2013 is here and in a few short weeks our students will be trickling back to campus, restored and ready for the new semester. It is always a bit strange to speak of the “spring” semester, since January, February (and a good chunk of March) tend to be fairly dreary and glum, at least when it comes to the short days and cold, cloudy weather. It was perhaps with this in mind that Mawrters of years past decided to hold Hell Week, the College’s third and perhaps most complicated tradition, during the first half of February. Hell Week shenanigans certainly inject some color and flair (in the guise of endlessly creative costumes), hilarity and a little madness into what would normally be a fairly grim time of the year. Several students, past and present, credit Hell Week with making Bryn Mawr truly feel like home and contributing to the sense of community that the College is known for. Being “helled” was definitely a highlight of my first year as dean and I will never forget the surprisingly liberating sensation of getting up on a chair in the middle of Erdman and delivering a five minute speech on why Bryn Mawr should adopt the lemur as its official mascot (see photo above).
This year, February will also be a little brighter because the College will be awarding its fifth Hepburn Medal to legendary musician, poet and visual artist, Patti Smith. Named in honor of screen legend Katharine Hepburn, a Bryn Mawr alumna, the Hepburn Medal is given to women “whose lives, work and contributions embody the intelligence, drive and independence of the four-time-Oscar-winning actress.” In addition to attending an award ceremony and celebration in Goodhart Hall on February 7, Ms. Smith will give a special performance just for students earlier that day. We are all looking forward to what promises to be a highlight of the year.
After getting settled into classes, enjoying Patti Smith and surviving Hell Week, many of our first-year, sophomore and junior students will turn their attention to making plans for the summer. Bryn Mawr offers a generous array of summer funding opportunities that allow students to pursue research, individual projects, community service and pre-professional internships all over the world. Applications for most of these funds are due in February and early March. For a complete listing of what the College offers, visit the Student Summer Funding webpage.
As for many of our seniors, spring 2013 will be a time of conflicting emotions: joy at being done with major requirements, the thesis and the swim test and sadness that soon they will be graduating and leaving college behind. In a place as bound up in tradition as Bryn Mawr, there can be a particularly sharp sense of loss as May 18 draws near (particularly if plans for graduate school or a job are not yet set). In the Dean’s Office we try to be helpful to students as they negotiate these final months, offering perspective, encouragement and congratulations as each final milestone is reached. As parents and family members, you can do the same! After all, it is a momentous time for you, too.
Until next time,
Dean of the Undergraduate College