October 11, 1946
An audience of 1,400 listened as the unexpected enlivened the inauguration of Sarah Gibson Blanding as Vassar’s sixth president. Praise of Vassar for its choice by Frank L. McVey, president emeritus of the University of Kentucky, where the new president had begun her administrative career, was followed by the plaint of her next mentor, Cornell University President Edmund E. Day: “I don’t see why Vassar should have raided Cornell. We found this lady. She was lost down in Kentucky.”
The academic exercise took on a military air when Brigadier General Roger Anderson, dean of the academic board of the United States Military Academy at West Point and acting on behalf of Secretary of War Robert Patterson, awarded Miss Blanding the War department’s exceptional civilian service award and medal for her work with the war department during World War II. General Alexander also announced Blanding’s appointment to two new civilian advisory posts.
In her inaugural address, Blanding declared that the country’s colleges were among its most powerful forces in the battle against division and for international unity. “Our fathers,” she said, “made a union of the States which has endured, though it was founded on ideals untried and widely thought impractical. So we can make a union of the world, if we too have faith and courage, patience and unflinching resolution.
“If a college is to serve modern society, it cannot stand still. Indeed, to have a static policy would be the worst betrayal of the Vassar tradition. As Alice discovered in the world behind the looking glass, you must run very fast indeed, just to stay where you are when the very ground under your feet is moving.”
Katherine Blodgett Hadley ’20, chair of the Vassar board of trustees, formally inducted the new president, turning over to her the college seal and its charter. The New York Times