Bridging the Community

by Matt Hutaff

Claire BridgeCitrus trees, ivy-covered walls, and the snow-capped San Gabriel Mountains dominate the view from Claire Bridge’s desk in the President’s Office. It is a spectacular vista she would love to share with you — provided you don’t stop by during a Core I lecture.

For Claire, attending those weekly lessons in the fall was non-negotiable. “When Lori [Bettison-Varga] asked me to work for her [last summer] as her assistant, I told her I was going to the lectures,” Claire says. “Core is critical to the mission of the College, and I wanted to participate because those lectures are really important to me.”

It’s not surprising. Prior to accepting her new position, Claire worked for more than 20 years helping guide both Core and the Humanities Institute program. “They are always intellectually stimulating, always something new,” she says, “and it’s still that way.” (To further entrench the Scripps connection, she and daughter Maggie ’09 are alumnae, and the family boasts more than a dozen alumni throughout the Claremont Consortium.)

An ad for the Institute brought Claire back to Scripps in 1990 after her graduation in 1982. She and husband Richard had lived for several years in Germany and Washington, DC, and were looking to establish themselves closer to family. The part-time job intrigued her.

“I never thought it would be a career path,” she says. “Suddenly, I was on a first-name basis with people who used to be my professors. That took some getting used to. But now they’re my friends, and for that I’m really grateful.”

But what about the new job?

“I love it,” she says. “I have been personally challenged and impressed by how much the College does that I was unaware of. My two previous jobs never intersected with development, admission, or financial aid, so it has been wonderful to see how all these parts are so integral to one another.”

Claire hopes to use her new position to bridge this divide between departments. “I’m saddened when I hear about staff who don’t know members of the faculty,” she says. “It’s not their fault; their lives don’t bring them into contact with one another. I’m hoping it’s something I can do, that I can broker that sense that people can come together and talk.”

This sense of fostering interdepartmental relationships comes from a surprising admission: Claire can count on one hand the number of times she had been to the President’s Office prior to working there.

“I came over, in 20 years, maybe three to five times,” she says.

So stop by, soak up the scenery, and have a conversation. Maybe you’ll hear how her mother-in-law was just awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for flying planes in World War II or how Richard worked in the Middle East during the height of Desert Storm. Maybe you’ll learn about what it’s like to balance three jobs at Scripps simultaneously or how the campus has transformed itself over the decades. Or maybe you’ll just talk about your kids and how great it is to be a parent.

Don’t be shy — Claire wants to build a better Scripps College community with you. As long as it’s not during Core — those hours are spoken for.


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