In spring 2017, Bryn Mawr announced that it would form a History Working Group convened by Dean of the Undergraduate College Jennifer Walters to examine histories of exclusion, and of resistance, in the College’s past. Among other tasks, the group was charged with making a recommendation about how we honor M. Carey Thomas, including in the names of iconic campus spaces, and how this impacts the campus and in particular members of the community who would have been excluded under Thomas’ policies.
With the emergence of national discussion on memorials that followed the August 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, President Cassidy announced a moratorium on use of Thomas’ name in reference to the College’s original library and its Great Hall, and asked the Working Group to address these questions directly: How best can we interpret and portray the legacy of M. Carey Thomas? Should we permanently rename M. Carey Thomas Library and Thomas Great Hall?
The Working Group will offer a recommendation to the Board of Trustees in late April 2018. In order to form its recommendation, members of the group have read a range of materials on the history of women’s education as well as biographies of and writings by M. Carey Thomas. The group has reviewed the principles and practices of other institutions that have grappled with issues of race and memorialization (including Brown, Georgetown, Princeton, and Yale). It is also holding listening sessions and/or offering opportunities to comment to all key stakeholders (students, faculty, staff, alumnae/i), and has reviewed letters sent to the President and to the Alumnae Association.
Those interested in the Group’s reading can learn more by visiting the bibliography page.