A Family Affair

by Mary Shipp Bartlett

Table made by wood from Elm Tree Lawn

The Scripps College community came together with artistry and purpose the weekend of March 26-27, 2010, for the inauguration of Lori Bettison-Varga, the eighth president of the College.

Those of us who were at any of the events during Inauguration Weekend, or watched the live streaming of Saturday’s ceremony on the College website, could feel the pride and love of a community that worked and celebrated together.

Let’s look behind the scenes to understand what helped make the event so cohesive and special:

  • In keeping with her commitment to the environment, President Bettison-Varga wore a truly “green” robe designed for the occasion. When efforts failed to locate a manufacturer that could match the College’s traditional green used in Commencement gowns, the president herself suggested that two existing Scripps College robes be repurposed for the garment, which required extra material for the full sleeves. Kathy Kile, mailroom coordinator at Pitzer College, was the seamstress; she had also created robes for the current presidents of Pitzer and Harvey Mudd Colleges. The gown has four chevrons on each sleeve, indicating presidential status, and embroidered “Genius of Women” emblems on the front panel and the back of the hood. Designed by Pentagram, the emblem consists of eight seeds, which are derived from the La Semeuse seal and represent each president of Scripps College since its founding.
  • While the College chose the weekend of March 26-27 because it fell on the date of the Board of Trustees annual spring meeting, March 26 is also Lori Bettison-Varga’s birthday. The College didn’t miss a chance to present the president with a cake at the close of Friday night’s dance concert and sing Happy Birthday con gusto!
  • Local restaurants and vendors helped make Inaugural Weekend a true Claremont community event. Merchants donated food and drinks for Friday’s Academic Showcase and materials for registration packets.
  • Staff from many departments throughout the College assembled more than 700 registration packets in stylish, reusable green tote bags. Others harvested wisteria seeds from Margaret Fowler Garden and Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Hall Court and packaged them in silver pouches as gifts for all attendees at Saturday’s inauguration. (Trustee Andrea Neves also donated wisteria seeds from her garden.)
  • The College’s gift to Lori Bettison-Varga was a coffee table made with wood from the original elms of historic Elm Tree Lawn. It was designed by Kirk Delman, registrar at the Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery, who also crafted the Scripps College commencement podium and table, first used in 2009.

In this issue, we present the more public face of Inauguration Weekend, in photographs, quotes, and speeches. I hope you enjoy them.

Mary Shipp Bartlett