Suzanne Keen Selected as 10th President of Scripps College

Kendall Lowery ’22 and Maddy Yardumian ’21

On Nov. 18, 2021, Chair of the Board of Trustees Lynne Thompson ’72 announced the selection of the 10th president of the college, Dr. Suzanne Keen, in an email sent out to the Scripps community. On July 1, 2022, Keen will begin her tenure as President of Scripps College and W.M. Keck Foundation Presidential Chair.

Keen previously served as vice president of academic affairs and dean of faculty at Hamilton College in New York. Prior to her term at Hamilton College, Keen was dean of the college at Washington and Lee University. Keen is also a scholar and professor of English literature, whose scholarship centers on empathy and narrative, as well as feminist critique.

Following an eight-month search, Keen was unanimously selected by a committee of trustees, faculty, students, alumni, and staff from a pool of 64 applicants. “Dr. Keen’s proven track record of academic and administrative leadership, strategic planning, and fundraising, as well as her commitment to inclusivity, access, and affordability, will establish the framework for her success at Scripps,” Thompson said.

Keen’s academic career spans myriad institutions. After completing a bachelor’s degree in English literature and studio art and a master’s degree in creative writing at Brown University, she earned a doctoral degree in English language and literature at Harvard University. Keen then spent five years as an assistant professor of English at Yale University before spending 23 years in the English department at Washington and Lee University, serving three years as the chair of the department and spending seven summers teaching at the Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College. She has spent the past three years as a professor of literature at Hamilton College. Keen is also a recipient of the Academy of American Poets Prize, a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Outstanding Faculty Award from the State Council for Higher Education in Virginia.

@scrippsforblm posted about Keen’s selection ambivalently. “If you read her achievements, [Keen] seems to focus a lot on faculty diversity and strengthening internal systems. Not a hard line money focused leader like Tiedens,” said @scrippsforblm. At the same time, they noted the comparative diversity of Pomona and Pitzer presidents, both scholars of color. “Were there really no other BIPOC qualified choices?”

According to Keen’s resume, during her time as Dean of Washington and Lee University, faculty recruitment was 100 percent comprised of women and/or people of color in 2016-2017 and 67 percent in 2017-2018. In her time at Hamilton College, 28 tenure-track faculty members were recruited, 64 percent women and 36 percent BIPOC.

Once Keen begins her presidency, Interim President Amy Marcus-Newhall will resume her previous position as Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty at Scripps.

Image Source: Hamilton College