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from the editor

In the middle of a September 25 lecture, Brunilde Sismondo Ridgway, Ph.D ’58,  unbuttoned her polka-dotted blouse to display a T-shirt reading, “Archaeologists will date any old thing.”

Rhys Carpenter Professor Emerita of Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology, Ridgway gave an oral history of the achievements of the formidable Bryn Mawr women who transformed the field of classical archaeology in the late 19th and 20th century. (see story) Many of them lived to nearly the age of 100 or more, she noted. “This is one of the advantages of archaeology,” Ridgway said with her signature burst of laughter. “It gives you a wonderful perspective. You never met these people, but I did. Their images are vivid in my mind, and I could tell you all sorts of anecdotes. I wanted to talk to you, today’s students, about them because of this sense of continuity in which you share: the open-mindedness in your studies at Bryn Mawr, with professors who could inspire you so much that you have the nerve to stand up to them, where you realize the validity of making your own observations and forming your own theories.” Ridgway’s advisor, Rhys Carpenter, “(‘he was a man’) was a superior teacher,” she said. Carpenter’s motto was, “Look first; don’t be brainwashed by what someone tells you.”

That the essence of higher education is change and transformation, where every answer must yield to the next question, was also the theme of the October 12 address of Drew Gilpin Faust ’68 at her inauguration as Harvard’s 28th president. Faust, who offered a special greeting to her teachers in the audience from grade school, high school, college and graduate school, argued that higher education “is not about immediate results,” but “learning that molds a lifetime, that transmits the heritage of millennia, that shapes the future.

“We must commit ourselves to the uncomfortable positions of doubt, to the humility of always believing there is more to know, more to teach, more to understand.”

For our cover story, Associate Editor Robin Parks interviewed Faust this September in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (The Bulletin’s was the third interview post-announcement granted out of 550 requests.) Faust talks about the doors that opened to her at Bryn Mawr and later in her life, en route to her current assignment.


Drew Gilpin Faust '68 during a Service of Thanksgiving at the Memorial Church in Harvard Yard. Photo courtesy Harvard University.

 

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