Along with the presidents of the University of Chicago, the College of the City of New York and Stanford University, President MacCracken judged an essay contest announced by radio, stage and movie entertainer Eddie Cantor. Cantor offered a $5,000 scholarship at any American college or university for the best essay on the subject “How Can American Stay Out of War?” When the eventual winner, chosen from some 212,000 entries, was almost immediately exposed as a plagiarist and the prize was withdrawn, MacCracken declared the essay by 17 year-old Lloyd Lewis of Plattsburg, MO, hadn’t been his first choice, as it seemed “as if the boy’s mother had written it.” The New York Times
Taking the affirmative to the resolution "Resolved: that for women a woman's college is better than a coeducational unit," junior class debaters defeated a freshman team. Speaking first for the junior team, Felicia Lamport '37 declared that women in coeductional settings, "instead of concentrating on the 3 Rs...would be concentrating on the 3 As: appearance, amusement and athletics." She also drew attention to the greater emphasis on athletics at coeducational colleges and the tendancy for men to "hold all the important jobs," rendering women "unable to realize their potentialities." Leading for the freshman team, Margaret Greenwell '39 pointed to the greater expense of students obliged to travel on weekends for social activities and to the frequent stays in "the infirmary after a gay week-end." "At Vassar," she said, "we watch the world go by and the men go by."
Miss Lampert's colleague, Beth Craig '37, contended that, while "marriage is looked forward to by every type of woman," a woman's college "teaches women respect for the company and opinions of other women." Thus, she said, "this is an important phase of a woman's life." The final speaker for the negative, Alice Wilfert '39, used recent statistics to support her contention that coeducation allowed women to be "able to work with men without becoming emotional. A coed realizes that men can be wonderful friends." A few years ago, she said, one-sixth of the marriages were found to end in divorce and only one-seventy-fifth of these divorces involved coeds. The Miscellany News
In later life, Felicia Lamport was widely recognized as a writer of satiric verse, appearing in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly and Harper's. Her column The Muse of the Week in Review appeared in The Boston Globe for nearly two decades. At the time of her death in December 1999 The New York Times recalled lines from her topical poem after the manner of T. S. Eliot, "The Love Song of R. Milhous Nixon, 1973":
Let us go then, in my plane,
For a weekend of repose in Key Biscayne;
When the view beneath our eyes appears unstable
Let us banish all incipient defeats
In one of my retreats.
The Times also offered her observation on maternal affection:
The after-effects of a mother's neglects
May spoil her boy's orientation to sex,
But the converse is worse: if she overprotects,
The pattern of Oedipus wrecks.
The first floor of the Main Building was remodeled, eliminating inside rooms and providing additional single rooms. The new site of the Vassar Cooperative Bookshop, planned by Assistant Professor of Art John McAndrew, was the first example of modern design on the campus, McAndrew left the college in 1937 to become the first curator of architecture at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
A contrast in styles was created by architect Ruth Adams ’04, whose renovations of the Main parlors featured Victorian horsehair-stuffed furniture, wax flowers under glass and marble-topped tables.
Some 2,500 people attended the “Night in Poland Ball” in the grand ballroom of the Hotel Astor, sponsored by the Kosciuszko Foundation, of which President MacCracken was president since its inception in 1925. The Chargé d’Affaires of the Polish Embassy in Washington and the Consul General of Poland in New York and their wives attended as honored guests. The main feature of the evening was a joint performance of historic national dances of Poland by the Polish Dance Circle of New York and a group of Vassar students.
Three hundred and sixty alumnae attended the annual luncheon of the Vassar Club of New York. President MacCracken and James W. Gerard, former United States ambassador to Germany, spoke. Ambassador Gerard warned of impending war in Europe, saying that the United States must “keep aloof” from the “intrigues of Europe” and must strengthen its land, air and naval forces. The New York Times
Some 400 students and faculty viewed classic early films in Blodgett Hall, discovering they were "the art rather than the whim of the twentieth century." The films viewed included The Loves of Queen Elizabeth (Les Amours de la Reine Élizabeth, 1912) A Trip to the Moon (Le Voyage dans la Lune, 1898), The Great Train Robbery (1903) and Faust (1900). "It was obvious," the writer of "Movies Acquire a Past," in The Miscellany News observed, "that the films started early to develop a technique peculiarly their own. While Queen Elizabeth was merely a photographed play, the Trip to the Moon used every bit of available motion picture equipment including a chorus of shapely girls in tights."
The writer suggested that the influences of stage and film techniques worked mutually. "Because Sarah Bernhardt's exaggerated gestures [in Queen Elizabeth] showed the crying need for the close up, we can appreciate its use in modern pictures. We realize that Merrily We Roll Along [the stage version, 1934] used a very old film device when we see the first crude flash-back in Faust. To use the flash-back ourselves we like to imagine the intrepid spirits of Edwin S. Porter, Edmund Kuhn, George Méliès and William Heise, convening somewhere on a rosy cloud to sigh triumphantly because their wild brain children have come of age." The Miscellany News
The trustees announced that a new faculty leave system, fellowships based on the method of selection of the Guggenheim Foundation, would phase out the outdated sabbatical system in place for nearly a century in America. Originally intended to allow scholars regular access materials in European institutions, the traditional sabbatical—both the faculty and the trustees agreed, "unanimously," according to The Miscellany News—"became, in many instances a period of rest and recreation which, however valuable to the individual, was not particularly advantageous to the interests of the college."
The new system provided "a series of faculty fellowships." Under the plan a specific budget for research was budgeted two years in advance, and an elected Faculty Committee on Research reviewed fellowship applications and recommended the strongest ones to the trustees for faculty fellowships for the following year. The first Faculty Fellows, for the 1936-37 academic year, were: Erika von Erhardt-Sirbold, lecturer in English for continuation of her research on The Natura Rerum Collection of the early middle ages; Elizabeth J. Magers, assistant professor of physiology for research on the energy expenditure of "normal persons" and on the site of origin of the amino acid creatine.
Professor Alice D. Snyder from the English department represented the Vassar chapter of the American Association of University Professors at a hearing before the Assembly in Albany, at which ministers, teachers and members of faculty and student organizations urged repeal of the Ives Law, which demanded the oath of allegiance from teachers. Professor Henry S. White of the department of mathematics also attended the hearing. He reported "In fifty years of teaching I have never known any members of the faculty...to be guilty of seditious activities."
Speaking in opposition to repeal, Edward N. Scheiberling, state commander of the American Legion said, “We believe in Americanism. Any red-blooded American is proud to take an Oath by God. We want to keep the Constitution inviolate.” The New York Times
Along with the presidents of Yale, Mount Holyoke and Radcliffe, President MacCracken was among the 450 signatories to a letter sent to President Roosevelt from the National Peace Conference, deploring what they saw as an unprecedented growth in military and naval expenditures and the failure of the Administration to explain whether this was preparation for war or for national defense.
Over 200 students from 29 colleges and universities in the Middle Atlantic region convened at Vassar for the 10th annual model League of Nations. Introduced by Dean C. Mildred Thompson ‘03, Carnzu Clark ’36, president of the Political Association, offered the convention’s focal question: what kept the League of Nations from being effectual. The convention, she said “can have real value only if it shows how the real League works and what keeps it from being effectual; and if it shows us what might be set up as ideal.” In preparation for their deliberations, political science professor Charles G. Fenwick from Bryn Mawr addressed what he saw as the flaw in the League of Nations, its failure to embody two basic principles of the American federal state: the ceding by individual states of the absolute power to make and enforce their own laws and the guarantee to all member states of mutual defense and economic and material parity.
Advised by Eloise Ellery ’97, professor of history, Vassar’s 12-member team represented India and Yugoslavia.
In contravention of the Versailles Treaty, German troops reoccupied the Rhineland.
“Ulster Traditions in the United States,” President MacCracken’s address at the Ulster Society dinner at the Commodore Hotel, was broadcast over radio station WMCA.
An exhibition of paintings by Courbet and Corot was held in Taylor Hall.
Nine hundred Vassar students and faculty members joined 350,000 students from 17 countries in a "peace strike" with a mass meeting in Students’ Building. President MacCracken told the students that even the thousands protesting that day were a global minority and that only concerted action by them in the country’s national life could build peace in the world.
Librarian emeritus Adelaide Underhill ’88 died after a short illness. Librarian from 1892 until her retirement in 1928, she was responsible for the modern cataloguing of the Vassar collection and for chairing for many years the committee on biographical records of the alumnae association.
Seniors in child study and art took the first comprehensive examinations to be given at Vassar. An art major summed up her experience: “I had no idea how much I knew and how much sense it all made until I began reviewing for that darn exam.” Vassar Alumnae Magazine
As a result of curricular changes adopted by the faculty and instituted for the 1935-36 academic year, seniors took comprehensive examinations for the first time.
Seniors in child study and art took the first comprehensive examinations. An art major summed up her experience: “I had no idea how much I knew and how much sense it all made until I began reviewing for that darn exam.” Vassar Alumnae Magazine
The Experimental Theatre’s presented the English première of Fuente Ovejuna (The Sheep Well), written in 1619 by Spanish playwright Lope de Vega. Representatives of Warner Brothers studios were, according to The New York Times, in the audience for the second performance, as were the play's translator, American author and producer John Garrett Underhill, and Professor Federico de Onis, founder of Columbia University's Spanish Letters Studies.
Based on an historical incident in the late 15th century, the action of Fuente Ovejuna revolves around the predations by a feudal lord on the women of a rural village, Fuenteovejuna, and his murder by the villagers who, when under pain of torture to confess, uniformly claim "Fuenteovejuna did it." When no single guilty party is identified, King Ferdinand pardons the village. “There is neither hero nor heroine,” The Times wrote of Vassar's production. “Characters merge into a common mass and their actions are strangely prophetic of the twentieth century.”
Reviewing Underhill's translations of four plays by Lope de Vega, Theatre Arts Monthly noted also the play's contemporaneity, commenting that Fuente Ovejuna was the "most likely to find its place in a modern program...the portrait of a town and its people, whose political portratiture lends itself easily and with slight change of stress to modern political and social applicatiion." Mr. Underhill declared that the Experimental Theatre's production "eliminates three hundred years. I never saw a classic—especially a foreign classic—so vividly, so vitally done," and Professor de Onis said, the "dramatic conception of justice, of human quality which breathes through Lope's pages was admirably realized in the composition and movement of the scenes, in the music, in the impersonations of the actors as well as in every detail of the production.
Fuente Ovejuna was produced again at Vassar in 1980. The Miscellany News, Theatre Arts Monthly, The New York Times.
Madeline Goddard ’38 captured the high jump and the hop, skip and jump with distances of 4 feet 5 7/8 inches and 29 feet 11 inches, respectively, in the annual sports day. The Dutchess Golf and Country Club’s women’s golf team defeated the Vassar team by a stroke.
The college announced that, starting in September, two long-sought privileges, unlimited leaves of absence from the campus and from classes were granted to juniors and seniors. A majority of those who had participated in the second student-parent-faculty conference on “maturity” two weeks earlier had been in favor of these changes. Students were still required to notify the college when leaving campus, and the announcement placed full responsibility for decisions to be absent from class or from the college on the upper-class students:
“It is understood that students in receiving this freedom accept the accompanying responsibility, both for their own academic work and as members of an academic group, and that no special exceptions to academic requirements on account of absences are to be requested…or to be granted.” The New York Times
Ending a search for—according to the search committee's criteria—a person possessing “intellectual honesty, leadership, tolerance, savoir-faire, sympathetic understanding of youth, vision and a sense of humor,” the trustees of Wellesley College announced that Mildred McAfee ’20 would succeed Ellen Fitz Pendleton as president of the college. McAfee served as executive secretary of the Associate Alumnae of Vassar College between 1932 and 1934, and in 1942 she interrupted her presidency of Wellesley to direct the WAVES—becoming by virtue of her initial rank, Lieutenant Commander, the first woman commissioned officer in the United States Navy.
The Nassau Herald, the senior class yearbook at Princeton, released its annual poll of the class. Ninety-five members said they would vote for President Roosevelt, while 76 chose “any Republican,” 50 chose Alf Landon—Roosevelt’s eventual challenger—and 48 votes were split evenly among Herbert Hoover, Alfred E. Smith and Norman Thomas. Rudyard Kipling led John Masefield and William Shakespeare in the “favorite poet” category, and Edgar Guest worsted Gertrude Stein and Carl Sandburg as “worst poet.” Rembrandt and Cezanne took second and third place to pin-up illustrator George Petty as “favorite artist,” Yale defeated Williams and Harvard as “favorite men’s college after Princeton” and Vassar came in ahead of Smith and Sarah Lawrence as “favorite women’s college.” The New York Times
Annie Penfield Mower ’76 was the oldest alumna among 13 classes reuniting at Vassar as Class Day exercises were celebrated on a fair June day. A baseball game between students and their father and a film exhibition about the development of the college were morning activities. Later, reflecting satirically on the many earnest conferences held at the college during their four years, including two conferences on undergraduate life, the seniors presented a “conference to end all conferences,” called The Conference on Unregenerate Life. Senior “committees” discussed such topics as “faculty participation in outside activities,” “the student in the workaday world, or how Vassar survives its Experimental Theatre” and—with reference to the recent loosening of rules against absences—“calendar days, or when it took three nights to go away for one day.”
After the sophomores, carrying the daisy chain, led the seniors into the Outdoor Theater, the seniors held their farewell ceremonies. In the evening, the third hall play, "Tyll Owleglass", an adaptation by German professor Gabrielle Humbert of a 19th century account of the 12th century prankster also known as Till Eulenspiegel, was presented in the Outdoor Theater. Afterwards, the seniors handed their brightly colored lanterns to their sister class in the traditional lantern ceremony. The New York Times
The Rev. Dr. Albert G. Butzer, pastor of Westminster Church, Buffalo, drew the text for his baccalaureate sermon from John 8:14, “For I know where I came from and where I am going, but you know neither of these two things.” He urged the Class of 1936 to recognize that millions in the modern world had been brought into chaos through their failure to integrate their lives through a belief in God.
“When we lift these words,” he said, “from their ancient settings and drop them down into our modern life, how accurately they describe the plight in which multitudes of young people find themselves at this moment…. Too many of us have been trying to make something out of life with nothing but a chemical accident at the beginning of it, and nothing but utter extinction at the end of it.” The New York Times
President MacCracken conferred the bachelor’s degree on the largest graduating class in the history of the college, the 303 members of the Class of 1936. The ceremony so crowded the Chapel that some members of the faculty could not be accommodated. W. Bancroft Hill, professor of biblical literature, gave the invocation, and Dr. Alan Valentine, president of the University of Rochester, delivered the commencement address.
Dr. Valentine was wary of the widely hailed advances for women. An “education in living,” he said, “was an education that found courses in psychology of little avail in making husbands more tractable.” And, he added, votes for women “have achieved few of the reforms for which its advocates hoped, and none of the horrors its opponents predicted.” On balance, women “did not find the ballot so potent or business so spiritually compatible as they had expected.” Dr. Valentine urged the graduates to rely on the habit of “critical analysis” learned in college to assess the “many nostrums, political, economic and even religious, that will be peddled to your doors.”
Gifts to the college during the year totaled $356,345, and “the first movement of a string quartet” by Ruth Nolan ’36 earned the silver cup for the senior class as the best musical composition of the year. The New York Times
Right-wing military insurgents in Spanish Morocco declared war on the Republican government, and they successfully captured Seville the following day.
"Rebels Gain in South Spain; Civil War Rages in Cities; Two Madrid Cabinets Fall." New York Times, July 20.
On July 25, Adolf Hitler agreed to support the insurgents under Francisco Franco.
After international boycott efforts protesting the rising Nazi régime failed, the Games of the XI Olympiad opened in Berlin.
The 72nd year of the college began with about 1,200 students, of whom 355 were freshmen. In his remarks at Convocation, on Sept. 22, President MacCracken emphasized the importance of laboratory work and independent research—elements in the revised curriculum coming into force—in developing individual knowledge.
In the first issue of The Miscellany News for the academic year, a student and two faculty members described their experiences at the outbreak in July of the Spanish Civil War. Mary Banning '37, travelling with her mother and brother, was in San Sebastian in the Hotel Maria Cristina—"in which we stayed because we liked its name"—when it came under fire from the Nationalist insurgents. "Since I had never heard shots before," Banning wrote, "and had been told that they always sound nearer than they are, I thought they were far away and lay and listened. Soon the manager came banging at the doors, shouting at us to pull down our shutters, the hotel was being shot at." Encountering some soldiers in the lobby, Banning and her brother "were told that they were so frightened they could no longer hold their guns. When we asked which side they were on, one man said that they hadn't yet made up their minds, but they thought they were rebels."
Fleeing toward the French border, Banning encountered "trucks full of armed volunteers. Several times I was glad that I had left Mein Kamf in a drawer at the hotel and that I knew the Communist salute. It was the first time that I had ever seen the Red flag used as a passport. Only the cars flying it were let through the barricades unsearched... The next day the Maria Cristina was blown up and burned and the occupants turned into the streets."
Assistant Professor of Art Leila Barber and Miss James Ross, instructor in history, arrived in Granada on July 19th, the same day that insurgent troops took the city. Pitched battles broke out, and the two Americans didn't know whether it was safer to stay in their hotel or to seek cover outside. "It takes courage," Miss Ross told The Miscellany News, "to make the initial run outside." The city's open spaces, she found, "were a great improvement over a cellar full of dithering Spaniards praying and carrying on."
After three weeks, witnessing shootings, bombings and the frequent convoys of rebel soldiers and loyalist prisoners en route to the cemetary for executions, Barber and Ross were flown to safety.
Catherine Stillman of the astronomy department reported on her experiences during the summer with the Harvard-Massachusetts Institute of Technology eclipse expedition. The expedition chose to observe the total eclipse on June 19 from Siberia, as that offered the point of observation closest to the mid-point of the totality. Unable to join the expedition's departure on April 8, Miss Stillman was obliged to depart several weeks later and to travel across the Soviet Union by herself. In her remarks she thanked Professor of Russian Nikander Strelsky for his intensive Russian language instruction and for "giving her a really useful vocabulary." The Miscellany News
Of the eight women among the expedition's 20 members, Stillman and two research assistants at the Harvard Observatory—Henrietta Swope and Emily Hughes Boyce—were the only working astronomers.
Dean C. Mildred Thompson ’03 was appointed chairman of the woman’s division of the Democratic National Committee. Other prominent members of the committee included the presidents of Bryn Mawr, Sarah Lawrence, Sweet Briar, Mount Holyoke and Dean Virginia Gildersleeve of Barnard.
The New York Times reported that in a presidential poll conducted by The Miscellany News, 521 students, less than half the student body, cast ballots. Republican presidential candidate, Kansas Governor Alf Landon received 345 votes, and President Roosevelt—a Vassar honorary trustee—received 125. Socialist candidate Norman Thomas, whose daughter, Rebekah, was a freshman, received 30 votes to 20 for Earl Browder, the Communist candidate.
A comprehensive poll released by The Daily Princetonian later in October, showed that the President held a narrow lead over Governor Landon among 80,598 collegians in 34 states: 38,977 to 35,702. In this poll, 905 Vassar students voted two to one for the Republican.
“Tomorrow is the college straw vote with a machine from Po’keepsie and everything. Feeling runs high amid a surfeit of sun-flowers. Miss [Cornelia] Raymond stopped wearing hers when told they were made in a sweatshop but I guess she’ll vote for Landon just the same.” MS letter
In the campus poll taken on October 20, 60 percent of the 916 students casting ballots—along, apparently with Cornelia Raymond '83, the daughter of the late President John H. Raymond—voted for the Republican Governor Alf Landon from the sunflower state, and 54 percent of the 109 faculty members who voted supported the incumbent Democrat, Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Miscellany News
“Tomorrow is the college straw vote with a machine from Po’keepsie and everything. Feeling runs high amid a surfeit of sun-flowers. Miss [Cornelia] Raymond stopped wearing hers when told they were made in a sweatshop but I guess she’ll vote for Landon just the same.” MS letter
Nine hundred sixteen students and 109 members of the faculty took part in the presidential straw poll on October 20th, with the faculty voting to re-elect Democrat and Vassar honorary trustee Franklin D. Roosevelt and students—along, apparently, with Cornelia Raymond '83—favoring the Republican candidate, Kansas Governor Alf Landon. Sixty percent of the students voting chose Landon, 28 percent voted for Roosevelt, and the Socialist, Communist and American Labor (Union) party candidates, Norman Thomas, Earl Browder and William Lemke received seven percent, four percent and one percent of the student vote, respectively. The faculty vote favored Roosevelt over Landon 54 to 20 percent, with four votes going to Thomas—whose daughter Rebekah was a freshman—and three for Browder. The Miscellany News
A comprehensive poll released by The Daily Princetonian later in October, showed that the President held a narrow lead over Governor Landon among 80,598 collegians in 34 states: 38,977 to 35,702. In this poll, 905 Vassar students voted two to one for the Republican. The New York Times
The college announced that the year-end total of gifts for 1935-36, put at $356,345 at Commencement, now stood at $400,000. Gifts for the scholarship endowment and the amount available for current use—both categories were topics of heated discussion during the past year—totaled $54,000 and $33,271, respectively. The scholarship endowment stood at $1,064,000.
The German government concluded negotiations for an alliance between Germany and Italy.
The gift to the college of a collection of rare jades and Japanese tea jars was announced. Valued at $130,000, the collection was given by Mary Morris Pratt ‘80, one of the two donors to the college of the Chapel and the widow of Vassar's former trustee and generous benefactor Charles M. Pratt, who died in 1935.
Socialist party candidate for President of the United States, Norman Thomas, the father of a Vassar freshman, spoke on behalf of his candidacy.
Frederic W. Goudy, printer and type designer, founder of The Village Press, talked on "The Designing and Production of Printing Types." A resident of nearby Marlboro, Mr. Goudy made frequent visits to Vassar and had lectured here in 1925 on "The Printer's Art."
The nucleus of the Vassar Library’s distinguished Village Press collection was presented by New York publisher Mitchell Kennerley in 1932.
The New York Times discussed a report to President MacCracken from Professor Joseph Folsom, chair of the department of sociological studies, urging the college to become a “socio-intellectual center” for the mid-Hudson valley. More intensive sociological and economic study of the area, coupled with proper direction of the studies and collaboration with community agencies, would, the report proposed, be a proper extension of the college’s tradition of engaging students in field work such as mapping social phenomena and assisting with federal and state agencies’ canvassing.
“To know its own community,” Professor Folsom was quoted as saying, “would seem to be one of the most appropriate functions of an institution of higher learning. If it does that well, it may more cogently urge its graduates to know and to serve their communities.”
Speaking under the auspices of the Political Association James G. McDonald used the recent alliance of Germany and Italy and their even more recent recognition of the Spanish government of Francisco Franco to press his case that the nations of Europe were aligning in practically the same formations that led to the First World War.
“The Franco-Russian understanding, although not fully implemented, is almost identical,” the New York Times editor and former League of Nations high commissioner for German refugees told his audience, “with the treaty basis they had reached before 1914. Even Great Britain has accepted a position that is analogous to her 1914 alignment. She seeks to limit her obligations to avoid entanglements, but is nevertheless being committed to a régime that unites her military and naval fortunes to those of France.” The New York Times
The college announced that Dean C. Mildred Thompson ‘03 had discovered in an old desk drafts of the first constitution of the Students’ Association, founded in 1868. The papers confirmed that Mary Watson Whitney ’69 was instrumental in the recognition of a student voice in the earliest days of the college.
Whitney, a member of Maria Mitchell’s first group of six students, known as the Hexagon, succeeded Mitchell as professor of astronomy and director of the Observatory.
A pact was concluded between Germany and Japan against international communism.
Speaking at a dinner celebrating the 10th anniversary of the granting of a provisional charter to Sarah Lawrence College, President MacCracken recalled the college’s ties with Vassar, which had ended with his retirement earlier in the day as chairman of the Sarah Lawrence board of trustees. MacCracken said that the founder of Sarah Lawrence, William Van Duzer Lawrence, had consulted him about his intentions and that they had agreed to a high degree of overlap between the boards of the two colleges.
“Our affiliation with the trustees of Vassar College,” he said, “was due to Mr. Lawrence’s recognition of his own advanced age and his concern lest the college, inadequately endowed, fall a prey to misfortune or more grasping hands. Such gestures were not wanting ten years ago from powerful sources predicting disasters…. Mr. Lawrence, alarmed at this prospect, sought a defensive alliance with Vassar, giving that college the power through its members of the board of trustees to control and finally take over Sarah Lawrence.” Vassar, MacCracken continued, accepted this responsibility “having good reason to believe that there was a need for another and a different college for women.
“The offered control it never exerted, and all its powers under the agreement desired by Mr. Lawrence it now willingly lays down, with the exception of friendliest good wishes to its younger sister. The history of this cooperation is unique in American education, too often marked by competitive and unfriendly rivalry.”
The Sarah Lawrence provisional charter was made permanent in 1932, and, responding to MacCracken’s remarks, the president of Sarah Lawrence, Dr. Constance Warren ’04, noted that the severing of ties with Vassar marked the “coming of age” for the college she led. The New York Times
The Experimental Theatre, under Lester Lang’s direction, gave the American première of Luigi Pirandello’s satiric drama Tonight We Improvise (Questa sera si recita a soggetto, 1929). Praising the performances, in particular, of Barbara Dole '37 as "Mommina" and Jean Sobotta '38 as "Signora Ignazia," Professor of Italian Maria Piccirilli, declared the performance "perhaps the most ambitious and successful production which we have seen on the campus" in The Miscellany News.
Citing the several layers of satire in Pirandello's writing, Professor Piccirilli drew attention to "the conclusion in the last words uttered by the Director, which may be summed up as follows: Life and its passions are not yet Art. To live one's passions is not to represent them artistically. Art is both passions and order, impetus and restraint. These two elements must be merged so that passions no longer exist as such, and order is not to be recognized as something imposed from the outside, passive obedience to rules."
Pirandello spoke, in Italian, at Vassar in January 1924 on "The Italian Theatre, Old and New," and the Experimental Theater presented the American première of his Each in His Own Way (Ciascuno a suo modo, 1924) in December 1929. The recipient of the 1934 Nobel Prize for Literature, Pirandello died in Rome on December 10, 1936.
Lester Lang, Hallie Flanagan Davis's assistant in the Vassar Experimental Theatre, was acting director of the theatre in Davis's absence while serving as director of the Federal Theatre Project.
In a lengthy letter to the editor of The New York Times, President MacCracken joined the discussion raised by, among others, Robert Maynard Hutchins, president of the University of Chicago, about the need for a “society-centered curriculum” and the questionable value in such an academic program of foreign language study. Pointing out that modern language acquisition in European countries occurred early in students’ education for very practical reasons, MacCracken asserted that “the study of modern languages is therefore with us a cultural rather than a vocational requisite. Surely at the present time, if ever, a knowledge of modern languages can be defended as essential in a society-centered curriculum….
“To sum up, modern languages are the indispensible instruments of internationalism, of comparative culture, and of the correction of chauvinism and parochialism in our national philosophy. They increase the vocabulary of thought as well as the literature of understanding.”