100 years of Excellence

Three professors who have taught at Scripps for more than 100 years combined retired this year with emeritus status — after making significant contributions to their respective fields and to undergraduate education.

Patricia DillonPatricia Dillon was Scripps’ first economics professor, in 1984. In 25 years, she built the department into a thriving enterprise that attracts the third or fourth largest number of majors each year. She created the popular Money Wise Women program, taught financial literacy, and started the Scripps College Economic Society, which brings together students and faculty from all The Claremont Colleges for dinners twice a year. She also created an internship program that for the past 10 years has given students job opportunities in Prague.

Dillon is the Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Professor of European Studies — an appropriate title, said President Fritz Weis at her retirement send-off, because “no one loves to travel to Europe as much as she does. Who else knows the tiny country of Estonia? She’s the expert.” Dillon worked closely with the European Union Center of California, located at Scripps, on studies and programs related to European political and economic issues.

Dillon is also a fervent Claremont booster. She’s been president of Claremont Heritage, serves on Rotary, the San Antonio Gardens board, and many other community activities. Although retired, Dillon will continue to oversee Money Wise Women.

John GeerkenJohn Geerken, professor of history, has been on the faculty since 1968. He is best known for his scholarship and teaching of Renaissance politics, particularly about Machiavelli. He grew up abroad, as his father, a foreign service officer, moved the family from country to country, including Italy. Geerken said that he saw the Renaissance — the art, the architecture, the rare manuscripts — before he had ever read a book about it.

Geerken was influential on several important College committees, including the Appointments, Promotions, and Tenure Committee; as chair, he restructured the faculty review system. A member of the Humanities Curriculum Review Committee in 1994, when the College was debating the curriculum and the inclusion of women’s studies, Geerken said: “Scripps should be among those institutions that are proactive in showing that the advent of women’s studies is not only aggregative to the disciplines, adding information about women, but also transformative, developing new concepts, categories, paradigms, and methodologies the better to accommodate, interpret, and evaluate new findings. To me, this is what feminizing the curriculum means…. I hold that Scripps should bend itself to deploying a superior comprehensive curriculum, one that includes women, but is not limited to them.”

David SadavaDavid Sadava, the Pritzker Family Foundation Professor of Biology in the Joint Science Department, joined The Claremont Colleges in 1972 after a year as research biologist at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography. His biology textbook, Life: The Science of Biology, co-written with four colleagues from Stanford, Harvey Mudd, and the universities of Washington and Texas, is in its eighth edition. A reviewer described it as “a terrific learning tool leaving no question unanswered.” Sadava is coauthor of four other books, including Plants, Genes, and Crop Biotechnology.

He has taught courses on introductory biology, biotechnology, biochemistry, cell biology, molecular biology, plant biology, and cancer biology. His research has resulted in over 50 papers, many coauthored with undergraduates, on topics ranging from plant biochemistry to pharmacology of narcotic analgesics to human genetic diseases.

Sadava has been invaluable in bringing outstanding students interested in science to Scripps and has served as a dedicated mentor to these promising students, many of whom have won national awards and gone on to top graduate programs, including medical schools throughout the country.


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