The formal search for a suitable candidate will begin soon thereafter.
Although she did not complete her undergraduate program at Scrippss–she received her bachelor’s degree from Chouinard School of Art-Riverside resident Dorothy Cruickshank Backstrand ’32 retained close ties to Scripps. Kept in trust until her death and the death of her husband, her unrestricted bequest was then passed on to Scripps, where the Board of Trustees was able to direct the sum total into a priority need. Any funds from the Backstrand estate determined surplus to the needs of the chaired professor in gender and women’s studies will be direcred into the Scripps College scholarship program in Mrs. Backsrtrand’s name.