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Ellen Browning Scripps, born in London back in 1836, probably couldn't have imagined the contemporary woes currently besetting Scripps College, an institution for the higher education of women built in 1926 in Claremont with some of the sizable fortune she accumulated as a member of the Detroit News's founding family.

Half-sister of rich and powerful publisher E.W. Scripps, who lived on the sprawling Miramar Ranch, Ellen eventually moved to La Jolla, where she bankrolled all manner of public improvements.

But though Ellen maintained a personal interest in the science and technology of her day (she and E.W. were backers of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography), the doughty old lady, who died in 1932 at 93, would most likely be perplexed by yesterday's news that her beloved Scripps College had been hacked - and that it was an inside job.

Worse yet, the confidential information was shared with an outside "financial aid professional."

"During a review of certain processes in the Scripps College Financial Aid Office, we discovered that an unauthorized individual not employed by the College may have had access to information relating to your financial aid application," says a letter from school president Lori Bettison-Varga to concerned parties. It was posted online yesterday by the California Attorney General's office as required by state law in the case of such breaches.

"Based on our investigation, it appears that a former employee acted in an unauthorized manner, during employment, by sharing certain application information with a financial aid professional who was not employed or engaged by the College.

"The disclosure appears to have been for the purpose of obtaining assistance in evaluating applications and preparing potential aid packages. That conduct occurred intermittently between 2008 and 2012.

"We have not identified any evidence suggesting that the information was shared for any other purpose or was disclosed beyond that one unauthorized individual."

"We immediately took action to protect you when we discovered that your information may have been accessed, and we are sending this notice to you without delay. We eliminated the employee’s access to the financial aid information that we maintain, and we acted to prevent further access by the unauthorized individual.

"We also have reviewed our computer systems and security and conducted interviews to assess the scope of the conduct."

Bettison-Varga went on reassure those hit by the breach by saying that "the specific method used by the unauthorized individual to gain access has been identified and addressed," and "it appears the unauthorized individual’s sole motive was to assist with the review of certain financial aid applications."

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