A new Center at BMC will honor the life work of two remarkable Bryn Mawr alumnae. For the past two years, the College has discussed with executors of the estate of Katharine Houghton Hepburn ’28 and her family ways in which Bryn Mawr College might honor Hepburn’s memory and benefit from association with her name. Fully supportive of the College’s ideas, the Hepburn executors and family have designated the College the only organization authorized to commemorate systematically her life and achievements. The agreement stipulates that Bryn Mawr recognize not only Hepburn but also her mother, Katharine Houghton Hepburn, Class of 1899, an early suffragist and family-planning advocate.
“As we thought about ways to honor both Hepburn women, we considered as one idea a center named for them whose focus would connect thematically to their life work—film and theater, civic engagement and women’s health,” said President of the College Nancy J. Vickers. “More important, we felt, is that any permanent tribute to the Hepburns ought to inspire future generations of women to challenge conventions, just as they did.”
The Committee on Academic Priorities (CAP) subsequently endorsed development of a Katharine Houghton Hepburn Center to help raise the visibility of the College, to widen its pool of applicants, to assert the College’s commitment to the advancement of women, to enrich the co-curricular life of the College, and to sustain current College priorities. Still in its early stages of development, the Center will occupy a small office but have a large and lively presence on campus in its programs.
Professor of Chemistry Michelle Francl will serve as director of planning and development for a two-year appointment. Francl leads a steering committee, charged with developing the Center’s programming, which first met in September. Steering committee members are: Linda Caruso Haviland, associate professor and director of dance; Nancy Collins, director of public affairs; Anne Dalke, senior lecturer in English and coordinator of the program in gender and sexuality; Marc Diamond, chief advancement officer and secretary of the College; Paul Grobstein, professor of biology and director of the Center for Science in Society; Christine Koggel, associate professor of philosophy and co-director of the Center for International Studies; Melissa Pashigian, assistant professor of anthropology; Leslie Rescorla, professor of psychology and co-director of the Center for Ethnicities, Communities and Social Policy; Jenny Rickard, dean of undergraduate admissions and financial aid; Lisa Saltzman, associate professor of history of art and director of the Center for Visual Culture; Janet Shapiro, associate professor of social work and director of the Center for Child and Family Well-Being; and Sharon Ullman, associate professor of history.
“During what will be an ambitious year of planning, I look forward to sharing with the community development milestones for the Hepburn Center,” Vickers said. “I am confident that the Hepburn Center will become an essential part of the College’s life and a lasting tribute to Bryn Mawr’s most-renowned alumna.”
The 358 members of the Class of 2009 come from 45 states (including the District of Columbia) and 28 countries. The most represented states are California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. Five enrolled through the McBride Scholars program. Approximately 31 percent identify themselves as students of color. Students with dual or foreign citizenship make up 12 percent of the class. The median SAT totals are 670 verbal and 640 math; 26 percent of the entering class enrolled through the Early Decision Plans; Bryn Mawr received 1,938 freshman applications.
In September, the SURDNA Foundation announced an award of $50,000 to the College’s Civic Engagement Office to amplify programming that supports students’ engagement in civic life. The Foundation said that it has added Bryn Mawr College to the “short list of exemplary student activist/service-learning projects” in its portfolio.
CEO Co-Director Nell Anderson, Training and Program Coordinator Ellie Esmond, and Praxis Field Placement Coordinator Kelly Strunk submitted the proposal to SURDNA in June. The grants will be used to offer Praxis course development stipends, to develop training workshops for students who wish to develop practical skills necessary to be effective community organizers and citizens, to enable students to work in local community organizations as part of the Scholars in Service to Pennsylvania internship program, and to support student involvement in the Bryn Mawr/Norristown Community Partnership in Action (CPIA) initiative. The funding will also support an annual Civic Engagement Symposium, which the office piloted last spring and was attended by College faculty, staff, students and community partners.
A program that allowed each applicant for the Class of 2009 to donate $50 to the charity or community organization of her choice in lieu of an application fee raised more than $22,000, according to Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Jennifer Rickard.
Thirty-four of the 358 applicants chose the donation option. Top recipients were Doctors Without Borders, Heifer International, Habitat International, The American Cancer Society, American Red Cross International, American Red Cross, The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, and Locks of Love.
The application-fee donation program was the brainchild of Associate Director of Admissions Maureen McGonigle ’98.
“The donation program was a remarkably effective way of communicating Bryn Mawr’s values,” Rickard said, “because it actively involved students in the College’s culture of engagement and service. The fee revenue we forfeited could have been spent on a publication telling applicants that Bryn Mawr women make a meaningful contribution to the world. Instead, we encouraged them to do it.”
As they did for tsunami victims in 2004, Bryn Mawr students rallied in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina with their own ideas for fundraising and drives, from selling Mardi Gras beads to collecting school supplies.
In a September 2 e-mail to the campus community, President of the College Nancy J. Vickers described the enormity of the disaster and reported on the institution’s plans for response. “It is important, however impotent we sometimes feel in the face of both the natural disaster and the social inequality that exacerbates it, that we do not cocoon ourselves here at Bryn Mawr,” she wrote. “We are a community committed to making a meaningful impact on the world, and I know that many of us are searching for ways to help Katrina’s victims.”
The College’s Civic Engagement Office, which coordinated campus relief efforts, encouraged those wanting to respond immediately to volunteer for the City of Philadelphia and assist the approximately 1,000 families from New Orleans who began to arrive on September 7. The Alumnae Association set up a message board on its website to coordinate inquiries, information about and assistance to alumnae living in affected areas. The Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research alerted social workers and mental health workers that the offices of the Surgeon General and Public Health Emergency Preparedness were identifying and mobilizing healthcare professionals and relief personnel. “As social workers we recognize that the human impact of Hurricane Katrina will be experienced by its survivors for decades to come, persisting long after the months and years of rebuilding have concluded,” said the School.
The different faith organizations on campus collaborated on a commemorative event to honor the victims of September 11, 2001, and Hurricane Katrina, and to discuss how faith can help citizens cope and actively assist with such unexpected catastrophes. During the event, representatives from the Episcopal Campus Ministry, the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, the Jewish Students Union, and the Muslim Students Association shared their personal initial reactions to the events of 9/11, Hurricane Katrina or both, and told how their faith helped them cope or may have changed as a result. The discussion was also opened to the larger group. “As everyone left, they were given white carnations with verses of peace and hope attached to them, most of which came from holy scriptures,” said Dina Ahmed ’08.
The Bryn Mawr College Community Service Club collected relief funds at the 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina Memorial and outside of Erdman Dining Hall. Funds are being combined with those collected by another BMC organization; Bank of America will match the total amount given to support the American Red Cross. Dining Services offered cash-strapped students another way to help by donating $5 from their meal plans to the American Red Cross Hurricane Relief Fund, with Dining Services matching 100 percent of the amount raised up to $1,000. Christina Gubitosa ’06 and Kim Decorsse ’08 arranged to sell Mardi Gras beads for at least one dollar a strand, with the goal that everyone on campus wear a strand in lieu of a ribbon as a symbol of support for victims (Decorsse’s idea). Hundreds have been sold.
After seeing the devastating effects of what happened in Louisiana, the Athletic Association decided to start a collection. “We knew a former scholar-athlete, Laura Beth Graham ’05, who was working in Baton Rouge with the Teach America program,” said Association Secretary Stephanie Wujcik ’08. “We contacted her and were able to get a list of school supplies needed.Since then, we’ve been on a roll and have shipped four boxes of supplies to Laura Beth.”
As part of the College’s community partnership with the city of Norristown (CPIA), Social Research and Social Work graduate students held a dry goods drive for items to be delivered to Biloxi, Mississippi, by Pastor Byron Craig of the Norristown Ministerium and Trinity Bible Baptist Churches. GSSWSR students also convened an open forum to discuss the aftermath of Katrina and its implications for social workers.
Senior Women’s Athletic Administrator Jody Law organized a September 20 blood drive in Thomas Great Hall. The College’s Staff Association held a picnic and drawing on Merion Green to benefit Main Line Animal Rescue’s Katrina effort. A September 29 benefit dinner for faculty and staff celebrated and supported the culture and people of the affected region. Gumbo for the Gulf, a traditional New Orleans meal of mixed greens salad, French bread and biscuits, chicken and shrimp gumbos, rice, iced tea, and bread pudding, was served in Rhoads Dining Room. Co-planners Flora Shepherd ’06 and Paulina Trujillo ’07, and Becky Hahn ’08, all born and raised in New Orleans, spoke about the rebuilding of the Gulf. The meal was prepared by Andrew Spear of Crying Onion Personal Chefs, a former chef with the Brennan restaurant family in New Orleans.
“Dining Services helped get food donated by supply companies, and we provided the rest ourselves,” said Director of Dining Services Bernie Chung-Templeton. “We shut Rhoads dining hall down for the regular meal plan, so our staff and student workers could help.” Conferences and Events, Public Affairs and Wyndham also assisted with the event.
Gumbo for the Gulf raised more than $2,000, which is to be split equally between four charities: Turkey Creek Community Initiative, Preservation Hall Musician’s Relief Fund, Louisiana Domestic Violence Victim’s Hurricane Relief Fund, and the Hurricane Katrina Displaced Residents Fund.
Bryn Mawr was one of many schools nationwide that offered displaced college and university students access to classes this fall through its continuing education program. Haverford is hosting five students from Tulane and Xavier. Students are not being charged tuition but are expected to pay to their own institutions the tuition that they would normally have paid this semester.
“Although we ended up hosting only one of the students who contacted us,” said Associate Dean Rona Pietrzak, “I was struck by both the heartwarming response from faculty—who gave a tremendous outpouring of advice about which classes would work or not, as well as offers to assist with housing—and the appreciation expressed by the families whose daughters had contacted us for our willingness to work with them.”
As part of the Challenging Women Campaign, the College seeks gifts of $50,000 each from 10 alumnae who have graduated since 1970 to fund 10 summer internships in the areas of community development and social change in domestic and international venues. Two alumnae have already made gifts. Each of the matching donors will be given the option of naming an internship in recognition of her significant contribution to the College and the Challenging Women Campaign. The Clowes Fund challenge will provide the additional $25,000 needed to endow an internship once $50,000 is pledged by an alumna. The annual income from the endowment will enable students to pursue opportunities in organizations that are unable to provide them with paid positions. Student demand at Bryn Mawr for such internships far outstrips the number available. For more information, please contact Director of Resources Martha Dean by email or at 610.526.5194.
Summer Research and Internships
Each year Bryn Mawr provides funding for more than 100 students to undertake summer internships and research, both on and off campus, in a wide variety of areas.
Emily Pinkerton ’07 (daughter of Amy Millson ’78), was one of 18 students trained in multimedia design by Bryn Mawr’s Summer Multimedia Institute, in its third year. The students hired by the Institute, who usually do not have technical skills, work on real projects submitted by faculty and staff. Pinkerton worked with Professor of Social Work Toba Kerson to compile film clips of epileptic-type events in film and television, making videos for Kerson’s presentation of “Monstrous Depictions” of seizures in film at an international conference. She also created a community resource website for Main Line parents and revamped the site for Roseline Cousin’s French 105: Contemporary Changes in the Perception of Religions in France, teaching Cousin how to use Contribute, a web editing program.
“I’ve always had a strong interest in anything computer-related, particularly web design, but never had the time or experience,” said Pinkerton. “I decided halfway through the summer that I wanted to pursue web development as a career, and have dropped my second major of psychology in order to take more classes in computer programming and graphic design. I think this program is invaluable to Bryn Mawr and its efforts to increase the number of women on the front lines of technology.”
A Hanna Holborn Gray Research Grant for summer research in the humanities and humanistic social sciences allowed Sarah Johnson ’06 to consider a new model for rural development in Africa. During a semester spent in Botswana last year, Johnson discovered that existing assumptions did not adequately account for what she had observed and she became interested in political theory. One of 10 Gray Interns, Johnson worked on campus with Lecturer in Political Science Deborah Harrold to theorize how power operates in Africa, in ways that often confound the sponsors of big development schemes. Her research dealt with the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the conflicts involving its natural resources.
“In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the state essentially collapsed,” Johnson said, “and the question I asked is, ‘Where did the power go?’ I’m developing a theory that links extraction of natural resources with the extraction of power from the central state.” She continues her research this fall and plans to write a thesis about it next spring.
Since 1989, the College has provided students with 10-week stipends to conduct projects under the guidance of Bryn Mawr faculty members in the sciences and mathematics. The program includes professional development workshops, and students present their research to the college community. This summer 36 students participated.
This September, Bryn Mawr was ranked third among 30 liberal-arts colleges, following Wellesley and Wesleyan, in The Washington Monthly’s new college guide, which evaluates how well schools serve the public good.
Colleges and universities “should be engines of social mobility, they should produce the academic minds and scientific research that advance knowledge and drive economic growth, and they should inculcate and encourage an ethic of service,” according to the magazine.
Scores for these three areas were based on criteria such as the number of graduates currently in Army or Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps and in the Peace Corps, the percentage receiving Pell Grants (considered to indicate a commitment to socio-economic diversity), and the percentage of federal work-study grants going to community service projects.
Fulbright Visiting Specialist Alev Cinar, associate professor of political scientist at Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey, was in residence at Bryn Mawr this fall as part of a program designed to promote understanding of the Muslim world. Cinar has published widely on Islam, politics and urbanism in Turkey. During her six-week tenure, she gave a public lecture, participated in an outreach program offered under the auspices of the College and Main Line School Night, advised Bryn Mawr’s newly formed Middle East Studies Initiative, and co-taught “Modern Middle East Cities: Spaces of Politics, Places of Identity” with Lecturer in Political Science Deborah Harrold.
Internationally acclaimed dance company Philadanco (The Philadelphia Dance Company), Bryn Mawr College and the Philadelphia Dance Collection at Temple University presented a landmark restaging of Talley Beatty’s Southern Landscape on September 30 in Goodhart Theater as part of the College’s yearlong Performing Arts Series. Set to African-American spirituals, the 1947 masterwork chronicles the suffering and joy of emancipated slaves during the Reconstruction. Included in its five dance vignettes is the powerful solo “The Mourner’s Bench,” which has become a modern dance classic on its own.
Beatty, a pioneering African-American dancer and choreographer who died in 1999, had a longstanding relationship with Philadanco, during which time the company performed various parts of his Southern Landscape. This restaging of the work was the first time it was performed locally by the dancers in its entirety, according to Bryn Mawr College’s Director of Dance Linda Caruso Haviland.
Philadanco’s appearance at Bryn Mawr culminated a week of public activities celebrating Beatty’s life and work, including a lecture and master class. These events were made possible through a Dance Advance grant funded through the Pew Charitable Trusts and administered by the University of the Arts. This project was also supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.
An instant supercomputer created in Thomas Great Hall on the evening of September 15 calculated the value of pi to 15,000 digits and performed 15, 800 steps to simulate the unfolding of a protein interacting with an anthrax toxin.
The supercomputer was created by a “flash mob” organized by Professor of Chemistry Michelle Francl. Using software developed by University of San Francisco computer-science graduate students, Francl and a group of volunteers linked 10 laptop computers borrowed from members of the audience. “Unlike computer clusters that are permanently assembled and need highly trained staff for their care and feeding, a flash mob cluster is assembled by simply rebooting a collection of computers with a special CD to run one problem,” Francl said.
Patrick J. Miller of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories, who supervised the creation of the software that makes this kind of ad-hoc supercomputing possible, made the presentation. Participants left with commemorative T-shirts and CDs with the software to create their own supercomputers.