Dear Friends of Bryn Mawr,
Warm greetings from the College! The campus has buzzed with energy as the second semester has gotten underway, fueled by the excitement surrounding the presidential inauguration, the interest of new classes, and, at long last, the arrival of snow. Here are highlights of College news and updates on campus initiatives.
Admissions. I am delighted to report that undergraduate applications again reached an all-time high. Thanks to the terrific work of our Admissions staff, we can estimate a total increase of five percent for this year’s admissions cycle. Not surprisingly, we have also received more applications for financial aid than last year. While the current recession has affected the College’s revenue streams, we will increase the budget for scholarship assistance next year and we affirm our longstanding commitment to access for students from all socio-economic backgrounds.
Early this spring the Admissions Office will begin a multi-part market study intended to help position the College effectively in the current recruiting environment. Phase one will be an assessment of the outcomes of a Bryn Mawr education in the short and long term. The assessment will be based on responses to an alumnae/i survey that will be distributed in March in collaboration with the Alumnae Association.
Hepburn Medal and Hepburn Center Programs. Saturday, 7 February, will be a big Bryn Mawr evening in Philadelphia as we present the Katharine Houghton Hepburn Medal to Jane Golden at the National Constitution Center. Jane Golden is director of the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, an innovative public-art program that builds community, engages at-risk youth, and works toward social justice as it beautifies the city. Jane’s remarkable contributions to civic life in Philadelphia challenge us all to live out the mission of the Hepburn Center: to lead publicly engaged lives and to make a meaningful impact in our communities.
Curriculum Renewal Committee. In September I wrote to you about the launch of the College’s first comprehensive review of the curriculum since 1985. The Curriculum Renewal Committee continues to shape its broad vision of the meaning and goals of a Bryn Mawr education in these first decades of the 21st century. The committee has recruited additional members of the faculty to work in small groups to develop concrete proposals to revitalize the curriculum (e.g. a more vibrant freshman experience, improved communication/writing instruction). Current budget conditions sharpen this exercise and make its outcomes even more important. Given the inevitability of some reduction in the faculty complement in the current fiscal environment, the committee’s work will help us to clarify priorities and to think creatively about how we can most effectively and efficiently provide a rigorous liberal arts education.
Bryn Mawr’s 125th Anniversary. We are in the early stages of planning for the College’s 125th anniversary, which we will celebrate in 2010-2011. The year’s events will include an exhibit of treasures from the College’s collections (with accompanying podcast for those of you too far away to travel to the College), publication of a pictorial history of Bryn Mawr, and as the centerpiece, an international conference in October 2010 entitled “Transforming Culture: Women’s Education in a Global Context—Past, Present and Future.” An international advisory committee will help us shape the conference program, which we hope will engage an audience extending far beyond the College in thinking about the future of women and higher education. We are deeply grateful to Joanna Semel Rose ’52 for her generosity in making this conference possible.
College Finances. Last week I sent an update to the campus community on college finances (http://www.brynmawr.edu/president/financial_update.shtml). Members of the President’s Cabinet are working with Chief Financial Officer John Griffith to develop a plan by which we will reduce our operating budget over the next three years by at least five percent. This will not be an across-the-board cut, but will require careful assessment of potential savings in many areas of the College’s budget. We will also look for new opportunities for collaboration with Haverford that will allow us to improve administrative services while reducing costs. In all of these efforts we will be guided by our core priorities of sustaining academic quality and meeting students’ financial need.
This letter will reach most of you electronically, a change brought about by our commitment to the adoption of “green” practices wherever possible and to lowering the costs of communication in light of tightening budgets. In the future we will send these letters only by electronic means unless we receive your request for a paper version. If you do have an email address and would like to go paperless, please send that address to Megan Ward in the Alumnae Association Office (firstname.lastname@example.org). We appreciate your support of our efforts to consume less.