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Commencement honors
Conferred at Commencement on May 15, 2005, were 130 graduate degrees and 319 undergraduate degrees, including eight Katharine McBride Scholars, students beyond traditional college age. Graduate degrees included 15 doctorates, 23 masters of arts, 89 masters of social work, and 16 masters of law and social policy.

The Gertrude Slaughter Fellowship was awarded, exceptionally, to two, not one, members of the graduating class: Stacy vanStralen Claxton ’05, who graduated summa cum laude with a double major in mathematics and Spanish, and Young Eun Lee, who graduated summa cum laude with a double major in economics and French.

The European Traveling Fellowship was awarded to Charlotte Rose Rahn-Lee ’05, who graduated summa cum laude with a double major in biology and French.

The Doris Sill Carland Prize for excellence in teaching assistance was awarded to Jennifer Webb in history of art, Jennifer Bird in history of art, and Beth Campbell Hetrick in mathematics.

The Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching was presented to Professor of Social Work Toba Kerson.

The Rosalyn R. Schwartz Teaching Award was presented to Assistant Professor Tamara Davis, who will become an associate professor next semester.

The Mary Patterson McPherson Award for Excellence among faculty was presented to Marion Reilly Professor of Physics Al Albano.

Graduating to the status of professor emeritus were Marion Reilly Professor of Physics Al Albano, Associate Professor of Social Work Maria DeOca Corwin, Professor of English Joseph Kramer, and Associate Professor of Biology David Prescott.


Report from Iraq
Award-winning foreign correspondent for National Public Radio Anne Garrels reported on the “reality from the ground” in Iraq during her keynote speech at Bryn Mawr’s 2005 Convocation on May 14.

“It’s a nightmare at the moment,” Garrels said. “The insurgents don’t want to be interviewed; they never have. I have all of the same questions you do: who are they? How are they organized? How are they supplied? It’s extremely difficult to find out. To get close to them, frankly, is to risk being beheaded. Even access to ordinary Iraqis at this point is very limited. Many are now too frightened to be seen with foreigners lest they be targeted. Corroborating leads that we get is very difficult; all sides lie. Traveling around the country is risky, to put it mildly; trying to figure out who the players are and what drives them is more and more elusive. Now we can get to the military, and this have been very important; but it is very one-sided, and it is also incidentally, not without dangers.” 

Garrels gained international recognition in 2003 as one of the few U.S. journalists to remain in Iraq during the bombing of Baghdad. Her reporting from the Palestine Hotel gave a human voice to a city under siege. For her work in Iraq, Garrels won a 2003 Courage in Journalism Award from the International Women’s Media Foundation.

“I saw how brutal Saddam’s regime was, but I also saw that the UN weapons inspectors were doing their jobs,” Garrels said. “Listening to what Iraqis in Iraq said, not what long-gone exiles were saying to American officials, turned out to have been more important than I could have imagined. Iraqis knew themselves and the country that had evolved. While the U.S. administration promised a war of liberation to unseat a brutal dictator, Iraqis knew it was going to be much more complicated. They were conflicted. Many wanted liberation, but not at the cost of a foreign invasion. Some resented the American liberators, whom they viewed with suspicion. Others had inflated ideas about what the U.S. could or should do. They predicted that Saddam and his supporters would go underground, to fight another day in another way, as they have done. They predicted the looting in the aftermath, which was not just a popular response by the poor but a calculated effort by Saddam to make Iraq ungovernable without him. They predicted the revenge killings and the sectarian violence, but they could not imagine that the U.S. would be so ill-prepared for all of this. Mistakes generated by arrogance or ignorance: insufficient troups, an absurd coalition, bad intelligence, and the inability to provide security and the promised reconstruction have haunted the U.S. occupation and threaten our standing in the world.

“In the first year, until the U.S. was publicly embarrassed by Abu Ghabi, thousands of innocent Iraqis were held for months in detention while families went from military base to military base trying to find out unsuccessfully if their relatives were alive or dead. There were no lists. These Iraqis had disappeared into the American gulag. Watching the awkward chemistry between the two sides, you see how difficult it is to stifle sympathies for the insurgency at the street level. The daughter of a Marine corps officer squirmed as I once described [some of the misbehavior of U.S. soldiers I observed.] She whispered, ‘If I listen to you, then I have to believe that it was all for nothing. That my family and friends in Iraq are dying for nothing.’ She wanted it to be black and white. She couldn’t deal with gray. I could only reply, ‘If we don’t ask questions, and dare to see things as they really are, however painful, then people are dying for nothing.’

“I embedded with the Marines in Fallughia for three weeks in November and December. ... We were embedded more deeply and intimately than we ever anticipated. We saw more up close and personal than I think we really needed. Kids were dying feet from me. Was it worth it, now that I’m still alive? Yes. I happened to have been with a very good unit, thank God, and it provided a lot of information about Fallughia, and about Iraqi troops, that will help my reporting in the future and that I could not have gotten had I not been there. The administration was saying that is a joint American-Iraqi enterprise. Iraqi troops are very much involved. Well I was with a battalion and the Iraqi battalion assigned to us consisted of 500 men. By the time they arrived from their base at Tachi to join us there were 250 because 250 had defected. And over the first weekend, another 100 disappeared, leaving 150 all told. And half of them were useless. They were kept away as far as possible because all of the Marines were terrified they were going to be shot by them.

“So the disconnect between the reality on the ground and the reality the administration would have us see is sometimes enormous. I don’t know how much longer we’re going to be able to do this, and I hope to God I have the wits to know when I need to get out.”

Garrels, who applied to Bryn Mawr at 15-and-a-half without her parents’ knowledge and was rejected (“Bryn Mawr was right. I was much too young.”), said she now considers herself finally a part of the Bryn Mawr family.


Physics professor ACE Fellow
Associate Professor of Physics Elizabeth F. McCormack is one of 40 professors and administrators in the country named an American Council on Education (ACE) Fellow for 2005-06. The program strengthens leadership skills by providing an opportunity to work with a college or university president at another institution for one year.

McCormack is looking forward to exploring “how to translate Bryn Mawr’s values into the future of our institution” at another college for the coming academic year. She has not yet announced where she will spend the year. “I hope to return to Bryn Mawr College as a more effective faculty member with a set of tools to share with my peers,” said McCormack.

McCormack’s interests include using laser light to construct ultra-lightweight mirrors for space-based astronomical research, a project supported by the Mellon Foundation and NASA’s Institute for Advanced Concepts. She is also one of four principal investigators for Project Kaleidoscope, a $1.3 million national effort to reform college-level education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.


$1M grant for economic diversity
Bryn Mawr received a special $1 million grant from The Starr Foundation (New York) in December 2004 in recognition of its efforts to attract an economically diverse student body. The College is a leader among private colleges and universities in admitting economically disadvantaged students. The grant will strengthen the College’s ability to recruit and retain such students.

One of the many ways Bryn Mawr recruits talented students who might otherwise not consider Bryn Mawr is by participating in the Posse Program, a nationally acclaimed initiative that finds and develops teams of multicultural leaders from public high schools, placing them at selective colleges and universities. The $1 million gift brought the value of Bryn Mawr C.V. Starr Endowed Scholarship Fund to $2.775 million.

Seventeen percent of Bryn Mawr students are eligible for the Pell Grant program, a federal financial-aid program for low-income students; this compares to a rate of 10 percent at highly selective colleges and universities nationwide.

Grant aid from the College supplements Pell grant funds, which fall far short of covering the cost of attending Bryn Mawr. The C.V. Starr  Fund is the largest single source of such financial aid and has awarded scholarships to 47 Bryn Mawr students since it was established in 1988.

In recent years, income from the fund supported four or five Starr Scholars annually. The new gift will permit the College to double that number.


Hughes receives national award
Rhonda J. Hughes, Helen Hermann Professor of Math-ematics, received the 2004 Lifetime Mentor Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest general scientific organization, in February. The award recognizes Hughes’ efforts to help underrepresented students earn advanced degrees in the sciences. She has helped 57 women and minority students earn graduate degrees in mathematics, including 17 at the doctoral level. Hughes’ passion for math education helps account for an unusually high number of math majors at Bryn Mawr—12 percent of undergraduates, versus the national average of 1 percent.


Shakespeare goes to film school
Associate Professor of English Katherine Rowe, a Shakespeare scholar who has integrated studies of film and technology into her research and teaching, will pursue her interdisciplinary goals from a new position next year: as a graduate student in film studies at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University.

A $250,000 New Directions Fellowship from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will support Rowe’s cross-disciplinary scholarship by funding systematic training in a discipline outside the area of literary studies, in which she already has expertise.

The grant will cover salary for a full year and two summers, as well as tuition and travel expenses for her year at NYU (Rowe plans to commute from Bryn Mawr). It will also fund study in London, at the British Film Institute and at the British Library, which has an extensive archive of sound recordings of early performances of works by Shakespeare.


Arabic language study funded
Bryn Mawr, Haverford and Swarthmore Colleges have received a $2 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support a new faculty position in Arabic language study to be shared among the three colleges, assisting the three institutions in establishing the Tri-College Islamic/Middle Eastern Studies Initiative. The shared faculty position represents a collaborative effort of the Tri-College Consortium. It is funded by Mellon Foundation grants of $670,000 in continuing endowment support to each Tri-College institution to encourage cooperation in the appointment of faculty across institutional lines, particularly in curricular areas that address significant gaps in intellectual life.

The cornerstone of the new initiative is the introduction of new courses in Modern Standard Arabic language instruction. In addition, the initiative will foster new opportunities for Tri-College study abroad and faculty development in Islamic and Middle Eastern studies.


Child and adolescent mental health
The Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research Center for Child and Family Well-being, directed by Associate Professor Janet Shapiro, is committed to interdisciplinary work in fields of study relevant to families and children and to the dissemination of this work to a wide audience.

The Center’s third annual conference, held April 7-8, focused on “Current Issues and Challenges in Child and Adolescent Mental Health.”

In one of two keynote addresses, Dr. Peter Jensen, director of Columbia University’s Center for the Advancement of Children’s Mental Health, spoke on current issues in the use of medication to treat mental health problems in children and adolescents. Jensen summarized the main points of debate among professionals surrounding the use of psychiatric medications for a range of mental health problems including ADHD, depression, anxiety disorders, and aggressive behavior in children and adolescents. He focused on research studies that examined the impact of medications on child outcomes and noted that the evidence suggests that the combination of medication with various psychosocial approaches was the most effective form of treatment.

Dr. Nancy Boyd Webb, Distinguished Professor of Social Work at Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service, discussed factors that lead to trauma in children and the effects of trauma on children. She emphasized ways in which trauma interferes with the grieving process and noted the extent to which stored up images of the trauma can interfere with sleep, create separation anxiety, contribute to depression, prevent the recall of happy memories, and even stall psychological development. Webb identified strategies for helping traumatically bereaved children, including the use of anxiety reduction techniques, the recognition that the trauma represents only one part of the child’s life and that it is all right to still have fun, the acknowledgement that a traumatic experience can create misunderstanding and children need to be encouraged to ask questions, and the understanding that recovery is a process that can span a long period of time.

Building upon this annual conference, the Center, in conjunction with Zero To Three: National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families (Washington DC), presented on May 2 a one-day invitational roundtable discussion of Early Childhood Mental Health: Attachment-Attachment Disruptions. The roundtable, funded through a grant from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, brought together five national experts on early childhood mental health.

Moderated by Emily Fenichel, associate director of Zero to Three, presenters placed a strong emphasis on the integration of neurological, psychological, and social factors in the ability of young children to establish attachments and begin to regulate affect; in addition, they identified and examined issues of continuity-discontinuity in early development, and addressed implications for clinicians, policy architects, and researchers.


September 24, 2005, Social Work celebration
The Bryn Mawr College Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research is celebrating 90 years of leadership in social work education with a kickoff reunion program on September 24, 2005. The celebration begins with a continental breakfast at 9:30 a.m. and will include a keynote address by Anna S. Forbes, M.S.S. ’92, a widely-published writer, teacher and activist who has worked in HIV/AIDS for more than 20 years and in women’s health and human rights for almost 30 years: “Pulling Ourselves Back from the Edge: Leading Toward a Progressive Agenda in Times of Governmental Repression,” and a panel of distinguished alumnae/i. For more information, see

Janet Shapiro, director of The Center for Child and Family Well-Being, and Emily Fenichel, associate director of Zero to Three and editor of Zero to Three.

Campaign to save newspapers, languages
It’s been a busy spring for Bruce Cole, Ph.D. ’69, the chairman since 2001 of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). In March, the longtime Renaissance art scholar (14 published books) announced the launching of the NEH’s National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP), which will eventually put more than 30 million pages of long-outdated U.S. newspapers into an Internet-searchable database.

“Newspapers are among the most important historic documents we have as Americans,” Cole told reporters, after awarding $1.9 million in NDNP grants to newspaper archivists in six states. “They tell us who we were, who we are, and where we’re going. Students, historians, lawyers, politicians—and even newspaper reporters—will be able to go to their computer at home or at work and through a few keystrokes, get immediate, unfiltered access to the greatest source of our history. It will be available to the American public for free, forever.”

Established in a partnership with the Library of Congress, the newspaper-reclamation project is only the latest Cole-inspired NEH initiative aimed at retrieving and preserving threatened American cultural artifacts under the aegis of the agency’s We The People program. That ambitious project was initially announced by President George W. Bush, during a Rose Garden ceremony in 2002.

Cole, Distinguished Professor of Art History at Indiana University before taking the NEH helm four years ago, also made headlines in April—while unveiling a $4.4 million program of grants and fellowships designed to preserve both written and spoken elements of more than 70 threatened languages (including many Native American tongues) before they become extinct.

The NEH “Documenting Endangered Languages” project, launched in partnership with the National Science Foundation, awarded 13 fellowships and 26 institutional grants for projects ranging from digitizing Cherokee writings in North Carolina to documenting the Kaw language in Oklahoma.

“These languages are the DNA of our human culture, and if we lose them, we will be losing a unique and irreplaceable part of our experience,” said Cole. “The scholars tell us there are almost 7,000 languages in the world, and that half of them will probably be lost in the next century.”

According to the chairman, the NEH effort to save American languages and newspapers alike reflects its determination to emphasize U.S. history and culture at the agency, while also making both increasingly available to the public at large.

Cole says he learned a great deal about the importance of preserving original historical sources while working on his doctorate in art history at Bryn Mawr in the late 1960s. “It was a wonderful place to do graduate work in art history,” he told the Alumnae Bulletin, “with a small but very fine department in close contact with a small group of graduate students.

“Charles Mitchell was my professor there.  He was a learned, witty man who taught me a lot about history and how to write.”         —Tom Nugent



Sneaking up on George
Ellen Miles ’64, curator and chair of the Department of Painting and Sculpture at the National Portrait Gallery, delivered the Smithsonian 2004 Secretary’s Distinguished Research Lecture this February: “Sneaking Up on Gilbert Stuart’s Portraits of George Washington,” reinterpreting Stuart’s portraits of the first president.

The lecture is a signal honor for Miles and for the NPG, as it “features an individual who has made exceptional contributions to a field of knowledge and whose career exemplifies sustained excellence.” Miles’ concern with portraits as material evidence, with subtle social functions, and her constant testing of her know-ledge has resulted in a series of scholarly productions that have changed the shape of the art history field.


Aboriginal art
The art that critic Robert Hughes has called “the last great art movement of the 20th century,” is the subject of Aboriginal Vision in Contemporary Australian Art at the Wright Exhibition Space, Seattle, WA through September 16. The exhibition features masterworks from one of the world’s premier collections, of Margaret Levi ’68 and Robert Kaplan. The Jere L. Bacharach Professor of Political Science and International Studies at the University of Washington, Seattle, Levi first encountered this art in 1984 as a visiting scholar in Australia. Soon after arriving, she was hit by an Australia Post courier car, but by the time her settlement came through had wed Kaplan, who was also enamored of the art. They determined to use the funds to build a major, museum-quality collection to share with the American public.


Peabody awarded
Michele Cohen Leiberman ’99, a news producer for WBAL-TV Baltimore, was among a group of 11 who received journalism’s highest honor, the Peabody Award, for an investigation into a sewage treatment plant that was spilling raw sewage into

the Chesapeake Bay and covering it up.  She also recently completed her second marathon in a very slow 4:45, with the moral support of Katie Figueroa ’99, who was cheering her all the way.


Horwitz named to Academy
Susan Band Horwitz ’58, professor and co-chair of molecular pharmacology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, and one of the nation’s foremost cancer researchers, has been elected to membership in the National Academy of Sciences, the country’s most prestigious honorary society for scientists. Horwitz, who is also the Rose C. Falkenstein professor of cancer research and an associate director for Therapeutics of the Albert Einstein Cancer Center, is a leading expert in the molecular pharmacology of anti-cancer agents and is deeply involved in the development of new therapies for cancer and in the study of drug resistance. She played a pioneering role in the development of Taxol® as an anti-cancer agent.


Rachel Simon in Hollywood
Rachel Simon ’81’s accounts of the making of the Hallmark Hall of Fame adaptation of her book, Riding The Bus With My Sister, aired by CBS on May 1, 2005, can be read in her movie FAQs at


Return to Fall 2005 highlights





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