Longtime Bryn Mawr President to Speak at Mount Holyoke Commencement

Tuesday, April 25, 2000 - 12:00pm

For immediate release
April 25, 2000

Hailed as a leader in the liberal arts and education for women

SOUTH HADLEY, Massachusetts-Mary Patterson McPherson, president emeritus of Bryn Mawr College and vice president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, will be the commencement speaker at Mount Holyoke College's 163rd commencement ceremonies on Sunday, May 21. Ceremonies will start at 10:30 AM in the Gettell Amphitheater.

"We are honored to have President McPherson as our commencement speaker," said Joanne Creighton, president of Mount Holyoke College. "She is not only a significant figure in American higher education and a leader in the education of women but, through her innovative work at the Mellon Foundation, she is currently working to support both pedagogical innovation and meaningful social engagement at top American colleges and universities. Her commitment to the liberal arts and to higher education for women is an inspiration and validation for those who believe, as I do, that women's institutions will continue to play a very important role in educating women from around the world for leadership in every field."

Having earned an AB from Smith College, an MA from the University of Delaware, and a PhD from Bryn Mawr College in Bryn Mawr, PA, McPherson held numerous academic and administrative posts at Bryn Mawr from 1961 through 1997. From 1978 through 1997, she served as president of that prestigious women's college. A philosopher and outspoken champion of equal access to education for women, McPherson led Bryn Mawr through a period of tremendous growth in the number and diversity of its students-now more than 1,200 undergraduates, more than one-quarter of whom are women of color. In addition, 500 graduate students, both men and women, attend Bryn Mawr.

A member of both the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, McPherson has also served on the boards of numerous for-profit and nonprofit organizations. She now serves on the board of directors of Humanity in Action, the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation, JSTOR, the Philadelphia Contributionship, the Spencer Foundation, and Goldman Sachs Asset Management. She is on the board of trustees at Smith College and Bank Street College and was, until 1998, a trustee at Amherst College.

Since 1997, McPherson has served as vice president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, one of the nation's most influential philanthropic supporters of higher education. Notably, the Mellon Foundation played a key role in supporting research and publication of The Shape of the River, a 1998 study of the long-term benefits of affirmative action at top American colleges and universities. This study has influenced national debate on this difficult issue and was written by William G. Bowen, president of the Mellon Foundation and former president of Princeton University, and Derek Bok, a professor at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and a former president of that university. In addition to its support for higher education, the Mellon Foundation, based in New York City, also supports programs in cultural and public affairs, the performing arts, demography and forced migration, and conservation and the environment.

The Mellon Foundation has provided significant support for many initiatives at Mount Holyoke and within the Five Colleges. Mellon-backed efforts at Mount Holyoke include support for Web training for faculty, students, and staff as well as a grant to the College's Center for Environmental Literacy for development of the campus as a natural laboratory for the study of landscape ecology and ecological processes. The Mellon Foundation has also championed Department of Anthropology Professor Andrew Lass's efforts to help modernize library systems in Eastern Europe and Dean Beverly Daniel Tatum and her staff's assessment of the impact of diversity programs on Mount Holyoke students' achievements.

President McPherson will receive the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters and will be joined at the commencement ceremonies by four other honorary degree recipients. They are:

Glenda A. Hatchett, MHC '73, has been an influential leader in both judicial and corporate arenas. She is Georgia's first African American chief presiding judge of a state court and has served as the department head of one of the largest juvenile court systems in the country.

Samuel Rudolph Insanally is ambassador and permanent representative of Guyana to the United Nations. Representing his country on issues ranging from international peace and security to economic and social concerns, he has led delegations to the General Assembly on multiple occasions and received numerous honors for distinguished service.

Dorothy Rooke McCulloch, MHC '50, is chairman and a longtime volunteer at International House, a Providence, Rhode Island, organization devoted to promoting understanding among the world's diverse peoples. Since her introduction to International House in 1984, McCulloch has been key in transforming the struggling program into a flourishing forum for international exchange. McCulloch was recognized this year by President Clinton for her work as a volunteer and philanthropist at a White House ceremony. A former trustee for the College, McCulloch and her husband Norman McCulloch Jr. have also played ongoing roles in supporting Mount Holyoke College and are the honorary cochairs of The Campaign for Mount Holyoke College: Advancing Our Legacy of Leadership.

Roberta Guaspari, founder of the East Harlem Violin Program and a champion of music education in public schools, has provided hundreds of children from the African American and Latino communities of New York City with the gift of music and the confidence to pursue their dreams.

For more information about the honorary degree recipients please contact the Mount Holyoke College Office of Communications at 413-538-2455 or see the College's Web site at www.mtholyoke.edu.
For a copy of the commencement address see the College's Web site at http://www.mtholyoke.edu/offices/comm/oped/commencement.shtml