In Vietnam, after tests the previous August, the United States began “Operation Ranch Hand,” helicopter spraying of the defoliant “Agent Orange,” containing the deadly chemical Dioxin, along roads, over heavily forested tracts and on fields that might supply food for the Viet Cong.
Violinist, Alice Smiley, cellist, Sterling Hunkins, and pianist Robert Guralnik, performed in the Philharmonic Chamber Music Concert at Vassar.
In his State of the Union address, President Kennedy said, “ It is the fate of this generation…to live with a struggle we did not start in a world we did not make…. But the pressures of life are not always distributed by choice. And while no nation has ever faced such a challenge, no nation has ever been so ready to seize the burden and the glory of freedom.”
The following day, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara announced that he and Ambassador to South Vietnam Frederick E. Nolting, Jr. were flying to Hawaii for a day-long meeting on “the Communist threat to South Vietnam.” An aide said that Secretary McNamara was “determined to leave ‘no stone unturned’ in the effort to support South Vietnam against the communist guerrillas, known as the Viet Cong.” The New York Times
Over 100 sociologists, physiologists and educators gathered at Vassar to discuss the conclusions reached in University of California Professor of Psychology Nevitt Sanford’s new book, The American College: A Psychological and Social Interpretation of the Higher Learning. Building on a study begun when Sanford was director, at Vassar, of the Mary Conover Mellon Fund for the Advancement of Education, Sanford’s 1,084-page volume, comprised of the work of 30 social scientists, was sponsored by the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues. Its college analyses came from Harvard, Vassar, Boston College, the University of Massachusetts, San Francisco State College and scores of other institutions. Among its several blunt assertions were strong advocacy of a greater application of the social sciences to the problems of higher education and charges that colleges were not achieving their intellectual goals and that they were engaging in “considerable bamboozlement” by hiding from the public what went on in their ivory towers.
Karl W. Deutsch, professor of Political Science at Yale University, delivered the opening speech, entitled “The Challenge to Liberal Education,” in which he outlined the goals of higher education. Taking issue with a recommendation of the Sanford volume, Deutsch said that many freshmen whom the social scientists would “orientate” would be better served by a year’s maturation during a pre-freshman year abroad under college supervision or “a productive year of paid work or voluntary service, freed from the anxiety by advance assurance of admission the following year.
Other participants also challenged the "new findings about intellectual and personality development during the college years" outlined in the book. Dr. William C. H. Prentice, dean at Swarthmore College, called much of the book’s material “armchair theorizing” and “generalizations about the American college on the basis of superficial acquaintance with a small number of nonrepresentative institutions.” “I think I can detect,” he also told his colleagues, “in many of the contributors to the present volume a predilection toward making our colleges into institutions for personal and social development.”
Dr. William Carl Fels, president of Bennington College, praised the studies in the volume, calling the work the “greatest challenge” to educators since John Dewey’s Democracy and Education appeared in 1916. “The reason The American College presents a formidable challenge to collegiate education,” he said, “is that it now calls upon them to face up to both Dewey and Freud, and, except for a handful of them, they haven’t yet faced up to Dewey. It has caught educators with their means down and their ends exposed.”
As the conference drew to a close, some participants spoke of another such gathering at Vassar in a year’s time. The New York Times
Four Centuries of Architectural Drawings, an exhibition from the Collection of the Library of the Royal Institute of British Architects, opened at the Vassar College Art Gallery. The exhibit focused on English draftsmanship and included works from the 16th-19th centuries, tracing the history of English architecture from medieval times through the Victorian era. The exhibition toured art museums and art institutions throughout the US and Canada under the auspices of The American Federation of Arts.
Speaking in the Chapel, progressive educator Harold Taylor, president emeritus of Sarah Lawrence College, and William F. Buckley, Jr., editor of the conservative journal The National Review and author of God and Man at Yale: The Superstitions of 'Academic Freedom' (1951), presented liberal versus conservative viewpoints on education in the year's first event in the Student Lecture Series. Taylor held, as the first sentence of a 1961 essay in The New York Times Magazine declared, that "each generation has its own style and its own truth, having lived through a particular expanse of time which belongs to it and to no other." "The only difference between the liberal and conservative in education," he told his Vassar audience, according to The Miscellany News, "is that the first encorages the student to use his own intellect, the second does not." Claiming that his main interest in Taylor was "pathological, rather than intellectual," Buckley directed attention to the "immutable truths, which the educator has a duty to pass on to his students. He attacked any concept of academic freedom which would constrain the teacher to present all points of view at the expense of presenting one truth."
"Tempers grew progressively shorter, and insults grew progressively longer...." The debate, said The Misc. "was originally intended to center on the liberal-conservative views on education, but soon developed into a more general squabble." Discussion about the confrontation continued on campus for weeks to follow.
The two men were frequent disputants on the subject of education. Taylor also appeared on Buckley’s popular television program, "Firing Line."
George M. A. Hanfmann, Professor of Fine Arts at Harvard University and field director at the current excavations at the ancient city of Sardis in Turkey, lectured on “Drawing and Measure in Ancient Architecture.” Tracing the history of architectural drawing and measurement from pre-historical clay sealings and Egyptian papyri to the writings of the Roman architect Vitruvius and illustrated manuscripts of medieval surveyors, Professor Hanfmann examined the question of the extent to which the temples of ancient Greece were designed and drawn beforehand by their architects. The Miscellany News
Columbia University sociologist Robert Merton, founder of the sociology of science, lectured on "The State of the Social Sciences in the Soviet Union." Considered one of the founders of modern sociology and the developer of the concept of "unintended consequences" and of the terms "role model" and "self-fulfilling prophecy," Professor Merton was one of the first American sociologists to visit the USSR, in 1961 with a group of behavioral scientists. Somewhat encouraged by recent turnings toward empiricism in Soviet social science, he stood apart from many Western observers, holding that it remained atheoretical and resembled market research more than rigorous scholarship.
Fred M. Hechinger, education editor of The New York Times, spoke in the Students' Building on "Changing Patterns in Education." The lecture was sponsored by the child study department.
Welcomed with great enthusiasm by the student body, folk singer Pete Seeger performed at Vassar for freshman week. The event drew protests from the American Legion and other local organizations, who considered him a “condemned criminal.” Seeger was fighting for a retrial on charges of contempt of Congress arising from his refusal to answer questions before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1955.
In response to the controversy the college explained that it was the freshman class, not the college, which sponsored Seeger's appearance—the first of Seeger's many visits to Vassar.
An appeals court overturned Seeger’s conviction in May, 1962.
Curt J. Ducasse, professor emeritus of philosophy at Brown University, lectured on “Paranormal Phenomena, Science, and the After Life” in Skinner. The lecture covered topics such as levitation, precognition, mediums, clairvoyance, and other extrasensory perception. Ducasse argued that these phenomena indicate that the mind survives the body, supporting the belief in life after death with a scientific approach.
Seven Vassar students and one faculty member participated in a demonstration in Albany urging the adoption of State Assemblyman Mark Lane’s bill repealing the bill introduced by Governor Rockefeller which provided for state subsidy of a fall-out shelter building program; Lane’s bill suggested that the shelter money be used to aid education.
Dr. David B. Langmuir, associate director of the physical research division, Space and Technology laboratories in Los Angeles, lectured on "The Astounding and Prosaic in Space Research."
Two Vassar students were among some 400 students from 80 colleges and universities attending the First Intercollegiate Conference on Disarmament and Arms Control, organized by three seniors at Swarthmore College. Twenty-five of the nation’s leading nongovernmental experts in the field led 20 seminars at the three-day conference.
President Kennedy praised the conference for promoting, “an increased awareness of the need for responsible and informed public understanding.” The New York Times
Maynard Mack, professor of English at Yale University, lectured on "The Last and the Greatest Art: Some Observations on Shaping of Pope's poems."
Professor Leon Dostert, director and founder of the linguistics institute, Georgetown University, and initiator and organizer of the system of simultaneous translation used at the Nuremberg Trials and similarly at the United Nations, lectured on ‘Trends in the Teaching of Foreign Language in Europe” in Chicago Hall.
Seventeen Vassar students participated in the Student Turn Toward Peace demonstration in Washington, D.C, where some 2,800 students from all over the country urged President Kennedy not to resume atmospheric nuclear testing. Despite the taunts of “Young Americans for Freedom” and attempts by reporters for the Communist Daily Worker to engage them, the students remained calm and determined. “But for the placards,” The New York Times reported, “they might have been queuing up to see a late-in-the-season football game at Harvard Stadium.”
“We’re the right wing among the disarmament groups,” Harvard senior David Ottaway explained, “We’re not pacifists. We’re not for selling out to the Russians.” The New York Times
French composer and teacher Nadia Boulanger, hailed in The Miscellany News, as “the most influential individual in American music for the past forty years,” lectured, with illustrations by the Vassar Madrigals, and conducted a master class in harmonic analysis. On a two-month tour of the United States, Mlle. Boulanger visited several colleges and universities, conducted two concerts of the New York Philharmonic and dined at the White House with President Kennedy and the First Lady, with whom she enjoyed lively conversations in French.
"Nadia Boulanger arrived at Vassar," wrote Allison Lemkauy '63 in The Miscellany News, "as astronaut [John] Glenn was descending...from his orbital flight in space. The impact of her pressence upon the campus was comparable to that of Glenn's achievement upon the world. For two days, any semblance of normalcy in or around the Music Department disappeared, while Mlle. Boulanger, possessing limitless energy, captivated her audiences with accounts of her many varied experiences in music and revealed during a master class in performance her dedication to young people and their education." The mentor and powerful influence, over the years, on some 600 American composers and musicians, she counted among her students composers Aaron Copland, Elliott Carter, Philip Glass and Walter Piston, jazz pianist Dave Brubeck, pianist and songwriter Burt Bacharach and American mezzo-soprano Judith Malafronte '72. Three former students, pianist and composer Robert Middleton, violist Betty Churgin and pianist Gwendolyn Hamilton, were on the Vassar faculty at the time of this visit.
Mlle. Boulanger visited Vassar in January 1925.
A frequent visitor to Vassar, Rev. James H. Robinson, founder of Operation Crossroads America, a pioneering program that brought young people from North America to work alongside and come to know their African contemporaries, described the program in his lecture, “Operation Crossroads Africa—A New Venture Beyond Boundaries.”
Richard C. Solomon, psychology professor of University of Pennsylvania, gave the Helen Gates Putnam Conservation Lecture on "Conscience and Resistance to Temptation in Dogs and Children.”
Charlotte B. Winsor, director of the division of teacher education at Bank Street College of Education, lectured on "A Developmental Approach to Education."
Folk Singers Dave Van Ronk and Roy Berkely gave a concert to benefit the Southern Student Freedom Fund in Students’ Building.
A four-day conference at Vassar discussed the problem of urban decay. The opening address at the "Conference on the City" was given by William H. Whyte, editor of Fortune Magazine, who spoke about "The Politics of Open Space." Robert Lopez, mediaeval studies professor at Yale University, discussed "The City as a Business Affair," and two student panels met to discuss "The Image of the City" and "Problems of Urbanization."
Professors from several colleges gathered in a colloquium on "The City in History.” The round-table discussion included David Hicks of Columbia, John Teall of Mount Holyoke, Fred Crain and Hsi Huey Liang of Bard, and members of the Vassar Faculty, Leslie Koempel of the department of economics, sociology and anthropolgy, Charles Jacob of the political science department, Thomas McCormick of the art department and Elaine Bjorklund of the geography department. Webb S. Fiser, associate professor of political science at Syracuse University, spoke about "Mastery of the Metropolis."
Urban activist Jane Jacobs, author of Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961) gave the closing lecture on "The Citizen and Urban Renewal."
Anne-Marie Stokes, editor of the Catholic Worker and a member on the board of the American Committee on Africa, lectured on "Claudel," sponsored by the French department.
Jonathan B. Bingham, United States representative on the Trusteeship Council of the United Nations, spoke on "The Free World's Stake in the United Nations."
In an all-campus meeting, President Sarah Gibson Blanding told the student body that premarital sex and excessive drinking would not be tolerated at Vassar. Declaring sexual promiscuity to be “indecent and immoral,” she said that disciplinary action would be taken against those who did not follow the standards of the college. The President advised those students who could not follow the rules to withdraw voluntarily from Vassar.
The speech inspired heated debate across the campus for some time. A poll of students found that 52% of the campus supported Blanding, 40% disagreed and the rest were undecided. However, 81 % of students agreed that social mores were personal issues that should only be of concern to the college when they brought its name into public disrepute. An editorial in The Miscellany News said, “The president’s statement was an articulation of a hitherto ambiguous position which accepts only one standard of personal behavior and which defines a universal moral code of ‘decent’ personal conduct.”
The students opposed to Blanding’s views felt that the college was reverting to an archaic invasion into students’ private lives by considering itself responsible for instilling in them a prescribed set of views on sexual and social activity, complaining that, “this college is the domain of tyranny.” The Miscellany News
The Vassar College Choir, conducted by Margaret E. Cawley, and the Wesleyan University Choral society, gave a concert in the Vassar College Chapel.
Dr. Hans E. Holthusen, German author, poet and critic, lectured on "Crossing the Zero Point: German Literature Since World War II" under the auspices of the German Department.
Robert C. Zaehner, fellow of All Souls College and Professor of Eastern Religions and Ethics, University of Oxford, lectured on "The Teaching of Zoroaster."
To explore questions raised by the national conference held at Vassar in January on Dr. Nevitt Sandford’s provocative study, The American College: A Psychological and Social Interpretation of the Higher Learning, a local discussion, “The American College,” took place in the Aula. The panel, moderated by Professor of Psychology L. Joseph Stone, included Mario Domandi, professor of Italian, college psychiatrist Dr. Robert E. Nixon, Professor of Art Linda Nochlin ‘51, Sue Childers ’63 and Elizabeth Bruening ’63.
Four Vassar students participated in an intercollegiate conference on Civil Right in the North at Sarah Lawrence, where they conversed with leaders of the civil rights movement.
Author, editor, and literary critic Lionel Trilling, professor of English at Columbia University, lectured on "The Anti-Heroic Principle in Literature and Morality."
Sarah Gibson Blanding, president of the college since 1946, announced that she would retire in 1964.
Thirty Vassar students travelled to West Point to hear a reading of selections from his latest book, The Reivers, by William Faulkner, Nobel Prize-winning novelist.
Historian and philosopher James Joll, Fellow and Sub-Warden of St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford, spoke on "Marinetti and Futurism."
Seven Vassar students participated in a Freedom Ride to La Plata, ND, where 300 participants conducted sit-ins and picketed local restaurants as part of the Northern Student Movement. When six of the protesters were arrested, the Freedom Riders then picketed and sang songs outside of the jails in which they were held.
Vassar students, faculty and city housewives demonstrated against nuclear testing in front of the Poughkeepsie courthouse and city office building for one hour. A peace vigil was later held in the center of Poughkeepsie arranged by Dutchess County Women for Peace, Poughkeepsie SANE, and the Vassar for Peace Committee.
Andres Valdespino, a member of the underground movement in Havana that overthrew the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista in 1959 and undersecretary of finance in Fidel Castro’s government until 1960, talked about “The Cuban Revolution” in Chicago Hall.
The Inter-Club Council and the presidents of the junior and senior classes organized two events to raise issues relating to sex and marriage more directly than the resources provided by the college. The Inter-Club Council sponsored a panel discussion by members of each of the three major faiths: Reverend William Carroll, S.J. Professor of Humanities at St. Andrew-on-Hudson Seminary; Seward Hitner, Professor of Technology and Personality, Princeton Theological Seminary; and Rabbi Rosenthal from the Vassar Temple. They discussed the relationship between their faith and marriage in its moral and religious aspect. The junior and senior classes sponsored a lecture entitled “The Problem of Conception Control for the World and the Individual” by Allan F. Guttmacher, birth-control pioneer and president of Planned Parenthood.
President Blanding was one of nine people appointed to a state advisory committee to study the state's minimum drinking age, currently 18. The committee’s charge was to advise a joint legislative committee about raising the minimum drinking age to 21.
A joint concert by the Vassar College Glee Club, conducted by Albert Van Ackere, and The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Glee Club, under the direction of Klaus Liepman, was held in the Vassar Chapel.
Four hundred members of the Poughkeepsie community attended the sixth annual "Community Day at Vassar." The college, with the help of the Poughkeepsie Area Vassar Club, invited citizens of the area to come to an open house, where they could learn about academic and student lives at Vassar.
Vassar President Sarah Gibson Blanding attended a dinner at the White House honoring Nobel Prize winners. The dinner was given by John F. and Jacqueline Kennedy. Sarah Gibson Blanding was seated with the First Lady.
President Kennedy ordered and immediate build-up of 5,000 United States troops in Thailand.
Participants in the Walk for Peace from Hanover, New Hampshire, to Washington D.C., arrived in Poughkeepsie to take part in a public meeting held at Vassar. Two other groups were walking simultaneously in different parts of the country, to protest the arms race.
Paul C. Daniels, United States representative to the cultural action committee of the Organization of American States, spoke at Vassar’s 98th Commencement, telling the 277 graduates in the Class of 1962 to beware of unbridled idealism. “More harm,” he said, “has been done to the world through the combined efforts of the do-gooders than by the evil-doers.” “Idealism,” he warned, “is not enough,” because the “frustrations” it creates can be dangerous and destructive.
The chairman of the board of trustees, John Wilkie, announced that gifts to the college for the year totaled more than $2,500,000, including a senior-class gift of $22,969 for library purchases. The New York Times
Breaking with tradition, the Class of 1912 came to the campus two days early for its 50th reunion, so that its members could draw on their various and numerous experiences to discuss such questions as what values had endured since their graduation, what was the position and the responsibility of the college woman in the world of 1962 and what was the proper relationship of alumnae to the college. The class gift, $422,657 was added to those of other classes, such as the $79,224 raised by 1937 for its 25th reunion, for a total Alumnae Fund gift for 1962 of $1,042,983. The New York Times
Advanced chemistry study was offered at Vassar for 15 high school students. The program was made possible by a grant from the National Science Foundation.
A six-week earth science summer institute opened at Vassar for 42 junior high and high school teachers from fifteen different states.
The board of trustees determined late sign-outs should last until 2:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, but only until 1:30 a.m. on Sunday through Thursday nights, because “A 2:30 permission when places close at 1 a.m. invites conflict with the college’s standards.”
Faculty-freshman discussion groups met under the auspices of the faculty club, in an attempt to explore ways to improve the Freshman year.
The Senate voted to repeal the Communist disclaimer clause in the program of federal loans for college students. This clause had demanded that students renounce any communist affiliations before receiving federal loans for college. In the Spring of 1960, Vassar, along with Harvard, Yale, and 29 other colleges and Universities in the country, refused to participate in the loan program on the grounds that the disclaimer clause was an invasion of the students’ personal rights.
When President Kennedy signed the bill into law in October, a three-year struggle in which he had been involved as a Senator, came to an end.
Governor Rockefeller spoke at the Poughkeepsie Plaza Shopping Center to mark the official opening of the 1962 Republican Campaign in Poughkeepsie. Vassar students welcomed him with a banner. He cited unemployment and education as his two major concerns for New York State.
After a meeting held under the chairmanship of Lois Mound ’63, with Professor Charles Griffin of the history department as its speaker and about 50 Vassar students in attendance, the Vassar-Mississippi Action Committee was formed over concerns for the safety of James Meredith, the first black student to attend the University of Mississippi. Rioting broke out as Meredith attempted to attend classes, and Governor Ross Barnett, 35 state senators and the Mississippi State Police barred Mr. Meredith from attending classes.
The Vassar-Mississippi Action Committee sent a petition supporting President Kennedy’s efforts for integration and pressing for further gains in civil rights through the residence halls for signatures, after which it was sent to Congress. The committee also decided to correspond with Southern and "Ole Miss" students, stressing the need for non-violent action.
Students organized a student-to-student, North-South dialogue, which strove “to combat the pervasive feeling that people in the North don’t understand and don’t know what is going on in the South.” Barbara Gerson ‘63 commented, “We hope that raising this issue will be the first step in a year long discussion at Vassar of integration.” The Miscellany News
Walter Trampler, viola and viola d'amore virtuoso and founder of the New Music Quartet, gave a concert consisting of a variety of works from 17th, 18th , 19th and 20th century composers.
Freshmen met in Chicago Hall to discuss the problems of college adjustment, led by Professor of Child Study Henrietta Smith. The students explained that they came to college in search of “education for education’s sake” and expressed fear about the pressure of finding social contacts and job opportunities. Their reason for choosing Vassar was apparently because “Vassar seemed to be the perfect combination of social and scholastic activities.” The Miscellany News
As a part of the Student Lecture Series, Indian demographer and economist Dr. Sripati Chandrasekhar, editor of Population Review, delivered a talk entitled “Communist China and Free India.”
The Vassar College Art Gallery opened after an extensive renovation and the installation of air conditioning. Paintings and drawings by 18th-century French landscape painter, decorator, garden designer and museum curator Hubert Robert were on display as the first major loan exhibition of the 1962-63 season.
Dr. Dietrich Goldschmidt, leader of the Aktion Suehnezeichen (the "Repentance Action Committee") and professor of sociology at the Pedagogische Hochschule in West Berlin, gave two lectures, on "Anti-Semitism in Germany" and on “The Impact of the Past on the Situation in Germany.” The Repentance Action Committee strove for decades to help Germans atone for the crimes of the Nazis.
Thorton Wilder’s comedy, The Matchmaker, starring film actress Sylvia Sidney, played at Vassar for the college community, sponsored by the New York Sate Council on the Arts.
In the Aula, Assistant to the President Dr. Florence Wislocki M.D. prefaced a panel for freshmen on sexual issues by noting that the meeting was meant to “supply facts” and not to “condone or condemn.” Freshmen were told that they themselves were responsible for crafting and upholding their individual philosophies and moral standards. The faculty panel answered questions about sterility, chastity, homosexuality and menopause. A bibliography compiled for the freshmen was distributed at this event. The Miscellany News
The Vassar Inter-Club council sponsored "A dialogue on the Vatican Council." The guest speakers were the Jesuit historian Rev. James Hennesey S.J. and Southern Methodist University theology professor Dr. Rev. Albert C. Outler.
An interdepartmental and interclass Renaissance Seminar had its first meeting. The seminar met every two weeks thereafter. It was an experimental project that its planners hoped would “demonstrate what can be achieved through interdisciplinary cooperation.” The Miscellany News
Dr. Jack Luin Hough, professor of geology at the University of Illinois, was the guest lecturer at the Vassar College Sigma XI club. He lectured on "The Prehistoric Great Lakes of North America."
The board of trustees discussed the controversial bequest of Sally Baker Stanton ’97, who left to Vassar $200,000 in her will, to be used as a scholarship fund for white girls from Tarboro and Edgecombe County, NC. After much deliberation the board authorized rejection of the gift. They also gave permission to the college to start legal proceedings to eliminate the fund's restriction.
In a nation-wide television announcement on all major networks President Kennedy revealed the discovery of Soviet medium range ballistic missiles in Cuba. He announced an immediate quarantine of the island republic and an unequivocal policy about the missiles:
“It shall be the policy of this nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack on the United States, requiring full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union.”
In the next two days, the Peoples’ Republic of China proclaimed that 650,000 Chinese men and women supported the Cuban people, and the Russian Premier, Nikita Khrushchev, denounced the blockade as “aggression” and said that it would be ignored.
After a tense week of threats, feints and negotiations, during which much of the world thought that war—perhaps nuclear war—would result, the Soviet government agreed to remove the armaments from Cuba in exchange for the withdrawal of United States missile from Italy and Turkey.
The Vassar College touch football team played a game against Sienna College, an all male college located in Loudonville, New York. Sienna's eight men defeated Vassar's eleven women, 14 to 6.
The New York Times covered the game:
“Game gets off to thrilling start as Vassar’s quarterback Betsey (Wily) Wilbur kicks off… Ball rises approximately three and one-half feet. Strategy so baffles opposition that it allows ball to roll almost to its own goal line….
“Four minutes after play begins, Siena scores first touchdown on pass interception. Two point safety follows as Vassar downs ball behind own goal line.
“Vassar regains ball. Quarterback fades back for hand-off to fullback, Priscilla (Whammo) Weston. They bump heads, fall stunned to the ground. No gain….”
Vassar’s touchdown came in the third quarter, partly as a result of quarterback Wilbur’s “devious piece of feminine strategy,” having to do with the sock, worn in the Vassar players’ right back pockets, the article to be “touched,” signifying a tackle.
“She transferred her sock from her right back pocket…to her left back pocket and darted 30 yards amid shrieks from her schoolmates. On the way she caromed off a small, sickly weeping beech planted by the class of ’63.
“As dusk settled over the playing field of Vassar someone observed that the game seemed a little long.
“’I don’t think anyone’s keeping time,’ said a substitute on the sidelines.” The New York Times
The National Civil Defense Agency, through the Army Corps of Engineers, conducted a survey of college buildings to determine appropriate spaces for nuclear fallout shelters. Soon after, signs denoting shelter spaces appeared around campus. The college’s general manager, Louis Brega observed, “Apparently because of the advanced state of our civilization, fallout shelters have become a safety requirement. The college, therefore, feels that it has an obligation to make every effort to provide suitable shelter areas as a part of our overall safety program.”
President Blanding, although ambivalent about the necessity of such shelters, postulated that the signs "might do some psychological good.'" The designated areas included certain sections—usually basements—of residence halls, Main Building, the Library, all academic buildings, the infirmary, the Boiler House and Alumnae House. The Miscellany News
The trustees unanimously authorized re-entry into the National Defense Loan Program due to the recent elimination of the controversial clause requiring students to disclaim subversive ties. Most of the 32 colleges and universities who had withdrawn two years ago also reversed their stands in light of the revised bill.
Some students felt that “the differences between the old and new acts, like revised editions of textbooks used in elementary survey courses, are substantively nil.” The 1958 Act required that students sign an affidavit affirming their general loyalty to the Constitution and willingness to support it “against all its enemies, foreign and domestic,” and to foreswear membership in or support of any organization advocating the overthrow of the United States Government. The 1962 Act still required the affirmation of general allegiance to the Constitution and willingness to support it against international and foreign enemies; it also required the student to foreswear membership in any Communist organization as defined by the Subversive Activities Control Board.”
As a result, a student said, “we eagerly seized this opportunity to save face, but in doing so we have lost the issue for which we fought in ’59 and ’60…. Vassar College’s academic freedom is not now threatened by the National Defense Education Act… But the fact remains that Vassar College, having given its students the right to exercise their individual consciences, has and continues to participate in a program in which in principle it disapproves” The Miscellany News
Work of prominent Hudson River School artists was exhibited in the art gallery, sponsored by the New York State Council on the Arts and circulated by the American Federation of Arts. Among the artists represented were Thomas Cole, Asher B. Durand, George Inness, Sr. , John Frederick Kensett, Frederick Church, Albert Bierstadt.
A group of seniors found Guy Fawkes hiding in President Blanding’s cellar poised to set fire to the house. Thereafter, “crowds of students…pushed into the President’s home. With a trumpet, waste baskets, cap guns, and other noisemakers, the group ran through the house shouting ‘Let’s save Sarah, Get Guy Fawkes.” After Mr. Fawkes was discovered, Miss Blanding shouted, “Shouldn’t we try him? Shouldn’t we hang him?” Miss Blanding then rewarded her noble rescuers with cookies. The Miscellany News
Dr. Mary Steichen Calderone ‘25, public health advocate and pioneer in sex education, was the guest speaker, along with two other doctors, at a second panel for freshmen on sexual issues, in the Aula. Dr. Calderone told the 18 freshmen in attendance that she didn’t disapprove of pre-marital intercourse, but neither could she approve it. She concluded that “Society has abdicated the responsibility for this, so the responsibility must now be with the individual. “ The speakers acknowledged that all young women would be faced with their own personal decision, but urged them not to leave it until the moment of decision to form their individual moral codes. The Miscellany News
Eleanor Roosevelt, a friend of the college for many years, died in New York City after a long illness. Both with her husband—a Vassar trustee, active and honorary, from 1923 until his death in 1945—and by herself, Mrs. Roosevelt attended and frequently took part in campus events, and she often invited students and faculty to her home in Hyde Park.
At her death, President Kennedy said, “The United States, the United Nations, the world, has lost one of its great citizens. Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt is dead, and a cherished friend of all mankind is gone.” Sarah Gibson Blanding wrote, “Vassar College is deeply indebted to this great woman who gave so generously of herself to generations of students. She will be missed but, like her husband, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, she has achieved immortality.”
A pioneer in the field of combinatorics, Dr. H. J. Ryser, professor of mathematics at Syracuse University, spoke to students about the matrices of zeros and ones and later gave a lecture on combinatorial mathematics. He came to Vassar on A Visiting Lectureship Program administered by the Mathematics Association of American and supported by the National Science Foundation.
Professor H. D. F. Kitto, British classicist and professor at the University of Bristol, gave the 1962 Helen Kenyon Lecture, entitled "Greek and Shakespearean Historical Tragedy."
The Aeolian Chamber Players performed a concert of 20th century chamber music. Performing were the group’s founder, Lewis Kaplan, violin; Harold Jones, flute; Robert Listckin, clarinet and Gilbert Kalish, piano.
Mark Van Doren, scholar, Pulitzer Prize-wining poet and professor of English at Columbia University, gave a reading and spoke about his poetry as part of the Student Lecture Series.
English Art historian Miss Helen Lowenthal, co-founder of the Attingham summer school for the study of British country houses, lectured on “The Design of the English Garden in the Eighteenth Century.”
Julia McGrew, assistant professor in the department of English, gave a lecture about the Icelandic sagas entitled “Poets and Warriors.”
Carl B. Swisher, professor of political science at Johns Hopkins University and specialist in American constitutional law and the Supreme Court, lectured on "The Supreme Court in its Modern Role." Swisher was Special Assistant to the Attorney General of the United States in 1936-38.
Civil libertarian Dr. Homer A. Jack, executive director of the National Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy, spoke at Vassar about "The Problem of Fall Out Shelters." A former Unitarian minister in Evanston, IL, Jack had attended the Geneva Disarmament Conference. Emphasizing the urgency of action on nuclear disarmament, Dr. Jack told of his recent interview with pacifist philosopher Dr. Albert Schweitzer, who, in 1958, "indicated that those who care must 'bark out' against atomic testing and nuclear war. In this recent interview, he said it was no longer suffiicient to just 'bark out' like dogs in the African night; we must 'bite out.' It is not enough to cry out about the imposing threat; we must act." The Miscellany News
Robert F. Goheen, 16th president of Princeton University, delivered a lecture entitled “Liberal Education: A Plea for Reason” under the auspices of the Vassar College Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. He was a classicist who posited, “It is important for this country that Princeton and our other great liberal arts institutions should continue to be strong centers of individualized education.“
President Goheen’s wife was Margaret Skelly Goheen ’41, and his daughter Anne was a member of the Class of 1963. The Miscellany News
Dr. Ellis Waterhouse, director of the Barber Institute of Art, University of Birmingham, England, gave the 1962 Dorothy Rice Marks Memorial lecture on "Sir Joshua Reynolds."
Vivian Liebman Cadden '38, senior editor of Redbook Magazine, spoke on "The Role of Independent School in Education."
Percy Dale East, editor and publisher of The Petal Paper
, Petal, MS, spoke “On the Attainment of Distinction.” A former editor of two union papers in Hattiesburg, MS, East founded his newspaper in 1953. Violent local reaction to the 1954 Supreme Court desegregation decision caused East to devote his paper and the rest of his life to the belief that African Americans must receive fair treatment and legal equality.
At the beginning of his remarks at Vassar—a version of an essay published in Harper’s Magazine in 1959—East noted his recent review of Black Like Me (1961) “by a close friend whom I admire and respect, John Howard Griffin. I gave the book a good review, which, in my opinion, it deserved.
“After publication of my review, I had a few letters from readers around the country; they were kind letters, on the whole. However, there was one letter from Jackson, Mississippi, written by a lady there. Along with other things, she wrote: (and I’m quoting) ‘Mr. East, you’re a traitor, a disgrace to your state, your family, and to yourself. Any native Mississippian who’d write as you did about that book is—is nothing but an S. O. B.’
“I’ve had a few such letters before, but never once did I answer them; however, this time I broke my rule and replied to the lady. I began by saying: ‘Dear Mother:’
She hasn’t answered—not yet.”
Turning to his subject, distinction, East cited himself as an example of its attainment:
“My claim to distinction, actually, is two-fold. First, I own a weekly newspaper in the village of Petal, located two miles from the town of Hattiesburg, in Forrest County, Mississippi…. My newspaper has the lowest per capita circulation of any in the world. I confess to an abounding ignorance of arithmetic, but I think in dealing with material objects the lowest count is zero. And zero is the number which represents my circulation in the area (whose claim to distinction is, as proud Petalite[s] will tell you, that it is ‘the largest unincorporated town in the country.’) Second, my paper is…the only one in the nation with an unlisted telephone number. I wish to point out that to reduce a local circulation from 2,300 to zero in only five years requires a certain ability and constant effort…. Frankly, you’ve got to work at it full time—and a ringing telephone is distracting….
“The secret of my early taste of success was relatively simply. I had reached a startling conclusion: that Negroes were, after all, people…. I reached that conclusion from reading the Constitution of the United States, and especially the amendments to it, which impressed me, and wouldn’t turn loose from my memory.”
East’s enumerated editorial “distinctions”—suggesting substitution of the backward-scuttling crawfish for the magnolia as a state symbol, supporting the candidacy of “Cornpone P. Neanderthal” against Mississippi’s iconic segregationist Senator James Eastland, average local sales of his memoir, The Magnolia Jungle: The Life, Times and Education of a Southern Editor (1960), of “one-half book a month”—alongside his accounts of the threats directed at him, his wife and his 10-year-old daughter, culminated in declarations:
“There is no place in the nation for slavery, be it economic, political, religious, or in any other form…. When men are denied their liberties guaranteed by the law of the land, that constitutes a form of slavery. And when and where one slave exists, it is a paradox, perhaps, but you’ll find two slaves, for whomsoever would keep a man down must stay down with him.
“In simple economic terms, we, as a Nation, as individuals, cannot afford to deny our freedom, our liberty to all men….
“For, in the final analysis, from my point of view, freedom is the only distinction worth attaining.”
Although the paper had no local advertisers or subscribers, a “P. D. East Committee,” formed in New York in 1959, subscribers in all 50 states and six European countries and his lecture fees helped The Petal Paper to appear as a weekly until East’s death in 1971. The University of Southern Mississippi Digital Collections
Dr. Frank D. Drake, associate astronomer at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, West Virginia, spoke on “Intelligent Life in the Universe.” He suggested, supporting his claim with a mathematical equation, that contact with other planets would be possible within 30 years.
John Plank, professor at the Fletcher School of International Law and Diplomacy at Tufts and special assistant to President Kennedy, spoke on “The Inter- American System: Ideals and Realities” in the Aula. In his lecture, he explored the implications of the Cuban crisis and weaknesses in the US relationship with Latin America.
The Julliard String Quartet presented a concert, sponsored by the Dutchess County Musical Association.
Singer, actress, and human rights activist Odetta gave a concert. Often remembered as “the voice of the Civil Rights Movement,” she was called by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., “the Queen of American Folk Music.”
The Vassar Glee Club, directed by Albert Van Ackere, and the Franklin and Marshall College Glee Club, under the direction of Hugh Alan Cault, performed in a joint concert at Vassar.
Lithuanian-born scholar and philosopher Harry A. Wolfson, Nathan Litauer Professor Emeritus of Hebrew Literature and Philosophy at Harvard, spoke in Skinner Hall on “How Impious Philosophies Were Made Religiously Respectable.”
Dr. Marian Dobrosielski, counselor of the embassy of the Polish People’s Republic in Washington, D.C., visited political science courses during the day and spoke in the evening on “Berlin and Germany as Cold War Issues.” The lecture was followed by a general discussion period. Dobrosielski held several diplomatic positions in Europe and America, including that of Polish delegate to the United Nations General Assembly.
Famed modern dancer Charles Weidman taught a master class. Associated with Martha Graham and Doris Humphrey, he was distinctively famous for deriving movement from pantomime.
Claude and Marianne Monteux, flutists, and Homer Pearson, pianist and harpsichordist, gave a concert in Skinner featuring 18th century composers. Mr. Monteux was a member of the Vassar music faculty and conductor of the Hudson Valley Philharmonic Orchestra. Mr. Pearson was a professor of music and chairman of the department at Vassar.
The Vassar College Experimental Theater presented August Strindberg's comedy "Crimes and Crimes."
The state Legislative Advisory Committee, of which President Sarah Gibson Blanding was a member, announced that they had voted six to three against raising the minimum drinking age from 18 to 21 in the New York State. Miss Blanding, who was opposed to raising the drinking age, said she was "fearful that to increase the minimum age for legal purchase of alcoholic beverages in New York would only compound the problems that presently exist in this age group."
Specializing in items about the faculty, staff and their families, a newspaper, The Weekly Reporter, appeared on campus. The journal was written, edited and published by children of the faculty.