James E. Rhoads

James E. Rhoads, first president of Bryn Mawr College (1884-1894)

There was no formal installation ceremony for President Rhoads at the inauguration of the College on September 23, 1885. Instead, Rhoads gave an address that included a tribute to Bryn Mawr's founder, Dr. Joseph Taylor, a New Jersey physician and member of the Society of Friends. In it he said, "Today we rejoice in a culmination and a beginning. The long course of providential events which led to the founding of Bryn Mawr College and the patient work for it have closed, and the actual life of the college has begun. It is most fit, then, while acknowledging that every good gift is from above, that we should give just honor to Dr. Taylor, whose liberal mind and generous heart led him to design this Institution for the higher education of women, and to devote almost his entire estate to its establishment."

Dr. Taylor had founded Bryn Mawr as a college for education of conservative Quaker girls. By 1893, however, the College's trustees had broadened Taylor's mission by deciding that Bryn Mawr would be non-denominational, although committed to the belief in freedom of conscience. When Bryn Mawr opened, it offered the A.B., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees, and was thus the first women's college in the country to develop graduate instruction leading to the doctorate for women.


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