The mission of Scripps College is to educate women to develop their intellects and talents through active participation in a community of scholars, so that as graduates they may contribute to society through public and private lives of leadership, service, integrity, and creativity.
Scripps emphasizes a challenging core curriculum based on interdisciplinary studies in the humanities, combined with rigorous training in the disciplines, as the best possible foundation for any goals a student may pursue. The interdisciplinary emphasis of the curriculum has always been a hallmark of a Scripps education. Because Scripps students learn to see the connections not only among academic subjects, but also among the major areas of their own lives, alumnae often remark that Scripps “prepared me for life.”
From its founding in 1926 as one of the few institutions in the West dedicated to educating women for professional careers as well as personal growth, Scripps College has championed the qualities of mind and spirit described by its founder, newspaper entrepreneur and philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps. Scripps College remains a women’s college because it believes that having women at the core of its concerns provides the best environment for intellectually ambitious women to learn from a distinguished teaching faculty and from each other.
Scripps College aspires to be a diverse community committed to the principles of free inquiry and free expression based on mutual respect. The College chooses to remain a largely residential college of fewer than one thousand students, a scale that encourages its students to participate actively in their community and to develop a sense of both personal ethics and social responsibility. Scripps cherishes its campus of uncommon beauty, a tribute to the founder’s vision that the College’s architecture and landscape should reflect and influence taste and judgment.
As one of the founders of The Claremont Colleges Group Plan, Scripps College is a principal contributor to the university community, which offers expanded intellectual, curricular, athletic, and social opportunities for students and faculty at each college. Scripps emphasizes high aspirations, high achievement, and personal integrity in all pursuits, and it expects students, faculty, staff, and alumnae to contribute to Scripps and to their own communities throughout their professional, social, and civic lives. Scripps believes that this form of challenging and individualized education will best prepare women for lives of confidence, courage, and hope.
Adopted by the Scripps College Board of Trustees in 1996.
“The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.”
—Ellen Browning Scripps
One of the most remarkable “Scripps women” never attended Scripps—she founded it. Born in 1836 and raised on a farm in Illinois, Ellen Browning Scripps was one of the first female graduates of Knox College, Illinois, and one of the first women college students in the United States. She began her professional life in the traditional role of a schoolteacher. At the age of 37, Miss Scripps became a path-paving journalist and publisher, joining her brothers in Detroit, where they founded the Detroit Evening News. A shrewd investor, she helped her brothers develop the business into the Scripps-Howard newspaper chain and United Press International.
Miss Scripps celebrated her success with philanthropy, giving to improve the quality of life in her community and in support of education. Already in her nineties when Scripps and the undergraduate Claremont Colleges were being planned, her financial generosity laid the bricks and mortar for the first buildings of Scripps College and secured the land on which the three newest of the undergraduate Claremont Colleges would be built—Claremont McKenna, Harvey Mudd, and Pitzer. The spiritual framework of Scripps was also established by Miss Scripps and, like the buildings, it has become the supporting framework of generations of Scripps women. As the Scripps Mission states, Ellen Browning Scripps believed that the primary obligation of a college is to educate students to be clear and independent thinkers and to live their lives with confidence, courage, and hope.
Modeled after the Oxford University plan of small, coordinating residential colleges with central, university-level services and graduate schools, Scripps and the four other undergraduate Claremont Colleges—Claremont McKenna, Harvey Mudd, Pitzer, and Pomona—are the finest assembly of small, liberal arts colleges in the United States. Graduate education in Claremont is represented by Claremont Graduate University and Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Life Sciences. Located at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains in the city of Claremont, California (population 36,500), 35 miles east of Los Angeles, the Colleges are across the street from one another and enroll nearly 5,200 undergraduates and about 2,100 graduate students.
The original Scripps campus was designed by architect Gordon Kaufmann, one of the pioneers of Mediterranean Revival or “California Style” and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The Scripps campus and adjoining facilities provide the intimate scale of a small women’s college with the resources of a large, coeducational university, including four libraries, three art galleries, two museums, nine performance spaces, a national model of undergraduate science facilities, a Chicano/Latino Student Affairs Center, an Office of Black Student Affairs, an Asian American Student Union, a center for international students, a full-service health and counseling center, two gymnasiums, 17 tennis courts, five swimming pools, two outdoor tracks, squash courts, an exercise room, nine newspapers, a radio station, video cameras and editing facilities, a film production studio, and multiple computer labs.
The seal of Scripps College, designed by sculptor Lee Lawrie, depicts La Semeuse—she who sows. The image of the sower of “the good seed of thought, of action, of life” was chosen by the faculty in the 1927-28 academic year. They also selected the College motto, Incipit Vita Nova—”new life begins here.” The esteemed Professor Hartley Burr Alexander was largely responsible for the seal’s image and the motto. Before he arrived on campus, he suggested Incipit Vita Nova, the first words of Dante’s New Life.
It seems to me that what college ought to do is begin a new life in a very real sense, and perhaps the motto would have a double significance for Scripps in indicating not only the new life begun for each student, but also the new life which we hope may be begun from a renewed vitality in education [evidenced in the founding of this college for women]. —Hartley Burr Alexander
Principles of Community
Scripps College is a community of scholars: faculty, students, and staff dedicated to the education of women and the advancement of learning.
To further this community, Scripps seeks to attract a diverse student body and to build a diverse faculty and staff. Our goal is to create a hospitable environment without discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, culture, color, beliefs, physical condition, socioeconomic background, sexual orientation, or age. Scripps believes that each member of the community contributes to the learning and teaching of all and, therefore, seeks to balance individual freedoms with sensitivity to, and awareness of, the rights and human dignity of others. Scripps recognizes the obligation to respond to the acts and effects of discrimination and bigotry by building an academic community in which people learn to respect and value one another for their differences.
Scripps believes that learning and teaching thrive in an environment conducive to freedom of belief, inquiry, and speech, assuring expression of the broadest range of opinions and beliefs. Scripps commits itself to maintaining that freedom, subject only to regulation of time, place, and manner.
Recognizing that such expressions may offend, provoke, and disturb, Scripps affirms its dedication to encourage rather than limit expression. At the same time, Scripps encourages community members to show mutual respect and understanding and to employ reasoned civil discourse.
Scripps seeks to secure, through its academic and community policies and practices, through its actions and the services it provides to students, faculty, and staff, the widest appreciation for all groups and individuals; to combat discrimination and misunderstanding; and to forge a better and more just society.
Each member of the Scripps community affirms, by continuing participation in college life, acceptance of personal responsibility and obligation to the community in assuring that these principles are upheld in all aspects of our lives together.
Adopted by Scripps students, faculty, and staff in 1992.