The following email was sent to faculty, students, and staff by President Kim Cassidy on Thursday, August 27.
Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff:
It is always a great pleasure to welcome all of you to a new academic year. I love the sense of promise that comes with the arrival of the fall semester, and the excitement of meeting new students and faculty who will enrich our classrooms, dormitories, athletic fields, and stages. Take a moment in the next few days to step back and value the amazing opportunity we have to work and live with those who share our passions for learning and teaching, our excitement about new ideas, and our value for community.
I want to remind everyone that we will formally begin the year at Fall Convocation, which will take place at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, August 31 in Goodhart Hall. I’m especially pleased that the senior address this year will be offered by Miranda Smith, one of our McBride Scholars. Our McBride students, who return to school after the age of 24, bring a perspective that is unique and valuable to our community. I am delighted by their successes, and I look forward to more in the years ahead. Following Convocation, please join me at a community welcome back picnic with music by DJ Nikki Lopez ’10.
While most of you were away engaged in summer research, jobs, and fun, our Facilities staff were working hard on a variety of construction and renovation projects. Most exciting, of course, is the completion of the new residence hall at the corner of Yarrow St. and North Merion Avenue and the renovation of the adjoining residence and community space that is the successor to Perry House. These are our first new residential spaces in over 40 years, and the rooms are beautiful. I will announce the name of the “new Perry” at Convocation and dedicate the building immediately following the ceremony. Those who are interested will then have an opportunity to go on a brief student-led tour of both new residences during the post-Convocation community picnic. While the other residence does not yet have a name, it does have a fabulous view from the floor to ceiling glass walls of its living rooms and it houses 101 comfortable new single rooms! [Note: some members of the college community have been touring the new residences on their own. We ask that you remember that these dorms are the residents’ home; please wait to go on a student-led tour on Monday to see the new spaces.]
You of course have noticed the scaffolding on both the front towers of Thomas and around the Campus Center. Each of these buildings is in the midst of needed repairs to masonry and roofs that will be completed later this fall. Thank you for your patience as we finish this important maintenance of these beautiful campus landmarks.
My own summer did not include much construction work, but I did have some exciting opportunities to meet with groups who share some of Bryn Mawr’s goals. In June I was invited to speak at the US News STEM Solutions Summit about how colleges and universities can make progress on gender equity for undergraduates in these fields, and in July I took part in a Round Table on Inclusive STEM Education organized by the White House Council on Women and Girls. I am proud of Bryn Mawr’s long history of success in engaging our students in these fields in large numbers, and I hope that we can contribute to national efforts to create more opportunities for women students at other institutions.
This week we welcomed our largest first-year class in Bryn Mawr’s history . . . 389 first-year students, who are joined by eight transfer students. In addition, 87 new students will enroll in the Graduate Schools of Arts and Sciences and Social Work and Social Research and 75 students have begun work in our pre-medical post-baccalaureate program. We are also joined by 10 new members of the faculty, who will teach courses on topics ranging from Global Ethics to Electromagnetism, and from Asian American Psychology to the Fundamentals of Acting. Finally, I am happy to announce that we have hired a new director for our pilot Museum Studies Program, Monique Scott, and a director for our (re)newed campus bookstore, Jim Huang.
Under Jim’s leadership, and profiting from his experience at Kenyon College, Bryn Mawr will once again have an INDEPENDENT bookstore and that the store’s highest priority will be serving our students, faculty, and staff. A good bookstore is a valuable resource for us all, and I encourage you to explore and support the store.
The Board of Trustees established a task force last year to examine student health and counseling services. I received the task force’s report in June, and I am in the process of working with Interim Dean of the Undergraduate College Judy Balthazar to prioritize its recommendations and to identify next steps. We are acting immediately, however, on the report’s recommendation that we increase staffing for our counseling services. We are in the process of hiring an additional full-time counselor who will join us later this fall. I will keep the community posted as we address the report’s other recommendations and consider options for a new health services facility.
One thing that is not new is my hope that all of us make time to explore and participate in the many great activities that happen on campus. Through the course of the academic year, I encourage students in particular
- To sample a program run by LILAC (the Leadership, Innovation and Liberal Arts Center).Meet a visiting alumna-in-residence, participate in a career intensive, get advice on a resume, volunteer for a community organization, learn to talk about how those great research skills you have developed translate to a possible summer internship.
- To cheer on one of our teams at a sports event, work out in the fitness center, or take a PE class
- To go to a Visiting Writers Series reading (these are amazing writers) and sample the Performing Arts Series (dance fans:check out Bill T. Jones and Trisha Brown’s companies)
- To hear one of the distinguished alumnae who will be my special guests this year. First up is Betsy Hodges ’91, Mayor of Minneapolis, who will give a public talk on Thursday, September 18 and who will meet with students interested in politics and community activism on September 19 (interested students can sign up via LILAC)
- To listen to a talk by a visiting faculty member sponsored by one of our academic departments
- To attend a performance or a concert put on by students groups or the Bi-Co Music and Theater programs
- To take part in an event that is part of this year’s themed programming on “Environmental Health, Wealth and Humanity.”
My list only scratches the surface, of course, but I hope that we will all take advantage of the rich array of programs and experiences that are part of Bryn Mawr. I look forward to seeing you at one of these events and to a great year of work together.