Kimberly Wright Cassidy, who has been serving as interim president of Bryn Mawr College since July 2013, was named to the permanent post on Wednesday, the college announced.
Cassidy, 50, whose area of expertise is psychology, is a native of Elverson in Chester County and has spent her entire career at Bryn Mawr College.
She joined the faculty at the women’s college in 1993 and had been serving as provost for six years before stepping into the interim presidency.
Cassidy replaces Jane McAuliffe, who stepped down in June after only five years, the shortest presidential tenure in the college’s history. Her appointment follows a national search.
“I’m extremely honored and excited about the future,” Cassidy said of taking the helm at Bryn Mawr, which enrolls about 1,300 undergraduate students and 400 students in coed graduate programs.
Bryn Mawr over the last couple years has seen the departure of about a half dozen high-ranking administrators, in addition to McAuliffe. Cassidy said the turnover presents opportunity.
“We have a chance to really shape a team that begins together and kind of buys into the vision,” she said.
The college currently is searching for a chief enrollment officer and a chief financial officer. Several other positions, including dean of the undergraduate college, have interim appointments, as Bryn Mawr waited for a permanent president to be appointed.
“For many of these searches, you needed to have a president in place,” Cassidy said.
In her role as interim, Cassidy said she focused on reassuring staff, alumni and students that the college would move forward despite the turnover.
“At a time like this, there are some advantages to having someone who has been here for a while,” she said. “I spent a lot of time with various constituencies on the campus, listening and building relationships with them.”
As a young faculty member, Cassidy said she was attracted to Bryn Mawr because of its emphasis on both teaching and research and scholarship.
During her tenure as provost, Cassidy oversaw an effort to boost curriculum requirements in the areas of quantitative skills, writing and analytical approaches, the college said. Before becoming provost, she chaired the college’s psychology department.
She has her bachelor’s degree from Swarthmore College and her master’s and doctorate degrees in psychology from the University of Pennsylvania.
Her family includes husband, Bart Cassidy, a lawyer, and children, Ryan, a freshman at Hamilton College and Galen, an eighth grader at Friends Central. They reside in Merion.
“We are delighted to have Kim as our new president,” Arlene Joy Gibson, chair of the board of trustees, said in a statement. “She has distinguished herself as a strategic and forward-thinking leader, an open and effective communicator, and a tremendously positive agent of change.”