At the start of the new year, there were a total of 23,000 American military advisors in South Vietnam. The combined forces in South Vietnam of the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Army, the “People’s Revolutionary Army,” totaled some 170,000.
Viet Cong guerrillas killed eight Americans, wounded 126 others and destroyed ten aircraft in an attack on an American compound at Pleiku, Vietnam. The following day, declaring “I’ve had enough of this,” President Johnson approved the bombing of a North Vietnamese army camp by Navy jets.
Folk-singer and activist Judy Collins performed in Students' Building for Freshman-Sophomore Weekend. "Clad in a loosely fitting pink dress," Joan Zoeller '66 wrote in The Miscellany News, "her natural presentation and warmth charmed the audience. Miss Collins held her guitar high, and her notes come out sharp and clear.... One of the most interesting phenomena of the concert was the reaction of G-Stringers in the audience to her rendition of "Twelve Gates to the City." They seemed to be studying her style and jogged their heads in time to the music. The rapt attention of the audience and the large turnout added to the success of the concert." The Miscellany News
Six hundred marchers, including Martin Luther King, Jr. and prominent members of his Southern Christian Leadership Council, in the first of three marches from Selma, AL, to Mongomery in support of efforts at voter registration by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), were attacked by state and local police, using tear gas and billy clubs.
The first U. S. combat troops, 3,500 Marines, landed in Vietnam, joining 23,000 American advisors. The following day, President Johnson authorized the use of the petroleum-based anti-personnel weapon, Napalm.
Vassar faculty and students, along with President Simpson and his family, joined 3,000 other marchers, including representatives of the NAACP, the Human Relations Council, local ministries and Congressman Joseph Resnick, in a march in Poughkeepsie, part of a "nationwide response...to protest recent events in Selma, Alabama." The march was to object to the "the denial of suffrage and civil liberties to the Negro citizens and the brutal attacks upon civil rights demonstrators by the Alabama State Troopers." The Miscellany News
Associate Professor of Chemistry Curt Beck spoke to a meeting at Vassar of some 100 anthropologists from 38 colleges, universities and research centers, members of the Northeast Anthropological Conference. Dr. Beck demonstrated his innovative method of analyzing ancient amber, a key element in the anthropological tracing of the spread of the Bronze Age. Prehistoric trade in amber provided evidence of the spread of Bronze Age technology, but the older method of testing the material was not only rather imprecise; it also required significant destruction of the artifact. Using infrared spectroscopy, Beck—or one of his students—was able to gather far more precise information from two milligrams of amber in 20 minutes than researchers using the older method could produce after hours of work. He told the conference that he was embarking on a plan to test five or six hundred samples from prehistoric sites in order to fix their origins.
Viet Cong terrorists bombed the United States embassy in Saigon.
In response, President Johnson authorized sending another two Marine battalions, along with 20,000 more logistical personnel to Vietnam, secretly authorizing American combat troops to conduct offensive operations.
Fourteen Vassar students marched in a protest against the war in Vietnam in Washington, D.C. , sponsored by Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). Women Strike for Peace also participated.
The Miscellany News announced that Vassar College's singing group “The G-Stringers” would perform at Carnegie Hall as part of the “ ‘Collegiate Sound,’ which consists of singing groups from colleges all around the country.” The group was among those appearing under the same auspices in 1963.
Members of the class of 1966 voted to use informal portraits in The Vassarion. The class chose a spot on campus where the students were to be photographed, and each student decided what to wear.
Data published in The New York Times showed that applications to Vassar for the Class of 1969 totaled 1,597, an increase of 58 from the previous year. Six hundred and eighty-seven acceptances were offered to fill the 470 places available for freshmen. Vassar’s acceptance rate was 43 percent of its applicants, compared with 52 percent for Barnard, 42 percent for Bryn Mawr, 44 percent for Mount Holyoke, 38 percent for Smith, 16 percent for Radcliffe and 25 percent for Wellesley. Accepted students of color made up 3.2 percent of the applicants accepted at the seven colleges.
The college announced that Associate Professor of English Elizabeth Adams Daniels ’41 would succeed Inez Nelbach as dean of studies. Dean Nelbach was the college’s first dean of studies.
The presentation of an art purchase fund bearing her name brought students, colleagues and friends from all parts of the country to Taylor Hall to salute art historian and founding director of the Vassar Art Gallery Agnes Rindge Claflin, who was retiring after 42 years at the college. Touring an exhibit in her honor, “Art since 1923”—including works by Picasso, Matisse, Albers, Lichtenstein and a “painting machine” by Jean Tinguely—Professor Claflin, who joined the faculty in 1923, told New York Times
writer Grace Glueck “It shows you what a mixed epoch it’s been.”
“Modern art,” she continued, “is a very good way of finding out what the world looks like. Artists are more important than most people. The have a reach, a sensitivity. They alert men’s imaginations 10 years ahead of events…. But concepts of art history have changed so much that I worry constantly about people going around with all those wrong things in their heads that they learned 25 years ago.” The New York Times
Christine Hoene ’66 joined some 2,000 men in running with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. Wearing, according to The New York Times
, a beige and blue pinafore, Hoene climbed over a 10-foot wooden barrier and led the crowd which in turn led six bulls. As the melee approached the bull-ring, the bulls, she said, “were a yard behind me…. Just before the entrance…the police caught me and pulled me out.”
Asked why she had joined the annual event, she replied, “I came to Pamplona because I heard it was the greatest party in Europe.” The New York Times
Professor of Geology John H. Johnsen conducted a 6-week summer institute for high school students on the "Principles of Geology."
Rioting broke out in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles when police arrested first one, then the other of two Watts brothers and then their mother. Angry onlookers attacked the officers and longstanding racial tensions exploded. Despite the efforts of Black leaders in several community meetings, the crowds, the anger and the destruction continued to grow.
Police, firemen and nearly 14,000 National Guardsmen brought a curfew into effect on the 4th day, and the rioting subsided. Thirty-four people died, 1,032 were injured and 3,438 were arrested. Nearly 1,000 buildings were destroyed or damaged, and property damage was estimated at $40 million.
The Board of Trustees approved the construction of a new building in the present Science Quad, and the consolidation of the departments of Biology, Physiology, Zoology, and Plant Science. Plans were also announced to build a wing on the southeast side of Avery Hall that would house two theaters, and to install an IBM 360 in the renovated laundry building located behind Main.
A consolidated department of biology moved into the Olmsted Hall of Biological Sciences in 1972, and the administrative computing center and its new mainframe were dedicated in 1967. All but the façade of Avery Hall was razed to make way for the Vogelstein Center for Drama and Film, which opened in 2003.
At a meeting in New York City of the American Chemical Society, Professor of Chemistry Curt Beck described his innovative use of infrared spectroscopic analysis of ancient amber to aid archeologists in determining more accurate dates for the beginning of prehistoric trading of the fossil material. Amber was, along with salt, one of the two earliest known trading materials.
Sixty percent of an American battalion, ambushed by the North Vietnamese, suffered casualties; every third U.S. soldier was killed.
The Kendrick Jug Band, made up of members of the class of 1968, performed at several dorm parties. The band consisted of a "metal sheeter, spoons, washboard, jug, and a comb with wax paper, as well as banjo, gut bucket, auto harp, mouth harp and kazoo." The Miscellany News
The Vassar Committee on Civil Rights, “adopted” a Mississippi Democratic Party worker, Ira Grupper, whom they called "The Grupper." The VCCR financially supported the worker, whose responsibilities were to canvass local neighborhoods to determine the problems of the people and to organize the Freedom Democratic Party.
Grupper, a lifelong activist, returned to Vassar from time to time.
Students received letters from Operation Match, a computer project started by two Harvard undergraduates who believe there is "an ideal date for each and every college student." The Harvard students had students from Wellesley, Connecticut College for Women, Smith, and Sarah Lawrence fill out a questionnaire. Apparently, some students checked their sex as "male" instead of "female." Vassar students opened their letters to find that their ideal dates on the list were not only men but many women as well. The Miscellany News
"The New Scene," “the newest directions” in pop art, came to Vassar. Six young art celebrities—Enrique Castro-Cid, Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, Ad Reinhardt, James Rosenquist and Andy Warhol—spoke about their work. "I can't emphasize enough," Brenda Feigen '66, the sister of art dealer Richard Feigen, who arranged for the event and who moderated it, told The Miscellany News, "how unusual it is for any school to get a group of artists like this to come and talk." Vassar's "New Scene" panel was, she added, the first time the emerging pop artists appeared together for a public discussion of their work. In anticipation of the event, Deirdre Henderson '67, offered Misc. readers a summary of some of the artists and their work: "Warhol, Oldenburg and Lictenstein have been described by Arts Magazine as the 'Harpo, Groucho and Zeppo of Pop.' Lichtenstein made famous teh will, sometimes cynical comic strip art. Oldenburg sculpts—one of his more famous pieces being a life-sized pastry showcase. Warhol popularized portraits of 'Liz' and 'Marilyn' as well as the Campbell soup can. Rosenquist is teh master of billboard imagery—fragmentized compositions of advertising art. Castro-Cid builds moving, robot-like structures."