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June 28 , 2006


2006 McPherson Award Winners Announced

Each year several members of the Bryn Mawr community are recognized for excellence and service to the community, either inside or outside the boundaries of Bryn Mawr College, with the Mary Patterson McPherson Award. One of the highest honors Bryn Mawr bestows, the award is named after President Emeritus Mary Patterson McPherson, Ph.D. '69. Three undergraduates, students from the College's two graduate schools, staff members and a faculty member received the awards over the course of the spring.

Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Science Dale Kinney announced the GSAS student winner, Crystal Fritz, at her annual reception in April. Fritz, a fifth-year student in Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology, has served as co-convenor of the Graduate Student Association for two years, during which time the organization won national recognition from the National Association of Graduate and Professional Students. Said Kinney: "Crystal's work with and for the GSA has included organizing social events, sporting competitions, meetings with trustees and a community service day, and as one student wrote, she is noted for her 'patient listening' and follow-through on students' suggestions for improving on life at Bryn Mawr. She also goes beyond the call of duty for the Graduate Group in Archaeology, Classics and History of Art and for her own department. She reaches out to prospective and incoming graduate students and is an active mentor of undergraduates, not only at Bryn Mawr but in the field. All of this while maintaining an excellent academic record, taking courses on Greek art, Homeric and classical Greek literature, archaeometric techniques, mortuary analysis, GIS, a GSem on theory, and a wide range of other courses that require hard work, intellectual curiosity, manual dexterity, and focused thinking." Fritz received a $5,000 award.

President Nancy J. Vickers announced the undergraduate student winners — always three seniors — at May Day convocation. Each received $3,500 to support an internship that allows her to pursue academic, career, personal or service interests.

Diane Gibfried '06, a graduate of the McBride Scholars program for students beyond the traditional college age, began her undergraduate education in the late 1970s at the Philadelphia College of Art (now part of the University of the Arts) and returned to school at Bryn Mawr after her three children had left home. At Bryn Mawr, Gibfried majored in psychology, but continued to nurture a passionate interest in the arts; this spring, Harper Collins published her children's book Brother Juniper, written for a Bryn Mawr creative-writing course . She has been important in helping to bring the McBride Scholars together as a cohesive community, says a nominator: "Since her first year here, she organized the McBride Graduation Luncheon; she also came up with the concept for and organized more than one of the McBride Community Day events … she took on a good deal of the work, including designing invitations, ordering food, and many logistical tasks." Gibfried has also held volunteer positions serving adults who are challenged with mental illness. She plans to use her award to create an art camp as one of the summer activities offered by Forteniters Club, a mutual-support group that helps people affected by mental illness adjust to independent living.

Katherine Pioli '06 is an English major who, as a nominator said, "writes, dances, rows crew and is an environmental activist – all while maintaining a magna cum laude GPA." She has been an active participant in community dialogue and antiracism activities, including the student-created Racism Dance Theater Workshop. "Environmental activism," says a nominator, "is clearly a way of life for her. She has lived in Batten House [an environmentally aware collective on campus] for the last three years. She spent the summer of 2003 working on an organic farm. And last summer, she received a Green Grant to support her work as editor for the magazine Threshold, produced by the Student Environmental Action Coalition in Philadelphia." Pioli plans to use her grant to support work as a volunteer in Italy for Willing Workers on Organic Farms, an international nonprofit that encourages sustainable agriculture.

Biology major Mridula Shankar '06 also participated in the Racism Dance Theater Workshop and numerous other efforts to address issues of diversity and intergroup communication on campus, as well as the Student Global AIDS campaign. In the summer of 2004, she participated in Bryn Mawr's Summer of Service program as an intern at the Youth Health Empowerment Project in Philadelphia. She has also served as a summer intern to an epidemiologist who was conducting field research in Bangalore, India. Says a nominator: "I was impressed with her level of engagement on a variety of difficult issues. It was also clear that she was someone active in a number of ways in the community. Both on campus and off. In the last year and a half, I have become more and more aware of the intensity of her commitment to AIDS work. To me, she exemplifies what it means for a student to pursue an education in service of others." Shankar plans to use her award money to establish a resource center that will help unmarried women in the Bangalore area make informed decisions about marriage, sex and other relationship issues that affect their susceptibility to infection by HIV.

At the community picnic in June, Director of Human Resources Joe Bucci announced the staff McPherson Award winners. Each received a $1,000 award.

Dan McLaughlin joined Bryn Mawr Housekeeping as a mover in 2002. His nominators cited not only his seemingly inexhaustible strength but also his attention to detail and solicitousness of fellow staff members. "Dan cares very much about getting the job done right," a nominator wrote. More praise from nominators: What is remarkable is his politeness, his concern that he is providing what is desired and his patience … Even if he is called on short notice, he is always pleasant and willing to go the extra mile. He is quite a treasure."

Elaine Robertson, program coordinator for the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research's Career Development and Continuing Education Program, is a 19-year veteran of the Bryn Mawr staff. Her nominators praised her for her uncomplaining willingness to assume extra responsibility whenever the need arises; during a time when the director of the Career Development and Continuing Education Program was absent for most of the year, Robertson "assumed the role of director … she was essentially on her own to manage the program." She was also commended for taking initiative in learning and sharing new techniques. "She is a valuable team player who is skilled at leading as well as taking direction."

Accounts Payable Coordinator Mary Ellen Gardner joined the Comptroller's staff in 1995. Said a nominator: "Mary Ellen has the patience of a saint – and maybe the faith too: faith that I will one day understand which form goes with which request, faith that students one day will stop making last-minute requests, etc. In our work with individual students and student groups, we have paid for hotels and honoraria, popcorn and prizes, conferences and costumes, and Mary Ellen has guided us through the steps of each process. She has all too frequently rushed payments for us, always calmly and without reproof. I know there isn't a situation she can't handle, and despite my best efforts not to test her, I know she will be there for us each time we're in a pinch."

Deborah Grant, assistant director of business operations in Facilities Services, was praised by a nominator as "the consummate 'can do' professional." Since her appointment in 1999, she has rationalized office procedures in Facilities Services by implementing and maintaining "a customized, integrated database system to track and provide reports on all transactions, budget account lines and projects … due to her talent, ambitiousness and willingness to do whatever is asked of her, her job has branched out into many additional directions … Deb launched and continues to manage our departmental Web site … she gladly accepted responsibility for Faculty Housing … Deb restructured the One Card Office, increasing the office's hours of service from four hours a day to nine hours a day … she quickly earns the respect of all with whom she interacts and has single-handedly improved the relationships between Faciltities Services and many of our customers."

At Commencement rehearsal, Co-Deans of the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research Raymond Albert and Marcia Martin announced two GSSWSR student winners, each of whom received a $3,000 award.

Anneliese Butler '01, M.S.S. '06, graduated with a specialization in Child and Family Well-being and served as a TA in the GSSWSR computer lab. Her first-year field placement was at the Development Center at Elwyn, where she worked with children and adults dealing with disadvantages related to developmental delays, physical disabilities, mental illness and poverty. Her second-year placement was at the Episcopal Community Services' Star Program serving adolescents who were born HIV-positive and receiving services at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. The focus was on assisting adolescents to develop a plan for the future that includes defining their aspirations within a context that recognizes their complex medical needs. "Anneliese was the force behind the reinvigoration of the Student Association," said a nominator. "She brought not only energy to this endeavor but vision and the determination and organization to implement a plan. And she never made any of this about her — when it comes to Anneliese, there is no arrogance!"

Howard Walters, M.S.S. '06, M.L.S.P. '06, was named a Ruth W. Mayden scholar in recognition of his expressed interest and commitment to serving urban disadvantaged populations. He completed his first year field placement at the Community Service Office at Bryn Mawr College, where he served as the coordinator of the tutoring programs. His second year field placement was at People's Emergency Center, the oldest social-service agency in Pennsylvania serving homeless women and children. His focus was on housing and welfare issues. As a student in the Policy Practice and Advocacy concentration, Walters participated in an annual field trip to meet with policymakers and representatives of public-interest organizations. "In his quiet, humble manner," a nominator observed, "Howard has provided leadership to the policy trip both last year and this year. He attended to all sorts of mundane details without losing site of our mission. In his unassuming way, he is a strong advocate who brings integrity to all his actions."

During Commencement, President Nancy J. Vickers announced the 2006 faculty winner, Associate Professor of Psychology Kimberly Wright Cassidy. A developmental psychologist with a focus on cognition, Cassidy has won grant funding from the Mellon Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Institutes of Health for what a nominator describes as "a very active and productive research program that includes multiple publications in the top journals in developmental psychology." Another nominator cites her as "a superior example of a professor who engages in rigorous academic activities, fosters academic growth in her students, and who is devoted to service in the various communities in which she is a member." In addition to service on numerous College committees, Cassidy has volunteered time to wellness programs, Customs Week activities, campus multiculturalism education, and Bryn Mawr athletics, among other programs; she has also engaged in extensive outreach activities serving the community beyond Bryn Mawr. She has taught at Bryn Mawr since 1993.

The McPherson Fund For Excellence was established in 1997 to honor President Emeritus Mary Patterson McPherson's contribution to the Bryn Mawr community, and to inspire outstanding faculty and staff members, graduate students and undergraduates with the McPherson Awards.

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