The name of the library and great hall are named for M. Carey Thomas, who served as the private college’s president from 1894 to 1922.
According to biographer Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz, Thomas prevented the hiring of Jewish teachers at the Bryn Mawr School in Baltimore, and later made sure she was not dealing with Jewish candidates for faculty positions at the college. Horowitz also noted that Thomas lobbied against the admission of a Jewish student, Sadie Szold, to the Bryn Mawr School in 1886.
Thomas “had a profound impact on opportunities for women in higher education, on the academic development and identity of Bryn Mawr, and on the physical plan of the campus,” College President Kim Cassidy wrote in a letter to the Bryn Mawr community last week. “(S)he also openly and vigorously advanced racism and anti-Semitism as part of her vision of the College.”
Cassidy said a working group of faculty, students, staff, trustees and alumni was formed in the spring “to educate us and to lead reflection on our institutional histories of exclusion, as well as resistance, and to organize our thinking and actions as a community,” she wrote.
According to the Forward College Guide, Bryn Mawr has 1,346 undergraduate students and 200, or 15 percent, are Jewish.