On Solid Ground: Dr. Scott will leave Marietta in a better place

President Jean Scott’s announcement Friday was a bittersweet moment on campus but it reflected exactly the quality of leader she has been for Marietta College for more than a decade—an excellent planner whose dedication to preparation has fostered tremendous growth at Marietta.

At the end of the 2011-12 academic year, Dr. Scott will retire as the College’s 17th president.

“When Dr. Scott arrived the College was operating in survival mode,” says Dr. Debbie Egolf, Erwin Professor of Chemistry. “Within a few short years the atmosphere became one of cautious optimism, and the College rapidly regained its reputation as a quality institution. We now confidently aspire to a future where we continue to offer creative, engaging, challenging learning experiences that prepare our students for living their lives. This is Dr. Scott’s legacy.”

As Dr. Scott came on board during the summer of 2000, student enrollment had flattened out, affecting the financial climate of Marietta College, and many of the historic buildings on campus were suffering from more than just fine lines and wrinkles.

Signing on as the College’s 17th president—the first woman selected for the post—Dr. Scott and the leadership at Marietta certainly had plenty of work ahead of them. Marietta was partway through the six-year, $45 million Comprehensive Campaign and in the early stages of building McCoy Hall when she took office. Months into her tenure, she was contacted by alumnus Dave Rickey ’78 and the J & D Family Foundation about their willingness to help revitalize the math and science programs. That help resulted in the construction of the Rickey Science Center.

Within three years of her arrival, the College opened two new facilities: the Rickey Science Center and the Dyson Baudo Recreation Center, an 86,000-square-foot athletic facility made possible by the lead donations from Laura Baudo Sillerman ’68 and Robert Dyson ’68, and their families.

“With the construction of those two buildings,” says Dr. Mark Miller, Chair of the Department of Mathematics, Computing and Information Systems, “it certainly seemed by then that the College had turned the corner and was headed in a positive direction. As a new faculty member (he arrived in 1999), it was clear to me that people saw Marietta College as a place worthy of investment. We were moving forward—not just treading water.”

Working with the Board of Trustees and members of campus, the College created a strategic plan—To Thrive in the Floodplain—that focused on enrollment and the financial health of Marietta College. The goal was to increase the student population to 1,250 by the 2005-06 academic year, which would also help stabilize finances. The College also unveiled new graduate programs in Physician Assistant Studies, Psychology and International Corporate Media during Dr. Scott’s early years at Marietta.

But those involved also looked well beyond the five years the 2001 strategic plan addressed. Additionally, the College charted a path toward growth for the next two decades with its master plan: Vision 2020.

Reaching most milestones established in To Thrive in the Floodplain, the leadership at Marietta pushed closer to the 2020 aspirations by creating a new strategic plan, Higher Ground. That plan focused on student retention and an emphasis on Leadership and China programs. It also called for a new campaign to raise $50 million in three years.

That plan received a healthy boost when once again Baudo Sillerman and Dyson kicked off a major construction project on campus—a new library.

In the first decade of her leadership, the College renovated Fayerweather Hall, Andrews Hall, the Edwy R. Brown Petroleum Building, Mills Hall, Erwin Hall and the Physician Assistant Building. New construction includes the Rickey Science Center, Anderson Hancock Planetarium, Dyson Baudo Recreation Center, Legacy Library and McCoy Hall. Don Drumm Stadium is currently being renovated and expanded. Construction on a new residence hall located near Seventh and Putnam streets is slated to break ground soon.

“It is impossible to ignore the incredible physical transformation of the campus since President Scott’s arrival,” says Dr. Gama Perruci, Dean of the McDonough Center for Leadership and Business. “While she has considerably reshaped the physical appearance of the campus, I think that the real transformation has taken place in the soul of the institution. We are well positioned to move into the national stage as an academically strong liberal arts institution. These are exciting times to be on campus, and she—as our leader—should receive a lot of the credit for this change.”

Before reaching the goal of the $50 million Legacy Campaign, the College leadership had begun to look ahead. At the start of the 2010-11 academic year, Marietta unveiled a new five-year strategic plan: Focused on Distinction and a new mission statement. The plan is designed to energize the academic focus of the College and to support the people and programs that make Marietta College’s liberal arts education unique.

Egolf adds the student population has also grown in numbers and in quality during Dr. Scott’s tenure. “Likewise, the faculty and staff have grown, and brought a new richness to our campus through the diversity of their backgrounds and experience.”

Student Senate President Joshua Maxwell ’11 says students believe Dr. Scott has always kept their best interests in mind when making decisions for that College.

“I feel that Dr. Scott’s greatest achievement has been how she has unified Marietta College in a concerted effort to provide students with a quality experience across all aspects of college life,” Maxwell says. “She has helped raise the standard for what it means to be a member of the Marietta community, and has served as a model for us to follow with her dedication, hard work and love for Marietta College.”