The Barbara Bailey Brown Fund, was established in 1966 by the Class of 1932 in memory of their classmate Barbara Bailey '32 in support of programs and lectures fostering international understanding.
Dr. Merril Eisenbud, professor and director of the laboratory for environmental studies at New York University Medical Center’s Institute of Environmental Medicine at Tuxedo, NY, lectured on "Hudson River Ecology in Historical Perspective." In 1968, Dr. Eisenbud had taken a leave of absence from the institute to become the first director of Mayor John V. Lindsay’s new New York City Environmental Protection Agency. Dr. Eisenbud lived in Sterling Forest, NY, in Orange County.
The Composers' String Quartet performed the "String Quartets" of American composer Elliott Carter, who spoke about them after the concert. The quartet, noted for performances of new works by contemporary composers, consisted of Matthew Raimondi, violin; Anahid Ajemian, violin; Bernard Zaslav, viola and Seymour Barab, cello.
Matthew Raimondi taught violin at Vassar for many years.
British classicist Eric A. Havelock, chair of the classics department at Yale University, lectured on "Was Socrates Literate: Could He Read and Write?" His Preface to Plato (1963), challenging previous interpretations of the basic literacies of Plato’s time, was both greatly influential and controversial. His talk at Vassar previewed his Prologue to Greek Literacy (1971), which was itself a prologue to The Literate Revolution in Greece and its Cultural Consequences, which appeared from the Princeton University Press in 1981.
Professor Havelock married the Vassar art historian Christine Mitchell in 1962, and after his retirement in 1973 he made his home in Poughkeepsie.
The trustees met to discuss three options for Vassar's involvement in the proposed Mid-Hudson Graduate Center: participating in a consortium with Syracuse University and Union College, leasing land and facilities to a Center established by Union and Syracuse or having no involvement at all with the project.
Under discussion since the withdrawal in December 1970 of the proposed Vassar Graduate Center of Science, Technology and Human Affairs, this plan called for a consortium, the Mid-Hudson Graduate Center of Science, consisting of Vassar, Union College and Syracuse University, with substantial funding from IBM.
The Student Senate strongly urged the trustees to reject the project. Despite numerous student protests, the trustees decided to proceed with negotiations on the graduate center, and President Simpson invited students to join project's coordinating committee.
Over 400 students met in the Students Building to discuss the proposed consortium with Syracuse University and Union College in a Mid-Hudson Graduate Center of Science. A spokesman for the students said the principal opposition to the center was the fear that its planning and execution would serve IBM’s needs at the expense of Vassar’s traditional liberal arts character.
A college spokesman said that the proposition was a “a paper concept” that did not initially call for concrete action involving Vassar property.
The next day, a similar number of students cut classes to protest the board of trustees' decision to proceed to develop the Mid-Hudson Graduate Center of Science. In a subsequent student referendum, a vast majority of students voted against the trustees' decision. The New York Times
Acting on authorization by the board of trustees at their October meeting to "make appointments in education, on the regular faculty line," the faculty endorsed the recommendation of the dean of the faculty, Professor Marion Tait, to form a department of education. Involved in one way or another in teacher preparation for at least 40 years and currently offering a program in teacher preparation, the college addressed two possible courses of action, the formation of a new department or continue instruction under the direction of a sub-committee of the Committee on Curricular Policy. "The program at Vassar," said Dean Tait, "is large enough for a department, but probably too cumbersome for a committee." The Miscellany News
The department of education was introduced in 1972, with the former director of teacher preparation, Emma McConnell, as its first chair.
A travelling exhibit of some 80 paintings by contemporary American realist painter Philip Pearlstein was exhibited in the Art Gallery. New York Times art critic Hilton Kramer, calling Pearlstein “the foremost realist painter in America… In fact…the foremost realist painter anywhere I know,” found the works in this exhibition “among the strongest images the artist has yet produced.”
The paintings ranged from expressionist landscapes of the 50's to Pearlstein’s most recent works with studio models.
Philosopher of art and architecture Karsten Harries from Yale University lectured on "The Limits of Modern Art." His The Meaning of Modern Art was published by Northwestern University Press in 1968.
Professor Harries also spoke at Vassar in November 1981 and in April 1995.
The college announced plans for 25 new coeducational housing units, or town houses, to be built on the west side of Vassar Lake. The new units would be leased to 250 students, each paying $800 per year, $200 less than living in a residence hall. Each unit had five bedrooms, 1½ bathrooms, a kitchen, a living room and a basement.
President Simpson presided at the ground-breaking for the new apartments, on the site of the Murphy Farm, on March 10, 1971.
Bernadette Devlin, British MP for Mid Ulster, Northern Ireland, lectured in the Chapel on "Civil Rights in Northern Ireland."
"We live," she told her audience about the Irish, "in the twentieth century—very few of us still believe in leprauchauns—though we pretend to because it keeps the American tourists happy." The civil strife in Ireland, she declared, wasn't based in religion, but in social class: "We have 7,000 British soldiers in the streets of Northern Ireland...they are the working class sons of the working class people in Britain.... Working class blood [the British government] can afford to shed.... Working class blood through the ages every imperialist and capitalist country in the world has been eager to shed.... They play with the balance of payments, and we play with starvation."
Dismissed in 1969 from Queen’s University Belfast for civil rights activities, the radical socialist was elected to Parliament the same year, the youngest woman ever elected to that body. Also in 1969, Devlin was convicted of inciting a riot in the “Battle of the Bogside” between Northern Irish Catholics and the Royal Ulster Constabulary. After a short jail term, she was reelected in 1970, retaining her seat until 1974.
On a previous visit to New York, Ms Devlin had arranged for the key to the city given to her by Mayor John V. Lindsay to be given instead to the revolutionary lefist Black Panthers, “as a gesture of solidarity.” “To all these people,” she said, “to whom this city and this country belong, I return what is rightfully theirs, this symbol of the freedom of New York.” The Miscellany News, The New York Times
Bernadette Devlin visited Vassar again in 1992 to show and discuss her documentary film Off Our Knees (1988).
Economist Lester C. Thurow from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology lectured on "1971 Economy: Up, Down, or Sideways?" The Brookings Institution published Professor Thurow's Poverty and Discrimination in 1969, and his Generating Inequality: Mechanisms of Distribution in the U. S. Economy appeared in 1975.
Dr. Thurow spoke at Vassar on "Different Countries' Hats" in November 1985.
Meryl Streep ‘71 received a glowing review in The Poughkeepsie Journal for her role as "Sarah Millwood, a lady of pleasure" in the Vassar Experimental Theater's production of The London Merchant (1731) by George Lillo. Of Streep's portrayal of the "truly tragic," "morally corrupt but beautiful Millwood," Debi Erb '73 said in The Miscellany News, "Streep coos, connives, weeps and screams her character alive. It is a [role] with which Ms. Streep is familiar. Through her performances in Miss Julie, Molière's Frosine in The Miser and now as Millwood, Ms. Streep is acquiring an image." The Miscellany News
In April, 1971, Meryl Streep made her off-Broadway début as a fishermaid, Tisbea, in a production at the Cubiculo Theater of Tirso de Molina's The Trickster of Seville and the Stone Guest (El burlador de Sevilla y convidado de piedra, c. 1616-1630). The Cubiculo was affiliated with the National Shakespeare Company, founded in 1962 by Philip Meister and Elaine Sulka.
Hannah Arendt, author and political theorist, gave the Helen Kenyon Lecture, entitled, "Thinking and Moral Considerations." Arendt's remarks on the conflict between the incessant and spontaneous "need to think"—practically, "good for nothing"—and its pragmatic product, knowing, "no less a world-building activity than the buliding of houses," were the core of an essay of the same name published the following fall. Linking "consciouness" with "conscience"—as, she noted, the French language does—Arendt observed in conclusion: "If thinking, the two-in-one of the soundless dialogue, actualizes the difference within our identity as given in consciousness and thereby results in conscience as its by-product, then judging, the by-product of the liberating effect of thinking, realizes thinking, makes it manifest in the world of appearances.... The manifestation of the wind of thought is no knowledge; it is the ability to tell right from wrong, beautiful from ugly."
"The concept of conscience developed in the lecture," wrote Lilly Russow '71, in The Miscellany News, "is closely tied to the activity of thinking....Ms Arendt believes that thinking prevents man from doing evil. Thinking leads to the dalogue between the parts of the self which she terms conscience." Hannah Arendt, "Thinking and Moral Considerations," Social Research, vol. 38, no.3, (Autumn, 1971), The Miscellany News
The Helen Kenyon Lectureship Fund was established June 7, 1939 by the Associate Alumnae, the Class of 1905 and other friends of Helen Kenyon, '05, as a contribution to the 75thanniversary fund. Miss Kenyon was an alumnae trustee from 1923 until 1928 and Chairman of the Board from 1929 until 1939.
Students and faculty members joined forces in a reading of Father Daniel Berrigan's free verse play The Trial of the Catonsville Nine (1971). The play, which ran on Broadway for 29 performances in 1971 and was made into a film produced by actor Gregory Peck in 1972, was Berrigan's account of his trial, along with his brother Philip and seven others, for the 1968 confiscation and burning with homemade napalm of draft records belonging to the draft board of Catonsville, MD. Convicted in federal court, Father Berrigan went underground and was captured in August, 1970. He was released from prison in 1972.
The reading's cast included: "Daniel Berrigan," Professor of History David Schalk; "Philip Berrigan," College Chaplain George Williamson, Jr.; "David Darst," Andy Sherman '74; "John Hogan," Visiting Professor of English Alan Charity; "Thomas Lewis," Rob Chender '74; "Thomas Melville," George Saunders '74; "Marjorie Melville," Karen Peterson '75, "George Mische," Tom Lingel '74; "Mary Moylan," Kathy Raub '73; "Defense," Assistant Professor of Economics David Novack; "Judge," Steve Peters '74; "Prosecution," Mike Davidson '72; "Witness," Cathy Paulo '73; "Readers," Nancy Griffin '72 and Jo Rosenberger '71.
Daniel Berriigan spoke at Vassar as "A Peacemaking Citizen in a Warmaking State" in October 1984.
Former Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York John M. Burns III lectured on "Can We Clean Our Waters?" After several successful prosecutions for pollution of the Hudson River and just as he was preparing two suits against a General Motors plant at Tarrytown, NY, Burns was fired for what his superiors called his “overenthusiastic” pursuit of polluters.
By the time of his Vassar talk Burns discovered the 1899 Refuse Act requiring permits to discharge wastes into navigable waters, thus provoking President Nixon to order the Army Corps of Engineers to issue 40,000 such permits by July. Beginning to organize citizen committees along the Hudson, Burns told TIME magazine, “Nixon’s permit program knocks the teeth out of water-pollution enforcement throughout the country. In effect, the permits will be veritable licenses to pollute.”
Conservationist Robert H. Boyle, outdoors writer for Sports Illustrated and founder in 1966 of the Hudson River Fisherman’s Association (HRFA), lectured on "The Effects of Pollution on Fish Life." HRFA was the forerunner of Riverkeeper, the leading watchdog agency for the Hudson River.
Boyle lived on the banks of the Hudson, at Cold Spring, NY.
About 70 students took over the office of the dean of the faculty in Main Building to protest the college’s decision not to renew the contracts of six teachers, on the grounds of insufficient scholarly accomplishment. The students presented three additional demands focusing on hiring and tenure procedures.
President Simpson, along with several other members of the faculty, spoke earlier to approximately 350 students explaining faculty contract renewal and tenure policies, and the faculty, after an emergency meeting, asked the students to vacate the dean’s office.
The students refused to leave and some 150 other students gathered in Main Circle to protest the dismissals. The decisions were not reversed, and the sit-in ended after two weeks, on May 5th.
A mass rally in Washington DC against the war in Vietnam attracted some 200,000 protestors.
Prominent Catholic lay theologian Michael Novak, associate professor of philosophy and theology at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Westbury and author of A Theology for Radical Politics (1969), lectured on "Mysticism and Politics." Professor Novak described a current crisis in cultural and political life which he typified as the "spiritual self" becoming "a victim of americanization, yielding to the physical." A modern motto, he suggested, might be "I touch therefore I am." Reporting in The Miscellany News on Professor Novak's talk, Jon Plehn '73 observed, "In a departure from new left ideology, Prof. Novak claimed that another of our main problems is...an overwhelming freedom of choice.... Novak summed it up by stating that 'this fear of emptiness from within is where the great threat to freedom now comes from.'"
Michael Novak co-authored Vietnam: Crisis of Conscience (1969) with Rabbi Abraham J. Heschel and Robert McAfee Brown, and his The Experience of Nothingness appeared from Harper Row in 1970.
Asian historian Arthur F. Wright, Charles Seymour Professor of History at Yale University, gave the C. Mildred Thompson lecture, entitled, "T'ang T'ai-tsung, 626-649 AD: Toward a Psychological Biography of China's Greatest Ruler." Professor Wright contributed an essay on the great emperor of the T'ang Dynasty, T'ang T'a-tsung (599-649), "T'ang T'ai-tsung and Buddism," to Perspectives on the T'ang, which he co-edited with Denis Teitchett and which appeared from Yale University Press in 1973.
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.
Folk-singer Pete Seeger performed in a benefit for Hudson River Sloop Restoration Inc. and the Sierra Club. A Hudson Valley resident and frequent visitor to Vassar, Seeger was a co-founder in 1966 of the sloop restoration group, which launched the sloop Clearwater in 1969.
Seeger’s first performance at Vassar, for freshman week in 1962, was protested by the American Legion and other local groups on the grounds that his conviction for refusing to answer questions from the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1955—under appeal and eventually overturned—made him a “condemned criminal.”
At the May 1 deadline about 92 percent of applicants offered places at Vassar for the Class of 1975 had responded. Of the 611 new students in the second freshman class to enroll men, 388 were women and 233 were men. One hundred six accepted applicants had not responded, and the 22 places remaining unfilled were offered to some of the 109 applicants on the waiting list and to a few of the 350 transfer applicants. Admission director Richard Stephenson said that the 58 percent acceptance rate from accepted male applicants—down from 70 percent for the first-ever male freshmen in the Class of 1974—was in line with expectations, and he attributed the decline in positive male responses "to a lessening," according to The Miscellany News, "of the 'sense of adventure' involved in being a Vassar male." Female responses were, at 50 percent, were higher than expected, given last year's 43 percent affirmative response rate.
The college's chief competitors for freshmen were: Smith, 47 acceptances; Harvard and Radcliffe, 33; Yale, 25; Princeton, 25; and Cornell, 19 women and 5 men. Observing that, given the number and quality of the applicants, "we can lose many and still get the class we want," Stephenson noted the "solid advance on minority groups" in the new class: 41 African American students, of which 11 were male; 22 Asian Americans and 16 Hispanic Americans. The Miscellany News
New York Times writer Lucinda Franks ’68 shared the Pulitzer Prize in Journalism for National Reporting with Thomas Powers of United Press International for “The Making of a Terrorist." The five-part, 12,000 word series examined the life and death of activist Diana Oughton, a 28-year-old member of the Weathermen faction of Students for a Democratic Society, who died in 1970 when a dynamite bomb she was assembling exploded in the basement of a townhouse in the Greenwich Village section of New York City.
Hailing an "Age of Androgyny," author Caroline Bird ‘35 lectured on "Why Woman's Liberation?" Three distinct features of the new age, she said, were the comparative youth of current feminists—"young women, not disillusioned middle-aged women—" the "deliberately leaderless and spontaneous...grass-roots" nature of modern feminism and the young feminists' ability to "separate sexuality from sex roles and realize that you don't need to be male to enjoy yourself in bed."
"Ms. Bird," wrote Susan Casteras '71 in The Miscellany News, "illustrated the development of the female movement and growth to consciousness from the history of Vassar College, which is 'an ideal [microcosm] to study social change.' Vassar, she wryly noted, was never 'in the forefront of the movement; the administration bitterly opposed female suffrage.' And in the '50s Vassar reacted against historical androgyny by insitutuing child psychology, or trying 'to make motherhood into an academic study.'"
Bird presented her audience, the reporter said, with "her own precis of gradual growth of consciousness and radicalization," citing "three goals that she would seek as a young woman to see materialized in the present and future: to challenge the 'institutional handicaps' and work...for female compensatory promotions, to 'put yourself on the line by doing something for all women—as in working for equal rights and abortion laws,' and not simply to protest, but to 'do something to make room for the next generatioin of women.'" The Miscellany News
Bird’s Born Female (1968) was an influential early document in the women’s movement of the 1960s and 1970s. She spoke frequently on the campus during the 1970s.
The students who staged the 14-day sit-in protest against the recent decision not to reappoint six faculty members quietly left the deans’ wing of Main Building, in order, they said, to gain more support from the faculty for their concerns.
Telford Taylor, professor of law at Columbia University, and Richard A. Falk, professor of international law at Princeton University, gave the Barbara Bailey Brown Lecture, entitled, "War Crimes: Who is to be Judged by Whom?" Both international lawyers, Taylor was a prosecutor at the Nuremburg trials and Falk wrote critically about the war in Vietnam.
"Although both speaker reached similar conclusions," Jon Plehn '73 wrote in The Miscellany News, "their approaches focused on two different planes. Taylor concentrated on the legal aspects of war crimes, declaring that 'The limits of war have a moral and practical base'.... [He] continued by saying that a major function of [a] tribunal would be to make the public aware of war crimes such as those occurring the Vietnam." Professor Falk, the reporter said, "argued on a moral level," decrying "the pushing of the elite into roles of such technocratic natures that the moral view is lost.... Inevitably Falk's argument hit upon the same solution as Taylor's, that of establishing an international penal code and tribunal for war crimes. On a short term attempt at political reeducation both speakers suggested the instigation of impeachment proceedings of President Nixon. Taylor hoped that this would alter the political awareness of the public and Falk, believing the public to be well-informed on the moral and practical problems of warfare, hoped for an increase in the political awareness of the elite." The Miscellany News
Robert Middleton, piano, Matthew Raimondi, violin, and Luis Garcia-Renart, cellist, offered a Vassar College faculty concert in the Carnegie Recital Hall in New York City, playing works by Robert Schumann and Professor Middleton. The New York Times reviewer, Raymond Ericson, found that Middleton’s music “sounded somewhat expressionistic in the manner of early Berg and Schoenberg. Yet is was not quite like that either.”
Of the playing of Schumann’s Intermezzos (Op. 4) the reviewer observed “the pianist played them like a composer, with a feeling for the music’s flowering.” The three musicians’ reading of Schumann’s Trio No. 2 in F, Ericson said, was “quietly sensitive.” The New York Times
Eleanor Holmes Norton, chairman of the New York City Commission on Human Rights, gave the address at Vassar’s 105th Commencement. Telling the 378 graduates “it is a heavy responsibility to have inherited not merely history, but social ferment and change,” she added “your good fortune is already assured for having lived through them.” Women’s rights, Norton declared “is the newest and perhaps most difficult issue confronting you. To change the relationship between men and women is to proceed on as radical a course as has ever been undertaken.”
On the subject of racial equality, she said “The decisiveness of the black experience in your lives goes beyond even philosophy, even tactics, even heroes.” Calling the graduates “the first generation of white Americans to go significantly far in banishing racism from yourselves,” she added, “You are new whites even as we are new blacks.” The New York Times
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in favor of the publication by The New York Times and The Washington Post of “The Pentagon Papers”—top-secret records of American involvement in Indochina over the decades leaked to the press by former CIA employee Daniel Ellsberg.
The New York Times reported that it had obtained a copy of a report on the Vietnam moratorium on October 15, 1969, prepared for the Army’s Directorate of Civil Disturbance Planning and Operation by, among others, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Army Intelligence Command. The activities of a number of prominent politicians and celebrities were tracked, and the report’s predictions of “’anticipated’ disturbances in nearly 200 city squares and college campuses around the country,” were, The Times said, was “an essentially misleading estimate of a peaceful day of antiwar protest.”
Among specific claims in the report were that at a Black Panther rally one of the Chicago trial defendants predicted demonstrations on October 17 “throughout the country sponsored by [an] ad hoc committee of lawyers” and that at West Point “girl students from Vassar College and the State University at New Paltz will offer sex to cadets who sign an antiwar petition.” The New York Times
The college announced that political scientist Dean Barbara J. Wells of Thomas More College, Fordham University, would succeed Dr. Nell Eurich as dean of the faculty. Dr. Wells, who assumed office in July 1972, spoke to Dale Mezzzacappa '72 shortly after her appointment was announced, about her priorities for the Vassar faculty: "Any educational insitution worth its salt today will make a concious effort in the direction of women faculty and black faculty. Of course we have to hire who is good, but because these two groups have been submerged, if I can use that word to describe two vastly difference experiences, we have to make a conscious effort to look for women faculty and black faculty, not just to 'accept what comes.'"
Citing "real differences between us on educational issues and methods of administration," Dean Eurich resigned in January of 1970 at President Simpson’s request.
In remarks at Vassar New York State Senator John R. Dunne, chairman of the New York State Senate Crime and Correction Committee, spoke out against proposals for "maximum maximum security" prisons in the wake of violent riots the previous month at the Attica Correctional Facility in Attica, NY. An advocate of prison reform since his election to the Senate in 1965, Senator Dunne was specifically requested by prisoner negotiators for the subsequent ten-man Citizens Negotiating Committee, which he chaired. Under his leadership, the committee vowed to hold complete and immediate investigations in the causes of the Attica riots and bloodshed.
An editorial in The Miscellany News the day after his appearance, said, "the man was sincere about his ideas for prison reform," and it urged "all interested [to] watch Senator Dunne within the next few months to see what he actually accomplished.... Or, better still, don't just watch him, work for prison reform yourself as he suggested."
Sister Elizabeth McAlister delivered the sermon at Sunday services in the Chapel. Sister McAllister was one of the Harrisburg Seven who were indicted earlier in 1971 as co-conspirators in plots to destroy draft files, kidnap Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and bomb the heating systems of U.S. government buildings. In her sermon, The Miscellany News reported, she "likened the accusations against Jesus to those against anyone who seeks to free the oppressed, illustratiing that there was basically a case of 'power meeting power' in the forms of Jesus and Pilate who stood for difference ideals and principles." The writer observed that, while "Sister McAlister drew the comparison between Jesus and present-day activism, the overall tone of the serman was more religious than political."
In a defense led by former United States Attorney General Ramsey Clark, Sister Elizabeth and the group’s leader Rev. Philip Berrigan were the only defendants convicted in the conspiracy, and these convictions, on minor charges, were overturned on appeal in 1973. Elizabeth McAlister left her order and subsequently married Philip Berrigan, with whom she founded Jonah House, a faith-based pacifist community in Baltimore in 1973. She spoke again at Vassar in April 1978.
Greek-born American economist and socialist politician Andreas G. Papandreou from York University, Toronto, delivered the Barbara Bailey Brown lecture, "Patterns of United States Intervention in Greece." A cabinet minister in the administration of his father, Prime Minister George Papandreou, Professor Papandreou was exiled during the April 1967 military coup that established the government of Colonel Georgios Papadopoulos.
Speaking in the Chapel, he charged that several members of the current Greek government were members of the Greek central intelligence agency, which he said was administered and financed by the United State Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). He further charged that the 1967 coup was engineered by the CIA through its influence over the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and, as Jon Plehn '73 reported in The Miscellany News, "that NATO in Greece is synonymous with the United States mission.... Prof. Papandreou concluded that fascism 'is not just a story for the Greeks. It is a story for all of us. We must confront totalitarianism is all its facets. Totalitarianism is a common fate for freedorm, dignity and self-determination.'"
In later life, Mr. Papandreou returned to Greece, where he served two terms as Prime Minister.
The Barbara Bailey Brown lectures were funded by the Barbara Bailey Brown Memorial Fund, established in 1966 by the Class of 1932 to commemorate the dedication to international understanding of Barbara Bailey Brown '32.
Black activist and Nebraska State Senator Ernest Chambers—sometimes called “The Maverick of Omaha” and also known as “The Angriest Black Man in Nebraska”—spoke on "Black Political Liberation" at the Center for Black Studies in Poughkeepsie as part of the Vassar College Center for Black Studies program.
President Simpson broke ground for the new biology building, Olmsted Hall of the Biological Sciences, given to the college by Robert G. Olmsted, his wife, Louise MacCracken Olmsted ’32, and their daughter, Dr. Nancy Olmsted ’60. A former president of Adelphi University, Mr. Olmsted was a Vassar trustee. Mrs. Olmsted was the niece of Vassar President Henry Noble MacCracken, and Dr. Olmsted, a specialist in pediatric pulmonary disease, earned a M.S. degree at Stanford and her M.D. degree at Yale.
The new building was a product of the recent $52 million Capital Campaign. Other campus improvements made possible by the campaign and occasioned by the college's decision to become a larger, coeducational institution were the new Town Houses and Terrace Apartments, the central dining facility in the Students' Building, the Hallie Flanagan Davis Powerhouse Theater and the Helen D. Lockwood Library.
Nancy Graber, a 20 year-old former student, sued the college for $1,000,000 after leaving Vassar. She cited her roommate's marijuana use and Vassar's poor handling of that problem as the reasons for poor academic performance at the college.
In an out-of-court settlement in July 1972, the college agreed to pay the student's family $2,100. The settlement was, according to a college spokesman, a tuition refund and "by no means an admission of guilt." The New York Times
Ronald Young, coordinator of the Daily Death Toll Project, a non-violent civil disobedience campaign opposing the Vietnam War, spoke about the nascent effort. Telling a small audience in Rockefeller Hall that lack of active interest in opposing the war was a serious problem, Young declared that his project's aim was to address the issue. Every day, he said, 300 people die because of the war, and, starting November 8, 300 or more protestors from all over the country would converge on the White House each day and "symbolically die." He announced that the lower upstate New York region would join the effort on November 8, and that people choosing to participate should be prepared to be arrested. The Miscellany News
German-born American historian Fritz Stern, the Seth Low Professor of History at Columbia University, gave the first C. Mildred Thompson Lecture of the academic year, "The German Past and the American Present." Professor Stern drew parallels between the "illiberal, something more than totalitarian" rule of Otto Von Bismarck between 1871 and 1890 to the current situation in United States, particularly in regard to the continuing conflict in Vietnam. Just, he said, as "the Bismarckian system had become an albatross" by the early years of the 20th century, so "in the last decade America has lost more dignity than most countries achieve in a lifetime." Stern's The Politics of Cultural Despair: A Study in the Rise of the Germanic Ideology appeared in 1961, and Knopf published The Failure of Illiberalism: Essays on the Political Culture of Modern Germany in 1972. The Miscellany News
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.
The Associate Alumnae/i of Vassar College (AAVC) held a five-day celebration of its 100th anniversary. The programming centered around 39 distinguished alumnae who returned to campus to take part in lectures, discussions, classroom sessions and informal gatherings. The celebrants heard presentations by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Elizabeth Bishop '34, artist Nancy Graves '61 and mezzo-soprano Sandra Browne '68, and they attended several symposia.
"The Artist as Social Critic," a discussion in the Chapel on October 26 that included filmmaker Roberta Hodes '46 and poet Muriel Rukeyser '34, drew particular attention because its chair, novelist and critic Mary McCarthy '33, was back on the campus for the first time in 20 years. "Ms. McCarthy," Dale Mezzacappa '72 noted in The Miscellany News, "did not relish the special attention. She wanted to be able to do what the Centennial committee had invited her and the other 38 women to do—participate in symposia and interact with students and faculty in the classroom."
In light of her cool assessment of the college in "The Vassar Girl," an essay written after her visit to the college in 1951, McCarthy was asked for her impressions of the college two decades later. "'The New Vassar,' she replied, 'is more like the Old Vassar of the Thirties, when I was here, than it is like the Middle Vassar of the Fifties.' She continued to say that professors here in the Thirites were notable for opening students' minds and for challenging them with concepts that they were not prepared for." McCarthy's example was a freshman class she visited, whose teacher, medievalist Icelandic scholar Julia McGrew, was teaching Soul on Ice (1968), the prison memoir of Black Panther leader and self-confessed rapist Eldridge Cleaver, currently under a murder indictmant and living in exile in Algeria. "Someone like that," McCarthy said of Professor McGrew, "is 'characteristic' of Vassar's educational tradition." The Miscellany News.
Arthur O. Eve, Democratic assemblyman from Buffalo, speaking at a "Black Solidarity Day" observance, called the Attica prison revolt "possibly the most significant event in recent history in exposing the injustices of the [prison] system." An observer at the Attica riots, Eve had entered the facility and relayed the demands of the inmates.
The celebrated Irish actress, Siobhán McKenna, brought her one-woman show Here Are Ladies (1970) to the Chapel. Writing in The New York Times during the show's earlier run at the Public Theater in New York City, critic Clive Barnes said, "Miss McKenna offers almost every shade of Ireland except English-blue and leprechaun-green. She fights shy of the fey, and she loves the women of Ireland and forgives the men for writing of them."
The Vassar show, a "two and a half hour solo tour de force," said Jo Gates '72 in The Miscellany News, "composed of a wide variety of selections from women in Irish literature...ranged from Synge and O'Casey to Shaw, Yeats and finally to entire second act of James Joyce.... It was Joyce's Molly Bloom of the final scene from Ulysses which was the climax of the evening. With everything preceding it acted in front of a scantily suggestive set, the staging of "Molly" in her brass bed had the perfect impact."
Members of the Trustee Committee on Women at Vassar held an open meeting with students and faculty members to discuss ways of continuing Vassar's special commitment to the education of women in the era of coeducation. "Almost everyone who spoke," reported Margaret Sanborn '73 in The Miscellany News, "agreed that some form of Women's Studies is an important point to consider.... Nancy Schrom '69, who is currently teaching a course on the history of women, suggested a distinct department, which she felt would have the advantage of giving students more...opportunity to go into greater depth in their studies. Other speakers suggested an interdepartmental program, which could offer courses in psychology, art and literature to name a few." Other topics discussed ranged from concerns that "women comprise only 33 percent of the full professors at Vassar" to efforts to reopen the question of "setting a limited ration of men to women enrolled in the college." Earlier in the fall the trustees had reaffirmed their earlier projection of an enrollment of 2,400 student equally distributed between women and men. The Miscellany News
Women's Studies was established as a course of study in the Independent Program in 1978, and it became a fully operational multidisciplinary program in 1985. Nancy Schrom Dye '69 was professor of history and dean of the faculty at Vassar between 1988 and 1994, when she became the 13th president—and the first woman president—of Oberlin College.
Frank Kehl, a graduate student in urban anthropology from Columbia University, lectured in Blodgett Auditorium on "A Recent Trip Through Mainland China." Graduating from Dartmouth in 1962, Kehl spent two years, 1962-64, in the Dartmouth Project Asia Program teaching at Chung Chi College, Chinese University of Hong Kong. More recently, Kehl visited mainland China in 1971 as part of the first delegation sent by the pro-Chinese Committee of Concerned Asian Scholars. In his talk, picketed by protestors denouncing the continued detention of Americans in China and the rumored deaths of Chinese activists under the Communist régime, Kehl attempted to answer some of the charges, claiming that his visit was undertaken in the belief that cold war politics had prevented scholars from viewing China objectively.
In a question and anwer session, Mr. Kehl's wife Dorothy, a native of Hong Kong, asserted that "women are liberated and work side by side with the men" and that even women's garb in the People's Republic reflected this in their simple gray or black dresses and their use of little or no make-up or jewelry. About the detention in China of Americans, "Mr. Kehl asked the audience to consider what those men had done to become prisoners of the Chinese." The Miscellany News
Columbia University economist and professor of industrial engineering Seymour Melman delivered the Crego lecture on "War Economy and Capitalism." A lifelong advocate of disarmament, Melman gave impetus to the antiwar cause in the ‘50s by his analyses of the social costs of military spending. A popularizer of the term “overkill,” Melman asked in a letter to The New York Times in 1964, “Isn’t 1,250 times overkill enough? Since the Soviets by the same calculation can overkill the United State only 145 times, are we to believe that any advantage exists here for either side?”
His talk at Vassar presented economic data that challenged the assumption that industrial capitalism required military spending on a large scale. In addition, he claimed, "with the Cold War, government entered into new relations with military spending," shifting control of capital and "definable central executive" decision-making to the Pentagon, thus creating what Professor Melman called "Pentagon Capitalism." The Miscellany News
Melman’s 1974 book, The Permanent War Economy: American Capitalism in Decline, presented his case in trade-offs: one Huey helicopter, for example, could buy 66 low-priced homes, and the $4-5 billion saved with the elimination of the C5A aircraft program could eliminate hunger in America. The Crego lecture, part of the Crego Endowment, established in 1956 by Jean Crego ’32, in honor of her father, sponsored an annual lecture in the general field of economics, under the auspices of the economics department.
Historian Hannah Holborn Gray from the University of Chicago gave the Phi Beta Kappa Lecture, on, "Humanism and Religion Before the Reformation." Noting that early humanism was "not necessarily devoted to Christian ethics but to religion," Professor Gray asserted that it was "a set of values, not a school of thought," leading to "no single set of conclusions." She drew on the lives and experiences of four humanists—Petrarch, Lorenzo Valla, Erasmus and Thomas More—to examine her thesis, uncovering sufficient differences in their influences, approaches and ends to, in the end, define their "humanism" as "a range of religious questions." She held that this "lack of unity," reported Linda Malone '75 in The Miscellany News, "caused the humanists to become an 'educated élite' swept under by the wave of the Reformation."
Dean-elect of the College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern University, Dr. Gray returned to Vassar the following spring to deliver the commencement address.
Vassar postponed indefinitely its plans for an alliance with Union College and Syracuse University for a Mid-Hudson Graduate Center of Science. The plan was abandoned in February 1972.
Vassar College's new radio station, WVKR, made its first broadcasts, a sampling of music and news. Owing to incomplete work on the telephone lines transmitting the station's signal to the campus, the brief program was available only in Main Building.
A preliminary program to a wider audience, featuring a reading by student association president Jane Bishop '72 of Walt Kelly's palindromic poem "Smile, wavering wings," was broadcast on January 28, 1972, and the station officially began campus-wide service on January 31. The Miscellany News
The pioneering country-rock music group Poco performed for an audience of 2,300 in Kenyon Hall. Formed by former Buffalo Springfield lead singer Richie Furay in 1969, the group, originally named POGO after Walt Kelly's cartoon character, became Poco when Kelly threatened to sue.
Writing in The Miscellany News, Michael Kimmel '72 and Wendy Lawrence '74 praised "the flowing harmonies of Paul Cotten's "Bad Weather," adding, "Richie Furay's acoustic solo left the audience entranced as they bridge into Richie's 'You Are the One,' which began with a beautiful four part (Richie, Paul, George [Grantham] and bassist Tim Schmidt) a capella harmony typifying Poco's vocal precision. But no Poco audience is seated for long, and people were soon bouncing again to the tune of Furay's classic 'Pickin' Up the Pieces,' which featured George on lead vocal.... The individual musical talents combined with their personal rapport, each's genuine encitement in the others' music, create a whole greater than the sum of its parts, and Poco's music emerged as a completely exuberant experience." The Miscellany News
Howard University bioethics pioneer and educator Marian Gray Secundy '60 became the first African-American elected to Vassar’s board of trustees.