27 August 2009
Dear Faculty, Students and Staff,
Welcome to the launch of our new academic year. I hope that each one of you has enjoyed an interesting, relaxing and productive summer.
We will begin this year with students, faculty, and staff gathering for an opening Convocation in newly-renovated Goodhart Hall on Monday, 31 August at 4:15 p.m. Members of the faculty and of the senior class will line up along Rockefeller walk at 4:00 p.m. to form the academic procession into Goodhart. The Convocation will be followed by an all-College picnic from 5:00-7:30 p.m. on the green between the Benham Gateway Building and Haffner Hall. I look forward to seeing the entire Bryn Mawr community at the Convocation and picnic.
This promises to be an important and exciting year for the College. We have much to do collectively and I know that each one of you looks forward with anticipation to the contributions you will make to the core enterprises of this flourishing academic community. Here are my own priorities for the coming months, as well as updates on some of our major College initiatives for the year.
As I begin my second year here, I want to continue meeting, learning with, and enjoying the many talented people who make up the Bryn Mawr community. I look forward to hosting a variety of events with this goal in mind: faculty gatherings, including lunches with new faculty and faculty returning from sabbatical leave; meetings and conversations with the Staff Association; alumnae receptions in cities in the U.S. and abroad; and many trips to meet with College supporters and prospective supporters. I particularly look forward to opportunities to engage with students in both focused discussion and informal conversation. To that end, I will launch or continue several initiatives:
BUILDING EXTERNAL RELATIONSHIPS
Another priority for the coming year will be increased attention to expanding Bryn Mawr’s partnerships and external connections and to enhancing its reputational reach. Darlyne Bailey, the new Dean of the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research, will also serve as my Special Assistant for Community Partnerships, spearheading efforts to forge connections with local civic groups, government agencies, and non-profit organizations. I also look forward to making Bryn Mawr’s many strengths known to wider audiences through an active program of outreach along the Northeast Corridor and through my work with the Council on Foreign Relations, the Leadership Network for International Education of the American Council on Education, and the World Economic Forum.
I am also grateful to Peter Magee, Associate Professor of Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology, who has agreed to serve as Special Assistant for International Educational Initiatives. I will be working with Peter to create additional campus forums on the globalization of higher education, such as the one we hosted last April, and to investigate specific opportunities for international partnerships that can enrich the experience of our faculty and students and extend the College’s influence.
The reopening of Goodhart Hall brings renewed and new performance spaces to our Arts Program and to our student performance groups. It also creates a wonderful opportunity to showcase the arts at Bryn Mawr to our community, our alumnae/i, and our region. Our College Communications Office will be publicizing this year’s arts events on campus and in the greater Philadelphia area, and I hope that you will take particular advantage of the many performances and readings scheduled for this year of Goodhart’s reopening. Planning is also underway for an official “launch” of this renovated and expanded facility with some special events in the second semester.
In spring 2010 we will begin a year-long celebration of the College’s 125th anniversary, and of the bold vision that Bryn Mawr has offered throughout its history for women and for the world. We will mark this anniversary with a variety of exhibits, publications, and events, including an international conference next September on the global future of women’s education. I am grateful to Elliott Shore for his leadership of this planning process.
“External relations” for any college president necessarily includes fundraising to support students, faculty, programs and facilities. I will be working closely with the Resources Office and with the Board’s Development Committee to raise the remaining funds needed to complete renovations to Schwartz Gymnasium. I will also be talking to all of the College’s alumnae/i and friends about the urgency of increased funding for scholarships and financial aid during the current economic downturn.
SUPPORTING ACADEMIC AND ADMINISTRATIVE INITIATIVES
This year we will continue three major projects that were begun in 2008-2009:
Subsequent to last year’s intense budget activity, we will continue to monitor and manage the key financial levers affecting the College’s budget. Jerry Berenson and John Griffith are leading our work with Haverford to identify new opportunities for collaboration that can result in both improved administrative services and reduced costs.
As I communicated to the community this summer, Dean Jenny Rickard is leading a transition team to create a student administrative services structure that will serve both the graduate and undergraduate schools. The goal of this transition exercise is to develop structures and systems that enable our dedicated staff to be even more responsive to student needs, that make better use of technology and technological expertise within our staff, and that afford a seamless experience for students along the full spectrum of administrative services. Dean Rickard is also working with a communications steering group to respond to immediate priorities as we develop longer range plans to enhance visibility and to create a more cohesive and effective internal and external communications program.
I am delighted that Provost Kim Cassidy has agreed to chair the search for the new Dean of the Undergraduate College. Witt/Kieffer has been retained to facilitate this search, and appointments to the search committee of students and faculty will be made early in the fall semester.
PREPARING FOR H1N1 FLU
Public health officials are predicting a resurgence of H1N1 flu (swine flu) this fall. A group of senior campus health officials and administrators has been charged with monitoring and responding to any possible H1N1 outbreak. All members of the community can help limit the spread of flu with a number of commonsense practices. For specifics and for updates throughout the academic year, please check http://news.brynmawr.edu/?p=3.
ESTABLISHING TRUSTEE PRIORITIES
The Board of Trustees has decided to focus on three special projects this year.
PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE
A collaborative effort to “think forward” and plan for Bryn Mawr’s future will begin in earnest this year, following the strong recommendation of the Task Force on Balancing Mission and Resources. Preliminary Cabinet conversations and brain-storming exercises this summer have been first steps. Future-oriented planning will draw energy from a number of initiatives and projects that are already underway, such as new ideas emerging from the Curricular Renewal Working Group and explorations of both local and international partnerships.
ORGANIZING THE PRESIDENT’S OFFICE
We are making several changes in the President’s Office to support our work on this ambitious agenda. Ruth Lindeborg will take on the role of Secretary of the College to help advance the Board’s agenda and to work with me on a variety of communications, events and outreach initiatives. Catherine Shapiro has accepted a 12-month appointment to join the President’s Office as Chief of Staff. Catherine, who taught for several years in the Government Department at Dartmouth, has worked at Harvard for the past eight years, most recently as Assistant Dean of Residential Life. Catherine will manage the day to day operations of the office, support my work with the senior administrative staff, and respond to the needs of campus constituencies. Please join me in welcoming Catherine to Bryn Mawr. I am also pleased to announce that Diane McLaughlin, a member of the Resources Office staff for the past 8 years, has joined the President’s Office as an administrative assistant, filling a position that has been vacant for the past two years.
I look forward to working with you all and to an exciting and productive new year.