Bryn Mawr’s Year in Review and a Peek at What’s Ahead in 2010

Posted January 12th, 2010 at 3:54 pm.

There are still a few more days before the hustle and bustle of the spring semester has everyone so busy that they can’t remember what happened last week, let alone last year. So we thought we’d take a moment to look back on some of the things that made 2009 so special and to take a peek at what’s ahead for the Bryn Mawr community.

Honors, accolades, comings, and goings
Bryn Mawr faculty received grants to help teachers better engage students in the learning of math and science, visited Capitol Hill to advise members of Congress on the use of robotics in education, won book awards, researched everything from why mountain ranges are curved to welfare reform, and much more.

In August of 2009 Bryn Mawr welcomed the 362-member class of 2013, the most racially and internationally diverse class in its history. The fall semester got off to a rousing start for the entire community a few days later as the College held a revamped convocation and community picnic to welcome all students, faculty, and staff  back to campus.

Bryn Mawr students continued to excel in and out of the classroom in 2009, receiving Watson Fellowships to travel the world, an NSF fellowship for graduate study at Johns Hopkins, winning coveted scholarships and hugely competitive science fairs and traveling to New York with President Jane McAuliffe to attend an invitation-only panel with the Prime Minister of Great Britain.

In addition to her trip to New York with students, McAuliffe visited alumnae groups across the country including Seattle, Los Angeles, Chicago, and throughout the Northeast. She participated in a major interfaith conference in Turkey; joined other senior scholars in calling for an “Atlantic Trust” between the colleges and universities of the United States and United Kingdom; addressed the heads of the U.K.’s universities; and received an honorary degree from St. Catherine University in Minnesota.

The College welcomed many new faces including Darlyne Bailey, dean of the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research, and Chief Development Officer Donna Frithsen and bid farewell to some dear friends, including beloved Assistant Director of Athletics Ray Tharan.

Campus Events
The year got off to an exciting start as Bryn Mawr marked the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States with a viewing party of the ceremony and a number of events in which faculty experts and other community members talked about issues surrounding the Obama presidency.

In February, Bryn Mawr honored Jane Golden, executive director of the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program with the 2009 Katherine Hepburn Medal. “Jane exemplifies the type of purposeful life that shapes the Hepburn Center’s mission,” President McAuliffe said in presenting the award. “Where others see walls, graffiti, scribbled words of violence, and the marks of crime, she sees pure potential.”

Civil-rights icon Angela Davis visited Thomas Great Hall in February for a speech entitled “Democracy, Social Change, and Civil Engagement.”

On May 17, the day after Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter delivered the convocation address, 332 undergraduate students from throughout the U.S. and the world received their degrees. Bryn Mawr also granted 24 Ph.D.s and 25 masters degrees and the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research awarded 74 degrees.

UCLA Professor Sanjay Subrahmanyam, a noted scholar of the history of South Asia, the Indian Ocean, and European expansion, delivered three very well-attended lectures in November as part of the Mary Flexner Lectureship.

Several noted authors and playwrights, musicians, dance troupes and other performers visited campus as part of the popular Creative Writing Program Reading Series, and Performing Arts Series, both of which will continue in the spring with readings by poet Mark Strand and author Peter Mathiessen and performances by the Urban Bush Women, Niyaz and John Waters.

Community Service, Testing, Health, Reviews, and Restructuring
The Corporation for National and Community Service honored Bryn Mawr in February with a place on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for exemplary service efforts and contributions to America’s communities.

In June, Bryn Mawr announced its new “test flexible” admissions policy, which sets a precedent for the use of Advanced Placement (AP) tests in the College’s admissions process and allows for an option that focuses exclusively on subject mastery.

Throughout the year, the College met the challenge of the H1N1 virus head-on by bringing together a team of administrators and College health officials to improve prevention efforts and plan for every possible contingency. Thanks to these efforts and regular updates to the community about the availability of vaccines, infection prevention tips, and the latest news from health officials, the fall semester concluded without any significant outbreak of the disease.

The year saw a major administrative reorganization as the College implemented a new student services structure, which consolidates several offices with related missions to improve responsiveness to student needs, coordinate functions, and enable better use of technology.

Throughout the year, a cross-constituency team developed Bryn Mawr’s self study, a key part of the College’s accreditation review by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The study, which is available for reading and comment from the Provost’s Office, involved a comprehensive examination and assessment of many major aspects and operations at the institution. Bryn Mawr will host members of the reaccreditation visiting team for several days during the spring semester and will receive the team’s report and recommendation next summer.

Bryn Mawr in the Media
Bryn Mawr was featured in hundreds of media outlets worldwide in November when the Associated Press profiled students Saskia Guerrier ’11, Augusta Irele ’10, Shanika Bridges-King ’10, and Sharhea Wade ’10 in an article about the Posse Foundation.

Other outlets to feature Bryn Mawr students included The New York Times O. The Oprah Magazine, Philadelphia’s NBC affiliate, and more.

Throughout the year, faculty chatted about methane gas on Mars and South Africa’s elections on National Public Radio, helped USA Today explain the surge in National Guard recruiting, and wrote for the Huffington Post.

The college was represented in rankings of the best college and universities by a number of outlets throughout the year. Washington Monthly ranked Bryn Mawr seventh among liberal arts colleges in its annual list of colleges and universities that contribute most to society and USA Today and The Princeton Review named Bryn Mawr a “Best Value” college.

On the pop culture side, The Atlantic wrote that the writer’s of AMC’s Mad Men, a show widely lauded for its attention to period-specific details, made their “most egregious stumble” regarding a lead character’s college career at Bryn Mawr.

Bryn Mawr got a taste of Hollywood in June when Neal Patrick Harris and Amy Sedaris came to campus for the filming of The Best and the Brightest, due to be released this year.

Campus Improvements
Historic Goodhart Hall reopened in the fall after a 15-month, $19-million dollar facelift. In addition to an all-new teaching theater, renovation highlights include a greatly expanded stage and all-new lighting and sound equipment, renovated seating, new restrooms for patrons, new dressing rooms and rehearsal space for performers, and additional classroom space for students.

Just as the curtain was rising on Goodhart, it was going down on Bern Schwartz Gymnasium as the Smart Women Strong Women initiative gets underway with a $7.5 million renovation of that nearly 30-year-old building. The renovation, to be completed before the 2010-11 academic year, will give the Bryn Mawr community a better-equipped, more inviting contemporary fitness center and the Athletic Department a much-improved training facility.

And while the repair and restoration work that had Taylor Hall enveloped in scaffolding over the summer may not be as exciting as those two projects, it showed one of the ways Bryn Mawr met the challenge of 2009’s tough economy and—in this case—turned a crisis into an opportunity.

During the 2009 calendar year, Bryn Mawr had 45 student-athletes named to the Centennial Conference Honor Roll from 10 sports. Two members of the badminton team were named to the Intercollegiate Badminton Association (IBA) Honor Roll and Jane Morris ’11 was named to the Mid-Atlantic Rowing Conference Honor Roll.

Ten athletes were named to the Centennial Conference Sportsmanship Team. The cross-country, field-hockey, lacrosse, rowing, soccer, track, and volleyball teams all earned team academic awards from their respective coaches associations.

Akua Nyame-Mensah ’10 (soccer, in/outdoor track and field) and Katie Weng ’09 (cross country, in/outdoor track and field) were tabbed Philadelphia Inquirer Academic All-Area performers as voted on by the Philadelphia Sports Information Directors of America.

Looking Ahead
2010 appears to be shaping up as an even more exciting time to be a part of the Bryn Mawr community as the college kicks off its 125th-anniversary celebration.

The 125th celebration begins in earnest during reunion week and will continue throughout the next academic year. Offerings to Athena a book that looks back at the last 125 years from the perspective of students, can now be ordered. Plans for reunion weekend events, as well as the full slate of events for throughout the academic year, are still being finalized and will be announced when available.

In February, Bryn Mawr will launch a newly refreshed Web site that will include improved navigation and a new look-and-feel that better conveys the College’s academic strengths, global reach, and vibrant community.

The Fall 2010 semester will see the welcoming of a new class and the reopening of Schwartz gym. Highlights of the new facility will include a large glass atrium built around the current entrance that will reach into and open up the second-floor fitness area, giving exercisers a view of the outside world as they work out; state-of-the art cardio and strength equipment; and flat screen televisions. A large window overlooking the pool area will also be put into place that will, in addition to introducing more light, allow spectators a great vantage point for swim meets.

To keep track of everything happening at Bryn Mawr in 2010, regularly check out the Bryn Mawr College home page, Bryn Mawr Now, and Inside Bryn Mawr.

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