November 2013 Archways

President’s Column

Cassidy-TAFT-FINALHow faculty live out the scholar-teacher model at Bryn Mawr today

Dear Friends,

At Bryn Mawr, our faculty are teachers and scholars. As alumnae/i of Bryn Mawr know, we have believed since the College’s founding that the most powerful teaching is done by those actively engaged in research. Through the ongoing practice of research, faculty bring new ideas and methods into the classroom, model the practice of their discipline, and share the excitement of discovery with their students. A faculty of scholar-teachers is also able to offer students opportunities to contribute to the discovery of new knowledge, to present those discoveries at conferences or in publications, and to become more fully engaged with their major fields of study.

Bryn Mawr attracts and retains highly accomplished scholars who take on ambitious research projects more often associated with research universities. Their work—whether carried out in laboratories, libraries, museums, digital analysis, or field study—sustains Bryn Mawr’s academic reputation and its intellectual vitality.

I want share with you just a few of the many examples of the success of the scholar-teacher model at Bryn Mawr today.

Late this summer, Assistant Professor of History Elly Truitt returned from a final research trip before finishing her book on medieval robots (or automata), which will be published by the University of Pennsylvania Press next year. Professor Truitt wrote to me about the incalculable value of visiting sites and looking at the original manuscripts or objects related to her work. As she put it: “Examining the originals in the flesh has alerted me to things that were not visible in photographic reproductions. Going to specific sites has allowed me to experience things like scale, sound, and emotional resonance; in turn these experiences have critically informed my understanding of medieval automata.”

Her excitement and inspiration from her research trip came through even in an email, and I know that these will be carried into her teaching of an advanced seminar on medieval automata and technology this spring. In order to convey to her students what the work of the scholar entails, Professor Truitt also shares her work in progress and peer commentary to help students understand the importance of outside input and re-writing for scholarly work, including their own.

Our faculty produce top-notch scholarship and contribute to their fields and to the larger good of knowledge in society. Space constraints allow me to mention only a few recent examples of national and international faculty recognition. Professor of Geology Arlo Weil was elected a Fellow of the Geological Society of America in 2013, an honor bestowed on only a small number of geologists for their distinguished contributions to the field. Professor of History of Art Lisa Saltzman was awarded a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship as well as a Clark Art Institute Fellowship for the 2012-2013 academic years to support her research on the “afterlife” of photography in contemporary culture; her book Daguerreotypes: Fugitive Subjects, Contemporary Objects is forthcoming with the University of Chicago Press. At the recent annual conference of the American Speech and Hearing Association, Class of 1897 Professor in the Sciences and Professor of Psychology Leslie Rescorla led a panel of contributing authors from her newly released co-edited volume titled Late Talkers: Language Development, Interventions, and Outcomes. Professor Rescorla’s talk summarized findings from her 15-year longitudinal study, the longest outcome study of late talkers anywhere in the world. The panel presentation (offered at 8 a.m.) filled a large convention hall and an overflow room until attendance was finally cut off.

Scholarship of the quality that Bryn Mawr faculty produce requires a deep investment of time and energy on the part of the faculty member and of the resources of the institution. This investment benefits society and also brings visibility and prestige to the College in many different ways. This commitment to faculty scholarship is also a crucial component of our ability to carry out our core mission of educating women to achieve and lead. The knowledge and skills that our students obtain through research, whether as part of a faculty project or on their own, provides them with tools that will be valuable in whatever postgraduate field they pursue.

Sincerely,

Kimberly Wright Cassidy

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