By a unanimous vote, the Board of Trustees of Bryn Mawr College today appointed Jane Dammen McAuliffe, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Georgetown University and an internationally known scholar of Islamic studies, as its eighth president. She will succeed Nancy J. Vickers, Bryn Mawr’s current president, on July 1, 2008.
"The opportunity to lead a truly distinctive institution with such a vibrant intellectual spirit, and to join a community where faculty and students regard each other as colleagues, is a rare privilege. I look forward to getting to know the students, the faculty, and other members of the community, and to working with them to advance Bryn Mawr’s commitments to academic excellence, social responsibility, and expanded access," said McAuliffe.
"Given her outstanding leadership ability and deep experience, I can think of no one to whom I would rather entrust the bright future of Bryn Mawr College than Jane McAuliffe," said Board of Trustees Chair Sally Hoover Zeckhauser. "She is an exceptionally strong, accomplished, and visionary woman. During her tenure at Georgetown, she served as a creative and effective advocate for change, and as an exemplar for distinguished scholarship. She is universally admired for having cultivated close collegial relationships.
"As a graduate of a women’s college herself, Jane McAuliffe appreciates the transformative role that such an education can play in both a student’s immediate learning and later life. As president of Bryn Mawr College, she will ensure that our students have the diverse, dynamic, and challenging undergraduate experience that will serve them well as members of an ever more connected global society."
While at Georgetown, McAuliffe enhanced faculty recruitment and diversity, developed initiatives to foster more effective teaching and student advising, and expanded the number of undergraduate majors and minors in contemporary fields of inquiry. She has also built several graduate programs, including two new Ph.D. programs. She has successfully raised funds to build a performing arts center, to endow faculty positions, to create scholarships and to launch a science center.
She has long been committed to programs that support the notion that the best educated and prepared students are those who experience on campus the same multicultural world that lies beyond. McAuliffe also believes that a strong grounding in the natural sciences is essential for addressing the pressing and complex issues facing contemporary society.
As a scholar, McAuliffe is an internationally respected specialist in Islamic studies whose expertise is in the Qur’an and its interpretations, early Islamic history, and the interrelationships between Islam and Christianity. In addition to publishing numerous books and journal articles, she recently completed the six-volume Encyclopaedia of the Qur’an, the first reference work of its kind in a Western language.
"Over the past year we canvassed a very diverse field of extraordinary candidates across all areas of professional accomplishment, both within and beyond the academy," said Arlene Joy Gibson, a College trustee who chaired the Presidential Search Committee.
"It was gratifying to see how many people had such passion for Bryn Mawr’s mission, and wanted to take on such a leadership role. Jane rose to the top of that field because her vision, intellect, and commitment to women’s education are a perfect fit for the Bryn Mawr community. Frankly, it was amazing how Jane fulfilled our highest aspirations of who the next president of the College should be."
McAuliffe received a Ph.D. (1984) and M.A. (1979) from the University of Toronto, and a B.A. from Trinity College (1968). Her scholarly work has been supported by several prestigious fellowships, including one from the Guggenheim Foundation, and she was recently elected to the American Philosophical Society. She has served on the Vatican’s Commission for Religious Relations with Muslims as well as on the boards of the American Academy of Religion, of which she was president in 2004, the Association of Theological Schools, and Trinity University. She has been Dean of Georgetown College since 1999 and, before that, held faculty and administrative positions at Emory University and the University of Toronto. She is married to Dr. Dennis McAuliffe, a scholar of medieval Italian literature at Georgetown University. They are the parents of four children.
McAuliffe takes the reins at a time when Bryn Mawr has just raised over $232 million in its most ambitious fundraising campaign. Applications and enrollment are at record highs, and Bryn Mawr is a leader among highly selective liberal arts colleges in socioeconomic diversity through its generous commitment to need-based financial aid. "With the extraordinary support of our alumnae, the many people who teach and study and work on this campus, and the Board of Trustees, the College today is in a strong position," said President Vickers.
"Much still remains to be done to ensure the continuing vitality of Bryn Mawr in the years to come. When Jane assumes leadership of this special institution, the College will be in very capable hands to provide successive generations of Bryn Mawr students with an exceptional education, and to prepare them to lead publicly engaged lives in communities around the globe."
Posted 2/8/2008 by Claudia Ginanni