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Convocation speaker

Jane Eisner, vice president for national programs and initiatives at the National Constitution Center and a fellow of Bryn Mawr’s Katharine Houghton Hepburn Center, will give the convocation address at this year’s commencement exercises on May 19 and May 20.

Eisner, a pioneer in Philadelphia journalism, joined the National Constitution Center in January 2006, after serving in various leadership positions at the Philadelphia Inquirer for more than 25 years.

At the National Constitution Center, Eisner is responsible for creating, planning and directing national adult-oriented programs and initiatives to promote public understanding of the Constitution, its values, and relevance. She is also responsible for the Center’s flagship Constitution Day programs and events. She oversees the Peter Jennings Project for Journalists and the Constitution, an annual event whose mission is to help both professional journalists and students who aim to be professional journalists understand constitutional issues more deeply; and the Liberty Medal, an annual award given to an individual or organization that exemplifies leadership in the pursuit of liberty or freedom.

Eisner is a senior fellow in the Robert A. Fox Leadership Program at the University of Pennsylvania, where she is an adjunct professor in the political science department. Her book, Taking Back the Vote: Getting Youth Involved in Our Democracy, was published in 2004. In 2006–2007, Eisner was named a fellow of the Katharine Houghton Hepburn Center in its inaugural year at Bryn Mawr College. She is active in the community, serving as past president of Pennsylvania Women’s Forum, trustee and secretary of The Philadelphia Award, and a mentor in Philadelphia Futures program.


Selection of a new president is one of the most critical responsibilities of a college’s Board of Trustees. The new president will play the central role in determining the College’s future and be the visible face of the College to the alumnae community and the world. In their classic text, Choosing a College President: Opportunities and Constraints, Judith McLaughlin and David Riesman state that “Every search committee has two basic charges: to conduct a legitimate process and to produce the best possible results.”

The first test of that legitimacy is the establishment of a search commit­tee that is broadly representative of the College community. As Bryn Mawr began its search, the Board of Trustees, with the advice of our search consultant, determined to establish a committee whose size would enable every member a chance to speak freely and to be heard by the entire group. The composition of the committee of 15 members includes five trustees plus the committee chair and the chair of the Board of Trustees, four members of the faculty, one undergraduate and one graduate student, a member of the staff and a Haverford trustee. Selection of each of the members was in accordance with procedures established by each represented constituency. Six of the trustees are alumnae, including one who serves as the president of the Alumnae Association. One trustee is the parent of a recent graduate. The names of the committee members are published on the Presidential Search Webpage. Alumnae will want to check that webpage frequently as we plan to use it to communicate ongoing information about the search.

The first meetings of the committee took place in April. Our initial task
was to agree upon a document that describes the College, portraying its many strengths as well the challenges it faces and the opportunities those challenges present. The statement must also outline the qualities that
we seek in a new president based on those challenges.

In a letter describing the search that was sent to the entire College community, community members were invited to email to ajgibson@bryn any ideas that they believed should be included in that document. They were also invited to nominate candidates for the position by emailing

To insure that the position paper we are preparing represents the best thinking of the entire community, we held a series of open fora to which we invited students, staff and faculty to discuss the following three questions:

What would make Bryn Mawr’s presidency attractive to candidates? Why should they want to lead this College? What are the challenges and opportunities that will face the College in the next five to 10 years?

Based on those challenges and opportunities, what are the most important characteristics that the new president should possess to make him/her successful?

We also conducted interviews with members of the administrative team. Once the position paper is completed, we will post it on the Presidential Search Webpage.

One of the most critical roles of a search committee is to identify and actively recruit worthy candidates by speaking convincingly about the attractiveness of the position. Working with our consultant, Shelly Storbeck of Edward W. Kelly and Partners, we will spend the summer and fall recruiting candidates, reviewing resumes and interviewing candidates. Once again, I encourage everyone to consider and to nominate suitable candidates. While we will report our progress regularly, we must respect the confidentiality of all of our candidates during this phase of the search process.

We have established a rough timetable for the search but we also know that searches rarely follow those timelines precisely. With that in mind, our goal is to appoint the new president by mid-winter or early spring of 2008.

—Arlene Joy Gibson ’65, Trustee and Chair of the Committee


Kim Cassidy provost-elect

Associate Professor of Psychology Kimberly Wright Cassidy has been appointed provost-elect of the College. Cassidy, who is currently chair of the psychology department and convener of the College’s Committee on Academic Priorities (CAP), will serve out the reminder of the semester in those offices and assume the duties of provost-elect on July 1. She will
become acting provost in January 2008 and provost in June 2008, succeeding Ralph Kuncl, who took on the job in June 2002.

The provost is the College’s chief academic officer, responsible for administering the College’s academic programs.

Cassidy has served on the Bryn Mawr faculty since 1993, the year she earned her Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. She also holds a B.A. in psychology from Swarthmore College. As a develop­mental psychologist specializing in cognition, she has won research grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Guggenheim Foundation, among others. Her recent research has focused on how young children understand the mental processes and emotions of others and how the gender coding of names activates gender stereotyping.

Cassidy, who played basketball for Swarthmore as an undergraduate, has served as the NCAA faculty re­presentative and as an adviser to the basketball team, as well as contri­buting workshops and seminars designed to develop team unity and leadership skills among Bryn Mawr athletes. She is a familiar figure off the court as well, having participated actively in wellness seminars, discussions of diversity and multiculturalism, and orientation activities for entering students.


Athletics Director named

Lebanon Valley College Athletics Director Kathleen Tierney has been named the director of athletics and physical education at Bryn Mawr College. She will begin in early August.

Tierney said she was attracted to Bryn Mawr’s tradition, history and academic reputation. “I also saw the opportunity to provide leadership to improve the athletics experience for women at Bryn Mawr as well as to improve physical education and wellness for the entire College community,” she said.

Tierney has been at Lebanon Valley for 24 years and coached multiple teams. During her six-year tenure as athletics director, she oversaw the consolidation of the school’s student recreation and athletic facilities into one location and the construction of a new gymnasium. She is also credited with establishing a stronger presence in community-service activities for student-athletes.

Lebanon’s 2006 field-hockey team reached the Final Four in the NCAA Divison III Championships.

“Kathy Tierney has the ideal combination of experience and vision we were looking for in an athletics director,” said Dean of the Under­graduate College Karen Tidmarsh, who headed the athletics director search committee. She has also shown a great understanding and appreciation for the College’s academic mission. This is a very exciting time for Bryn Mawr’s student-athletes and the entire Bryn Mawr community,”

From left: Carol Pawlowski, secretary for student life; Huong Huynh ’07; Ann Ogle; Dawn Bruton, housekeeper for Pembroke; Melvina Taylor, housekeeper for Erdman; Sally Allison, general merchandise buyer for the Bookshop; Melvina Kim Cassidy, chair and associate professor of psychology; Helen Rehl ’96, retired administrative assistant for English; and Marion Brill, secretary for Career Development. Regulars not shown include Elaine Ewing ’00; Tracy Ryan, Alumnae Association accounting assistant; Cynthia Washington, Alumnae Association assistant director; Carole Steiner, associate comptroller; Maria Wiemken, associate treasurer and comptroller; and Leslie Rescorla, professor of psychology and director of the Child Study Institute.


Owl athletics logo

On April 12, the Bryn Mawr Athletics Department unveiled its new logo, a fierce owl, to student-athletes packing the bleachers in Bern Schwartz Gymnasium. The graphic identity project for the College’s sports teams began with a focus group last year of representatives from the Office of Admissions, the Alumnae Association, the Department of Athletics and Physical Education, the Public Affairs Office and student-athletes. Hooded sweatshirts and T-shirts, both long- and short-sleeved, bearing the new logo may be ordered from the Bryn Mawr College Bookshop.



Robots dance, draw, sing for Microsoft

Students taking CS110: Introduction to Computing showed off their robots at the April 17 opening of the College’s Institute for Personal Robotics in Education (IPRE), a joint effort between Georgia Tech and Bryn Mawr sponsored by Microsoft Research.

IPRE’s mission is to encourage interest in computer science, especially among women and underrepresented minorities, by creating first- and second-year curricula that center around programming small personal robots.

“We wanted the motivation of wanting to make robots do things drive the curriculum,” said Associate Professor of Computer Science and IPRE Co-Director Douglas Blank. “We also wanted to make programming a social activity, so that students work in teams and their robots interact as well.”

Taught by Professor of Computer Science Deepak Kumar, an IPRE co-principal investigator, this semester’s CS110 was the first at Bryn Mawr to test the new curriculum.

In the second week of the course, students received their own “Scribbler” robots packed in customized plastic lunchboxes.

The robots run off laptops with software—dubbed “Myro”—that is being developed from “Pyro,” a versatile robotics platform created by Blank.

Scribblers have Bluetooth transceivers for wireless opera­tion and multiple sensors for light, infrared and line patterns. They can make sounds and music and hold a pen for drawing.

Students programmed Scribblers to draw stars and abstract art.

Georgia Tech is working on a “Gyro,” a prototype for IPRE’s own robot, which will replace the Scribbler. Although still inexpensive enough for students to purchase (about the cost of a textbook), Blank hopes that it will include a camera and improved features.

The keynote address for the opening, “You’re the Future of Innovation & Technology,” was given by Dr. Jane C. Prey, an academic innovation manager at Microsoft Research. Prey spent 11 years as a faculty member in the computer science department at the University of Virginia and two years as a program director in the Division of Undergraduate Education at the National Science Foundation.


Dialogue of giant democracies

India has been the focus of U.S. Ambassador Teresita Currie Schaffer ’66’s political life for more than 30 years in the U.S. Foreign Service. In the Center for International Studies’ inaugural Janee Armstrong Lecture on March 22, she reflected on the “astonishing transformation” in U.S.-India relations and how cultural, social, economic, and political priorities will affect the way the two giant democracies work together in the future.

Since the 1990s, U.S. foreign and security policy has increasingly focused on Asia, where the major development has been the rise of Chinese power, amplified by China’s troubled relations with Japan, Korea’s volatility, and political and economic uncertainly in Indonesia, said Schaffer. The United States and India have a common
interest in encouraging peaceful relations between China and the rest
of the region.

Strong business ties between the two countries, although fundamentally in the private sector, also make India important to the U.S. government, Schaffer argued.

“My basic contention is that the United States is most comfortable working with countries with which it shares deeply-held values, but that more concrete interests, such as regional security and commercial benefits, often speak louder than values in the day-to-day world of foreign policy,” said Schaffer. “Without material interests in common, shared values by themselves do not ensure that countries can work together. The ‘sweet spot’ in American foreign policy comes when values and interests pull together. The tough choices come when different values, different interests, or some combination of the two pull in different directions.”

The United States and India will need to work on security and civil nuclear cooperation, and high technology agreements, Schaffer said. “We will need to listen to each other, and to manage each others’ sensitivities, as we deal with a rising China, with India’s emotion-laden diplomacy with Pakistan, and with the difficult questions posted by Iran. And together, we will need to develop the institutions to integrate Asia and the world, and to deal with some vital challenges, such as epidemic diseases, especially HIV/AIDS and avian influenza.”

Schaffer is the director of the South Asia program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington D.C. Before serving as U.S. ambassador to Sri Lanka from 1992 to 1995, Schaffer held the senior South Asia position in the State Depart­ment.

During her visit to campus, Schaffer also conducted a workshop for students considering careers in international relations.

Janee Armstrong ’59 majored in history at Bryn Mawr and received a master’s degree in international relations from the University of Pennsylvania. She has been instrumental in bringing education about international relations, which remained her lifelong passion, to the public.


Great names in French literature

The Friends of the Library board hosted a reception for Michèle Cahen Cone ’51 in Canaday Library on March 22 in recognition of her recent donation of a major collection of French books. The books once belonged to Cone’s maternal grandparents, Alice and Jean Goldschmidt, who were arrested in France during World War II and killed at Auschwitz.Cone has donated the books to Bryn Mawr in their memory.

Illustration from the 1770 Paris edition of La Henriade by Voltaire,
from the Michele Cahen Cone Collection.

The collection includes first or early editions of the works of many of the great names in French literature, includingVoltaire, Hugo, Montesquieu, Condillac, Stendahl, and Zola; anthologies of French songs from the first half of the 19th century; and 18th- and early 19th-century books, broadsides, manuscripts and pamphlets relating to the grain trade, the business in which Jean Goldschmidt specialized. One of the highlights of this part of the collection is a 1790 pamphlet, with drawing, proposing to redevelop the site of the recently destroyed Bastille as a grain depot for the city of Paris.

Among the people attending were several from Cone’s years at Bryn Mawr: Margery Peterson Lee ’51, Joanna Semel Rose ’52, and Lita Solis-Cohen ’52.


Tents set up on Merion Green and images on display showed living conditions for people in refugee camps in Dafur. Students put their handprints on canvas with red paint as an act of solidarity to show awareness of the situation. Dr. Jerry Erlich, a pediatrician who has worked in Darfur as a volunteer for Doctors Without Borders, spoke about his experiences, showing photographs and drawings by patients that he smuggled out of the country.

Announced by posters around campus in different languages asking, “Do you care?” and closed by posters asking, “What will you do?,” Bryn Mawr’s first International Justice Week ran from March 20–30. Each day focused on a different issue or injustice in the world, all selected by undergraduates: educational, economic and environmental injustices; trafficking in persons, with a focus on the sex trade; genocide in Darfur; North Korea; and Palestine.

Organized by a broad coalition of student groups with support from the history department, the Middle East Studies Initiative, the Peace and Conflict Studies Program and the SGA Special Events Fund, the schedule offered film screenings, discussions, speakers, workshops and exhibitions. The goal was “to educate the campus about issues, show how they relate to us as students and/or U.S. citizens, and show what we can do to continue educating ourselves and to take action,” said coordinators Jenny Kim ’09 and Sarah Alibabaie ’09, who hope to see the week become an annual tri-college event.

Events included a lecture by Norman Finkelstein of DePaul University, “Israel and Palestine: Roots of Conflict, Prospects for Peace”; a mock funeral procession for the children of North Korea who die of starvation; and a hunger banquet in Rhoads Dining Hall. Movies shown included Small Fortunes: Microcredit and the Future of Poverty; Osama, about the treatment of women under the Taliban regime; and Not One Less, about the inadequacy of China’s free education system.

A “checkpoint” at Pembroke Arch allowed passersby to choose passage through the Israeli or Palestinian side; if they chose the latter their IDs were checked and bags searched to simulate the daily experience of some people in Gaza and the West Bank. (A free passage gate through the Arch could also be taken instead.)

The Bi-Co News editors praised the organization of the events as a “true grassroots campaign… exemplary of the strong leadership and commitment required to mobilize an apathetic campus.”


Crossing the color line

Grace Lee Boggs, Ph.D. ‘40

Grace Lee Boggs, Ph.D. ’40, who embarked upon a life of political activism after earning a Ph.D. in philosophy at Bryn Mawr in 1940, returned to the College 67 years later for two days in February to meet with students, staff and faculty. Boggs attended a screening of Women of Summer, a documentary film about the Bryn Mawr Summer School for Women Workers, held at Bryn Mawr from 1921 to 1938, and reflected on connections between the workers’ and women’s movements of the first half of the 20th century. She recalled her late friend and radical leftist Frances “Freddy” Drake Paine, one of the students interviewed in the film. “The women’s movement got Freddy to rethink who she was,” said Boggs. “She made the kinds of connections people make when they try to do something no one else has done before. When she and I and her husband, Lyman, and my husband, Jimmy, had conversations in Maine about our nation’s future, Freddy often talked about her time at Bryn Mawr— and I also owe a lot of the reflection I’ve done over the years to Bryn Mawr.”

Grace Lee Boggs, Ph.D. ’40 and students at Aelwyd House on Cambrian Row. Photo by Jim Roese.

Looking to our nation’s future, Boggs said, “We are at a moment in history that is both the worst of times and the best of times.” Current political, economic and environ­mental crises, however grave, “offer an opportunity and the necessity to transform ourselves and our relationships
with one another, with our institutions, and with the earth,” she said.

A first-generation Chinese American, Boggs crossed race and class barriers to become a central figure in the Black liberation struggle and the labor, women’s, Asian American and environmental justice movements during a career of more than 60 years.

She and her late husband, African American auto worker, labor organizer and political theorist James Boggs, wrote and edited scores of publications, and helped found Detroit Summer, a multicultural, intergenerational youth program designed to “rebuild, redefine and respirit Detroit from the ground up."

Frank Wu

Growing up in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan, as one of the only Asian American children, Dean of the Law School of Wayne State University Frank Wu recalled being mocked daily as a child for the shape of his eyes and the color of his skin. His parents urged him to try to “fit in,” but he was unable to “disguise” himself, left instead to wear a myriad masks of stereotypes.

The murder on June 19, 1982, of Vincent Chin by laid-off autoworkers changed Wu’s life. “That was for me, personally, very important, and opportunity for the Asian Pacific community to confront anew its vulnerability to racism in the United States,” he said.

An authority on the history of civil-rights law and the Asian American experience, Wu discussed his book, Yellow: Race in America Beyond Black and White, in Thomas Great Hall on March 5 and met with students afterwards.

Frank Wu with Jenny Chan ’08, Elise Nelson ’09, Carla Shedd (Mellon Post-Doctoral
Fellow in the Social Sciences) Jeanette Kwon, Nana Asabere ’09, Lucy Sung ’10,
Rachel Anderson ’10, and Raphaelle Monty ’07. Photo by Paola Nogueras '84.

“Asian Americans owe a tremendous debt to the civil rights movement and African American leadership, which has helped change American society to benefit all people,” Wu said.

Unfortunately, cultural conflicts between Asian Americans and African Americans still exist. Stereotypes, such as the ‘model minority’ myth, perpetuate hatred. Instead, Wu said the two groups should celebrate differences and embrace the positive aspects of each culture to foster coalition-building between communities.


Knitting a community

Every Tuesday afternoon from 12:30-1:30, staff, faculty, alumnae and students gather around a low table on the Campus Center balcony to knit. Today they are working on an “experimental” batch of socks, learning to turn heels under the guidance of master knitter Helen Rehl ’96.

“We started our knitting group last year as a part of the staff enrichment classes,” said Ann Ogle, secretary for the psychology department and a staff association representative. “We wanted to do service projects, and we asked Helen and Elaine Ewing ’00 (both McBride alumnae), who are expert knitters, to be our leaders. Last spring we made chemo caps for Bryn Mawr Hospital’s cancer ward. This fall we started working on 9x7-inch afghan squares, based on the Warm Up America Project. We thought this would be a great way for knitters of all levels to participate; they could do a simple stitch or get fancy. We gave some yarn to another knitting club organized by students, which meets on Fridays, and they contributed squares as well.”

In doing research, Ogle read that Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota had been the recipient of many afghans, and coincidentally, that she had a connection there through her husband Mark, who has been a pen pal with Adolf Bull Bear for many years in its adopt-an-elder program. Pine Ridge, home to the Oglala Sioux Tribe, covers 2,000,000 acres with an estimated population of close to 40,000. It is the poorest county in the United States.

Then Ogle learned that Jane Ahern Macan ’65 was closing her business, Busybody’s Yarn Shop in Haverford. “Elaine said to me, ‘Why don’t you write to her and see if she has any wool she can’t sell?’ ” Ogle said. “I did, telling her about the Pine Ridge project. She responded immediately and gave us several bags of beautiful wool worth thousands of dollars. We have made blankets, sweaters, jackets, hats, scarves and mittens.”

The group has already sent two boxes of items to Pine Ridge. Bull Bear, a Korean War veteran, is distributing the clothing through the Ladies Auxilliary of his VFW Post.

“Kimberly Blessing ’97 has also donated bags of her grandmother’s acrylic yarn, which is perfect for infantwear and for our sock project—wool wears out too quickly,” Ogle said.

The group provides an incentive for those who would like to knit but have trouble “finding the time,” as well as an opportunity to connect with other members of the campus community they might not otherwise encounter during the work day.

“And knitters of every stage have had the opportunity to make beautiful garments for people,” Ogle said.

From left: Carol Pawlowski, secretary for student life; Huong Huynh ’07; Ann Ogle; Dawn Bruton, housekeeper for Pembroke; Melvina Taylor, housekeeper for Erdman; Sally Allison, general merchandise buyer for the Bookshop; Melvina Kim Cassidy, chair and associate professor of psychology; Helen Rehl ’96, retired administrative assistant for English; and Marion Brill, secretary for Career Development. Regulars not shown include Elaine Ewing ’00; Tracy Ryan,
Alumnae Association accounting assistant; Cynthia Washington, Alumnae Association
assistant director; Carole Steiner, associate comptroller; Maria Wiemken, associate
treasurer and comptroller; and Leslie Rescorla, professor of psychology and director of the Child Study Institute. Photo by Paola Nogueras '84.


Black women and the economy

Black women and the economy was the theme of Black History Month at Bryn Mawr this February.

Alumnae in medicine, finance, business and law, and education shared their perspectives about careers, effective networking, and balancing work and life at a panel discussion on February 11 sponsored by the Sisterhood, BACaSo (Bryn Mawr African and Caribbean Students Organization), the Bryn Mawr Alumnae Association, the Career Development Office and the Office of Intercultural Affairs.

Speakers were Beth Floyd ’99, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota; Nicole Moore Samson ’91, principal of Indian Mills School, New Jersey; Leslie Knotts ’00, vice president at Morgan Stanley, Global Wealth Management, New York City; and Georgette “Gigi” Chapman Phillips ’81, David B. Ford Professor of Real Estate at the Wharton School of Business and professor of law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Florence Goff, the College’s Associate Chief Informa­tion Officer and Equal Opportunity Officer moderated
the discussion.

Chapman and Floyd emphasized the importance of taking time off before going to professional school. Floyd, who was not sure whether she wanted to go into medical research or practice, took a post baccalaureate program at the Mayo Clinic and also explored clinical psychology research at Duke. “Those two years made me a better medical school student,” Floyd said. “I gained a diverse background of experiences, and I think my interpersonal skills were smoother than someone who was coming right out of college.”

“Do something that you’ve always wanted to do but probably won’t for a living,” urged Phillips. “Sing on a cruise ship, or, if you’re thinking about going to law or business school, take a job in that area first and make sure you don’t hate it!

All of the panelists urged undergraduates to take advantage of the wealth of support and experience that alumnae can offer, and to be confident about themselves.

 “As I’ve grown up, I’ve realized that you have to see the positive in people,” said Floyd. “You have to approach everyone with the belief that they are out to do you more good than harm. Take advantage of all the opportunities presented to you and don’t limit yourself to a certain group of people just because they all look like you.”

Economist Julianne Malveaux gave the keynote address of the month, “The Un­finished Business of Economic Justice,” on February 15.

“Too often the focus of Black History Month is on a few male historical figures, people who we all know…but we also need to explore the contributions of Black women to African American history,” Malveaux said. She drew attention to Black female economists, Sadie Alexander, the first African American woman to
earn a Ph.D. in economics, and Phyllis Wallace, the first African American woman to teach at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Malveaux addressed economic justice, which includes fair trade, budget and tax policy, protection of worker rights and equal access to resources, in relation to poverty, education and the treatment of women.

“We have not moved as far as we’d like to think. In fact, the clock has been turned back in many cases,” she said. “We still have significant poverty. The situation in New Orleans and Iraq are manifestations of where we are,” said Malveaux.

Nana Asabere ’09 and Menda Francois ’09, both Black History Month Committee co-heads of the Sisterhood, joined with the Office of Intercultural Affairs to organize Malveaux’s lecture.

Other Black History Month evens at Bryn Mawr were a culture show by BACaSO, and the Tri-College Black Love Formal, an annual event at which students from Bryn Mawr, Haverford and Swarthmore gather to discuss their achievements and goals and celebrate.



Return to May 2007 Highlights





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