Bryn Mawr trustees elect new president Pa. college's board backs dean and professor from University of S. California


Members of a search committee for a new president for Bryn Mawr College were supposed to recommend several candidates to the trustees, but they collectively fell for one person: Nancy Vickers, a dean and professor of French, Italian and comparative literature at the University of Southern California.

Yesterday, the trustees gave their unanimous approval to Vickers, electing her to replace Mary Patterson McPherson, who will join the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in New York this year.

A 1967 graduate of Mount Holyoke College, Vickers is an advocate of women's colleges like it and Bryn Mawr that have resisted coeducation.

Although the surrounding world has changed, she said in a recent interview, "there is certainly a place for women's colleges."

Like other women's colleges, Bryn Mawr, outside of Philadelphia, has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity. This year, it has more than 1,600 applicants for a fall class of 350. It is also in sound financial shape, with an endowment of $310 million.

McPherson, who led Bryn Mawr for 19 years, said, "It seemed to me to be the right time to step down.

"With the institution in very good shape, the trustees, faculty and students had the luxury of picking someone who really engaged their interests. I think Nancy Vickers is going to challenge and enliven and amuse this place," she said.

Vickers comes to the post with long experience as a scholar and with briefer experience as an administrator. She earned her doctorate in French literature at Yale University in 1976, taught at Dartmouth College from 1973 to 1987 and then moved to USC.

Morton Owen Schapiro, dean of the USC College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, said that when he asked Vickers to become dean of curriculum in 1994, her reaction was: "I'm not an administrator. I love my teaching. I love my scholarship."

But she said she came to love administration, too, and was excited at the prospect of moving to Bryn Mawr.

"I've changed the terrain of my career every five years or so," she said.

"I have a history of change."

Pub Date: 2/16/97

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