The Mary Augusta Scott Chair of English was established by bequest of Mary Augusta Scott '76.  Dr. Scott, teacher of rhetoric and Anglo-Saxon at Vassar in 1882-1883, was the first woman to hold a fellowship at Yale University and one of the first group of women at Yale to receive the PhD, in 1894. An Elizabethan scholar, Dr. Scott was a professor of English at Smith College from 1902 until her death in 1917.  Her most notable scholarly work, Elizabethan Translations from the Italian (1915), was published in the Vassar Semi-Centennial Series, and she spoke on "Spacious Days at Vassar College" at the college's 50th anniversary observances.

The Scott chair was first held by Laura Johnson Wylie '77, professor of English from 1895 until 1924.