Earlier today, students at Scripps College received an email informing them that President Lara Tiedens will resign next semester to become the Executive Director of Schwarzman Scholars, a Rhodes Scholarship-idnspired graduate fellowship program affiliated with China’s Tsinghua University. The move comes after months of increasing pressure on Tiedens from students, including a call for the firing of Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Charlotte Johnson, and student demands for an administrative response to allegedly racially-motivated misconduct by Professor Jane Mi.
Tiedens will move to New York, where she will work at Schwarzman Scholars, founded by Stephen A. Schwarzman, chairman and CEO of the Blackstone Group and former Chairman of Donald Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum.
During her time at Scripps, Tiedens has dealt with numerous other on-campus controversies. In 2017, virtually all Resident Advisors (RAs) at Scripps went on strike, directing a series of demands, including a call for the firing of Scripps’ Dean of Students, to the president. A number of Scripps alumnae also sent a message in support of the RAs’ demands and pressuring Tiedens to submit.
More recently, in the spring of 2020, Scripps students went on strike to force the administration to comply with their demands for a Universal A grading system during the initial stages of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Despite these protests, Tiedens warned students and faculty that, if the faculty committee in charge of establishing a grading system voted in favor of the policy, the administration would ask the board of trustees to veto the result. Scripps’ eventual adoption of a default pass/no credit system with the option for letter grades drew significant criticism from prominent student activist groups, much of which was directed against Tiedens’ administration.
According to the email, Tiedens will remain on as president until the end of the year, during which time “[her] attention will continue to be focused on [Scripps’] efforts to resume in-person academic and residential life in the safest manner possible for [its] campus as well as the surrounding communities.” Tiedens added that “Scripps College is ready to welcome students back to campus as soon as permissible by county and state health officials.” The college hopes “to update the community in mid-December, at which point [it] hope[s] to have more information about next semester.”