30 August 2012
Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,
Welcome to Bryn Mawr's one hundred and twenty-seventh academic year. I hope you enjoyed a pleasant summer and are looking forward to the year ahead. As has become our tradition, we will celebrate the opening of the new year with Convocation in Goodhart Hall at 4:30 p.m. on the first day of classes, 4 September. Following Convocation, I invite you to a "South of the Border" community picnic on Wyndham Green.
Here are a few updates and some early alerts for the coming year.
Academic opportunities and initiatives
I am delighted to announce that Bryn Mawr will host a second international conference, The Next Wave: Disruption, Transition, and a New Global Era for Women's Advancement, on 4 December 2012. Like the Heritage & Hope conference we convened in September 2010, this event will bring together women from across the globe and will ask them to consider how to engage emerging leaders in efforts for women's advancement worldwide.
This fall, we will explore ways to work with our new partner, Ewha Womans University in Korea, and continue conversations with Zhejiang University in China about collaborating with their new History of Art department and fostering options for student and faculty exchange.
Last December we launched The Women in Public Service Project (WPSP) in partnership with the U.S. Department of State and the other Seven Sister colleges. As part of our commitment to WPSP, Bryn Mawr will host the second Summer Institute in July 2013. Bryn Mawr students will have opportunities to participate in the Institute and its preparation, building on the experience of their classmates at the inaugural colloquium in Washington, DC.
This year, in response to widespread student interest, we are introducing a new major in International Studies. I am grateful to the dedicated faculty who worked hard last year to bring this major on board. The popular 360°s continue with "Transforming the Legacy of Oil" and "Women in Walled Communities: Silence, Voice, and Vision," offered as the six and seventh of these multi-disciplinary course clusters. We welcome Betty Litsinger of the English Department to a full-time position as an English as a Second Language (ESL) instructor. In this role, she will work one-on-one with students who want to enhance their writing and language skills. Building on last year's successful experiment with blended learning, 100% of faculty who participated in that pilot have indicated that they will continue to incorporate these technologies into their teaching. For a second year, Bryn Mawr serves as the convener of 25 other liberal arts colleges who are piloting blended learning on their campuses.
Seeking to increase opportunities for women in the STEM fields, we have signed an agreement with the University of Pennsylvania that allows Bryn Mawr students to earn a master's degree from Penn Engineering with only one additional year of study. We have also expanded our 10-year relationship with the Posse Foundation and will welcome a STEM Posse in fall 2013, along with our 13th traditional Posse cohort.
At the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research (GSSWSR), Dean Bailey joins me in announcing a dual degree program between Bryn Mawr and Thomas Jefferson University's School of Population Health through which GSSWSR students can earn a Master of Public Health (MPH) from Jefferson. This partnership affirms the synergy between social work and public health and the commitment of both institutions to education in the service of social justice.
Mary Osirim, Dean of Graduate Studies, will work closely this year with the Undergraduate College to explore new AB/MA options and with her colleagues at GSSWSR to launch the MSS/MPH partnership with Jefferson. Students at the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences will also have the opportunity to participate in expanded professional development workshops, designed to increase their awareness of career opportunities both inside and outside of the academy.
Finally, in early September I will announce the fifth recipient of the Katharine Hepburn Medal. We will bestow this honor upon a deserving and distinguished recipient at a celebration in Goodhart Hall on 7 February 2013.
Planning for the future
Following two years of institutional self-reflection and multiple forms of planning, the College has created a strategic Plan for Bryn Mawr and can now turn to its implementation. Last year hundreds of students, faculty, and staff participated in community-wide forums to examine and discuss initiatives and directions for the College. Throughout the spring semester, the Thinking Forward Group distilled the good ideas surfaced in those large brainstorming sessions into a cohesive vision and strategy for Bryn Mawr, a plan which the Board of Trustees approved at its April meeting and June retreat.
The Plan for Bryn Mawr will guide the College as it embarks upon its new comprehensive campaign. It includes programs with which you are already familiar, like the 360° courses and the non-credit finance and management workshops, as well as new initiatives like the STEM Posse and possible AB/MA options. I look forward to telling you more about the Plan in my remarks at Convocation.
To garner support for the Plan and the campaign, I will be traveling extensively this year to speak with alumnae/i, parents, and friends of the College. These conversations will occur in both small and large settings and are designed to educate our constituents about our college vision and to solicit the early financial support that will allow us to realize that vision. I anticipate announcing an official fundraising goal and a full case for support in the spring.
Fostering community and enhancing campus life
This year we welcome a bright and talented freshman class, drawn from a pool of more than 2,600 applicants – an all-time record. This was also the most selective admissions cycle at Bryn Mawr in 30 years. It is a pleasure to welcome these new Mawrters to campus this week and to introduce them to the entire Bryn Mawr community.
Activity on Cambrian Row continues with the arrival at the Pensby Center last month of Stephanie Nixon, the new Director of Diversity, Social Justice and Inclusion. Stephanie's work will focus on student affinity groups and social justice initiatives. Professor Dennis McAuliffe also joins the Pensby Center part time as the new Director of the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life.
After a major move last year, the Dean's Office is well settled in Guild with a fully equipped outdoor courtyard for all to enjoy. OneStop is open for its first full year and the wildly popular SEPTA fare request program continues in its second year. Finally, the introduction of e-billing and e-payment affords students greater convenience in managing their College accounts.
In March, Haverford President Joanne Creighton and I announced the launch of the SEADS (SEamless ADministrative Services) project, a three-year initiative to combine several technology services across the BiCo. Through SEADS, we have recently upgraded the OneCard access system, an important step toward fluid use of the OneCard cash account across both campuses, and this fall will issue new ID cards for all students, faculty, and staff. The SEADS project continues its work of systems integration to create a joint registration and advising system – due to launch in August 2013.
For our Facilities Department, the summer months are a time of intense activity as they maintain and improve our historic buildings and grounds. Currently, the most noticeable project is the re-grading of Merion Green through the addition of several tons of soil. This re-grading will greatly improve access to the Park Science complex and is part of the campus plan to enhance pathways near the Campus Center. Several parking lots and sidewalks have been repaired or repaved this summer to also improve pedestrian and vehicular traffic.
Brecon has new bathrooms, as well as a new front patio and roof. Pembroke Arch, Pembroke West, and Arnecliffe have had masonry and structural repairs. Virtually every dormitory enjoys a new coat of paint, as do many academic and administrative buildings across the campus. Our facilities are refreshed and ready for use!
Some recent good news
As we know, not all College ranking systems are created equal but the one that comes closest to measuring qualities that matter to Bryn Mawr is that published by The Washington Monthly, a well-respected journal of politics and government. The Washington Monthly bases its list of the best liberal arts college on three factors: (1) social mobility, which assesses the number of low-income students who earn degrees from an institution; (2) research, which calculates such factors as the number of dollars in total research expenditures, the number of bachelor's recipients who go on to receive PhDs, and the number of faculty receiving prestigious awards; and (3) service, which looks at metrics like the number of alumni who serve in the Peace Corps, the amount of work-study money allocated to community service, the number of students participating in community service and the total number of service hours performed. Not surprisingly, Bryn Mawr has done well in the eight years that this list has been published, but when this year's ranking came out earlier this week, Bryn Mawr topped the list – best in the nation!
Again, my warmest welcome to our new year together. I look forward to seeing you at Tuesday's Convocation and heading "South of the Border" at the picnic that follows.