Bryn Mawr College Timeline

2011 to 1970(See 1969 to 1885)


The Katharine Houghton Hepburn Center awarded its Katharine Hepburn Medal, in the area of women's health, to Helene Gayle, president and chief executive officer of the international humanitarian organization CARE, in honor of her efforts to fight global poverty and reduce the transmission of HIV/AIDS.


Bryn Mawr celebrates its 125 anniversary by hosting “Heritage and Hope,” an international conference on girls’ and women’s education worldwide.

Opening of the newly renovated Bern Schwartz Fitness and Athletic Center, a 50,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility that is home to the College’s Athletic and Physical Education Department. The building houses an eight-lane swimming pool; a wood floor for basketball, badminton and volleyball; and a fitness center that includes aerobic equipment, weight-training machines and a multi-purpose room.


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.

The Katharine Houghton Hepburn Center awarded its Katharine Hepburn Medal to Jane Golden, executive director of Philadelphia’s Mural Arts Program, in the area of civic engagement.


Jane Dammen McAuliffe begins her tenure as Bryn Mawr's eighth president. McAuliffe received her B.A. from Trinity College and her Ph.D. from the University of Toronto, taught at Emory University and the University of Toronto, and served as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Georgetown University.


Drew Gilpin Faust ’68 is appointed at the first female president of Harvard University.

The College completes its largest capital campaign in its history exceeding the fundraising goal of $225 million.


Opening of the renovated Dalton Hall as a technologically-advanced center for the social sciences.

A new center to commemorate the lives and achievements of Katharine Hepburn and her mother Katharine Houghton Hepburn of the class of 1889 was launched at Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. The first Katharine Hepburn Medal winners in the area of film and theater were Lauren Bacall and Blythe Danner.


Restoration of the house and construction of a major new addition to Bettws-y-Coed was completed for the Spring 2004 Semester.  As the new home for the College's Psychology and Education Departments, it contains faculty offices, classrooms, and laboratories.


The college becomes one of the first ten partners of the Posse Program, which provides students from public schools in seven cities across the country with extraordinary academic and leadership potential who may be overlooked in the traditional college selection process with the opportunity to attend a top college with a full tuition scholarship. Bryn Mawr partners with Posse Boston and enrolls ten Posse scholars from there each year.


The Board of Trustees unanimously approved The Plan for a New Century outlining Bryn Mawr’s strategy to recruit and retain the best students and inspire academic innovation in the 21st century.


Opening of the new Benham Gateway building to serve as visitor center, wired conference space, and home of Admissions and Financial Aid.


Nancy J. Vickers begins her tenure at Bryn Mawr College's seventh president. Vickers received her B.A. from Mount Holyoke and her Ph.D. from Yale University, taught at Dartmouth College, and served as a dean at the University of Southern California before becoming president.


Students’ beloved statue of Athena is stolen from Thomas Great Hall in a Haverford prank. Damaged in the theft, Athena undergoes substantial repairs before returning to campus.


Historian Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz of Smith College publishes The Power and the Passion of M. Carey Thomas, the first independent scholarly biography of this critical figure in the history of Bryn Mawr.


President Bill Clinton visits the campus to participate in a conference on federal entitlement programs.

Professor of Geology Weecha Crawford is awarded $320,000 MacArthur Fellowship, often known as “the genius grant.”


Bryn Mawr Classical Review is started by Professor of Greek Richard Hamilton and James J. O’Donnell, then professor of classical studies at the University of Pennsylvania. BMCR is the second oldest electronic journal in the Humanities.


The McBride Scholar program begins, offering a liberal arts education to women beyond the traditional college age.


Students conduct series of demonstrations at Board of Trustees meeting calling for Bryn Mawr to stop investing in companies that do business in South Africa. The board adopts a divestment program the following year.

President McPherson announces reductions in the number of graduate programs following a lengthy review of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Bryn Mawr fields its first varsity soccer team.

As part of the college's year-long Centennial Celebration, Katharine Hepburn '28 speaks at convocation.


Bryn Mawr hosts an international symposium on Women in Mathematics. The symposium honors the 100th anniversary of the birth of Emmy Noether, one of the leading mathematicians of the early twentieth century. Noether came to Bryn Mawr in the mid-1930s through a program to place Jewish scholars in Germany into jobs in American universities.


Bryn Mawr hosts its first women's studies conference including presentations by respected women scholars.

Hanna Holborn Gray '50 is appointed president of the University of Chicago, becoming the first woman president of a major American research university.

Mary Patterson McPherson begins her tenure as Bryn Mawr College's sixth president. McPherson had earned her BA at Smith and Ph.D. at Bryn Mawr, taught at the University of Delaware, and served as professor and dean at Bryn Mawr before being elected president.


The Bryn Mawr – Haverford Gay People’s Alliance is founded, the schools’ first lesbian and gay organization.


Jeannette Ridlon Piccard '18 and two others are ordained as the first female Episcopal priests. Piccard was also the first women to pilot a balloon and the first American woman to enter the stratosphere.


Black students hold sit-in to demand appointment of additional Black faculty and staff, the creation of an African-American house, the teaching of African languages, and the use of respectful titles when addressing the College’s maids and porters.

Kate Millett, author of Sexual Politics, teaches sociology class at Bryn Mawr. The first session was attended by 200 students.

Harris L. Wofford begins his tenure as Bryn Mawr College’s fifth president. Wofford had taught law at University of Notre Dame, served as an advisor to President Kennedy and director of the Peace Corps, and president of the State University of New York at Old Westbury before becoming president.

During semester break, volunteer labor crews move over 300,000 books from Thomas Library to the new Canaday library using library trucks and a covered ramp.


Bryn Mawr College establishes a residential exchange program with Haverford College, then still an all-male college. Each college opens co-ed dormitories, and large numbers of students in the 1970s spend at least one year living on the other college’s campus.


Streams of visitors flock to campus to see the latest work of architect Louis I. Kahn, the starkly modern Erdman Hall. Kahn drew his inspiration for the building from studying the architecture of Scottish castles.


Bryn Mawr College initiates mutual cross-registration for all undergraduate courses with Haverford, Swarthmore, and the University of Pennsylvania.


Led by Katharine McBride, Bryn Mawr becomes the first college in the nation to refuse to accept federal student loans following the passage of the 1958 National Defense Education Act which required students to sign a loyalty oath. McBride testifies before a Senate subcommittee in 1959, and leads a national effort to end the policy, which happens in 1962.


Katharine Elizabeth McBride begins her tenure as Bryn Mawr College’s fourth president. McBride had earned her A.B., M.A., and Ph.D. at Bryn Mawr, taught psychology at Columbia and Bryn Mawr, and served as Dean of Radcliffe College for two years before becoming president.


Emmy Noether begins teaching at Bryn Mawr. She arrives through the work of the Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced Scholars, a group organized to place ousted German Jewish faculty in American institutions. President Marion Edwards Park was an active member of the committee, and through her efforts, 12 refugee scholars spend time at Bryn Mawr. When Noether dies in 1935, she is hailed as one of the great thinkers in the history of mathematics.


Bryn Mawr College’s graduate school begins to accept male students.


Goodhart Hall formally opens on December 4th with a performance of the Philadelphia Orchestra, under the direction of Leopold Stokowski. The orchestra performs works by Wagner, Liszt, and Bach.


Katherine Hepburn, class of 1928, plays the lead in the May Day performance of The Woman in the Moon.


Marion Edwards Park begins her tenure as Bryn Mawr College’s third president. Park had earned her BA, MA and Ph.D. from Bryn Mawr, all in Classics, and had served as Dean at Simmons College and Radcliffe College before coming to Bryn Mawr.


Bryn Mawr College opens its Summer School for Women Workers in Industry, which offers scholarships for factory workers until 1938.


Helen Taft, class of 1915, daughter of President William Howard Taft, serves as acting president of Bryn Mawr during M. Carey Thomas's leave of absence. After leaving Bryn Mawr to get married and earn a Ph.D. at Yale, Helen Taft Manning returns in 1925 to serve as Dean until 1941, and to teach History until her retirement in 1957.


The great influenza epidemic of 1918-19 strikes a quarter of Bryn Mawr's students, in spite of a quarantine on the campus. All of the stricken students and faculty at Bryn Mawr recover, in contrast to the rest of Philadelphia, where 15,000 people die during the epidemic.


Bryn Mawr College opens its Graduate Department of Social Economy and Social Research and becomes the first institution in the nation to offer a Ph.D. in social work. M. Carey Thomas begins the program out of a recognition that many women who do not go into academic careers will instead take up "social betterment, paid or unpaid."


Marianne Moore, class of 1909, publishes her first poems in Tipyn O'Bob, one of the Bryn Mawr literary magazines. In the 1920s she becomes editor of the literary magazine The Dial, and she is awarded the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for her 1951 book Collected Poems.


Nettie Stevens, Ph.D. 1903, and a Bryn Mawr Research Associate, publishes the first scientific paper establishing that the X and Y chromosomes are responsible for sex determination, one of the landmark breakthroughs in the history of genetics. Steven's mentor at Bryn Mawr was Thomas Hunt Morgan, who was awarded a Nobel Prize for his work in genetics in 1933.


Susan B. Anthony makes the first of her two visits to Bryn Mawr. During the visit she speaks to the students about their duty to fight for political rights for women. She also meets with M. Carey Thomas, who would become the president of the National College Equal Suffrage League in 1906.


Umeko Tsuda, Bryn Mawr's first Japanese student, begins Joshi Eigaku Juku, one of the first women's colleges in Japan, and models it on Bryn Mawr. In 1948, the school was renamed Tsuda College (Tsuda Juku Diagaku).


Bryn Mawr students celebrate the first Lantern Night.


Frederick Law Olmstead, designer of New York’s Central Park, begins campus plan for Bryn Mawr. His plan guides the campus’s development over the next thirty years.


Bryn Mawr College broadens its mission by moving from a Quaker foundation to a non-denominational college. M. Carey Thomas argues that for the College to thrive as an academic endeavor, it would have to appeal to a larger group of young women. 1894 M. Carey Thomas begins her tenure as Bryn Mawr College’s second president.


The students of Bryn Mawr College form its self-government association, the first in the country. One of the students, Susan Walker, writes to her classmates at the end of the spring semester, polling them on their thoughts about how to organize what would become the SGA, and gathers those thoughts into a document that forms the basis for the organization that has managed student governance for more than a century.


James E. Rhoads begins his tenure as Bryn Mawr College’s first president. M. Carey Thomas, the first dean, selected the faculty members, all of whom had Ph.D. degrees except for a young political scientist named Woodrow Wilson.


Bryn Mawr College opens its doors. At the opening of the College, the President of Johns Hopkins University delivers the opening remarks.

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"Education is transformative. When I came to Bryn Mawr, I wasn't thinking of teaching or working with schools. Look how much I have changed."

Tiffany Shumate, class of 2008, Office of Special Education Advocate »