Anticipating the eventual creation of a development office, President Blanding announced the appointment of John Grier Holmes, formerly assistant to the president of Sarah Lawrence College, as secretary of the college. Mr. Holmes’s duties included directing Vassar’s publications, public relations and endowment office. Holmes played an important role in the college's outreach to business and industry and to such nascent organizations of the Council for Financial Aid to Education and the American College Public Relations Association. In the years immediately after his appointment, he worked with trustees on Vassar's "ten year development plan."
Dining room service by student waitresses in dormitories was replaced by the cafeteria system, greatly reducing the hours available for students to engage in cooperative work.
Some 150 students from West Point, Fordham, Columbia and Vassar attended a conference on “Breaking Chains in Asia,” sponsored by the Vassar Political Association. Addressing the closing session, German-American economist Martin W. Wilmington from Pace College, declaring that “the United States has a vital stake in the economic development of Southeast Asia,” said that America “must take an active leading role in the fight against poverty” in the region “as its most effective measure against communism.” Citing commitments in “other theatres” that prevented the country’s marshaling “adequate military power in the area to check Soviet military expansion,” Wilmington said that “technical assistance and capital aid are essential.”
In his summary of the conference’s discussions, I Milton Sacks, political science researcher at Yale, said he thought “the only possibility to save the Indo-Chinese situation is to create an independent national force.” The New York Times
Sixteen five-man teams pedaled from New Haven to Poughkeepsie in the first Yale to Vassar bike relay marathon. Inspired by a Yale man's boast that he could beat another Yalie in a bike race to Vassar, the event drew campus-wide attention, and a crew from LIFE magazine captured the excitement in over a dozen photographs in an April 28 article entitled "Beer and Bikes from Yale to Vassar—Men from Eli Guzzle and Pedal 77 Miles to See Girl Friends."
In The Miscellany News "Pency Pyfels '52" (probably contributing editors Penny Wells '52 and Nancy Pyfer '52) caught the excitement as the racers drew near: "The welcomers crowded Taylor Gate and the highway. When standing room gave out, eager girls hung out of the windows of Stack III, climbed on shoulders or scaled trees...Blue and white pennants floated from the windows. Two drum majorettes defied the winter weather in their brief but snappy costumes. Peg Monroe looked very official in her jail-striped jacket. 'Purity' and 'Wisdom' were on hand to uphold the college seal by confiscating empty beer cans. Several beauties, decked out with crepe paper, became daisies for a day. Dapper 'Matthew Vassar's Brew' (aged since '62) escorted 'Miss Brew of '52.' And the music maker raised her bugle to herald the winners."
Race rules required that a team member consume a quart of beer at the end of each leg before the next rider could depart, thus allowing a team's faster imbibers to compensate for its slower pedalers. Although LIFE reported that one contestant, a dean's list student, became lost before reaching the Yale Bowl, another injured his arm and hip when he lost control of his bike coming downhill and a third found his machine frozen in high gear shortly after the race began, accidents, injuries and calamities on the course were few. "With 90 dates waiting for them at the finish line," the magazine observed, "most of the Yale men doggedly stuck to their wheels." Of the colorfully named teams—"Maidenform Five," "Quart Quintet," "Lavender Hill Mob"—the "Under Sextet" team won when Steve Hutchcraft '52 crossed the finish line at Taylor Gate.
The event, organized for 1952 by Margaret Monroe '52, was an annual fixture through 1957.
Literary critic, social historian and Harvard University professor of literature Howard Mumford Jones delivered the commencement address for the Class of 1952. Begging to differ with the modern literary prophets “who tell us in imaginative verse that the world is ailing” and noting that the world had been pronounced at its end several times in the last 1,900 years, Jones said that, possibly, “the verdict of certain modern writers may be premature.” The present age, he concluded, might even seem heroic to future eyes, for if the “sum of human wickedness today is very great so likewise is the sum of human courage.”
President Blanding conferred the bachelor’s degree on 308 members of the graduating class. The New York Times
The 27th annual session of the Vassar Summer Institute brought some 200 adults and 175 children to the campus for a month-long study of family and community living.
Eleanor Roosevelt was one of five speakers at a weekend conference in July sponsored by the National Conference of Christians and Jews. Led by the National Conference’s co-founder and president, Rev. Everett R. Clinchy, the gathering’s theme was "Intergroup Tensions: What Can Communities Do?"
Other speakers and discussion leaders included: Benjamin J. Buttenweiser, former United States Assistant High Commissioner in Germany; Dan W. Dodson, director of the Human Relations Center at New York University; R. Maurice Moss, associate executive director of the National Urban League and Max Birnbaum, educational director of the American Jewish Committee.
Dr. Mary Fisher Langmuir ‘20, the Institute’s director and chair of Vassar’s child study department, summarized the session’s discussions and conclusions in her closing lecture, “Peace in the Family.” Family peace, she said, was not the absence of conflicts or problems. “Instead,” she said, “peaceful, friendly and satisfying family life comes about when all members of the family accept problems as normal, learning to work together toward their solutions.” The New York Times
In the Korean War’s largest single-day air raid, U. S. Fifth Army planes, known as the Far East Air Force (FAEF), and carriers bombed Pyongyang, North Korea, in 1,402 sorties.
In the largest all-Navy air raid, 144 planes from three carriers destroyed an oil refinery at Aoji, North Korea.
Eminent research psychologist Dr. Nevitt Sanford succeeded Dr. Carl Binger as director of the college’s Mary Conover Mellon Foundation for the Advancement of Education. The founding director, in 1949, of the foundation, Dr. Binger resigned on May 30, 1959, telling the board of trustees that he didn't "believe a matriarchy provides a wholesome atmosphere in which students are likely to develop."
One of a dozen professors dismissed from the University of California at Berkeley in 1950 for refusing to sign a loyalty oath, Sanford pioneered in the study of the interaction between social systems and personality. A California Supreme Court decision in 1959 led to Sanford’s reinstatement at Berkeley.
“God help me for what I did! There is no doubt in my mind I did a great deal of harm.” These statements punctuated the opening testimony of Dr. Bella Dodd before Michigan Senator Homer Ferguson’s Senate Internal Security subcommittee investigating communist subversion in education. A former member of the Communist party’s national executive committee and legislative representative of the Teachers Union who had recently repudiated the party and returned to the Catholic faith, Dodd told the committee that most of the Communist professors and teachers were concentrated in the New York City area and that they numbered around 1,000. Vassar, Columbia, New York University, along with Brooklyn, Queens and Hunter Colleges, were among campuses named by Dodd as institutions where at least three registered Communists taught. In Massachusetts, Smith, Wellesley, Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology were similarly infiltrated, she said, as were Chicago, Northwestern and Minnesota in the Midwest.
Dodd went on to describe the influence of these agents on their students and colleagues, claiming that one Communist teacher might influence 300 future teachers in a single semester. The late anthropologist and chairman of the Committee for Democracy and Freedom Franz Boaz was, Dodd said, among the well-intended dupes who had to differing degrees been manipulated by Communist subversives. The New York Times
Horticulturist Sven Sward was appointed superintendent of grounds, succeeding Henry E. Downer.
President Blanding introduced Democratic presidential nominee Governor Adlai E. Stevenson’s radio broadcast over New York radio station WJZ. This was the third of four successive broadcasts addressed to women voters. Governor Stevenson’s other introductions were from Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt; the chairman of New York State Volunteers for Stevenson, Mrs. Adele Levy; and actress Ethel Barrymore.
Cornelia M. Raymond ’83, daughter of President John H. Raymond, died at the age of 91. She came to Vassar at the age of four, and, having taught school for 30 years after her graduation, she returned to the college in 1913 to serve as associate warden. From 1926 until 1931, Miss Raymond was director of the bureau of publications, and she later served as publicity secretary. She was resident in the college at the time of her death.
In touch with the college throughout its 87-year history, she published her recollections at the time of the 75th anniversary in 1940 as Memories of a Child of Vassar, including a recollection of her four-year-old self by Sarah Scott, a teacher of rhetoric and mathematics when the college opened in 1865:
“We were under the shadow of the Civil War, some of us mourning lovers or brothers, some having lost our homes, all strangers, some leaving little sisters at home. To us all the sight of a little girl full of sympathy was a great comfort. Little Nellie became a center of life and hope.”
A memorial service was held in the Chapel for Miss Raymond on Nov. 1.
In an article entitled "God and Woman at Vassar" published in The Freeman, "A Fortnightly for Individualists," ex-student Nancy Jane Fellers recounted the persistent ideological "tyranny" on the part of Professor of English Helen D. Lockwood '12 that had forced her to leave Vassar in her senior year and return to Earlham College to receive her bachelor of arts degree. A transfer student to Vassar in 1950, Miss Fellers had received a grade of F in the Contemporary Press course taught by Professor Lockwood, who called her, she claimed, "politically naive," and who said that "something must be done about my 'dangerous ideas.'"
The article touched off strong reactions on campus and nationally, inspiring an editorial, "Miss Blanding's Dream College," in The Chicago Tribune and an analysis of "Academic Freedom at Vassar," entered into The Congressional Record. "The furor has not subsided," Ellen Silver '56 wrote in The Miscellany News a week later. "Miss...Blanding reports that letters arrive 'in every mail' and says, 'We'll be hearing about this thing for three months!' She...identifies the frenzied letters...with the mass hysteria about communism and communist infiltration.... The letters for and against Vassar have been about evenly balanced. Among the latter, there are several unusual ideas revealed. One man was amazed that such an awful thing...could happen in America. Another accused Vassar of harboring fifteen Communist faculty members and threatened to notify the House Committee on Un-American Activities. One person advocated packing Miss Lockwood off to Russia!"
Professor Lockwood responded to Miss Fellers's article in a letter to the editor of The Freeman, in which she said, "Most of the students who were in the same class...believed in God. Most of them were Republicans. All were good Americans and believed in human dignity. They continued to believe in God, they continued to be Republicans and good Americans and to believe in human dignity at the end of the year. They passed the course, some of them with distinction, and they expressed themselves freely." Noting that Feller's work was marked by "inaccuracies of fact, garbled quotations, arguments by inuendo rather than logic and evidence," Lockwood concluded, "in long hours of patient conferences many of us tried to help her reason. But she couldn't." The Freeman, The Miscellany News
Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower defeated Democrat Adlai E. Stevenson in the presidential election. Eisenhower received 55.2 percent of the popular vote.
At Vassar, Eisenhower defeated Stevenson 691 to 321 among students, and Stevenson received a majority of the faculty votes.
A former member of the Vassar faculty, the Hungarian-American musicologist Paul Henry Lang, professor of music at Columbia University, gave the 11th Helen Kenyon Lecture, "Music and History." Part of a program given in honor of retiring Professor of Music George Sherman Dickinson—a member of the faculty since 1916—the lecture was later published by the college.
Along with six members of the United States Olympic swimming and diving team, Vassar students, performing a water ballet, participated in the 3rd annual water carnival at Columbia University.
Theoretical chemist and molecular geneticist Dr. Linus Pauling, head of the department of chemistry at the California Institute of Technology, lectured on "The Structure of Proteins." Winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1954, Pauling was awarded the 1962 Nobel Peace Prize for his campaign against nuclear weapons.