2011: The Year in Review

Posted January 19th, 2012 at 5:09 pm.

As the spring semester gets underway, we take our annual look back on the year that was.

125th Anniversary

The spring 2011 semester marked the end of the College’s 125th anniversary celebration. The celebration officially ended on Reunion weekend, which saw a record 1,128 guests visit campus. Other anniversary-related highlights from the semester included a Meredith Monk residency and performance, a New York fundraising gala, the awarding of the Katharine Hepburn Medal to CARE CEO Helene Gayle, the May unveiling of a mural done in collaboration with Philadelphia’s Mural Arts Program, and the M. Carey Thomas Award being given to dance icon Judith Jamison at Commencement.

Events on Campus and Off

• The Flexner Lectureship with Judith Butler. The fall 2011 semester saw two major Bryn Mawr happenings. On campus, the Bryn Mawr community welcomed eminent philosopher, gender theorist, and social critic Judith Butler for the Mary Flexner Lectureship. In addition to her three public lectures, Butler took part in a full schedule of events: several classes associated with the lectureship, three seminars with faculty members from Bryn Mawr and other colleges and universities in the area, a Center for Visual Culture Colloquium, and a variety of social gatherings where she engaged Bryn Mawr students, faculty, and staff in conversation.

• Collaboration with the State Department. The second prominent event of the semester was the launch of the Women in Public Service Project. Announced in the spring, the WPSP launched with a State Department Colloquium featuring many of the world’s most influential leaders—including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde. Bryn Mawr was represented at the event by President Jane McAuliffe, several faculty and staff members and trustees, a number of current Bryn Mawr students, and a contingent of alumnae.

• Performances. 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 Tom Sleigh, Alice McDermott, and Kimiko Hahn and performances by the Ying Quartet, John Jasperse Company, and Rennie Harris Puremovement. One of the authors featured in the reading series was Karen Russell, the much-celebrated author of the novel Swamplandia! Russell also taught a course at Bryn Mawr in the fall and spoke at the inaugural event in the new Emily Balch Speaker Series for first-year students, which was followed by a Swamplandia!-themed dessert. Productions featuring students this fall included Gertrude Stein’s Listen to Me.

• Exhibitions. Worlds to Discover: 125 Years of Collections at Bryn Mawr was on display in Canaday Library through May, while Dalton Hall’s exhibition space featured Frederica de Laguna: At Home in the Arctic. In September, the first major exhibition of the College’s rich photography holdings Double Take: Selected Views from the Photography Collection at Bryn Mawr College, 1860s to Present opened.

Other notable events of the year included a reception in Boston marking the 10th anniversary of Bryn Mawr’s partnership with the Posse Foundation, a live stream of TEDxWomen in Goodhart Hall, a Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research-sponsored visit by the U.S. Surgeon General, and a teach-in on the Arab Spring.

Faculty News

• Appointments and Invitations. A number of faculty members received honors and appointments in 2011. Alison Cook-Sather was named the Jean Rudduck Visiting Scholar at the University of Cambridge. Jim Wright was appointed the director of the American School of Classical Studies in Athens. Research Associate Katherine N. Marenco joined First Lady Michelle Obama and others at the White House this fall for an event marking the announcement of the National Science Foundation Career-Life Balance Initiative.

• Grants. Faculty members receiving significant grants included Geology’s Lynne Elkins, Chemistry’s Bill Malachowski, Carola Hein of Growth and Structure of Cities, and English Professor Katherine Rowe.

• Publications in the News. New Assistant Professor of Geology Selby Cull was among the researchers making headlines for an article in the journal Science on the possibility of water on Mars. A commentary by Chemistry Professor Michelle Francl appeared in the August issue of Nature Chemistry. Francl was also involved with the creation of the issue’s cover, which features images of many Bryn Mawr alumnae.

• On Campus. Bryn Mawr Professor of Sociology and Coordinator of the Africana Studies Program Mary Osirim was named the College’s new Dean of Graduate Studies, and Kim Cassidy was reappointed as provost.

• Farewells. In 2011 the campus struggled with the loss of Biology Professor Paul Grobstein. A neurobiologist by training, Grobstein was profoundly committed to opening the discussion of science and scientific topics to all. He made major contributions to the creation of Serendip, the first website hosted by Bryn Mawr College; Bryn Mawr’s Center for Science in Society; and the Summer Institutes for K-12 Teachers. His characterization of the scientific method as “getting it less wrong,” a creative process of constant revision that embraces mistakes and resists hierarchy, sparked countless discussions across social boundaries of all kinds.

Bryn Mawr also bid goodbye to retired Professor of Mathematics Frederic “Ty” Cunningham, who played an instrumental role during his time at Bryn Mawr in building up the math department to its present stature and was particularly committed to hiring women and to honoring and promoting womens’ contributions to mathematics.

Student Achievements

• Important Fellowships. In November, Nina R. W. Cohen ’12, a philosophy major with a minor in French, was named a 2012 Rhodes Scholar.

Early in the year, seven Bryn Mawr students were awarded grants by the J. William Fulbright Program and five undergraduates received National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowships.

Briana Bellamy ’11 received a $10,000 Davis Projects for Peace grant. Prior to commencement, President McAuliffe announced a host of awards and honors bestowed upon students by the College and outside organizations.

• Volunteer Efforts Recognized. Brie Stark ’12 was one of three youths chosen to represent the Red Cross at the second World Summit for Youth Volunteering in Barranquilla, Colombia, in early November. In March, 22 Bryn Mawr students attended CARE’s national conference in Washington, D.C.

Jordan Schwartz ’13 was honored over the summer by Parade magazine as a member of the All-America Service Team, a group of 15 high-school students “who are changing their communities through service.”

Administrative and Academic News

• Infrastructure Improvements. Students returned in the fall to find a new multi-use athletic field on campus and, after several months of renovation, Thomas Cloister was reopened just in time for a surprisingly snowy lantern night. Smaller renovations also took place in Erdman’s Dining Hall and in Merion Hall, where a new student lounge was created. Bryn Mawr’s online presence also saw changes this year with the introduction of a new presentation for mobile devices.

• Strategic Planning. 2011 saw a good deal of strategic planning at the college. A number of community forums on possible plans for the College’s future took place in the fall semester. Early in the year, reports detailing planned changes to Bryn Mawr’s graduate programs, the undergraduate academic experience and advising, and the Alumnae Association were all accepted by the board of trustees and/or approved by the faculty.

• Grants to the College. Three grants totaling about $1.65 million were awarded to Bryn Mawr College last spring, offering support for curricular innovation and enhanced access to education of the highest quality.

• Changes to the Board. The board of trustees also saw change in 2011. Arlene Gibson ’65 was unanimously named to succeed Sally Zeckhauser ’64 as the chair of Bryn Mawr College’s board of trustees in February, and the appointment of two new board members was announced in April.

• 360º Course Clusters. Last year also marked the first full year of the 360º program, which offers students the opportunity to take a group of courses that approach a topic or theme from several disciplinary perspectives. In the spring students traveled to Vienna as part of “The Last Days of Habsburg: Vienna 1900 and the End of an Empire.” Last fall, students and faculty examining the cultural history and science of contemplation and mindfulness traveled to Western Japan.

• New Certificate Courses. 2011 was also the first year the college offered a series of intensive workshops in business fundamentals sponsored by the treasurer’s office. The well-attended workshops focused on finance and entrepreneurship.

Presidential Activities

• Commentary in the Press. Commentaries by Bryn Mawr President Jane McAuliffe appeared in The New York Times, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and on the website Inside Higher Ed.

On the Road. In addition to traveling across the globe to meet with alumnae, she traveled to Jordan as part of a Vatican delegation, the U.K. for a summit on global higher-education collaborations, and Bangladesh with faculty and students for a conference and groundbreaking ceremony at the Asian University for Women.

At Home. On campus, McAuliffe sponsored a set of presidential lectures in the spring; in the fall she hosted students at Pen y Groes for lunches with various leaders in their fields, as well as for informal get-togethers during the fall exam week and at Halloween. In October, McAuliffe and a group of students went to the Constitution Center in Philadelphia for the inaugural “A More Perfect Union” event.

Appointments. McAuliffe was named to the American Council on Education’s board of directors and was a member of the group’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Global Engagement.

Bryn Mawr in the Media

Featured in stories. Bryn Mawr Professors of English Katherine Rowe and Jane Hedley, as well as students Jennifer Cook ’11 and Jen Rajchel ’11, were prominently featured in a March New York Times article on digital humanities. Bryn Mawr was also featured in the Times in February, when Hannah Smith ’14 wrote about her experiences as a first-year student.

The College’s Teaching and Learning Initiative was featured in the U.K.’s Times Higher Education and the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Members of the faculty were also consulted for their expertise by the Associated Press, CNN Money, and Philadelphia’s ABC affiliate, among others.

The College appeared in the usual college rankings published each year as well as on a few less traditional lists, including Travel and Leisure’s roundup of “America’s Most Beautiful College Campuses.”

Writing. Psychology Professor Clark McCauley started penning a blog for Psychology Today, and Elizabeth Held ’12 spent the fall 2011 semester writing for USA Today‘s website as a Collegiate Correspondent. Her posts have covered everything from campus safety to the relevancy of single-sex colleges.

Pop Culture. Bryn Mawr also had a presence in pop culture during 2011. In December, the television shows Boardwalk Empire and The Office mentioned the College. The 30 Rock writers also continued to show their love (we think) for Bryn Mawr in 2011. In the season finale viewers learned that Jenna Maroney (played by Jane Krakowski) performed at the halftime show for the inaugural “Wool Bowl,” in which Bryn Mawr had an 11-2 halftime lead over Hiram College in a game that was apparently full of safeties.

•  We’re No Fools. The April 1 word of Bryn Mawr’s partnership with the Bithnian University of Science and Technology was tweeted and retweeted and spread like wildfire. News of the first-of-its kind collaboration made it into the Huffington Post, Inside Higher Ed, and a number of other websites and blogs including a blog maintained by NPR’s Fresh Air.

Stay tuned for more ground-breaking news from the College as 2012 gets underway!

Filed under: arts,BMC Homepage Headlines,On Campus by Tracy Kellmer

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