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BMC rowing community pulls together
In 1999, a group of Bryn Mawr undergraduates with little or no rowing experience dreamed of forming a rowing program and racing for their college. Since then, Bryn Mawr crew has claimed victories and top three finishes each year and is now a recognized NCAA Varsity Rowing program.
The team goes into the spring 2006 racing season fueled by a strong fall showing at the Head of the Charles and the Seven Sisters Championship Regatta.
Collaborative fundraising efforts for a new shell have also been underway. The program has a group of ambitious parents, alumnae and friends, the kind of supporting network that has taken decades to evolve at other schools.
“When a father of one of our rowers made a significant pledge for a new racing shell, he was joined quickly and enthusiastically by a large number of other parents and recent alums,” said Coach Carol Bower. “And in January, Ellen Hooker ’70, who has supported the rowing program since its earliest days, issued a challenge to spur us to raise the balance needed to buy the new boat. She will match gifts made through May 31 dollar for dollar up to $7,500.
“Our new shell will be named The Founders to commemorate the spirit of the alumnae and of the parents who are ‘pulling together’ in this vital and supportive community. The Founders will be a sister ship to our first quality shell, the Millie B, which we were able to purchase through a significant gift from Ellen in 2001.”
The shell will be dedicated on March 12, with the group of women who started the program and the new founders present.
“When I first met with the students who started the program, my intent was to work with them for a year or two, and then I was going to finish up my master’s degree at Penn and go back to the West Coast or something,” Bower said. “But they had a certain kind of spirit that made me think at some point they were really going to do some amazing things for this world. I wanted to be a part of helping them learn to work as members of a team and as leaders so they would be better prepared to accomplish what they wanted when they left Bryn Mawr.”
Bower explained that the rallying call for both the team and its support network is “hands on!”
“Our athletes experience a transition when they begin their workout in the morning,” she said. “Each person moves independently before she is called to launch the shell. The rowers place their water bottles and oars on to the dock, the coxswains gather their speaker systems and tools. Then, the coxswain issues a command, ‘hands on,’ and everything happens in unison after this. Each member of the crew lines up alongside the boat as it’s sitting in the rack and places her hands on it; they lift it up off the racks, carry it out, place it in the water, and await the command to ‘sit in’ and ‘shove off.’ Once on the river, the members of the crew strive to precisely match every motion they make. In so doing, their collective power is unified and they move quickly and gracefully over the surface of the water.
“Historically, boats are a religious form of connection among indigenous peoples. In Polynesia, for example, the community would gather around the big fishing boats. Everyone would place hands on them and carry them down to the water. When the fishermen returned, the community would gather again. It was good luck to have your hands on the boat, carry it out of the water and place it where it needed to be placed. Now we have a Bryn Mawr rowing community, and every one’s placing hands on this new effort.
“Rowing is one of the few sports at Bryn Mawr that you can learn and compete in at a very high level within your first year on the team,” Bower explained. “The Bryn Mawr athlete is eager to take on the challenges presented to her, whether she is an experienced oarswoman or just starting out as a novice. We all share the hard work, the good and bad weather, and the rise of the sun each morning. This spirit, combined with our supporting community, is the reason that this proud and ambitious rowing program is off the ground, on the river, and on the rise.”
“We couldn’t be more fortunate,” says former Director of Athletics and Physical Education Amy Campbell, “to have in Carol someone who is bright and creative, who understands Bryn Mawr, who understands rowing, and is passionate not only about the sport but the role athletics plays in these students’ lives.”
In January, Campbell left her post as director of Athletics and Physical Education to become the special assistant to the vice president for campus life at Princeton University. Head Tennis Coach Jody Law is acting director while a search for the new director is underway this semester.
Carol Bower, who became Bryn Mawr’s head rowing coach in 2002, graduated from UCLA in 1979, and in the same year, received a bronze medal in the World Rowing Championships. The following year, she was a member of the United States Olympic Women’s Rowing Team, but was unable to participate in the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow due to the national boycott. For the next three years, she was a silver medalist in the World Championships and in the 1984 Summer Olympics she won the gold medal in the Women’s Eight. In the 1988 Summer Olympics, she coached the Women’s Four. Bower was named to the Rowing Hall of Fame in 1984 and again in 1991.
“Carol’s style of coaching allows students to be autonomous, but she moves them along and promotes individual responsibility and leadership to the collective whole in a very subtle way in terms of the expected standards of behavior,” said former Director of Athletics and Physical Education Amy Campbell Amy Campbell. “That’s one of the things that makes our program significantly different, distinct, in what I would suggest would be a phenomenal and unusual experience for athletes. Her style of leadership, as is that of other coaches at Bryn Mawr, is true to the institution.” Bower has also launched a new outdoor recreational program, the Owls Outdoors Wilderness program, that is open to students across the campus. In addition to her coaching duties, she serves as a senior lecturer in the Physical Education Department.
A website for Bryn Mawr’s new Katharine Houghton Hepburn Center has been launched and its planning group has worked diligently throughout the 2005 fall semester, reports Professor of Chemistry Michelle Francl, who is director of planning and development for the center.
“We have approved a mission statement and have been engaged in completing the planning of on-campus activities for the public launch of the center next fall,” Francl said. “The group has also begun to work on a new program, Hepburn Fellows, that would bring women engaged in the areas that the center supports to campus for extended visits.”
The mission of the center is to “challenge women to lead publicly engaged lives and to take on important and timely issues affecting women. The Center honors four-time-Oscar-winning actress Katharine Hepburn and her mother, an early feminist activist, both Bryn Mawr College alumnae who defied conventions. Drawing its focus from the life work of its namesakes—film and theater, civic engagement and women’s health—the Center inspires Bryn Mawr students and graduates to make a meaningful impact on the world.” Please visit the site.
Pyro, an educational robotics-programming environment developed at Bryn Mawr, was the co-winner of this year’s Premier Award for Excellence in Engineering Educational Courseware. Assistant Professor of Computer Science Douglas Blank and Professor of Computer Science Deepak Kumar, along with Swarthmore’s Lisa Meeden and Holly Yanco of the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, created the award-winning project, which includes a starter kit for college robotics laboratories complete with several curriculum modules and documentation.
The award was given by The National Engineering Education Delivery System (NEED), the Synthesis Engineering Education Coalition, and John Wiley & Sons publishers, in recognition of high quality, noncommercial courseware. According to the NEEDS website, “Too often these developers find little reward, either financially or institutionally, for their superb and time-demanding efforts.”
Pyro, an acronym for PYthon RObotics, is the software component of “Beyond LEGOs: Hardware, Software, and Curriculum for the Next Generation Robot Laboratory,” a project funded by a $400,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. The project’s goal is to make advanced topics in robotics and cognitive science accessible to undergraduates by taking advantage of Pyro’s ability to give instructions to many different kinds of sophisticated robots. Programming robot behaviors in Pyro is akin to programming in a high-level general purpose programming language; Pyro provides abstractions for low-level robot-specific features so that a single program can run on many different types of robots. The Pyro project consists of the software (written in the programming language Python) as well as a set of curriculum modules that can be assembled to teach a variety of courses, including cognitive science, artificial intelligence and advanced robotics.
Each summer since 2003, the Beyond LEGOS project has hosted Pyro workshops for about 20 to 25 participants, primarily college professors who hoped to use Pyro to create teaching laboratories at their own schools. Organizers keep in touch with workshop participants throughout the year to give advice and hear about classroom successes and problems.
Bryn Mawr now offers a computer science major, and the program hosts mailing lists and other online resources for users and developers of the open-source software.
Philosopher and Africana-studies scholar Kwame Anthony Appiah, one of the world’s leading theorists of identity, race and culture, delivered the 2005 Mary Flexner Lectures in October and November.
With an overarching theme of “Why Ethics?,” the individual lectures in the series were “Experimental Ethics,” “The Case Against Character,” “The Case Against Intuition,” and “The Ends of Ethics.” The lectures are to be published by Harvard University Press.
Appiah is Laurance S. Rockefeller University Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University, where he is also director of the Center for Human Values. Established in honor of Mary Flexner, a Bryn Mawr graduate of the Class of 1895, the Flexner Lectures began in 1928 and have brought some of the world’s best-known humanists to campus.
Trained as a philosopher of language and logic, Appiah has substantial publications in the relatively arcane field of probabilistic semantics, but he is better known for his work on questions of race, multiculturalism and identity. His most famous book, In My Father's House, became an instant classic upon its publication in 1992 and is one of the most-assigned books on Africana-studies reading lists; its trenchant critique of the concept of race has been so widely cited that it has become virtually canonical in the humanities.
Son of an English mother and a Ghanaian father, Appiah was born in London, raised primarily in Ghana and educated at Cambridge University. He has lived in the United States since the early 1980s.
Appiah argues that philosophy took a disastrously wrong turn in separating itself from the human sciences–psychology, economics and politics. He considers contemporary work in experimental and social psychology which suggests that human behavior is governed far more by situation than by character. Should we then put less focus on moral education and more on creating situations conducive to good acts? Facing the reality that humans are neither purely rational nor purely reactant, Appiah offered the “rough morality” of assessing the particularity of a given situation, leaving many in the audience unsatisfied about the extent to which we must either be true to our individual characters–or change them.
Despite the marked loss of altitude in the 2005 Eagles season, Bryn Mawr students and friends maintained their ‘Bird’ fever, enticing radio personality Bob Kelly to come witness real team loyalty. On a sunny Sunday in November, Bob Kelly, host of KYW-TV’s Tailgate Takeover, broadcast live from Bryn Mawr at the urging of event organizer Devon Montgomery ’06.
Montgomery emailed Kelly to “see how we like to play around on Sunday mornings.” Kelly agreed, and when the word got out across campus, enthusiasm prevailed. Public Affairs, Dining Services and Student Activities all pitched in to provide a potluck “tailgate” part in the Campus Center. Montgomery also organized a flag football game for the broadcast; the seniors/staff team beat the underclassmen 7-0.
Seventy-one Bryn Mawr alumnae who work in the sciences have forged new connections. So have writers and editors, “proud Jersey girls,” foster and adoptive parents, women with curly hair, members of the Class of 1960, and snow-sports enthusiasts and knitters, among 258 groups.
They made the connections through Athena’s Web, the Bryn Mawr Alumnae Association’s new online alumnae/i community. Officially launched in November, Athena’s Web had more than 3,246 registered members in January 2006, 15 percent of living alumnae, with 63 clubs, 35 industry groups, 125 interest groups and 35 Alumnae Association organizational groups.
Athena’s Web is powered by inCircle, a product of Affinity Engines. The software allows users to identify networks of friends; join or create groups based on profession or industry, geographic location or interests; create profiles; post albums of photographs; search resumes; exchange messages; and create blogs—or post headlines from their already existing blogs.
“We’ve been looking for several years for an easy, user-friendly way for people to post photographs and create an electronic network behind a password,” says Alumnae Association Senior Project Manager Sara Macro Forrest ’92, who oversees the association’s electronic-communications efforts. “Some people want to share information with their friends and classmates, but they aren't comfortable posting personal information and photographs of their families on a public Web site that anybody can find through a Google search. InCircle gave us what we were looking for and a little more.”
The site is password-protected and restricted to Bryn Mawr alumnae/i. To sign up, visit Athena's Web.
During Alumnae Volunteers Weekend, held at the College in October, the Alumnae Association’s Distinguished Service Award was presented to Trustee of the College, Janet Steinmayer ’77 for her long standing dedication to Bryn Mawr College with the Alumnae Association at its heart. As chair of the Association’s nominating committee, Steinmayer helped create a leadership development plan to address the recruitment, training, transition and recognition of volunteers as well as the appropriate scope of each job. As a result, the Alumnae Association has worked hard to attract a more diverse pool of volunteers representing a broad range of affinities, ages, ethnic backgrounds and geographical locations. “Janet inspires in her support of her fellow Bryn Mawrters across all the decades, as she fosters a community that connects so many across generations and experiences and as she excels in a demanding professional environment balanced with devo¬tion to her entire family,” said fellow trustee Susan L. MacLaurin ’84.
The Young Alumnae Service Award, which recognizes alumnae who have graduated within 10 years, was also presented to Carolyn Lloyd ’99 at Volunteers Weekend. Under her leadership as a Class President, Reunion Manager, Gift Chair and Webmistress, the Class of 2000 achieved record-high levels of participation in both Reunion attendance and fundraising for a fifth-year Reunion. Lloyd also spearheaded an effort to implement web communications for her class officers. Current undergraduates benefit from her work on campus as Assistant Director of Residential Life.
At an October 20 cocktail party and gala auction at the Cosmopolitan Club in support of a Bryn Mawr Bookspace in New York, Wendy Greenfield, Executive Director of the Alumnae Association, presented to Geraldine E. Rhoads ’35 the Lifetime of Service Award. For more than a quarter of a century, “Gerry” has brought professionalism, cosmopolitan flair, and high energy to the Club of New York, the Class of 1935, the Alumnae Bulletin and the Executive Board of the Alumnae Association.
A prominent figure in publishing, she has been the editor of many women's magazines, including Women's Day.