June 6, 1942
President MacCracken conferred the bachelor’s degree on 258 members of the Class of 1942. Four master’s degrees in the arts were granted and Vassar’s first two master of science degrees were granted.
James T. Cleland, associate professor of religion at Amherst College, delivered the commencement address, telling the class that individualism in the 20th century was “a-will-of-the-wisp.” “Interrelatedness is the fact for us, a nasty fact very often, a disagreeable fact regularly, but a hard, cold fact to be reckoned with. We are not entirely our own…. Our lives are what they are because men and women in all ages have been willing to die for things which they held to be of ultimate importance. The only way that we can repay those to whom we owe so much is to buy the future for those around us and those who will follow us. Some of us will do that in this war for our country.”
Himself a naturalized United States citizen, Cleland posited that he might even love the country more than the native-born, since his citizenship was a choice made in his maturity, not a childhood gift. “One who has lived in Europe,” he concluded, “knows the unspeakable worth of America.” The New York Times