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Bryn Mawr College (colloquially brin-mar, Welsh brin-mauer) is a women's liberal arts college located in Bryn Mawrmarker, a community in Lower Merion Townshipmarker, Pennsylvaniamarker, ten miles west of Philadelphiamarker. The name "Bryn Mawr" means "large hill" in Welsh.

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


Bryn Mawr College was founded in 1885, and named after the original home of its founder, a house near Dolgellaumarker, Merionnydd (Merioneth) Gwyneddmarker, Walesmarker, and largely founded through the bequest of Joseph W. Taylor. The first president was James Evans Rhoads. Bryn Mawr 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.

In 1912, Bryn Mawr became the first college in the United Statesmarker 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 3 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 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."

In 1918, Bryn Mawr College was a mysterious "influenza escape" community, having 110 cases of influenza, but zero deaths. [31378]

College presidents


Bryn Mawr's Pembroke Hall
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 Universitymarker. Each is named after a county town in Walesmarker: Breconmarker, Denbighmarker (1891), Merionmarker (1885), and Radnormarker (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. As of the 2008-2009 academic school year, the College was offering students off-campus apartments located at Mermont Plaza. The College has since decided to discontinue the rental of these apartments as part of their ongoing budget cuts.

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).

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 Syriamarker.

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 .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

Sunset over Goodhart Hall
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. As of Summer 2008, the College has proceeded with a $19 million renovation plan of Goodhart, to be completed in 2009.

M. Carey Thomas Library

Great Hall
after Bryn Mawr's first Dean and second president, the M. Carey Thomas Library is no longer a library. Today, it is a space for performances, readings, lectures, public gatherings and was once the home of the Athena statue (which was damaged in 1997) which is now located in a high alcove in the Rhys Carpenter Art and Archaeology Library. The Great Hall (formerly the reading room of the old Library) features a cathedral ceiling painted with geometric Renaissance patterns and tall, lead-paned windows, which flood the space with light. This area was renovated and conserved by Voith & Mactavish Architects LLP. M. Carey Thomas Library encloses a large open courtyard called "The Cloisters", which is the site of the College's traditional Lantern Night Ceremony. The cremated remains of M. Carey Thomas are in the courtyard cloister. Alumna Katharine Hepburn used to go skinny dipping in the Cloisters fountain, a fact confirmed by the source in her 1985 graduation address. A popular tradition is for undergraduates to do the same before graduating and conveniently the fountain contains chlorinated water.

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 Athensmarker. 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 . The building also contains a large lecture hall and a seminar room.


Bryn Mawr undergraduates largely govern themselves in academic and social matters. A significant aspect of self-government is the Academic Honor System (honor code).

Along with Haverford Collegemarker, 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 Collegemarker 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 Pennsylvaniamarker 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 is a small, four year, highly residential baccalaureate college. Although the college offers several graduate programs, the majority of enrollments are from students enrolled in the undergradute arts & sciences program. The college granted 311 bachelor's degrees, 132 master's degrees, and 18 doctoral degrees in 2008.

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.

Admission to Bryn Mawr is classified as "more selective, lower transfer in." In 2008–2009, Bryn Mawr received 2,150 undergraduate applications, admitted 1049 (48.8%), and enrolled 366 (34.9%). First year students had interquartile ranges of 620–730 on reading, 580–680 on math, and 620–710 on writing on the SAT. The four-year graduation rate is 81.4% and the six-year rate is 86.3%. The student body comprises 1,287 female undergraduate students and the graduate program comprises 458 graduate students (19.4% of them male).


May Day at Bryn Mawr College
four major traditions are Parade Night, which takes place on the first night of the academic year; Lantern Night, which takes place in late October or early November; Hell Week, which takes place in mid-February; and May Day, which takes place on the Sunday after classes end in the spring semester. Step sings, when students bring their class lanterns and congregate at Taylor Hall, singing songs such as "Bread and Roses", 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.

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 Universitymarker, Hanna Holborn Gray, the first woman president of a major research university (University of Chicago), modernist poets H.D. and Marianne Moore, classics scholar Edith Hamilton, Nobel Peace Prize winner Emily Greene Balch, geneticist Nettie Stevens, artist Anne Truitt, federal judge Ilana Rovner, Health Editor for Ladies Home Journal, Julia Kagan, author Joan Borysenko, and actress Katharine Hepburn. Notable faculty include Woodrow Wilson, Edmund Beecher Wilson, Thomas Hunt Morgan, mathematician Emmy Noether, classicist Richmond Lattimore and Spanish philosopher José Ferrater Mora.


Bryn Mawr has signed the American College and University President's Climate Commitment, and in doing so, the school agreed to make all new buildings comply with a LEED silver standard or higher; to purchase Energy Star products whenever possible; and to provide and encourage the use of public transportation. The school's dining halls strive to be environmentally sustainable by working to expand their local and organic offerings, recycling in all dining areas, and recycling used fry oil as bio-diesel fuel. The dining halls previously offered biodegradable takeout containers, but reverted to Styrofoam in the 2009-2010 academic year. Additionally, all leftover food is donated to a local food bank. On the College Sustainability Report Card 2009, published by the Sustainable Endowments Institute, Bryn Mawr received a C+. The school's highest category score was an A in Investment Priorities, since Bryn Mawr invests in renewable energy funds, but the score was brought down by lower grades in categories like Green Building (in which the school earned a D, since the campus currently features no green buildings).


Bryn Mawr fields intercollegiate teams in badminton, basketball, cross country, field hockey, lacrosse, rowing, rugby, soccer, swimming, tennis, track and field, and volleyball. The badminton team won national intercollegiate championships in 1996 and 2008.

Bryn Mawr in popular culture

  • On the AMC series Mad Men, character Betty Draper is a graduate of Bryn Mawr with a degree in anthropology. Real-life graduate Maggie Siff '96 also stars in a recurring role as Rachel Menken on the series.
  • On 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.
  • Lady Jaye, a fictional character in the GI JOE universe, graduated 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 Collegemarker. Luke Wilson and Dave Koechner star in the film, which will be released in 2009.
  • Bryn Mawr College was mentioned in the second season (episode 9) of TV drama Gossip girl.
  • In Episode 7 of Season 1 of 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.
  • In season 1 episode 5 of the NBC series "Life," a member of a band says their lead singer Angel "went back to Bryn Mawr after all."
  • Fatima Siad, the second runner-up in cycle ten of America's Next Top Model attended Bryn Mawr College.
  • In the 1997 film "Inventing the Abbotts," Liv Tyler plays the youngest Abbott girl, Pamela Abbott, a student at Bryn Mawr College.
  • In Some Like it Hot (1959), Marilyn Monroe's character references Bryn Mawr students as society girls.
  • In Truman Capote's novel "Summer Crossing", Steve Bolton's wife, Janet, attended Bryn Mawr College.
  • In Brian dePalma's 1976 movie Obsession, Michael Courtland, the main character, talks about the way his wife did walk as a "Bryn Mawr walk" and refers to the Bryn Mawr college girls while describing this walk: "A Bryn Mawr walk is a kind of a glide, you know? Those girls used to wear long polo coats in those old days, long raincoats. They kind of glide, like they're late for class. They move fast and just kinda glide."

See also



  1. Mackey & Mackey (1922) The Pronunciation of 10,000 Proper Names; also example at e-speech site
  2. (not "high hill," as is often mistakenly given as the translation; Bryn Uchel translates to "high hill.")
  3. A Brief History of Bryn Mawr College
  4. ‘Sisters’ Colleges See a Bounty in the Middle East
  5. Glenmede Saved From Destruction and Over-Development | Save Ardmore Coalition
  6. Bryn Mawr College Campus Plan - John Olmsted
  7. The Architecture Week's Great Building Collection
  9. The First 300: The Amazing and Rich History of Lower Merion (Part 18)
  10. Bryn Mawr Now: Goodhart Renovation Plan Approved By Historical Commission, Township Retrieved December 13, 2007
  11. Voith & Mactavish Architects LLP: Architecture Portfolio : Thomas Great Hall
  12. Bryn Mawr College Library: Carpenter Library
  14. Bryn Mawr College Student Activities
  16. Smoking, Drinking, Writing, Womanizing, Smoking, Drinking... - Mad Men - Television -

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