Plaiting past, present and future

Susan L. MacLaurin '84, President of the Alumnae Association, opened the 103rd Annual Meeting of the Association, which ends every Reunion weekend. Representatives of each reuning class announced their Annual Giving amounts and gifts to the College, and the classes observing major anniversaries gave speeches.

This April 30, three presidents of Bryn Mawr-Nancy Vickers, Pat McPherson and Harris Wofford-led the first May Day procession of the new millennium by traveling on a float together. It was a glorious day!

In 1900, Bryn Mawr students were the first in the United States to celebrate a revival of the Elizabethan revels whose popularity spread quickly. This weekend we also celebrate May Day and our connections to the College.

Evangeline Andrews, Class of 1893, noted that only that first Bryn Mawr May Day, which she had organized, attempted to present the revels with historical accuracy and that subsequent celebrations built up a heritage of mingled traditions. In What Makes a College, Cornelia Meigs, Class of 1908, described Little May Day as: "... changing some of its customs now and again and showing itself always as a completely indigenous product of the minds from which its procedure springs. Various elements have entered into it and passed away, yet the mood and feelings do not change."

Let's fast forward to today: Our current President is a Renaissance scholar of highest credentials, but she can blend the authentic and anachronistic in the best May Day spirit of spoofs and good fun. Nancy wears a brocade tunic sewn for her by students, but in 1999, led the May Day procession on the back of a thoroughly modern steed, a Harley Davidson.

And we may say the same about the College and our Alumnae Association—yet the mood and feeling do not change. The fundamentals, the heart-felt sentiments ring loud for us, yet do so as we look to our future. The Alumnae Association considers how it will transform its programs and priorities to meet the changing needs of an ever diverse body of students and alumnae in the 21st century. The College is setting its own important course with the Plan for the New Century. There is room and need for the blend of past, present and future to ensure a vital institution.

So in the spirit of a May Day celebration and our affection for the institution and the people who bring it life, turn your attention to the Alumnae Association's logo. It shows a rainbow of Maypole ribbons in the pattern of interlacing knotwork, a form of ornament symbolizing life that is found in cultures around the world. This represents our support and respect for one another. The lantern in the center of the logo, adapted from the Association's seal established at its founding in 1897, represents the search for truth and love of learning. We celebrate these values this morning as we share stories of the Bryn Mawr experience across generations, show our support for its standards of excellence through gifts to the College, and recognize volunteers present and future.

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