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Photography by Paola Nogueras ’84

Assistant to the photographer, Courtney Moore ’06

 

Members of 14 classes spanning six decades of graduates—618 alumnae along with 265 of their spouses, partners, friends, and children—returned to campus May 27-29. They report:

*  “Shockingly, staying in the dorms was the most fun. Hanging out with pals in an atmosphere that looked—even smelled—like my youth was a treat. And the weather was awesome, which I’m sure was all part of the plan.”

“I love being with classmates—not necessarily people I even knew when in college. Discussing life stage issues and also the ongoing (from reunion to reunion) re-evaluations of our college experience. I am so struck by the intelligence, grace, liveliness and humor (without one person being arrogant or boasting) of my classmates. I also enjoy chatting with people of other classes. There is a common value that I appreciate more and more over the years and that didn't seem so apparent while at college.”

Members of the Class of 1990 sing “Blowing in the Wind.”

*  “Just walking into Thomas Great Hall once again is almost enough reason to make the trip to Bryn Mawr, and the joyous reconnections with friends from long ago was, for me, a feast for my heart and my soul.”

Officers and key volunteers of the Class of 1955. The Maisie Dethier Award went to the Class of 1955 with 82 percent participation, as well as the Ellenor Morris ’27 Award with a gift total of $330,378. The Barbara Auchincloss Thacher Award went to the Class of 2000 with an increase in participation from 26 to 39 percent.

* “Our class dinner in Wyndham was so thoughtfully offered to us elders, with closed doors, which permitted us deaf ladies to talk in a relaxed manner. We made wonderful connections with each other as a unified group, exchanging colorful war stories, catching up, really relating to each other, not via the lens of nostalgics but with geniune mutual appreciation on a here-and-now basis!”

Elsa Heidorn ’00 at the bookstore.

 

Chapters in Bryn Mawr facilities

One of the activities offered during the weekend was a virtual tour of recent campus projects and future facility initiatives with Director of Facilities Services Glenn Smith and Campus Architect Christopher Gluesing. Smith and Gluesing also conducted a heritage tour of some of the provocative intersections of history, landscape, architecture and preservation on campus. With funding from the J. Paul Getty Foundation’s Campus Heritage Preservation Initiative, the College has recently completed a prototypical study to develop strategies for using, preserving and enhancing its historical resources. Assistant Director of Facilities for Campus Grounds Greg Nichols led a walking tour of the campus grounds, for which a tree inventory and evaluation has been recently completed.

From left: Sarah Butler ’00, Anita Kohli ’00, Nicole Boehner ’00, Trina Beardsley Wahle ’00, Matthew Greenfield dressed as Bryn Mawr’s Owl Mascot, Angeli Saijwani ’00, and Sarah Waziruddin ’00.

Women in architecture

Julie Beckman ’95, a Growth and Structure of Cities major, gave a presentation on her recent commissions with partner Keith Kaseman: the memorial for the victims of the September 11, 2001, attack on the Pentagon and the Space Shuttle Columbia Memorial in Nagadoches, TX. The design team for the Pentagon Memorial has been working on refining and testing elements such as lighting, water circulation in the reflecting pools, and sound barriers. (Updates may be read online) Beckman also shared preliminary ideas for the Nagadoches memorial. Final drawings and renderings for that project were to be presented at a press conference in Texas later in the summer.

Asked how she sees the field of architecture going for women through her experiences, Beckman referred to studies showing that, for the last 20 years, women have grown to count for 50 percent of the country’s university architectural programs. “We’re still far away from reaching those kinds of numbers in the practicing field,” she said. “A recent survey was conducted by the AIA on women and minorities in the practicing architectural profession, and during the recent period of economic weakness, women gained some clout, actually, in career advancing opportunities. According to the survey, women composed 27 percent of architectural staff, up from 20 percent in 1999. The number of registered women architects in the last five years has risen from 14 percent to 20 percent, and the category I find myself in now—the number of women partners or principles of firms—is 21 percent, up from 11 percent just five years ago. These are encouraging statistics.” Beckman said she intends to remain a partner in her own firm for the rest of her career. “The goal is not to go back, so I’m doing my best to keep that 21 percent of women principles and partners on the rise,” she said.

Asked if she thought women are not making up a greater percentage because they’re getting out of school and then raising families—or because they are not given the same opportunities as men, she said “I think it’s a little bit of both. Women do consider starting families. To maintain a high level within a firm is incredibly demanding time wise, and it’s most likely too difficult to do both. Being your own boss helps. We work out of our own apartment, so when we need to do something that’s personal we have the ability to do it and make up the time later, which is why we are working until midnight every night. Time just gets displaced. And architecture has been a male-dominated field since the beginning, and as in many other fields, it just takes a while to break through all of that.”

Beckman is still in her apprenticeship period, typically three years of work and experience to prepare for licensing exams. “In my case, it’s more like four or five years,” she added. “I had been working for small design firms around New York City after I graduated from Columbia in May 2001. My plan back then was to gather enough knowledge, and when I was ready, take my exams and figure out what was the next step, knowing that essentially I wanted to be be my own boss or work with somebody, have my own firm at some point. That plan was interrupted, surprisingly, two years ago, when Keith and I were announced as the winners of the international design competition for a memorial to those lost at the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. If you had asked me 10 years ago, ‘What do you think you will accomplish in the next 10 years,’ that was certainly not in the picture, but then again neither was 9/11.”

Beckman noted that the World Trade Center tragedy also resulted in “a new focus on architecture and brought ideas of architecture to the general public much more than any time before. I think there’s a growing interest in being an architect that—given the trend— women will continue to pursue. I just hope that they actually stick with it.

“Many people have asked us how we feel about how our first two commissions are memorials to national tragedy. I’m not exactly sure how or why Keith and I ended up in this position, but I do know that it is an incredible honor to know that we can contribute, to some degree, to the healing process for many individuals who will visit these places in the future.

“While a student here at Bryn Mawr, my knowledge base and ability to imagine grew enough for me to realize my dreams and to use them as the fuel to make them real. Being at Bryn Mawr also taught me the values of being part of a community, and that I have a responsibility to give back to mine or any other community out there, and I wasn’t sure at the time how exactly in my life I was going to do that. Through tragedy and disaster, opportunities to give back presented themselves and although I do not hope for any more tragedies of any scale, I do hope for the duration of my career as an architect that I can continue to give back to communities by way of innovative, thought-provoking spatial designs.”

Imagined Empires

Regaled by fascinating and often hilarious images of so-called maps of the early modern Atlantic World, alumnae and friends enjoyed a lively presentation by Ignacio Gallup-Díaz as he described the ambitions of 16th century cartographers whose images charted realms both real and imagined as they made their way across the seas.

Assistant professor of history on the Rosalyn L. Schwartz Lectureship, Gallup-Díaz discussed how early modern English, Spanish and indigenous imperialists created complicated images that were less geographical maps than vehicles to convey their ideologies and expansionist dreams.

“Fortunately, the Bryn Mawr Special Collections owns a book with an illustration that captures exactly the kind of mapping that I am talking about,” said Gallup-Díaz, whose presentation coincided with a Canaday Library exhibit, Mapping New Worlds: the Cartography of European Exploration and Colonization, 1450-1750, which opened this spring.

He displayed a print from Caspar Plautius’s Nova Typis Transacta Navigatio of 1621, which depicts St. Brendan performing Easter Mass on the back of Iasconus. “The scene of the Easter Mass celebrated by Saints Brendan and Malo on the back of the great whale Iasconus overwhelms the map, graphically conveying to the viewer a powerful message: it was the intertwining of religious devotion, mastery over the seas and nature, and divine providence that enabled Europeans to ‘discover’ and conquer the New World.”

Gallup-Díaz’s lecture included discussion of one of the most important influences on cartographic colonialism of the time, Dr. John Dee, a Welsh intellectual living in London, who imagined a pre-Colombian, 12th century British empire in America.

Samantha Walker Craig ’90, Alexander Craig, and Rhys Carpenter Professor Emerita of Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology Brunilde Sismondo Ridgway, Ph.D. ’58.

“Dee’s use of mythical historical figures such as Madoc or King Arthur to buttress a claim to anything would be questionable under present norms of international law,” said Gallup-Díaz. But “Dee clearly felt that his reasoning was irrefutable. He aimed to single-handedly draw back a veil that had occluded the English empire from the gaze of the world.”

Gallup-Díaz went on to tell the tale of how Francis Drake and Walter Ralegh promoted the potential for a future English empire to be built upon a cadre of Indian allies. “Drake and Ralegh described their own interactions with indigenous Americans in an idealized fashion, as a nobler path to empire, one that would avoid the enslavement or destruction of the natives,” he said. “Of course, this kinder, gentler English empire was something that Drake and Ralegh had the luxury of imagining, since neither actually established or managed the day-to-day affairs of a full-scale colonial settlement.”

Interpretations of the maps provide accounts that “can’t be read or interpreted as a ‘fact,’ or even as a fanciful telling of a ‘hidden truth’,” according to Gallup-Díaz. “Rather, the descriptions must be read as chapters in the story of how 16th-century Englishmen described to themselves an empire that existed only in their imaginations.” 

In the tradition of May Day, the senior reuning classes, 1940 and 1949, received flowers from members of the Class of 2000.

 

Return to Fall 2005 Highlights

 

 

 

 

 
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