Dr. Lori Bettison-Varga, earth scientist, education advocate and college president has been named President and Director of the Natural History Museum announced Sarah Meeker Jensen, President of the Board of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County announced this week. Dr. Bettison-Varga is expected to begin her tenure at the NHM family of museums—NHM in Exposition Park, the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum and the William S. Hart Museum—as early as autumn 2015, succeeding Dr. Jane G. Pisano, who has led NHM since 2001. Following Dr. Pisano’s announcement in September 2014 of her intended retirement, Dr. Bettison-Varga was selected through an international search. Dr. Pisano will remain at NHM until Dr. Bettison-Varga assumes her duties, ensuring a smooth transition. The appointment is pending approval by the County Board of Supervisors.
“Lori Bettison-Varga combines proven leadership ability and managerial skill with hands-on scientific expertise and a passion for public education,” Sarah Meeker Jensen said. “She has the vision and talent to move the NHM family of museums into the next phase of our evolution, carrying into the future the transformation into a museum of nature in addition to natural and cultural history. On behalf of the Board, I offer our profound thanks to Jane Pisano for her unprecedented achievements at NHM and welcome Lori Bettison-Varga, who brings us to the beginning of a new era.”
“The Natural History Museum is an iconic Los Angeles institution that has a major impact in helping audiences of all ages appreciate the natural and cultural worlds, right at home and across the globe. I vividly remember how my childhood trips to NHM in Exposition Park and the La Brea Tar Pits fueled my love of science, my understanding of the effect that humans have on the environment, my awareness of the incredibly rich and diverse flora and fauna of Southern California, and my fascination with the dynamic tectonic powers that have shaped and formed the Los Angeles Basin. Having seen the dramatic transformation over the past decade at NHM under the leadership of Dr. Pisano, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to lead this institution, taking up initiatives that range from Citizen Science and educational outreach to bring science and urban nature to all Angelenos, to the enhancement of the experience at the La Brea Tar Pits,” said Lori Bettison-Varga.
Dr. Bettison-Varga, a geologist who received her Ph.D. from the University of California Davis, comes to NHM after serving for six years as President and W.M. Keck Foundation Presidential Chair at Scripps College in Claremont, California. As President of Scripps, she enhanced the national presence and visibility of the college, resulting in a 20 percent increase in annual applications for admission; implemented policies to foster greater transparency and community engagement; initiated strategic planning for diversity and sustainability; and inaugurated a comprehensive campaign with a $175 million target, raising more than $115 million in gifts and pledges from July 2009 to the present. She cultivated a $5 million gift to design innovative programming that combines leadership theory and practice in the new LASPA Center and successfully integrated alumnae perspectives with the goals and aspirations of current faculty, staff, students and Trustees to advance the mission of the college. In each year of her presidency, Scripps College recorded a budget surplus.
Bettison-Varga’s appointment was also reported in the Los Angeles Times today.
About the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County is located at 900 Exposition Blvd., Los Angeles. It is open daily 9:30 am to 5 pm. The Museum was the first dedicated museum building in Los Angeles, opening its doors in 1913. It has amassed one of the world’s most extensive and valuable collections of natural and cultural history—with more than 35 million objects, some as old as 4.5 billion years. The Natural History Family of Museums includes the NHM, the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum (Hancock Park/Mid-Wilshire), and the William S. Hart Park and Museum (Newhall, California). The Family of Museums serves more than one million families and visitors annually, and is a national leader in research, exhibitions and education.
About Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the co-editor and publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.
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