Belen Yudess ‘25 and Juliette Des Rosiers ‘26
Social Media Manager and Copy Editor Intern
On March 20, the Scripps student body was notified about the resignation of Scripps President Suzanne Keen and the appointment of Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty Amy Marcus-Newhall as Acting President. After only eight months in office, Keen cited her decision to to spend more time with her elderly father as well as her desire to return to the classroom as her rationale behind this transition. It later came to light that former President Keen would return to Scripps as a tenured English professor in the fall of 2024.
Following the news of this abrupt resignation, many students, faculty, and staff were thrown by this decision. Marcus-Newhall also felt caught off guard by this announcement and acknowledged the bizarre nature of the situation. “I was surprised because this was unanticipated. It is unusual for a president to leave after such a short term in office and in the middle of the year,” she said.
Immediately after the email, speculations grew around campus as students whispered about why Keen’s departure was announced effective immediately. Many believed that the communication was lackluster and not completely transparent.
Although others in the Scripps community viewed the resignation as suspicious, Marcus-Newhall affirmed that, in her opinion, there would be no detrimental effect on the image of Scripps College. “Scripps is in great shape,” she said. “The college is more than any president. I’m not going to say it’s positive that she departed, but I think it has a short-lived negative impact. My appointment as president conveys that the college has all of these wonderful initiatives, is in great shape financially, has superb students, and exceptional faculty and staff. I see it as a blip as opposed to anything more than that.”
Due to the large amount of conjecture and concern regarding the resignation, Marcus-Newhall and the new Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Faculty, Sha Bradley, invited students to an open conversation on April 3 to pose any questions. Although it was a lively discussion, Marcus-Newhall emphasized that she could not provide further insight on the decision as that process was privy to Keen and the Board of Trustees.
“All I have is what was relayed to our community and I don’t have any other information to share on this,” she said. “It’s a Board of Trustees process, so I wasn’t involved.”
While investigating the communication of Keen’s resignation, it became apparent to The Scripps Voice (TSV) reporters that Marcus-Newhall’s words ring true. When TSV approached the Office of the President for a comment during the week following the news, they declined and referred TSV reporters back to the email announcement.
In addition to this, a member of the English department was unable to provide further commentary due to the lack of knowledge about Keen’s eventual return amongst the faculty and staff. Since the college cannot provide students with any more clarity, the student body must find comfort in the reinstigation of authority following the quick transition of Marcus-Newhall from Acting President to official President of Scripps College.
Marcus-Newhall does not see the role of president as the sole arbiter of the college, but rather someone who enhances the mission and supports the already existing administration. “Organizations need somebody to facilitate work,” said Marcus-Newhall. “At some point, decisions need to be made for a college, and that’s what a president does. The president’s job is to take an overarching perspective on every element of the college and to try to strategize as best as possible while not being in the weeds. We have a phenomenal senior team with many who have been here for a significant amount of time.”
In this new position, Marcus-Newhall will take over initiatives started and supported by Keen. Supporting the faculty revision of the Core curriculum, the configuration of the Scripps and Pitzer science department, the Schuler grant, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Justice (DEIJ) committee work, and the strategic planning committee will all fall within her responsibilities.
Despite her whirlwind promotion, Marcus-Newhall is prepared and enthusiastic about her new role. “I truly love Scripps College,” she said. “ I think what we do is absolutely phenomenal. I think you, the students, make this place one of the best colleges in the United States – you’re passionate and you’re smart. That’s why I went into higher education, to work with you and for you; to create the kind of education that I had and even better.”
Image Source: Hamilton College, Scripps College