March 18, 1961
Dorothy Stickney gave excerpts from her one-woman play about Edna St. Vincent Millay ’17, "A Lovely Light," at a luncheon honoring the “conspicuous excellence” of Sarah Gibson Blanding. The event, held at the Starlight Roof of the Waldorf-Astoria, was sponsored by the Vassar Club of New York and Vassar clubs of the region. In her remarks, President Blanding was pessimistic about the future of women’s colleges and unsparing on the profligacy of American higher education.
“I believe,” she said, “I am on firm ground when I predict that of the hundred or more women’s colleges now in existence no more than ten will be functioning in the year 2061.” Despite their present “splendid achievements, present high social esteem and the influence and loyalty of their alumnae,” Miss Blanding said, the question could be raised “whether independent colleges—both those for men and those for women—will continue.
“There is little doubt that, if asked, the deans, the faculties and presidents of these hundred institutions would wish their colleges to survive essentially as they are today. To assume that this will be the case is sheer folly unless drastic changes are effected.”
Agreeing with Jacques Barzun, dean of Columbia’s graduate faculties, the “next to hospitals, American colleges and universities are the worst administered private establishments in the land,” Blanding outlined the institutions’ “wastes:” of facilities, used “about seven hours of the day, five days a week and eight months of the year;” of faculties’ time, through “the multifarious committees that exist in the name of democratic process;” of student ability and interest, “because we insist that the four-year college course is sacred…and because we do not put enough responsibility on the student to get along with her own education” and of “contemporary usefulness,” because of “concentration of study, almost exclusively upon Western culture. ”President Blanding announced that a team of Vassar trustees, faculty and administrators was at work on a ten-year plan intended to address the serious issues she had raised. The New York Times