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Four Reasons to Celebrate Our Innovative Culture

November 21, 2022

The below message was sent on Nov. 21, 2022

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff:

Over the next twelve months, Bryn Mawr will celebrate milestone anniversaries of a remarkable number of innovative programs that have had an outsized impact on Bryn Mawr and on the larger world of higher education and research. While we are celebrating some of these anniversaries belatedly due to the pandemic, I invite everyone to join me in recognizing their success and the intellectually imaginative work of the faculty and staff who have built and sustained them.
The Growth and Structure of Cities program was launched in 1971 by Professor of History Emeritus Barbara Lane. "Cities" is a unique interdisciplinary major that draws upon faculty across the College as well as members of what is now an independent department. It educates students to consider the relationship of the built environment to social, economic, political, and cultural conditions of urban life. With ongoing leadership by Professor Gary McDonogh and his colleagues, Cities has become one of the most popular majors at the College. Professor Lane’s bold vision of the value of an interdisciplinary approach to such a complex topic seems obvious now, but this program was a "proof of concept" for the rest of higher education for interdisciplinarity and a model for future College programs.
This year Bryn Mawr’s Premedical Postbaccalaureate Program celebrates its 50th anniversary. It is one of the leading programs in the country—if not the leading program—that prepares college graduates who do not have sufficient training in STEM fields for graduate study in medical professions. Its successes can be measured in many ways, but perhaps most simply in the 98% admission rate to medical school of those who complete the program. Bryn Mawr was a leader in understanding that students do not always know that they want to pursue careers in medicine when they are undergraduates and that there is a need for a pathway for humanists and social scientists to enter this important profession. Bryn Mawr has ensured that countless talented individuals, bringing a wealth of experience beyond STEM, are now contributing to the care of patients and the advancement of medical science.
Just last month, the Bryn Mawr Classical Review (BMCR) belatedly celebrated its 30th anniversary. BMCR was started in 1990 by Professor Emeritus of Greek Rick Hamilton and his colleague James O’Donnell, now University Librarian at Arizona State University. BMCR is the oldest continuously operating open access humanities journal in the world; it is published in five languages, has 125,000 page views each month, and is an essential resource for scholars (and those simply interested in these topics) in Classics and Archaeology seeking reviews of new books. Many Bryn Mawr faculty, staff, and alumnae/i continue to provide leadership to the journal. Long before it was common practice, Bryn Mawr was a global trailblazer in open access and digital scholarship. Our outsized contributions to knowledge generation for an institution of our size also extends to how that knowledge is shared.
The EDGE (Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education) Program also celebrates its 25th anniversary during 2022-2023. EDGE was founded by Professor Emeritus of Mathematics Rhonda Hughes and Sylvia Bozeman, Professor Emeritus at Spelman College, to increase gender and racial equity in the mathematics community with summer and mentoring programs to support the retention and success of women in graduate study and in their subsequent careers. As of this summer, 125 EDGE summer program participants have completed the Ph.D.—with many more to come. We should not lose sight of their incredible vision that began at a very different time, in a higher education environment that was not talking about equity and inclusion. Professor Hughes and Professor Bozeman recognized structural and cultural barriers that affected persistence and success in mathematics for so many, and took action to create structural change and networks of support. The success of this program and its contribution to excellence in the field has truly been remarkable in its impact.
As we go about our day-to-day work, we sometimes can miss the larger significance of the impact of that work and the ways that a small place creates change through its excellence and innovation. I congratulate colleagues past and present for the creativity that they bring to their students and to the national and international communities of teaching and scholarship. You can read more about these programs on our new webpage celebrating Bryn Mawr innovation.
I wish everyone a restorative Thanksgiving weekend and safe travels to those who do so.


Kim Cassidy