Alumna's Solid Foundations

Tuti Scott ’84 leads with a winning combination of broad outlook and team spirit.   by Kate Larrabee

I built my own curriculum,” says Tuti Scott. That is something many Ithaca College students have done: designed their own degrees as planned studies majors. Often, like Scott, they find a new passion once they’ve arrived and begun to sample classes in different disciplines.

The youngest of five children of a single mother, Scott came to Ithaca College thanks to a “generous financial aid package, without which I would not have been able to attend college.” She started out as a physical education major but found she was more interested in the anatomy and physiology of the body during exercise. So she switched to planned studies, augmenting her physical education coursework with science courses.

Scott parlayed her self-designed degree into a 15-year career with the Women’s Sports Foundation, where she has served as chief external relations officer and is currently co-CEO following the retirement of Donna Lopiano. The foundation, which was established by tennis legend and social activist Billie Jean King, provides research, education, and advocacy on issues related to gender equity and the role of women in sports.

Scott says her experience as a point guard and captain of IC’s women’s basketball team serves her well in nonprofit management. “It totally shapes my job every day,” she says. “Being the captain of a team is all about leadership skills, much like being a leader in business.” Scott says her basketball experience also gave her “experience working with people different from me and playing to their strengths.” And, she notes, as a student-athlete one develops much better time-management skills.

While a student Scott also worked in the Office of Sports Information, a multifaceted job that helped sharpen her writing skills. “IC really taught me to try anything and to ask questions,” she says. “There were a lot of great mentors who were more than happy to teach me.”

Scott now does the same for others. She serves on an advisory board for the School of Health Sciences and Human Performance and has hosted numerous IC interns at the Women’s Sports Foundation. Those IC interns are “all now gainfully employed,” she says proudly. In fact, one of them, Journey Gunderson ’04, is now working for the foundation. “She’s one of our best and brightest,” Scott says.

Besides volunteering her time and hosting IC interns, Scott has decided to name Ithaca College as a beneficiary in her will. She’s seeing her gift as a way to pay Ithaca back for the generous financial aid package she received as a student. “It was strictly because of IC’s financial aid office that I was able to go to college,” she says. “Giving back was instilled in me by so many of my mentors and it is easy to ask others to give when so much has been given to you.”