Message from the President
In many ways, the Scripps of the present faces an era of experimentation similar to that of the 1920s. Shifting economic, political, and societal currents have led us to a period of critical examination of the traditions, mores, and standards that have governed our individual and institutional behavior. We find ourselves working harder than ever to address the challenges that confront us—the worldwide disparities between women and men in economic opportunities, educational attainment, health, and political empowerment. We do this in the context where the society at large is questioning the value of higher education generally, particularly the value of liberal arts degrees. Some raise questions about whether colleges can produce an environment where all can learn and develop, or whether, enmeshed in their histories, they’re more congruent and comfortable for some students than others, and whether this leaves space for all voices and experiences. Others raise questions about the extent to which students at liberal arts colleges are exposed to a wide enough set of views, or whether the acceptable range of thinking is too narrow.
It is my strong belief that if there is any institution capable of proving the value of the liberal arts degree and reshaping the environment for that public debate, it is Scripps College. Here, we believe in the power of community. We value ideas, but not at the expense of the people who these ideas impact, and we seek to know and understand each other, and to care for each other, and to produce a better world. Our image will not be of the Scripps student, but of the many Scripps students, each of whom has their own identity, their own path to Scripps, their own course to academic and personal development, and their own aspirations. We will cherish and replenish that richness. We must note that there have been times when, under the banner of advancing women, efforts have been carried out in a manner that has resulted in the advancement of some women and not others.
Women of color, immigrants, LGBTQ, and lower income women have often found their interests and needs obscured by the broad priorities of the feminist movement and women’s institutions. This cannot be our approach. We have been nourished by the wide range of individual backgrounds, goals, and ideas of our students, and our notion of Scripps must be large so that we can strengthen every one of those voices and imbue everyone who comes here with courage, confidence, and hope.
Students, faculty, staff, alumnae, parents, trustees, and friends: You all are at the heart of this institution, and we are collectively responsible for making this institution all that it can be and achieving its extraordinary potential. I believe that our success will depend on our ability to seek to understand more than to be understood, to learn rather than judge, to forgo self-righteousness in favor of empathy. We must be vigilant, aware, have high standards, and use our individual and collective power to push Scripps to its centennial. As we do so, I urge us not to shy away from what may be difficult conversations, and to remember throughout that there is far more that unifies us than divides us.
We share a desire to create an educational experience that produces and attracts tomorrow’s leaders, educators, and advocates. Scripps students and alumnae are living courageously. They’re astounding history, they’re disrupting their fields, and they are fearlessly plunging into life’s greatest challenges.
This text was excerpted from Lara Tiedens’ April 29 inaugural address to the College. The full speech may be viewed online here.
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