The following email was sent to faculty, students, and staff by Interim President Kimberly Wright Cassidy on Friday, August 30.
Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,
Welcome to the 128th academic year at Bryn Mawr! I hope you each had a wonderful summer and are looking forward to the year ahead. To kick off the year, we will gather for Convocation in Goodhart Hall at 4:30 pm on the first day of classes, September 3rd. Afterward, we will celebrate at a “Caribbean Beach Party” community picnic on Wyndham Green.
I’d like to share a few updates and some early alerts for our year together.
Academic opportunities and initiatives
During the summer, several people took on new roles and responsibilities. I am delighted that Mary Osirim, Professor of Sociology, is serving as our Interim Provost. She has hit the ground running and brings terrific energy to this position. Liz McCormack, Professor of Physics, has joined Mary in Taylor Hall as Associate Provost and will be taking on many responsibilities related to assessment and our Middle States Periodic Review Report, among other duties. Lastly, Sharon Burgmayer, Professor of Chemistry, has agreed to serve as Interim Dean of Graduate Studies. I am grateful to Sharon for accepting this role and look forward to working with her in this new capacity.
In October we will welcome Gina Siesing as the College’s new Chief Information Officer. Gina’s considerable experience and collegial nature make her the ideal person to support the work of faculty and students in maximizing the benefits of technology for learning and scholarship and to manage administrative functions College-wide while continuing to strengthen our Tri-Co relationships. As we welcome Gina to Bryn Mawr, I hope you will join me in expressing appreciation to Eric Pumroy for skillfully and affably serving as our Interim CIO.
We also welcome to campus two new Posses this year. The first, our traditional Posse, is comprised of ten women who come to us from the Houston area. The second is our STEM Posse from the Boston area. These ten women spent two weeks on campus this summer meeting faculty, participating in labs and workshops, and getting acclimated to Bryn Mawr. Both of these groups represent our strong and evolving relationship with the Posse Foundation. Please join me in welcoming these first year students.
The days of disconnected and complex course registrations, manual Moodle additions, and frantic phone calls to Haverford are over, thanks to SEADS. This summer we successfully merged Haverford’s student data into Bryn Mawr’s PeopleSoft system, allowing students to browse the Bi-Co course catalog, register for courses on either campus, view unofficial transcripts, and more with ease. Faculty can now access teaching schedules, view transcripts and degree information for their advisees from both campuses, check real-time enrollments, and submit grades in a seamless process. This project’s success is due to a significant commitment to cooperation by both Haverford and Bryn Mawr and to the efforts of our respective staffs. Special thanks go to those in IS, as well as those in offices across the campus who advised us throughout the process and helped to test the new system.
It will be a busy fall at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, which will host the second annual Graduate Career Symposium in November. Examining curricular, co-curricular, and research opportunities both inside and outside the academy which have led to successful careers for GSAS graduates, this year’s symposium will again feature GSAS alumnae/i sharing stories of how their Bryn Mawr graduate education prepared them for success in their fields. In October GSAS will hold the Biennial Graduate Group Symposium, helping to launch the 10th Anniversary Celebration of the Graduate Group in the Humanities which will occur in April.
At the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research, Dean Bailey welcomes 94 masters students and four new doctoral students. Social Work will enjoy seeing its own Cynthia Bisman, Professor of Social Work, and Shawn Maxam, MSS/MLSP student, among those to deliver addresses at Convocation next week.
I was immensely proud to welcome Secretary Clinton to Bryn Mawr in July to deliver the keynote address at the Women in Public Service Project Institute. Drawing on the talents of faculty, staff, students, and alumnae/i, the College hosted 43 delegates from 28 countries for an exceptional conference on peacebuilding and development in post-conflict societies. Bryn Mawr students’ classroom experiences will be enriched this year by relationships forged at the Institute. Students in Agnès Peysson-Zeiss’ French translation class will use transcriptions of on-the-ground digital reporting by women in the Democratic Republic of Congo as their texts this semester. A staffer from World Pulse will visit Toba Kerson’s course on global public health, and we hope Ann Mei Cheng of the State Department will speak to Carol Hager’s class on technology and politics.
The renovation and expansion of Haffner is underway. I look forward to receiving community input on the design of and sharing plans for the new building later this fall. Look for new and improved pathways across campus and enjoy the newly paved parking lots at Merion and English House. Finally, after a full summer of intense faculty-staff tennis matches, the tennis courts are being resurfaced and will be ready for play in a few weeks.
Fostering community and enhancing campus life
Every summer since I’ve been at Bryn Mawr, I’ve looked forward to the “Fall Line-up.” I’m not referring to the latest shows to hit primetime, but rather the myriad speakers, artists, athletic competitions, and celebrations we enjoy as a community. This fall we welcome acclaimed author Zadie Smith as our guest for the Balch Seminar. We also launch Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle, a two-year film series made possible by a grant by the NEH. And the Performing Arts Series will entertain us with offerings ranging from Tibetan Monks from Drepung Loseling Monastery: Sacred Music, Sacred Dance to John Kelly – The Escape Artist.
To encourage taking the time to connect with other community members and have some fun, I will be experimenting with two events this year. First, I want to bring back Coffee Hour on a monthly basis as a time when anyone and everyone in the community can stop for a cup of coffee – and maybe a doughnut – and conversation with whomever you encounter there. Stay tuned for an announcement of the first of these occasions. Second, throughout the year, I’ll be announcing “Pop-Ups” – spontaneous mini-events, gatherings, and activities. I hope you will take a break from your studies, work, and classes to participate in one or more of these.
Planning for the future
The summer also gave me the opportunity to begin to distill input I received from multiple meetings, discussions, and conversations I’ve had with students, staff, and faculty into a draft set of priorities for the near term as we begin to fully implement The Plan for Bryn Mawr. With each priority, students – and their experience at Bryn Mawr – is primary. Already we are launching the Center for Leadership, Innovation and the Liberal Arts, led by Katie Krimmel who arrived earlier this month. Throughout the fall I will be talking with you to finalize priorities we move ahead with the Plan. I am confident this plan is the right one for Bryn Mawr and am encouraged in our work by the receipt of two recent extraordinary gifts from alumnae to the College in support of the Plan.
We have a full and exciting year before us, and I look forward to working with each of you. I hope to see you at Tuesday’s Convocation and afterward when we head to the “Caribbean” at the community picnic.
With best wishes,
Kimberly Wright Cassidy