She was, and is, one of a kind. She came to Scripps, in 1990, when the College was relatively unknown outside the West Coast. Even though Scripps offered outstanding academics within a setting of unrivaled beauty, it struggled with its image and place within The Claremont Colleges, much like a younger sister running to keep up with more confident siblings.
Nancy Bekavac changed that. Smart, self-assured, and famous for speaking her mind at the drop of an opportunity, she brought the College to a new level of excellence and national recognition. As a result of her leadership, Scripps was able to expand in new directions, enhance academic offerings, build essential facilities as well as endowment, strengthen its commitment to diversity, and attract some of the finest scholars in the nation, both in its faculty and student body. With increasing frequency, graduates left the College imbued, in Miss Scripps’ words, with “confidence, courage, and hope.”
Highlights of the Bekavac Years, 1990-2007
- 1990: Nancy Y. Bekavac becomes Scripps College’s sixth president and first woman in that position; student enrollment is 630; endowment is $57 million.
- 1994: Scripps awards the first Ellen Browning Scripps Medal to Hillary Rodham Clinton; Millard Sheets Art Center opens.
- 1995: The College unveils a strategic plan to ensure a “distinctive and distinguished” academic program; a $3.5 million bequest from J.Stanley Johnson starts a capital campaign.
- 1996: Scripps’ endowment reaches $100 million.
- 1998: Scripps awards the second Ellen Browning Scripps Medal to Sandra Day O’Connor.
- 1999: An updated strategic plan calls for a central commons, a renewed core curriculum, and endowed funds for faculty chairs and student scholarships.
- 2000: The Malott Commons opens for College-wide dining and special programs; the $85 million Campaign for the Scripps Woman begins its public phase; Gabrielle Jungels- Winkler Hall opens; the President’s House is renamed for Ellen Clark Revelle ’31 and houses the Office of Alumnae Relations.
- 2001: A new 25-meter pool begins phase one of a planned recreational/athletic facility; the College develops a “Blueprint for Diversity.”
- 2003: Scripps College Summer Academy begins an annual two-week residential program for underserved high school students; Performing Arts Center opens as the new home for the Music Department.
- 2004: The Campaign for the Scripps Woman concludes with $101 million, $16 million above goal and with 87% alumnae participation; Scripps completes the Landscape and Architectural Blueprint, a guideline for campus maintenance, repair, and development.
- 2006: Scripps breaks ground on Sallie Tiernan Field House; first-year students have combined median SAT scores of 1350, up from 1140 in 1991; Scripps has more National Merit Scholars than any other women’s college in the nation; endowment is $230 million.
- 2007: The College unveils its new strategic plan, Scripps College in the Next Decade: Leading with Excellence; there are almost 2,000 applicants for the Class of 2011, more than double the number 12 years ago; the College receives a $10 million anonymous pledge toward faculty initiatives, the largest gift in its history; student enrollment is 880; Nancy Bekavac announces her resignation as president, effective July 1.
Thank you, Nancy, for your devotion to Scripps and all you have done to further its excellence.
Mary Shipp Bartlett