Ellen the Pig Comes Home to Scripps

For the first time in five years, Scripps College seniors have brought home the bacon.

In a friendly but hard-fought competition, the students bested three other members of The Claremont Colleges—Claremont McKenna, Pitzer, and Pomona Colleges—by achieving the highest level of graduating senior class participation, a remarkable 100%. Scripps seniors not only won bragging rights, but ownership of a small ceramic pig named Ellen.

It was a close call. Pitzer College, which last year won possession of Ellen, had 99.1% participation, and CMC had 97%. Pomona College finished fourth with a respectable 65.5%.

As satisfying as it was for the Scripps Class of 2011 to win the contest, it was more important for them to raise money for an undergraduate scholarship, according to Mariam Tejeda, one of the three student co-chairs of the Senior Class Gift Committee; the others are Lauren Frederick and Alexandra Tyson. Committee members include Andrianna Betts, Andrea Montes, Adelina Solis, Claire Shaw, Emilie Docter, Gina Newman, and Victoria Molina-Estolano.

“We can graduate knowing that our first gift to the College means that a rising sophomore, junior, or senior will continue to benefit from a Scripps education,” Tejeda said.

Marguerite Kissel ’09, assistant director of the Scripps College Annual Fund, echoed the sentiment: “What’s really emphasized on campus is the fact that with 100% participation, the graduating class can demonstrate its solidarity to the Scripps community and make a difference in the life of a deserving Scripps student.”

“It is great to have Ellen back home, and her return shows the strength of the class of 2011,” said Tyson, who pointed out that the theme for this year’s campaign was “supporting infinite possibility,” taken from a quote by founder Ellen Browning Scripps. “I hope that through this campaign,” she added, “the class of 2011 has learned the importance of giving back to Scripps so that future students can continue to have the same phenomenal education we had while at Scripps College.”

The class raised $5,259 from graduating seniors alone. When gifts from parents, faculty, staff, trustees, and friends were added, the amount totaled more than $20,000. This included challenge and matching gifts from two trustees, Board of Trustees chair Linda Davis Taylor and Leslie Lassiter ’77, Institutional Advancement Committee chair. “Our Scripps community was behind our fundraising efforts,” said Tejeda.

The competition started in 1995, when a frustrated student at Scripps wanted to increase participation rates for the annual campaign. She went to a local gift shop, purchased the pig, and named it Ellen in honor of the College’s founder, Ellen Browning Scripps.

After mounting the pink figurine on a trophy base, the student challenged the other colleges to a contest that has focused not on dollar amounts but on encouraging higher numbers of donors. At the time, participation in class giving at Scripps College was as low as 27%.

“The lively competition is also a chance to teach students the value of philanthropy before they graduate,” Kissel said. “We hope this will encourage a habit of giving back to Scripps College in the years ahead.”

The lesson seems to be taking. Last year, Scripps College’s alumnae participation rate was close to 50%, the highest among all the nation’s women’s colleges and all the other colleges in Claremont.