Mary Patterson McPherson

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Mary Patterson McPherson
Nationality American
Alma mater Smith College, University of Delaware, Bryn Mawr College
Organization Bryn Mawr College , Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, American Philosophical Society
Known for Educator, sixth President of Bryn Mawr College
External video
Mary Patterson McPherson Awarded Honorary Doctorate at DePauw Commencement, 2004

Mary Patterson McPherson (born c. 1935) has served as the President of Bryn Mawr College (1978-1997), the Vice President of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (1997–2007), and the Executive Officer of the American Philosophical Society (2007-2012).[1] She is considered to be "a significant figure in American higher education and a leader in the education of women".[2] She is widely credited with renewing and revitalizing Bryn Mawr and enhancing its stature during a time when the role of women's colleges was being challenged.[3][1]


Mary Patterson McPherson attended school at Agnes Irwin School in Rosemont.[4] She received her B.A. and L.L.D. from Smith College, an M.A. from the University of Delaware, and a Ph.D. from Bryn Mawr College in Bryn Mawr, PA.[1]


McPherson taught philosophy at the University of Delaware and served as professor and dean at Bryn Mawr before being elected President of Bryn Mawr College, from 1978-1997.[1][5] Her inauguration at Bryn Mawr College was the first time that all the presidents of the Seven Sisters colleges were women.[6]

McPherson served as Vice President of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation from October 1997 to February 2007.[7]

She was named the Executive Officer of the American Philosophical Society, the oldest learned society in the United States in 2007.[5] She has been a member of the society since her election to membership in 1983.[3]

MacPherson has also served the community through membership on many boards and institutions, including several schools and colleges, JSTOR,[8] the Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, the Brookings Institution, the American Council on Education, and the National Humanities Center.[9][10]


  • M. Carey Thomas Award, 2002[4]
  • Honorary Doctor of Letters degree from DePauw University, May 23,2004[9]
  • Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the University of Delaware, January 10, 2009[3]
  • The McPherson Fund For Excellence was established at Bryn Mawr in 1997 to honor President Emeritus Mary Patterson McPherson, recognizing McPherson Fellows for excellence and service to the community, either within or beyond the boundaries of this institution.[11]


  1. ^ a b c d "President Emeritus Mary Patterson McPherson to Lead American Philosophical Society". Bryn Mawr Now. June 28, 2007. Retrieved 22 October 2014. 
  2. ^ "Longtime Bryn Mawr President to Speak at Mount Holyoke Commencement". Mount Holyoke. April 25, 2000. Retrieved 22 October 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c "Honorary degree citation for Mary Patterson McPherson". UDaily. University of Delaware. 10 January 2009. Retrieved 23 October 2014. 
  4. ^ a b "M. Carey Thomas Award presentation at the 105th Annual Meeting of the Alumnae Association June 3, 2002". Bryn Mawr Alumnae Bulletin. Fall 2002. Retrieved 22 October 2014. 
  5. ^ a b "Mary Patterson McPherson, Ph.D. Executive Officer Emeritus, The American Philosophical Society". Vision 2020 Equality in Sight. Drexel University. Retrieved 22 October 2014. 
  6. ^ "Mary Patterson McPherson, sixth president of Bryn Mawr College (1978-1997)". Leading Bryn Mawr: An Exhibition in Honor of Nancy J. Vickers. Bryn Mawr College. Retrieved 23 October 2014. 
  7. ^ "Executive Profile: Mary Patterson McPherson". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved 22 October 2014. 
  8. ^ Schonfeld, Roger C. (2003). JSTOR : a history. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 9780691115313. Retrieved 23 October 2014. 
  9. ^ a b "Four Distinguished Individuals to Receive Honorary Degrees at Commencement, May 18th". DePauw. DePauw University. April 11, 2003. Retrieved 23 October 2014. 
  10. ^ "Women's eNews Philadelphia Leadership Awards 2009". Women's eNews. August 10, 2009. Retrieved 23 October 2014. 
  11. ^ "McPherson Award for Excellence". Bryn Mawr College. Retrieved 23 October 2014. 

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