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NEH challenge grant met: donations exceed goal

Thanks to the generosity of 178 individuals and foundations—including a $625,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in honor of Mary Patterson McPherson, Ph.D. ’69—the College exceeded a National Endowment for the Humanities challenge: matching gifts of $1.76 million put Bryn Mawr over the top in meeting the 4:1 match to the NEH’s $441,600 contribution. And the goal was met well ahead of its final deadline of January 31, 2008.

The Mellon grant honored McPherson, the retiring vice president of the Foundation and president emeritus of Bryn Mawr (1978–1997) and newly appointed executive officer of the American Philosophical Society.

The funds allow the Graduate Group in Archaeology, Classics, and History of Art to create new multidisciplinary fellowships and curatorial internships for students of the Graduate Group departments. They also support interdisciplinary teaching and visits by distinguished scholars, curators, writers, architects, and artists.

The Graduate Group in Archaeology, Classics, and History of Art marks a new direction for three storied departments at Bryn Mawr: Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology; Greek, Latin and Classical Studies; and History of Art. The three departments “have always been collegial and have a history of interdisciplinary collaboration,” said Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Dale Kinney. The relationship among the departments was formalized with the creation of the Graduate Group in 2002. These departments remain autonomous and each will continue to offer its own master’s and doctoral degrees. The Graduate Group strengthens all three programs by adding an interdisciplinary dimension and by providing exceptional opportunities for students to diversify their education.

Kinney noted that the goal of the Graduate Group is “to offer a form of graduate education that prepares future scholars and teachers to shape the intellectual landscapes of the next generation, without losing the rigor of inquiry and values that have shaped the traditional disciplines for which we are known.”

The year-long object and or material-based internships will take advantage of Bryn Mawr’s own strong collections of art and artifacts as well as the rich concentration of collections and curatorial expertise throughout the Philadelphia region.

“With these new initiatives,” said Kinney, “we will be better able to teach our graduate students about the common roots of the disciplines of archaeology, classics and history of art in the study of Western civilization. We hope to instill awareness of and respect for the subject matter of other disciplines, as well as complementing classroom instruction with hands-on experience.”


BMC student leads Virginia Tech Solidarity Project

When Sarah Khasawinah ’09 received an email from her sister about the massacre of 32 students and professors at Virginia Tech, she was devastated. Khasawinah, who is from Alexandria, Virginia, had many friends going to the school, although her sister was not a student there.

In an effort to focus on recovery, Khasawinah decided she would raise money to honor each victim through the sales of special T-shirts. She organized a committee of fellow Bryn Mawr students, called the Virginia Tech Solidarity Project, to seek support at all 139 colleges and universities in Pennsylvania.

Originally, the Solidarity Project wanted to donate profits to the families of those who died, but when Virginia Tech announced plans to honor each victim with a $100,000 endowed scholarship fund, the committee decided that the money would go toward that effort, trying to raise $10,000 for each victim.

“The goal of the project is to develop a network of solidarity all across the nation,” said Khasawinah. “Everyone has been so supportive, from family and friends, to people I have never met. When my 8-year-old niece from Missouri heard about the project she decided to spend her four months worth of allowance that she had been saving for something big on one shirt. A Bryn Mawr alumna called, wanting to contribute $1,000 to cover the cost of hundreds more shirts to sell. Emails from students, alumnae, and professors from many different schools have been flowing in, with the same message of support.”

After getting the College’s approval for the project, Khasawinah, a supervisor in Erdman dining hall, approached her boss, who customized the shirts his staff wears. She was referred to Poz Inc. in Media, which agreed to print the garments for free. The Solidarity Project pays $3 per item, plus shipping and handling. The group will need to sell more than 53,000 to reach its goal.

The $10 white tees are printed in Tech’s traditional orange and maroon, with a small outline of Pennsylvania around an orange ribbon on the front, and on the back is the word “United” above logos of the 33 participating colleges, including Drexel University, the University of the Arts, Harcum College, Widener University, and Haverford College.

The project was a natural for Bryn Mawr, said Khasawinah, because of its tradition of community service. “Everyone at Bryn Mawr has been so helpful on every level, from students to administrators,” she said. “The strong base of 23 students on the committee are the people who made this project come to life. I am extremely grateful for the endless efforts of these women, and for the work of various members across the community, including facilities staff from Ward, who have been very helpful with signage; the Public Affairs office, which helped with designing issues; the Civic Engagement Office, which provided funds for publicity; and the entire administration and student body, which has shown nothing but steadfast support.”

A mathematics major and president of Bryn Mawr’s Muslim Student Association, Khasawinah was a 2005 winner of the Princeton Prize in Race Relations for her work in improving racial understanding at Stuart High School in Washington, D.C., where she was student body president. She is spending the summer in Jordan, where her parents are from, volunteering at a women’s shelter.

Khasawinah was featured in The Philadelphia Inquirer and on Philadelphia's Fox TV affiliate.

The shirts are available through the participating colleges’ book-stores, including the Bryn Mawr College Bookshop.


Thunderstones and elf-arrows

The renovation of Dalton Hall includes a gallery on the third floor for exhibits from the College’s Art and Archaeology collections.

The most recent exhibit of stone tools from the European Neolithic period was curated by Amanda Pollock ’07. “It was not until the beginning of the 19th century that archaeologists began to recognize that the thunderstones, elf-arrows, and giants’ tears that littered the European landscape were not the products of supernatural beings, but the artifacts of early-modern humans’ lifestyles,” wrote Pollack in her exhibit notes. “This realization marks the beginning of the archaeology of prehistory.”

The tools were collected from across Scandinavia, the United Kingdom, and western Europe. Most were purchased in the late 19th century by William S. Vaux, a dedicated amateur archaeologist and Main Line native.

A jacket belonging to Frederica de Laguna ’27 and a sled in The Frederica de Laguna Laboratory of Anthropology in the newly renovated Dalton Hall, which was dedicated last October. The founder of Bryn Mawr’s anthropology department, the legendary scholar studied the culture of the Tlingit people in Alaska, which she documented exhaustively in her groundbreaking three-volume work Under Mount Saint Elias: The History and Culture of the Yakutat Tlingit. An exhibit in Dalton last winter showed many of the artifacts and models that de Laguna collected in Alaska, Greenland, and the southwest United States and used for teaching her classes. Right, stone tools.

The College’s Ethnographic Arts Collection is comprised of objects from around the world. Frederica de Laguna ’27 was instrumental in the creation and growth of this important collection. The collection was augmented by the William S. Vaux Collection, a gift of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, which consists of ethnographic material, as well as archaeological objects from North, Central and South America. Other important collections include the Mace Neufeld and Helen Katz Neufeld ’53 Collection of African and Oceanic Art; the Twyeffort-Hollenback Collection of Southwest Pottery and Native American Ethnography; the George and Anna Hawks Vaux ’35, M.A. ’41, Collection of Native American Basketry; and pieces collected in Oceania by former anthropology professor Dr. Jane Goodale. These main collections have been augmented by important gifts from faculty, alumna and friends of the College such as Margaret Feurer Plass ’17; Conway Zirkle and Helen E. Kingsbury ’20, M.A. ’21, Professor of Anthropology Richard Davis; Professor of Anthropology Philip Kilbride; and Professor Emeritus Milton C. Nahm.



Convocation speaker Jane Eisner, the National Constitution Center’s vice president for national programs and initiatives and a fellow of Bryn Mawr’s Katharine Houghton Hepburn Center, challenged graduating students to be grateful citizens.

Eisner said that gratitude “is tied in the American imagination to war, battle, death. But at a time when a military draft is politically untenable, when the sacrifice for this war is not equally shared,” she argued, national service is a better way to express it.

“True patriotism has to be about what we do for and with others,” she said, “and, of course, here at Bryn Mawr, you are fortunate to have the finest role model in the world—your former President and our former Senator, Harris Wofford, a man who helped invent the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps.”

(Click here to read Eisner’s full speech.)



At Commencement on May 20, 2007, degrees were conferred upon106 graduate students and 301 undergraduates, including eight Katharine McBride Scholars, students beyond the traditional college age. Graduate degrees included 10 doctorates, 19 masters of arts, 77 masters of social work, and 16 masters of law and social policy.

The Gertrude Slaughter Fellowship for excellence in scholarship, to be used for study in the United States or abroad, was awarded to Erin Hamblin Schifeling ’07, who took her degree summa cum laude in sociology. Schifeling hopes to join the Peace Corps.

The European Traveling Fellowship, which has been awarded by the College every year since Bryn Mawr’s first entering class graduated in 1889, was presented to Brittany Estelle Pladek ’07, who took her degree summa cum laude in English. Pladek will enter the Ph.D. program in English at the University of Toronto next fall.

The Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation Award for Distinguished Teaching was presented to Senior Lecturer in Chemistry Mary Ellen Nerz-Stormes.  The Rosalyn R. Schwartz Teaching Award, given to a member or members of the faculty who have made a particular contribution to curricular development at the College, was presented to David Cast, professor of history of art. The Mary Patterson McPherson Award for faculty was presented to Professor of Physics Elizabeth McCormack.

Emeritus status was conferred upon Professor of Social Work Jeffrey Applegate and Rhys Carpenter Professor of Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology Stella Miller-Collett. Also retiring were Mary Louise Cookson, who has served the College and its students as a senior program coordinator and instructor of mathematics for 19 years, and Janet Doner, whose career in the French department covers 21 years, most recently as a senior lecturer.

The Doris Sill Carland Prize for excellence in teaching assistance was awarded to Ayako Fukui in the department of mathematics, Irina Dubinina in the Russian department, and Kelly Ginion in the chemistry department.

The Eugenia Chase Guild Chair in the Humanities was awarded to Professor of History of Art Dale Kinney. The Marion Reilly Professorship in Physics was awarded to Professor of Physics Peter Beckmann.

“I hope you know how much pride we take in each and every one of you,” President of the College Nancy J. Vickers told the graduates. “As you venture into the world beyond Bryn Mawr, you are joining an alumnae community that numbers more than 21,000, and stretches around the world.  It is a powerful network indeed, and it will serve you well.”


Bryn Mawr Club of New York City

Left to right, from top: Evelyn Jones Rich ’54 and Jennifer Prince ‘04, Faith Bethelard ’93 and Jessica Bass Kirk ’91, and Margery Hartman Oakes ’38 and Marilyn Wellemeyer ’46 at the Gala Fundraising Party and Auction held by The Bryn Mawr Club of New York City on April 17. The Club’s fundraising efforts include establishing a New York City Bookshop/Bookspace to support the purposes of the Club and the College. Donations for the silent and live auctions included private docent tours at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Rubin Museum of Art, and the Museum of Modern Art; the company of renowned opera commentator Nimet Habachy ’67 at dinner and a Metropolitan Opera performance of the purchaser’s choice;  books by prominent Bryn Mawr authors, autographed; and “exceptional wines, all properly cellared.”

Alumnae Association officers elected

The following candidates for office were presented by the Nominating Committee to the Annual Meeting of the Alumnae Association during Reunion Weekend on June 3, 2007, and elected to three-year terms.

Elisabeth Lerner ’90
New York, NY

Board Representative for Admissions
Audrey Ting ’99
University Park, MD

Board Representative for Class Activities
Meera Ratnesar ’01
New York, NY

Board Representative for the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research
Yvette Bradford, M.S.S./M.L.S.P. ’90
Villanova, PA

Trustee Nomination:
The Alumnae Association’s nominee to the Board of Trustees for a five-year term commencing in October 2007.

Justine D. Jentes ’88
Chicago, IL



Return to August 2007 Highlights





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