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Betsy Zubrow Cohen ’63 Gives $5 Million Gift for Data Science Studies

February 20, 2019

A $5 million gift from Betsy Zubrow Cohen ’63 to the Defy Expectation Campaign is providing critical seed money to fuel Bryn Mawr’s data science aspirations. 

“With Betsy’s transformative support and wise counsel, we are going to be able to create and implement a plan to thoroughly and reliably embed data science throughout our curriculum,” President Kim Cassidy explains. “We are so grateful that Betsy shares our belief that, as the world’s capacity to collect data grows at an exponential rate, we need more smart people across a range of disciplines who can use data as a tool for inquiry. With her help, we will enable interested students – no matter what their majors or passions are – to graduate from Bryn Mawr with a strong liberal arts foundation complemented by a fluency in data science.”

Cohen’s career trajectory since graduating from Bryn Mawr with a degree in philosophy is a perfect embodiment of how the liberal arts can prepare you for the jobs of the future. She is widely recognized as a business visionary and a creative entrepreneur with more than 40 years in financial law, banking, real estate lending, investing and development. 

She founded Jefferson Bank in 1974 and served as Chairman and CEO of it and its holding company, JeffBanks, Inc. until its sale in 1999; she taught at Rutgers University Law School, making her one of the earliest female law professors on the East Coast; and she created The Bancorp, an on-line commercial bank that was revolutionary at its inception, among her many groundbreaking professional accomplishments. 

Cohen currently serves as Chairman of the Board of FinTech Acquisition Corp. where she focuses on technology innovation in the financial services industry. She has also served on a variety of philanthropic and corporate boards, including Aetna, Inc., Asia Society, The Brookings Institute and The Metropolitan Opera. In addition, Betsy’s longstanding dedication to Bryn Mawr includes serving on the College’s Board for 29 years, where she served as Vice Chair and remains one of the Emeriti Trustees.

“We are honored that Betsy has chosen to support Kim’s vision, and the Defy Expectation Campaign, in this way,” notes Trustee and Campaign Chair, Denise Lee Hurley ’82, P’17. “Betsy’s gift is a game changer, both in how we help our students to be leaders in their fields and how we continue to be a leader in higher education.” 

As a women’s college, Bryn Mawr is uniquely qualified to help address the gender gap in data science. The National Center for Women & Information Technology reports that the amount of women in computing occupations has steadily declined since it “peaked” at 36 percent in 1991. Today that percentage is estimated to be 26 percent. Bryn Mawr’s success in STEM is proof that we can provide a challenging yet supportive environment that will yield more women graduates with a strong interest in data science. For example, in a typical year Bryn Mawr confers almost three times more STEM degrees than the national average and more than eleven times more Math degrees than the national average.

“Betsy’s gift is illustrative of her dedication to women’s education and the myriad ways women forge their own paths and change the world,” remarks Cassidy. “By providing seed money for the College to focus on data science throughout our curriculum – allowing us to leverage our existing academic strengths, supplement our faculty’s excellence and create new learning opportunities through research and co-curricular experiences – Betsy is ensuring that we can provide our students with a critical set of data science capabilities for each individual student’s anticipated intellectual and professional pathway.”

Defy Expectation: The Campaign for Bryn Mawr