Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

The mummies and dinosaurs so beloved by generations of Southern California elementary school kids – and adults – will be getting a new leader Wednesday when the head of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County is sworn in.

The new president comes to the museum in Exposition Park near the Coliseum and USC with an academic background and a significant record of success in raising funds.

Geologist Lori Bettison-Varga was named in July to replace Jane Pisano as the president and director of the museum. Pisano has served in the role since 2001.

Bettison-Varga comes to NHM after six years as president of Scripps College in Claremont. According to museum officials, she boosted the college’s national presence and visibility, leading to a 20 percent increase in application admissions.

She raised more than $115 million in gifts and pledges during that time, and the college recorded a budget surplus in each year of her tenure.

Bettison-Varga earned her B.A. from UC Santa Barbara and her doctorate at UC Davis before joining the faculty of Pomona College and then serving in a variety of teaching and administrative positions, including as provost and dean of faculty at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, before joining Scripps College.

—City News Service

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