Bryn Mawr College will remove the inscribed name of former president M. Carey Thomas from the campus building known as Old Library, the Board of Trustees announced Tuesday in an email to the community.
Thomas, who served as president from 1894 to 1922, was a staunch supporter of women’s education but also promulgated racist and antisemitic views.
“Even as M. Carey Thomas was steadfast in her drive to build a first-rate academic institution for the education of women, the limitation of her vision to the education of wealthy white women, her embrace of eugenics, and her outspoken racist and antisemitic beliefs have caused pain for generations of students, staff and faculty,” read the letter from the board. “We believe that Thomas’ social beliefs are irreconcilably in conflict with Bryn Mawr’s mission, values and aspirations today.”
Thomas’s name was initially inscribed over the library entrance in 1935 to honor her role as Bryn Mawr’s first dean and second president. In 2017, the college suspended the use of her name on campus buildings while a panel conducted a historical study of the institution’s leaders and policies.
According to a letter from President Kim Cassidy to students, faculty and staff, the inscription of Thomas’s name “will be physically removed” from the library building later this year.
She noted that the inscription, as well as an oil painting and a bust of Thomas currently in storage, will be displayed as part of a future exhibit “that allows for purposeful engagement with these objects and a reckoning with the full stories behind them.”