Scripps College in the Next Decade: Leading with Excellence

Honoring our Traditions, Leading in the Future

Ellen Browning Scripps’ mission for Scripps College was to provide an exceptional education for talented women that would equip them intellectually and morally for satisfying professional and personal lives. For 80 years, Scripps College has remained committed to that visionary goal.

Today, Scripps College is in a position of strength, with both the resources and ambition to build on its successes to reach a position of greater influence in the world of education. As the result of two strategic plan initiatives over the past 12 years and the Campaign for the Scripps Woman, Scripps is prepared to assume a significantly more prominent role in educating women. The document that follows – “Scripps College in the Next Decade: Leading with Excellence” – flows directly from the successes of the first two plans and campaign.

Unveiled in 1995, Scripps’ first strategic plan focused on enhancing our community. The 1995 plan centered on a revitalized and rigorous new core curriculum that all entering first-year students would begin in their first semester, moving from a single shared course in the first semester to more specialized courses in the next two semesters. This Core Curriculum in Interdisciplinary Humanities (the Core) built on the College’s historic strength in the humanities. From the College’s beginning, an interdisciplinary humanities core has been the signature academic offering of the College. While the Core has changed over the decades, adapting to new social and intellectual concerns and the disciplines of the faculty who teach in it, the central tradition of a shared interdisciplinary core curriculum remains vital for current Scripps women.

Within five years of the 1995 plan, we opened the Malott Commons, a facility that transformed community life by bringing students, faculty, and staff together for meals, conversation, group discussions, and larger events both academic and social. The commons has become the heart and center of the Scripps community – the place, for example, for lunch discussions after Core lectures, for foreign language discussion tables, and for student presentations on summer research projects. As provided by the 1995 plan, we expanded our student body from 600 to 750, allowing the College to offer more opportunities in both academics and co-curricular activities.

The 1999 Strategic Plan built on the accomplishments of the first plan primarily by adding new faculty positions to accommodate the College’s growth, broadening the curriculum, endowing scholastic support, and building essential new facilities. As a result of the $85 million Campaign for the Scripps Woman (which eventually raised $101 million, with 85% alumnae participation), the College endowed eight new professorships and significant student scholarships, built the Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Residence Hall, renovated Garrison Theater, created the Performing Arts Center, and added a new swimming pool as phase one of planned new athletic and recreation facilities (with the Sallie Tiernan Field House soon to follow). We also reduced deferred maintenance to almost zero. During the same period, through gifts and remarkable investment performance, we substantially increased Scripps’ endowment.

In addition to these accomplishments, we created initiatives to support diversity in all areas of campus life. In 2001, the College adopted Principles of Diversity and turned its attention to diversifying the faculty, student body, and staff. The College provided funds to develop a new curriculum that considers cultural difference as a subject of academic inquiry. The College also undertook programs to support disadvantaged students who are the first in their family to attend college. It established a Scripps College Summer Academy, which provides a two-week residential program taught by full-time faculty members for academically motivated 9th and 10th grade girls from underserved regional high schools. The College also strengthened training across all segments of the community to address cultural difference.

Now, in 2007, Scripps College is poised to advance its mission through new strategies. As a small women’s college that has set ambitious goals for itself – and achieved them – we are in a decidedly different position than we were in the early 1990s. We have learned that we can grow and change and become even more the college envisioned by Ellen Browning Scripps.

Leading with Excellence addresses how we will assume the responsibilities of our ambitions, take advantage of the opportunities we now have for leadership for both the College and our students, and face the challenges of a dynamic world. We know that the century will be marked by increasing interdependence of states and economies and by increasing interaction, and possibly friction, between different nations, races, ethnicities, cultures, religions, technologies, and ideologies. These will significantly challenge our graduates, who will lead their personal and professional lives under new conditions we are just beginning to imagine. While Scripps’ mission remains unchanged, we need to ensure that Scripps’ curriculum and other programs prepare women for lives and careers that will consist of change.

The College’s short- and long-term plans turn on two key issues: critical mass and leadership. With academic excellence at its heart, Leading With Excellence seeks to answer questions these interconnected issues raise. Chief among them is the question of size. At its current size, does Scripps have the critical mass of students, faculty, and alumnae to truly “lead with excellence”? Can we offer the range and quality of academic subjects required to educate the most talented, ambitious, and creative students to be effective, responsible, and compassionate leaders in whatever field they choose? Could growth enable Scripps to play a more significant role in the world of women’s education and higher education? How will Scripps exert its leadership to influence higher education, locally and nationally? How do we balance size against the individual attention that is the essence of Scripps and is essential in a leading liberal arts institution? Can the College maintain financial equilibrium with growth of the student body, faculty, staff, and curricular offerings? Can the College continue to attract and retain a superb faculty of teacher-scholars without growing? How do we best use our campus resources to be a premier institution? The answers to these questions will define our role as a leader in women’s education for the next decade.

The Scripps community has researched, studied, and debated these far-reaching questions for the past two years. The answers – a vision for Scripps in the decade ahead – are contained in the following strategic plan, which has these six strategies:

  1. Academic Excellence
  2. Globalization
  3. National Leadership
  4. Diversity
  5. The Claremont Consortium
  6. Stewardship

The vision is bold, straightforward, and achievable: It asks for nothing less than excellence on all levels.

Strategies and Initiatives

Strategy One—Academic Excellence

Provide a liberal arts education that is academically distinctive, intellectually challenging, and morally engaging.

  1. Increase the student body to 1,000 students within the decade, if and only if growth takes place consistent with the priorities of this strategic plan—including academic excellence and other measures of quality: 10:1 student-faculty ratio, average class size, increased faculty salaries, endowment growth, and constant or increasing student quality. This increase will support an expanded curriculum and faculty, and the College will command greater influence in women’s education and higher education generally.
  2. Undertake a holistic curriculum review of the Core and general education and distribution requirements. The review will consider fields relevant to globalization and communication skills, written and oral.
  3. Increase student retention and four-year graduation rates to 90% within five years.
  4. Develop and expand offerings in the sciences so that Scripps becomes nationally recognized as a leading women’s college for educating scientists, particularly those preparing for medical careers and graduate studies, while maintaining Scripps’ interdisciplinary approach.
  5. Make strategic additions to the faculty to achieve and maintain a 10:1 student-faculty ratio and to address imbalances in disciplines with enrollments that have increased at faster rates than overall enrollment.
  6. Bring all faculty salaries within the top one-third of comparative colleges as soon as practicable and no later than within 10 years.
  7. Hire a limited number of full-time term appointments as leave replacements to ensure continuity in the curriculum, alleviate faculty committee and advising workloads, and provide the flexibility necessary to maintain the full range of courses.
  8. Develop an effective faculty governance structure that is more efficient and more equitable.

Strategy Two—Globalization

Prepare students to think and lead globally, and to understand the challenges of an increasingly interdependent world economy, polity, and biosphere.

  1. Strengthen, broaden, and revitalize the Scripps humanities curriculum to enhance the study of cultures and societies that are becoming more prominent in our lives.
  2. Establish a globalization course development fund to allow faculty to create interdisciplinary courses on globalization or to revise existing courses to include globalization issues.
  3. To add greater global research and experience among our faculty, foster faculty study and exchanges abroad, and determine whether to emphasize hiring qualified faculty with global experience and expertise.
  4. Within the context of The Claremont Colleges, study the possibility of adding additional non-European languages to the foreign language curriculum.
  5. Include global women’s issues and internships abroad as part of the mission of the proposed center for research on women and women’s leadership.
  6. Determine whether and how an experience abroad should be made available to all qualified Scripps students. These programs should allow students to experience fully a culture very different from their own and to learn a foreign language.
  7. Study whether to set a particular goal for enrolling students from abroad. 8. Study whether to establish additional partnerships and exchanges with colleges and universities around the world.

Strategy Three—National Leadership

Strengthen Scripps’ role as a national leader in women’s education.

  1. Establish a premier center for research on women and women’s leadership. The two emphases will connect scholarly research with practical experience, set the Scripps center apart from others, and further the College’s mission as a women’s college.
  2. Develop programs and scholarships within the center that are nationally and internationally recognized for their excellence and service.
  3. Undertake a review of the College’s marketing and public relations program with the goal of gaining greater national and international recognition as a premier liberal arts college.

Strategy Four—Diversity

Strengthen the integration of the full range of human experience and backgrounds into Scripps’ academic, co-curricular, and residential communities.

  1. Reach traditionally underrepresented students through additional scholarship support, possible additional partnerships with two-year colleges, and expanded support for the Scripps College Summer Academy.
  2. Continue to work with The Claremont Colleges to review the feasibility of the establishment of a Five-College Asian American Resource Center.
  3. Attract a more diverse pool of candidates for faculty positions. Support initiatives that will achieve a stronger minority presence among the faculty. Consider joining the Consortium for a Strong Minority Presence (CSMP) for postdoctoral hiring.
  4. Provide salaries, benefits, staff training, and development programs and other forms of support to attract and retain a diverse and superior staff to carry out the mission of the College.
  5. Extend diversity training to all staff members at Scripps beyond the current programs.

Strategy Five—The Claremont Consortium

Collaborate with The Claremont Colleges and Claremont University Consortium to achieve operating efficiencies, encourage technological innovation, and offer broader curricular options.

  1. Support the continuing relevance of “The Claremont Plan” as a solution to inherent challenges in the operation and financing of liberal arts higher education.
  2. Determine where the consortial approach best meets Scripps’ needs; where Scripps should take the lead and/or participate fully in consortial initiatives; and where Scripps should focus on its independence and identity.
  3. Aspiring to be a leading women’s college for the education of scientists, Scripps must assure robust support for first-rate academic facilities and faculty in the Joint Science Department and establish partnerships with Harvey Mudd College and Keck Graduate Institute to expand opportunities for students.
  4. Continue to improve the Intercollegiate Women’s Studies Program and assume a more central role in the field with the establishment of a center for research on women and women’s leadership.
  5. Consider new strategic initiatives, such as area studies, non-European languages, and new academic programs and faculty appointments, with other members of The Claremont Colleges, as the faculty review of the Core and curriculum may recommend.
  6. Support the consortial vision for The Libraries of The Claremont Colleges to be at the forefront of rethinking the 21stcentury library; transform The Libraries into an intellectual commons for students and faculty across the seven institutions; and determine Denison Library’s future role at Scripps and within the consortium.
  7. With other members of The Claremont Colleges, explore methods by which the College can assist faculty and staff in obtaining satisfactory housing in the Claremont area, while also continuing the College’s current faculty-housing rental program.
  8. Urge the consortium to perfect and promote the trademark “The Claremont Colleges” as a means to reinforce the reputation of each member institution.

Strategy Six—Stewardship

Ensure a financially viable and sustainable College for the long term. Increase the financial strength of the College through vigorous fund raising, careful management of our operations, and wise investment strategy.

  1. If the College decides to increase the size of its student body, determine a rate of growth using established standards to measure excellence, including student faculty ratio, average class size, and other indicia of academic quality.
  2. Make better use of the campus during the long periods when the College is not in session, particularly in the summer.
  3. Continue to develop policies that sustain the physical plant and limit negative environmental impacts.
  4. Identify academic and administrative areas of highest priority for collaboration with other members of The Claremont Colleges and Claremont University Consortium.
  5. Refine a recovery plan for managing emergencies that might threaten the health and safety of our community and the functioning of the College.

The full strategic plan may be found online.


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