The Board of Trustees elected its first woman chairman, Helen Kenyon '05.  She previously served as alumnae trustee, 1923-1928.

Arthur Honegger, French composer-pianist and the leader of the avant-garde Le Groupe des Six, gave a recital of his own compositions. Assisting M. Honegger were his wife, the French pianist Andreé Vaurabourg and American coloratura soprano Cobina Wright. "There is little question" wrote "H.J." in a review in The Miscellany News, "that Mr. Honegger is inspired by ideas new and very unique. The first piece, a Toccato and Variations, showed a faint suggestion of the jazz rhythms that wend their way into a great deal of modern music. There being no melody of a tuneful sort to give the listener a straw to grasp in a melee of unfamiliar harmonic progressions and combinations, the unity of the piece was hard to understand. The devices used to produce a feeling of continuity were either too subtle for perception at the first hearing, or else the material was too thin, for the piece seemed to lack the balance of well-rounded composition, although sections of it were very invigorating and fresh. Andreé Vaurabourg played it excellently."

M. Honegger's colleague in Le Groupe Des Six, Darius Milhaud, gave a lecture-recital of his music at Vassar in January 1923.

The first automatic electric Victrola was installed, in Main Building’s Room J.

 

Speaking at the annual luncheon of the New York Vassar Club, President MacCracken said a recent gift made Vassar's scholarship endowment, over $800,000, the largest of any at a women’s college, giving needy applicants a better chance than ever for a Vassar education.  “We must,” he declared, “remove the impression that Vassar is increasingly a rich girls’ college, for it certainly is not true.  Never before has so much attention been given to helping girls who are handicapped by lack of funds.  In 1914 only 4 percent of the total budget was devoted to scholarships, while in 1928 10 percent was given over to scholarships.” 

For 1929-30 $105,000 was granted to some 200 students, and the average grant was $500.  Comprehensive fees remained at $1,000.

The third intercollegiate model assembly of the League of Nations was held at Vassar under the auspices of the Political Association. Nineteen colleges were represented. Economist and former Commissioner of the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Royal Meeker from Yale University and Dr. James G. McDonald of the Foreign Policy Association spoke. A Vassar-Yale debate, "Resolved, that the Governments Should Adopt a System of Compulsory Arbitration," was won by Vassar, supporting the affirmative.

The requirement of unanimous consent foiled subsequent attempts at "international" legislation as questions on a range of topics, from “the international character of the Secretariat” to “forced and compulsory labor” and League “intervention…in disputes to which American…members of the League are parties” were defeated by three or four votes.  The assembly ended in unanimity, resolving “That President-elect Hoover upon taking office be petitioned to do all in his power to bring about the entrance of the United States into the League of Nations.”

The first model assembly was held at Syracuse in 1927, and the second was at Cornell the following year.  It was hoped that the event would occur annually.     The New York Times

Economics Week was observed with six lectures. William Green, President of the American Federation of Labor, was one of the speakers. 

Summarizing the changing interests of college women since 1900, economics professor Herbert Mills reported that from courses related to human and social problems—socialism, labor problems, charities and corrections—student selections had shifted to courses dealing with business economics, finance, money and banking, statistics and the stock market.  “Even students with the old missionary zeal are attracted not to 95 Rivington Street [home of the New York College Settlement house since 1889]…but to the offices and libraries of the League of Nations in beautiful Geneva.  Wall Street, Macy’s or one of the great agencies in which modern advertising has raised mendacity to an art has more appeal than Hull House or the United Charities Building.”  Mr. Mills thought that the main reason for the shift in interest was that “entrance into the business world is but the last assertion of equal rights of women to those privileges and duties that men have had.”      Vassar Quarterly

By an audience vote, debaters from Williams, arguing the affirmative, defeated a Vassar team on the question: “Resolved, that too many people go to college.”

Midwestern poet and author Carl Sandburg gave readings of poetry, selections from his children’s book Rootabaga Stories (1922) and songs with guitar accompaniment, under the auspices of the Cooperative Book Shop. His Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years (1926), conceived as a work for children, grew into a very successful two-volume illustrated study of Lincoln for adults.  Its two-volume successor, Abraham Lincoln: The War Years (1940) won Sandburg is first Pulitzer Prize.

Mme. Sarojini Naidu, the first woman president of the Indian National Congress, India's largest political party and the party of Mahatma Gandhi, lectured on "Interpretations of Modern Indian Renaissance."  India acheived independence from Britain on January 26, 1930.

The evening motoring hour was extended to 10 pm.  Parents’ permission for unchaperoned motoring was no longer required.

The annual silver cup, donated anonymously, for the best class contribution in music was awarded to the Class of 1929 for the andante for violin, violoncello and piano by Mary Duncan ’29 and the baccalaureate hymn by Beatrice Ripley ’29 with lyrics by Katherine Kosmak ’29.

Alumnae celebrated Alumnae Day with the traditional parade of the classes.  Eleanor Goss ’16, four-time women’s doubles winner of the US National Tennis Championship, defeated President MacCracken in an exhibition match, 6-1 and 6-0.

In his baccalaureate sermon, the Rev. Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick, pastor of the Park Avenue Baptist Church, spoke on “The Philosophy of Play.”  “We never get the most out of life,” he said, “until the element of play enters.... Even religion is humdrum unless the spirit of play enters into it.  Jesus Christ was no pale Galilean.  He loved nature and little children and it was there that the play entered into his stern life.  The best work in the world is that done not for money nor necessity but for fun.”     The New York Times

Class Day ceremonies included the traditional Daisy Chain, carried by 24 sophomores, and the father-daughter baseball game, which ended in a 12-12 tie.  For the second year, an open faculty-parent forum was conducted. The discussion topics ranged from the new curriculum’s goal of better meeting students’ individual needs to the place of extra-curricular activities, the growth of religious life on campus and Vassar’s relation to trends in American life.

Speaking to the 238 members of the Class of 1929, the faculty and guests at Commencement, President MacCracken attacked a false sophistication and artificiality in contemporary American life and urged a return to honest discussion and frankness of opinion.  The artificial quality of discourse extended, he said, to all areas of the culture—colleges, churches, music, social arts and politics.  “The result,” he proposed, “has been a new artificiality, which makes culture, home and education peppy.... Sophistication takes refuge in virtuosity and makes a stunt of expression.  It’s mechanism is that of dictation and inflation....  Trivial thoughts are spun out in familiar bunk.”  Deliberative thought, expressed in plain and lucid language, MacCracken urged, needed desperately to be again practiced and valued.

Master’s degrees were awarded to Margaret Cornelison ’27 and Lydia Ilse Hecht ’29.  Annual gifts to the college totaled $210,000.     The New York Times

Economic depression started. 

A Vassar student was sent to Spain for her junior year. Vassar was the first college to have a junior year in Spain. 

Hallie Flanagan, who had come to Vassar in 1925 as professor of English, was made director of the Experimental Theatre.  “She experimented in form, in historical revival, and in current issues; in original student plays and in the original Greek….  To the love of acting she added an intellectual criticism and a social drive, making us believe that the theatre was a natural vehicle for confronting the community with the facts of the time.”     Henry Noble MacCracken, The Hickory Limb

Owing to the enrollment limit at 1,150 and fewer students leaving, the college opened with 288 freshmen, the smallest entering class since 1920.  Twelve students entered Vassar with advanced standing, including two from Germany and one each from Czechoslovakia and Hungary.  Ninety-four of the freshmen were from New York State, and 32 were daughters of alumnae.     The New York Times

“Black Thursday,” the stock market declined sharply, continuing its fall until “Black Tuesday,” October 29.  The New York Times industrial index had lost half its value.

In a debate between Yale and Vassar freshmen on the question, “Resolved, That the emergence of the woman from the home is one of the regrettable features of modern life,” Vassar, arguing the negative, won by a vote of 2 to 1.  The judges were Professors Herbert Mills and Eloise Ellery and the audience, which cast one vote.     The New York Times

In a morning assembly President MacCracken announced the gift by William Skinner of a music building as a memorial to his sister Belle Skinner ’87.  Planned meticulously by Professor of Music George Sherman Dickinson, the building was designed by Boston architect Charles Collens in the French medieval Gothic style, thus reflecting Belle Skinner’s devotion both to music and to France.  She devoted $1 million after World War I to the reconstruction, with the help of Vassar friends, of the French village of Hattonchatel and its agrarian economy.

Mr. Skinner gave the college $40,000 in May, 1928, establishing scholarships honoring his sisters Belle, Elizabeth Skinner Hubbard '80 and Nancy Skinner Clark '75.  His gift for Skinner Hall amounted to $600,000.

Helen Kenyon ’05 was elected the first woman chairman of the board of trustees, with indeterminate tenure.  She served as president of the Associate Alumnae of Vassar College from 1918 until 1921 and as an alumnae trustee from 1923 until 1928. In 1921 and 1922, Kenyon was treasurer of the Salary Endowment Fund, helping to raise a record $3 million for the fund.

In 1935, the college and the trustees expressed their gratitude to Helen Kenyon in the construction the exemplary Helen Kenyon Hall of Physcial Education, embodying, in President MacCracken's words at its dedication, "the transition of physical education from its earlier function as a calisthenic drill to is incorporation as a social institution in daily life."  Miss Kenyon retired from the board in 1939, subsequently devoting her time and energies to other philanthropic interests.  She died in 1978.

The New York Times reported on the geographic distribution of the some 7,000 living alumnae of the college.  Dispersed over every state in the Union, four Territories and 42 foreign countries, 2,540 of them lived in New York State—nearly half, 948, in New York City—735 lived in Massachusetts, 581 were in New Jersey, 393 lived in Illinois and 315 were in California.

Upholding the affirmative, a Vassar team consisting of Constance Williams ’30 and Mary McInerny ‘31 defeated debaters from Amherst by a 2-1 decision.  The question was, “Resolved, That the present national political alignment in the United States has outlived its period of usefulness.”

The Experimental Theatre gave the American première of Luigi Pirandello’s Each in His Own Way (Ciascuno a suo modo, 1924). An anonymous reviewer in The Miscellany News found the "expressive technique" of the production "well-suited to the play" as well as to the particularities of the venue.  "In naturalistic plays," she wrote, "when girls must impersonate men, a violation of our aesthetic senses is inevitable.  But in such a play as Pirandello's, where we see men and women who are mere toys of the great life force which makes puppets of them, our intrest has shifted.  The emphasis is no longer on the differences of men and women, but [on] their underlying similarities."

The reviewer also praised the effect and "simplicity of the surroundings.... The black and white color scheme is suggestive of the inner meaning of the play.  The costumes of the characters who stalk about unconscious of the life force...express their puppet natures—Donna Livia all grey, the old gentlemen, the friends, Doro clad in conventional black.  Even the fluffy, fussy girls are practically colorless.  We hear that blood has been shed, and we...see the color of red exactly in proportion to the individuals' awareness of the force of life within them.  Delia, in whom the feeling is strongest, steps through the black curtains all in red velvet.  Even her hair is red."

Pirandello spoke at Vassar on "The Italian Theatre, Old and New" in January 1924, and The Experimental Theatre presented another American première, that of his satiric drama Tonight We Improvise (Questa sera si recita a soggetto, 1929), in December 1936