The Miscellany News reported that students objected to the Master Planning Committee’s decision to convert College Center manager’s offices, vacant after a staff reorganization, into a Third World Lounge. The Third World Lounge was intended to fulfill the promise of a space for minority students, made upon the closing of Kendrick House.
Assistant Professor of Art Karal Ann Marling and students presented “Woodstock, An American Art Colony, 1902-1977.” The exhibition explored the link between the colony’s history and its “relationship to mainstream American art.”
Writing in The New York Times, critic Grace Glueck praised the exhibit: “Miss Marling and her students are to be commended for a useful show that pulls into focus a whole American genre and for an excellent catalogue…that, besides it documentary value, makes good reading.”
Mark Lane delivered the lecture “Who Killed Kennedy?” in the Chapel. In Rush to Judgment (1969) Lane disputed the findings of the Warren Commission’s investigation of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. In his lecture, claiming that Lee Harvey Oswald was not the sole perpetrator of the November 22, 1963, shooting, he charged that “the American People have been deceived.” The Miscellany News
The Murphy Farmhouse gave Monday night courses on “mixology,” or bartending.
Teresa Villardi’s contract as coordinator of Women’s Studies and assistant professor of History was not renewed, calling into question the future of the coordinator’s position.
Rebecca Holderness ’79 presented “An Experiment in American Space,” a performance of students’ original dance compositions, in the ‘common space” of the College Center first floor.
Construction began on the Third World Lounge in the College Center.
Comedian and actor Robert Klein performed in the Chapel. A former member of Chicago’s Second City troupe, Klein starred in 1975 in the first stand-up comedy special by the fledgling cable television channel, Home Box Office (HBO).
Late in the evening an African-American member of the Class of 1978 was arrested on the New York City 125th Street and Park Avenue train platform after failing to respond to a white Conrail policeman’s questions. President Alan Simpson declared that the college would “do everything in its power to protect its students from this kind of indignity.
On March 22, Manhattan Criminal Court Judge John Leone dismissed the charges against the student in a pre-trial hearing. The Miscellany News and The New York Times
Representative Charles C. Diggs Jr. of Michigan, chairman of the House Committee on International Resources, Food and Energy, lectured on “American Policy Toward South Africa” in Taylor Hall. Previously, Diggs had served as the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Africa of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The Miscellany News reported that Vassar expected a budget surplus of $94, 216 by the end of the 1976-1977 academic year.
A proposal presented to the board of trustees suggested an intercultural “Unity Center” on the second floor of New England Building. The SGA Executive Board said the center would promote “social and educational exchanges among Vassar’s many cultural organizations.”
On February 21, the College Council allocated the space to studio art.
Geoffrey E. Linburn, Director of Counseling Services, addressed an open letter in The Miscellany News to Vice President of Student Affairs Natalie Marshall ’51, asserting that he had been fired because of a conflict with Marshall over doctor-patient confidentiality.
The Trustees increased tuition by $275 and room and board by $150, bringing total tuition and fees to $5,700. The November 12th Coalition organized against the fee increase.
President Simpson announced that Vassar had received Mark Twain’s family papers—over 600 letters and telegrams. The materials were donated by a former trustee, Ralph Conner, and his wife Jean Connor, the great-grandniece of Mark Twain. Also accompanying Twain’s papers were those of Jean Connor’s mother, author Jean Webster McKinney ’01.
The New York Times quoted Frederick Anderson, a prominent editor of Twain’s papers, who had not previously been allowed access to this material: “It’s a great coup….This is a spectacular collection…. We’ve been trying desperately to work around the material…. I’m extremely eager to see it.” President Simpson commented, “This is Mark Twain’s second visit to Vassar, and he is here to stay.”
The American sage and humorist called his first visit to Vassar, on May 2, 1885, a “ghastly experience!”
R&B-funk band The James Cotton Band performed at ACDC.
Evangeline Armstrong ‘78 presented her original one-woman show Let Thy Will Be Done.
Two white students dressed up as members of the Ku Klux Klan harassed an African-American “friend.” They later partially removed their outfits and hassled another minority student. The College Court found the students “guilty of violating that part of the campus order regulations which refers to the ‘interest’ of other members of the community,” and President Simpson placed them on probation.
Chairman of the court Natalie Marshall ‘51 found “no particular evidence of racist intent.” The Miscellany News
In response to the incident, 300 Vassar students rallied on March 2, demanding college legislation against racist acts.
Tom Wicker, associate editor of The New York Times, spoke on “The South and Cultural Change: A Critique” to an audience of 300 in the Chapel. Wicker, a native of North Carolina, focused on social, political, and economic conditions in the American South in the post-World War II era.
Patricia Kaurouma, assistant professor education and Africana studies and director of the Urban Center, was appointed as Dean of Freshmen, effective July 1, 1977.
She succeeded physicist Robert Stearns who planned to spend a year focusing on research.
Two works by Viennese artist and architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser were stolen from a College Center exhibition, leading the exhibit to close three weeks ahead of schedule.
Brad G. Williams ’77 received a Fulbright-Harp Fellowship, the third Vassar student to have done so in as many years. On his Fulbright, Williams traveled to France, where he taught English conversation at high schools and teacher’s colleges.
Vassar hosted the Seven College Conference, attended by Bryn Mawr, Barnard, Radcliffe, Smith, and Wellesley.
Blues singer Bonnie Raitt gave a concert in the Chapel to benefit her alma mater, the Oakwood Friends School. Located in Poughkeepsie, the school was New York’s oldest co-educational day and boarding school.
The Psychology department held a symposium on child development and education in honor of Professor L. Joseph Stone, who died in December of 1975. The keynote speaker, Jerome Kagan of Harvard lectured on “The Human Infant: Origin, Transition, and Competent Agent.” Kagan asserted that a child’s development did not occur on a continuum but instead was “discontinuous” and punctuated by “major growth jumps.” The Miscellany News
Like Professor Stone, Kagan was a pioneer in developmental psychology. His Personal Development was published in 1971, and The Growth of the Child: Reflections on Human Development, appeared in 1978.
The Miscellany News reported that the Master Planning Committee supported the reorganization of the Dean of Studies’ Office as well as the development of a faculty lunchroom in the space of the old Vassar Cooperative bookstore. The alterations to the dean’s office allowed the office of the dean of freshmen to be incorporated into the area where the other class deans' offices were located.
Rita Mae Brown, American poet, novelist and civil rights and gay rights activist, lectured as the keynote speaker of the Women’s Weekend, which took place from March 25-27. Brown’s first novel, Rubyfruit Jungle (1971) dealt openly with lesbian themes, and her collections of poetry, The Hand That Rocks the Cradle and Songs to a Handsome Woman appeared in 1971 and 1973. She was a co-founder in 1969 of the Student Homophile League, the forerunner of the Columbia Queer Alliance.
Avant-garde composer George Crumb, winner of the 1968 Pulitzer Prize for Music, held an informal recital in Skinner Hall and visited the music composition classes.
American composer, music theorist, poet and artist John Cage performed in Skinner Hall. A pioneer of “chance music” and famous for his use of unusual objects, such as household items, as musical instruments in his compositions, was also well-known for his 1952 work, “4′33”, in which no notes were played for four minutes and 33 seconds.
A touring company of Godspell (1970) performed at Vassar. The musical—parables from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke interspersed with texts from hymns set to contemporary music—originated as a student production at Carnegie Mellon University, and it enjoyed a long off-Broadway run.
Promised Gifts ’77, a program in the Art Gallery in which alumnae and friends identified workd that would eventually come to Vassar, presented an exhibition of 62 such works of art.
Captain Grace Murray Hopper ’28, Vassar mathematics instructor from 1931 to 1943 and one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark 1 computer (the first computer), lectured on “Future Possibilities: Hardware, Software and People.”
The Miscellany News reported that the Poynter Grant for programming on journalism had been renewed for an additional year. The grant, given to the college by Nelson and Marion Knauss Poynter ‘46, publishers of The St. Petersburg Times, was intended to increase students’ appreciation for and exposure to the media.
The Miscellany News reported that Virginia B. Smith, founding director of the Federal Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), was to succeed Alan Simpson as Vassar’s eighth president.
A highly respected lawyer, economist and administrator, Smith was cited in 1975 by Change magazine, a publication associated with The Council of Colleges of Arts and Sciences (CCAS), as one of 44 most influential people in postsecondary education.
Science-fiction writer and professor of biochemistry at Boston University Isaac Asimov, author of the Galactic Empire series (1950-52), the Robot series (1950-85) and the Foundation series (1951-53; 1982-93; 1997-99) among others, lectured in the Chapel. Asimov predicted that the future world would face problems of over-population. This could be prevented, he said, by increasing the status of women, and thus probably decreasing the birth rate.
The Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble, the touring company of the famous Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, performed in Avery Hall. Started in 1974 to establish a wider cultural audience for modern dance, the troupe toured nationally and internationally.
The Miscellany News reported that a report on administrative growth and cost by a subcommittee of the Faculty Policy and Conference Committee revealed that Vassar had fewer professors but more administrators per student than ever before.
Leon H. Keyserling, economic and business counselor to the Roosevelt and Truman administrations and to congressional committees, spoke at Vassar. The chairman of the National Council of Economic Advisors under President Truman, Keyserling was the founder and president of the Conference on Economic Progress, an economic research and policy organization supporting “a full-employment policy” through government creation of jobs.
The faculty rejected an energy-saving proposal that would add an additional week to winter break and shorten spring break.
Feminist psychologist Betty Kronsky ‘53, a professor at the New School for Social Research and the Women’s School of New York, was named coordinator of Women’s Studies.
A student group performed Neil Simon’s The Star-Spangled Girl in Davison Living Room.
The Duke Ellington Orchestra performed at the Spring Formal.
The Rev. Peggy Muncie, a member of Vassar’s chaplaincy, was ordained an Episcopalian priest in the Chapel. Muncie was the 70th female priest ordained.
Edward Levi, U.S. Attorney General under President Ford, spoke at Spring Convocation in honor of his close friend, outgoing President Alan Simpson.
Lanford Wilson’s The Hot L Baltimore, directed by Homer Carroll ‘77, was performed in Rockefeller Hall.
The Miscellany News reported that Kevin Rickard ’77 was the first Vassar undergraduate to win the W.K. Rose Fellowship. All previous recipients had been graduates.
The Vassar Club of New York held its 55th Annual Scholarship Benefit, a dinner at the Lotos Club and a performance of The King and I at the Uris Theater.
Commencement weekend highlights included a student production of Wallace Steven’s Three Travelers Watch A Sunrise and a student-faculty performance of Guys and Dolls.
Retiring President Alan Simpson and President-elect Virginia B. Smith spoke at Vassar’s 113th Commencement.
Professor of Art Emeritus Agnes Rindge Claflin died. As professor of art (1931-65) and the founding director of the Vassar Art Gallery (1943-62), she strengthened both Vassar’s art history department—bringing émigré historians such as Richard Krautheimer and Adolf Katzenellenbogen to the faculty—and its collections. At founding director Alfred Barr’s request she served on the advisory committee for the Museum of Modern Art in New York and as its assistant executive vice-president (1941-44).
Six Vassar students—Korola Korallus ‘79, Angela Ferguson ‘78, Johanne Brown ‘79, Woodie Stevenson ’79, Elizabeth Soderholm ‘79 and Peter Moore ’80 — appeared in the Mademoiselle college issue. Ferguson said that Mademoiselle wanted a “more home-spun, peachy, fresh scrubbed cheek appearance,” not a “Vogue look.”
The eighth annual pre-school conference was held on Vassar Farm. Though open to all students, the three-day conference was intended to introduce freshmen and transfer students to faculty and upperclassmen. Organized by the Chapel Board, under the direction of Rev. George Williamson, the conference engaged 120 freshmen and 30 upperclassmen in activities ranging from softball and volleyball to faculty panels on "Culture and the Time of Transition" and "The Individual in Time of Transition."
President-elect Virginia Smith welcomed the Class of 1981 to fall Convocation, at which Professor of History Clyde Griffen, chair of the American Culture program, spoke.
Due to over-enrollment, 24 transfer students were temporarily housed in the Alumnae House. The September 16th Miscellany News reported that some students were upset with these accommodations.
Vassar received 8,000 acres of Illinois farmland from the estate of former trustee Rebecca Lawrence Lowrie ‘13. The bequest, valued at $10 million, was the largest in the college’s history.
The Composers String Quartet, quartet in residence at Columbia, performed the world première of Professor Richard Wilson’s “String Quartet—1977” in Skinner Hall. Wilson's quartet commemorated the beginning of the third century of Phi Beta Kappa, founded on December 5, 1776, at the College of William and Mary. It was written at the invitation of Vassar's Mu Chapter of the academic honor society, the first chapter, in 1898, at a women's college.
The Composers String Quartet, founded in 1965 by former Vassar professor Matthew Raimondi and Anahid Ajemian, performed in the Mozart Festival in Adelaide, Australia, inaugural concerts at the Centre Georges Pompidou and premièred Beethoven’s Opus 135 in Calcutta, India.
A thief stole $40 worth of food from the Vassar Food Co-op, located in the Murphy Farmhouse. Security’s arrival prevented more from being taken.
Lathrop House President Joyce Vailonis ‘79 called an “emergency mandatory” house meeting in response to seven instances of burnt door-mounted notepads.
Comedian Chris Rush and a rock orchestra, Ralph, performed at Vassar.
oynter Program sponsored the screening of two documentaries: Jim Klein and Miles Mogulescu’s Union Maids (1976) and the Theo Kamecke’s The Incredible Bread Machine Film (1975).
The directors of these two documentaries visited Vassar on October 4th and lectured on “Political Film Making.” They were joined by Willard Van Dyke and Barbara Kopple, whose documentary films “Valley Town” (1940) and “Harlan County USA” (1976) were shown on October 3rd.
The Poynter Program, given to the college by Nelson and Marion Knauss Poynter ‘46, publishers of The St. Petersburg Times, was intended to increase students’ appreciation for and exposure to the media.
Vassar purchased its second IBM 5100 computer, costing $17,000.
The Vassar Soccer team won the North Eastern Athletic Conference for the second year in a row. Coach John Wallace hoped to declare the team independent for next year, thus enabling it to play opponents outside the conference.
CHOICE, a student group dedicated to birth control education, was organized by Angela Colclough, the nurse midwife at Baldwin Infirmary. “There is a great need,” she said, “for something on campus on the student level so that the students can make a more educated choice of birth control.” The Miscellany News
Padma Bhushan M. S. Subbulakshmi, the “First Lady of Indian Music,” performed in Skinner Hall. In 1954 Madurai Shanmukhavadivu Subbulakshmi, the singer and player of traditional Carnatic music, was the first musician to receive the Padma Bhushan, India’s third highest civilian honor.
Vassar received a $10,000 grant from the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare to provide help for students who struggled with basic math and reading.
The Experimental Theater presented Ruth and Augustus Goetz’s The Heiress
, based on Henry James’s Washington Square.
The Ultimate Frisbee team won its first-ever game, beating Williams 20-18.
Sara Ann Ketchum ‘68, philosophy professor at the State University of New York at Oswego, lectured in the Philosophers Holiday series on “Women’s Studies, Women’s Culture and Conceptual Change: Notes toward a Philosophy of Women’s Studies.”
All the President’s Men
(1976), based on Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward’s novel on the Watergate scandal, was shown in Skinner Hall. The film, starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman, was nominated for eight Oscars and won four, in 1977.
Elizabeth St. John Villard ‘67, Vassar drama instructor, directed Euripides’s Medea
in Avery Hall.
The Miscellany News
announced that the 1976-77 budget had a surplus of $194,352.
Rock band NRBQ (New Rhythm and Blues Quartet)—Terry Adams, piano; Joey Spampinato, bass; Al Anderson, guitar and Tom Ardolino, drums—and a student band, Naima, performed in The Students’ Building.
Vassar’s Race Relations Committee and the Intercultural Center held a festival in the College Center. It featured photography of the Himalayas, prison art from the Urban Center, and cultural films. Chairman of the Intercultural Center Vilma Yuzbasiyan‘78 said that the festival’s objective was “to express the goals of the Intercultural Center and provide the Vassar community with a unique intercultural opportunity.”
Author and New Yorker
writer John McPhee lectured as part of the Poynter Program in the Josselyn living room. The Poynter Program, given to the college by Nelson and Marion Knauss Poynter ‘46, publishers of The St. Petersburg Times
, was intended to increase students’ appreciation for and exposure to the media.
An electrical fire in Cushing basement left the hall without electricity for four days.
The Proxy Review Committee, AAVC, and the religion, political science, and economics departments held a three-day conference on “Social Responsibility in Corporate America.” United States Senator Jacob K. Javits of New York and Fred T. Allen, president and chairmen of the board of Pitney-Bowes spoke on government regulation of business.
The Proxy Review Committee, formed in 1975 to advise the trustees on investment and stockholder voting decisions, included members of the faculty, administration, alumnae, and students.
Tillie Olsen, early American activist, feminist and author of the short story collection, Tell Me a Riddle
(1961), lectured at Vassar. The recipient of a Ford Foundation fellowship in 1959, the first year they were awarded, and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1975, Olsen was cited in 1976 for her contribution to American literature by the American Academy and National Institute of Arts and Letters.
Laura Toole ’78 directed Jean Giraudoux’s Intermezzo
(1933) at the Hallie Flanagan Davis Powerhouse Theater.
New York Times
journalists Betsy Wade and Lucinda Franks ‘68, business consultant and writer Ruth Karen, and playwright and activist Barbara Garson—author of MacBird
(1967), the notorious political parody that superimposed post-Kennedy politics on Macbeth
— participated in a panel discussion on women in journalism as part of the Poynter lecture series.
The Poynter Program, given to the college by Nelson and Marion Knauss Poynter ‘46, publishers of The St. Petersburg Times
, was intended to increase students’ appreciation for and exposure to the media.
Representatives from the Coalition for Aid of Battered Women in Dutchess County and Marjory D. Fields, a lawyer and social worker, spoke in Chicago Hall.
President Virginia Smith and SGA President Kathy Smith ‘78 held an open discussion of campus issues in the Green and Grey Room.
A symposium entitled “Paul Strand: An Assessment of His Career” was held in the College Center. Concurrent with the conference, the Vassar Art Gallery and the Thompson Memorial Library exhibited work by the printmaker and photographer.
“For Matisse”— an “improvisational workshop with three arts working together, music, dance and art”—was held in the Green and Gray Room of the College Center.
The Miscellany News
reported that the Vassar Co-op planned to boycott Nestle’s Jarlsberg cheese because Nestle exported non-sterilized baby formula to developing countries.
George L. Mosse, an expert on Nazism and the Holocaust, gave a lecture entitled “The Acceptance of Mass Death and the Brutalization of Conscience.”
Tennessee Williams’s Summer and Smoke
(1948) was performed in Avery Hall.
Out of several thousand applicants, Connie Crawford ’81 was one of six finalists appearing on Saturday Night Live, in a contest to host the Christmas show. Other finalists included the governor of South Dakota, an ex-interior decorator at a turkey farm and a homemaker from Peoria, Illinois.
Buck Henry: …what year are you in at, uh, Vassar, Connie?
Connie Crawford: I’m just a freshman.
Buck Henry: Just a freshman, and yet you had the nerve to come down here and expose yourself, so to speak, to this depraved audience.
Exactly why do you think that you’re better qualified, or best qualified, to host the ‘Saturday Night’ show?
Connie Crawford: I’ve been a groupie for two years!
The winner of the contest was an 80-year-old grandmother from New Orleans whose introduction—“I’m Miskel Spillman. I’m old.”—immediately won over the audience.
The Mischief Mime Company, a two-woman feminist improvisational troupe, performed at the College Center.
Count Basie & His Orchestra performed at the annual Winter Formal in the College Center.
The board of trustees accepted a “transition plan” which would make Vassar accessible to the physically disabled, conforming to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The planned structural changes were estimated to cost over 2 million dollars. College registrar Harold Kristjansen, coordinator of the transition plan, admitted that he did not know “where the money’s coming from.” The Miscellany News
The faculty voted to include cumulative grade point average on transcripts, beginning in 1978-1979, reversing a six-year practices of omitting it because of widespread protests during the war in Vietnam that published grade point averages would endanger students with poorer records.
The Regulations Advising Panels were formed to advise students who were called before the College Regulations Committee, the College Court, or the Academic Panel.
Deborah Fish ’78 was one of seven national winners of Beinecke Scholarships that supported the senior undergraduate year as well as graduate education.
The Vassar Gallery displayed the photographs of Eugene Atget, the French photographer famous for his representations of Parisian architecture and streets.
The Vassar Art Gallery presented an exhibition of Vassar art professor Alton Pickens’s work.
Prompted by a 1976 Department of Health, Education, and Welfare ruling, Vassar health insurance partially covered abortions for the first time.
A Vassar chapter of the National Organization of Women was formed in order “to attract men and women who are more conservative but interested in the women’s movement, and consider themselves feminist,” said chapter co-director Gayle Boris ‘79. Boris’s partners in the effort were Marian Passannante’78, Bonnie Godel ’78 and Robin Boyle ‘80.
The Admission Office issued a brochure aimed at recruiting African-American students.
The Vassar Review, a student literary and art magazine, was revived after four years of dormancy.
Elizabeth Wynne’79 submitted a petition with 1,174 signatures requesting academic credit for ballet classes. On September 28, the Committee on Curricular Policies decided to table the issue for future consideration. Ballet for credit was offered for the first time in the fall of 1978.
SGA President Steve Nelson ‘77 proposed a “consolidation” of the student government, recommending changes in committee structure, the SGA Executive Board, and the students-trustees relationship.