Alumnae Bulletin
August 2010

President's column

Dear Alumnae/i,

During the last weekend in May, more than 1,000 people returned to campus to celebrate Reunion. For the first time, all alumnae/i were invited to participate, and we were delighted by the response. Graduates of the 1950s, for example, seized upon the occasion to stage a spirited decade reunion that brought together nearly 150 alumnae to see old friends from their own and from neighboring classes. I hope this success marks the beginning of a new tradition in reunion gatherings.

The arts formed the centerpiece of this year's Reunion program, and allowed those attending to experience new and renovated spaces in Goodhart Hall. A wide array of lectures, readings, exhibits, screenings and performances provided a vivid sense of the important role of the arts on campus and in the lives of our alumnae/i. We were honored to host a performance of the Rebecca Kelly ('73) Dance Company, which filled Goodhart to capacity, and I was gratified by Rebecca's post-performance remarks, in which she credited her liberal arts education with building the capacity for critical thinking she has needed to direct her ambitious dance company.

Seventy years of Bryn Mawr alumnae were gathered together for the weekend. Across these generations I found strong threads of continuity. Clearly all took pleasure in the company of inquisitive, vibrant women. I heard many express great appreciation for the education they received at Bryn Mawr and pride in meeting the challenges that were posed to them as students. I saw generosity in financial support for the College among alumnae of all ages, for which I am deeply grateful. Finally, I was struck by a shared desire that Bryn Mawr continue to be a special and ambitious institution.

The College's 125th anniversary provides us with a year-long occasion to begin shaping that future even as we celebrate our distinctive past. Our faculty have already begun this work. A thorough review of the undergraduate curriculum has produced changes in many requirements, with more to come. This process has also generated several innovative pilot programs, from half-credit courses that will provide underclassmen with more opportunities to explore new fields to the Kaleidoscope program, in which students enroll in two or more courses that explore a common problem or theme and include a fieldwork component. New ideas will continue to surface as we investigate new ways of learning made possible by technology, emerging fields of study, and closer ties between colleges and universities around the world.

Possibilities for global connection will clearly shape our future academic program and our sense of mission as a women's institution. In September we will host an international conference on girls' and women's education that will provide an opportunity for us to consider collaborations that would enrich the experience of students and faculty on the Bryn Mawr campus while advancing access to liberal arts education for women in other parts of the world. One way that such partnerships might be experienced on Bryn Mawr's campus would be the creation of virtual classrooms that use telepresence to create real-time connections around the globe. This is really just my dream at this point, but imagine sitting around half a table in Dalton or Taylor, with the other half of the table being in India, Bangladesh, or China—for a class that is team-taught by professors on both campuses. The opportunities and exchange of ideas such experiences would open would be immense.

In thinking of our future, we must also consider the students who will attend Bryn Mawr. Like recent classes, they are likely to be diverse in national, ethnic, and socioeconomic background. The varied perspectives they will bring to the College will enrich the education of their fellow students and of the faculty who teach them. What kind of community experience do we wish to provide for our future students, and how might we enable them to achieve a habit of balance between their commitment to academic excellence and their interests in athletics, arts, public service, and just plain fun? My own vision for our future is one in which the vibrancy of campus life matches that of our intellectual pursuits.

I invite alumnae/i, parents, students, faculty, and staff to join me in imagining the Bryn Mawr of 2020 and beyond. I hope you will write to share those thoughts with me.

Sincerely,
Jane McAuliffe
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