American poet Anthony Hecht read from his work. His work in progress, The Hard Hours (1968), won the 1968 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.
Ira Grupper, civil rights worker, lectured on the state of racial inequalities in the South. Grupper was partially supported in his work by the Vassar Committee on Civil Rights.
The Miscellany News announced that a campus survey found that 6 percent of the student body had "little familiarity with or even interest in either pot or LSD" but a "fairly large number" of students use "pep" pills. Fifty percent of the students polled stated that they "had either taken [pep pills], or expressed no disapproval of others who did." President Simpson responded to the poll by stating "[Vassar students] are by and large too self-reliant to be attracted to the notion of dependence on any drug. They have too much good sense."
Jewish-American scholar Dr. Samuel Sandmel, professor of Bible and Hellenistic literature and Provost of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, lectured on "Christian Writers On Judaism and Jewish Writers on Jesus."
The trustees announced a $300 rise in comprehensive fees, bringing them to $3,100 for the next academic year.
The Vassar Committee for Civil Rights held the "Freedom How?" conference in order to explore the question: "What role can the Federal Government play in bringing about further changes, both economic and political, to enable its citizens to be free?" The keynote speaker was cultural historian and activist Howard Zinn, professor of political science at Boston University, who lectured on "The Politics of Protest."
Katherine Allabough ’68 defeated Vassar physical education instructor Alice Bixler, 15-13, 15-11 and 15-12, to win the 11th annual Manheim Challenge Cup women’s squash tournament at the Germantown Cricket Club in Philadelphia.
Aline Bernstein Saarinen '35, art critic and NBC new correspondent, gave the Helen Kenyon Lecture on "Style in Art, Politics and Life."
Operation Rolling Thunder, authorized a month earlier by President Johnson, began. A limited but protracted bombing of North Vietnam, the operation was intended to dissuade North Vietnamese support for the Vietcong.
Rolling Thunder ended in November of 1968, having lost over 900 American aircraft and 818 pilots, either dead or missing. By U. S. estimates, some 182,000 North Vietnamese civilians died.
American poet and novelist Howard Nemerov read from his work.
The Vassar College and Union College Madrigal Singers gave a joint concert, with Francis Poulenc's "Un Soir de Neige," as their principal piece.
John Freccero, professor of Italian and curator of the Dante and Petrarch Collections at Cornell University, lectured on Dante. Freccero’s most recent book was his edition of Dante: A Collection of Critical Essays (1965), a collection of 14 essays examining the relationship of poetry to belief in The Divine Comedy.
Art historian David C. Huntington, from Smith College, lectured on "The Artist, the River, and the Mountains." Smith’s book The Landscapes of Frederic Edwin Church: Vision of an American Era (1966) was significant in the critical rediscovery of Hudson River landscape master Frederic E. Church, and he was a collaborator on the 1966 travelling retrospective of Church’s work organized by the Smithsonian Institution’s National Collection of Fine Arts, the first comprehensive exhibit of Church’s work in nearly 70 years.
British philosopher, rhetorician and historian of science Dr. Stephen Toulmin, a visiting professor at Harvard University, lectured on "The Evolutionary Development of Natural Science."
James Roosevelt, son of Franklin D. Roosevelt and a United States delegate to UNESCO, lectured on the United Nations.
Lenore D. Hanks, a member of the Christian Science Board of Lectureship, lectured on "The Mythology of Matter."
American anthropologist Fred Eggan, Harold H. Swift Distinguished Service professor of Anthropology at the University of Chicago, lectured on "Lewis Henry Morgan and Cultural Evolution." Eggan’s application of the principles of British social anthropology in his study of Native American culture aligned him with the pioneering American anthropologist and social theorist Morgan (1818-1881), who first described underlying kinship patterns among Native Americans.
Eggan delivered the Lewis Henry Morgan Lectures at the University of Rochester in 1964, and the lectures were published as The American Indian: Perspectives for the Study of Social Change (1966).
Gilbert Harrison, editor and publisher of The New Republic, lectured on "Lyndon B. Johnson and the Journalists."
Israeli archeologist Moshe Dothan, Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, lectured on "Excavation of the Philistine Ashdod." Dothan oversaw the several excavations in Canaan and Gaza on the Southeast coast of the Mediterranean between 1962 and 1972, during which successive layers of inhabitation of Ashdod, one of five ancient cities lived in by the Philistines, were discovered.
Catalan philosopher José Ferrater Mora, Bryn Mawr, lectured on "Unamuno and the Problem of Religious Experience."
Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Robert Lowell and his wife, critic and essayist Elizabeth Hardwick visited the college. The sixth Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress—a title changed in 1984 to Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress—in 1947-48 and winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry in 1947 for his collection Lord Weary's Castle (1946), Lowell acknowledged in his remarks the great influence on him of Elizabeth Bishop '34. He read and commented on two of her poems, "The Armadillo" and "Visits to St. Elizabeth's," before turning to his own work. Bishop, he observed, "never writes a poem just to write a poem." His reading, said Judy Nadelberg '69 in The Miscellany News, "was a quiet reading—never overtly emotional—but the subtle shadings and tonings and the slight raising and lowering of his voice over certain words and phrases brought out all the bitterness, joy and anger inherent in the poems."
Earlier in the day Lowell and Hardwick spoke with reporters from The Miscellany News about both their work and the world. He declined, he said, an invitation to read his work at a White House Arts Festival, in response to "an intuitive moral reason," his dissaproval of United States policies in Vietnam and Santo Domingo. While he felt that such gestures by the country's intellectual element "can act as a brake on the government," "the main thing for me was not going." "The Lowells," Betsy Dick '68 wrote in The Miscellany News, "both felt that the press, especially The New York Times, has been responsible in reporting the Vietnam war. Said Mrs. Lowell, 'Television is good so far as the pictures are concerned, but there is a certain unreality about television—people are unresponsive. Everyone thinks it is so far away.' Added Mr. Lowell, who in a recent letter to the White House expressed fears that we are becoming an 'explosive and suddenly chauvinistic society,' 'People think the country can't be wrong.'"
Some 250 fathers of members of the Class of 1968 (and a few mothers) from all parts of the country joined their daughters, their daughters’ friends and members of the faculty for the annual Sophomore Fathers Weekend. Dancing began the weekend, and afterwards some students took their “daddies” to, as William Borders put it in The New York Times, “Vassar’s traditional dating haunts, such as Palmer’s and The Dutch, to the dismay of the standard weekend crowds already there from such places as Williams and Yale.”
Tennis, golf and bowling were intermixed with a Sunday sermon from the Rev. Eugene Carson Blake, secretary-elect of the World Council of Churches, on “The End of the World,” weighty faculty seminars and a talk about computers from Professor of Mathematics Winifred Asprey ’38 and Theodor H. Nelson from the sociology department. Dr. Asprey told the fathers about three seniors in her nascent computer program who had accepted jobs for next year at starting salaries over $7,000, and the man who had already coined the terms “hypertext” and “hypermedia” assured the visitors that computers like the IBM Model 360 the college had just acquired “are reshaping our lives.”
“It’s the first time in 19 years,” said one fathers about the time with his daughter, “that we’ve really talked, and we’re both getting to say a lot of good things we’ve left unsaid too long.” “It’s like this every year,” professor of history and dean of freshmen Clyde Griffen told Borders. “I guess,” he continued, “it something about American society. But here they are. The come from all over, and they love it.” The New York Times
American historian and historiographer J. H. Hexter, founder and director of the Yale Center for Parliamentary History, gave the C. Mildred Thompson Lecture on "The Rhetoric of History." A combative theorist on the methods of history, Hexter was characterized in verse at his retirement from Yale in 1978 by his colleague Edmund Morgan:
“Oh, some speak very softly, and some are most polite,
And some will make concessions, and admit you may be right,
But I’m for disputation, and a good old fashioned fight,
Says that rough, tough wreckster, J. H. Hexter.”
Quoted in “Historian J. H. Hexter dies at the age of 86,” http://wupa.wustl.edu/record_archive/1996/12-12-96/6978.html
The Thompson lectureship, given by an anonymous donor, honored American historian C. Mildred Thompson '03, who taught in the history department from 1910 until 1923, when she became Vassar's dean, a position she held until her retirement in 1948. Dean Thompson died in 1975.
United States Commissioner of Education Harold Howe II urged the Class of 1966 to realize and then remember that real improvement in American life could only come about through the creation of decent communities which grant to all their members social justice and courtesy. “If I could find it in myself to do so,” he said, “I would encourage you to aim at the stars, to renew this tired world with your youthful enthusiasm and your high hopes…to echo, in short, the thunderous boosterism that has been popular with graduation speakers.” But, he warned, the world and the nation needed heroics less than it needed everyday courage and decency. The rare geniuses and occasional heroes would do what they inevitably do, he prophesied, but each person “can share the action and passion of his time without making a career of it. It is not necessary for you to build the millennium by 1970…. This is especially true with regard to civil rights, for the great battles remaining to be fought will not be waged in Selma and Watts, Montgomery or Bogalusa. The most enduring and critical victories will have to be won in the quiet communities.
“These battles will be won by personnel managers who go beyond employing brilliant Negroes to giving mediocre Negroes the same chance for a job as mediocre whites…. We need,” Howe concluded, “quiet heroes who—while going about their nine-to-five business—take time to shape a slightly different world than the one they found.” The New York Times
United States Senator Birch Bayh, lectured on "Politics as a Career." Bayh represented Indiana in the Senate from 1963 until 1981.
Stuart W. Rockwell, deputy secretary for Near East affairs for the State Department, lectured on Vietnam.
American archeologist Gordon R. Willey, the first Charles P. Bowditch Professor of Central American and Mexican Archeology at Harvard, lectured on "Researches in the Mayan Area." One of a handful of archeologists to serve as president of the American Anthropological Association, Willey was honored by the association with the establishment of the annual Gordon R. Willey Prize recognizing an exceptional archaeological paper published in its journal, American Anthropologist.
Mrs. J. Aduke Moore, United Nations representative from Nigeria, lectured on "Struggle for Political Unity in Nigeria."
An ad hoc student-faculty committee held a teach-in entitled "Vietnam: An Analysis of the Issues."
English poet, writer and critic A. Alvarez lectured on "What Happened to Modernism?"
The college announced the $500,000 endowment of the Dexter M. Ferry, Jr. chair by the D. M. Ferry Jr. Trustee Corporation and members of the late Mr. Ferry’s family. The chair was specifically intended to be assigned to any area of the curriculum.
Mr. Ferry had given $200,000 in 1950 for the Dexter M. Ferry, Jr. Cooperative House, which opened in 1951. Two of Mr. Ferry’s daughters, Edith Ferry Hooper ’32 and Jean Ferry Davis ’35, were Vassar graduates, and two of his sisters, Blanche Ferry Hooker ’94 and Queene Ferry Coonley ’96 had given $100,000 in 1919 for the erection of Alumnae House.
Hungarian-born philosopher, Julius Moravcsik, a classical scholar and philosopher of language from the University of Michigan who called himself “a Platonist but with a pragmatic flavor,” lectured on "Living as Recollection, as Shown in Plato's Meno."
Australian writer and filmmaker Myra Roper lectured on "The New China." An early Western visitor, Roper had visited the People’s Republic of China in 1958, 1963 and 1965, gathering material for her book, China—the Surprising Country (1966) and shooting footage for two films.
Kendrick Hall became a Maison Française, with 32 students determined to speak only French within the house.
The Dean's Program was inaugurated. Intended to supplement departmental programming by providing endowed funding of specific-topic symposia, over the next two years the program offered symposia on such topics as “The Politics of Youth;” “The Death of God Theology;” “Human Behavior in Terms of Studies of Animal Behavior;” “What's Happening in the Arts;” “Urban Poverty” and “New Directions of the Liberal Arts.”
French-born critic and scholar Victor Brombert, chairman of the French department at Yale University, lectured on "Malraux and the World of Violence."
American poet Denise Levertov, poet in residence, began her stay at Vassar.
Despite heavy fighting in July, when nearly 1,300 North Vietnamese troops were killed, the Vietcong was again at full strength, thanks to replacements from North Vietnam.
Dr. George F. Bass, University of Pennsylvania, lectured on "Archeology Under Water." A pioneer in underwater archeology, Bass directed the first excavation of an entire ancient shipwreck, a late Bronze Age ship off the coast of Turkey.
John Brentlinger, professor of philosophy at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, lectured on the "Cycle of Becoming in Plato's 'Symposium.'"
At the Senior Convocation Ceremony, students petitioned President Alan Simpson for better communication between the student body and the administration.
American poet A. R. Ammons read from his most recent work, including Tape for the Turn of the Year (1965).
Eminent art collector and visiting scholar Curtis O. Baer lectured on "Problems Concerned with the Study of Drawing."
German Christian theologian Wolfhart Pannenberg, professor of systematic theology at the University of Mainz, lectured on "The Foundation of Ethics and the Kingdom of God." Pannenberg’s first major works, Revelation as History and Jesus: God and Man, appeared in 1968.
South African scholar Mphiwa B. Mbatha, visiting professor at the State University of New York at New Paltz, lectured on "Zulu Culture, African Click Languages, and What Anthropologists Can Do and Contribute."
German-born art historian Wolfgang Stechow, Robert Sterling Clark Professor of Art for 1966-67 at Williams College, gave a lecture entitled "Breughel Spoke to the People." A member of the Oberlin College faculty between 1940 and 1963, Stechow returned to Vassar as Mary Conover Mellon Professor of Art for the 1969-70 academic year.
John Wilkie, chairman of the board of trustees, dedicated the Jeannette K. Watson faculty housing complex, designed by architects Carl Koch and Associates of Boston.
American violinist and composer Paul Zukofsky, winner of the 1965 Young Concert Artists International Auditions, gave a recital.
President Alan Simpson announced the formation of the Committee on New Dimensions. The Committee explored 13 ideas, six about "various forms of cooperation with other colleges and universities" and others regarding "calendar change, four-year M. A. programs for gifted students, 'pre-professional or semi-professional' programs in fields like teaching or museum work, field work programs, and coeducation." The Miscellany News
The college extended curfews for seniors returning at night by car to 2:30 AM on any night of the week, provided that the individuals returned accompanied by another person. The hours during which Main residents were permitted to have men in their rooms were also extended.
Adele Franklin and Sadie Kasden, members of the All-Day Neighborhood Schools Program, New York City, lectured on "Serving Disadvantaged Children."
Dr. Benjamin Spock lectured at Vassar on "Child-Rearing in the Atomic Age."
American architectural historian Dr. James S. Ackerman, professor of fine arts at Harvard, lectured on "Leonardo's Light: An Encounter of Art and Science." A prominent historian of Renaissance Italian architecture and architectural theory Ackerman published a two-volume study, The Architecture of Michaelangelo, in 1961, and Palladio appeared in 1966.
Vassar held a "Conference on Journalism and Protest."
Vassar became the first women's college to have a student chapter of the National Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).
The Vassar College Administration formalized an anti-narcotic policy: "The use, possession, or dispensing of hallucinogenic drugs, and of marijuana and all other narcotic drugs, except on a doctor's prescription, are prohibited. Failure to cooperate fully with any investigation into the use, possession or circulation of any such drugs is a serious offense." The Miscellany News
Scholar of medieval Jewish philosophy Arthur Hyman, from Yeshiva University, lectured on "Jewish Piety."
British-born philosopher and interpreter of Eastern mystical thought Alan Watts lectured on "Transformations of Consciousness: Fears and Fascinations." A convert to Zen Buddhism and, at this period, to psychedelic aids to meditation, Watts was the author of many books, including The Way of Zen (1957), The Joyous Cosmology—Adventures in the Chemistry of Consciousness (1962) and Beyond Theology—The Art of Godmanship (1964).
The Lucas Hoving Dance Company performed. An original member of the José Limón Dance Company, Hoving formed his own company in 1961.
"It is very doubtful that what is called Bloomsbury ever existed, but for the purposes of this lecture I have to pretend that it did," said English novelist David Garnett, lecturing on "Virginia Woolf and Bloomsbury." A younger member of the group of English writers, theorists and artists who gathered in the London district called Bloomsbury in the early 20th century that included Lytton Strachey, Maynard Keynes, Virginia and Leonard Woolf and Virginia Woolf's sister Vanessa and her husband, the artist Clive Bell, Garnett gained wide acclaim for his novel Lady into Fox, which won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction in 1922.
In what Tona Johnston '68 called in The Miscellany News "a delightful and exceptional evening," Garnett spoke of the interests and eccentricities of the diverse group of intellectuals, ranging from pacificism, condemnation of snobbery and sexual freedom to the economist Keynes's habit of inviting those who wished to speak with him about his ideas to do so as he was taking his bath and to Virginia Woolf's little-known "delight in lampooning herself." About Woolf he said, "By the time I got to know her well, she'd suffered much and was already almost middle-aged," adding that "Everything she described was a unique experience; she never generalized, always particularized.... I was trying to write, too, making feeble experiments, and my goodness, it was exciting to read Virginia!"
Roger Sessions gave the first lecture of the newly established Dickenson-Kayden Fund, entitled "Opera in the Twentieth Century." Mildred Bernstein Kayden ’42 established the fund in honor of the late Professor Emeritus of Music George Sherman Dickenson.
Alan Dent, Scottish drama critic, lectured on "Criticism and the Theater." London critic for The Manchester Guardian and, later, film critic for The London Illustrated News, Dent wrote the screenplay for Lawrence Olivier’s Henry V, and was text editor and advisor for the actor’s productions of Hamlet and Richard III.
John Gerassi, Newsweek, lectured on "The Great Fear in Latin America."
Italian-born American mathematician and philosopher Gian Carlo-Rota, from Rockefeller University, lectured on "Combinational Theory."
Vassar College and Yale University released the following statement:
"The Trustees of Vassar College have accepted an invitation by the Corporation of Yale University to make a joint study of the possibilities of cooperation between the two institutions, it was announced today by the presidents of Vassar and Yale. The desirability and feasibility of relocating Vassar College in New Haven would be a major interest in such a study.”
In making the announcement, President Simpson said, 'This is a most imaginative and exciting proposal. The benefits to these two distinguished institutions might be tremendous; the problems to be faced are formidable.
“Vassar College would have to determine whether New Haven offers a wider field for its modern mission than its historic home; whether its identity could be properly preserved; whether the site is ample enough; and whether the prodigious human, legal, and financial problems are surmountable. The possibilities of such a brilliant partnership, among the varieties of development which are open to Vassar College, merit the most thoughtful study.”
President Kingman Brewster, Jr., of Yale said, “I am very pleased that Vassar has accepted our invitation to a joint study. The Yale Corporation made it known last March that if further study indicated that Yale could make a contribution to the education of women at the college level, the coordinate college approach would be preferable to any expansion of Yale College to accommodate women.
“The opportunity to explore these possibilities with Vassar College is a great privilege for Yale. Whether the interests of both institutions can best be served by such a coordinate relationship cannot now be foretold. Whatever the outcome of the study, Yale will benefit greatly from this joint exploration with such an eminent and successful sister institution." The Miscellany News
According to the Poughkeepsie Journal, Poughkeepsie and Dutchess County officials "expressed 'strong determination' to attract a state or private college or university graduate center to Vassar if the college is moved to New Haven...."