Bryn Mawr Faces Financial Crisis

Bryn Mawr College may have to eliminate most of its graduate programs, cut back some student services, and increase its enrollment and its student-teacher ratio in order to overcome a financial crisis in which the school is slowly eating into its endowment, administrators said this week.

The college proposes to make all these cutbacks in a financial plan that the school's trustees will vote on early next month. If the trustees approve the plan, it will be gradually implemented over the next five years, said Dean of the College Michele Myers.

After seeing a report prepared by Cambridge Associates that stated that if the college continues its spending patterns, its endowment will fall by 10 percent by 1992, the Board of Trustees mandated that the college take immediate action to solve its financial problems.


At one point, faculty members, fearing that increasing enrollment would result in a decline in student quality, even suggested making Bryn Mawr a coeducational school, but students were "incensed" by that idea, said junior Mili A. Cisneros, president of the Student Government Association.


The switch to coeducation now seems a remote possibility, she added. Sophomore Beth S. Posner, the student representative to the faculty, said that a quorum of students voted unanimously to retain the college's single-sex status.

The proposed cutting back of most of the college's graduate school programs has caused unrest among students. Under the new plan, only Bryn Mawr's "most prestigious" programs, such as Classics, Archaeology, and Art History, would continue to exist, Cisneros said. There are currently graduate programs in 26 fields.

"Students are very concerned about [grad school cuts] because one of the special things about Bryn Mawr is that it's a small school with a graduate school," Posner said.

Financial Aid Cuts

Another proposal that bothers students is the possible cuts in financial aid, Posner said. Even if the plan goes through, financial aid at Bryn Mawr will still be above the national average, she added.

At the same time the college is proposing to cut the amount of money they dole out in financial aid, administrators also want to increase student undergraduate enrollment by about 100 students, or almost 10 percent of its 1100-member student body, Myers said.

In order to provide enough financial aid to everyone who needs it, administrators "are hoping to focus recruiting on people who can pay for all four years, which isn't really in keeping with the need-blind [admissions policy]," Posner said.

Suzanne Spain, the college's assistant treasurer, said, "Bryn Mawr believes very strongly in being open to students of all socio-economic backgrounds." She said the school plans to keep its need-blind policies.

Under the proposal, the warden program, similar to Harvard's proctor program, will be cut, and undergraduate hall advisers will take the place of the graduate students who act as wardens, Posner said.

"It seems to me that that’s an awful lot of pressure to be putting on one's own peers," said Posner, who said she will serve as a hall adviser next year. "We also don't have the same perspective that graduate students have, so I think that could be dangerous," she said.