"We should remember that Bryn Mawr has grown stronger and better and wider under each of her leaders."
-- Martha Stokes Price '47, A.B. '60
Sponsored by the class of 1947, the program was planned with an eye to "a year of major transition, when the campus community and alumnae/i would be greatly concerned both with the future and with leadership," said organizer Martha Stokes Price. "Where could we find another Pat McPherson? Well, obviously, nowhere. But, in time, we would have a new president. What would the future bring us, and what changes will be made. Our planning group decided that it would be interesting and instructive to take a backward look and to remember the very different women and men who had led Bryn Mawr through all the years from 1885 until today. Each of our six presidents shaped the College by being the kind of person that she or he was. It seemed a good time and perhaps comforting to think about the past as joined with the future. We should remember that Bryn Mawr has grown stronger and better and wider under each of her leaders."
Excerpts from the presentations follow; tapes of the entire program may be ordered through the Alumnae Association. (Please call 1-800-BMC-ALUM to request more information.)
He may have wanted to be remembered as he was by Edith Sampson of the Class of 1890, who said, "He very early ceased to be the formidable president and became the respected friend. His greeting at the conclusion of the chapel service we learned to wait for with pleasure and we carried away with us a feeling of self respect aroused by his hearty words and the warm grasp of his hand."
Dr. Rhoads ceased practicing medicine after he had a stroke, which made him too weak to do all the house calls that practicing medicine then required. He also worked with various Quaker organizations dedicated to the education of newly freed slaves and to Indian Rights.
As dean, M. Carey Thomas was responsible for gathering together the faculty, for setting the entrance requirements, for establishing the curriculum, for deciding on academic programs, including the decision to begin a graduate school. ... This first phase of her leadership of Bryn Mawr involved one truly great creative act, the creation of the Self-Government Association, the first in an American college. ...Even at its founding, Bryn Mawr was unlike any other college in the country. It attracted great scholars to teach for a few years or for a lifetime and freed them from administrative work so they could continue research. It shaped student study into the group study and prepared them for graduate training. ...The creation of Bryn Mawr, offering to women scholarship of the highest standards and graduate fellowships and training they could get nowhere else, was a major breakthrough in American women's history. In the history of women, its founding is comparable in significance to the opening of the Lowell Mills. ...
Louise Brownell Saunders, A.B. 1893, Ph.D. 1897, said, "It was above all, contact with her, contagion of the incomparable energy of her spirit, that lighted our spark also to flame. We anted to work hard, passionately, professionally, because we saw her working more passionately, more professionally than we."
Her presidency paralleled difficult times in this nation - the Great Depression, the McCarthy Era, the rise of fascism and World War II. All these had devastating effects on Bryn Mawr as well as other academic communities. During these years within the College, she provided a wise, steady, forward-looking and optimistic leadership. ... There was an increased emphasis on painting, sculpture, archaeology, history of art and architecture during her administration. She helped to bring about a program of close cooperation between Bryn Mawr, Haverford and Swarthmore colleges, which in some aspects included the University of Pennsylvania.
Memorable was her hatred of fascism, which led her into a great personal involvement in bringing to the College a series of brilliant refugee professors.
... Research was her first love and it not only informed but also enriched both her teaching and administration. Her research was in aphasia and adult intelligence, and it meant much working with people. Such research, at least as Kathy did it, had a far more humanizing effect than most scientific inquiry, and from it she learned what she called, "an inclination to ask about every event or kind of behavior, `What can we learn from this?' "
... And it was from her research, I think, that Kathy first developed her strong belief in bridges - bridges between fields, between institutions, and of course, between people, bridges on which the two-way traffic could flow unchecked. (Mabel L. Lang)
The Board's Finance Committee became professional, monitoring the performance of outside fund managers. No longer was business frowned upon. Students were encouraged to become interns and externs, to meet with business people, who became temporary residents in the halls. Believing that the College has a responsibility to the corporations in which it invests, Harris encouraged the Board to establish a committee on investment responsibility. ...
Harris saw Bryn Mawr's future as increasingly an international institution, working hard with us to involve alumnae overseas in recruiting students and raising money for their support, and for the support of Bryn Mawr's extensive overseas programs. (Barbara C. Dudley)
... Pat's mantra was that we needed to preserve diversity in higher education and that with Haverford, we had the opportunity to join forces in shaping something unique. But those arguments didn't admittedly tend to attract 17-year-olds as a cause, and admissions became a serious worry. And the "something unique" hadn't much attracted Haverford, either; it had just become co-educational when Pat became president.
It's hard to talk about how Pat confronted these troubles, which were deep and terrible, without ascending to the higher reaches of glorification, so let me just enter a caveat or two - she did get a little outside help. ... Eventually, inflation in the later '80s gave way, without the slightest help from her, and the market boomed, also without her assistance. ... studies of the Academy began to show how girls and young women are neglected or negated in coed classrooms ... But these changes in the external environment do not diminish Pat's own achievement over the long period of her presidency. Having taken office at a time of deep trouble, she brought about a renewal of the College in every place you want to look.
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