March 2015 Archways

Campus Buzz


  • The First in the World grant, a $1.65 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education, is focused on improving student math skills and targeted to students enrolled in a gateway STEM course. Bryn Mawr’s winning project takes a blended-learning approach to personalized, self-paced instruction that’s combined with face-to-face coaching. The goal? Increase the number of underrepresented, underprepared, and low-income students earning STEM degrees. Bryn Mawr, one of only 24 institutions to receive the funding, is partnering with 12 colleges on this project. Associate Provost and Chair of Physics Elizabeth McCormack is the lead researcher.
  • The Sherman Fairchild Foundation has awarded Bryn Mawr $300,000 to pilot a series of STEM Intensives, three- to four-day seminars introducing students to non-research-based careers in the sciences. Introduced at Bryn Mawr in 2013, the Intensives model encourages students to explore topics outside the formal curriculum. STEM Intensives, which will feature guest speakers working in alternative STEM careers, will focus on community, the private sector, and the arts.
  • The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation gave 10 Pennsylvania liberal arts colleges $800,000 in seed money to form the Pennsylvania Consortium for the Liberal Arts. The Consortium will create cost efficiencies, improve academic and co-curricular programs, and enhance inter-institutional collaboration. The colleges joining Bryn Mawr in the project are Dickinson, Franklin and Marshall, Gettysburg, Haverford, Juniata, Muhlenberg, Swarthmore, Ursinus, and Washington and Jefferson.


Curricular Innovations

From gene research to the creation of new pharmaceuticals, biochemistry and molecular biology are revolutionizing how scientists view the natural world, and now Bryn Mawr students can be part of the revolution. “Biochemistry has really become its own field distinct from chemistry and biology,” says Chemistry Professor Susan White, who led the charge in developing a new interdepartmental major in biochemistry and molecular biology (BMB). The BMB major offers rigorous preparation for careers in biochemistry or biotechnology, graduate study in biochemistry or a related field, or enrollment in a health-related professional school.

Also new to BMC, the health studies minor guides students through the biomedical, cultural, ethical, and political questions related to health issues. This Bi-Co offering introduces social sciences and humanities majors to the science of health care and, for budding scientists, provides grounding in the critical social and cultural issues.



After a summer of demolition that left only the former French tower and dining hall standing, the new Haffner Hall is rising up on the corner of Merion and Yarrow streets. Slated to open for the fall 2015 semester, the three-story structure will provide housing for 130 students in 110 singles and 10 double rooms, thereby increasing the hall capacity by more than 50 students. The additional space will also provide a new home for Perry House programming. Philadelphia-based Atkin Olshin Schade Architects is working with the College on the building design.


Buzz_Rankings_Lantern Night

The Huffington Post gave BMC props recently for two beloved campus traditions, with Lantern Night named one of the 10 Fantastic Autumn Traditions Celebrated at Women’s Colleges and Athena named one of the Most-Loved Statues on College Campuses. “Students at Bryn Mawr College (home to dozens of wild traditions) leave offerings, often homemade, and handwritten notes to the statue of Athena for help both in and out of school.”
























To the White House

In December, Bryn Mawr President Kim Cassidy joined President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and college presidents and education leaders from around the nation at the second White House College Opportunity Day of Action. Participants were challenged to devise ways of helping more students, especially those from lower-income families and underrepresented groups, prepare for and graduate from college.

At the first event, held in January 2014, Bryn Mawr committed to partnering with the Posse Foundation on a new STEM-focused Posse, funding the Community College Connection, and building instructional programs that address the needs of underserved students.

“Coming to the White House and getting to meet Michelle Obama is tremendously exciting, and I’m honored to represent Bryn Mawr College as we are recognized for our ongoing efforts and for our commitment to do even more,” Cassidy says. “But what’s really important is to spend time with these other educators who are all so committed to the causes of access and college completion. There are schools and organizations at every level, from K–12 and community-based organizations, to private foundations, to community colleges, to private research universities, doing innovative work. As both the President and the First Lady said, ‘Together we can make sure that all students have the tools to succeed.’”


The Gift of You

Buzz_StoryCorpsIn September, StoryCorps, the national oral history project broadcast on National Public Radio each week, sent a crew to Bryn Mawr for Move-In Day. Filled with emotion and punctuated by laughter, first-year students and their families discussed their lives together and contemplated the milestone of college attendance.

StoryCorps’s mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of their lives.

At Bryn Mawr, the StoryCorps crew interviewed nine pairs of students and parents. It’s no surprise that their reflections centered on the transition ahead and their hopes for the future. In one segment, Barbara Bridgers-Johnson tells her adoptive daughter, Georgina Renée Johnson ’18 (pictured), of her gratitude at “having received the gift of you.”

One of the largest oral history projects of its kind, StoryCorps has collected more than 50,000 interviews with over 90,000 participants since 2003. Conversations are preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress and are available at the StoryCorps website at


How do we stay real in an Internet world?

7_Buzz_Snapshot_Love and InfoLove and Information, by the renowned English dramatist Caryl Churchill, has more than 50 scenes and 20 actors and a lot on its mind. Hailed by the Guardian as the “play everyone should see,” this tour-de-force production asks what happens to our brains, our hearts, and our privacy as we navigate our computers, cellphones, and tablets in our desperate thirst for information (and cat videos). Directed by Catharine Slusar, the production featured a Bi-Co cast and original music by Henry Bradford HC ’15, Camilla Dely ’15, and Qi’er Luo ’15. Pictured: Sophie Karbjinski ’17 (center stage), with Emma Basen-Engquist ’17 (left) and Emma Wells ’17 (right).