The Board of The EDGE Foundation proudly announces the establishment of The Manley-McPherson Presidential Fund for EDGE, a general fund to support the EDGE Summer Program that began at Bryn Mawr and Spelman Colleges twenty-two years ago and has since grown into a national program whose participants have received over 100 Ph.D.s in the mathematical sciences. This fund honors the two College Presidents who welcomed the EDGE Program to their campuses, created an academic environment where such faculty initiatives were nurtured and valued, and supported the program as it grew and expanded. Both alumnae of the respective Colleges they came to lead, they shepherded their institutions to greatness and committed themselves to values embraced by the mission of The EDGE Foundation. Donate to the Manley-McPherson Presidential Fund here:
The EDGE Summer Program began at Bryn Mawr College in 1998. A joint program of Bryn Mawr and Spelman Colleges, it was held the following year at Spelman College and alternated between the two campuses until 2004, when it “went national” and was held at Pomona College. The program is now administered by The Sylvia Bozeman and Rhonda Hughes EDGE Foundation, with the goal of strengthening the ability of women students to successfully complete PhD programs in the mathematical sciences and place more women in visible leadership roles in the mathematics community. Along with the summer session, EDGE supports an annual conference, travel for research collaborations, travel to present research and other open-ended mentoring activities. As of 2020, there have been over 250 participants in the EDGE Program, and over 100 Ph.D.s awarded. Approximately one-half of all EDGE participants and Ph.D.s have been women from underrepresented minority groups; alumnae include tenured and tenure-track faculty at colleges and universities around the country and abroad, research associates, post-doctoral fellows, provosts, chairs of departments, teachers, Congressional Fellows, Senate aides, Fulbright scholars, and prestigious research prize winners.
The EDGE Program has been widely recognized. In 2008, the American Mathematical Society recognized EDGE as a Program That Makes a Difference; the program was awarded the 2015 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM) from the National Science Foundation.
Dr. Audrey Forbes Manley was appointed the seventh President of Spelman College in 1997. Audrey Forbes was born and spent her early years in Jackson and Tougaloo, Mississippi before moving to Chicago, Illinois where she graduated from Wendell Phillips High School. She earned her B.A. degree as a scholarship student and member of Spelman’s Class of 1955. She immediately continued her education at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee as a Jesse Smith Noyes Foundation Scholar. After receiving her medical degree, she returned to Chicago where she completed her residency at Cook County Children’s Hospital. At age 27 she was the first woman, second African-American, and the youngest person to be named chief resident physician at the pediatric hospital, which, at that time, was seeing 1,000 patients per day. After leaving Cook County Hospital she received the first National Institutes of Health (NICHD) fellowship awarded to an African American woman physician at the University of Illinois. Subsequently, she was named to the Board of Trustees of Spelman College and was selected to serve with Crossroads Africa in Enugu, Nigeria.
Dr. Manley became the first African American woman to serve in a full-time faculty position in the University of Chicago Department of Pediatrics. While there, a faculty development opportunity allowed her to visit medical facilities in Moscow and Leningrad, Russia where she noted the overwhelming prevalence of women in leadership roles in the medical system, an experience that influenced her career thereafter. Upon marrying Dr. Albert Manley, Spelman College’s fifth president in 1970, Dr. Audrey Manley became the first lady of her alma mater until her husband’s retirement in 1976. As first lady at Spelman, she initiated the Spelman Health Careers Office and chaired the Health Careers Advisory Committee. During this time her medical career flourished. In Atlanta she served as chief of medical services at Grady Memorial Hospital’s Emory University Family Planning Clinic.
In 1976, Dr. Audrey Manley was recruited into the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) to implement the National Genetic Diseases Act of 1976. With a sabbatical leave she entered Johns Hopkins University in 1987 where she earned a master’s degree in public health. Returning to the USPHS, she was promoted to Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Health in 1991, the first African American woman to hold that position. In 1994 she became U.S. Deputy Surgeon General and she served as U.S. Acting Surgeon General from 1995 to 1997. Following Dr. Albert Manley’s death, she returned to Spelman, this time as the College’s first alumna president. She led the College for five successful years while completing fundraising for and building of a new science complex. The College honored her many contributions with the naming of the Albro Falconer Manley Science Center.
Dr. Mary Patterson McPherson was elected sixth President of Bryn Mawr College in 1978. She attended the Agnes Irwin School in Rosemont, Pennsylvania. McPherson received her B.A. and L.L.D. from Smith College, her M.A. from the University of Delaware, and her Ph.D. from Bryn Mawr College. She has taught 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. Dr. McPherson took office at a time of national economic turbulence and double-digit inflation. When Dr. McPherson stepped down from the presidency, she had led two successful capital campaigns, balanced the budget, instituted a program of long-term planning, and overseen a major building and renovation program. At the time of McPherson’s retirement, Hanna Holborn Gray ’50, then chairman of the Bryn Mawr Board of Trustees, remarked, “Pat’s unwavering dedication to rigorous standards of intelligent thinking and constructive debate, combined with her humor and zestful delight in the variety and range of the human comedy, have communicated to all of us both her seriousness and her joy in enabling and enhancing the qualities that lie at the heart of our college.”
Dr. McPherson taught Philosophy at the University of Delaware and served as Associate Professor and Dean at Bryn Mawr before being elected President of Bryn Mawr College. Her inauguration at Bryn Mawr College marked the first time that all the presidents of the Seven Sisters colleges were women. Dr. McPherson served as Vice President of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation from October 1997 to February 2007. She was named the Executive Officer of the American Philosophical Society, the oldest learned society in the United States in 2007. She has been a member of the society since her election to membership in 1983. Dr. McPherson has also served on the boards of many institutions, including several schools and colleges, JSTOR, 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.
During her Vice Presidency at the Mellon Foundation, Dr. McPherson, together with Program Director Dr. Danielle Carr, championed the EDGE Program. For several of its most formative years, the EDGE Program received major financial support from the Mellon Foundation.