Bryn Mawr College

name = Bryn Mawr College

motto = "Veritatem Dilexi"
mottoeng = I Delight in the Truth
established = 1885
type = Private
president = Jane Dammen McAuliffe
city = Bryn Mawr
Lower Merion Twp
state = PA
country = USA
campus = Suburban
undergrad = 1,378
postgrad = 421
staff =
faculty = 144
mascot = Athena's Owl
colors = Yellow and White
flower = Daisy
cheer = Anassa Kata
endowment = US $663.6 million [cite news | last = | first = | coauthors = | title =College and University Endowments Over $250-Million, 2007 | work =Chronicle of Higher Education | pages =28 | language = | publisher = | date =2008-08-29 | url = | accessdate = ]
website= [] |

Bryn Mawr College (pron-en|ˌbrɪnˈmɑr "brin-mar)" [Mackey & Mackey (1922) "The Pronunciation of 10,000 Proper Names"; also example at [ e-speech site] ] is a highly selective women's liberal arts college located in Bryn Mawr, a community in Lower Merion Township, Pennsylvania, ten miles west of Philadelphia. The name "Bryn Mawr" means "large hill" in Welsh (not "high hill," as is often mistakenly given as the translation; "Bryn Uchel" translates to "high hill.")

Bryn Mawr is one of the Seven Sister colleges, and is part of the Tri-College Consortium along with two other colleges founded by Quakers — Swarthmore College and Haverford College. The school has an enrollment of about 1300 undergraduate students and 400 graduate students.


Students at Bryn Mawr are required to complete divisional requirements in the social sciences, natural sciences (including lab skills) and humanities. In addition, they must fulfill a two-year foreign language requirement, a quantitative skills requirement and a College Seminar requirement.


Bryn Mawr College was founded in 1885, and named after the original home of its founder, a house near Dolgellau, Merionnydd (Merioneth) Gwynedd, Wales, and largely founded through the bequest of Joseph W. Taylor. It was the first higher education institution to offer graduate degrees, including doctorates, to women. The first class included 36 undergraduate women and eight graduate students. Bryn Mawr was originally affiliated with the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), but by 1893 had become non-denominational. [ [ A Brief History of Bryn Mawr College] ]

In 1912, Bryn Mawr became the first college in the United States to offer doctorates in social work, through the Department of Social Economy and Social Research. This department became the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research in 1970. In 1931, Bryn Mawr began accepting men as graduate students, while remaining women-only at the undergraduate level.

A June 03 2008 article in "The New York Times" discussed the move by women's colleges in the United States to promote their schools in the Middle East. The article noted that in doing so, the schools promote the work of graduates of women's colleges such as Hillary Rodham Clinton, Emily Dickinson, Diane Sawyer, Katharine Hepburn and Madeleine K. Albright. The Dean of Admissions of Bryn Mawr noted, "We still prepare a disproportionate number of women scientists [...] We’re really about the empowerment of women and enabling women to get a top-notch education." The article also contrasted the difference between women's colleges in the Middle East and "the American colleges [which] for all their white-glove history and academic prominence, are liberal strongholds where students fiercely debate political action, gender identity and issues like “heteronormativity,” the marginalizing of standards that are other than heterosexual. Middle Eastern students who already attend these colleges tell of a transition that can be jarring." [ [ ‘Sisters’ Colleges See a Bounty in the Middle East] ]

In 1918, Bryn Mawr College was a mysterious "influenza escape" community, having 110 cases of influenza, but zero deaths. []

College presidents

* 1885-1894 James E. Rhoads []
* 1894-1922 M. Carey Thomas
* 1922-1942 Marion Edwards Park
* 1942-1970 Katharine Elizabeth McBride
* 1970-1978 Harris L. Wofford
* 1978-1997 Mary Patterson McPherson
* 1997-2008 Nancy J. Vickers
* 2008-Pres.Jane Dammen McAuliffe

Notable alumnae and faculty

A large number of Bryn Mawr alumnae have gone on to become notable in their respective fields. The list includes Drew Gilpin Faust, the first woman president of Harvard University, modernist poets H.D. and Marianne Moore, classics scholar Edith Hamilton, Nobel Peace Prize winner Emily Greene Balch, geneticist Nettie Stevens, federal judge Ilana Rovner, and actress Katharine Hepburn. Notable faculty include Woodrow Wilson, Edmund Beecher Wilson, Thomas Hunt Morgan, mathematician Emmy Noether and classicist Richmond Lattimore.


Bryn Mawr undergraduates largely govern themselves in academic and social matters. Their Self-Government Association, formed in 1892, is the oldest such organization in the United States. A significant aspect of self-government is the Academic Honor System (honor code).

Along with Haverford College, Bryn Mawr forms the Bi-College Community. Students in the "Bi-Co" enjoy unlimited cross-registration privileges and may choose to major at the other institution. The two institutions join with Swarthmore College to form the Tri-College Consortium, opening the Swarthmore course catalog to interested Bryn Mawr students as well. Free shuttles are provided between the three campuses. There is the Blue Bus between Bryn Mawr and Haverford College, and a van, known to the students as the "Swat Van", that goes between the three colleges.

In addition, the group is affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania through a special association known as the Quaker Consortium, allowing Bryn Mawr students to take classes there. Additionally, Bryn Mawr students in the Growth and Structure of Cities department may earn a Bachelor of Arts at Bryn Mawr and a master's degree in city planning at Penn through the 3-2 Program in City and Regional Planning.


Bryn Mawr's library holdings are housed in the Mariam Coffin Canaday Library (opened 1970), the Rhys Carpenter Library (opened 1997), and the Lois and Reginald Collier Science Library (opened 1993). TRIPOD, the online library catalog, automatically accesses holdings at Haverford and Swarthmore.

The majority of Bryn Mawr students live on campus in residence halls. Many of the older residence halls are known for their Gothic revival architecture, modeled after Oxford University. Each is named after a county town in Wales: Brecon, Denbigh (1891), Merion (1885), and Radnor (1887). Pembroke East and West (1892). Rhoads North and South was named after the college's first president, James E. Rhoads; Rockefeller is named after its donor, John D. Rockefeller. The newest residence halls are Erdman (opened 1965, designed by architect Louis Kahn) and the Haffner Language and Culture House (opened 1971). In addition, students may choose to live in Perry House (the Black Cultural Center) or Batten House (an environmentally-friendly co-op). Glenmede (formerly graduate student housing) is an estate located about a half mile from the main campus which was available housing for undergrduate students. In 2007, it was sold to a conservation buyer as the annual costs of upkeep were too great for the college. [ [ Glenmede Saved From Destruction and Over-Development | Save Ardmore Coalition ] ] As of the 2008-2009 academic school year, the College is offering students off-campus apartments located at Mermont Plaza.

The campus was designed in part by noted landscape designers Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted, and has subsequently been designated an arboretum (the Bryn Mawr Campus Arboretum).

Architecture and Significant Places

Blanca Noel Taft Memorial Garden

In 1908, John C. Olmsted designed a private garden for M. Carey Thomas adjoining the Deanery. The garden was later modified and renamed as the Blanca Noel Taft Memorial Garden. It currently exists as a small, serene enclosure with two wall fountains, one with a small basin and the other with a sunken reflecting pool, as well as a statuary based on designs Thomas and Garrett had seen in Italy. The decorative wall tiles, placed above the smaller wall fountain and basin, were purchased from Syria. [ [ Bryn Mawr College Campus Plan - John Olmsted ] ]

Erdman Hall Dormitory

In 1960, architect Louis I. Kahn and Bryn Mawr College president, Katharine McBride, came together to create one of this century’s great buildings, the Erdman Hall dormitory [The Architecture Week's "Great Building Collection"] .For over a year, Kahn and his assistants struggled to translate the college’s design program of 130 student rooms and public spaces into a scheme (well documented by the letters written between McBride and Kahn). The building comprises three geometrical square structures, connected at their corners. The outer walls are formed by interlocking student rooms around three inner public spaces: the entry hall, dining hall and living hall. These spaces receive light from towering light monitors.

The Marjorie Walter Goodhart Theater

The Marjorie Walter Goodhart Theater houses a vaulted auditorium designed by Arthur Meigs, two smaller spaces that are ideal for intimate performances by visiting artists, practice rooms for student musicians, and the Office for the Arts. The building's towers and gables, friezes, carvings and ornamental ironwork were designed by Samuel Yellin in the gothic revival style. [] [ The First 300: The Amazing and Rich History of Lower Merion (Part 18) ] ] As of Summer 2008, the College has proceeded with a $19 million renovation plan of Goodhart, to be completed in 2009. [ [ Bryn Mawr Now: Goodhart Renovation Plan Approved By Historical Commision, Township] Retrieved December 13, 2007]

M. Carey Thomas Library


Rhys Carpenter Art and Archaeology Library

Named for Bryn Mawr’s late professor of Classical Archaeology, the Rhys Carpenter Library was designed by Henry Myerberg of New York and opened in 1997. The space is attached to the rear of the M. Carey Thomas Library. The entrance is a four story atrium. Names of art and archaeology faculty are on the main wall with a frieze of plaster casts from ancient Halicarnassus. Most of the stacks, study areas, lecture halls and seminar rooms were built underground. The roof comprises a wide grassy area used for outdoor concerts and picnics. The building won a 2001 Award of Excellence for Library Architecture from the Library Administration and Management Association and the American Institute of Architects. Carpenter Library also houses the College's renowned collections in Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology, History of Art and Classics [ [ Bryn Mawr College Library: Carpenter Library ] ] . The building also contains a large lecture hall and a seminar room. []


", occur around these events as well.

The two traditions mistresses of the College, elected by the student body, are in charge of organizing and running traditions.

In addition to events, Bryn Mawr's traditions extend to superstitions around the campus, some of which date back to the opening of the college in 1885. [ [ Bryn Mawr College Student Activities ] ]

Parade Night

On the first night of classes, first year students are gathered near the main entrance to the college. The remainder of the college community gathers, by class, lining the sides of the road leading to the steps of Taylor Hall. The Freshmen must run through the road first pelted by water balloons by the Sophomore class, then showered with candy by the Junior class as the Senior class looks on. In 2007, one of the running freshmen sustained an injury due to slipping on the wet sidewalk, and safety concerns regarding Parade Night were discussed.

Older parade nights (until the 60s or 70s) were quite different. There was a large bonfire built on Merion Green and a parade led by the local firemen's band that led to the bonfire. Freshmen joined hands in circles around the bonfire and the Sophomores tried to break through these circles. Part of the older Parade Night ceremony has survived to date. Each Freshman class writes a Parade Night Song, which the Sophomores attempt to steal a copy of so that they can write a Parade Night Parody. The songs are sung on the steps of Taylor Hall after the "Parade" in a Step Sing. [ [ Carolyn's Page | BMC Traditions ] ]

Lantern Night

Dressed in traditional black academic robes, Freshmen are given lanterns from the upperclasswomen in their class color symbolically representing the light of knowledge being passed from one class to another. The color of the lantern's panes are the same as the previous year's departing class, either red, dark blue, green or light blue or the McBride scholar color of purple. During this intricate ceremony, Sophomores hand out the lanterns while the Juniors and Seniors lead the singing of college hymns in Greek. The tradition concludes with a Step Sing on the Taylor Hall steps. [ [ Carolyn's Page | Traditions: Lantern Night ] ]

Hell Week

Hell Week occurs in mid-February, about a month after students return from winter break. It serves as a way to break the monotony in the time between winter and spring breaks. First years are put through academic and social paces by gentle "hazing" conducted by the Sophomore class. First year students often perform random or ridiculous tasks, such as asking silly questions in class, reciting poetry extolling the virtues of the Sophomore class in public, or performing on a stage erected in the main dining hall. Juniors attempt to provide relief for first years by giving them gifts or providing them "safe havens". [ [ Carolyn's Page | Traditions: Hell Week ] ]

May Day

Bryn Mawr College now celebrates May Day on the first Sunday following the end of classes. Somewhat akin to a mini renaissance festival, it is a day long celebration in which students and faculty participate. The students dress in white and begin the day by feasting on strawberries and cream. Students then perform in a myriad of traditional parades, plays, and concerts including various cultural dancing display such as Maypole and Scottish Country dancing.Like Lantern Night and Parade Night, May Day ends in a Step Sing and then is concluded with the traditional showing of "The Philadelphia Story," starring alumna Katharine Hepburn. [ [ Carolyn's Page | Traditions: May Day ] ]

Bryn Mawr in popular culture

*On the AMC series Mad Men, character Betty Draper is a graduate of Bryn Mawr. Coincidentally, real-life graduate Maggie Siff '96 also stars in a recurring role as Rachel Menken on the series. [ [ Smoking, Drinking, Writing, Womanizing, Smoking, Drinking... - Mad Men - Television - ] ]
*On the Episode 114 of The Simpsons, I'm Spelling as Fast as I Can, Bryn Mawr is featured in Lisa's dream of the Seven Sisters Colleges.
*Simpsons character Edna Krabappel, a fourth-grade teacher at Springfield Elementary School, holds a Master's from Bryn Mawr College.
*In Toni Morrison's novel "Song of Solomon", First Corinthians Dead, sister of the protagonist, is a Bryn Mawr alumna.
* In Sinclair Lewis' novel "Babbitt", George Babbitt's daughter, Verona, is a recent graduate of Bryn Mawr.
* Fictional playwright Erica Barry, played by Diane Keaton in the 2003 film Something's Gotta Give, is a Bryn Mawr alumna.
* In April-May 2008, the major motion picture Tenure was filmed at Bryn Mawr, sharing the honor of portraying fictional Gray College with nearby Rosemont College. Luke Wilson and Dave Koechner star in the film, which will be released in 2009.

In the NBC series 30 Rock, Jack Donaghy says to Liz Lemon "this is not open mic night at the Bryn Mawr student union" after she makes a bad joke.


*Horowitz, Helen Lefkowitz. "The Power and Passion of M. Carey Thomas". New York: Knopf, 1994.
*---. " [,M1 Alma Mater: Design and Experience in the Women's Colleges from Their Nineteenth-Century Beginnings to the 1930s] ," Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1993 (2nd edition).


External links

* [ Bryn Mawr College]
** [ Bryn Mawr Libraries]
** [ Bryn Mawr Residential Life]
** [ Student Activities]
** [ Bryn Mawr Now]
** [ Serendip]
* [ Bryn Mawr School]
* [ Bi-College News] , Bryn Mawr and Haverford Colleges' Student Newspaper
* [ the college news] , Bryn Mawr Feminist Newsjournal

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