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Delaware County native and sociologist named next president of Bryn Mawr College

Wendy Cadge, a dean at Brandeis University, will begin her term July 1.

Wendy Cadge is the new president Bryn Mawr College.
Wendy Cadge is the new president Bryn Mawr College.Read moreBryn Mawr College / Jim Roese

A Delaware County native and sociologist who got her undergraduate degree at Swarthmore College will become the next president of Bryn Mawr College, the school announced Tuesday.

Wendy Cadge, 48, dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and a professor at Brandeis University in Massachusetts, will begin at the women’s college July 1.

“The liberal arts changed my life, and I am coming to Bryn Mawr to try and pay that forward,” Cadge, an expert in contemporary American religion, said in an interview. “I have always wanted to lead faculty and smart students to do creative and excellent academic work and this is a great opportunity to do that.”

» READ MORE: Long-serving Bryn Mawr College president to step down in June 2024

Cadge will replace Kim Cassidy who announced nearly a year ago that she would be stepping down as president this June after an 11-year run, nearly twice the average tenure for presidents these days. She will return to the faculty in fall 2026 after a two-year sabbatical, the college had announced.

Asked about her plans for Bryn Mawr, a selective college that enrolls 1,361 undergraduates and accepts 31% of applicants, Cadge said: “I have a lot to learn first so that’s where I’m going to start.”

An interdisciplinary scholar, Cadge focuses on contemporary American religion, especially as it relates to health care, immigration and sexuality, according to her Brandeis website. She has written books about Buddhism in the United States and religion in health care. During the pandemic, Cadge and colleagues worked on projects focused on the experiences of nurses working on COVID-19 units.

At Brandeis, where she has worked for 18 years, she is credited with building the school’s first office of Undergraduate Research & Creative Collaboration, aimed at giving research opportunities to all undergraduates. She also chaired the university’s Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Program and served as a faculty representative to the board of trustees. She chaired the Faculty Governance Task Force, which was aimed at boosting the faculty role in shared governance.

She also started the Chaplaincy Innovation Lab in 2018 aimed at fostering chaplains’ work in providing spiritual care to the public.

“Wendy stood out in a rich field of remarkably talented candidates,” Cynthia Archer, chair of the board of trustees, said in a statement. “She is a creative and entrepreneurial scholar and a brilliant educator whose work and life beautifully align with Bryn Mawr’s mission.”

Her Swarthmore degree was in religion, sociology and anthropology. She got her master’s and doctorate in sociology from Princeton. Cadge began her career at Bowdoin College in Maine and had a two-year post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard before moving to Brandeis.

Cadge said she enjoys traveling and the outdoors and being with her family. She also loves the beach. Ocean City, N.J., is her favorite Shore point; she is the fifth generation of her family to vacation there.

She plans to move to the Philadelphia area with her wife and two school-age children.