On Friday, Jan. 25, Scripps announced in a community message that the Keck Science Department received a $1 million gift from Trustee Jennifer McDonnell and her husband, Jeff McDonnell. Their support will be directed toward the expansion and renovation of the Keck building and facilities, specifically on enhancing the physical space for the shared science department.
The donors are excited about the future of science education at Scripps and want to support the department’s continued academic excellence. Keck has already accomplished a lot, providing students with opportunities to get involved in research and placing an emphasis on interdisciplinary perspectives. Considering the gender gap in STEM, Keck is especially important in that it offers programs in the sciences to students at a historically women’s college. Over the past two years, Keck’s enrollment included 40 percent Scripps students.
“Small class sizes of about 15 students, engaged professors, and open office hours make classes less daunting,” a Scripps first-year said.
Currently, Keck is undergoing a period of transition. Claremont Mckenna College’s plan to withdraw from Keck in order to start its own science department leaves Scripps and Pitzer as the remaining schools in the joint science program. This withdrawal will take time, as CMC’s separation will not happen until at least 2022. To ensure a smooth transition, Scripps continues to engage in conversations with Pitzer and CMC.
CMC’s withdrawal will, nonetheless, reduce the amount of funding for Keck. Scripps’ and Pitzer’s endowments are significantly smaller than CMC’s. For many, CMC’s separation seemed a conniving exit strategy from what some consider to be an under-resourced department. Many Scripps students studying STEM have voiced frustration about CMC “abandoning” Keck and creating their own department, rather than helping fund and improve the joint department.
The $1 million donation comes at a vital time as many students, their families, and faculty harbor concerns about the future of Keck. With the McDonnells’ gift, the continued successes and learning opportunities provided by Keck are ensured.