"I think she was the wisest and best kind of model for undergraduate students," McPherson said. "She was adored by students and she had the highest standards.
"She was an elegant person, whom they both admired and loved," McPherson said.
Debra Thomas, a longtime friend and a former spokeswoman for the college, said Dr. Tidmarsh "was loved by everyone who knew her, whether it was a housekeeper at the college, a dean at a different college, or faculty."
In a statement issued by the college, many administrators, faculty, and alumnae praised Dr. Tidmarsh's work as dean from 1990 to 2010.
"Karen Tidmarsh always made sure that fairness wasn't a dream," said Anika Torruella, a 1998 graduate of the college.
Karen MacAusland Tidmarsh was born in the Boston suburb of Newton on May 19, 1949, the only child of Morris Tidmarsh and Frances Green Tidmarsh. She graduated from public schools in Newton.
After graduating in 1971, she worked as a teacher at Germantown Friends School and the Shipley School.
She went back to Bryn Mawr in 1979 as an assistant dean and later joined the English department as a faculty member.
Dr. Tidmarsh continued to work at the college after earning a doctorate in English from the University of Virginia in 1988. Two years later, she was named dean of the college.
She held that position for 20 years. Dr. Tidmarsh remained on the English faculty until her death.
In a statement, Mary Dunn, president emeritus of Smith College and a former dean and professor at Bryn Mawr, said: "Karen was unmatched in her ability to work with students. The troubled among them received from her the advice and help that was their salvation. The untroubled knew her as a solid supporter in their educational journeys."
Thomas noted that many students and faculty members had posted remembrances about Dr. Tidmarsh on the college's website in the last few days.
"The constant theme was how much she helped all the students she encountered," Thomas said. "Her strengths were nurturing students and giving them a sense of adventure. She is beloved by more people than anyone I have ever known."
A memorial service is being planned for the fall.
Contributions may be made to the Dean Karen Tidmarsh '71 Scholarship Fund or the Dean Karen Tidmarsh '71 Summer Internship Fund, both at Bryn Mawr College, 101 N. Merion Ave., Helfarian, Bryn Mawr, Pa. 19010-2899.
Contact Vernon Clark at 215-854-5717 or email@example.com.