June 6, 1930
Commencement Week began with the class suppers of 13 returning classes on June 6th and Alumnae Day exercises on the following day: a parade, the annual meeting, luncheon, the presidential reception and in the evening a Philaletheis performance of the operetta based on Booth Tarkington’s novel, Monsieur Beaucaire (1900).
On Sunday, the 8th, a tablet was unveiled in the Chapel’s Memorial Room in memory of President James Monroe Taylor, president of Vassar between 1886 and 1914. Ella McCaleb ’78, dean in Taylor’s administration, officiated, and Taylor’s biographer, Elizabeth Hazelton Haight ’94, delivered an address. Taylor’s daughters Margaret ’23 and Sarah ’31 were among the guests. The college choir concluded the day with a concert.
The Rev. Dr. Henry Sloane Coffin, president of Union Theological Seminary, preached the baccalaureate sermon. Taking his text from I Kings 17:7, “And it came to pass after a while that the brook dried up,” Dr. Coffin forewarned his listeners of the disappointment inherent in worldly things; books, friends, teachers, things we associate with comfort and delight, take on over time the aridity of the Biblical brook. Even Christ, Coffin said, “knew the experience of having His brooks fail Him.” There came times when “He could not satisfy His thought of God from His bible. The God of His trust was better than the God on the pages of Moses and the prophets.”
“The student generations swiftly come and go,” Dr. Coffin concluded, “Enriching comradeships just begin when they are interrupted…. Now, one outlook on existence is the vogue, and now another.” In the end, he said, “If our loved fountain of inspiration dries up it is only that God may give us access more fully to Himself with whom is the river of life.”
Monday, heavy rain chased Class Day exercises, scheduled for the Open Air Theatre, into the Students’ Building, where—twice, to accommodate the crowds—the 26 sophomores in the Daisy Chair honored the seniors. A Glee Club concert in the evening was followed by the biennial Lantern Fête: “The seniors and sophomores gather on opposite sides of the Vassar Lake, and as the seniors pass lighted lanterns by boats across the lake they sing for the last time their songs, which are repeated with different words by their sister class.”
At Vassar's 64th Commencement, on Tuesday, June 10, 242 graduates received their diplomas. Arthur W. Page, a trustee who had served as a personal aide to Secretary of State Henry Stimson at the 1930 London Disarmament Conference, delivered the commencement address. “The treaty of London,” he told the Class of 1930, the trustees, faculty and guests, “removes both pride and fear from the great naval powers; there will be no rivalry between them for the next six years.”
Of the total of $796,195 in annual gifts announced by the college, two were particularly significant: $600,000 from William Skinner for the construction of the Belle Skinner Hall of Music, in honor of his sister, Class of 1887, and $15,000 from the Class of 1880, in celebration of its 50th anniversary. Participants in the 1918 Vassar College Training Camp for Nurses—an innovation that accelerated the training of some 400 nurses during World War I—gave a campus gate in honor of Professor of Economics Herbert E. Mills, who led the planning for the camp and served as its dean. The New York Times