In an attempt to provide both basic information about scholarly attribution and a guide to appropriate practices in specific disciplines the student-faculty academic panel published a booklet entitled Originality and Attribution: A Guide for Student Writers at Vassar College, under the general editorship of Assistant Professor of English Robert DeMaria. Dean of Studies Colton Johnson explained that conversations in the residences halls on the topic revealed to the academic panel "a good deal of honest confusion, much ignorance and, sometimes, no evidence of any previous thinking about the reasons for and means of proper attribution of sources in the writing of essays." The Dean explained, said Laurie Wimmer '80 in The Miscellany News, "that 'knowledge has becom so codified that many think that only poetry is original,' and that seemingly everything else 'can be found in 17 places,' precluding the possibility for originaity."
The booklet discussed basic considerations of originality and attribution, and faculty members of the panel contributed guides for proper scholarly attribution in the English, political science, anthropology, biology and history departments. "Dean Johnson said that it is his hope that in future editions...more departments will contribute to this section.... Johnson assured this reporter that 'all of the (guide) is original or with proper attribution.'" The Miscellany News
Four students formed the Vassar Draft Opposition (VDO) in opposition to a possible restoration of the draft, to which President Carter alluded in his State of the Union address. Co-founder of VDO Matthew Miller ‘83 said, “There has never been a registration without a draft and there has never been a draft without a war.” The group and other members of the Hudson Valley Draft Oposition (HVDO) picketed the Army Recruiting Center on Main Street and laid a wreath at the Soldiers' Memorial Fountain in downtown Poughkeepsie a month later, on February 29th.
Speaking to Congress on January 23 about the recent Soviet invasion of Afganistan, Carter said, “I believe that our volunteer forces are adequate for current defense needs, and I hope that it will not become necessary to impose a draft. However, we must be prepared for that possibility. For this reason, I have determined that the Selective Service System must now be revitalized. I will send legislation and budget proposals to the Congress next month so that we can begin registration and then meet future mobilization needs rapidly if they arise.” New York Times, The Miscellany News
Three Vassar students calling themselves the “Disc Hoverers”—Tom Krajna ‘80, Billy Bloom ‘80 and Judy Horowitz ’82— performed Frisbee freestyle before some 12,000 spectators during half-time of a New York Knicks basketball game at Madison Square Garden. "I get more pleasure out of competitive events," Horowitz told The Miscellany News, "but it's a different type of pleasure when you're in front of a crowd and they react to your freestyle."
The team performed again in the Garden on October 21, 1980, and Horowitz won the World Frisbee Disc championship in 1981 and 1985.
Historian and social critic Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Albert Schweitzer Professor of the Humanities at The Graduate Center of The City University of New York, lectured in Skinner Hall on the evolution of the American Presidency into what he called an imperial presidency.
Schlesinger served in the Kennedy administration and his book about those years, A Thousand Days (1965) won a Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award in 1977. His The Imperial Presidency (1973), a historical study of the accretion of power by American presidents, declared of President Nixon: “Seizing the possibilities created by forty years of international crisis, the 37th president became the first to profess the monarchical doctrine that the sovereign can do no wrong…. ‘When the President does it, that means that is it not illegal.'” Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., The Imperial Presidency
The New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) held a forum titled “The Decade of Silence is Over” in the Green and Grey Room. Speakers included activist Howard Johnson, professor of black studies at the State University of New York at New Paltz; Harold Jacobs, editor of The Weatherman (1970), an anthology of foundational essays by leaders of the radical activist group; Hudson Valley NYPIRG activist Michael Klein and Carol Hanisch, one of four women responsible for the revival in 1973 of the New York City radical feminist group, the Redstockings, and the author of a formative essay of the movement, “The Personal is Political” (1969).
Also among the speakers was Robin Boyle '80, who called for unity in the "fight against the beast (capitalisim) and not against ourselves." Discussing the recent demonstrations against the Marriott Corporation's plans to build a 400-room resort hotel and 300 condominiums in the Catskills at Lake Minnewaska, Boyle urged, "let us continue to defend Mother Earth against rape as we defend ourselves." The Miscellany News
President Smith joined a capacity crowd in the Main Lounge of the College Center to hear a forum sponsored by Vassar Draft Opposition featuring Professor of Political Science M. Glen Johnson, Professor of History Donald Gillen and three student VDO members: Anne LeVeque ‘82, Danny Levine ‘83, and Matt Miller ‘83. Professor Johnson spoke of both the internal pressures within the Carter administration that had elevated the Soviet invasion of Afganistan to "crisis" level and the threats to the Soviets posed by the "Islamic revivalist movement."
The student speakers "spoke about morality and the draft, conscientious objector status and the legal implications of conscription." LeVeque said, “the draft is immoral, unconstitutional and useless.” The Miscellany News
The Vassar Jewish Students’ Union started a letter writing campaign protesting the arrest and “internal exile” in the Soviet Union of dissident Dr. Andrei Sakharov, Soviet nuclear physicist and winner in 1975 of the Nobel Peace Prize.
The signed letters of protes were sent to United Sates and Soviet leaders, said VJSU President Erica Landsman '81, "because we realized that if the Soviet Union can take actions against Sakharov, a man who is known throughout the world, then theyu can proceed to take any and all unjust poitical actions, whether they be for religious, political or other reasons, against other dissidents.
Sakharov was released and returned to Moscow in December 1986 at the outset of Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika policies.
In observance of of National Black History Month, the Dinizulu Dance Company presented a program of traditional African dances. "The lights dimmed and the drumming started," wrote Carly Kline '81 and Nikoi Kote-Nikoi '82. "The dancers filed into the Green and Grey Room dancing, all color and exuberance. The dances, done by men and women both, depicted battle victories, celebrated a harvest or pressed the invincible nature of the South African miners.... The show rose in intensity as it progressed and the audience wanted to participate.... By the end of the show the audience was on its feet, clapping the rhythm as the dancers danced their farewell and raised three fingers about their heads in a gesture of peace."
The company, founded by American Nana Yao Opore Dinizulu and his wife Alice in 1953, replicated the dancing, singing and drumming traditions of the Ashanti people of Ghana. The Miscellany News
In the wake of a year's coverage on the issue by the alternative campus newspaper, Unscrewed, he college bought a fire truck for $10,000 from the Arlington Fire Department to replace its old engine, a 1954 Ford that had difficulty starting, pumping and carrying water. "The old truck," reported The Miscellany News, "served mainly to give the volunteer force a ride to the scene of a fire."
Vassar's fire chief, John J. Phillips, and Robert Kluge, director of plant operations, credited Unscrewed for drawing attention to the need for a new truck, but they discouraged the notion that students or a student organization might purchase the old truck. "Kluge was skeptical," said The Misc., "of the feasibility and legality of auctioning it on campus. He also said that for safety reasons the truck would not by installed as a monument on campus. Since the truck is a veritable antique, many people feel that the college and students could benefit from an imaginative and creative use for the old truck."
As part of the "Rocks of Ages" exhibition, Assistant Professor of Anthropology Lucy Johnson and engineer Are Tsirk, a graduate student at New York University, demonstrated the making stone tools and flint knapping in the College Center. The exhibition, organized by Johnson, Assistant Professor of Anthropology Michael Herzfeld and their students in Anthropology 298, combined archeological and experimental artifacts. "Students get practical experience," Herzfeld said, "in handling artifacts. It gives them a sense of historical context, and having a demonstration like this makes it come alive." The Miscellany News
Speaking on “Soviet and American Sports and Journalism” in the Davison lounge, Soviet sports writer and defector Aleksey Orlov said, "I don't understand how anyone could think of holding the Olympics in Moscow." A former baseball writer for the largest Soviet sports newspaper in Leningrad and speaking through an interpretor, Orlov told The Miscellany News, "Every defector has his own personal reasons for Russia, although there are reasons common to all.... Just like anyone else, I wanted to read what I wanted and see the films I wanted."
Because of universally known prior restraints, lack of information and layers of censorship, Russian journalist, he said, "could not tell the truth... Before the embargo on U.S. grain, nobody even knew that the Soviet Union bought our grain, and then they only found out by radio."
Supporting the proposed U.S. boycott of the Moscow Summer Olympics, Orlov said, "The Olympics is for amateurs to compete, not professionals. In Russia every sportsman is a professional.... Your hair would stand on end if you read what the Soviet newspapers said about the situation in Afghanistan." When the United Nations General Assembly voted 114-18 that the Soviet's should withdraw from the country, he said, the Soviet press printed only the 18 speeches in favor of the invasion. "In the light of what happened in Afghanistan, I don't understand how anyone could think of holding the Olympics in Moscow." The Miscellany News
Innovative jazz violinist Noel Pointer and his bright blue electric violin "gave a rousing performance" before an audience of 400 in the Chapel. Pointer's music, said Matt Fenton '83 in The Miscellany News, "is a new and interesting form of jazz that contrasts with traditional jazz because of his use of all electronic instruments. The most inventive instrument used, and thus the one that defines the musical breakthroughs of his music, is the electric violin, which was bright blue. Pointer described his music, best, 'You see me freaking off sometimes at the violin.'"Record World magazine named Pointer the #1 New Male Jazz Act for his first album, Phantazia (1977) on Blue Note, and Hold On, Feel It and Calling appeared from the same label in 1978, 1979 and 1980.
Patricia Derian, Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, lectured in Taylor Hall, sponsored by the Barbara Bailey Brown Lecture Endowment. An advocate for international human rights and an opponent of United States support of authoritarian anticommunist régimes and the concomitant assumption that it led to democratic change, she published Human Rights: A World Perspective in 1978 and, with Deputy Secretary of State Warren Christopher, Four Treaties on Human Rights in 1979.
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.
Joseph Heller, author of Catch-22 (1961), Something Happened (1974) and Good as Gold (1979), lectured and read from his books in Skinner Hall. "All my novels," he said, "are the story of a single individual who has difficulty relating to his environment." The hero of his most recent book, Bruce Gold, he told The Miscellany News, based "on my own perceptions of myself," was a college professor who "had no office hours, kept no appointments and favored those students who dropped his courses before the start of the semester.... The only difference between me and Gold is that I'm successful and he's not."
The uncredited writer of the screenplay of the James Bond spoof Casino Royal (1969), Heller adapted Catch 22 for the stage in 1973.
Buckley’s conservative positions on nuclear weapons, homosexuality, apartheid, the Equal Rights Amendment, poverty and civil rights drew student immediate opposition—301 out of 506 seniors signed a petition protesting his selection. On May 19, a few days before Commencement, Buckley withdrew, telling President Smith that "the majority of the senior class of Vassar does not desire my company and I must confess, having read specimens of their thought and sentiments, that I do not desire the company of the majority of the senior class at Vassar." The Miscellany News
Professor of Art Robert F. Thompson from Yale University lectured on “The Transatlantic Tradition; African and Afro-American Art” in Taylor Hall. The master of Timothy Dwight College at Yale, in 1974 Thompson organized the revolutionary African Art in Motion exhibition for the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, demonstrating the existence of an African esthetic vocabulary and its importance in the interpretation of African Art. His subsequent exhibit, “The Four Moments of the Sun: Kongo Art in Two Worlds,” at which he was at work when speaking at Vassar, introduced in 1981 a large and almost unknown body of works from the former Kingdom of Kongo and demonstrated their influence on the visual culture of the United States.
Professor Thompson's Flash of the Spirit: African and Afro-American Art and Philosophy (1983) identified the sources of contemporary Black Atlantic aesthetics in the cultures of Africa, the United States, Mexico, the Caribbean and South America. He appeared at Vassar under the auspices of the Helen Forster Novy '28 Visiting Scholar Fund.
Sponsored by the Feminist Union, Women’s Weekend 1980 focused—with readings, theatre, music, film and dance—on "Women and Creativity," raising the question “Where are the female Beethovens?”
Highlights of the weekend included feminist folk singer Meg Christian; Toni Morrison, author of The Bluest Eye (1970) and Song of Solomon (1977) and Music by Women, performed by Concerted Effort Inc, an upstate New York non-profit devoted to arts in education. Andrea Weiss, of the national non-profit feminist media arts organization, Women Make Movies, lectured on feminist filmmakers and screened a number of movies. With her colleague Somebody Schiller, Weiss made International Sweethearts of Rhythm (1986) and Tiny and Ruby: Hell Divin’ Women (1989).
The weekend closed with a production of Missing Persons: An Event in Theater, Dance and Music, directed by Rebecca Holderness ’79, Maxine Leeds ’79, Kim Arnn ’79, Carla Jablonski ’78, and Josette Bailey.
Their testimonials were paired with the screening of the film “Survival…Or Suicide (1960). The Miscellany News
A specialist on Viking literature, Gwyn Jones, professor at the University College of South Wales, lectured on “Here Be Dragons: Some Thoughts on Heroic Poetry” in Taylor Hall as part of the “Medieval Weekend in Honor of Julia H. McGrew.” During his talk Jones remarked, “Inside every Swede and Norwegian, there is a Viking trying to get out.”
As part of the weekend honoring Professor McGrew, a medievalist and specialist in Icelandic literature, Professor of German Ingeborg Glier from Yale spoke about her research and Mary Ellen Hubbard ’72 read a paper on the Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf at a round-table discussion. Professor Glier spoke at Vassar in 1973 on “Courtly Love Reconsidered.” The Miscellany News
"The more they talked, the more they wanted to talk; a dependency was created," New Yorker correspondent Jane Kramer '59 said in Josselyn House about the "outsiders in Europe" who were the subjects of her forthcoming book, Unsettling Europe (1980). Appearing under the auspices of the Vassar Journalism Forum and the multidisciplinary American Culture Program, Kramer described the four essays in her book: “The Pied Noir,” about a family of North Africans of French origin who returned to live in France; “The Uganda Asians,” a study of an Asian family, the Hassans, living in London after their expulsion by Ugandan dictator Idi Amin; “The Invandrare,” the story of the Predags, friendless Yugoslavs who had lived and worked in Sweden for eleven months a year for eight years while attempting to build a home in their Serbian village; and “The San Vincenzo Cell,” about the elderly Italians Mario and Anna Cecchi, who, after sharing a stone farmstead with sheep and goats for 30 years, were attempting to retire nearby into a small new cement-block house.
Kramer also spoke to some English classes about her book The Last Cowboy (1977), the story of Henry Blanton, a 40-year old Texas cowboy whose lifelong adherance to the storied ways of his work was providing only grim satisfaction. Telling the students that she tended to write about people who were in "disequalibrium with their environments," she said that, in writing about Blanton, "I tried to analyze the malaise people of my generation felt in the 70s. I felt a sense of failed promise, and this attracted me to the cowboy. I think that's what he began to symbolize for me." The Miscellany News
"You've seen it before—but you've never seen it done like this," wrote Meg Inglima '83 about the studio production in Avery Hall of Francis Beaumont's comic "play within a play," The Knight of the Burning Pestle (1607), directed by Elizabeth St. John Villard '67. "Under Elizabeth Villard's direction," Inglima said, the play "takes on a marvelous quality of playful innocence."
The second Vassar production of the satiric parody, Villard's mounting was preceded by that in 1938, directed by John Housman—on leave from Orson Welles's Mercury Theatre—and starring President MacCracken and Philip and Hallie Flanagan Davis and their children.
Writing in the The New York Times Book Review, the influential Irish-American critic and teacher Denis Donoghue said of Pinsky’s collection of essays The Situation of Poetry: Contemporary Poetry and Its Traditions (1978), “The mind at work…is lively, fresh, and critical without being obsessed by the rigor of criticism. [Pinsky's] comments are brief, vivid, distinct… and his taste is excellent.”
The drama department performed Christopher Durang’s riotous play A History of the American Film (1978) in the Powerhouse Theater. "Starting with black and white films," said Amy Applebaum '81 in The Miscellany News, "we watch American cinema mature through the immature talkies of the twenties, the adolescent screwball comedies and gangster films of the thirties, the coming [of] age in the forties war films, the prime reached in the probing, psychological movies of the fifties and sixties, and finally into senility with the setting in of disaster films.... There's a rather heavy-handed, though convincing, moral to this story: Americans use the cinema for escape and for answers. It just can't work. Loretta, the orpheline who gets all the tough breaks in life...keeps praying that her scene will fade out, 'The End' will flash before her eyes and she can 'remain frozen behind it forever, and then nothing else can happen.' But the play keeps going on, the scenes switch and the characters must adjust to the social and political changes created by history."
The main characters in the work, Loretta, Jimmy, Bette, Hank, and Eve, mirror archetypes in American films of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s and are supported by eight “contract players” who play some 60 characters, from Ma and Pa Joad to God, “Victor Henreid,” Salad Chef and Silent Movie Mother. Nominated for a Tony after its Broadway opening in 1978, the play, its author said, was “about how the archetypes in movies express the inner dreams of Americans, and how those dreams started to go sour in the mid-60s and 70s.”
The computer science program held a symposium on cognitive science, focusing on the idea of “context” and the role of symbol in language comprehension. Speakers included: the director of the Artificial Intelligence Project at Yale University, Roger C. Schank; Professor of Philosophy Daniel C. Dennett from Tufts University; Jerre Levy, professor of biopsychology at the University of Chicago; Professor of Psychology Howard Gardner from Harvard and James D. McCawley, professor of linguistics of the University of Chicago.
The Cognitive Science Society was incorporated in 1979, and Vassar's multidisciplinary program in Cognitive Science, inaugurated in 1982, was the first program in the world to offer the bachelor's degree in the field.
Professor Middleton taught at Vassar from 1953-1985. His opera Command Performance, commissioned by Vassar’s centennial committee, premièred in November 1961.
On May 19th, responding to campus protests over his selection as commencement speaker, conservative editor and commentator William F. Buckley Jr. withdrew his acceptance. In a letter to President Smith, a copy of which he sent to The New York Times, Buckley said, “The majority of the senior class of Vassar does not desire my company and I must confess, having read specimens of their thought and sentiments, that I do not desire the company of the majority of the senior class at Vassar.” Calling Vassar students “a fearfully ill-instructed body,” Buckley noted that “I have spoken, I suppose, at 500 colleges and universities in the past 30 years and nowhere have I encountered that blend of ferocious illiteracy.”
Retiring Professor of Biology Francis V. Ranzoni and senior class President Alan Phillips ‘80 spoke at the May 25th Commencement, to which, under their commencement robes, a number of seniors wore T-shirts proclaiming themselves as “ferocious illiterates.”
"It's not that the place wasn't attractive, it just wasn't a Shakespeare Garden," campus horticulturist David Stoller told The Miscellany News, explaining his restoration of the Shakespeare Garden, planted by classes in Shakespeare and botany in 1916. Concerned about the condition of the campus grounds and plantings since his hiring in the fall of 1978, Stoller had pointed out not only the overgrowth of campus landmarks such as Noyes Circle and the Shakespeare Garde and the general lack of proper plant nourishment and drainage but also to damage done by people—and automobiles—taking shortcuts across the lawns, killing the grass and compacting the soil. "Laziness," he had said, "can be highly destructive.... Trees and grass should not be killed and people should be expected to walk a few feet more."
Resigning his post in frustration in the spring of 1980, Stoller reversed his decision in the fall, bouyed by support from strudents, faculty, adminitrators and trustees. While starting a general program of restoration, he focused also on the Shakespeare Garden, removing its overgrown yews—they had, he said, literally outgrown their usefulness—and replacing them with smaller, boxwood hedges. Levelling the garden's lower beds, which had gradually become steeply sloped from erosion, Stoller added a terrace and a stone wall to the south, separating the garden from the adjacent Fonteyn Kill as a "termination point" for the garden. As to the garden's original contents, Stoller noted, "A typical Shakespeare Garden would have at least 100 to 150 varieties of plants mentioned in Shakespeare's works or known during his ear. At the stage I arrived only about a dozen of the plant varieties in the garden actually belonged there."
Davis Stoller's Shakespeare Garden project was scheduled for completion in the fall of 1981.
Lan Hua, a graduate of Dong Normal University in the People's Republic of China (PRC), came to Vassar as the first foreign language intern from the PRC. Although language interns were usually recent college graduates, Lin Hua was 35. "He is probably the youngest intern the PRC could send," said Associate Professor of Chinese Yin-Lien Chin. "In the PRC today there are no 'recent' college graduates. From 1966 to 1976 during the period of the Gang of Four most of the universities in the PRC were closed down." The Miscellany News
In October, 14 students admitted “complicity in the so-called election frauds” said Vice President for Student Affairs Natalie Marshall ‘51 and Vice President for Administration James Ritterskamp. All were placed on probation. The Miscellany News
Shown originally for only one night at some 600 theaters nationwide, the three-hour film, at five dollars a ticket, raised some $3 million for The Martin Luther King, Jr., Special Fund. Nominated for an Academy Award, the film appeared occasionally on television after 1974.
Claiming that "Woody Allen is never done here; the drama department tends to do classics," a new student troupe, Stageblood Productions, presented two of his short works "Death Knocks" and "Mr. Big," as dinner theatre in Matthew's Mug. In the first offering, "Death Knocks," Death, clad in a black robe and Nike running shoes, visits Nat Ackerman, a Brooklyn dress manufactuer. Death loses a gin rummy game while answering or not answering Nat's questions: "What's it like?" "What's what like?" "Death." "What should it be like? You fall down."
In "Mr. Big," adapted by Alan Katz '81 from a short story and, said Pam Keogh '83, writing in The Miscellany News, a "decidedly more abitiious piece," Claire Rosensweig—perhaps a Vassar student—and Kaiser Lupowitz, "a Humphrey Bogart-Sam Spade character" she hires for $100 a day and expenses "plus a dinner date," search New York City for God, in order to add authenticity to a paper on Him for her philosophy class—and because "My dad's promised me a Mercedes if I get straight A's." "The dialogue," Keogh wrote, "is witty and, to the occasionally untutored philosopher, a little hard to follow. But majors and non-majors alike should enjoy this one."
Stageblood Productions continued offering theater presentations in Matthew's Mug of works by, among others, Neil Simon and David Mamet throughout the year.
Stoessinger’s The Might of Nations: World Politics in Our Time (1962) won the prestigious Bancroft Prize in history in 1963.
Florine Stettheimer: Still Lifes, Portraits and Pageants 1910-1942 opened at the Vassar Art Gallery. Organized by the Boston Museum of Contemporary Art, the comprehensive collection of the American artist's work, was, according to Alan Mintermute '81, writing in The Miscellany News, "an elegant, witty and sophisticated celebration of curling line and candy colors of her world of wealth, culture and taste in the New York of the 1920s and 30s." In "Florine Stettheimer: Rococo Subversive" which appeared in Art in America concurrently with the exhibit, art historian Linda Nochlin ’51 called Stettheimer's "camp" outlook "a kind of permanent revolution of self-mocking sensibiltiy against the strictures of a patriarchal tradition and the solemn, formalist teleology of vanguardism."
The opening was attended by Joan Mondale, wife of Vice President Walter Mondale, who was seeking, along with President Jimmy Carter, reelection.
Claiming that Republican candidate Ronald Reagan was "lulling people into apathy," Keke Anderson, speaking at Vassar in support of the independent presidential candidacy of her husband, John Anderson, said, "This country is in trouble!"Telling students that she would be campaigning six days a week in support of her husband, a former ten-term Illinois congressman and political reformer, and his running mate, Patrick Lucey, a former Wisconsin governor and ambassador to Mexico.
Ms. Anderson reported that her husband's "acceptability rating" stood at 62 percent and—according to Daniel O'Brasky '83, writing in The Miscellany News—that "Mr. Anderson is drawing equally from both [President Jimmy] Carter and Reagan in response to Carter's 'A vote for Anderson is a vote for Reagan'...tactics." The Anderson/Lucey ticket lost in a Reagan landslide, garnering only 7 percent of the popular vote.
The newly-appointed Chinese Ambassador to the United Nations, Ling Qing, spoke to a capacity crowd in the Rose Parlor about Chinese-US relations, and SUNY New Paltz student Hung Huang, a former announcer for Radio Peking, spoke on the role of students in creating good relations between China and the United States. The ambassador, wrote Elenita Ravicz '84 in The Miscellany News, said that turmoil in Afghanistan and border clashes with Russia made close US-China relations increasingly important, and Hung Huang, concurring, said that many more Chinese students were in America than when she first came to the country seven years ago, at the age of 12. "This is very good," she said, "because the time has come for societies to learn about and accept each other."
Hung Huang graduated from Vassar in 1984.
Vassar pianist and faculty member Todd Crow offered the first musical event in Skinner Hall since the completion of renovations and acoustical refinements costing some $150,000 during the summer and early fall. His program included Beethoven's Andante favori in F Major, Schumann's Sonata No. 1 in F-Sharp Minor, op. 11, Ravel's Miroirs and Bartok's Four Dirges, op. 9a. and Allegro barbaro.
WVKR presented the first in a series of 13 half-hour programs produced by WGBH-Boston and distributed by the Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy (SANE), called Shadows of the Nuclear Age: American Culture and the Bomb. In episodes with such titles as "Seven Hours to Midnight," Hiroshima and Megatons," "Economy of the Arms Race" and "Ethics and Options for a Threatened Planet," the series was broadcast by some 500 stations nationwide.
Writing in Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in 1981, the publication's film editor, Professor of Physics John Dowling, said, "This series is valuable because it brings together many diverse views and opinions on what was and should be done.... I gave all the tapes a serious 'listen,' but the second time through I graded papers, sawed wood and played them in the car—and picked up points I missed the first time. Use them as background in any course on arms control and let the students play them wherever they will. They are very, very good."
"Jersey Jukes Rock Chapel," proclaimed The Miscellany News, when Southside Johnny (John Lyon) and the Asbury Jukes, a musical group from the New Jersey Shore who often performed with Bruce Springsteen, played a sold-out concert in the Chapel. "The group," said The Misc, "played quite a few of its older tunes instead of dwelling on its latest album, 'Why is Love Such a Sacrifice?' Johnny and the band played for well over an hour, and "'We're Having a Party' seemed, of all his songs, to bring the most response from the crowd."
The alumnae/i voted by a large margin not to undertake the poll. AAVC president Kathleen Langan ’46 explained, “the $50,000 necessary for a statistically valid poll is the equivalent to eight full scholarships…. We don’t want to take a poll unless it is statistically valid… [and] we feel the college has better things to do with its money.” The Miscellany News
In his senior thesis production Allen Newman ‘81 revived Bury the Dead (1936), an anti-war play written in his youth by novelist Irwin Shaw. Shaw’s expressionist drama was reviewed by The Miscellany News in May 1936, during it's first New York production. Bury the Dead, wrote "A.K." and "M.B.," "is the work of a 23-year-old Brooklyn boy, Irwin Shaw, who in this, his first play, tells the story of six dead soldiers of 'the war that is to begin tomorrow,' who refuse to be buried. In spite of the united efforts of Washington officials, their women and the Army, to make them lie down in their graves, the six corpses, desirous of the life of which they have been ruthlessly cheated in battle, climb from their trench to cry to an embroiled world the futility of conflict."
Discussing in an interview in The Miscellany News his two reasons for choosing the obscure drama by the celebrated author of such novels as The Young Lions (1948), Lucy Crown (1956) and Rich Man, Poor Man (1969), Newman said, "It's an excellent opportunity for Vassar actors to get a glimpse of what Method Acting theater was. Acting is Doing. The other reason is the theme of the play is 'now.' It's a play about 20-year-olds dying for a cause not their own."
Exposing the plight of black South Africans under apartheid, exiled South African politician and union leader Thozamile Botha told a Vassar audience, "We are fighting for our rights, for the return of our land, which was taken from us by force." "One can see," said The Miscellany News, "the anger in his eyes, and feel the frustration in his voice. When he speaks, his words sting sharply."A leader of the Port Elizabeth Black Civic Organisation (PEBCO), and affiliate of the banned United Democratic Front, Botha broke his ban in May 1980 and escaped to Lesotho. With the lifting on the ban on the African National Congress in 1990, Botha returned to South Africa, where he was elected to head the ANC’s Department of Local and Regional Government.
College Chaplain George Williamson, in his 11th year in the office, wrote an open letter to the board of trustees in which he removed himself as a candidate in the chaplaincy search. Williamson wrote, “The recent decisions regarding the Chaplaincy seem to me so to compromise the nature of that office that I cannot in good conscience become a candidate for your open search.” Williamson cited the trustees' rejection of standards for chaplaincy searches and evaluation recommended by both a multiconstituent Chaplaincy Review Committee and the National Association of College and University Chaplains (NACUC). Specifically, he noted that, while neither the review committee nor NUCAC supported the existing mandatory ten-year "rotation" of chaplains, neither did either body support the new five-year automatic open search.
Also, Williamson noted, the new search policy abandoned the NUCAC standards for a diverse search committee that included students, trustees, administrators and faculty members, particularly the chairman of the religion department. "By contrast,' he wrote, "the majority members on the present committee are Trustees. At Vassar, only presidential searches have received so much attention from so many Trustees. To make the chaplain so directly vulnerable to the governing body seriously compromises the calling of the ministry." The Miscellany News
"Everybody has the right to be a schmuck," civil libertarian, jazz critic and columnist Nat Hentoff told a large audience in Taylor Hall when addressing the question: “Is Any Exercise of Free Speech So Dangerous That It Must Be Suppressed?” Applying the notion specifically to the protests at Vassar the previous spring that caused conservative author, editor and television commentator William F. Buckley, Jr., to withdraw, days before the event, as commencement speaker, the author of The First Freedom: The Tumultuous History of Free Speech in America (1980) applied it to several other examples, such as the American Civil Liberties Union's loss of support after defending the rights of the American Nazi Party. "There is no honest way," Kathy Dieckmann '83 reported Hentoff as saying, "to get around refusing a man the right to speak....One cannot let personal concerns interfere with free speech. Furthermore, he noted, one can't be a liberal just when it's convenient." The Miscellany News.
The Miscellany News for November 14 drew the attention of "lovers , madmen, poets (that includes just about everybody" to the upcoming annual play-reading by the English department—this year Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream. "Come," said the notice, "and see what fools these mortals be."
The play, featuring a memorable performance by Professor of English Lynn C. Bartlett as Bottom, was presented on November 20 in the Green and Grey Room.
The Vassar Jewish Students Union and the departments of history and religion presented the documentary film Image Before My Eyes (1981), depicting the lives of Polish Jews before the Holocaust. Intereviewed in October by Karen L. Roach '81 for The Miscellany News, Visiting Professor of English Jerome Badanes, scriptwriter for the film, said, "the subject was part of my background. My parents were Jews from Poland and Russia. Also, I enjoy talking to people for the film—the hardest part was getting them to see their lives with non-Holocaust eyes."
Commisioned by the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, the film, directed by Josh Waletzky, was shown nationally on the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) in the spring of 1981.
Blegen Distinguished Visiting Professor of Classics W.Bedell Stanford spoke about “The Emotional Power of Greek Tragedy” in Taylor Hall. The pro-chancellor of Trinity College Dublin, Stanford, who argued in Enemies of Poetry (1980) that "creative literature is being used more and more as material for history or archaeology or psychology," was Regius Professor of Greek at Trinity College Dublin for 40 years and a member of the Oireachtas—the Irish parliament— from 1948 until 1969. His Greek Tragedy and the Emotions: An Introductory Study, appeared in 1983.
The Blegen visiting professorship was established in 1975 in memory of Elizabeth Pierce Blegen ’10 and her husband, classicist and archeologist Carl W. Blegen.
Psychologist Dr. Lee Salk spoke about children’s mental health and rights in Taylor Hall. Salk told an audience of students, faculty and psychoanalysts, according to Mary Green '82 writing in The Miscellany News, that the American family "frequently forgets about the rights of children.... early experiences have an impact on later life and may create effects in the child that are irreversible, such as a state of frustration or an alteration of perceptive sensibility.”
Salk extended this psychological concept into the realm of parenting, saying, “What is needed is structure. What is needed is a more ordered life for the child rather than having him work through his problem.... If you push a child younger than three years of age into a child-care institution, you’re pushing him into an atmosphere that will create hostility within the child because he is not equipped with the social abilities needed to cooperate with others.”
The Powerhouse Theatre presented drama instructor Elizabeth St. John Villard ’67’s production of Félix Lope de Vega’s Fuente Ovejuna (1619). Based on an historical incident in the late 15th century, the play's action centers of the cruelty of a feudal commander to a rural village, Fuenteovejuna—particularly it's women. When he is murdered by the villagers, under pain of torture they uniformly claim "Fuenteovejuna did it." When no single guilty party is identified, King Ferdinand pardons the village. “There is neither hero nor heroine,” The New York Time wrote of Vassar's 1936 English language première of the play. “Characters merge into a common mass and their actions are strangely prophetic of the twentieth century.”
Villard said that her production pushed the innovative potential of the college's recently opened Hallie Flanagan Davis Powerhouse Theater "to it's limits." "Inherent in Lope de Vega's work," wrote Joan Moynagh '81 in The Miscellany News, "are two basic dichotomies—one which exists on a psychological level (that of the townspeople and the rulers) and one on a physical level (that created by the separate worlds in which they exist.) The conflicting forces in Villard's production are clearly articulated in the set, lighting and costume designs." Set designer Thaddeus Gesek told Moynagh, "we've divided the stage and audience equally, and have raised the nobility up on platforms while keeping the peasants on the ground level."
"During the scenes in which the aristocrats communicate with the townsfolk," Moynagh wrote, "the use of the two levels provides a striking, almost haunting contrast. Because the seating and acting areas are interspersed, the audience actually becomes a physical participant in the drama which makes for what Villard calls an 'environmental theater' situation." The Miscellany News
Author and artist Angelica Bell, the niece of Virginia Woolf, visited Vassar and lectured on “Vanessa Bell’s Family Relations,”as part of a tour to raise money to restore Charleston House, which her parents Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant decorated. Charleston was the summer retreat of the Bloomsbury group of writers artists, and intellectuals, of which Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant were members, along with E.M. Forster, John Maynard Keynes, Roger Fry, Clive Bell, T. S. Eliot and Virginia Woolf.
Bell spoke candidly and in detail about her mother's troubled relationships with her sister Virginia and with others both in the family and in the group of artists and intellectuals who gathered at Charleston. Both sisters were strongly influenced by their father, the formidable author, editor and historian of philosophy, Sir Lesle Stephen, the first editor of Britain's Dictionary of National Biography. When tensions arose, Vanessa tended, wrote Peggy Hayes '83 in The Miscellany News, "to retreat into silence.... In this way, Vanessa was very much like her father, whom Virginia feared greatly." With the death of Vanessa Bell's son Julian in the Spanish civil war, she "disintegrated and lost all faith in the good life," returning only after the "sheer perseverance and..great love" of Duncan Grant, Vanessa's lover and Angelica's father, to a "melancholy equilibrium." Angelica Bell, however, recalled most fondly her mother's engagement with the "thrill and importance of the visual world." Her most vivid memory of Vanessa was of her "in an old summer dress and espadrilles, standing before the canvas, poised tentatively, before she makes that firs and most important mark on the canvas."
In conjunction with Angelica Bell's visit, the art department presented the exhibit in Taylor Hall, Aspects of Bloomsbury, featuring the art of Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant and Angelica Bell. The exhiibit was first mounted when Angelica Bell spoke at Vassar in January, 1980.
"Vassar is indeed very sensitive to the Third World," said Prof. Norman Hodges, chair of the Africana Studies Program, as the month-long First Annual Festival of Third World Arts and Culture began with the Dinizulu dancers and a speech by the Rev. Ben Chavis. The Dinizulu Dance Company, founded in 1953 by Nana Yao Opore Dinizulu and his wife Alice restored and performed the dancing, singing and drumming of the Ashanti people of Ghana. As part of the observance of National Black History Month, the troupe performed at Vassar in February 1980.
Civil rights activist Chavis, a member of the Wilmington Ten—a group convicted by the state of North Carolina in 1971 of arson and conspiracy— spoke on February 8th about "Human Rights and Political Prisoners in the United States." Chavis and nine others spent nearly a decade in prison, drawing international concern until a federal appeals court overturned their conviction in 1980. He spoke again at Vassar in November 1981.
Chavis also led a morning chapel service, to which the congregation of Beulah Baptist Church congregation was invited. Assistant Professor of Religion and Africana Studies Lawrence H. Mamiya said that this was “the first time that Vassar college has invited an area church to join in chapel worship. This will mean greater exposure for us to a sector of Poughkeepsie long neglected by the Vassar community. For members of the Beulah Baptist Church, this will be one of the few times that they have felt welcome at Vassar.”
Other events in the festival included a poetry reading by Nikki Giovanni on February 14 and a concernt by the Boys' Choir of Harlem on February 21. The Miscellany News
Jon Tenney '84 and Lisa Zane ' 83 starred in David Mamet's Sexual Perversity in Chicago (1974), in a continuation of the theater series in Matthew's Mug begun earlier in the year by the student troupe, Stageblood Productions. Praising the production's "fine quality of acting" in The Miscellany News, Elizabeth Blye '84 said, "Jon Tenney's Danny developed nicely with the experiences of love and disillusionment he underwent. He seemed almost too human in this play. Lisa Zane in the role of Deborah provided moments of humor and displays of inner frustration."
Photographer Janet Beller spoke in the College Center Gallery, where 26 of her photographs— formal black and white portraits taken over a three-year period of sidewalk eccentrics in New York City—were on display. Comparing, in The Miscellany News, Beller's work with that of photojournalists, James Gardner '83 wrote, "Beller...is a portraitist, though her subjects, rather than sitting stiffly in tuxedos at weddings and Bar Mitzvahs, are prtrayed in their habitual clothes (or carrying them in shopping bags), as they proceed through New York City on their daily voyage of determined extravagancy.... She is always careful to represent individuals, rather than anonyous participants in the drama of the street, or statistical embodiments of one or another societal trend."
Reviewing Beller’s Street People, published by Macmillan in 1980, in The New York Times, Michael deCourcy Hinds asked “Where else but on the sidewalks of New York could you bump into the Lone Ranger, Macbeth, Uncle Sam and Betsy Ross? Or see the Snake Lady twist boa constrictors around her neck and get a quick review of the last 100,000 years of the ‘History of the Human Family?’”
Addressing a packed Chapel crowd as "the biggest bunch of dumb nuts on the face of the earth," activist and comedian Dick Gregory delivered a 3-hour lecture as part of The First Annual Festival of Third World Arts and Culture at Vassar. Speaking on "Social Problems Anti-or Social" Gregory told the crowd, "they all just keep rippin' you off and you don't even know it." "They," reported Catherine Shumate '81 in The Miscellany News, were "the social and political manipulators.... 'It's a handful of rich, rich elite aristocrats that determine your fate... Greedy old white men that pit white folks and black folks against each other and white folks and black folks [that] allow themselves to be powerless.'” "You'll have a big job and not time enough," Gregory told his audience, "You've got to get your act together because recess is just about over."
A frequent visitor to the college, Dick Gregory first appeared at the Christmas House Party weekend in 1964, and he spoke again on campus in 1990 and 1999. Among the events in the month-long festival were an address by the Reverend Benjamin Chavis, a reading by poet Nikki Giovani and concerts by the Nana Dinizulu African Dance Company and the Boys Choir of Harlem. The Miscellany News
As part of the Third World Arts and Culture Festival and with former member, Douglas Holley '85, as MC, the Boys Choir of Harlem gave a "lively and enticing" concert, ranging from Bach and Mozart to Bernstein and "contemporary, upbeat" selections. "As I sat in the Chapel," wrote Jennifer Carey '86 in The Miscellany News, "I was brought into a trance: the voices were extraordinary and highly sophisticated, and the choreography was polished.... Moreover, there was a sense of cohesiveness and an omnipresent attitude of enthusiasm.... The members of the Choir gave the obvious impression that they were enjoying themselves tremendously."
A student forum was held in the College Center to discuss the chaplaincy and the decision-making process of the board of trustees. Speakers at the forum urged restraint, asking members of the community not to disrupt the upcoming trustees meeting, but instead to lodge their complaints peacefully.
The VSA agreed, saying, “There are problems with the ways things are run at Vassar and many times the bureaucracy can be frustrating. However, we feel that it would be a shame if what has been accomplished toward uniting the students and the trustees is destroyed by certain irresponsible actions.” The Miscellany News
Playing in the Intercollegiate Squash Championships at Yale against ranked teams from the United States and Canada, the men’s squash team, led by Captain Jimmy Citrin '81, defeated players from Yale, Wesleyan, Trinity, Columbia and the University of Toronto. The team was awarded the Barnaby Award trophy as the most-improved team, and it rose to the rank to 12th in the nation.
Vassar men's squash won the Barnaby Trophy again in 1987 and 1990.
A student/faculty/administrator/trustee committee for the review of the Urban Center for Africana Studies recommended that the center close because its location was too far from campus for adequate student engagement and its cost was too high. Opened on Mill Street in Poughkeepsie in the fall of 1969 as part of the college's response to demands by African-American students and faculty arising from the students' takeover of part of Main Building the previous April, the Urban Center subsequently moved to larger quarters on Winikee Avenue.
The review committee consisted of four students (two in each semester): Bala Jahumpa '80, Janice McDonald '80, Alicia Franklin '82 and Michele Lanchester '81; four alumnae: Dr. Mary Ingraham Bunting '31, Dr. Joan Morgenthau Hirschhorn '45/44, Dr. Marian Gray Secundy '60 and Mary St. John Villard '34; two administrators:Dean of the College H. Patrick Sullivan and Director of Field Work Helen Miringoff; and two faculty members: Professor of History and Africana Studies Norman Hodges and Professor Emeritus of Biology Frances Ranzoni. Submitted after 15 monthly meetings, their report recommended closing the center (Africana Studies courses had moved back to the main campus in 1972), moving its Black history library to Thompson Library, selling the Winnikee Avenue property and placing the proceeds and the center's current operating funds in an endowment fund to, according to the campus alternate newspaper Unscrewed, "promote and support third world studies and culture at Vassar."
The trustees accepted the committee's recommendation and the Urban Center for Africana Studies closed at the end of the academic year. "In closing the Urban Center," Unscrewed observed, "Vassar is losing a valuable opportunity to maintain a vital presence in the Poughkeepsie community."
Professor of Drama William Rothwell presented "a madcap misadventure of movie madness" in his production of Once in a Lifetime (1930), the first of several collaborations by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman. Writing in The Miscellany News, John Delorey '81 praised the ensemble acting of Rothwell's 27-member cast and their "panache, style, grace, energy and immaculate sense of timing." Singling out Jon Cantor '81 ("George Lewis"), Joan Moynagh '81 ("May Daniels") and Allen Newman '81 ("Jerry Hyland") for particular notice, Delorey also cited "Sara Ziegler's ('81) wailing stage mother, Jon Karas's ('80) tormented producer, Brett Goldstein's ('81) frenetic foreign director and Georgia Papastrat's ('82) imploringly sophisticated Variety columnist," all of whom, he said, "dazzle the audience." "The showstopper," he concluded, "is Janet Warren's costumes. They're a sensuous treat. She has transformed bolts of material and boxes of feathers into striking shifts and flowing boas and gives us the '20s we've always dreamed of." The Miscellany News
After winning the Regional College Bowl Championship, the Vassar College Bowl team: Paul Bartlett ‘81, Neil Buchanan ‘81, Chuck Harris ‘81, William Hoffman ‘83 and Saiyid Abu Rizvi ‘81, competed in the National College Bowl Championships. Defeated in the first round of the national competition, Vassar tied with eight other teams for last place.
A popular radio program, the College Bowl, competitions—"The Varsity Sport of the Mind"—were broadcast between October 1953 and December 1955. Two four-person teams from college's and universities competed in each episode of the program, answering questions on a range of topics, from literature, history and philosophy to science, the arts and religion. Revived for televison in 1959 by the General Electric Company, the games appeared on Saturdays and Sundays through June of 1970. Competition was reinstated under the sponsorship of the Association of College Unions International (ACUI) and continued until 2008.
Vassar's 1981-82 team lost a play-off with the University of Wisconsin for third place and fourth place nationally, and the Vassar team for 1983-84 tied with Princeton for third place.
The sudden death of Helen Miringoff, director of the Office of Field Work for 30 years, prompted appreciations from students, faculty, alumnae/i and many members of the Poughkeepsie community. Remembering Miringoff at the April 4th faculty meeting, Associate Professor of Anthropology Lilo Stern said, “She taught our students much and she taught them well. Not the things we teach them, not matters of the mind, but she taught them about matters of the heart. She spoke out boldly about what is right and what is wrong, about what is good and what is bad. It is not fashionable today to speak openly about morality. But that didn’t bother Helen at bit.”
A Helen Miringoff Memorial Weekend, held on campus in November, featured an address by author, political activist and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, and the college established an annual Helen Miringoff Award "for a substantial contribution to an agency or the community through field work." The Miscellany News
The Alice Freeman Palmer Professor of History at the University of Michigan, Elizabeth Eisenstein '45/4, spoke on “From Scriptoria to Printing Shops,” as part of the Curtis Lecture Series. Citing early adoption of printing by ecclesiastic and university communities, Eisenstein observed that "Within these intellectual communities, critics began to challenge the practices of theology, law and medicine through the new medium of print." After her lecture, Brown University social and cultural historian Natalie Zemon Davis commented on Eisenstein’s remarks and added thoughts of her own. The Miscellany News
Eisenstein’s two-volume The Printing Press As An Agent of Change: Communications and Cultural Transformations in Early Modern Europe (1979) established the parameters of modern print culture studies.
Dr. Eisenstein visited Vassar in 1978 and again in 1988.
Lecturer in English Brett Singer '74, author of The Petting Zoo (1979), read from her novel-in-progress, tentatively named “Pandora’s Box,” in the Josselyn living room. "What it means to be a woman in America," wrote Nancy E. Frank '82 in The Miscellany News, "and the relationship between sex and love—and death—are the primary themes of Singer's new work." Noting that much of the work was about sex, Singer said "it's quite a change when the raciest event on campus is an English department reading."
Singer published her second novel, Footstool in Heaven, in 1986.
Susan Diller ‘83 won second prize in Mademoiselle magazine’s college fiction competition for her short story “Exorcising Ghosts.” Mademoiselle said, ‘this is a powerful story…what a pleasure for us to find such an outstanding piece of fiction among all those hundreds of submissions!” Asked by Miscellany News news editor Peter Cummings '83 if the story, "about the end of high school, death of friends....the breakup of various relationships and 'the end of a sort of world,'" was based on her own experience, Diller replied, "I'm a big liar...so it's not really true. But it's based on truth, just changed around in my own head." The Miscellany News
The author of Pulitzer Prize winning The Optimist’s Daughter (1972) and National Book Award winning The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty (1980), Eudora Welty, read and commented on her fiction in the Chapel to a crowd of 1,200 students. "Welty pointed out," wrote Douglas MacKay '82 in The Miscellany News, "'Southern writers are all very much themselves and between them there isn't much cousinin' around. All of us have our own different approaches to the South, and each of us has discovered the best way for interpreting our vision.'"
Summarizing her third Vassar visit, Welty said, “I really enjoy this place, and I’m so impressed that ya’ll seem to keep gettin’ smarter and smarter as time goes by. Or perhaps it’s just that I’m gettin’ on and I feel everybody’s gettin’ smarter.” The Miscellany News
Jazz trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie performed with pianist Dwike Mitchell and bassist Adjunct Professor of Music Willie Ruff as part of a Dickinson-Kayden event in Skinner Hall. Gillespie, wrote Ken Franklin '82 in The Miscellany News, "blew the roof off Skinner Hall," with "an inspired repertoire ranging from Duke Ellington standards to some original compositions by Dwike Mitchell. Mr. Gillespie, despite his age , still blows his bent-up trumpet as sweetly as ever.... He commented during the show that it's tough playing with the young guys. He was referring to the absolutely incomparable piano of Dwike Mitchell, whose playing the audience will never forget."
A graduate and faculty member of the Yale University School of Music, Professor Ruff performed, frequently with Dwike Mitchell, with the Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Count Basie orchestras and was one of the first jazz ambassadors to the Soviet Union and to the People's Republic of China. Among his ethnomusicological studies—according to his Yale School of Music résumé—were "an international conference on the Neurophysiology of Rhythmic Perception," creation of "computerized music based on the theories of seventeenth-century astronomer Johannes Kepler" and a "project on congregational line singing" leading to a conference at Yale "comparing the traditions practiced in Alabama, Kentucky, and the Gaelic-speaking Free Church Presbyterians in the Scottish Highlands."
Mildred Bernstein Kayden ’42 established the Dickinson-Kayden Fund in 1966, in honor of the late Professor of Music George Sherman Dickinson.
Poet, children’s author, and Lecturer in English Nancy Willard spoke in Josselyn Living Room on “Truths the Devil Told Me: Poems and Parables.” Introducing her theme, said Nancy E. Frank '82 in The Miscellany News, Lindbloom "told...a parable about writing poetry. The story concerned the devil's school, hidden in the hills of Iceland, a school where magicians, poets and holy men learned their respective crafts. While the school exists only in Lindbloom's imagination, she noted 'though (the story's) outside dress is false, I hope the inside is true and of such lies may we all be guilty.'"
"As Lindbloom brought her lecture to a close," Frank wrote, "she returned to the devil's school, to fulfill the 'conditions set by the devil at the beginning of this lecture: Write a poem about the moon.' Lindbloom read two of her poems inspired by the moon, 'The Photographer and the Moon' and 'Night Light': 'It is time to turn on the moon./ It is time to live by a different light,' she quoted—and she does."
Nancy Willard Lindbloom's collection of poems, A Visit to William Blake's Inn (1981) won the prestigious Newbery Medal as the year's most distinguished contribution to American children's literature.
After a protracted dispute involving the role and nature of the chaplaincy at Vassar, George Williamson Jr., Vassar chaplain for 11 years, left the college. An active and popular presence on campus since his hiring in the fall of 1970, Williamson was informed that his third, three-year appointment would be his last, owing to a rule, dating back to the inauguration of the post in 1938, that individual tenure in Vassar's chaplaincy was limited to 10 years. In April 1979 President Virginia Smith acknowleged that the rule was problematic, extended Wiliiamson's contract for one year and created a committee to review the role and nature of the college chaplaincy, but not, specifically, to review the incumbent.
Not fully operational until the spring of 1980, the committee, chaired by Sara Huntington Catlin '34, presented its recommendations to the trustees that fall, primary among them the unanimous opinion "that the chaplaincy at Vassar College should be continued." The committee also opined that the 10-year tenure limit was "arbitrary and meaningless," recommending instead a five-year term for the chaplain, with evaluation of the incumbent by a multiconstituent review committee as an appointment drew to an end. Also that fall, five house presidents and 36 faculty members petitioned President Smith and the board of trustees to renew Williamson’s contract, reflecting a widely-held campus view supported also by a petition signed by some 700 students.
At their October meeting, the trustees accepted the main recommendations of the Catlin committee, deciding, however, to open a national search, directed by a search committee consisting of four trustees, two senior faculty members and two students, as each five-year term drew to a close. A month later in an open letter to the committee, Chaplain Williamson withdrew his name from consideration in the search, saying “The recent decisions regarding the Chaplaincy seem to me so to compromise the nature of that office that I cannot in good conscience become a candidate for your open search.... The majority members on the present committee are Trustees. At Vassar, only presidential searches have received so much attention from so many Trustees. To make the chaplain so directly vulnerable to the governing body seriously compromises the calling of the ministry."
In December 1981 the trustees modified both the protocol for a chaplaincy search and the composition of the search committee, approving a resolution that "the appointment will be for a term of five years, with eligibility for reappointment." Future search committees would be comprised of "the vice president for administrative and student services, three members of the faculty elected by the faculty, three students chosen by the students and one member of the counseliing services." "It's the first time since I've been here," said Vassar Student Association (VSA) President Katie Doyle '82, "that faculty and students have gotten together on an issue." The Miscellany News, Unscrewed
For the concluding production of the academic year, the drama department presented a double bill, Noel Coward’s Fumed Oak (1935), directed by Professor William Rothwell, and Georg Büchner’s Woyzeck (1913) under the direction of his senior colleague Professor Evert Sprinchorn. "The drama department," wrote Elizabeth Blye '84 in The Miscellany News, "certainly knows how to leave you wanting more. They have chosen to end this season with an evening of two, short, totally opposite plays.... They make up one of the most satisfying and intense theatrical experiences to be seen." Blye had particular praise for Armiger Jagoe III '82 and Tracy Hannigan '81 as Henry and Doris Gow, the corrosive couple in what Coward called his "unpleasant comedy in two scenes"—roles originally played by the playwright and Gertrude Lawrence—and for the "dynamic and moving" portrayal by Rees Pugh '83 of Franz Woyzeck, "an army private who is constantly being humiliated by everyone," in Büchner's 28-scene "fragmentary play." "Under the direction of Evert Sprinchorn," she noted, "it flows smoothly, building on Woyzeck's inner and outer conflicts until they inevitably explode with terrifying results. The multiple scene shifts fade in and out, in contrast to the harshness of the events occuring in them... The emotional impact of Woyzeck left me breathless and shaken. It is a powerful and disturbing play. Together with Fumed Oak, a fulfilling and intense end to the drama season."
Coward’s short play was one of ten that comprised Tonight at 8:30, a cycle performed across three evenings, and Büchner’s work, left unfinished at his death in 1837, was reworked and “finished” by Karl Emil Franzos, who published his version in 1879. The play was first performed in Munich in 1913.
Former Carter administration Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare Patricia Roberts Harris delivered the 1981 commencement address. United States Ambassador to Luxembourg in the Johnson administration—the first African-American woman to serve as an ambassador—Harris spoke about the Reagan administration's cuts to social programs saying, “It appears we have abandoned the War on Poverty in order to prepare for a War on People.... Instead of being an example to the world of democracy’s ability to be strong and humane,” Harris observed,” we now say we cannot afford a humanitarian government if we are to protect ourselves.”
Retiring Chair of the Board of Trustees Mary St. John Villard ’34 also spoke at the college's 115th Commencement.
Vassar hosted the fifth triennial Berkshire Conference on the History of Women. Over 1,500 scholars participated 136 lectures, panel discussions and workshops on topics ranging from “The Female Body and Reproduction in the Greco-Roman World” to “A General Theory of Women in History.” The conference also discussed the double challenges faced by black women, on account of their gender and color.
Professor of English Elizabeth Daniels ’41 and Associate Professor of English Barbara J. Page spoke as part of a panel on women in higher education. Visiting Professor of Women’s Studies and History Barbara Harris ‘63 and Women’s Studies coordinator Beth Darlington also participated in the conference. Principal speakers at the conference participants included keynote speaker Professor Joan W. Scott, American scholar of French history and the founder of Brown University’s Pembroke Center for the Teaching and Research on Women; Professor of History Gerda Lerner of the University of Wisconsin in Madison, said to have taught the first women’s history course, at the New School for Social Research in 1963 and John Jay College’s Professor Blanche Wiesen Cook, the definitive biographer of Eleanor Roosevelt.
The Berkshire Conference began in 1928. When male historians would not allow female historians to participate in a proposed convention, female historians held the rival Berkshire Conference. Veterans of the early “Berks,” former Vassar history professors Mildred Campbell and Evalyn A. Clark ’24, attended the 1981 conference.
Mary St. John Villard '34 retired as chair of the Vassar College Board of Trustees and was succeeded by Mary Draper Janney '42, executive director of Planned Parenthood of Washington and Washingtonian magazine’s 1975 “Washingtonian of the Year.”
Mary St. John Villard served on the Board of Trustees for 26 years; upon her retirement the Green and Gray room was renamed the Mary St. John Villard Room.
Competing before 20,000 spectators in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA, Judy Horowitz ’82 won the World Frisbee Disc championship, the first Vassar athlete to win a world championship. Among the prizes and endorsements associated with the championship was having her name on every WHAM-O frisbee made during her reign. Conceding that hers wasn't yet a household name, Horowitz said, "If I need to show someone identification when I use my MasterCharge card I'll just show them a frisbee."
The previous year, she was the women’s champion at the fourth annual national intercollegiate Frisbee championships in Atlanta, and she claimed the world title for a second time in 1985. The Miscellany News
The Vassar Art Gallery opened Splendors of the Sohites, a satirical exhibit of works “excavated” in the Soho district of Apple (formerly New York City) by “archeologist Evangeline Tabasco” and Sam Wiener, “director of the “Metropolitan Container of Art” (a large dumpster). Discovering a “hermaphrodite amulet” (a soda can pull-tab) in lower Manhattan, Tabasco unearthed evidence of a culture, either annihilated “or they may have just moved away” that neither farmed nor conducted commerce. When not worshipping their amulets, they created works of art obsessively: masks, gilded document cases, some containing scrolls (shattered VCR cases) and an array of breast plates containing the dual motifs, sun and sex (flattened soda cans). Bishop and Wiener both spoke at the opening ceremonies.
The exhibit, first shown in New York City in 1980, traveled to ten museums across the country.
"The most interesting of the recent developments in the athletic program," said The Miscellany News as a new academic year started, "is Vassar's entrance into the national organizations that govern collegiate sports." The college joined Division III of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) for men’s sports and the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) for women’s sports. Other developments were also encouraging. Progress on the new Walker Field House was "steadily being made," and four new squash courts and two racquetball courts were replacing the single indoor tennis court in Kenyon Hall.
Acting Director of Athletics Richard Becker and the chair of the physical education department, swimming coach Bob Colyer, were also enthusiastic about two new full-time coaches and three part-time appointments. Andrew Jennings, the new soccer coach, former assistant coach at soccer Division I William and Mary, and the new women's field hockey coach, Pat Fabozzi, had recently led the Indiana University women to a Division III championship. Jennings said that his Vassar players "show good potential, have the same fundamentals and some of them could play Division I soccer." About her players, Fabozzi said, "These girls have a lot of talent and put in a lot of time. The team will speak for itself."
"In the handbook that is given to the entire coaching staff," concluded The Misc., "there is one simple directive stated: 'Academics are first, Athletics are second.' While that order of priority remains, the distance between the two is becoming shorter.
Vassar joined the College Venture Program, a consortium of colleges based at Brown University that helped students planning to take time off from school explore careers that might interest them. The consortium developed internship placesments across the country in a wide range of fields, counseling students at member campuses about the values of interrupting their undergraduate education to gain knowledge of specific fields of interest. Later developments included the establishment of an Urban Education Semester program, in which selected students worked in primary and secondary schools in New York City while earning credit at Bank Street College.
Founded in 1974 and originally based at Northeastern University, the program included Brown, Bates, Mt. Holyoke and Wesleyan among its early member institutions. Maintaining offices at Brown since 1978, membership after Vassar's entry into the consortium included Oberlin, Swarthmore, Chicago, Syracuse, Sarah Lawrence, Franklin & Marshall and the College of the Holy Cross. After 35 years and recognizing the changed perceptions of undergraduate leave-taking, the consortium disbanded in 2009, its resources and accomplishments integrated into Brown's Engaged Life Partnership initiative.
Playing the quartets, Op. 130, 132 and 133, the Composers String Quartet—the quartet-in-residence at Columbia, co-founded by former Vassar music instructor Matthew Raimondi—gave the fifth in a series of six concerts devoted to the complete cycle of Beethoven's string quartets.
During a three-day visit to Vassar, preeminent American lyric tenor Paul Sperry gave an informal lecture/demonstration on the relation between musical setting and texts, conducted a Master Class and gave a recital in Skinner Hall. Sperry's visit was sponsored jointly by the departments of English and music.
The conservative group Tertium Quids sponsored a lecture by the editor of El Salvador's largest daily newspaper, El Diario de Hoy, Enrique Altamirano, on "Why the United States Should Be Concerned About El Salvador.” Altamirano asserted that terrorists, not the country’s government, were responsible for the ongoing civil war in El Salvador between the government and the leftist Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN). And thus, he said, the United States should assist the Salvadoran government militarily.
Abram Feuerstein ’84, founder of Tertium Quids, characterized Altamirano’s audience as “large but antagonistic.” The Miscellany News
President Reagan saw the populist leftists as a Communist threat and thus backed the Salvadorian government with military aid. The civil war ended in 1992.
Inviting all former music majors to campus, the music department celebrated the 50th anniversary of Skinner Hall with a series of lectures and concerts.
The celebration began with a public conversation among Austrian-American composer and former Vassar professor (1939-1942) Ernst Krenek, Professor of Music Richard Wilson and Professor of Music on the George Sherman Dickinson Chair Robert Middleton. In the evening, the music faculty offered a program of Krenek’s works. On Saturday, the 10th, faculty and alumnae gave four half-hour presentations on musical subjects, followed by a panel discussion on "Vocations in Music" and two "informal musicales" in Skinner: one featuring alumnae/i and the other faculty performers.
An alumnae/i choir performed at the Sunday morning Chapel service, and an afternoon concert in Skinner by the Vassar College Choir and the Madrigal Singers, conducted by James I. Armstrong, brought the celebration to a close.
Vassar filmmaker Ralph Arlyck’s An Acquired Taste (1981) was shown in Avery Hall. "The 'taste' referred to in the title," said a reviewer in The Miscellany News, "is the taste for success, which Arlyck calls, 'that obsession with making it built so deeply into the culture we an barely distinguish it from working, loving, eating or any of life's principle activities.... Among the scenes which were filmed at Vassar are a frisbee match between Vassar and Columbia, an exam in Rockefeller 201 and a faculty football game. Arlyck says his film is 'no sociological documentary'....This journey winds through slogans, advertisements, competitive sports, dreams and awards. It is, according to Arlyck, 'a whimsical peek just behind the smil of self-congratulation at the genuine fear it masks.'" The wry and very personal look at American urgencies from the vantage point of a 40-year old filmmaker won First Prize and a Silver Award at the San Francisco International Film Festival.
"An Acquired Taste,” wrote New York Times film critic Vincent Canby, “is only 26 minutes long, but it is a feature-length delight…a loving, funny movie.”
"An unlikely team formed at Vassar College," Brooke J. Kamin '84 wrote in The Miscellany News, when Professor Penn Kimball from the Columbia School of Journalism, Martin Arnold, veteran New York Times reporter and assistant editor of the New York Times Magazine and former New York Daily News columnist Michael Daly participated in a panel discussion on "Issues of Integrity in News Reporting.” The discussion was moderated by Richard Wager, the publisher of The Poughkeepsie Journal. "A middle-aged journalism professor and a 30-year-old street-wise columnist," Kamin went on, "paired off again another associate—the assistant editor of a magazine." Kimball and Daly took the position that the journalistic rigor and energy of even The New York Times—facing circulation and financial declines—had lessened, as the paper sought a more suburban, affluent and disengaged readership. To this, Arnold replied, "There is no such thing as a little loss of integrity. It's like being a little pregnant—impossible." The discussion's "main subject," Kamin concluded, "was a newspaper's economic viability versus its editorial position."
The panel’s topic was timely and the discussants apt. In April, just after receiving the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing for an article in The Washington Post, reporter Janet Cooke had resigned after admitting that “Jimmy’s World” and the eight-year old heroin addict featured in it were, along with the Vassar degree on her résumé, fabrications. Michael Daly had resigned from The Daily News earlier in the year after admitting that the narrator and much of the quoted material in a story he had reported from Northern Ireland were also fabrications. Penn Kimball was at work on a book, The File (1983), detailing his discovery and intense investigation of a government file of rumors and insinuations about his political affiliations that had been accumulating secretly since he’d left college.
The Composers String Quartet—the quartet-in-residence at Columbia, co-founded by former Vassar music instructor Matthew Raimondi—completed its Beethoven cycle with a performance of Op. 131 and Op. 135.
Visiting Lecturer in English Lucinda Franks ‘68’s Contemporary Press class visited The New York Times, where Ms. Franks was a staff writer. Touring the newsroom (twice), the culture section "(referred to as 'Culture Gulch' by the guide),"reported Bonnie Stollowitz '84 in The Miscellany News, the sports and science areas and WQRZ, the newspaper's classical music station, the class also met with Deputy Managing Editor Arthur Gelb and Executive Editor Abe Rosenthal. "Gelb emphasized the 'accuracy, fairness and completeness' which has always and will continue to characterize the paper's image. 'There is no paper as good as the Times, noted Gelb, in answer to a student's question. 'If there were, I wouldn't be working here,' he added."
The Helen Miringoff Memorial weekend honored the late director of fieldwork Helen Miringoff, who was very active in Jewish studies and cultural activities, both on campus and in Poughkeepsie. Holocaust survivor, author and founding chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council Elie Wiesel spoke in the Chapel. “To be Jewish,” Wiesel said during his speech, “is to dance in spite of suffering.”
The Quiet Riot, mimes Bill Mettler and Kevin O’Conner and lighting/sound designer David Mettler, performed their improvisatioinal show, Out of Control, at Vassar. The troupe, founded in 1979, specialized in involving the audience in their mimicry, and they "broke away from many of the conventional ideas of mime," wrote Lori Mason '85 in The Miscellany News, "with new forms involving music, improvisation, lighting and story-telling.... In the middle of the show, Mettler and O'Connor asked the audience for story ideas... When someone from the audience suggested 'moose mating,' and The Quiet Riot performed the request, it was evident that the team is extremely creative and works well together." In another piece, called "The Wedding," originally from a show done on the stairs of the Philadelphia Art Museum, the two mimes were joined by six members of the audience.
Vassar's squash community inaugurated four new glass-walled courts in Kenyon Hall with a "Squash Extravaganza," featuring a women's "Can-Am Invitational," exhibition matches by ranked professionals and faculty/alum vs. varsity play. "Just hours after the wet paint signs and wooden sawhorses had been removed," wrote Pamela Thompson '82 in The Miscellany News, women's teams from York, Queens, and McGill joined the Vassar, Hamilton and Dartmouth players in a round-robin tournament on the new courts. Losing to York in the final round, the Brewers came in third, after York and Queens, with Dartmouth, McGill and Hamilton rounding out the results.
"However," Thompson reported, "the extravaganze did not end with the presentation of the trophy. Vassar coach Peter Talbert, who is ranked second in the New York City citcuit and 35th in the world, proceeded to lead the special exhibitions by other nationally and internationally ranked players, which included Rob Dinerman, Laurence Franklin, Nancy Gengler and Wendy Lawrence." The event concluded with matches in which alumnae/i and faculty members challenged players form the men's and women's varsity teams.
Political activist and Wilmington Ten member Reverend Ben Chavis, spoke in Chicago Hall. As a participant in the the First Annual Festival of Third World Arts and Culture, he spoke at Vassar and led a chapel service in February 1981.
In their third of four appearances at Vassar in the 70s and 80s, Lionel Hampton and his orchestra played to a packed house for the Fall Formal in the Villard Room. In 1936 the first black musician, along with pianist Teddy Wilson, to play with white musicians, in the Benny Goodman Quartet, Hampton and his orchestra played at Vassar in November 1974, February 1979 and again on March 3, 1983.
In the student seminar exhibition, Problem Pictures from the Vassar Collection, at the Vassar College Art Gallery, 12 students, working under the guidance of gallery director William Hennessey, presented their solutions to curatorial "problems" with 30 of the gallery's paintings, ranging from the 16th through the 19th centuries. Each of the paintings, wrote Lori Mason '85 in The Miscellany News, "holds a specific problem such as a question of attribution, subject matter or date. Within the 30 paintings on display, a wide range of uncertainties prevails.... According to Hennessey, this component of the seminar offers a unique experience to students." Among the problems solved was the determination by Eric Werblow '83 that a painting thought by its donor to have been the work of J. M. W. Turner was a copy and the identification by Elizabeth Ann Jackson '82 of all the individual items in a 1725 painting, "Trompe L'Oeil—Still Life," along with the significance of many.
Vassar used the grants from the Charles E. Merrill and Pew Memorial trusts as well as the gifts of Julia Blodgett Curtis ‘62, Mrs. Suzette Davidson ‘34 and Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller ‘31 to acquire the papers of Pulitzer-prize winning poet Elizabeth Bishop ’34.
“I’m extremely pleased to have Elizabeth’s papers in the Vassar manuscript collection,” the literary executor of Bishop’s estate, Alice H. Methfessel, told The New York Times. “It’s an excellent library, and the leadership of the college is dedicated to the preservation of manuscripts and knows their value to scholars and students. Elizabeth had a real fondness for her alma mater and the friends she made there. She said that Vassar had a profound effect on her life.” New York Times
Robert Leuci, the inspiration for Robert Daley’s book Prince of the City (1978), spoke about his work in the Special Investigating Unit in the Narcotics Division of the New York City Police Department and about his role in informing on corrupt policemen within that division. "I never looked like a cop," Leuci said, "The NYPD chose guys like me who didn't look like cops to go into the Narcotics Bureau/Detective Division." Of Leuci's story of gradual moral "erosion"—drugs as bribes, illegal wiretaps, choosing to overlook minor crime in order to get along—said Julie Kaufman '85 in The Miscellany News, "there were two parts...: negative and postitive. 'The negative,' Leuci explained, 'occurs when you try to emulate the behavior or actions of people you admire.... Your morality and integrity disintegrate and a certain amount of criminality appears. You don't even realize this is happening to you. Once you open your eyes, see what you're doing and try to find ways to change, you enter positive erosion.'"
Leuci's "positive" period began with his agreement to work undercover the the Federal Knapp Commission in a two-year investigaton of corruption that, "initially...focused on the criminal justice system, but ended by focusing on Leuci's deparment. As a result...55 officers were arrested, Leuci's partner and best friend both committed suicide. Leuci was sent to Governor's island for three years with a 24-hour body guard."
The Vassar College music department gave an hour-long broadcast performance on WNYC-FM in New York City as part of the “Discovery Series,” performing works by former music professor Ernst Krenek and Professor of Music Richard Wilson. Works by Krenek, who taught at Vassar from 1930 until 1942, were "Monolog der Stella," sung by soprano Carol Wilson accompanied by pianist Huguette van Ackere and his Sonata No. 4, performed by pianist Todd Crow.
Works in the program by Professor Wilson were "A Theory," a setting for piano and vibraphone of Musa Guston's memorial poem to her late husband, the painter Philip Guston, performed by Carol Wilson and Richard Wilson and his "Ecologue," performed by pianist Blanca Uribe.
As part of a $1 million program to strengthen original sources available to student and faculty researchers, the college announced a $100,000 grant from the Pew Memorial Trust of Philadelphia to aid the Vassar manuscript and archival collections, one of the program's four goals. President Smith identified the other goals as hiring a manuscript curator, faculty development of courses focusing on archival and manuscript materials and promoting a program of related symposia, lectures and research activities by visiting scholars and Vassar faculty. The Miscellany News
A Marine Midland MoneyMatic automated teller maching (ATM) was installed in the College Center over winter break, raising some controversy about the college's link to the bank and its nearby Vassar branch. In a column, "Cashcard Blues," in the alternative campus paper Unscrewed, Tom Doskow '83 pointed out the ATM "located one full block from the Vassar campus.... The predilection for convenience here seems extreme. The barrier between these two machines is not distance: it is the border of Vassar College.... With the College Center MoneyMatic, there is no longer any reason for a student to leave the Vassar grounds—except to take a cab to the train station.... Finally, there is the matter of restraint of trade. An institution of education cohabiting with a single institute of finance is not fair to other banks in the Poughkeepsie area, most of which exceed Marine Midland in service, accuracy and courtesy."
Hailing, however, the "long-awaited Marine Midland MoneyMatic"—while pointing out that it was inoperative and "just lacking some electrical parts"—Elenita Ravicz '84 wrote in The Miscellany News, "Once it becomes operable the MoneyMatic machine will save students a short but chilly walk to Marine Midland when they need cash."
Described in The Miscellany News as "the core of the computer literacy program recently launched" at Vassar, a new course, "Computing as a Resource," taught in two sections of 30 students each, was nearly filled during preregistration for the spring term. Under the direction of William Pritchard from the academic computing office of the computer center, the course was intended to "show faculty and students from diverse disciiplines how to use computing as a tool in the support of their own interests."
Joining Pritchard in the new course were faculty members Marlene Palmer from biology, Curt Beck from chemistry, Robert DeMaria from English and Amy Halberstadt from psychology, who, he said, would lead students in "investigating the potential application of computers to a research problem in their specifc fields.... As we head into the electronics revolution we will need to learn more about computers in order to function in society." The microcomputers used by students in the course, which was funded by a grant from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), were tied into 23 major computer centers around the country "via communications networks."
Vassar pianist Todd Crow's made his New York solo debut in Alice Tully Hall of Lincoln Center. His program included Beethoven’s Sonata in A Major, Op. 101, and former Vassar professor Ernst Krenek’s Piano Sonata No. 4. Other works in the program were: Liszt’s "Nuages Gris" and "Les Jeux d’eaux à la Villa d’Este"; Debussy’s La terrace d’audiences du clair de lune, Ondine and Feux d’artifice and Bartók’s suite, Out of Doors.
Writing in The New York Times, music critic Bernard Holland called the recital “unusually serious, intelligent and thought-provoking,” observing, the “program was chosen with care, and Mr. Crow’s playing was at all times equal to his taste in music.” Of Crow's handling of "two of Debussy's most mysterious Preludes—'La terrace d’audiences du clair de lune,' and the neglected 'Ondine'—plus the more extroverted and more popular 'Feux d'artifice,'" Holland observed, "here Mr. Crow observed Debussy's rhythmic delicacies with Mozartean care. The first two preludes were magical."
The Vassar ski team inaugurated their second year when 189 skiers from nine colleges and universities—the largest field in National Collegiate Ski Association division III history—attended the first annual Vassar Ski Meet at Catamount, NY.
Although the home team was "trounced in their own tournament," as "Downhill Dan" put it in The Miscellany News, there were promising highlights for Vassar. Freshman Debbie Daigle ’85 placed third in the giant slalom, winning the first-ever trophy for the Vassar ski team, and Fritzi Horstman '84, "ignoring her wounds" from a "brutal fall at the top of the [giant slalom] course," finished "a mere minute behinde the leader. 'I'm not sure if my skis were waxed,' she said as she crossed the finish line."
A week later, "Dan" was able to report a resounding rebound when the Vassar team captured second place among the nine competing schools at Marist College's "ski extravaganza at Highmount, NY." The Miscellany News
A new, computerized Rolm telephone system replaced what Vice President for Student and Administrative Services Natalie Marshall '51 called the "outmoded" manual switchboard. The new system, designed by the Rolm company in California, would send a beep when a second party wished to reach a busy extension and with "double the nuimber of lines to the outside world," Marshall observed, "you won't get the busy signal so much."
Professor Robert Abramson of the Manhattan School of Music held three eurhythmics workshops in the Kenyon Dance Studio, in which students skipped in circles according to the mood of the music being played, stood on one foot in rhythm and bounced a ball in time to the music. Eurhythmics, developed by Swiss composer and music education theorist Emile Jaques-Dalcroze, explored the relationship between musical expression and movement. As Carol Duncan '83 explained in The Miscellany News, "Dalcroze became interested in this subject when he saw that musical training too often excluded instruction in expression, emphasizing technique instead.... Participants...were instructed to, among other things, bounce a tennis ball and pass it in a circle to the beat of music; form patterns and shapes with a group of people without speaking; walk, run or skip in a circle at varying tempos while imitating the music's mood; do exercises in balance, conducting, clapping various rhythms and imitating an orchestra using one's voice... Participants seemed enthusiastic and ready to apply what they had learned in their dancing, singing or playing of an instrument."
Acting Vassar Chaplain Sandra Wilson ’75 was ordained as an Episcopal priest, the first African-American female Episcopal priest in the Diocese of New York and the fourth in the United States.
On January 24, Wilson led her first mass as a priest in the Chapel. Madeleine L’Engle, author of the science fantasy novel, A Wrinkle in Time (1962), gave the sermon, focusing on the concept of time. During her address, L’Engle also spoke of Wilson’s ordination, saying “Sandye is called to be a ‘midwife’ to the rest of us. So are the male preachers.” The Miscellany News
Lecturer in English, poet and children’s author Nancy Willard spoke on “The Rutubaga Lamp: The Reading and Writing of Fairy Tales.” Willard quoted the claim of Hans Christian Andersen that fairy tales were "as necessary as dictionaries for both children and adults." "Lindbloom," wrote Peggy Hayes '83 in The Miscellany News, "compared fairy tales, then, to parables, and called them one of the 'highest forms of truth.' Fairy tales are written to amuse both children and adults. But Lindbloom assured the audience that fairy tales will only be successful if they are 'moral, but not moralistic, and instructive, but not didactic.'"
Just before the evening’s lecture, it was announced that Willard’s children’s book A Visit to William Blake’s Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers (1981) had won the 1981 Newbery Award, the first award in the honor's 60-year history that the prestigious medal was awarded to a book of poetry. The book was also cited as a Caldecott honors recipient for its illustrations by Alice and Martin Provensen.
Willard signed her book at an autograph party at the Alumane House on March 4th.
Defining a "race" as "a breeding population with a characteristic frequency of inherited traits," Molecular biologist and immunologist Richard A. Goldsby from the University of Maryland disparaged the linking of race and intelligence. "One could not have come away," wrote Gordon Shepherd in The Miscellany News, "without an opinion," adding that Dr. Goldsby "explored the controversial topic of race and IQ by presenting current and historical scientific research in a very understandable and humorous manner."
Goldsby’s research indicated that IQ differences were largely socially, not genetically, based, a position he advanced in a much-publicized debate at the University of Virginia with Nobel Prize winning physicist William B. Shockley—the co-inventor of the transistor—on February 5, 1975. In his later years, Dr. Shockley, concerned with race, intelligence and eugenics, embraced the notions that intelligence was largely hereditary, that the intelligence of blacks was statistically in decline and that individuals with lower intelligence quotients (IQ) should be paid to voluntarily undergo sterilization. Goldsby said of Shockley: “He’s a racist because he thinks he can make statistical prediction of behavior by population. He’s not a bigot because he apparently does not despise blacks…. I like to debate Bill, because I always win.” Joel N. Shurkin, Broken Genius: The Rise and Fall of William Shockley
Dr. Goldsby examined this question in detail in Race and Races (1971) and in his articles, “Human Races: Their Reality and Significance” in Science Teacher in 1973 and “The Reality and Significance of Human Races: A Biological Perspective” in Biological Differences and Social Equality (1983), edited by Masako N. Darrough and Robert H. Blank.
The trustees chose the former site of the Vassar Brothers Laboratory (1880-1938) for the new chemistry building, which required a Southern exposure for its proposed solar heating feature. An alternative site behind and below Sanders Physics Building was also considered.
The Board of Trustees voted to set tuition, room and board at $10,500 for the 1982-1983 academic year—a $1,300 and 14 percent increase. In a letter to the college community, President Virginia Smith said that the increase was largely due to inflation and reductions in federal student aid. "We have been borrowing," she said, "from [the] future....We can't do that to an extreme." Despite the increase, she noted, Vassar was "in the middle of the pack" among comparable colleges. The Miscellany News
The Africana Studies Program held the second annual Festival of Third World Arts and Culture, a month-long celebration featuring lectures, readings, a panel discussion and performances.
Broadcast news executive Fred W. Friendly, former executive producer of Edward R. Murrow’s See It Now, directed a seminar on the relationship between media and the law, entitled "The Agony of Decision Making in the Newsroom."
Thirty invited participants included ABC Nightline’s Carla DeLandri ‘78, local attorney Susanna Bedell ‘40, The Poughkeepsie Journal’s Pamela Golinski ‘76 and George Bernstein, as well as fourteen students and seven professors—including Lecturer in English Lucinda Franks ’68, a former New York Times reporter.
An individual, calling himself “Timon of Athens,” broke into the library reserve room and removed nearly all of the books—some 6,000 volumes—to protest the administration’s neglect of the Shakespeare Garden. A note was posted on the door to the reserve room—“If you ever want to see these reserve books again, you will begin planning the complete restoration of the Shakespeare Garden immediately.” The note went on to request, “Please make sure there are plenty of pansies for Lisa” and that a copy of the note be given to “SKS.” The Miscellany News
The missing books were discovered in the Library, and a student admitted to the prank before the Academic Panel, paid a fine and posted a public apology. The garden had not been maintained because it was thought it would have to be moved to the Blodgett lawn to make way for the new chemistry building. When an alternate site was chosen, the garden was restored.
A capacity crowd filled the Cushing Living Room as students and faculty celebrated the 100th birthday of James Joyce with readings from his works and music from Finnegan’s Wake (1939) and Ulysses (1922). "Students Tracy Byrne '84 and David Pfarrer '83 read poetry," reported David Zakon '85 in The Miscellany News, English department members George O'Brien, Eamon Grennan and Jerry Badanes, "the organizers of the evening, read portions of Ulysses playing the parts of the Citizen, a town wise guy and Leopold Bloom, respectively. Following the reading and performance students Greta Olson '86 and Matt Bialer '85 read letters written by Joyce to his wife-to-be, Nora, and portiions of hers to him."
During February, a display of Joyean materials, "Scenes and Scribblings," including first editions of Joyce's works, photographs and personal memorabilia was on view in the Library. "Librarian Joan Murphy," Zakon concluded, "called the display 'Scenes and Scribblings' after Joyce's term for his various writings." The Miscellany News
Performing Bach’s English Suite in D Minor, Jean Philippe Rameau’s Premier Concert and Francois Couperin’s Onzieme Ordre de Pieces de Clavecin, Chilean harpsichordist Lionel Party dedicated a new harpsichord, modeled on an 18th century instrument by accalimed American builder Willard Martin, in a concert in Skinner Hall.
Co-captain Alison Muyskens '82 and number 4 player Amy Anthony '83 were undefeated as the Women’s squash team came in second in the Howe Cup Tournament at Yale, ranking ninth in the United States. "After handily defeating California-Berkeley, Smith and Bowdoin 6-1," wrote Pamela Thomson '82 in The Miscellany News, "Vassar had to try harder against Williams and Tufts." Finishing second to Williams in the 22-team tournament, "By working together, "Muyskens said, "we rose to every occasion competitively." Co-captain Diane Tobia '82 agreed. "This," she said, "is the best showing Vassar has had since 1974." The Miscellany News
Mary McCarthy ’33, author of Cannibals and Missionaries (1979), Memories of a Catholic Girlhood (1957, and The Group (1963), lectured on "Some Narrative Techniques and Their Implications" in the Chapel, as the first President’s Distinguished Visitor.
The President’s Distinguished Visitor Program was intended to “honor distinguished alumnae/i, and to offer students the example and inspiration of persons of genuine achievement.” Each year the President invited three prominent alumnae/i to visit campus for a week or more in order to lecture and mentor. This was McCarthy’s first visit to campus since she served as the 1976 commencement speaker.
While on campus, McCarthy also lectured about political theorist Hannah Arendt, spoke to English classes, and held a tea—during which she read from her book The Mask of State: Watergate Portraits (1974).
On February 12th, McCarthy, along with Professor of History Donald J. Olsen, author of The Growth of Victorian London (1976), Associate Professor of English Beth Darlington, editor of The Love Letters of William and Mary Wordsworth (1981) and Professor of Anthropology Walter Fairservis, author of Asia: Treasures and Tradition (1981), held a book signing in the Vassar Cooperative Bookstore.
“The Big Man,” saxophonist Clarence Clemons from Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, performed with the Red Bank Rockers in the Chapel. "When the great Clarence Clemons hit the stage with his band," Karen Masiello '84 wrote in The Miscellany News, "the Chapel suddenly swelled with some of the best R&B the audience had ever heard. Clarence has a style and a finesse so independent of the E Street Band that we have to wonder what he is doing touring as the second name on billboard. The man is incredible."
Bassoonist and director of the Contemporary Chamber Ensemble Arthur Weisberg, accompanied by Aleck Karis on the piano and harpsichord, performed William Osborne’s Rhapsody (1958), Allan Blank’s Introduction and Rondo Fantastico (1979), Georg Philipp Telemann’s Sonata in F Minor, Professor of Music Richard Wilson’s Profound Utterances (1980) and Bach’s Sonata no. 3 in D minor.
Weisberg also led a master class during his visit to campus.
As part of the Festival of Third World Arts and Culture, a two-part symposium on “Imperialism: Its Implications for Race and Culture in the 19th and 20th Centuries,” featured African history specialist Philip D. Curtin of Johns Hopkins, Professor Herbert Klein of Columbia—who spoke on Latin America—and Professor Chang-tu Hu of Columbia—who spoke on Asia. The president of the American Historical Association, Professor Curtin, said Julie Kaufman '85, cited "three major ideas which concur with the development of imperialism...capitalism and its impact on lesser developed countries, development of European technology...during the Industrial Revolution and the notion of European countries as conquerors.... Once Europeans had conquered a country, they created a set of idea as to how they should regulate the country. 'This theory of empire,' Curtin said, 'included racism as a fundamental attitude.'"
Declaring imperialism as "a historically modern phenomenon, which can be manifested in racial prejudices," Professor Hu opened the symposium's second session, explaining that "'there were three Gs which drew Europeans to Asia during this period of industrialization....' These are: 1) the lure of Gold, 20 the increased flocking of missionaries to Asia in order to bring God to these poor souls and 3) the idea of National Glory, which was incorporated in the conquering of...underdeveloped countries." Imperialism in Latin America, said Professor Klein, took a unique form, drawn from "Latin American Indian cultures...based of class ranking." White conquerors "would set up an indirect rule over the group of Indians. Racism was very pervasive during the nineteenth century. The elite, white Creoles began to destroy the autonomy of local Indian communities.... In conclusion, Klein hypothesized that one reason for the prevalance of racsim was the human need for definition in society." The Miscellany News
The Afro-American Society held Black Weekend, featuring a cabaret in the Villard room, a poetry reading—also part of the Festival of Third World Arts and Culture—and a lecture by black activist Kwame Toure—previously known as Stokely Carmichael.
Toure discussed the relationship between capitalism and race, uses for violence in the civil rights struggle and whether his militant political beliefs reconciled with his Christian religious beliefs. "According to Toure," wrote Wesleyan exchange student Cameron Gordon in The Miscellany News, "Africa is the richest continent on the face of the earth. But, under capitalism, Africans are starving. African culture is rich its people are strong, but under capitalism, it is an object of ridicule." On the issue of violence, "Toure maintained that King was a great man but that he made an error of taking the tactic of non-violence and making it into a principle. Toure said that when non-violence is effective it should be used. When it is not...'I'm going to start chucking hand grenades."
Questioned about the compatibility of violence with his Christian beliefs, "Toure asked facetiously, 'Who sent the floods?' and maintained that just as God punished evil, his followers were out to defeat and punish oppression, using violence when necessary." The Miscellany News
Moorhead Kennedy, one of the 52 American hostages released from Iran in January of 1981, spoke on “World Religions and World Peace” during the Sunday chapel service. Afterwards, Kennedy and his wife Louisa lectured on “How to Cope with Personal Stress” in the Rose Parlor.
The Honorable Paul Rupia, Tanzanian permanent representative to the United Nations and the Honorable David. W. Steward, South African ambassador to the United Nations participated in a panel on “South Africa: The Reality” in Taylor Hall, as part of the Festival of Third World Arts and Culture.
The Students Afro-American Society and the Vassar Jewish Students Union sponsored a panel discussion on “The Mindset of Intolerance: Racism and Anti-Semitism in America” in the Villard Room. Vice-president of the Mid-Hudson Coalition Against Racism and Anti-Semitism Charles Dumas moderated a panel that included: Acting Chaplain Sandra A. Wilson ‘75, who discussed the historical and biblical basis of intolerance; lawyer for students at SUNY-New Paltz Daniel Meyers, who spoke about racism and anti-semitism in Dutchess County; Visiting Assistant Professor of Religion Betsy Amaru, who talked about educational strategies to prevent intolerance; and Assistant Professor of Psychology Ben Harris, who examined the psychology behind bigotry.
The panel was part of the Festival of Third World Arts and Culture.
Professor of English at the State University of New York at Stony Brook Thomas Flanagan lectured on “Joyce and the Imagination of Irish History” in the Villard Room. Flanagan’s essay, “Yeats, Joyce, and the Matter of Ireland,” in the University of Chicago journal, Critical Inquiry, in 1975 was a seminal study of this interrelationship. His novel, The Year of the French (1979), was the first of a trilogy— with The Tenants of Time (1988), The End of the Hunt (1994)— that traced Irish politics and identity from the failed uprising of 1798 to the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922. The Year of the French, Flanagan’s first attempt at fiction, won the National Book Critics Circle Award in fiction in 1979.
Northern Irish poet Seamus Heaney, poet-in-residence at Harvard University, gave a poetry reading in the Villard Room. Heaney’s Selected Poems 1965-75 appeared in 1980, and the collection Station Island was published by Faber & Faber in 1984. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995.
The "winged putti and amorini in a chariot race" on a newly-acquired panel from a 3rd century CE Roman sarcophagus, said Professor of Art Christine Havelock, are "mimicking a chariot race of adult males…pointing fun at an adult preoccupation." Havelock said, reported Brooke J. Kamin '84 in The Miscellany News, the art department, wanted "to go all out for something beautiful and something extraordinary.... Let's put up something smashing that the students will see...not a second rate painting or 'from the school of'.... It is just so beautiful and it's fairly complete. It's meaty—you can get at it."
Purchased from a London art dealer with funds from the Friends of the Art Gallery and a private donor, the piece, said gallery director William Hennessey, "an unusually valuable piece for us...one of the most major things we've gotten in years." The Miscellany News
"Croquet, the game of genteel…sportsmen," wrote The Miscellany News, " brought together eight schools to crown yet another collegiate championship." Vassar defeated teams from Columbia, Harvard, Florida and USC, losing two games in the round robin tournament—to Yale and Brandies—finishing second. John Osborn '82, who had played the game since he was five, won the singles title.
The New York Times published an interview with President Virginia Smith in which she warned that President Reagan’s cuts to federal student aid would make it “hard to maintain the kind of diversity that we have had in the last 10 years. This will affect poor students and, to the extent that it is related to socioeconomic status, our ethnic mix. Even our geographic diversity will be undermined.” The New York Times
Associate Chemist at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Api Charola spoke about the use of X-ray fluorescence to the determine originality of pieces of art. "X-ray fluorescence is particularly valuable," wrote Gordon Shepherd in The Miscellany News, "because it doesn't require touching or damaging the surface of the art piece, as other forms of investigation do.... Showing slides of ornate sixteenth century brass clocks, Charola said that brasses differ in their concentrations of zinc and copper.... Charola's talk revealed not only much about the workings of the famous museum in New York, but also described a technique that bridges what many people consider to be a wide gap between science and art."
Ms. Charola taught chemical analysis at Vassar in 1977-78.
The self-styled “Queen of the Muckrakers,” British-born journalist Jessica Mitford lectured on her writings—including The American Way of Death (1963) and Poison Penmanship: The Gentle Art of Muckraking (1979)—to a near-capacity audience in the Villard Room. One of seven famous and often controversial daughters of an English peer, Mitford told her listeners that she'd turned to investigative journalism when her second husband, a trade union attorney, had uncovered the larcenous collusion between California union officials and undertakers. "Mitford stated," wrote Bonnie Stollowitz '84 in The Miscellany News, "that she didn't approve of this form of operation, which through...'collective bargaining' would set up a 'contract with the undertaker.' She began to tease this group of "Quakers and University eggheads" about their 'layaway plan'.... Poison Penmanship, Mitford's collection of magazine articles, includes three articles describing and mocking the funeral racket.
"Regarding her profession, Mitford responded to one audience member by stating that she has never had to pay an informant for information.... 'I have received an occasional death threat,' she chuckled." The Miscellany News
Phillip Euling ‘84 directed Harold Pinter’s The Lover (1963), a play first written for television, in Rockefeller Hall. Reviewing the production in The Miscellany News, Mark Bennett '85, praised its comic "understatement," although, he noted, "there is a very clever sequence at the beginning, parodying the life of a boring marriage, that allows Euling's comic sense to be readily seen and appreciated." The reviewer also praised the performances of Margareta Olson '86 as Sarah and Steve Rockwell '84 as Richard, the principals in a play about "domestic tranquility with a twist."
Women’s Weekend 1982—“Women’s Work, Women’s Play”— presented lectures, performances and films. Former congresswoman Bella Abzug, founder of Women Strike for Peace and the National Women’s Political Caucus, gave the keynote address on “Women and Politics: Political Action.”
Other events included a “Voice Festival”— featuring literature and music by Vassar faculty and students, a concert by folk singers Betsy Rose and Cathy Winter and a lecture by activist Selma James, founder in 1972 of the International Wages for Housework Campaign, on “The Economics of Feminism Today.” Two films were shown, To Be a Woman Soldier (1981), Shuli Eshel’s study of the strains and contradictions for women of egalitarian military service in Israel and Union Maids (1976)—film clips and cross-cut interviews with three Chicago women active in union organizing in the 1920s and 1930s—directed by Julia Reichert, Jim Klein and Miles Mogulescu. Julia Reichert discussed her film at Vassar in September 1977 with three other documentarians.
A planned April 2nd women’s dance was cancelled because VSA funds could not be used to subsidize an event that wasn't opened to all members of the Vassar community.
Speakers at an environmental conference sponsored by the Vassar Environmental Society included the executive director of the New York State Environmental Planning Lobby, Bernard Melewski, who described “The Second Environmental Revolution;” the toxics program director of the New York State Sierra Club, Bonnie MacLeod, who discussed the film In Our Water (1982); Assistant Professor of Economics Alexander Thompson whose lecture was called “Adding Insult to Injury: The Case of Working Environments;” Assistant Professor of Chemistry Paul C. Chrostowski, who spoke on “Technological Solutions to Environmental Problems;” Professor of Physics Morton A. Tavel, who discussed “Energy Resources;” Associate Professor of Geography Harvey K. Flad, who described “The Role of Aesthetics in Environmental Planning” and Assistant Professor of Political Science Sidney Plotkin, who spoke on “New Direction in Land Use Control: Up.”
Economist and diplomat John Kenneth Galbraith—author of American Capitalism (1952), The Affluent Society (1958) and Annals of an Abiding Liberal (1979)—lectured on "The Great Conservative Revolt" in the Villard Room. In his speech, Galbraith criticized conservatives' actions and policies in the post-World War II period that destroyed an "economic and social consensus" about the role of government. According to Gordon Shepherd, writing in The Miscellany News, Galbraith found conservatives' "simplistic" position—"liberty is measured by the depth of the uncollected garbage in the slums"—"deeply questionable," and he said their "romantic" critique—"auto, steel and interstate trucking trades want no regulation, except, of course, when the competition gets rough—"ignores the historical forces which make a pure market...virtually impossible."
The conservatives' "real" attack, Shepherd continued, "has three facets—expenditure on social services is too great, the quality of public administration is deficient and the consensus no longer works—and is justified on all counts." Suggesting that these three elements raised by the "conservative revolt" might be addressed systemically, Galbraith told his large and enthusiastic audience that the Reagan Administration "incorporates all the old elements of failure, although it has to be said in its favor, in a somewhat more imagiinative way."
Matthew Cartsonis ‘84, Bebe Smith ’84 and “Uncle Normie” Plankey performed at the recently refurbished Noyes West End coffee house. "Instrumentals were great," wrote Karen Masiello '84 in The Miscellany News, "but the most stunning aspect of the show was Smith's vocal performance. Her voice has a sweetness that could quiet the multitudes." Masiello found the "pins from their radio show" that Cartsonic and “Uncle Normie”—the persona of local resident Norman Plankey, co-host with Cartsonis on WVKR—"ridiculous, but lots of fun." Also performing that night were Mike Dilanni ‘83 and Matt Witten ‘83, playing "music of some soft-rock bands and original pieces."
Speaking at the Coalition for Social Responsibility’s Peace Week, retired Rear Admiral Gene R. LaRocque had "no doubt," reported Richard Lynch '85 in The Miscellany News, "that the United States will have a nuclear war unless it changes the course it is on." After a distinguished career in World War II and with the Joints Chief of Staff, LaRocque retired in 1972 after 32 years in the Navy, disillusioned by the Vietnam War. He founded the Center for Defense Information in 1974.
"We are all planning, arming, training, equipping and practicing for a nuclear war, a war which will probably kill at least 100 million people.... Twenty years ago, we had about 6,000 nuclear weapons between ourselves and the Soviets. Who feels more secure today when we have a lot more of them?” Of primary importance in LaRoque's ten-point summary of the nuclear situation were recognition that most of the world's problems are not military problems, that national security depended "on social, political and economic areas of our society, not just on the military, and that the United States should abandon it's policy of "first use" of nuclear weapons in a crisis. "There is hope," he concluded. "The interest and enthusiasm in the nuclear question emerging both here and in Europe is encouraging. People need to get as much information as possible and decide what they think they should do." The Miscellany News
A team from Vassar played in the National College Bowl Tournament finals, held in New York City. Originally a popular radio program, the College Bowl—"The Varsity Sport of the Mind"—was broadcast between October 1953 and December 1955. Two four-person teams competed in each 30-minute program, answering questions on topics ranging from literature, history and philosophy to science, the arts and religion. Revived for televison in 1959 by the General Electric Company, the games appeared on Saturdays and Sundays through June of 1970. A team from Vassar defeated Vanderbilt University in the televised GE College Bowl in 1960 and, subsequently defeated by Boston College, finished in second place.
The competition resumed in 1977 under the sponsorship of the Association of College Unions International (ACUI), continuing until 2008. Vassar's 1982 team consisted of co-captians Steve Storman '82 and Dave Morris '82, Charles Sperling '84, Brian Schick '83 and David Thaler' 84. In the finals, Vassar defeated Davidson College, but was beaten by the the eventual winner, Rice University, giving the a tie for third plance with the University of Wisconsin at Madison. The Vassar team earned a trophy for reaching the semifinals and $2,500 in scholarship money from TIME Incorporated, the sponsor of the tournament.
Vassar teams reached the national championship round in 1981—finishing in last place with 8 other teams—and again in 1984, when they tied with Princeton for 3th place. The Miscellany News
German-born art historian Julius Held, professor emeritus of art history at Barnard College, lectured on "Rembrandt's Earliest and Latest Works" in Taylor Hall. An émigré from Nazi Germany, Dr. Held, who taught at Barnard from 1937 until his retirement in 1971, was one of the world’s leading authorities on the work of Rembrandt, Rubens and Van Dyke. His Rembrandt’s ‘Aristotle’ and Other Rembrandt Studies (1969), published by Princeton University Press was highly influential, as was The Oil Sketches of Peter Paul Rubens (1980).
The British band Squeeze began its United States tour with a performance in the Vassar Chapel, preceded by another band from Britain, Flock of Seagulls. "Well," wrote Karen Masiello '84 in The Miscellany News, "the concert of the semester happened on Thursday, April 22, when Flock of Seagulls and Squeeze appeared in the Chapel. It was quite an evening." Although both bands were relatively new to American audiences, Squeeze, a London band, had four albums to its credit, while Flock of Seagulls, from Liverpool, had just released its first, eponmymic collection.
"Flock of Seagulls," Masiello noted, "has talented musicians playing in a lively, danceable style.... Tunes like "Modern Love," "Telecommunication" and their new single "I Ran"were very well received. About Squeeze, well, there isn't enough good that I can say. The show combined songs from their already-released albums with songs from the new album, Sweets From a Stranger, to be released on May 11. Squeeze was just what I expected.... I hate to say this, but it looks like...I'm not a critic..... My notes from the show are covered with words like 'Superb!' 'Stunning!' 'Wow!' and 'Excellent.'"
Dancer, choreographer, director and composer John Wilson lectured on Dada in the Rose Parlor. A founding member in 1956 of The Joffrey Ballet, Wilson was a scholar of the Dada and Surrealist movements, and was at Vassar to do a Dada performance for a class in German expressionism. "A barrage of music, erratic both in content and style filled the room," wrote Kirsten Gantzel '90 in The Miscellany News. "French, German, and gibberish twittered and twirled, tumbling from his elastic lips. Like a happy insane bird he sat, perched upon his stool, shouting and whispering letters and punctuation.
"Suddenly he was up and running about and peeking under my dress. I indignantly slapped him away, whereupon he promptly grabbed a poster and held it up. Mixing and matching words such as NUN, MUFF, BLACK and others from the poster, he proceeded to recite in a sweet bright tone a concoction of obscenity.
"I looked around me. This was the Rose Parlor. And this shocking man was my cousin."
A student and theoretician of Dada since his 1975 musical setting, choreography and performance of The Gas Heart (Le Coeur à gaz, 1921) by the Romanian-born French author and performance artist Tristan Tzara, Wilson traced for his Vassar audience the development of Dada from its birth in Swiss cabarets during World War I, describing the art form as "a state of mind. It was NOT a movement.... Dada was a protest of war...of everything—any closed system that existed at that time, political or religious." His performance was "not a reconstruction of the cabaret," Wilson declared, "I am performing the original work of the Dadists, one could call it a 'cabaret collage' in the spirit of the cabaret." The Miscellany News
Wilson performed his Dada program at Performance Space 122 and The Knitting Factory in New York and in theaters in France and Germany. In 1986 he formed the New York-based company DaDaNewYork.
The Vassar Gallery displayed designs for medals by Chief Sculptor-Engraver of the U.S. Mint Elizabeth Jones ‘57 as part of the Class of 1957’s twenty-fifth reunion celebration.
Former Dutchess County prosecutor G. Gordon Liddy, a Nixon administration official who served four and a half years in prison for his role as the head of the 1972 Watergate break-in, spoke in the Chapel. The address, "Government: Public Perception versus Reality," one he gave frequently on college campuses between 1981 and 1984, contained severe criticism of "Operation Eagle Claw," the Carter administration's failed attempt in 1980 to rescue American hostages in Iran, and reiterated Liddy's insistence that the Watergate break-in, while illegal, was not immoral.
A vocal group of students and faculty declared it wasn’t right or ethical to pay Liddy's $4,000 fee for speaking at the college.
Former Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox, professor at the Harvard Law School, legal scholar and chairman of Common Cause, spoke at Vassar’s 116th Commencement on “The Worst of Times: The Best of Times.” Fired from his post an special prosecutor by President Richard Nixon in the "Saturday Night Massacre" in 1973, Cox told the graduates, “I hope you will never become patient about the gap between what is and what ought to be, yet I hope you will have acquired from your years at Vassar a sense of perspective and an awareness that the one indestructible human quality is the ability of men and women to do things for the first time, to do what has never been done before.”
Speaking in a cold and steady rain, Cox challenged the graduating class, saying, “1983 will be a critical year. Will you help to muster the public pressure to excise this cancer, or will you acknowledge that the dream has died, that government of, by and for the people is to become government of money, by and for money?” The New York Times, Vassar Views
As part of a major strengthening and extension of its computing resources, Vassar purchased a Digital Equipment Corporation VAX II/780 computer, which featured a network of video terminals, messaging between terminals and a self-repair function. The substitution of 25 new terminals—in the computer center, science departments and Blodgett and Rockefeller Hall "clusters"—for the previous punch-card system made the new system, according to Keith Welch '83 in The Miscellany News, "better suited for academic use.... Beside these there are approximately 15 other micro-computers on campus which can also be hooked into the VAX, making them useable as terminals."
"A useful service of the Vax," Welch added, "is its ability to send electronic messages between terminals. If the recipient of the message is currently using the terminal, it is possible to 'phone' that person through the computer. Two-way communication is then set up through the terminals between the two locations. If the recipient is not 'on line' a message may be left for that person. The next time he uses that computer, it will inform him that he has a message. There is even a special 'GRIPE' location where complaint messages can be sent."
To accommodate the new equipment and terminal "clusters," all administrative offices in the Old Laundry Building were moved to Baldwin House or Main Building. Although there was not yet a computer science major, the main floor of the building was devoted to a computer science department with offices for faculty members in the field a terminal room and a smaller room for various micro-computers. Computer scientists Lilo De Campo, Martin Ringle, David Guichard and Nancy Ide were joined in the program by Michael Duffy and Frederic Chromey from the physics department, along with Professor of Astronomy and Director of the Vassar College Observatory Henry Albers. As acting chairman of the computer science department, Albers was assisted by Mark Resmer '85, an undergraduate British transfer student from the University of York with extensive computer training, who served as computer center manager.
"I'm very optimistic about the system," Resmer told the Misc. reporter. "It's very neat, very friendly, and I'd be glad if others who had bad experiences with the old machine would brave the new one." "The new computer," Albers added, "is for use by the entire campus."
Aided by a grant from the Pew Memorial Trust, Vassar purchased the journals of naturalist John Burroughs. Burroughs was a frequent visitor to the campus in the later 19th and early 20th centuries, and student groups visited him frequently at his Catskill retreat, Slabsides. Vassar’s first nature club, the Wake Robin Club, took its name from Burroughs’s “invitation to study Ornithology,” his book Wake-Robin (1871).
The 53 notebooks covered the period from May 13, 1876 until February 4, 1921, seven weeks before Burroughs's death at the age of 84. Although the notebooks were devoted principally to Burroughs's observations of nature, they also contained a wealth of literary comment. During his long life he was a friend of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, Thomas Carlyle, Oscar Wilde and Theodore Dreiser.
His notebooks also contained comments, sometimes caustic, on the political scene. In 1920, expressing his disappointment at the Senate's vote to keep the United States out of the League of Nations, Mr. Burroughs wrote in his daily log, "I am so intolerant of that gang of reactionaries in the Senate, led by Borah and Lodge, that more than ever I would like to see the Senate abolished. Let the House make the laws." The Vassar Encyclopedia
After passing both houses of Congress, the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) granting women rights equal to men under the law failed to be ratified by enough states by the June 30, 1982, deadline.
The college announced a grant of $250,000 from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to further educational programs in technology, mathematics and “analytic reasoning.” The foundation was concerned that “many students reach the end of their formal education poorly equipped with the kind of knowledge and skills they will need throughout their lives in a high-technology society.” New York Times
With a change in the state drinking age from 18 to 19, Vassar mandated that only beer and wine were permitted at parties and that the college’s liquor license be confined to the College Center. A new policy of hand-stamping students of legal age at any event where alcohol was served was also put into effect.
Eminent Indian playwright-director Balwant Gargi taught a four-week course on Indian drama. “The West leans heavily on verbal theater,” Gargi observed. “Indian tradition emphasizes body, rhythms and gestures which are distilled from life…Our actors and actresses know 36 types of glances and nine basic emotions like primary colors which are mixed to create any complex emotion or color.” The Miscellany News
"Its sort of funny bringing preppy to Vassar," said Lisa Birnbach, co-author of The Official Preppy Handbook (1980), lecturing in the Chapel on “Prep 101: The Original Preppy Program." "I've always thought Vassar brought preppy to the world." "Apparently," wrote Emily Whiting '85, in The Miscellany News, "Vassar students are preppier than we would like to admit.... And didn't Jackie Onassis and the brother of Lisa Birnbach...choose Vassar as their alma mater? Says Lisa Birbach, 'the fact that Jackie went here means a lot to me.' No comment regarding her brother."
Wesleyan University Professor of Philosophy Louis Mink gave a Philosopher's Holiday lecture on "Modes of Comprehension" in the Josselyn House living room. In an article in The Miscellany News, "Comprehending Mink," Glenn Edelman '87 said, "Mink introduced comprehension, 'the ubiquitous phenomenon,' by outlining its three modes: theoretical, configurative and categoreal (not categorical).... Mink believes a person should have an intellectual personality largely characterized by one mode. A liberal education allows a student to experiment with all three. This is what makes college an 'ivory tower of Babel.'"
Professor Mink wrote on theories of perception in Mind, History and Dialect: The Philosophy of R. G. Collingwood (1968), and as a Joycean he published A Finnegans Wake Gazetteer in 1978.
Walker Field House was completed after almost a year and a half of construction. Called "a super baby which had a gestationi period of ten years" by self-identified "trustee jock" Frances Prindle Taft, the 42,250 square foot facility, according to Dean of the Faculty Patrick Sullivan, embodied Matthew Vassar's ideal of "pure air and joyous, unrestrained activity." The Miscellany News
Jane Walker McKinney ’24, Margaret Walker Spofford ’26, Nancy Spofford Yerkes ’52 and Margaret Spofford ’61, through the Walker Foundation, gave $1.7 million for the construction of the facility. President Virginia Smith expressed the college’s gratitude: “This is the most important individual gift Vassar has received since I came here, and it, in effect, signals success for the building project. We are thrilled to have it and are deeply grateful to the Walkers.” New York Times
Classicist Marion Tait, dean of the faculty from 1948 until 1965, holder for many years of the Sarah Gibson Blanding Chair in Liberal Arts and Sciences and leader of several curricular initiatives, died after a long illness. During Tait’s tenure as dean she oversaw the return to the four-year bachelor's degree—shortened to three years during World War II. Instituting a new collegial relationship between the dean’s office and the faculty, Tait supported Vassar's participation in the "Five-College Project," a collaborative study of problems and prospects for teacher training within the liberal arts curriculum involving Vassar, Colgate, Cornell, Brooklyn College and the State University of New York at Fredonia that led to the creation of Vassar's innovative department of education in 1971.
Professor Tait returned to the dean's office in 1970-72 after the resignation in January 1970 of Dean Nell Eurich. She retired from teaching in 1977.
Professor of Drama William Rothwell directed Marika Blades '83 and Jon Tenney '84 in the opening production of the Vassar College theatre's season, a revival of Stage Door (1936) by George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber in Avery Hall. Writing in The Miscellany News, Lori Mason '85 said "The acting was enhanced by an elaborate set and functional lighting. The huge cast of Stage Door, along with numerous technical workers obvously put much time and effort into producing an overall exuberant and pleasing performance."
Psychologist and former drug cult leader Timothy Leary lectured on "futurism" in the Chapel, maintaining that the upcoming baby boomer generation would change the course of the future. In his talk, Leary promoted drug use, maintaining that drugs “enable us to have access to circuits of our brains that have never before been understood.”
Owing to his own extensive drug use, Leary confessed to thinking, “I’m the most intelligent person my age alive today.” The Miscellany News
Leary spoke at the college in March 1968.
Guests of the department of English, Eleanor Clark '34 and her husband Robert Penn Warren read from their works in Skinner Hall. A poet, novelist and literary critic, Warren won the 1947 Pulitzer Prize for fiction for his novel All the King’s Men (1946), and his poetry won Pulitzer Prizes in 1958 and 1979. Named a MacArthur fellow in 1981, he was the first United States Poet Laureate, in 1986. Clark’s The Oysters of Locmariaquer (1964) won the National Book Award in Arts and Letters in 1965.
Philosopher's Holiday lecturer Harry Frankfurt from Yale University spoke on the "Importance of What to Care About" in the Josselyn House living room. A student of moral philosophy, rationalism and free will Professor Frankfurt became a celebrity when his 1986 essay “On Bullshit,” published in book form by Princeton University Press in 2005, spent 27 weeks on the bestseller list of The New York Times.
"Peace is not our inheritance," said the Reverend Paul Rutgers from Poughkeepsie's First Presbyterian Church in his sermon in the Chapel on “The Things that Make for Peace.” "It is not our right, nor can we buy it on the cheap.... We pay for war with our dollars, with our cities, with our lives. We think that peace is free. We should found peace academies, pay retribution to victims of violence, bribe armies not to fight. At least we must try. A dollar for the Pentagon, a dollar for peace.”
"The nature of those people who truly work for peace," reported Christopher Ortiz '86 in The Miscellany News, "was the focal point of Rutgers's talk.... 'Peace does not begin with those who despair, but with those who hope. It does not begin with the wishers, but with the workers.'" The Miscellany News
The Office of the Dean of the College sponsored an all-college symposium on “Issues of Nuclear War.” “My purpose in establishing the all-college symposium,” said Dean of the College H. Patrick Sullivan, “is to provide an annual occasion when the Vassar College community--- and through it, a larger community—can focus upon widely shared concerns. For this first year of the symposium I chose the issues of nuclear war as the focus.” The Miscellany News
The keynote speaker, Yale psychohistorian Dr. Robert J. Lifton, speaking to a near-capacity audience in Walker Field House on “Beyond Nuclear Numbing—The Call to Awareness,” drew on his extensive study in 1962 of survivors of the bombing of Hiroshima to descrbe the four stages of their "lifelong immersion in death." Discussing the "psychic numbing" of the present age towards the horrors of nuclear war, Lifton "observed," wrote Seth Mandell '84 in The Miscellany News, "that a 'worship of nuclear weapons,' borne out of the arms race is not uncommon. The 'agent of our destruction becomes the object of our worship.' The awesome capacity of the weapons becomes romanticized to the point of delusion."
Another highlight of the symposium was a faculty panel on “The Contribution of the Academic Disciplines to an Understanding of the Issues,” featuring Michael Brown of the political science department, Professor of Biology Patricia Johnson, Stephen Rousseas of the economics department and Professor of Physics Morton Tavel. Other conference events included a performance by the Bread and Puppet Theatre troupe, film screenings, as well as talks by Professor of History Henry Steele Commager of Amherst on “Chaos and Catastrophe: The Limits of Nuclear War” and by Katherine D. Seelman, a specialist on technology and public policy from New York University, who addressed the moral dimension of nuclear weapons in remarks entitled “New Perils, New Challenges, New Ethics.”
Associate Professor of English Frank Bergon, director of the American Culture Program, spoke on “Issues for the Eighties: American Values in the Nuclear Age,” the first of seven lectures in a multidisciplinary course on "the nuclear crisis" that also included faculty from political science, psychology and economics. "The wrong values, ideals and attitudes," he said, "are evoked by contmeporary references to the West in the Nuclear Age."
Bergon, reported Walter Hamilton II '86 in The Miscellany News, "said Americans have a false ideal about [the] military superiority of this nation.... Bergon beiieves America sees itself as a legendary western cowboy much like the 'strong, silent and self-reliant' John Wayne type, who always emerges the victor in every battle. Because America sees itself as the invincible cowboy, it might prove quick to prove its continuing power with the assistance of nuclear weapons."
Other open lectures for the course included "The Economic Impact of the Arms Race" by economist Stephen Rousseas, “Women in Politics and Nuclear Arms” by Associate Professor of Political Science Mary Shanley and "The Social Psychology of the Nuclear Threat," given by Randolph Cornelius of the psychology department.
Peter Davison, professor of English and American Literature at the University of Kent in Canterbury, lectured on the process of creating a complete edition of George Orwell’s works. "Professor Davison is no amateur in the editing game," wrote Kerstin J. Warner '86 in The Miscellany News. "His interests and past publications include analytical bibliography, medieval literature, Shakespeare and now Orwell.... He shared with the audience some of the questions he had to face while editing his 15-volume [edition]. 'How do we know what Orwell wrote?' (Editors and typesetters interfered.) Do we print what he intended or what he intended to have printed?"
Davison explained how he attempted to bring Orwell’s original thoughts and work to the forefront. "Would Orwell have trusted me? What would he want?.... The editor is always in danger of becoming a co-author."
Professor Davison—whose edition of Orwell ran eventually to 20 volumes—spoke previously at Vassar in 1980 and 1981.
Discussing fraud and fabrication of scientific scholarship, Professor Harriet Zuckerman ’58 from Columbia University, a scholar of the social aspects of scientific research, lectured on “Deviant Behavior in Science.” "Time and effort is wasted," she said, "but there's not much damage done to science...it's trivial as compared to the damage done to the public opinion." For Zuckerman, reported Beth Gabler '84 in The Miscellany News, "deviant behavior" was "any behavior that goes against the norms of science:cognitive norms as well as moral and social norms which entail intentional sloppiness and self-deception."
Asking "what kind of control can be used to prevent these fraudulent acts...Zuckerman noted that there is nothing similar to the Bar Assocation for scientists that would disbar a scientist for disreputable acts. She maintained that the only type of control is the test of reproducibility." Finally, Zuckerman "examined what the consequences are of these acts. Zuckerman believes that public opinion is being damaged, as more Americans are becoming attracted to the various types of research currently being conducted."
The Vassar Art Gallery exhibited Degas and His Contemporaries, including etchings, lithographs and small sculptures by Degas, Manet, Cézanne , Toulouse-Lautrec and others. "The viewer," wrote Kerstin Warner '86 in The Miscellany News, "should remember that these pieces are basically sketches and studies by the artists, and not necessarily finished works. Through these sketches we get a clearer idea of how the artists arrived at their styles, techniques and artistic concepts."
Lecturing on “Eating Disorders in the 80’s,” Professor of Biology M.R.C. Greenwood ‘68 said, "Most people believe anorexia and obesity are caused by voluntary emotions, but there are often genetic problems behind these diseases." "Greenwood began," wrote Walter N. Hamilton '86 in The Miscellany News, "by defining eating disorders as obesity, anorexia and bolemia.... The diseases are genetic and familial, and are often caused [by] an excessiiveness of deficiency in sex hormones. This causes victims of obesity to either think they should constantly eat of makes them become hungry too frequently. The opposite is true for anorexia and bolemia." The Miscellany News
Thai princess Her Serene Highness Vudhichalerm Vudhijaya spoke in the Chapel about the 200-year-old Chakri Dynasty, of which she was a member. After discussing the history of the dynasty, the princess concluded by saying, “I hope Thailand will always be happy and free. We are happy because of our religion—Buddhism. We were taught that we were born to be happy. Day by day I think about what I have done to make people happy and myself. You mustn’t hate. You must love. Love brings happiness to others.” The Miscellany News
Philaletheis presented Arthur Miller’s seriocomic examination of humanity's beginning, The Creation of the World and Other Business (1972). Director Jonathan Tenney ‘84 added both music and dance, the latter choreographed by Lorellen Green '86, to Miller's fantasy, intending, wrote Catherine Lee '83 in The Miscellany News, "to present, through the use of many elements of the theatre, an examiination of the many facets of human nature and the relation of human nature to the dynamics of nuclear arms issues." The production, she said, "conveys with evocative vividness the complexity of the human situation now and in the beginning.... The mixture of frustration, pride, laughter, tenderness, jealousy and truth confuse as much as they illuminate the audience. The ending is therefore desperate or hopeful in different degrees in each member of the audience. Whether or not you laugh or cry more or become involved in the story or its characters, you will leave the theatre with your thoughts stimulated in many directions." The Miscellany News
Historian Dr. Robert Butow of the University of Washington at Seattle spoke in Josselyn House living room on his recent discovery— tapes made by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the Oval Office. During a break in his work at the Roosevelt Library in Hyde Park, NY, Professor Butow, a scholar of Japanese history, jokingly said to the library’s director and the head of the audio-visual department—thinking of the revelation in 1973 of the tapes of President Nixon—“I’m tired of reading, now can I hear the Roosevelt tapes?” To his surprise, the answer was “Oh sure, I’ll bring you a list of what’s available.”
Apparently to avoid being misquoted about private conversations, Roosevelt installed an experimental recording system in the Oval Office. The system, tested during press conferences, was difficult to turn off and therefore it made some very poor quality recordings of the President’s private remarks. Butow said that there were no great revelations on the tapes—Roosevelt spoke disparagingly about the Japanese and once told Secretary of State Cordell Hull that he intended to lie if reporters asked him if he had knowledge of a statement by Japan’s premier—but that the scratchy recordings did confirm Roosevelt’s easy and reassuring manner in his “fireside chats” as his normal manner when speaking informally to friends and close associates. Barry Fox, “Now the Roosevelt tapes…,” New Scientist, Feb. 4, 1982.
Leonor A. Huper, Consul General of Nicaragua, lectured on "Turmoil in Central America: A Post-Revolution View" in the Josselyn Living Room. Huper began by speaking about United States-Nicaragua relations: “From 1799 to 1942 the U.S. has invaded Latin American 92 times,” he said. “Nicaragua has been intervened in 10 times out of the 92.”
Tracing a series of invasions dating back to the middle of the 19th century, she said, "In 1912 a Marine force entered Nicaragua and remained for 20 years.... The last Marine left Nicaragua in 1932, but the U.S. decided to leave Nicaragua with an aarmy. The man chosen as general of the army was a friend of the American minister. In 1934 he ousted the president of Nacaragua and became president for life."
"In 1979," Huper declared, "that was the beginning of revolution. Revolution means change. We wanted a change that would come from the people up." Much good, she claimed, had come from the Sandinista overthrow of the U.S. supported Somoza dictatorship, saying, “Do you think a revolution that does something for its people is bad? We have had a taste of freedom. Everybody, men and women, know what to do to defend their country, and they are willing to do it.” The Miscellany News
Irish philosopher, theologian and translator John Joseph O'Meara from University College Dublin, the Blegen Visiting Distinguished Research Professor, lectured on "St. Augustine’s Understanding of the Creation and Fall," focusing on books eleven through thirteen of Confessions, in Taylor Hall. "Augustine's text," reported Catherine Lee '83, "speaks of man, homo, or human beings as genus, rather than man, vir, the male sex.... O'Meara stressed Augustine's sympathy for women, which made him exceptional in the context of his Roman upbringing.
"Professor O’Meara’s The Creation of Man in St. Augustine’s De Genesi Ad Literam was published by the Augustinian Institute in 1980.
The Blegen visiting professorship was established in 1975 in honor of Elizabeth Pierce Blegen ’10 and association with Vassar College by a bequest from her husband, classicist and archeologist Carl Blegen.
Professor Michael Witter of the University of the West Indies, former Cabinet Advisor to Prime Minister of Jamaica Michael Manley, spoke about 20th century political thought “From Garvey to Ras Tafari” as part of an Africana Studies Lecture Series on “Black Political Thought.” Witter described Ras Tafarian nationalism—so named in honor of Ras Tafari who, as Halie Silasse, became the King of Ethiopa in 1930—as a second movement in Jamaican nationalism, following on "Bourgeois nationalism." "In the 1960s," he explained, "the Jamaican economy grew through foreign investment; the kind of growth that brought an unequal distribution of income."
The Rastafari movement proclaimed the Pan-Africanism of early 20th century Jamaican leader Marcus Garvey as its guiding principle. "The Ras Tarfari," wrote Christopher Ortiz '86 in The Miscellany News, "sought repatriation to the African homeland. 'Rastafara is the embodiment of this repatriation,' he said. The importance of the Ras Tafarian movement is that its philosophy articulated the true feelings of political thought as the masses saw it.... In Jamaica you have a history of an independent peasantry. Its primary articulation has been through Reggae music." The Miscellany News
Professor of Economics Stephen W. Rousseas lectured on “The Economic Impact of the Arms Race” in Rockefeller Hall as part of the American Culture lecture series “Issues for the Eighties.” Rousseas asserted that the increasing amount of money needed for the arms race against the USSR had resulted in the dismantling of parts of the social safety net. Reagonomics, said Rousseas, would consolidate the wealth in the hands of the rich, "repoliticizing" the distribution of income.
"Rousseas half-jokingly," wrote Philip Boroff '85 in The Miscellany News, "asserted: 'A war would get us out of this mess.' But those in power seem to realize that 'wars are getting too dangerous.' So the logical conclusion is just to have an arms race. In real terms, the government is spending 200 billion dollars per year, or 1.6 trillion dollars in the next six years for arms."
German-American pianist, composer and conductor Lukas Foss provided "live program notes" for his program in Skinner Hall, presented by the music department in observance of his sixtieth birthday. After a performance of J.S. Bach’s Concerto in D minor BWV 1052 by Mr. Foss and a student quartet drawn from the Vassar Orchestra, the evening turned to Foss's own compositions, for which, reported Joanne Holiday '84 in The Miscellany News, "the composer delivered live program notes. Following the March and Andante, performed by Todd Crow and Richard Wilson, Foss said these were the first pieces for which he ever got paid. 'I got fifty dollars,' he said.
"Foss composed the March and Andante at age 16. Foss said “Music for Six” was[n't] a typical work since he usually writes for specific instruments 'It should be a weird array of instruments,' he said, 'any six' Each part alternates between two notes at close intervals, or repeats a pattern of four notes." The six performers were: Carl Gutowski '83, flute; Gordon Green '83, vibraphone; Diane Roberts '86, mirimba; Todd Crow, piano, College Organist Merellyn Gallagher, piano; and Brian Mann, electric piano.
Foss said his inspiration for “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird," the poem of the same name by American poet Wallace Stevens, was a "combination of the humorous and the mysterious that interested him. 'You can't explain it in rational, logical terms.'" With Blanca Uribe at the keyboard, Charles Barbour struck the strings of the piano wth mallots, rubbed them with the bottoms of two pyrex bowls or dropped the bowls onto them and scraped the flat side of a metal bell along the the coiled strings. Soprano Carol Wilson closed the piece by singing into a delayed-replay tape recorder, which created a duet with her own echo.... The concert received a standing ovation." The Miscellany News
Lukas Foss's daughter, Eliza, was a member of the Class of 1984.
Ursuline nun and Professor of Chemistry Mary Virginia Orna from the College of New Rochelle lectured on “Pigment Analysis of Medieval Armenian Manuscripts” in Sanders Chemistry.
The European historian and founding history editor of Feminist Studies, Judith Walkowitz of Rutgers University, lectured on “Jack the Ripper: Reaction to Violence and Sexuality in Victorian England” in Rockefeller Hall. Walkowitz held that men were pleased when the five Jack the Ripper murders frightened Victorian women who were beginning to assert themselves.
Bernard Kalb, State Department television news correspondent for NBC, well-known for his coverage of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s “shuttle diplomacy,” lectured in the Chapel on "Israel and the Middle-East: New Approaches to an Old Dilemma.” Kalb said the "question is central," reported Bonnie Stollowicz '84, in The Miscellany News, "At present , 700,000 Palestinians and 25,000 Israelis live on the West Bank. Kalb used these figures to make the point that the West Bank conflict in a 'question chiseled in the conscience of the Israelis.'"
Sociologist Stephen Steinberg from Queens College of the City University of New York, the author of The Ethnic Myth: Race, Ethnicity and Class in America (1981), lectured on “Ethnic Heroes and Villains in American Social Science” in the Villard Room. Professor Steinberg asserted, “It’s not the culture but rather the cultural condition by social-class which provides an explanation for why some groups ‘make it’ and others do not.” The Miscellany News
Jane Calloman Arkus ’50 and Leon Arkus donated a sculpture entitled Swirl (1979) by New York artist Jack Youngerman to the Vassar Art Gallery. When the lobby of Main Building was redesigned by Cesar Pelli in 1996, this work was placed at the new entrance to the College Center.
New York State changed the drinking age from 18 to 19, prompting the college to bar all students under the age of 19 from entering Matthew’s Mug.
The college added to The Elizabeth Bishop Papers, acquiring the correspondence of poet Elizabeth Bishop ’34 with Pulitzer-Prize winning poet James Merrill and also her correspondence with her physician and lifetime friend, Dr. Anny Baumann. Vassar acquired the bulk of Bishop’s papers from her estate in 1981.
Over 1,600 students signed a petition circulated by the Committee For Free Choice in Housing supporting coed housing in the terrace apartments and town houses. Chair of the committee Ilena Silverman ‘84 said of the effort, “It’s been this way (single-sex housing) for a long time….but there’s been no organized effort aimed at changing the situation. This will show the administration the students feel strongly about their right to choose with whom they want to live.” The Miscellany News
On February 24, President Virginia Smith announced that 50 percent of townhouses and terrace apartments would be allowed to be coeducational.
The College Center Art Gallery exhibited photographs by Ruth Gilbert, whose career came about late in life. The wife of an international banker and economist living in Paris and Basel, Switzerland, she bought her first camera in an airport in Asia in 1972 at the age of 62 and confided in an interview several years before her death at 97 in 2007 that the first three rolls of film she exposed came out black because she didn’t understand how to load the camera.
Living principally in California after the death of her husband, she showed her work there and in the New York galleries. Some of her work also appeared in the international photography magazine Zoom. Several photographs from a series on the butchers of the Rue de Seine are in the collection of the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris. Los Angeles Times art critic David Pagel noted that “Gilbert’s butchers have the presence of angels. They seem to inhabit a weightless and timeless world in which every one of their movements is guided by a power greater than their own.” Jon Thurber, “Ruth Gilbert, 97; later bloomer with a camera, host to glitterati in Paris,” The Los Angeles Times
The college announced a gift from the Utopia Fund of New York City, over $2.3 million establishing two Sarah Tod Fitz Randolph ‘45 Professorships and further subsidizing the existing Sarah Tod Fitz Randolph ‘45 Scholarship Fund.
President Virginia Smith announced a new Executive-in-Residence program, through which leaders in business would come to campus, deliver a major address and interact with groups of students in order to reach a “maximum intimacy between the visiting executive and Vassar students and faculty.”
Smith hoped that the new program would allow liberal arts students to see how their studies fit into the American business world—“We cannot directly train students for the job market in the classroom, so we have to try to do whatever we can outside the classes.” The Miscellany News
The following March, the president, general counsel and director of Arnold Bernhard and Company, investing specialist Dorothy Berry ’65 was the first Executive-in-Residence.
WVKR began a weekly interview show, "VKR Voice." The first guest was ABC news correspondent Bill Diehl. Other guests included Mid-Hudson Legal Services executive director Dan Meyers, Nancy Palatucci of the American Cancer Society’s Dutchess County unit, wine expert Professor of Physics Morton Tavel and Poughkeepsie police officers Paul Holt and Fred Jankowski.
President Virginia Smith held a question and answer session, during which she criticized a recent law linking draft registration to federal financial aid. The board chairman of the Association of American Colleges (ACC), Smith announced a resolution adopted by the AAC asking Congress to reconsider the law. "President Smith," reported Steven Kauderer in The Miscellany News, "called the law 'penalty without due process.' Furtheremore, she added that it discriminates against college students who need financial aid (as opposed to students who do not."
Smith also reported that The Energy Resource Management Co. (THERM) would begin a study of energy consumption and usage. Smith said the company would “participate fully in the implementation of their recommendations and provide training for Vassar College personnel.” She also announced that actres Meryl Streep '71 would be the speaker at Commencement. Smith released a press statement saying, "We are most excited about welcoming Meryl Streep back to Vassar as the speaker for our 119th graduation. At the age of 33, she is often described as the most talented actress in the country, admired for the depth of her emotion and the range of her talent. She is obviously an intelligent woman—after all, she was graduated from Vassar with honors!—educated in the liberal arts tradition. Success has not clouded her view of what’s important in her life nor diminished the strength of her character. I know her thoughts and example will be of great value to the young men and women in the graduating class.” The Miscellany News, News from Vassar
A new student publication, MaleMouth appeared. Written “by and for those who are secure with their sex” about “things that are unique to the male condition in the world as well as in Vassar,” the first issue addressed topics such as shaving and laundry.
Some students felt that MaleMouth mocked the feminist publication Womanspeak, but co-editor Benjamin Swett ’84 insisted that MaleMouth “wasn’t supposed to be a lampoon of another publication…Womanspeak is a fine publication and I enjoy it.” The Miscellany News
An installation of feminist and public artist Peggy Diggs’s work, “FORCES,” opened in the Taylor Hall sculpture gallery. Diggs painted the walls black—"This space was stark with an institutional air to it," she told Kerstin Warner '86, "Black creates a more informal, more intimate climate—and led her viewers by walkways of words throughout the gallery. "To experience this exhibit," wrote Warner, in The Miscellany News, "Diggs channels the viewers through five alleyways, running the length of the gallery each with a separate two-word phrase repeated several times along their sides. The red FORCES letters hang down only inches about the viewer's head, while his path is controlled by the pathways constructed of words. In the background, the walls are black with colorful 'swirling, dotlike forms,' Diggs describes."
The artist, a member of the faculty at Williams College, said, “I’m interested in dealing with an entire architectural space rather than just setting objects inside of it. I enjoy playing with ‘walkwayness.’” The Miscellany News
Ballet Hispanico performed a combination of American and Hispanic dance in recital in Avery Hall. Founded in New York City in 1970, the company was resident at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM).
A ballet instructional/performance film created by Vassar ballet instructor Jeanne Periolat Czula, Vassar physical education instructor Roman Czula and Poughkeepsie Ballet dancer Phillip Otto was screened in the College Center.
The Delegate Assembly created “written guidelines” for VSA organizations, including a non-discrimination clause and a requirement for club constitutions.
The Vassar Art Gallery presented work by Assistant Professor of Art Peter Charlap, Lecturer in Art Harry Roseman and Assistant Professor of Art Richard Ryan.
An all-campus meeting was held, during which community members participated in small discussion groups, shared a meal, attended an assembly and enjoyed an all-campus party.
Chaplain Allison Stokes wrote of the meeting, “The College is now passing through a difficult period which tests its integrity as a sustaining community…The tension, distress, academic pressure, intolerance of others, the sense of isolation, the lack of civility and the financial worries of which so many students have spoken have convinced us of the need to act now, to explore together the sources of these recent tensions and to seek for ways to address them appropriately.” The Miscellany News
Emmy award-winning African-American journalist and television commentator Gil Noble lectured and screened a film, The Life of Malcolm X, in the Chapel. “I think it’s very important,” the host of the ABC News program Like It Is said, “that we understand the enormous legacy embodied in the man of Malcolm X…. There is a direct connection between what happened in those days and your existence here now, and what lies ahead in the future.”
Noble challenged his audience, “What would people like Malcolm X—who fought and bled to get black students into Vassar—say about your behavior today? Would they shake your hand or shake your neck?”
Declaring that society’s institutions had created a “counterculture designed to put (young people) to sleep,” Noble demanded that the students wake-up, telling black students to have a “clearness about their Africanness” and encouraging all students to get involved. “Student involvement,” he concluded, “is a sign of a healthy society.” The Miscellany News
“I got to learn about operas by writing one. I was lucky,” composer Philip Glass said, speaking in Skinner Hall about his opera Satyagraha (1980). His appearance at Vassar preceded a presentation of the work in the evening at the Bardavon 1869 Opera House in Poughkeepsie. The three-act work depicted seven events in the “creative years,” 1893-1914, of Mahatma Gandhi’s life, The text, from the Bhagavad Gita, was in the original Sanskrit, "for the simple reason," reported The Miscellany News, "that most people cannot understand words sung in an operatic style. They are distracted from the overall effect while they are straining for the words."
The Vassar Gospel Choir and the Rainbow Singers performed in the Villard Room.
Reverend Jesse Bottoms of the Poughkeepsie Beulah Baptist Church spoke in the Chapel as part of Black Weekend.
Ultimate Frisbee teams from Manhattanville, New Paltz and Bard came to an invitational tournament hosted by Vassar. The home team finished in second place, and co-captain Jonathan Rubin ’86 said, “We played the best game of the year…Our organization, our teamwork was at a high like I’ve never seen before. Truly outstanding.” The Miscellany News
Associate Professor of History Jonathan C. Clark died suddenly at the age of 41. Clark, an expert on New York colonial and revolutionary history, joined the faculty in 1973.
Journalist Dennis King lectured on “Nazis Without Swastikas” in Cushing house. King accused the National Democratic Policy Committee of being a front by which neo-Nazis were attempting to take control of the Democratic Party, singling out activist and political leader Lyndon LaRouche in particular. King’s Lyndon LaRouche and the New American Fascism was published by Doubleday in 1989.
Philaletheis presented Godspell in the Aula. 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. A Godspell touring company performed at Vassar in 1977.
Assistant Professor of Chemistry Paul C. Chrostowski lectured on “Chemical Ecology: Organic Carbon Cycling in a Pine Barrens Ecosystem,” focusing on the Pine Barrens of New Jersey.
Vassar guitarist Terry Champlin performed with the Capitol Chamber Artists in Skinner Hall. The Capitol Chamber Artists, based in Albany, was founded in 1970.
Guitarist and satirical songwriter Fred Small performed socially conscious songs at the Noyes West End Coffeehouse. His program included “Supply Side Economics,” “Dig a Hole in the Ground or How to Prosper During the Coming Nuclear War” and “I Lost that Pretty Little Girl to Title IX.” Small also sang about the civil war in El Salvador, in which the United States was heavily involved.
Using the story of Cinderella and her two stepsisters as an example, Professor Ann Bedford Ulanov from Union Theological Seminary lectured on envy in Josselyn House living room. Dr. Ulanov’s book Cinderella and Her Sisters: The Envied and the Envying (1983) was followed by Picturing God in 1986.
The board of trustees voted to raise tuition, room and board $1,160 or 11 percent for the 1983-1984 academic year, bringing the total to $11,660. President Smith, in her letter to the student body, cited inflation, loss of federal aid and skyrocketing gas prices as reasons for the increase.
Also at the February meeting, the Trustees requested that President Smith write a letter opposing a proposed amendment that would deny financial aid to students who did not register for the selective service system.
The co-founder of the Sex Information and Education Council of the United States, Dr. Mary Steichen Calderone '25, former medical director of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (1953-1964), came to the campus as the President’s Distinguished Visitor.
Dr. Calderone lectured on “Children and Parents as Sexual Beings” in the Chapel. Asserting that sexuality did not begin with puberty, she said, “It is possible today to state categorically that children feel and behave sexually even from before birth, and that from year one to year five, the development of sexual behavior and thinking will parallel closely the rapid development of language during the same years.”
During her visit Calderone spoke with Vassar classes and local community professionals, and she held an informal “tea talk,” during which she discussed the necessity of not teaching children that sexuality was “bad” and of explaining that it was a part of life with proper places and times for its expression. The Miscellany News, The New York Times
Novelist Hilma Wolitzer, author of Ending (1974), In the Flesh (1977) and Hearts (1980), was the English department’s writer-in-residence. On Feb. 17, Wolitzer read from her work in progress in the Josselyn House living room.
The Library Committee voted to ban food and vending machines from the library. Head Librarian David Paulus cited “some evidence that food and drink has damaged books.” The Miscellany News
Benjamin Sasway, the first student to be convicted for failing to register after the Carter Administration reinstated the selective service system in 1980, spoke about draft resistance in the Villard Room. Sentenced to 2 ½ years in prison, Sasway was paroled after serving six months.
Learning of his indictment in 1982, Sasway told the press, ''The Government has chosen to prosecute me to intimidate the 500,000 people who did not register for the draft. I urge these resisters to stand firm, without fear. I ask people appalled by hatred and violence, who believe in freedom and who oppose militarism, to stand by me in protest. We can't forget that it is our Government and we have the power, if we act together, to change and improve it.” New York Times
Former Vassar faculty member Milfred C. Fierce, under whose leadership the Black Studies Program began in 1969, led a lecture-discussion on South Africa in the New England Building.
The Vassar Jewish Students’ Union held a rally in honor of National Soviet Jewry Solidarity Day, February 23, with speeches by former state representative Hamilton Fish and recent Soviet Jewish immigrant Boris Lipkin.
In a brief residency at Vassar, avant-garde choreographer and dancer Merce Cunningham and dance filmmaker Charles Atlas gave a film presentation, showing Cunningham’s dance movies Locale (1979) and Channels/Inserts (1981). The films were again shown on February 27th.
The following day the Merce Cunningham Dance Company performed in Kenyon Hall in a Dickinson-Kayden event.
Mildred Bernstein Kayden ’42 established the fund in 1966 in honor of the late Professor of Music George Sherman Dickinson.
Irish poet and translator Derek Mahon read his work in Josselyn House living room. Mahon’s collection The Hunt By Night appeared from Oxford University Press in 1982.
Flora Lewis, foreign and diplomatic correspondent for The New York Times, lectured on “Foreign Policy in Changing World” in the Villard Room. Insisting that American foreign policy should be relatively consistent, Lewis deplored the apparent assumption that it should change with every presidential administration.
Lewis held an informal discussion in the Villard Room the next day.
Professor of Religious Studies Hans W. Frei from Yale University lectured on “Nazism and the Churches Under Hitler” in the Rose Parlor.
Former CIA agent and current agency critic John Stockwell lectured in the Villard Room on Central Intelligence Agency activities in Angola. The chief of the CIA’s Angola Task Force during covert operations in the civil war in the former Portuguese colony, Stockwell resigned in 1976, citing his concern that the extent and nature of the agency’s covert operations, as exemplified in its “proxy war” with the Soviet Union in Angola, constituted a “Third World War.” He meant by this both that the scope and destruction of CIA actions were commensurate with earlier world wars and that the efforts’ “enemy” were the countries of the “third world” in Africa and Asia.
Stockwell’s book, In Search of Enemies: A CIA Story was published in 1978.
Carl Berry, deputy superintendent of Green Haven Prison lectured on “Prisons in Crisis” in New England Building. In 1979, Professor of Religion Lawrence Mamiya began the conversations between Vassar students and inmates at the maximum security prison in Stormville, New York, which developed into his popular course called “The Prison Experience in America.
The Drama Department presented Between Two Thieves in the Powerhouse Theatre. Warner LeRoy’s two-act experimental play—which engages the audience as the actors, drawing new roles for each performance, conduct a “retrial” of Jesus, drawing on such “witnesses” as Pilate, Mary, Joseph, Caiphas and Judas—was adapted from Processeo A Gesu (1950) by the Italian playwright Diego Fabbri.
New York City NewsCenter 4 reporter Bob Teague; Philadelphia Inquirer editor Constance Rosenblaum; WNYC radio news director Marty Goldensohn and Professor Penn Kimball from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism participated in a panel on “News Business or Show Business,” discussing the approaches, constraints and purposes of television, radio and print journalism.
The fifth annual Spring Seminar on Academic Planning—a student-faculty panel, an information session and discussions—encouraged freshmen to consider their academic options and futures at Vassar.
Jazz legend Lionel Hampton and his orchestra performed at the Spring Formal.
A conservative student publication, The Vassar Spectator, published its first edition. Editor-in-Chief Jonathan H. Mann ‘83 said, “We are a conservative publication, but we resent being labeled. By labeled I mean supporting one specific political platform. We hope to print some articles that are totally unrelated to politics and are of interest to the community.” The Miscellany News
Vassar soprano Carol Wilson performed Handel’s Lucrezia, Richard Strauss’s Drei Leider der Ophelia, songs by Charles Ives, and selections from Brahms. Wilson was accompanied by Associate Professor Blaca Uribe on piano, Barbara Bogantin on violoncello and Visiting Assistant Professor of Music Brian Mann on harpsichord.
The history and political science departments joined the Women’s Studies program and Feminist Union to sponsor a film series on women and union activity. Among the films shown were: With Babies and Banners (1979), The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter (1980), Union Maids (1976) and The Wilmar 8 (1981).
Vassar’s first executive-in-residence, Dorothy Berry ’65, the president, general counsel, and director of Arnold Bernhard and Co., the publisher of Value Line services, spoke on “The Stock Market: Myth and Reality.” The executive-in-residence program brought business leaders to the campus who spoke at a community breakfast to Mid-Hudson business and civic leaders and Vassar community members and who then met with classes and spoke informally with students about their careers and their experiences in the workplace.
The American Culture Program celebrated its 10th anniversary with a party.
An exhibit in the Vassar College Art Gallery, Photo-Collecting at Vassar: 100 years +10, included photographs by Diane Arbus, Walker Evans, Lewis Wickes Hine, Edward Weston, Andre Kertesz and Len Jenshel.
On April 24, a panel discussion of the exhibit included its guest curator Anne Hoene Hoy ’63; photographer Lynn Davis; Life magazine picture editor John Loengard; photographic historian and Visiting Lecturer in Art Marjorie Munsterberg and New York photography dealer and critic Daniel Wolf.
Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull (1896) was performed in Avery Hall.
Philaletheis presented Lanford Wilson’s Talley’s Folly (1979), directed by Judy Davis ’83, in Rockefeller Hall. The second play in Wilson’s Talley Trilogy, the play won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1980.
The Vassar Repertory Dance Theatre performed in Kenyon Hall, featuring works by Frederica Wolch ’83 and early 20th century modern dancer and choreographer Doris Humphrey.
Feminist folksinger Judy Gorman-Jacobs gave a songwriting workshop and concert at Noyes West End Coffeehouse. Gorman-Jacobs’s album Right Behind You in the Left-Hand Lane was released in 1982.
Vassar cellist Luis Garcia-Renart and pianist Todd Crow, associate professor of music, performed in Skinner Hall.
Philaletheis presented and David Claypoole ‘84 directed Pick of the Pirates, an adaptation of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance, as part of Mug Theatre.
President and CEO of Time Inc. J. Richard Munro, Vassar’s second executive-in-residence, lectured in the Villard Room on “Repairing the ‘Safety Net’: Business Should Care.”
The executive-in-residence program brought business leaders to the campus who spoke at a community breakfast to Mid-Hudson business and civic leaders and Vassar community members and who then met with classes and spoke informally with students about their careers and their experiences in the workplace.
The last open reading of the semester’s Student Reading Series, in the Main Building Faculty Parlor, featured work by Jeffrey Fligelman ‘85, Michael Church ‘84, Richard Koreto ‘84, Jennifer O’Grady ‘85, Rebecca Reynolds ‘84, Nicholas Katz ‘86, Dan Silverman ‘84, Gavin Maloney ‘84, Miriam Wolfenstein ‘86 and Eric Salk ‘83.
Jesuit priest and former U.S. congressman from Massachusetts Robert F. Drinan, the president of Americans for Democratic Action, lectured on "Guns vs. Butter as a 1984 Campaign Issue" in the Chapel. During his address, Drinan criticized President Regan’s record, citing the domestic deficit, the cuts to social program, the lack of action on arms control, the Strategic Defense Initiative, American intervention in Nicaragua and El Salvador and worsening relations with the Soviet Union, Drinan called President Reagan, an “enemy of government.” In conclusion he encouraged the students to mobilize in anticipation of the 1984 presidential election.
German-American computer scientist Professor Joseph Weizenbaum from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology lectured on “Computer Power and Human Reason: Ethical Issues of Artificial Intelligence” in New England Building. The developer in 1964 and 1965 of a “conversational” program he called Eliza after the heroine of Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, Weizenbaum was troubled by its perception both among scientists and by the general public as having “intelligence.” His analysis of the dangers of this misconception in Computer Power and Human Reason: From Judgment to Calculation (1976) led to his estrangement from the growing community of cognitive scientists.
Children’s author and poetry anthologist Lee Bennett Hopkins lectured on “Teaching Children Writing” in Blodgett Hall. The prolific author was a determined advocate of the importance of encouraging children to read and to write poetry.
A national advocate for abused and neglected children, Dr. Vincent J. Fontana, professor of clinical pediatrics at New York University’s College of Medicine and medical director and pediatrician-in-chief of the New York Foundling Hospital Center for Parent and Child Development, lectured on “Child Abuse” in the Villard Room. The personal physician at one time to both President Dwight D. Eisenhower and New York’s Cardinal Francis Spellman, Dr. Fontana, a pediatrician by training, was co-author of The Maltreated Child: The Maltreatment Syndrome in Children: A Medical, Legal and Social Guide (1964) and author of Somewhere a Child is Crying: Maltreatment—Causes and Prevention (1973, rev. 1983).
Brandeis Master’s student Laura Berkson ‘80 performed at the Noyes West End Coffee House.
The Vassar Night Owls and the Yale S.O.B.s performed in the Villard Room.
Vassar’s Feminist Union sponsored the annual Women’s Weekend. As part of the weekend, New York City consultant Janet Cuttings Feldman spoke on "Feminism and the Feminine.” Former National Organization for Women (NOW) president Eleanor Smeal also lectured.
The weekend was also celebrated with a dance and a stage production of Foodfights an investigation of eating disorders performed by a Massachusetts theater group.
A “Spring thing” all-campus art festival—featuring games, dances, performances, and exhibits—was held in Rockefeller hall and on the library lawn. The event was prompted by the sense that more community events were necessary—something articulated at the February 2, 1983 all-campus meeting.
Mozart’s Bastien and Bastienne, directed by Assistant Professor of Drama Elizabeth St. John Villard ‘67, and Haydn’s La Canterina, directed by Assistant Professor of Music Carol Wilson, were performed in Skinner Hall. The one-act comic opera, Bastien and Bastienne, written by the 12-year-old Mozart in 1768, was first performed in 1890, and Haydn’s two-act opera buffa was written in 1766.
A Holocaust Memorial service was held in honor of Holocaust Observance Week.
The English Beat and R.E.M. performed in Kenyon Hall. The less well-known R.E.M. opened for The English Beat on their tour, but R.E.M. eventually went on to greater success with It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine) (1987), Losing My Religion (1991) and Everybody Hurts (1993).
The American Culture program sponsored a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge to commemorate the structure’s 100th anniversary. Students also viewed an exhibit about the bridge at the Brooklyn Museum.
Former college chaplain George Williamson preached in the Chapel.
British medievalist R.W. Southern, Sometime President of St. John’s College, University of Oxford, gave the C. Mildred Thompson ‘03 Lecture on "Reason, Passion, and the Position of Women: a 12th Century Paradox" in the Villard Room. Professor Southern’s The Making of the Middle Ages (1953) established his eminence in the field and was followed by such works as St. Anselm and His Biographer: A Study of Monastic Life and Thought, 1059-c.1130 (1963), Medieval Humanism and Other Studies (1970) and Robert Grosseteste: The Growth of an English Mind in Medieval Europe (1986).
Belgian-born animal rights activist Henry Spira, founder in 1974 of Animal Rights International, lectured in Rockefeller Hall. His successful campaigns against the American Museum of Natural History’s experimentation on cats in 1977 and on Revlon’s blinding of rabbits in toxicity tests in 1980 drew public attention to his organization and his method of publicly shaming rather than physically protesting or attacking his targets.
“John Burroughs Day: A Symposium” was highlighted by an exhibition of Burroughs’s newly-acquired journals and several discussions. Panel participants included: President Smith, Professor Emeritus of Biology Margaret Wright, Associate Professor of English and Director of the American Culture Program Frank Bergon, Curator of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Lisa Browar, Associate Professor of English H.R. Stonebeck from the State University of New York at New Paltz and John Burroughs’s granddaughter, Elizabeth Burroughs Kelley.
Other symposium events included a visit to Burroughs’s Catskill retreat, Slabsides in West Park, NY, and a film and slide series on the naturalist at SUNY New Paltz.
Burroughs was a frequent visitor to the campus in the later 19th and early 20th centuries, and student groups visited him frequently at Slabsides. Vassar’s first nature club, the Wake Robin Club, took its name from Burroughs’s “invitation to study Ornithology,” his book Wake-Robin (1871).
Eugene O’Neill’s Dynamo (1929), directed by Herman Farrell ‘83,was performed in the Powerhouse Theater.
Poughkeepsie punk-rock band Agitpop performed New Wave dance music at the Noyes West End Coffee House.
John Irving, author of The Hotel New Hampshire (1981) and The World According to Garp (1978) read from his work in progress in the Chapel. That work, The Cider House Rules, was published in 1985.
Spanish playwright Federico García Lorca’s The Shoemaker’s Prodigious Wife (1930) was performed in Avery Hall.
VSA President Herman Farrell ‘83 requested a “formal, objective, and careful review of the administrative leadership and its goals” in his convocation address, mirroring sentiments expressed by the chair of the Faculty Policy and Conference Committee and a recent petition by the Senior Class.
Approximately 40 students rallied after convocation, protesting the VSA budget which cut funding to political and minority clubs.
The Clifford Jordan Quintet and the Walter Booker Duo with pianist John Hicks performed jazz in Skinner Hall.
Associate Professor of Geology Karen Lukas and Associate Professor of Anthropology L. Lewis Johnson gave a Sigma XI lecture on “Natural History and Cultural History: Galapagos Islands and Machu Picchu” in Sanders Physics. Sigma Xi, an honorary scientific fraternity open to faculty members with associate membership for outstanding students, had 500 chapters nationally. Vassar established Sigma Xi at the club level in 1959 and an active chapter of Sigma Xi in 1995.
Visiting Lecturer in Drama Elizabeth White directed Meg Inglima ‘83, Dow Flint Kowalczyk ‘83 and Jens Krummel ‘83 in their reading of Russell Davis’s The Further Adventures of Sally (1982) in the Powerhouse Theatre. Davis attended all three readings.
The biology department marked Professor of Biology Anita Zorzoli’s retirement and its ten years in residence in Olmsted hall with a brunch discussion, cocktails and dinner and a symposium. Guest speakers included molecular physiologist Jessica Schwartz ‘67 from the University of Michigan, endocrinologist Dr.Jeanne Li ’66 of the Milton S. Hershey Medical School and Professor of Biology M.R.C. Greenwood’ 68.
Meryl Streep ’71, Academy Award winning actress for Sophie’s Choice (1982) and Kramer vs. Kramer (1979), delivered the 1983 Commencement address entitled “The Secret that You Know.” Streep spoke to the graduating class as “peers,” encouraging them not to lapse into complacency, but instead to “integrate what you believe into every single area of your life. Take your heart to work and ask the most and best of everybody else too.”
“That choice, between the devil and the dream,” Streep counseled the class of 1983, “comes up every day in different little disguises…. My advice is to look the dilemma in the face and decide what you can live with. If you can live with the devil, Vassar hasn’t sunk her teeth into your leg the way she did mine. But that conscience, that consciousness of quality and the need to demand it can galvanize your energies, not just in your work, but in every aspect of your life.”
“What you can take away from Vassar,” Streep concluded, “is a taste for excellence that needn’t diminish.” Vassar Views
In its first hosting of programs intended to increase summer use of the campus, Vassar welcomed an IBM and Educational Testing Service summer program, created in the hope of “increasing the use of computers in high school curriculum.” Vassar professors instructed Hudson Valley teachers in computing and, in return, were given 15 personal computers and printers by IBM. Thirteen other summer programs including sports camps, a ballet festival, a “Career Opportunity Institute” designed for Vassar juniors, and three conferences attracted some 1,600 summer residents
Associate Director of Financial Aid Michael Fraher replaced Marla Orr MacKenzie as director of financial aid. "My job," he told The Miscellany News in September, "is to get kids through the system." Fraher described his "system" as a balance between the "uniform methodology" required by various regulations and each student's personal needs. The former director of financial aid at Marist College, he served as associate director at Vassar for three years prior to becoming director.
Hewlett Packard provided free chemistry instruments to 75 colleges and universities, selected for “the quality or the potential of their research or research-training programs.” Vassar, one of the chosen schools, received a HP 5880A chromatograph. The Miscellany News
An exhibit at the Vassar College Art Gallery, Frank Lloyd Wright and Japanese Prints: The Collections of Mrs. Avery Coonley, displayed Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints that Queene Ferry Coonley ’96 purchased from architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s collection.
With her sister Blanch Ferry Hooker ’94, Mrs. Coonley was the donor in 1919 of the Alumnae House at Vassar.
The VSA recognized a student chapter, led by Christopher Larkosh ’87, of the Democratic Socialists of America.
The restoration of the Shakespeare Garden resumed after a short hiatus during which the site was under consideration as a site for the new chemistry building.
The Sociology department received a $37,500 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to support a new introductory social theory course—“Social Theory as Introductory Sociology.” The course was introduced into the curriculum provisionally in the fall of 1982.
President Virginia Smith and Vassar Student Association President Maurice Edelson ‘85 sponsored Sunday brunches in the residence halls in an attempt to rekindle a sense of residential community—present before the institution of centralized dining in March 1973—and to emphasize, Smith said, “that the dorm was a home, not just a place to sleep.” The Miscellany News.
David Eckwall was named Acting Director of the Office of Campus Activities, replacing Peggy Streit who resigned at the end of the 1982-1983 academic year.
A 166 percent increase in funding to the residence houses from the Vassar Student Association led to an increase in dorm-based activities, ranging from a forum on “Waging Peace: U.S.-Soviet Relations” and a “Cultural Night” to a wine-tasting and ball-room dancing lessons.
The college announced a $500,000 grant from The Pew Memorial Trust of Philadelphia for the ongoing construction of the Seeley G. Mudd Chemistry Building. The Pew Trust had given $100,000 to Vassar in 1981 for an expansion of the college manuscript collection.
A film series focusing of American perceptions of East Asian countries was shown on Tuesdays in Rockefeller hall as part of Professor of History’s Donald Gillin’s course East Asia 117a. The films included: The Good Earth (1937), Dragon Seed (1940), Charlie Chan in Shanghai (1935), The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (1958), Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944), Bridge to the Sun (1961), Fires on the Plain (1959), Kim (1950) and Nine Hours to Ramaa (1963).
Over fifty students were placed in emergency housing—including 23 freshmen in Alumnae House and 30 students in converted common-spaces in Josselyn and Main—due to overenrollment. President Virginia Smith commissioned a task force to investigate the problem. In November, the task force concluded that the housing problem was caused by an increasing number of students electing to live on campus. The task force also submitted several recommendations, including a 10-20 person reduction in the student body.
The biology department received a grant of $178,000 from National Institute on Aging to fund Adjunct Assistant Professor of Biology Albert Francendese’s research on changes in metabolic events during aging and the causes of adult-onset diabetes.
WVKR held an eight-day broadcast marathon, raising almost $8,000.
Professor of Mathematics David Merriell, outgoing president of the college ’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors, reported on a study that ranked Vassar professorial wages in the middle of salaries at comparable institutions. However, Merriell pointed out, Vassar’s benefits were superior to many of the higher ranked schools.
Eminent Baptist preacher Rev. Gardner Taylor, pastor of the Concord Baptist Church of Christ in Brooklyn, spoke in the Chapel. Called “the dean of the nation’s black preachers” in 1980 by TIME magazine, Taylor counted Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King, Jr. and every President of the United States since Harry Truman among his close acquaintances. Awarding him the Medal of Freedom in 2000, President Clinton said of Taylor, “His life’s work has been a sermon as well, teaching that none live in dignity when they are oppressed, and that faith can transcend racial, social and economic boundaries.” Yvonne Gay Fowler, “The Dean of Black Preachers,” Oberlin Alumni Magazine
Associate Professor of English Eamon Grennan read his poetry in the Gold Parlor of Main Building.
An all-campus party, “Woodstock Day,” was held on “Joss Beach,” the lawn between Josselyn House and Chicago Hall.
The poetry editor of the New Yorker, poet Howard Moss, a Vassar instructor for three semesters from 1944-1945, read some of his early poetry from forthcoming anthology Rules of Sleep, published in 1984 by Atheneum.
Vassar hosted The International Congress on Obesity conference on “Adipose Tissue: Growth, Development and Metabolism,” which was chaired by Professor of Biology Patricia R. Johnson.
Two hundred students participated in a rally on the library lawn against the Solomon Amendment of the Defense Act of 1982—a Federal law that required male students to register with Selective Service to qualify for Federal financial aid. Speaking at the rally, President Virginia Smith called the amendment “discriminatory because it imposes a special penalty only on…students who are needy, of a certain age and who are male.” The Miscellany News
The Black Caucus, a group of five professors, released their 1980 confidential report that declared “affirmative action at Vassar has become a ritualistic exercise which consists of meaningless paperwork.” The report was in response to the perceived inadequate proportion of African-Americans in the faculty, administration and student body. The Miscellany News
The women’s tennis team won third place at the New York State Division III championship in Rochester, New York—its best result ever.
James Armstrong, director of choral activities, led several college choral groups in the performance of 13 songs from Vassar’s past, including “Sling-A Da Ink,” “Dreaming,” “There’s Only One College” and “Toast to Vassar.” The Miscellany News
Paule Marshall, author of Brown Girl, Brownstones (1959) and Soul Clap Hands and Sing (1961), discussed her writing in the Villard Room. Marshall’s Praisesong for the Widow was published by Putnam’s in 1983.
Professor of Drama Evert Sprinchorn directed Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler (1890) in Avery Hall.
Poet, children’s author, and Lecturer in English Nancy Willard, author of the 1982 Newberry Award-winning A Visit to William Blake’s Inn: Poem for the Innocent and Experienced Travelers, read from her fiction in New England hall.
The Vassar College Art Gallery presented All Seasons and Every Light: Nineteenth Century American Landscapes, paintings, drawings and sketchbooks by Hudson River School painters, including Frederic Church, Jasper F. Crospey, Charles Moore, Sanford R. Gifford, Asher B. Durand, William Trost Richards and Aaron D. Shattuck. The works were drawn from the Magoon Collection purchased by Matthew Vassar in 1864 from founding trustee Rev. Elias Magoon.
The U.S. women's Olympic Field Hockey team visited Vassar as part of a tour “designed to bring Olympic caliber field hockey to the doorsteps of eight colleges” and held a free clinic at Walker field house. The Olympic team also played in an exhibition game against a team of Vassar, Western Connecticut and Skidmore field hockey players; the Olympians won 9-0. “It was an experience I’ll never forget,” said Vassar player Barbara Aaron ’84. “They were so nice to us. Supporting us and telling us how to improve.”
Field hockey appeared for only the second time in the 1984 summer Olympics, the first time the United States competed in the sport, because the United States team boycotted the 1980 Moscow Olympics. The Miscellany News
New York artist Jean-Michel Basquiat showed and discussed his work at Vassar.
A Muslim suicide bomber destroyed the U. S. Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, killing 240 Marines.
In response to a Marxist coup that allegedly threatened American citizens, President Ronald Reagan authorized “Operation Urgent Fury,” an invasion by United States troops of the Caribbean island nation of Grenada, part of the British Commonwealth after gaining its independence in 1974. The President cited the presence of some 1,000 American medical students near the island’s airport and the close proximity of Soviet-supplied Cuba as particular concerns.
Several countries, including Great Britain, protested the invasion.
The board of trustees met on campus, reviewing the college’s position on the Solomon Amendment and the recently released 1980 Black Caucus report criticizing Vassar’s affirmative action policy.
President Smith and a number of students spoke out against the Solomon Amendment to the Defense Authorization Act of 1982—a Federal law that required male students to register with Selective Service to qualify for Federal financial aid. The law was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1984.
The Black Caucus report proposed the appointment of an affirmative action officer and development of a “comprehensive Affirmative Action Plan and Program relating to the overall integration of Vassar in all areas.” The Caucus also suggested that the personnel and admissions offices “be directed to formulate and adopt radical new procedures to widen and make more effective their minority recruitment pool/sources”—through the use of “target-cities” and “target schools” programs for student recruitment. The Caucus further recommended that the personnel office meet with members of the Poughkeepsie black community to recruit qualified job applicants.
Trustee Harold Healy affirmed after the meeting that racial diversity “is the highest priority the trustees have.” The Miscellany News
The Vassar Debate Society sponsored the Seventh Annual Alan Simpson Debate Tournament, hosting twenty colleges including Fordham, West Point, Annapolis, many of the Ivy League and Seven Sisters institutions and two Canadian universities.
Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer Anthony Stellato reported that Vassar’s 1982-1983 had been balanced for the second year in a row—explaining, “We’re very proud that we got to that point.” The Miscellany News
Professor of Physics Morton Tavel lectured on the relationship between science, reality, and human values in Rockefeller hall.
Due to lack of interest and the graduation of much the previous year’s team, the women’s varsity basketball team suspended intercollegiate competition for the 1983-1984 year. Women’s varsity basketball coach Patricia Fabozzi said, “There must be some women out of at least 1,200 with [high school] varsity experience. They don’t realize that the step isn’t as large as perceived. They see intercollegiate competition here as something comparable to Division I. I think that what has happened to the women’s basketball program is something that anyone who has an interest in Vassar athletics should take note of.” The Miscellany News
The conservative student political group Tertium Quids participated in the “Adopt-a-Marine” project, sending care packages to marines stationed in Beirut.
Assistant Professor of Philosophy David Kelley lectured on political individualism in the Villard room, in an event sponsored by Politics of Tomorrow and Tertium Quids. Kelley spoke about the classical liberalism represented in the United States Declaration of Independence.
Laura Parker ’87 (singles) and Christina Reiling ’85 and Kerry O’Brien ’85 (doubles) were selected for the 1983 Division III All State Tennis Team.
Architect and Lecturer in Art Jeh V. Johnson, Vassar’s teacher of architecture, and Professor of Art Richard Pommer, an architectural historian, discussed Vassar’s architecture in Taylor hall.
With all military objectives of “Operation Urgent Fury,” the October 25th invasion of Grenada, achieved, hostilities wound down and order emerged under a government favorable to the United States. Of 800 Cubans involved, 59 were killed and 25 wounded; 45 Grenadians died, and 337 were wounded; 19 Americans died and 119 were wounded. The American medical students, thought to be in harm’s way, returned to the United States unharmed.
Student directors presented a trio of plays in Kenyon Hall. The Wedding (1919), written by Bertolt Brecht when he was 21, was directed by Joshua Wiener ’85, The Present Tense (1982), by twenty year-old New York University sophomore John McNamara, was directed by Joe Heissan ’87 and Lunatic and Lover: A Play About Strindberg (1978) by the eminent British translator and biographer of Strindberg and Ibsen, Michael Meyer, was directed by Elizabeth Blye ’84.
David Napier, master of Calhoun College and professor of bible and ministry at Yale, delivered a sermon, “Servant of God,” at an ecumenical service in the Chapel.
German-born molecular biologist Dr. Gunther S. Stent, chairman of the department of molecular biology at the University of California at Berkeley, lectured on “Biology and Ethics” in Taylor Hall. A colleague of DNA pioneers James Watson and Francis Crick, Professor Stent published research in 1954 that independently validated the structure of DNA proposed in their 1953 paper.
A meeting was held in the Villard room to discuss the United States invasion of Grenada.
The following day, “Why Grenada?” a forum featuring Assistant Professor of Psychology Ben Harris, librarian Rebecca Mitchell, Associate Professor of Political Science Frederick Bunnell, Assistant Professor of Economics Fred Rosen, Assistant Professor of History Leslie Offut, Professor of Political Science M. Glen Johnson, Assistant Professor of Political Science and Africana Studies Obika Gray and Associate Professor of History Norman Hodges, was also held in the Villard Room.
Representatives from Digital Equipment Corporation demonstrated the Rainbow 100 and Rainbow 100+ microcomputers in the College Center. The Rainbow was chosen as the first personal computer for Vassar faculty and staff after a delegation from the college, returning from Cupertino, CA, the home base of Apple Computer, reported seeing prototypes of a microcomputer, to be called the Macintosh, but said the company’s strict confidentiality constraints they had agreed to forbade their sharing any further information.
Relatively little software was ultimately written for the DEC Rainbow.
British organist James Parsons performed in the Chapel. Parsons later served on the Council of the Royal College of Organists.
Kings County, New York, district attorney Elizabeth Holtzman, former congresswoman from Brooklyn and the first female Democrat nominated for a New York Senate seat, lectured on "The Government's Protection of Nazi War Criminals" in the Villard Room.
During her address, Holtzman discussed the case of Klaus Barbie. Barbie, a former Gestapo head in Lyons, France, where he was called “the Butcher of Lyon,” who, instead of being prosecuted with other Nazi war criminals, had been recruited in 1947 by a United States Army counterintelligence detachment. Hiding in Bolivia, Barbie was arrested in January 1983 and extradited to France.
Holtzman claimed that Barbie was not the only Nazi granted a reprieve. There were, she charged, many war criminals residing in the United States and “many never even bothered to change their names or conceal their identities.” Holtzman argued for the prosecution of these former Nazis, saying, “If we protect mass-murderers, where will be ever draw the line?” The Miscellany News
Klause Barbie was put on trial in 1984, and on July 4, 1987, he was sentenced to life imprisonment for crimes against humanity.
Literary and cultural historian Paul Fussell, professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania, read from his work in the faculty parlor. Professor Fussell’s The Great War and Modern Memory (1975) won the National Book Award for Arts and Letters in 1976 and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism in 1975. Fussell’s Caste Marks: Style and Status in the USA (1984) was followed by Class: A Guide Through the American Status System in 1992.
Poet, writer and political activist Imamu Amiri Baraka, also known as Le Roi Jones, lectured on African-American literature in the Villard Room. Baraka maintained that no college student should be able to “come out of college and not know anything about black studies” because “you cannot talk about American culture without looking at black culture.” The lecture was followed by a question and answer session. The Miscellany News
The Vassar Student Association and The Miscellany News sponsored an all-college forum, “Coeducation at Vassar: Where are we going?” in the Villard room. VSA President Maurice Edelson ‘85 said of the event, “we’re at a critical juncture right now. This is the tenth anniversary of the first graduating co-ed class, and we need direction.” The forum consisted of a large panel discussion followed by smaller discussion groups. The Miscellany News
One of the issues discussed was a possible change to the college’s traditional colors, rose and gray. Edelson suggested that a color change would represent Vassar’s coeducational nature.
The Miscellany News celebrated the anniversary of coeducation with the November 11, 1983 “Special Issue: Coeducation at Vassar: Past, Present, and Future.”
The Office of the Dean of Studies and the Africana Studies program sponsored a panel on junior year abroad in third world countries.
Over 400 students participated in the 10th Annual Fast for a World Harvest, run by Oxfam America. The All Campus Dining Center pledged to contribute $2.70 for each fasting student.
The fast was also marked by films about world hunger and an interfaith service.
Jazz giant Count Basie and his orchestra performed at the fall formal in the college center.
The Vassar College Art Gallery displayed an exhibition of Modern German Prints and Drawings curated by Amy Froehlich ’84, Merrill-Anne Halkerston ’85, Deena Holliday ’84 and Wendy Litvack ’85. The exhibit included works produced in Germany between 1880 and 1930 by Käthe Kollwitz, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Vasily Kandinsky, Paul Klee.
The Ponder Heart (1956) a stage adaptation by Joseph Fields and Jerome Chodorov of Eudora Welty’s 1954 novel, was performed in Avery Hall.
English poet and author Andrew Motion, editorial director and poetry editor at the revered London publisher Chatto & Windus, read his poetry in the faculty parlor. Motion was Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom from 1999 to 2009.
Internationally known installation artist Judy Pfaff presented a slide show and spoke about her work in Ely Hall. Her set design for Wind Devil (1983), a dance choreographed by Nina Weiner and produced at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) won a Bessie—the dance equivalent of the films’ Oscar—in 1984.
Born in England, Pfaff maintained her primary studio in Kingston, NY.
Vassar College Art Gallery Curator Sally Mills lectured on “The Role of the Art Gallery in Education Women in the 19th Century” in the gallery.
Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at Yale Medical School Dr. Bernard Siegel spoke on “Love, Medicine, and Miracles” as part of an ecumenical chapel service.
Siegel published a book with this title in 1986, about which the Library Journal wrote "Siegel, a New Haven surgeon, believes that the power of healing stems from the human mind and will, that his scalpel only buys time against cancer, and that self-love and determination are more important than choice of therapy. His philosophy has caused radical changes in his practice. Siegel recounts many arresting anecdotes: joyous stories of patients who survived against all odds, sad chronicles of those who seemingly gave up and assented to their own deaths. The author's credentials make this one of the more plausible books on the mind-body connection."
The Reverend Dr. Richard R. Niebuhr, Harvard Divinity School theologian, lectured on "Unfinished Self, Unfinished World: Insights from William James for Our Time" in the Villard Room. The son of Yale theologian Richard Niebuhr and nephew of the Union Theological Seminary philosopher and theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, Dr. Niebuhr was lecturer in religion at Vassar from 1954 to 1956.
Dennis Brutus, South African poet and anti-Apartheid activist, lectured on "the Poetry of Resistance: Human Rights in South Africa." The president of the South African Non-Racial Olympic Committee, which successfully lobbied for the exclusion of South Africa from the Olympics, he was imprisoned for 16 months in Robben Island Prison. Mr. Brutus was awarded the Mbari Poetry Prize for African poetry of distinction for his first collection, Sirens, Knuckles and Boots: Poems (1963), but he rejected the award because of its racial exclusivity.
Exiled after his release from prison, in 1984 Brutus was given asylum in the United States as a political refugee.
Director of Admissions Fred R. Brooks Jr. introduced a program to recruit African-American students, asking Vassar’s black alumni to speak with prospective students and their parents, write letters of recommendation and sponsor trips to the campus.
Vassar’s Delegate Assembly voted to use computers for student elections.
Russian-American poet and essayist Joseph Brodsky, author of A Part of Speech (1981), read his poetry in Taylor Hall. The Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Literature at Mount Holyoke College, Brodsky received the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur “genius” award in 1981, and he was the Nobel Laureate in literature in 1987.
Lecturing in the Villard Room on "The Shaky State of the World," veteran investigative journalist I.F. Stone said, "There is an air of wounded macho in the United States, an air that is making the 20th century terribly volatile. I am worried about the fate of the world now," Stone told some 170 students and faculty members, "as never before." Stone found President Reagan, said David Fisher '87 in The Miscellany News, "guilty of over-simplification and impatience. Reagan has 'played up to the Super-rich and the Super-stupid,' and has benefited on the corporation and the rich."
An aggressive writer for The Philadelphia Record, The New York Post, The Nation and PM, Stone used I.F. Stone’s Weekly, which he started after being blacklisted in 1950 as an alleged communist, to criticize McCarthyism, J. Edgar Hoover, anti-Semitism, racial discrimination, nuclear proliferation and the war in Vietnam.
The Clash, an English punk rock band, played a concert at Walker Fieldhouse. Their third album London Calling (1980) was named best album of the decade by Rolling Stone Magazine.
The college joined the University of Minnesota, Macalester College, Wayne State University, the University of Michigan and the Pacific School of Religion in a brief filed with the United States Supreme Court opposing the 1982 “Solomon Amendment” that required colleges to certify male students’ draft registration in order to gain access to Federal student aid. A lower court found that the amendment’s provisions violated the Constitution’s protection against establishing guilt by legislation and also its protection against self-incrimination. The Supreme Court subsequently found the amendment’s provision to be constitutional.
Pulitzer Prize winning American poet Galway Kinnell read from his poetry in Taylor Hall. Known for humanitarian work such as his efforts in the 1960s on behalf of the Congress for Racial Equality, Kinnell organized a nuclear arms protest in 1982 called “Poetry Against the End of the World.” His Selected Poems (1980) won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award.
Mary Oliver ex-’59 won the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for her fifth collection, American Primitive (1983). Her first collection, No Voyage and Other Poems appeared in 1963.
President Smith appeared on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) program “The MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour,” challenging the constitutionality of the Solomon Amendment and its sponsor, New York Representative Representative Gerald Solomon. The amendment required colleges to certify either male students’ draft registration or their draft ineligibility to gain access to Federal student aid funds. In her interview, she called the amendment “inequitable, unfair, and improper.”
The college announced the inauguration of summer programs to “benefit the general education of the students while benefiting the finances of the college,” according to Director of Academic Program Development Charles I. Bunting. The programs included offerings in film, computers, business and publishing. The Vassar College Summer Program for Community College Students, later known as Exploring Transfer, was among the programs offered.
Journalist and author Hunter S. Thompson, the inventor of the highly personal and confrontational style called “Gonzo journalism,” lectured in the Chapel. His appearance was notable for his tardiness and his complaints about the chapel’s smoking ban. A lifelong user of drugs, he replied, when asked about his thoughts on cocaine, “it’s O.K. if only one percent of society uses it, but it gets ugly when fifty percent of society starts using it.” The Miscellany News
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream (1971), which established Thompson as a new and powerful voice, was followed by Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail (1973), an account of the defeat of Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern by President Richard Nixon—Thompson’s nemesis.
Thompson spoke at Vassar previously, in 1979.
Feminist American playwright Ntozake Shange discussed her career and her works in the Chapel. Shange’s “choreopoem,” For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf (1975)—a series of 20 poems for the stage—was nominated for a Tony in 1977, and her 1980 adaptation of Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children (1939) won an Obie award in 1980.
Public Broadcasting Service NewsHour television journalist Jim Lehrer, whose daughter Jamie was a member of the graduating class, delivered the 1984 Commencement Address in which he recommended that the graduates “become risky businessmen” because “to search for a safe place is to search for an end to a rainbow that you will hate yourself once you find it.” Lehrer recommended not only professional risks, but also personal ones: “enter into relationships with other human beings…whether as friends or lovers or spouses…with full gusto and commitment. Some of the unhappiest people I know are those who have spent their lives keeping others away, protecting themselves from emotional commitments—all in the mistaken opinion that to expose the nerves and the soul is to be hurt. Hurt is part of being a full human being. The emotional peaks and valleys are what being mentally healthy is all about.” News from Vassar
Finishing in a 3rd place tie with Princeton in the national finals of the College Bowl, the Vassar team earned $2,500 for scholarship funding and a 15-volume set of the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology for the Library from the tournament's sponsor. Representing the college in the final matches, broadcast on NBC television live from the Ohio State University campus, were Michael Church '84, Charles Lewis '87, Derek Wllentinsen '85 and (repeating a similar performance in the 1982 College Bowl) Charles Sperling '84 and David Thaler '84.
As part of a developing array of summer activities on campus, The Vassar College Summer Program for Community College Students, later known as Exploring Transfer, offered its first experiential learning sessions to promising community college students—five courses bearing Vassar credit, designed and credit team-taught by Vassar and community college professors. Funding for the first summer was provided by a grant from the Carnegie Foundation and President Smith’s discretionary funds.
Vassar received $750,000 worth of computer equipment from Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC). The gift included eight VAX 11/725 minicomputers and eight computer work-stations, intended to help professors create teaching aids for their students.
After much study, the college decided in 1983 on the DEC Rainbow as the first personal computer for faculty use.
New York Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro became the first female Vice Presidential candidate on a major party ticket when she was nominated to be the Democratic candidate with Minnesota Senator Walter Mondale in the 1984 presidential election.
The art department offered a major in studio art as a result of student demand and increased course enrollment. Entrance was contingent upon an “evaluation of the student’s class work and by a review of the student’s portfolio by the studio faculty,” said Susan Kuretsky, associate professor of art, adding that the department expected 15-20 majors in the next year. The Miscellany News
A new language requirement for the Class of 1989 took effect. Students were required to complete a full year of a language at the introductory level or a semester at the intermediate level. They could also meet the requirement by obtaining high scores on an Advanced Placement language exam or any of the College Entrance Examination Board tests or by passing one of the proficiency exams provided by the Vassar language departments.
Randolph D. Pope, professor of Hispanic studies, said that the requirement was a “requirement of proficiency in the language…to allow you to really function.” The Miscellany News
Classes were held for the first time in Mudd Chemistry Building, an environmentally innovative, urgently needed but aesthetically controversial new home for the chemistry department. The new $7 million building ($6,151,000 in construction costs), designed by the Boston firm, Perry, Dean, Rogers and Partners, featuring extensive use of glass brick and a "trombe wall" passive solar heat system on its South-facing side, was necessary because the ubiquitous wood construction in the Sanders Chemistry Building (1909) rendered it impossible to bring up to current safety requirements. Persistent campus criticism of the location of the new building—roughly the site of Vassar's original chemistry building, the Vassar Brothers Laboratory (1880-1938)—was joined by dissatisfaction with both the architects' explicit modernity and utilitarian design and their attempt to accommodate the building to its early 20th century neighbors' brick facades and lintel and roof lines. One student critic, writing in The Miscellany News, recalled Frank Lloyd Wright's observation that "A doctor can bury his mistakes, but an architect can only advise his clients to plant vines."
Major funding for the Mudd Chemistry Building came from the Seely G. Mudd Fund.
Kenneth Burke, linguist, philosopher and literary theorist, lectured in the Villard Room. Burke’s studies over many years of the relationship in language of rhetoric to symbol and of human action as both a biographical act and a kind of drama were joined in his Language as Symbolic Action: Essays on Life, Literature and Method (1966).
The change in 1982 of the New York State drinking age from 18 to 19 having led to the barring of underage students, Matthew's Mug was opened to all students, with controlled access to alcohol.
Influential art critic Clement Greenberg spoke about "Art Now" in the Aula. Greenberg was one of the foremost art critics of Modern art during the twentieth century and was one of the first to support the work of Jackson Pollock.
She “learned to temper idealism by the reality principle,” historian and personal friend Arthur Schlesinger told over 500 scholars, activists, government officials and students attending a four-day conference, “The Vision of Eleanor Roosevelt: Past, Present and Future,” celebrating the centennial of Eleanor Roosevelt’s birth. “She believed in hard work, self-discipline, civility, decency and goodness,” he said. “She believed above all in individual responsibility.”
Sponsored by the college and the Eleanor Roosevelt Institute, the conference mixed scholarly papers on Mrs. Roosevelt’s accomplishments with reminiscences and the drafting of “an agenda for the future,” addressing such of her concerns as the quests for peace, civil rights, economic opportunities for women and international human rights. As psychology Professor Anne Constantinople explained, Mrs. Roosevelt—or “Eleanor,” as most participants referred to her—“would have had a stroke if we just had an academic conference. She always said, ‘It’s fine to talk, but where’s that get you?’ What we hope happens here is more than talk.”
Other speakers included civil rights leader Bayard Rustin, Howard University history professor and United States Civil Rights Commission member Dr. Mary F. Berry and women’s and labor historian Dr. Alice Kessler-Harris of Hofstra University. Professor of Political Science M. Glen Johnson, the conference’s initiator, explained the conference’s broad intention. “A lot of people,” he said, “are questioning the worth of liberal values. We thought it was important to ask, are these values, are Eleanor’s values, relevant to the present day?” The New York Times
Daniel Berrigan, anti-Vietnam War activist, poet, and Catholic priest, spoke on "A Peacemaking Citizen in a Warmaking State" in the Villard Room. Along with his brother Philip—also a Catholic priest—and six others, Berrigan formed the Plowshares Movement in 1980, attacking a nuclear missile factory in Pennsylvania and damaging materiel and files, the first of his many of non-violent anti-war and human rights actions over decades and around the world.
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Susan Sheehan lectured on "Writing My Books and Working for The New Yorker" in the Josselyn Living Room. Sheehan’s study of the struggles of a young woman with schizophrenia, Is There No Place on Earth for Me? (1982) won the Pulitzer Prize in 1983, and Kate Quinton’s Days, an account of the efforts of an 80-year old Irish-American woman to maintain an independent life, which originally appeared in The New Yorker, was published in 1984.
Professor Deborah Dash Moore, associate professor of religion, was awarded a 1984-1985 Fulbright grant to teach at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
Asian scholar and specialist Dr. Ramon Myers, a fellow at the Hoover Institution, spoke on "Modernization in Taiwan" in the Josselyn House living room. Myers stressed that he did not believe “the two Chinas”—the Peoples Republic and Taiwan—would unite under current circumstances. “Both governments must deal with the problem of political succession. Both societies must learn to coexist peacefully.” The Miscellany News
The Matthew Vassar Lecture was delivered by Professor John Greene of the University of Connecticut on "Creationism and Science: An Historical View" in Chicago Hall. A historian of science, Professor Greene wrote The Death of Adam: Evolution and Its Impact on Western Thought (1959) and Science, Ideology and World View: Essays in the History of Evolutionary Ideas (1981).
President Ronald Reagan and Vice President George H. W. Bush handily defeated the Democratic nominees Senator Walter Mondale and Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro in the 1984 election, carrying 49 of the 50 states with 58 percent of the popular vote.
Charlotte Bunch, a feminist activist and organizer, lectured on the "International Feminism Network Against Female Sexual Slavery" in the Cushing West Parlor.
Feminist philosopher Judith Butler from Wesleyan University lectured on "Bodies and Minds in Some French Feminist Thought," as a Philosopher's Holiday lecturer in the Josselyn House living room. Professor Butler’s work focused on queer theory, feminism, gender construction, political philosophy and ethics. Her 1984 Yale PhD dissertation, “Subjects of Desire: Hegelian Reflections in Twentieth-Century France,” was published under that title in 1987. Gender Trouble: Feminism and Subversion of Identity followed in 1990.
Imam Warith Deen Muhammad—formerly Wallace D. Muhammad—founder of the American Muslim Mission lectured on "The Role of the American Muslim Mission in the United States" in the Villard Room. The son of the Rev. Elijah Muhammad, who led the Nation of Islam from 1934 until his death in 1975, Imam Muhammad’s American Muslim Mission reformed the sect and also led it to form interfaith links with Christian and Jewish congregations. Imam Muhammad urged American Muslims to accept the concept of separation of church and state, and he worked to find and discuss similarities between the American Constitution and the Koran.
Cultural anthropologist Dr. Esther Newton from the State University of New York at Purchase lectured on "Is There Politically Correct Sex?" in the Cushing West Parlor. Dr. Newton was best known for her groundbreaking work on the ethnography of lesbian and gay communities in the United States.
Sociology professor James Petras of the State University of New York at Binghamton gave an Issues for the Eighties Lecture on "Ideology and Repression: the Use and Abuse of Anti-Communism in Central America" in Rockefeller Hall. A member of the Bertrand Russell Tribunal on Repression in Latin America from 1973 until 1976, Professor Petras published extensively on Latin American and Middle Eastern politics.
Advertising executive Phyllis B. Brotman of Image Dynamics, Inc. lectured on "The Marketing of a Candidate: Ethics and Political Advertising" in the Villard Room.
Mexican author Gustavo Sainz from the University of New Mexico, lectured in Spanish in the Gold Parlor. Sainz was best known for his novels Gazapo (1968) andLa princesa del Palacio de Hierro (1974), which won the 1974 Premio Xavier Villaurrutia.
Dr. Nancy W. Boggess, senior staff astronomer from NASA, lectured about her work on the Infra-Red Astronomy Satellite and shared photos of the galaxy taken by the satellite.
Science historian Professor Nancy Stepan from Columbia University delivered an Issues for the Eighties lecture on "Power and Knowledge: Biomedical Politics" in Rockefeller Hall. A specialist in the history of medicine, Professor Stepan published The Idea of Race in Science: Great Britain, 1800-1960 in 1982, and herThe Hour of Eugenics: Race, Gender and Nation in Latin America (1991) was co-winner of the 1992 Berkshire Conference of Women Historians Annual Award.
Lisa Hope Schiller '86, a junior, was killed in a car accident on her way to her field work assignment at the Harlem Valley Secure Center in Wingdale, NY. Described by her friends as "an enthusiastic person who was optimistic about everything," she was a member of the Measure for Measure acappella group and, as a sophomore, had won the Wendy Breslau prize for "outstanding contribution to the community," specifically for her work in bilingual education at the prison.
In February of 1986, the facility’s library was named in her honor, in light of her passion for and dedication to her work there.
M.J. Rosenberg, editor of Near East Report, the weekly newsletter of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), lectured on "U.S. – Israel Relations" in the Villard Room.
A member of the Class of 1986 died in Bologna, Italy, from asphyxiation due to a defective gas water heater. The student, a Hispanic studies major, was visiting friends in Bologna after her first semester with the Vassar-Wesleyan program in Madrid, Spain.
The college received $19,000 from the National Endowment of the Humanities to help fund its second College Course, an interdepartmental class, The Human Relation to Nature. The College Course program was developed in response to “the fragmentation, and narrowness which often characterizes the curriculum of many American colleges and universities,” explained The Miscellany News. The Human Relation to Nature was designed as an exploration of the way that various selected cultures experienced interactions with the natural world.
Dr. Andrew Lukhele, a representative from the African National Congress, lectured on "Change in South Africa" in the Faculty Lounge. Lukhele asked students to get involved and “make the decisions students did during the Vietnam crisis.... I see you as standing in the line of direct descent of a tradition the whole world is proud of.” The Miscellany News
Fikile Bam, South African attorney and activist, lectured on "South African Youth and the Current Black Struggle" in New England 104. Imprisoned with other prominent South African anti-apartheid leaders on Robben Island for 11 years, Bam later served as a mediator for the Independent Electoral Committee in 1994, during the first democratic elections in South Africa. He has also held the position of acting chairman for Lawyers for Human Rights, a non-profit alliance founded in South Africa in 1979.
The board of trustees agreed to divest stock in Dun and Bradstreet, a corporation that refused to sign the Sullivan Principles, a code of conduct outlining suggested behavior for corporate activities in South Africa. The principles were developed by the Rev. Leon Sullivan, a board member of General Motors in 1977, to encourage U.S. corporations to put economic pressure on the South African government’s system of apartheid. The principles were ultimately adopted by 125 U.S. companies with operations in South Africa.
Jamaican political historian Professor Archie Singham of Brooklyn College lectured on "Black Youth in the Third World" in the Villard Room. A longtime faculty member at the University of the West Indies, Singham published The Hero and the Crowd in a Colonial Polity, in influential study of the leader as “hero” in Caribbean politics, in 1968.
Prominent child psychiatrist Dr. Alvin Poussaint of Harvard Medical School lectured on "Black Youth in Crisis in America: The Impact of a Racist Culture" in Taylor Auditorium. Much of Dr. Poussaint’s work focused on the integrality of racism in the mental health of the black community.
A group of students staged a “die-in” to protest the presence of a marine recruiter in College Center. Approximately 15 students lay on the floor as one of the protest leaders outlined their bodies with masking tape. In addition, the protestors played music and tried to engage other students in the action. “The significance of the die-in was to show that the military is not just a career for college kids, it is an institution which is inextricably associated with acts of killing, “ said Ezra Kohn ’87, who planned the formal protest. The Miscellany News
The admissions office announced a ten percent rise in the number of male applicants for the class of 1989 over the previous year.
President Smith announced that New York Governor Mario M. Cuomo would be the 1984 commencement speaker. Smith called Cuomo “an intelligent, caring official who does make a difference,” and added that Vassar is proud to be a part of his “family of New York.” News From Vassar
Professor of History James Lockhart from the University of California at Los Angeles spoke on "Indian History from Indian Language and Documents" in the Aula. The founder of “new philology,” a school of historical thought that sought to understand the history of colonized indigenous people through their own writing and records, Lockhart studied colonial Latin America and the indigenous speakers of the Nahuatl language. His The Art of Nahuatl Speech: The Bancroft Dialogues appeared in 1987.
Smith College professor Cynthia Taft Morris '49 spoke on "Where Angels Fear to Tread: Quantitative Studies in History and Development." A specialist in the history of economics, Morris held joint appointments at Smith and American University in Washington, DC, where she founded the Washington Area Economic History Seminar (WAEHS), a monthly seminar on economic history.
Sarah Gibson Blanding, sixth president of the college from 1946-1964 and first female president of the college, died at age 86. An enthusiast of modernism, she broke with the college’s conservative tradition in commissioning buildings from architects Marcel Breuer and Eero Saarinen.
An outspoken critic of McCarthy-ism, she refused the demand of the House Committee on Un-American Activities for a list of the college’s books—although, through a spokesman, inviting the committee to come and inspect the Library’s 260,000 volumes—and declared, “If the request was made for the purpose of examining textbooks and supplementary material, it strikes at the very heart of academic freedom.”
President Blanding served on several presidential commissions in the Roosevelt and Truman administrations.
Synchronized swimmers Sylvia Hall ’87 and Janet Arnold ’88 qualified in the top 40 swimmers at the Collegiate Nationals meet. In an interview with The Miscellany News, Hall explained her sport: “the precision of a ballerina, the energy of a jazz dancer, and the stamina of a long distance swimmer.”
Former judge and state senator Karen S. Burstein, president of the New York State Civil Service Commission lectured on "The Debate Over Comparable Worth" in the Villard Room. “Comparable worth,” a contraction of the concept of “equal pay for work of comparable worth” was an attempt to quantify and remedy inequalities of pay, particularly those generated by a history of “sex-segregated” jobs.
Ms. Burstein worked in the administration of New York Governor Mario Cuomo, as executive director of the State Consumer Protection Board.
Liberal Member of the Canadian Parliament Judith Erola spoke on "Women in the 80's: A Canadian Perspective" in Chicago Hall Auditorium. Valerie Feldman, a Canadian student, was disappointed by the larger student body’s lack of enthusiasm for the “dynamic and highly informative” lecture. The event “was well publicized but only a handful of people showed up. …I apologized telling [Erola] that when someone mentions Canada often Americans yawn,” Feldman wrote in a Letter to the Editor in The Miscellany News.As a member of the cabinet during Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s second term in office—1980-1984—Erola served as Minister of State for Social Development, Minister responsible for the Status of Women and Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs. She served briefly in the cabinet of Trudeau’s successor, John Turner.
The faculty voted in favor of a $10 million plan for the development of computer facilities on campus over the next five years. The Miscellany News
German-American art historian Professor Ernst Kitzinger, Arthur Kingsley Porter University Professor Emeritus at Harvard University, gave a slideshow lecture on "The Mosaics of Capella Palatina in Palermo" in Taylor Auditorium. A scholar of early-medieval and Byzantine art, Kitzinger argued, in such works as Byzantine Art in the Making:Main Lines of Stylistic Development in Mediterranean Art, 3rd-7th Centuries (1977) and The Art of Byzantium and the Medieval West: Selected Studies (1976) for the importance of stylistic analysis and stylistic mutation as tools in the historical interpretation of art.
Kitzinger had become interested in Sicilian mosaics in the 1950s, publishing Mosaics of Monreale in 1960. His six-volume I mosaici del periodo normanno in Sicilia appeared in 1992.
Ernst Kitzinger was the father of Vassar classicist Rachel Kitzinger.
Vassar’s eighth president, Virginia B. Smith, announced her retirement at the end of the 1985-1986 school year. Dr. Smith, the second female president of the college, came to the college in 1977. She chose this time to retire because she felt the college would need strong leadership in the upcoming years, as the fundraising for the second phase of the Development Program would be at a critical point. “I believe it is only fair to Vassar to decide now to stay through that period or to leave early enough to allow a new president to develop knowledge and contacts prior to that crucial period.” Smith said she planned to “to undertake new projects involving research, writing and teaching.”
The legacy of Smith’s leadership included the repair of Vassar’s relations with alumnae and achievement of greater national visibility for the college. Smith was particularly pleased to have fostered cooperation among college constituencies. “We have refined the notion of shared governance,” she told Edward Fiske of The New York Times shortly after her announcement, “so that everyone is involved—students, faculty, alumnae/i, all of them.” The New York Times, The Poughkeepsie Journal andThe Miscellany News
Dr. Roman Vishniac lectured about his recently published book of photography, A Vanished World (1983), a remembrance of Eastern European Jews in the years preceding the Holocaust. “The future of the Jews is great in spite of the Holocaust,” Vishniac maintained. He cited jealousy as the reason for the persecution of the Jews: “If it is impossible, let the Jews do it, they will succeed.”
“While Vishniac showed an enormous sense of pride in the Jewish people, it was not a belief in racial superiority,” Betsy Amaru, visiting assistant professor of religion said in an interview after the lecture. The Miscellany News
Polish-American scientist and historian Lucjan Dobroszycki, a professor at Yeshiva University and Senior Associate of the Jewish Scientific Institute (YIVO), lectured on "The Destruction of the European Jewry: Deportation in and out of the Ghetto of Łódź" in the Josselyn House living room. Dobroszycki was sent to Auschwitz after living in the Łódź ghetto for nearly five years. The only survivor in his family, he was liberated from a satellite camp in 1945. Discussing the unusually complete and well-kept records of Łódź, Dobroszycki explained, “It was an extremely sophisticated and well-organized group of scholars who kept the archives,” and those working to chronicle their experiences had the mentality that “we’re not going to survive, but let’s tell the story.” Their records of the Lodz ghetto were buried underground before the last deportation. The Miscellany NewsDobroszycki was a co-author of Image Before My Eyes:A Photographic History of Life in Poland 1864-1939 (1977), and was the editor of The Chronicle of the Łódź Ghetto, 1941-1944 (1984), a compilation of reminiscences and comments gathered clandestinely by ghetto residents.
In the first on-campus drug raid in three years, three Vassar students were arrested for selling cocaine. Police reported that they had worked their way up the ladder of the campus drug chain by using arrestees as informants. This process also led to the identification and arrest of a New York City drug supplier.
Students told The Miscellany News that before the raid regular, nearly open, cocaine use was common in several prominent campus locations like the Mug, the Library and College Center. They added that the college administration was commonly perceived to have an attitude of, “As long as it stays in our confines, it’s okay.” “This place is a very protective campus, or at least it used to be,” said one student. “You sort of feel you’re exempt from rules.”
Vice President for Student Affairs Natalie Marshall ’51 told a reporter “we have absolutely no control over the law enforcement agencies,” adding, “let’s face it: I’m not going to protect anyone who’s dealing.” Marshall enunciated this position in an all-campus letter on April 19, which, she said, “could be taken as a warning but it doesn’t represent a change in policy.”
After the arrests, the three students withdrew from the college. The Miscellany News
A Presidential Search Committee, comprised of seven trustees, five faculty, and two students, was formed to find a replacement for retiring president Virginia Smith.
Students protesting the college's investment in corporations supporting the South African apartheid regime blocked Main Gate for over a week in a sit-in. They began the sit-in by linking arms around the security booth at Main Gate and stating their intentions as a non-violent protest “seeking the administration’s cooperation,” said organizer Jason Albertson ’85. Susan Matheson ’87, who grew up in South Africa, explained her own reasons for participating in the sit-in, “My best friend as a child was black. And yet because of apartheid as we grew older I could not socialize with her or publicly show my kinship.” The Miscellany News
The college made public its acquisition of the papers of author Mary McCarthy ‘33. The papers included over 6,500 pages of manuscripts, legal papers, personal notes, correspondence and galleys. McCarthy, 72, told Deirdre Carmody from The New York Times she was “really strongly tempted” two years earlier when President Smith had first spoken to her about the papers, because “I have nice feelings about Vassar.”
Neither McCarthy nor Smith revealed what the college had paid for the collection, but President Smith made clear that funds had come from private donors. The McCarthy papers, she said, would strengthen Vassar’s tradition of having students deal with original source material wherever possible. McCarthy was best known for her 1963 novel The Group, a fictionalized account of her life after graduating from Vassar, as well as those of several of her classmates. The New York Times
James M. Montoya, director of admissions at Occidental College, was named as the new director of admissions. His goals as director were to ethnically diversify the student body and reshape the image of the college presented to applicants through admissions literature. The Miscellany News
Speaking at Commencement New York Governor Mario M. Cuomo urged the Class of 1985 to eschew moral detachment and to fight to change the world. He told the graduates “despite the glitter of the success and joy that surround you here today in the beautiful Hudson Valley, all is not well with the world we live in.” Cuomo said that professors, parents and relatives counted on today’s students to “be wiser than we are…to love more than we have.” He concluded by saying “ultimately, a better future for this whole place called the city and the state and the nation and the world will depend on our willingness to reject detachment. Vassar has taught you that, but now the world needs to learn it.”
During his speech, the Governor wore a red armband over his academic gown in protest of the continuing oppression through apartheid in South Africa. Commencement marshal Professor of Chemistry Curt Beck attempted to remove armbands from about 100 seniors who were wearing the armbands as they reached the stage. Beck defended his actions saying that academic gowns were above politics. “An academic gown is like the robe of a judge or the garment of a priest…an academic may not advertise.” He added that he had not seen such a display of protest since the Vietnam War. The Miscellany News
President Smith served on a panel that selected ten finalists for the Teacher in Space Program. Out of these ten, NASA selected Christa McAuliffe to be the first teacher in space. When the Space Shuttle Challenger broke up after launch on January 28, 1986, McAuliffe along with the other six members of the Challenger crew were killed.
Almost 90 scholars from 50 North American colleges and universities gathered at Vassar for a two-day conference, “Teaching Cognitive Science to Undergraduates,” sponsored by a $16,000 grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Even defining the new discipline proved difficult. David Waltz, computer science professor from Brandeis University and editor of The Journal of Cognitive Science admitted that his keynote address, “What is Cognitive Science?” was “a tough question,” and George Miller, professor of psychology at Princeton University declared that there seemed at present a number of “cognitive science” whose methodologies and concerns sometimes overlapped. “Cognitive science,” he said, “remains an aspiration at this point.”
Approached differed as well when it came to how to teach the hard-to-define subject. Some participants urged that students needed first to be grounded in the several disciplines involved—computer science, psychology, linguistics, biology, anthropology and others—while some of their colleagues said that having acquired the biases and constraints of these disciplines as part of the grounding would only make it more difficulty for students to grasp the essentials of the new field. Neil Stillings from the School of Communications and Cognitive Science at Hampshire College, where courses in cognitive science were taught since the college’s founding in 1970, said he believed students were capable of handling the uncertainties in the field. “The students,” he said, had “a unity in this field that we do not. They are the wave of the future.”
Vassar led the nation’s colleges and universities in 1983 by becoming the first undergraduate institution to offer cognitive science as a major. The Miscellany News, The New York Times
Double Nobel Laureate Dr. Linus Pauling gave a lecture entitled “Modern Nutrition” as a part of Vassar’s symposium celebrating the importance of the sciences in a liberal arts education. Pauling won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his research on the nature and complexity of the attraction between atoms that allows the formation of chemical substances, the chemical bond, in 1954, and the Nobel Peace Prize in 1962 for his work in opposition to nuclear testing. He became interested in nutrition when the government began issuing RDA’s (recommended daily allowances) of vitamins. Presently researching the connection between vitamin C and cancer, Pauling declared, “I am the only one doing research on cancer and vitamin C.” The Miscellany News
Patrick Manning ‘85 ran for the Dutchess County legislature as the Democratic nominee. He was asked by the Dutchess County Democratic Committee to run as a representative of the college.
Organic chemist Herbert C. Brown, the 1979 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, spoke in Avery Auditorium. Brown’s prize came as a result of his work with organoboranes, chemical compounds that are organic derivatives of the molecule borane.
The college considered legal action against the architects of Mudd Chemistry Building because of severe leaking in the relatively new structure. College administrators believed that some of the problems might be expected in a new building, while others were unacceptable building flaws. Several members of the chemistry department believed the building’s problems were due to conflicts between the design-oriented concerns of the architects and the functional needs of the chemistry department. The Miscellany News
Former New York Times correspondent and columnist and Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Sydney Schanberg addressed students in Taylor Hall. One of the few journalists to remain in Cambodia after the Americans left and as the Khmer Rouge took over the country, Schanberg recorded the ensuing chaos and the uprooting of millions of Cambodians as Pol Pot’s regime consolidated it’s grim victory. His Cambodian reports won the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting in 1976. Schanberg spoke of the critical work that journalists do in avoiding the “natural inclination to self-interest,” which could so easily sway their reporting. Schanberg reminded the audience of the crucial role that reporters play in being “pests” to those in power, “Evil things flourish when good men say nothing,” he said. The Miscellany NewsSchanberg’s book, The Death and Life of Dith Pran (1980), the story of the nearly five years his Cambodian assistant Dith Pran lived through during the murderous regime of the Khmer Rouge, formed the basis of the film The Killing Fields (1984).
The Vassar Progressive Union staged two acts of "Guerilla Theatre" in the College Center to protest the presence of Marine recruiters on campus. The VPU’s chairperson Benjamin Dulchin ’88 pretended to shoot down protestors who each held a placard representing a different Marine invasion. Dulchin asserted that they were not objecting to the Marines’ presence on the campus, but wanted to inform people who “accept Marine rhetoric at face value.” The Miscellany News
National Anti-Apartheid Protest Day was celebrated with a march through Poughkeepsie.
The Board of Trustees unanimously agreed to begin divestment of the college’s holdings in companies doing business with South Africa. Peter Millones, chairman of TIRC (the Trustee Investor Responsibility Committee), expressed satisfaction with the decision saying, “we had a chance to move forward, it was the right time to go ahead. We are trying to take a moral stance, and I think that’s what students are desirous of.” The Miscellany News
The college’s incoming freshman class of 1989 increased its racial diversity to 101 African-American and Hispanic members: 16.2% of the total class. In comparison, the senior class of 1986 consisted of 9.2% minority students. The New York Times
John Milberg ’81, an epidemiologist with the New York City Department of Health, spoke to students about the social, political, and scientific facets of AIDS. Milberg noted that much uncertainty still existed about AIDS in both the public mind and in the medical community and that this affected how society managed its concern over the epidemic. The Miscellany News
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation renewed the $250,000 “New Liberal Arts” grant to the college, thus enabling, “the college to enhance the quantitative skills and technological understanding of the students,” said Patricia Johnson, professor of biology and associate dean of the college. Professor of economics Stephen Rousseas expressed the concerns of some faculty members that the technology-oriented programs initiated by the grant would affect the quality of the liberal arts education offered by the college. “We are allowing a private institution to come in and pay for imposing its definition of a liberal arts education on us,” he said. “That doesn’t speak well for Vassar.” The Miscellany News
VSA secretary Neil Cohen ’87 attempted to temporarily freeze funding for the Vassar Spectator, a politically conservative campus newspaper, for publishing material that he believed to be potentially libelous. Cohen explained that he took action, “because of concern generated on campus about certain things in the issue pertaining to people. Surprisingly, the people implicated said nothing, but concern was directed to the VSA.” VSA treasurer Julie Salzman ’78 said, however, that the funds were not withheld. The Miscellany News
The President’s Distinguished Visitor for 1985, Harriet Pilpel '32, New York attorney and nationally recognized first amendment specialist delivered a series of talks on “The Real Meaning of the First Amendment,” “The Rights of the Press,” “Abortion and the Constitution,” “The Rights of the Artist” and “Pornography and the First Amendment.”
President Smith introduced Pilpel, speaking of her “great feeling for the individual’s right to plan one’s life with the maximum amount of freedom.” Pilpel addressed the audience on issues of censorship, “We have a guaranteed freedom of expression for the ideas we hate, and the more that we hate them, the more they need protection. …We are not a society which adheres to the will of the majority.” The Miscellany News
Pilpel was elected to Phi Beta Kappa during her junior year at Vassar, and she graduated second in her class of 269 from Columbia Law School, as one of a few women graduating. She contributed to many landmark cases during her distinguished career, including Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark case that led the Supreme Court to decide that the right to privacy under the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution extended to a woman’s decision to have an abortion.
The VSA voted to close Cardinal Puff, the student run record and magazine store. The closure was due to a debt that had, at its peak, reached $40,000. VSA president Vanessa Green ‘86 added that, “we are determined to stop blindly pouring money into Puff.” The store opened in 1977, shortly after the opening of the College Center. The Miscellany News
Harvard professor Stephen Jay Gould, an influential paleontologist, evolutionary biologist and historian of science, lectured on "Time's Arrow and Time's Cycle" in Avery Auditorium. The lecture incorporated philosophical, religious, biological, anthropological, and geological issues. Though impressed by Gould’s knowledge of the subject, some attendees were displeased by his style of presentation. “He was authoritarian in his answers, dogmatic, and evasive. He didn’t answer people’s questions. It was like listening to a Ronald Reagan news conference.” The Miscellany News
The VSA Alcohol Taskforce recommended that the campus become alcohol-free in December, in compliance with New York State’s new law raising the drinking age from 18 to 21.
A visitor to the college fell five stories from the roof of Main building. He was taken in critical condition to St. Francis hospital with two broken arms and a collapsed lung but appeared to have no spinal cord or neurological damage. He had apparently been drinking. The Miscellany News
Lester Thurow, professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, lectured on economic theory and the world economy in the first of “The Andrea Leeds Miron ’75 Lectures in Political Economy.” On the current state of the national economy, Thurow told the audience, “America faces the difficult task of learning to compete in a new world economy just at the point when America’s relative economic strength is weather than it has been at any time since the second World War.” Professor Thurow was an advocate of European and Japanese economic systems in which the government is very involved with the direction of the economy. The Miscellany NewsThurow was a founder of the Economic Policy Institute and the author of The Zero-sum Society: Distribution and the Possibilities for Economic Change (1980), and Head to Head: The Coming Economic Battle Among Japan, Europe and America (1992).
Howard Love, chief operating officer of National Intergroup lectured on "The Restructuring of Corporate America" in the Villard Room. National Intergroup was formed in 1983 as a holding company for the failing National Steel Corporation, a major American steel producer founded in 1929. The holding company supervised the division of National Steel into smaller, more focused units, the sale of one of its mills to employees and the sail, in 1984, of 50 percent of National Steel to a major Japanese steel producer.In his lecture, Love told students, “Change is one constant, and it’s a healthy one. Without change, our institutions would wither away and die.” The Miscellany News
U.S. Army demolition experts, the local Civil Defense Authority and the Poughkeepsie Police, Fire, and Health Departments were called to remove potentially explosive chemicals found in Olmsted Hall and the Sanders Physics and Chemistry Buildings. The authorities were alerted by the chair of the biology department, Leathem Mehaffey III, who had been informed that large quantities of a potentially volatile acid had been discovered in the Olmsted basement. The chemicals were removed to the Vassar Farm, where they were detonated with TNT. The Miscellany News
The New York Department of Environmental Conservation released a report citing 104 “hazardous waste” locations in the state, among them the “Vassar College laboratory dump.” The report alleged that the college’s biology labs may have dumped hazardous waste on Vassar farm.
Director of Facilities Operations at Vassar Farm Stephen R. Saulis responded, “I’ve checked with everyone and their brother….There is no validity to this [report].” The Miscellany News
On June 17, 1986, Vassar was removed from the list of the Registry of Inactive Hazardous Waste Disposal Sites in New York State.
Co-chair of the Democratic Socialists of America and Queens College Professor of Political Science Michael Harrington, author of The Other America (1962), lectured on “The New American Poverty” in the Villard Room. Said Harrington, “There are now more poor people in America…than when Johnson started his war on poverty.” In response to these problems, Harrington called for a political move to the left, saying “the conservative period in American life is about to end.” The Miscellany News
Harrington spoke at Vassar in November 1972.
A panel discussion in the Chapel on “Sports and the Press: How Newspapers and Other Media Do and Should Cover Baseball” included the former president of the American League, Lee MacPhail; New York Yankee batting coach and former player Roy White; New York Mets announcer and former Philadelphia Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals player Tim McCarver; the executive vice president of the American League, Robert Fishell and sports reporter Mike Lupica of The New York Daily News.The panel discussed drug testing and media treatment of baseball players. MacPhail voiced the opinion that, because they were in the public eye, players must “voluntarily give up a piece of your individual rights – this is asking very little.” McCarver echoed that opinion, “The game is as close to heaven as you can get. It is an unhealthy atmosphere.” The Miscellany News
Five members of the Debate Society—Dan Blum ’89, Evan Brenner ’89, Scott Cooper ’87, Anne Louise Gibbins ’89 and Scott Kirkpatrick ’87—argued for 100 hours in a continuous Parliamentary Debate in the Villard Room, earning a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. The resolution sponsored by the team of Brenner and Blum, "The government that governs best governs least," was opposed by the team of Cooper and Gibbons, with Kirkpatrick acting as speaker of the house.
Interviewed midway through the marathon, Blum observed, "We have debated abortion, capital punishment, the monetary system...Laura Ashley, garbage disposal and childbirth... All these topics must eventually relate back to teh original question." Gibbons added, "After we heard Kirk [Kirkpatrick] snore, we even raised the issue of respiratory difficulties." The longest speech of the five days was given by Blum, who spoke at one point for over almost four hours. Said Blum, “I have the biggest mouth…and can speak for the longest time without really saying anything.”
In the debate's final hour Vassar President Virginia Smith, the New York State chief of protocol and spokesperson for Governor Mario Cuomo Frederica Goodman and Thomas Aposporos, the mayor of Poughkeepsie, observed its conclusion. The Miscellany News
In a recital in Skinner Hall, Associate Professor of Music Blanca Uribe, pianist, performed Bach’s Partita in C minor, BWV 826, Beethoven’s Sonata in A flat Major, Op. 110, selections from Isaac Albeniz’s Suite Iberia, and the world première of Fixations, by Professor of Music Richard Wilson. The Bach Partita, reported Linda Leigh Smith '86 in the Miscellany News, "displayed Uribe's versatility as she moved with ease through its contrasting movements," while the applause for her performance of the Beethoven sonata called the pianist back for "a second bow."
Professor Wilson's Fixations, a suite he described as an attempt "to give shape to musical ideas that are amorphous and fleetiing in their incipient state," consisted of of three pieces, "Bird in Space," "Shadowings" and "Flashback." The recital's final section was three pieces from the Iberia suite of Isaac Albeniz. "The recital," Smith concluded, "allowed for an exciting evening in both its content and the art of its world-reknowned performer."
The Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart shortly after lift-off, killing the crew aboard: Francis Scobee, Michael J. Smith, Ellison Onizuka, Judith Resnik, Ronald McNair, Gregory Jarvis and Christa McAuliffe.
President Smith had served on a panel that aided in the selection of Christa McAuliffe, the first teacher in space, for this mission.
The Committee to Locate Alternate Social Space opened a part-time non-alcoholic nightclub in the Aula for a three week trial. “This can only be good and has been sorely needed for years,” said committee member Rick Singer ‘87. “However, if people do not show up for the first few weeks the Administration might get the impression that this is not a popular idea.” The club's first weekend was well-attended; the Aula hosted 635 on Thursday, 945 on Friday and 705 on Saturday.
Despite some difficulties from its location in an academic building, offering a wider range of entertainment and an ambiance, as one student put it, "much more like New York City night club atmosphere," the non-alcoholic club flourished in the Aula until 1994, when funds were secured to develop student entertainment space in the underused second floor of the Students' Building. The Miscellany News
The African-American a cappella group Sweet Honey in the Rock performed songs with social messages, commenting on women’s issues, civil rights, apartheid in South Africa and commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. “You can steal my tongue/ But someone else gonna sing my song,” the group sang in Echo, a modern gospel work about the Wilmington 10 and one of the hardest hitting pieces of the evening. The Miscellany News
In preparation for the concert the Joseph Camp’s video profile of the group, Gotta Make This Journey (1983), was shown the preceding week.
Daniel Kunene, professor of African languages at the University of the West Indies; Edgar Tidwell, humanities fellow at Yale University and Visiting Assistant Professor of English and Africana Studies Constance Berkley participated in a panel discussion on “A Literature Round Table: The Politics of Literature” in the Villard room. Speaking about apartheid in South Africa, Kunene said, “The first function of art [is] to stir society out of complacency…We cannot go from this war to peace. War has moved from the battlefield to an ideological frond on which the heroes and new warriors are intellectuals and educators.” The Miscellany News
The Student Coalition Against Apartheid staged a sit-in in President Smith's office, claiming that Vassar, instead of divesting, had increased the amount of stock it held in apartheid-supportive companies.
The same day, the Trustee Investor Responsibility Committee approved a divestment timetable by which the college would rid itself of South Africa-related stock.
The trustees approved an increased in the comprehensive fee of $1,000 (7.46%) for the 1986-87 academic year, bringing the fee to $13,600.
Vice President for Finance and Treasurer Anthony Stellato accounted for the increase in an all-campus letter: “There are a number of reasons why the increases in college costs continue to outpace inflation. As we continually review every phase of the college’s operations for possible efficiencies, we have to keep in mind that maintaining quality in education prevents a college from taking the same steps as a business or a cooperation for improving productivity.” The Miscellany News
Chair of the Board of Trustees Mary Draper Janney ’42 announced that Bucknell University provost and vice president for academic affairs Frances Daly Fergusson would succeed the retiring Virginia Smith as Vassar’s ninth president, effective July 1, 1986. Fergusson, Janney said, “values the faculty-student relationship as central to the educational enterprise in an undergraduate college….Most importantly, she fits Vassar.”
At a news conference on campus, Fergusson—a graduate of Wellesley with a PhD in art history from Harvard—praised Vassar for resisting current trends towards specialization and career-oriented courses and for adhering to the “strong liberal arts tradition,” adding that this particularly attracted her to the college: “instead of predetermination there is exploration with a desire to see what else a student can learn and can become, to move away from replicating the past.” The New York Times
Professor Ali Mazrui from the University of Michigan lectured on "Africa and Global Reform: In Search of a New World Order." The former director of Michigan’s Center for Afroamerican and African Studies, Dr. Mazrui’s presentation of the BBC’s Reith Lectures in 1979 appeared from Cambridge University Press as The African Condition: A Political Diagnosis (1980), and his The Africans: A Triple Heritage was published in 1986. Mazrui discussed his motivations in producing his various oral and written works. He described his move to the United States in 1973 as having “globalized my perspectives. It is as though I had climbed to the top of the world and could suddenly see all over.”Dr. Mazrui returned to Vassar in November to show and speak about the documentary film series, The Africans: A Triple Heritage (1986).
Writer-in-residence and O. Henry award winner James Salter read from his works, including an upcoming “autobiographical piece,” in Taylor Hall. Salter spoke of his journey from West Point and his position as a fighter pilot to a journalist and author, and responded to his reputation as “a writer’s writer”: “I still have hopes of emerging from that distinguished position,” the author said.Salter’s memoir, Burning the Days appeared in 1997.
A lecture by Michael Manley, Prime Minister of Jamaica from 1972 until 1980, "Prospects for Third World Self-Reliance in the 1990s," surveyed the history of Jamaica, its dealings with the International Monetary Fund and the economic problems faced by Third World countries. During his speech, Manley proposed an “international conference on debt” to “bring together debtors and lenders.” The Miscellany News
The stage adaptation of Dylan Thomas’s 1954 radio drama Under Milk Wood, directed by Tim Licata ‘86, was performed at the Powerhouse Theater. “The absurdity of the many lives, and the oddity of the characters all add to the lull by which Under Milk Wood takes the audience in. The play’s characters each have an element of tragedy in them and each of the actors does a fabulous job of creating them.” The Miscellany News
During the spring trustee meeting on campus, student life meetings, open forums previously held to allow students to speak to trustees, were replaced by informal lunches.
Chair of the Board Mary Draper Janney ’42 explained, “The Trustees discussed this luncheon at some length, and decided it is informal, relaxed and provides a good interchange between Trustees and students.” The Miscellany News
Vassar held a conference on world hunger, “Hunger: The Ethical Challenge of Our Time,” including lectures, films, readings, a canned food drive, a “Hunger Benefit concert” and an Oxfam marathon. M.R.C Greenwood, Biology professor and co-chair of the conference, hoped the conference would examine “the causes and possible solutions” to world hunger, to “both educate and encourage further action.” The Miscellany News
U.S. Representative Mickey Leland of Texas, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and the House Select Committee on Hunger, spoke in the Villard Room about “the Great Dimensions of Hunger” to open the conference.
Other speakers included Raymond Hopkins, the co-author of Global Food Interdependence: Challenge to United States Policy (1980); the program coordinator at Oxfam America Joel Charney; Adrienne Germain, former director of Ford Foundation programs in Bangladesh and officer of International Women’s Health Coalition and Mal Nesheim, the president of the American Institute of Nutrition.Associate Professor of English Eamon Grennan and Lecturer in English Nancy Willard read from their works.
Metcalf Counselor Cathy Comins and students Alexandra Carter ’88 and Rosalind Olden ’89 announced plans to develop an “acquaintance rape” education program to be implemented during the upcoming fall freshman orientation.In 1989, Comins was appointed as the new administrator to deal with sexual violence and harassment on campus, responsible for “direct education on issues of rape and violence, to plan crisis prevention efforts, to coordinate recovery services, an, as time permits and circumstances require, to address other issues of harassment.” The Miscellany News
Author, pacifist and feminist Grace Paley, winner of the 1983 Edith Wharton Award, visited campus for three days, giving a reading, teaching a writers’ workshop and leading a discussion with her husband, poet and novelist Robert Nichols, on “Being an Urban Writer.”“I think all writers are basically regional,” Paley told the audience, “There’s no getting away from what I am, which is New York and Jewish…Texas writers are Texas writers, but that doesn’t make them less interesting to me.” The Miscellany News
As part of the Career Center’s Executive-in-Residence program and in conjunction with the Women’s Studies Program, Denise Davidoff '53, the founder and director of the advertising, marketing and public relations agency, Automatrix Inc., lectured on "Making Choices, Making Waves, Making a Difference.” The purpose of a career, Davidoff said, was to “Enable us to make money, give us satisfaction along with freedom, and give us the skills to make ourselves known and heard in the world.” The Miscellany News
Former Illinois Congressman John B. Anderson, independent presidential candidate in the 1980 election, was the keynote speaker for Sophomore Parents weekend. In his address, Anderson cautioned against too much individualism, saying “The banner of self interest to which we are marching today…is leading us away from the values…that held use together.” The Miscellany News
Anderson’s wife, Keke, had spoken at Vassar in October of 1980, in support of his presidential campaign.
Women’s Week celebrated the theme “Sisterhood is Global” with lectures, a concert, a reading, a potluck dinner and a discussion.
Robin Morgan, author of Sisterhood is Global: The International Women's Movement Anthology (1984) spoke on “The Politics of International Sisterhood.” Morgan dismissed the “myth” that feminism was only a “white woman’s movement;” instead, she contended that it was “indigenous to every country and culture.” The Miscellany News
The next day, Egyptian feminist Faiza Blashak spoke about feminism in the Middle East.
The VSA Council issue a statement opposing the creation of a new post, director of religious and chaplaincy services (DRACS), to take the place of a chaplain. The statement expressed “great displeasure with the Trustees’ solely engaging in dialogue with the faculty and in no way with the student body whom this new program most directly affects.” Protests about the decision also came from some student religious organizations. The Miscellany News
The position and its title were subsequently changed, the post become that of director of religious and spiritual life.
Students from Vassar, Marist, and Dutchess Community Colleges protested IBM involvement with the apartheid government of South Africa by picketing, blocking and chaining the doors of the IBM building in Poughkeepsie. The protesters yelled “IBM you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide.”
Ten Vassar students and three students from Marist and Dutchess Community Colleges were arrested during the demonstration. Charges against them were eventually dropped.
The Task Force on Racism held a race relations discussion about whether racism was institutionalized at Vassar. Said panel participant Karen Roberts ‘86, “In my opinion, I would say racism does exist at every level [on campus]…At some levels it isn’t overt racism, but it’s covert.”
Another student said, “I have black friends on campus and if I approach them while they are with a group of their black friends I feel as if my friend has to approve me—to let the other friends know I’m alright.” The Miscellany News
Filmmaker, painter and sculptor Nancy Graves '61 visited the campus as the President’s Distinguished Visitor. During her visit, Graves led a tour of her workspace at the Tallix Foundry in Beacon, NY, and gave a talk entitled "From Bones to Bronze" in Taylor Auditorium. “Graves has taken scupture down from its pedestal and forced us to look down at it,” reported The Miscellany News on her work.
While on campus, Graves participated in a panel discussion about her work with Associate Professor of Anthropology Judith Goldstein, Lecturer in Art Harry Roseman and Professor of Philosophy Jesse Kalin, and she attended the opening of the Vassar Art Gallery exhibit Nancy Graves: Painting, Sculpture and Drawing 1980-1985. The exhibit was the subject of a panel discussion that included the guest curator of the exhibit, Debra Balken; Linda Nochlin ’51 Distinguished Professor of Art History at the City University of New York Graduate Center; Tallix Foundry owner Robert Polich; Professor of Art History Robert Rosenblum of the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University and Michael Shapiro, curator of the St. Louis Art Museum.
Graves was the first artist to be selected as President’s Distinguished Visitor. Curator Debra Bricker Balken published Nancy Graves: Painting, Sculpture, Drawing, 1980-85 in 1986.
Bertolt Brecht’s The Caucasian Chalk Circle, directed by Clifford Evanson ‘86, was performed in the Aula. Tom Beller ‘87, reviewing the production for The Miscellany News, found “The production excelled when the actors shed some of the noticeable self-consciousness of being involved with such a profound and complicated script and fell back on their natural talent.”Written in 1944, Brecht’s play was first performed by students at Carleton College in Minnesota. The first professional production was in Philadelphia in 1948, under the direction of its translator, Eric Bentley.
The inaugural Undergraduate Research Summer Institute (URSI) included 26 students and 26 professors. Professor of Biology M.R.C. Greenwood ‘68, the URSI coordinator said, “This is a unique coelopment program for students and faculty....We hope to plan for the future so that Vassar will maintain its top-rate science faculty and its standards as an active research college.” The Miscellany News
URSI students presented a symposium on their summer work on October 1st.
The Department of the Interior designated Vassar's Main Building—architect James Renwick Jr's third building in the mansarded French Second Empire style—a National Historic Landmark, making it one of only six in the state. in the nomination for historic landmark status, Elizabeth Daniels '41 cited architectural historian Henry Russell Hitchcock's assessment of the building, modelled by Renwick at Matthew Vassar's order on the Tuileries Palace in Paris: "For such things as the Smithsonian and his churches Renwick had plenty of visual documents on which to lean, either archaeological treatises on the buildings of the medieval past or illustrations of contemporary foreign work. But for Vassar College, very evidently, he was dependent for his inspiration on rather generalized lithographic or engraved views of the Tuileries. Nor could he, at this relatively early date, borrow much from published illustrations of contemporary English work in the new international Second Empire mode. The particular plastic vitality of the Americanized Second Empire is already notable in this early example, however, even though the rather crude articulation of the red brick walls is remote from anything French of any period from the sixteenth century to the nineteenth. Later buildings by Renwick in the same mode are richer and closer to Parisian standards, but their architectonic vitality is considerably less."
In recognition of the new honor and of the 125th anniversary of the college’s charter, plans and elevations for Main Building by James Renwick Jr. were displayed in the Vassar Art Gallery. Henry Russell Hitchcock, Architecture: Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, "National Register of Historic Places Inventory—Nomination Form: Main Building, Vassar College (Vassar Female College)", The Miscellany News
Male Josselyn residents reserved the television room, posted a sign saying “No broads allowed” and watched pornography; the movie and the sign prompted Maryann Dickar ’88 to organize a discussion on the matter.
Dickar’s meeting was attended by a number of Josselyn residents and by Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science Iva E. Deutchman, Associate Professor of Political Science Mary L. Shanley and Assistant Professor of Hispanic Studies Karen Stolley.
Maryann Dickar said at the end of the meeting, “The discussion made the people who did it realize that they hurt people. The realized that maybe porn doesn’t belong in the TV room.” However, one of the males who had watched the pornography maintained that “The discussion didn’t clear anything up…People came with attitudes. The people who set it up came in with their attitude. The topic kept getting changed. It all came down to wanting to take someone’s rights way. Naturally some will say ‘We’ll watch whatever we want,’ and others will say ‘Well, we’re not going to stand for it.’” The Miscellany News
The exhibit All Seasons and Every Light: Nineteenth Century American Landscapes, featuring 19th century works by the Hudson River School, opened in the Vassar Art Gallery as part of Poughkeepsie’s art festival Artscape ’86 and the Vassar 125th anniversary commemoration. The paintings, drawings and sketchbooks by Frederic Church, Jasper F. Crospey, Charles Moore, Sandford R. Gifford, Asher B. Durand, William Trost Richards and Aaron D. Shattuck were from the collection purchased by Matthew Vassar from charter trustee Elias Magoon in 1864.
An exhibit of architect James Renwick Jr.’s plans of Main Building—on display since July—remained on view, as another exhibition associated with the college’s 125th anniversary.
All Seasons and Every Light was first shown at Vassar in 1983.
The Vassar Art Gallery held a symposium on James Renwick Jr., the architect of Main Building, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the Smithsonian Institution Building. Speakers included college historian Elizabeth Daniels ’41, author and photographer Rollie McKenna ‘40 and New York University art historian Bannon McHenry.
McKenna’s A Study of the Architecture of the Main Building and the Landscaping of Vassar College, 1860-1870 (1949), her Vassar Master’s thesis, was the first scholarly study of Renwick’s Main Building.
Professor of Drama William Rothwell directed George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart’s Merrily We Roll Along (1934).
Frances Daly Fergusson was inaugurated as the ninth president of Vassar College in a ceremony held in the Outdoor Theater and attended by faculty, students, alumnae/i, the Board of Trustees, former Presidents Alan Simpson and Virginia Smith, and delegates from eighty universities and colleges. During the inauguration, the bell on Main Building rang nine times to honor Fergusson, and Vassar’s eight preceding presidents.
Speakers at the inauguration included Mary Draper Janney ’42, chair of the board of trustees, VSA President Richard Feldman ’87 and the Presidents of Wellesley College, Yale University and the University of Rochester. Feldman noted the college’s recent decision to divest itself of stock in companies operating in South Africa, adding that “Vassar, by setting very high standards for itself and its students, has more often than not been ahead of its time…and now that the college has committed itself to divest, it has set an example for the world to follow….”
In her remarks, President Fergusson echoed Feldman’s concerns, saying “Today, in many quarters, truth has become narrowly conceived, rigidly tied to ideologies and unbending in the face of competing truths…. We see the consequences: the Iranian revolution, the intransigence of the South African government and the rise of fundamentalism in America.” The New York Times
The inaugural ceremony capped off a week’s celebration of Fergusson’s presidency and of the college’s 125th anniversary. The week’s events included a ceremony dedicating Main Building as a National Historic Landmark, a conference on the building’s architecture, an alumnae/i panel discussing the Vassar experience and a concert by the Vassar College Brass Choir.
President Fergusson held an open forum in the Aula in an effort “to improve some of the communication on campus.” She said she thought students should “understand why decisions are made, even though sometimes those are decisions you cannot or do not fully support.” Among the issues discussed at the forum were the recently raised drinking age, the Mug, the Aula and all-campus parties.
Dean of Studies Colton Johnson, associate professor of English, took a six-month leave to begin preparing a volume for The Collected Works of William Butler Yeats. Advisor to Juniors Garrett Vander Veer, professor of philosophy, served as acting dean of studies in Johnson’s absence.
President Fergusson ruled that on-campus job recruiters were to confine their recruiting to the Center for Career Development. Many students had objected to the presence in the College Center of Marine Corps recruiters because of the Marine Corps’ discrimination against homosexuals.
An exhibition of Vassar postcards belonging to Deborah Goldberg ‘88 was displayed in the Library. Goldberg, an art history major, collected the 200 postcards at antique shows and flea markets. “The older postcards have more charm and a greater variety of perspectives,” she told The Miscellany News.
Selections from the documentary series The Africans: A Triple Heritage, created by Dr. Ali Mazrui, the former director of the University of Michigan’s Center for Afroamerican and African Studies was screened and followed by a discussion. The Chicago Tribune called the nine-hour series "a curious piece —a provocative, exhaustive, highly selective potpourri that is enlightening and irritating, informative and intriguing, petulant and polemical.”
Thirty-four students attended a discussion in the Villard Room about problems in Vassar’s athletic programs. VSA president Richard Feldman ’87, a student representative on the College Planning Committee, convened the meeting “so that when I walk into a meeting as a student representative I am well-informed.” The Miscellany News
Vassar held a symposium on “Museums in Academe: Design, Function and Funding,” featuring Jan E. Adlmann, director of the Vassar Art Gallery, President Frances D. Fergusson and Executive Director of Development Judith A. Lewittes ‘63.
Philaletheis presented Torch Song Trilogy (1978) by Harvey Fierstein, directed by Joseph DeFilippis ’89. “It’s hectic. It’s all time-consuming. It’s been my entire life for the past month,” DeFilippis told The Miscellany News, “I thought it would be nice to see things that are more contemporary. This play focuses on different characters, but it’s all about basic human emotions whether it’s a drag queen or his mother.” The trilogy consisted of three one-act plays: International Stud, Fugue in a Nursery and Widows and Children First!
Otis Day and the Knights played at Vassar’s Autumn Ball. Originally a fictional roadhouse band in the 1978 film Animal House, the group, led by DeWayne Jessie, continued to tour and issue recordings for several decades. Their Vassar set got mixed reviews from students: “I really enjoyed Otis Day when he was there,” commented Heather Fowler ’89, “But in the future, they should get a less popular band. I mean, Otis was great, but you couldn’t dance and really enjoy him.” The Miscellany News
Hindy Borenstein, co-director of the Mid-Hudson chapter of Chabad—an organization designed to promote knowledge about Judaism— and Fruma Rosenberg, instructor at the Jewish Women’s University in Pittsburgh, spoke on "Judaism and Feminism: Do They Share Common Values?" in the Rose Parlor. Both Borenstein and Rosenberg argued that women were not subordinate in Orthodox Judaism.
The Kronos String Quartet—David Harrington, John Sherba, Hank Dutt and Joan Jenrenaud— performed twentieth century music in Skinner Hall. Among the pieces presented were Scott Johnson’s Bird in the Domes, Jin Hi Kim’s Linking, Mel Graves’sPangaea, Philip Glass’s Mishima Quartet and Jon Hassel’s Pano Da Costa. Of Bird in the Domes, student reporter Joanna Guinther wrote, “The simultaneous presence of different meters creates an impression of movement under the surface, in an overall context of stillness, as metric chaos contrasts with rhythmic unity.” The Miscellany News
Caribbean-American novelist, short story writer and journalist Jamaica Kincaid gave a reading in Rockefeller hall. A writer for The New Yorker, Kincaid published a collection of short stories, At the Bottom of the River, in 1984, and her first novel, Annie John appeared in 1985.
Philaletheis presented Jean Paul Sartre’s No Exit (1944), directed by Cybele Fisher ‘88, in Kenyon Hall. The Miscellany News reviewed the show, commenting, “Robert Schajer portrayed Garcin down to the smallest feature. He did an excellent job of conveying the image of Garcin – an old, decrepit man, who feared Hell, but at the same time held it in contempt.”
Writer, philosopher and objectivist social critic David Kelley lectured on "Capitalism and Equality" in Rockefeller Hall. Dr. Kelley taught in the philosophy department and the cognitive science program at Vassar between 1977 and 1984.
The Vassar Art Gallery presented “Avant-Garde Chinese Art: Beijing/New York,” showing work from young artists—Yang Yiping, Li Shuang, Yan Li, Yin Guanzhong, Zhang Wei, Zhao Gang ’88, Xhu Jinshi, An Wei Wei and Xing Fei— who attempted to fuse traditional Eastern art with 20th century Western art. The majority of artists in the exhibition presented abstract work, and many experienced difficulty getting their works shown in China. “With the progress and interesting art these artists are creating, it seems only fair to suggest that Chinese artists, when given the opportunity, participate as an integral part of the art world,” wrote Emily Tobias ’89 in a review of the show for The Miscellany News, “Many Chinese artists hope that the appointment of novelist Wang Meng as cultural minister will lead to a period of increased artistic freedom in China.”
Eight administrators and faculty members circulated a letter condemning a student magazine Genius with a Penis, which included pornography and stories containing bestiality, racial slurs, pedophilia and juvenile sexual abuse.
A signatory, Professor of Psychology Anne Constantinople, said, “To me the magazine is offensive; and what is perhaps more offensive to me is that member of the community would feel that their individual rights to disseminate the magazine is in no way in conflict with the community values as a whole. It seemed to me important that somebody stand up and speak for the values of the College community.”
The magazine’s editor responded, admitting,“the magazine expresses ‘views abhorrent to Vassar,’ but does so not to hurt, which it was never intended to do so, but to provoke thought.” The Miscellany News
French authorities ruled that Vassar was “an eligible recipient” of a $1million estate on the French Riviera, allowing the college to take possession of the property. The Board of Trustees planned to sell the villa to generate revenue for the college.
Two sisters, Vassar alumna from the early 1920s, anonymously gave the villa in the medieval village of Eze-sur-Mer to the college’s endowment fund on December 21, 1984. The college eventually sold the villa.
In her New York debut, Vassar soprano and Assistant Professor of Music Carol Wilson performed pieces by Nin, Mussorgsky, Poulenc, Schubert, Ives, and Professor of Music Richard Wilson in the Weill Recital Hall of Carnegie Hall. Reviewing the recital, New York Times critic Will Crutchfield appreciated the "evidence of subtle thought without underlining or overplaying" of Ms. Wilson's interpretation" and noted her "clear, steady tone, without mannerism and without apparent strain."
The events for Winter Weekend included a café night, sister class teas, a Winter Weekend Banquet, the President’s distinguished bonfire, winter sporting events, an Airband contest, an all-campus party and a bagel brunch. “The goal of the weekend,” Patrick Kear ’88, Chairperson of the Winter Weekend Committee told The Miscellany News, “was to provide more events than any one could actually participate in, so as not to make anyone bored.” Freshman Ilir Topalli, reflecting on the Sister Class Teas, was unimpressed, “Cold tea and no cookies just doesn’t cut it.”
Performing in Skinner Hall, the Hudson Valley Philharmonic premiered Professor of Music Richard Wilson’s Symphony No. 2, subtitled by the composer Portrait of the Composer Straining to Appear Still Young. Responding to Wilson’s own characterization of the piece as full of “restlessness and anxiety,” reporter for The Miscellany News Joanna Guithner ’87 wrote, “The phrases are so short, and continuity – both rhythmic and melodic – so conspicuously absent, it is strikingly, almost uncomfortably, reminiscent of a fitful sleep.” The program also included Mozart’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 19 in F major and Mendelssohn’s Scottish Symphony.
Assistant Professor of Biology David K. Jemiolo hosted the first annual Vassar, Haverford, Brown Symposium on ribosomal RNA held on campus. Michael Starnbach ’87 also participated in the conference.
The Vassar College Art Gallery presented an installation by video artists Steina Vasulka and Woody Vasulka, “The West,” which examined humanity’s relationship with the desert.
A text accompanying the work described some aspects of this relationship: “In no other region of the country does the presence of the sun play such a significant role in the ecology of the land—arid and eroded, with an exceptional clarity of the bright skies—forming notions of extraterrestrial importance in the minds of its inhabitants…The landscape, by its dimensions and by its geometric and textural variety, inspires men to create harmonious structures, dwellings, and other earth works.” The Miscellany News
The English department performed its annual Shakespeare reading, this year presenting Henry IV, Part I. “It was a reading witness to the human condition, as well as wholesome family entertainment… I personally think it would have made an excellent musical, although Shakespeare did not seem to be too hot on lyrics,” Ian Heller ’90 reported. The Miscellany New
"The Great Pornography Debate" took place in the Chapel between frequent antagonists Al Goldstein, founder and publisher of Screw magazine, and Page Mellish, founder of Feminists Fighting Pornography.
During the debate, Goldstein stated, “Clearly what I’m in favor of is the right for pornography to exist simply because a) it does no damage b) because it has a legitimate right to exist.”
Mellish maintained that pornography was harmful to women, insisting, “they say it’s fantasy and yet it’s pictures of real women degraded, annihilated, violated, raped, humiliated, subjugated. Pictures of women in postures of submission and absolute access and availability for penetration.” The Miscellany News
The Student Coalition Against Racism and Sexism (SCARS) was founded in response to the publication of the student magazine Genius with a Penis, which included pornography and stories containing bestiality, racial slurs, pedophilia, and juvenile sexual abuse. SCARS began a petition against the publication, protested in the College Center and ACDC and picketed the dorm room of two of the magazine’s writers.
The SCARS petition stated, “We find Genius with a Penis to be offensive in content and in flagrant violation of the non-discriminatory policies of Vassar College. This publication threatens and compromises the integrity of the Vassar Community and we feel it should not be continued in affiliation with Vassar College.” The Miscellany News
Astronomer Vera Rubin ’48 from the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism at the Carnegie Institute came to campus as the President’s Distinguished Visitor. One of the three female members of the National Academy of Sciences, in the early 1970s Rubin discovered in the rotation curves of distant galaxies proof of the long-suspected existence of “dark matter,” an unknown substance thought to constitute most of the universe.
Rubin presented a lecture and slide show on "Bright Galaxies, Dark Matter and Other Puzzles of the Galaxy." While on campus, Rubin participated in three panels: “Science and the Media,” with Newsday science editor B.D. Colen, PBS television producer Terry Rockefeller and faculty members; “Science and the Liberal Arts,” featuring Veterans Hospital doctor Geraldine Schecter ’59, wood sculpture conservator Jean Daniels Portell ’62 and faculty members; and “The Role of Gender in Science,” with Smithsonian curator Deborah Warner, University of Massachusetts astronomer Judith Rubin Young and faculty members.
Philaletheis presented Samuel Beckett’s Not I (1972) and Rockaby (1981), directed by Joseph Heissan Jr. ’87.“Although simplified, Beckett is attempting in both plays to separate the physical being from the subconscious. What is important are the words. Language is being used as the only means of communication, as well as thought,” Ian Heller '90 said in The Miscellany News. “Although director Joseph Heissan followed much of what Beckett had to say in regard to stage directions, his imagination accounted for what was, in my opinion, and excellent interpretation.”
Randolph Visiting Distinguished Professor of Anthropology Colin Turnbull and Visiting Associate Professor in Anthropology Joseph Towles lectured on "Growing Up in Africa" in Rockefeller Hall. The British-American anthropologist achieved fame and raised some controversy with his studies of two African tribes, the BaMbuti, in The Forest People (1961), and the Ik, in The Mountain People (1972).
In 1960 Turnbull exchanged marriage vows with Towles, who was his assistant in establishing the “Hall of African Peoples” at the American Museum of Natural History.
Twelve Vassar students rallied in front of the IBM building on Poughkeepsie’s Main Mall, protesting IBM’s South African investments with chants like “computer profits are a shame under apartheid’s cruel name.” “Vassar has to make an effort to get involved in the community of Poughkeelsie,” said Steve Pixley ‘89, “at least they can have something to respect or disrespect us for.” The Miscellany News
Former high-ranking CIA agent and current agency critic John Stockwell spoke in the Chapel. As a Marine paramiltiary intelligence officer, Stockwell was chief of base in Katanga during the latter part of the Congo Crisis (1960-66), and he served as the director of intelligence operations in Tay Ninh province in Vietnam. In 1975, after service as chief of the Angola Task Force during the Angola Civil War and deeply disillusioned with the agency he'd served for over a dozen years, he retired with the rank of Major.
Stockwell's controversial best-seller, In Search of Enemies: A CIA Story (1978), focused on the layers of duplicity he'd witnessed in Angola. "in the Angolan operation," he wrote, "we were now lying to each other, even while we read and wrote cables which directly contradicted those lies. In fact, there were several levels of untruth functioning simultaneously, different stories for different aspects of our activities, one for the working group, another for unwitting State Department personnel, yet another for the U. S. Congress." At Vassar, he saw the same "macho aggression, paranoia" continuing under President Ronald Reagan, whom he called a "very dangerous man, perhaps one of the most dangerous in history." The President, he said, "functions to appeal to Americans' irrationality.... He is appealing to people not to think and not to be responsible...and that's why they cling to him."Stockwell’s lecture informed much of the campus debate around CIA recruiting on campus in the following months. Dan Mindich ‘87, in an opinion piece for The Miscellany News later in February, told his fellow seniors, “The thin veil of national security that the CIA operates under is just that, a veil which hides, unsuccessfully thanks to men like John Stockwell, the truth about the worst terror instrument in the history of the world…Please think carefully before choosing your career, and use your power to make this world a better place fore everyone and not a nightmare for some.” The Miscellany News
Writer-in-residence Elizabeth Spires '74, author of Globe (1981), read and commented on her poetry in Rockefeller Hall. She spoke to the audience about her own writing process, her time living in London, and about the reality of her poetry before sitting down with Miscellany News reporter Allyson Laborde ‘87. “Your story will be one of five hundred an editor sees… you should have skin as thick as an elephant’s,” she advised.
In a Philaletheis production in the Aula, Michele Gibson ‘89, assisted by Joseph DeFilippis ‘89, directed Working (1978), an adaption of Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do (1974), an oral history by the American historian, broadcaster and popular chronicler Studs Terkel. Reviewing the production in The Miscellany News, Laura Ann Von Eschen '90, praised the "rather large cast, approximately 28 people," singling out the performances of Jillian C. Hamilton '87, "who portrayed a cleaning woman and belted out a song in Act II which amazed the audience" and Robert L. Smith '90, "who sang 'Lovin' Al' with more gusto than is often seen in young performers." Michele Gibson told Von Eschen, “I was glad for the opportunity and support that the campus gave me. I feel I’ve gained more experience not only in organizing and directing shows, but also in working with people.” The Miscellany News
A reception and book-signing was held in the Rose Parlor for College Historian Elizabeth Daniels ’41 and her new book Main to Mudd: An Informal History of Vassar College Buildings. Daniels spoke with Ian Heller '90 about the challeneges of her work: “It’s a never-ending job…the sources are all over the place….That’s the fun of it—digging. You always have questions you can’t answer. I have a lot of questions that I never did get answered about some of these buildings.” The Miscellany News
Daniels revised and expanded her study of campus buildings in 1996, as Main to Mudd and More: An Informal History of Vassar College Buildings.
Marianne Merola ’87 and Elisa Mogelever ‘88, selected as two of the best 24 fencers in the region, competed at the NCAA Northeast Regional Qualifier.
The Men’s Squash Team won the Barnaby Award for most improved team at the National Intercollegiate Squash Championships at Yale University. Vassar also won the Barnaby award in 1981.
Under the direction of visiting director Constance DeFotis, the Vassar Madrigal Singers toured and performed in central Florida during Spring Break.
Smith College hosted the 8th annual Seven College Conference for students, focusing on issues faced by minority and Third World women. Controversy arose when Smith refused to allow VSA President Richard Feldman ‘87 to attend the conference because he was male. Conference organizers eventually decided that men could attend, but could not participate in certain events.
In the end, Vassar sent an all-female delegation.
CIA recruiters visited Vassar to conduct interviews. Protesting CIA involvement in Iran, Angola, Vietnam, Chile, Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador, 25 students opposed their presence on campus and disrupted the interview sessions.
Writing to The Miscellany News two of the protestors said: “By allowing the CIA to ‘recruit’ on campus, Vassar is giving them time and space to propagandize for actions that go wholly against the beliefs upheld by Vassar College. In fact, by allowing their presence, Vassar is implicitly condoning their actions.”
The two students also mentioned former CIA officer John Stockwell’s February visit to Vassar: “Another point that we considered when planning our protest was one made by ex-CIA officer John Stockwell when he spoke at Vassar. He stated that CIA recruiting on college campuses was not aimed at gaining applicants, since the CIA got all the applicants it needed through private channels, but rather to provide an opportunity for the CIA to present themselves to students as benign ‘professionals.’”
An argument in favor of the on-campus interviews also deplored the "morally reprehensible" international actions of the CIA and recognized the college's right as "a private institution" to prohibit the recruiting interviews. "But," it declared, "although Vassar has the right to exercise such prohibitiions, it should not. Vassar does not censor what we read and it should not shelter us from what exists outside Main Gate.... Hopefully, our Vassar education has prepared us to confront ourselves and these moral dilemmas. Let the bastards in." The Miscellany News
Richard Stoltzman, renowned clarinetist, performed works by Leonard Bernstein, George Gershwin and Steve Reich in Skinner Hall, prior to an engagement at Carnegie Hall. “I’m just playing the music I like. I don’t care if it sells,” Stoltzman told The Miscellany News after the concert. As to accusations that his music had been moving away from the classical genre and towards a more mainstream style, Stoltzman said, “The main thing I care about is if people appreciate it. I don’t see any need to talk about music in terms of categories. Bach, for example, wrote music for church, dances, choirs, orchestras and soloists. His music was not considered ‘classical.’"
H. Patrick Sullivan announced that he would not seek another term as Dean of the College and would leave the position when his term expired in June 1988. “The reasons for my decision are various,” Sullivan wrote, “but I will say that although it has been a pleasure and an honor to be Vassar’s Dean, the job is extremely demanding and, at times, exhausting, leaving time and energy for little else, and I wish now to pursue different, though related, interests.”
A search committee was formed to fill the position. The Miscellany News
Celebrating Vassar's 125th anniversary, history faculty, College Historian Elizabeth Daniels ’41 and President Fergusson participated in a history department forum on “The World in the 1860s."
President Fergusson spoke of Matthew Vassar’s “educational vision,” saying, “In summary, one can say that Matthew Vassar purposely avoided compromises in the design of the curriculum, the hiring of faculty, and the construction of the structure that housed the College. He insisted on a strict course of study grounded in the liberal arts, which emphasized historical knowledge, familiarity with scientific methodology and the ability to be an effective voice in the present...Matthew Vassar issued a challenge to then current notions of a proper education for women.” The Miscellany News
The Trustee Investor Responsibility Committee (TIRC) and the Campus Investor Responsibility Committee (CIRC) rejected claims by IBM, Coca Cola and General Motors that they were no longer connected to South Africa under apartheid. CIRC committee member Kristy Munroe ’89 said “IBM and GM seem to still be doing business [with South Africa], regardless of their claim,” said. CIRC member David Kennett, associate professor of economics, explained that divestment would continue “from all stocks of corporations that have holdings in South Africa, including IBM and General Motors.” The Miscellany News
President Frances Fergusson announced that Rabbi Susan Berman ’78 had been selected as the new Director of Religious Activities and Chaplaincy Services (DRACS). Marcus Drew ’89, a member of the Advisory Council that selected Berman, told The Miscellany News, “She found her calling while at Vassar, which would sound odd to most students here now because they’ve never known that. Most students now would not think that possible. She can bring that back to Vassar. She’s passionate about it; she spoke with fervor about it.”
The DRACS position had been created in the 1985-1986 academic year to replace the office of chaplain.
“The Educated Imagination,” a symposium held to celebrate Vassar’s 125th anniversary, opened with a dialogue between President Fergusson and cultural historian Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz, the author of Alma Mater: Design and Experience in the Women’s Colleges from Their Nineteenth Century Beginnings to the 1930s (1984) and Campus Life: Undergraduate Cultures from the End of the Eighteenth Century to the Present (1987).
Other highlights of the symposium included a reading and lecture by Polish émigré poet Czeslaw Milosz in the Villard Room and a lecture on “Scientific and Artistic Creativity” by medical researcher and anthropologist Dr. Baruch Blumberg. Dr. Blumberg was co-recipient of the 1976 Nobel Prize in Medicine and Czeslaw Milosz received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1980.
A symposium on “The Moral Purposes of Art from Ruskin to the Present” was held in honor of Professor Emeritus of History Evalyn Clark ’24. Professor of English John Rosenberg from Columbia University spoke on “John Ruskin and the Moral Imagination,” and Susan Casteras ’71, assistant curator of paintings at the Yale Center for British Art, discussed “John Ruskin and the Maiden Challenge to Art and Morality.” A panel discussion on “Moral Issues in Current Art” included Lecturer in Art Harry Roseman, Assistant Professor of Art Peter Charlap and students.
The Vassar College Art Gallery presented an exhibit, Ruskiniana: John Ruskin and the Moral Purpose of Art.
The Religious Task Force presented a forum on “The End Result of Racism,” featuring entertainer and human rights activist Harry Belafonte and members from the organization The Children of War—teenagers from Northern Ireland, Israel’s West Bank, the Navajo Nation, Guatemala, South Africa and the United States who spoke about the persecution they had experienced. Nadia Hussary, a fifteen year old from the West Bank, explained to the audience, “I am not a terrorist. I am not against the Jewish people. I am against the Israeli government. Please understand me and my people.” The forum ended with a concert and the crowd singing The Children of War theme song. The Miscellany News
President Fergusson and the Athletics and Grounds staffs held a forum on athletics, discussing the budget for athletics, the college community’s interest in sporting events and other problems faced by sports programs. All forum speakers agreed that the athletic budget of $144,500 was not sufficient, and President Fergusson promised to speak with the trustees about the athletics program.
Coach Roman Czula said, “It’s going to take an unusual, artificial step in terms of the budget process to solve the problems in athletics…A three or four hundred thousand dollar increase would bring us back into the ball game with our comparable institutions. Now, unfortunately, in athletics Vassar clearly does not represent the quality which we espouse we represent.” The Miscellany News
In the fall of 1987, President Fergusson gave “several thousand dollars” more to the athletic budget. She explained, “It was not a question of an enormous number of additional dollars being extended to the department…. It was just meeting some needs that existed, concerning the safety of students and the dignity of students as they were out there representing Vassar.” The Miscellany News
Matthew Brelis ’80 shared the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service with his colleague at The Pittsburgh Press, Andrew Schneider, for a series of 14 articles in which they documented medical problems and drug addiction among airline pilots and flight crews. The reportage, the Pulitzer committee said, “revealed the inadequacy of the FAA’s medical screening or airline pilots and led to significant reforms.”
Vassar’s AIDS Education Committee—a newly formed coalition made up of CHOICE, the Listening Center, Gay People’s Alliance and the Lesbian Feminist League— held an “AIDS Education Week,” featuring lectures, panels and performances and discussions of William Hoffman’s As Is (1985). One of the first Broadway plays to address AIDS, the play depicted the effects of AIDS on a group of friends in New York.
As part of the week, Deborah May ’86, Mid-Hudson AIDS Task Force member, lectured in the Villard Room. Also, community members, including Associate Professor of English Everett K. Weedin, VSA President Richard Feldman ’87, Associate Professor of Biology E. Pinia Norrod and David Irvine, physician’s assistant in the health service, participated in a faculty discussion panel in the Aula.
President Fergusson said in a statement regarding AIDS: “The prognosis for the AIDS epidemic is bleak. In the next few years, the disease will prematurely end many fine lives. Only a very few of us will not have a friend or family member fatally stricken. Many of us already have. The heavy toll on our society will not be just in grief for loved ones. The effects on public health and social services will be devastating. Politically, fundamental issues of our rights and responsibilities as citizens are going to be raised.
“With no cure predicted for many years, education is the only means we now have for effective confrontation with AIDS. I applaud the efforts of those who are helping Vassar to increase our awareness of the disease. Only with the facts can we prepare ourselves to deal knowledgeably with the complex questions AIDS forces us to face.” The Miscellany News
Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science John Wallach screened the nine-and-half-hour Holocaust documentary Shoah (1985), directed by Claude Lanzmann. Shoahincluded interviews with concentration camp survivors, S.S. officers, civilians who lived near the camps and high-ranking Nazis and focused on the idea of “historical memory,” in which people may modify or delete memories they do not wish to remember. The length of the film made attending “a long time to be sitting in Blodgett, but the discomfort is overshadowed by your interactions with the screen… It is an experience you will never forget,” wrote Michael St. Cyr ’90 for The Miscellany NewsOn April 30, a forum on Shoah and anti-semitism was held. Moderated by Associate Professor of Religion Deborah Dash Moore the discussion included Village Voice movie critic Jim Hoberman and New Yorker writer Lawrence Weschler, author of Solidarity: Poland in the Season of Its Passion (1982).
Phoebe Legere '81, called by Stephen Holden in The New York Times “one of the most striking talents to emerge on the downtown art-music axis,” performed with her rock band Blonde Fox in the Chapel. Julia Szabo ‘87, who helped to coordinate the event, described Leger, “She is an electric performer. A highly accomplished pianist of stunning technical virtuosity…She is graded with a four-and-one-half octave vocal range which enables her to sing any song whatsoever with precision and an originality which ahs become her trademark.” The Miscellany News
Local 1120 of the Communications Workers of America, representing Vassar’s secretarial and clerical workers, went on strike for seven hours over two issues, fears that union leaders would receive a poor job evaluation and the reassignment of a union member to a different desk in the development office. Fifty union members picketed Main and North Gate with signs asking passing motorists to “honk if you support us.”Union representatives met afterwards with the college administration. “We met informally to sound each other out, to see how things are going” Vice-President for Administrative and Student Services Natalie Marshall told The Miscellany News.
Historical preservationist Adele Chatfield-Taylor and her husband playwright John Guare delivered the first dual commencement address in college history. Having won a coin-toss to see who would start Chatfield-Taylor told the Class of 1987 that, in the close of the 20th century, man “will be witnessing and participating in one of the great transitions in history when we finally have to design a way to materially and spiritually co-exist.” This coexistence could only be achieved through collaborations: “Collaborations in the arts. Collaborations between generations, who can no longer afford to be separated by their famous generation gap. Collaborations between the settled periods of the past and the focused challenges of the future—neither of which alone is sufficient.”
Guare, in his address, advised the graduating class to “stay aware and keep a burning sense of what is right in the world. Your part is not letting the world stay as it is.” As did his wife, Guare also spoke about collaboration and coexistence, saying, “If you life for yourself and what you alone can get out of the world, you’ll kill off the most valuable asset you ultimately have: your imaginations. And, by God, it’s imagination and daring that’s going to solve the immediate problems of the world.”
President Fergusson gave her first charge to a graduating class—a traditional presidential assignment—telling the graduates, “Our goal has not been to educate you, which requires more than four short years. Rather, we have tried to prepare you for a life of education.” The Miscellany News, News from Vassar
Sponsored by the United States Information Agency (USIA), an "international version" of Vassar’s 1983 exhibit All Seasons and Every Light: Nineteenth Century American Landscapes visited Mexico City, Caracas, Buenos Aires and Bogatá in the first “survey of seminal American art to tour South America.” The exhibit included 48 paintings by Hudson River School painters Frederic E. Church, Jasper F. Crospey, Charles Moore, Sanford R. Gifford, Asher B. Durand, William Trost Richards and Aaron D. Shattuck. The works were drawn from the Magoon Collection purchased by Matthew Vassar in 1864 from founding trustee Rev. Elias Magoon.
Jan Adlmann, the director of the Vassar College Art Gallery, selected the paintings and visited seven South American capitals in November 1986 to examine prospective sites. "Every museum wanted [the exhibition,]" he said, "because most of these Latin American countries had a nineteenth century landscape painting tradition which parallels the United States' painting experience." All Seasons and Every Light was the first complete exhibit sent by the college to a foreign country, and the Vassar gallery was the first college museum ever asked by USIA to circulate an exhibition in South America. The exhibit, created by former Vassar curator Sally Mills, had toured the United States before it had returned to Poughkeepsie in 1986 for the Hudson Valley Artscape Celebration and Vassar 125th anniversary celebration. The Miscellany News
Maria Orr MacKenzie, the former assistant to President Alan Simpson and former director of financial aid, was appointed project manager for educational administration data systems “to try and sort out the best way the college can administer and use the information it obtains and examine trends and resource allocation/utilization in the college.” The Miscellany News
College Compact, a program dedicated to increasing literacy by encouraging college students to aid in literacy training, selected Vassar along with Princeton University, Cornell University, Bethany College, Centre College, Maricopa Community College, California State University at Fullerton and the University of California at Los Angeles to participate in a national literacy program. The college decided to focus its attentions on the rural, eastern part of Dutchess Country, which did not receive as much funding for social services as the urban part of the county. The Miscellany News
Assistant Professor of Psychology Randolph Cornelius, Professor of Psychology Anne Constantinople and Assistant Professor of Psychology Janet Gray completed their study of student participation at Vassar, Trinity College and Central Connecticut State University. The study was prompted by a 1982 report by the American Council on Education claiming that college instructors favored male class participation over female participation.
Constantinople explained her team’s findings, “What is important to know is that both the first and the second studies have found no evidence at all of differences in responsiveness by instructors based on a student’s sex. If our analysis is correct, then the task of ensuring equal educational opportunity for women in college classrooms is not so much one of reducing faculty discrimination as it is of finding ways to bring women into the discussion early and often. Only by developing new habits will old roles be broken!” On Campus
Robert L. Smith ’90, Wendy K. Scott ’89 and Karen Griffith ’89 founded The Ebony Theatre Ensemble to bring black theater to campus. In its first semester, the ensemble performed Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun (1959), Beah Richards’s poem, “A Black Women Speaks” and Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls Who have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf (1975).
Chairman of the English department Charles Eliot Pierce, Jr. became the new director of the Pierpont Morgan Library, the New York museum and manuscript archive. In May, when Pierce was selected to succeed Charles Ryskamp, Haliburton Fales, president of the library’s board of trustees said, “We wanted primarily a real scholar, someone who could attract the admiration and esteem of our curators.” The Miscellany News
Clarinetist David Shifrin, violinist Ik Hwan Bae, cellist Warren Lash and Vassar pianist Irma Vallecillo performed Debussy’s Premiére rapsodie, Mozart’s Sonata in B flat major for piano and violin, K.454, and Messiaen’s Quatuor pour la fin du temps (Quartet for the End of Time) for “An Evening of Chamber Music” in Skinner Hall. Of the group’s rendition of the Messiaen, Steven Zohn ’88 wrote for The Miscellany News, “The performance featured wonderfully polished ensemble playing from all four instrumentalists. The complex rhythms and counterpoint were executed with a sense of fluency throughout the piece.”
The Third World Film Festival showed the Brazilian film Bye Bye Brasil (1979), followed by a discussion with Assistant Professor of Geography Brian Godfrey and Assistant Professor of Hispanic Studies Karen Stolley. The New York Times film critic Vincent Canby wrote of Brazilian filmmaker Carlos Diegues, he “makes no judgments and means for us to keep our wits about us in the face of tumultuous change.” Canby called Diegues’s study of “a tiny troupe of tacky performers” who travel from an arid poverty stricken corner of the country to the sleek capital at Brasilia “a most reflective film, nicely acted by its small cast and beautifully though not artily photographed in some remarkable locations. It is civilized.”
As part of Dutchess County’s Artscape festival, the Vassar Art Gallery exhibited Cobra After Cobra, work by European “CoBrA” artists—artists from Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam who, disenchanted with the formalism of modernist schools, particularly the surrealists, signed a manifesto in Paris in 1948 declaring for spontaneity, naiveté, fantasy, greater experimentation and broad populism. “The cleverly titled exhibition, curated by Emily Goldstein ’86, shows how a short-lived movement continued to live on even after its disbandment. The revolutionary techniques and imagery of Cobra inspired many artists who followed them. The Miscellany News
First Lady of Costa Rica Margarita Penón Arias '70, leader of the Women’s Committee of the National Liberation Party of Costa Rica and the first Costa Rican to receive a scholarship to attend Vassar, spoke in the Villard Room. Arias said, “My husband [the President of Costa Rica] has done a lot for women, but we will have to finish the job…My experience at Vassar has been reassuring in this issue, for at Vassar we gave equal opportunities to men for education.” The Miscellany News
Her husband President Oscar Arias, who had just presented a Central American peace plan at the United Nations, also spoke and answered questions.
The Musicians of Swanne Alley, six American musicians in a group named after an Elizabethan professional ensemble, performed 16th century Renaissance music in "Pills to Purge Melancholy" in Skinner Hall. Meredith Hightower ‘90, who wrote about the concert for The Miscellany News, was originally reluctant to attend the concert, but she found that “Seeing the Musicians of Swanne Alley perform changed my attitude toward music of the Renaissance era. The group’s true love of their craft was simply infectious.”
In a lecture sponsored by the Vassar Journalism Forum and the American Culture program, the Parr Professor of Comparative Literature at Columbia University, Edward W. Said, discussed "The Media and the Mideast.” Said said American media coverage of Israel-Palestinian conflict portrayed the struggle as “a simple binary system…On one side [people] like us...On the other…an undifferentiated mass of natives.” Said wished to “decode myths” that portrayed Palestinians as “either terrorists when they resist or menials when they don’t” and Israelis as “quasi-European…pioneers, scientists, intrepid fighters.” The Miscellany News
Students who worked on biology, psychology, physics, astronomy, computer science and mathematics project in the second year of the Undergraduate Research Summer Institute (URSI) presented their research at a symposium. Jennifer Veech ’88, who researched “The Rose of Female Aggression in Disrupting Group Stability In Wild Horses” on Assateague Island in Maryland, told The Miscellany News, “Even though I don’t plan on becoming a biology major, the experience was valuable since I’ve learned about animal and human behavior and the importance of body language.” Biology Professor David Jemiolo spoke to the value of the program for everyone involved, “research is a person power limited science. Without students the professors could never get all of the work done. In return the students learn skills and techniques that can be put to use during the year.”
The president of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Norman Dorsen, Stokes Professor of Law at the New York University Law School, spoke in the Villard Room on "The Future of the Supreme Court.” Dorsen discussed the ALCU’s recent opposition to Supreme Court nominee Robert H. Bork and the reasons for the organization’s involvement, for the first time in 51 years, in a confirmation process. He characterized Bork’s views on the Constitution as “very narrow” and criticized the Judge’s belief that the High Court must uphold the will of the majority, saying, “the principle of majority will is inconsistent with the principle of individual rights.” The Miscellany News
The stock market collapsed with the Dow Jones industrial average dropping 22.6 percent. In the wake of the crash President Fergusson wrote to the college community about the health of the college’s endowment, approximately 65 percent of which was in securities. Fergusson said, “Because of the strong leadership of [Vice President for Finance & Treasurer] Tony Stellato and the trustees on the Investment and Finance and Budget Committees, the College has policies in place which buffer us from the immediate effects of dramatic falls in the stock market and which enable us to plan about two years in advance.” The Miscellany News
The Office of the President sponsored a program commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, featuring performances by the Vassar Gospel Choir and the Madrigal Singers, readings by the Ebony Theatre Ensemble, a screening of the 1987 documentary Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years 1954–1964 and speeches by President Frances Fergusson and a former colleague of Dr. King’s, Reverend Samuel D. Proctor of Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem.
Proctor compared the civil rights struggles in the late 1950s and the late 1980s, concluding that focusing on a particular issue in the 1980s was difficult because “racism is endemic, systematic, amorphous and all over...not from a particular source.” Proctor also emphasized the need for education among African-Americans, saying “Black people must break into the un-black PhD field…They must be there when making decisions about our future… we can’t be overlooked.” The Miscellany News
Vassar clarinetist David Krakauer presented avant-garde jazz in An Evening of Theatre Music in the Powerhouse Theater, in what Mike Rorro '89, writing in The Miscellany News, called "a brilliant performance of three avant garde compositions.... An Evening of Theatre Music opened with Krakauer walking on stage and saying 'I'm Dave Krakauer,' followed by a few minutes of pre-recorded applause. He asserted his identity to the audience, but was responded to by canned applause, a symbol of the synthetics of performance. The polarity of his charater was seen in his vacillatioin between the smiling 'entertainer' and the alienated, screaming artist. Duality was a central theme."
Krakauer performed “Homage to K,” “The Kasper in Me,” a duet with the piece’s composer, avant garde pianist Anthony Coleman, and the world première of “Unknown White Clarinet.”
The Journalism Forum and the American Culture program sponsored a lecture by New York Times economic writer Leonard Silk on "The United States in the World Economy" in Blodgett Hall. Silk spoke about the effects of “Reaganomics” on the domestic and global economy, suggesting that the rapidly increasing trade deficit was a flaw in the Reagan plan. “The great majority of people,” he said, “think something is wrong, and I am with that sizable majority.” Silk also predicted that the next six months would show “very slow growth or a recession.” The Miscellany News
Sasaki Associates Inc., commissioned in 1986 to study the college’s grounds, presented a long-term master plan, described by Vice President of Finance and Treasurer Anthony C. Stellato as “a broad plan for the future: a macro-view of the campus landscape.”
Two forums were held on March 28 in the Villard Room to discuss the master plan.
Associate Professor of English Thomas Mallon read from his first novel Arts and Sciences: A Seventies Seduction (1988), which explored the coming-of-age of Artie, a graduate student in English at Harvard.
The New York Times described the novel as possessing “an ingenuous jeu d'esprit, with an energetic, trotting quality.” yet concluded, the novel “fails both as humorous satire and as serious fiction.” The New York Times
Mallon’s subsequent novels included Henry and Clara (1994), Dewey Defeats Truman: A Novel (1996), Two Moons: A Novel (2000), Bandbox (2004) and Fellow Travelers (2007).
Columbia law professor Louis Henkin lectured on "The Constitution in the Nuclear Age" in the Villard Room. A constitutional lawyer and founder of the Center for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia University, Henkin discussed how the United States government’s separation of powers and checks and balances affect nuclear decision-making. Suggesting that it might not be constitutional for the President of the United States to make decisions regarding whether or not to use nuclear weapons, he emphasized Congress’s role saying, “The framers intended for these decisions to be made by Congress.” The Miscellany News
Professor of Psychology Anne Constantinople, director of the college’s self study in preparation for the Middle States Association accreditation review, led a discussion on "Comprehensive Self Study with Special Emphases," in the Villard Room. She and the self study committee announced that the Vassar study’s special emphases would be on “The Residential College,” “Multidisciplinary Programs,” and “Long-Range Planning.” The Miscellany News reported of the meeting that, “the most important issue for the students present seemed to be the quality of the food served at ACDC and the overall structure of the food service organization on campus.”
The Vassar College Art Gallery displayed an exhibit curated by Professor of Anthropology Walter Fairservis, Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Paintings from India: Rarities of the China Trade. The paintings combined Indian, Chinese and British artistic techniques. Wendy Kagan ‘91, who wrote about the show for The Miscellany News, was particularly enchanted by the collection’s watercolors, “The colorful patterns and intricate details give the scene a soft and subtle beauty. The watercolors, though created by a variety of artists, all share this particular, almost painstakingly precise quality. Looking at them conjures images of an artist absorbed in concentration, employing perfection in each tiny stroke of the brush.”
Philaletheis presented two one-act plays “Spectrum” and “Butterfly” by Daniel Jones ’91 in Rockefeller Hall. Both plays dealt with the concept of race; “Spectrum” explored a post-racial future world, and “Butterfly” studied the old age of a blues-singer.
Vassar hosted the annual Seven Sisters swimming meet and placed fourth out of the five competing colleges.
Ellen Moore ’91 placed first in the fifty-yard freestyle, the first time that a Vassar student had won the event at the Seven Sisters meet.
The Committee to Stop Rape Now and Vice-President for Administrative and Student Services Natalie Marshall ‘51 presented the program “Walking the Sexual Tightrope: Rights, Responsibilities, Respect,” a discussion of sexual power and power imbalance. Assistant Director of Career Development Ellen Timberlake, a coordinator of the program, said, “The purpose of the program as we heard it from the students on the Committee was to organize a week of events focusing not just on acquaintance rape but on the balancing act we try to maintain between taking care of our own rights and those around us.”
As part of the ten-day program, sexuality scholar Andrea Parrot from Cornell University lectured on February 19. Other events included dorm discussions involving role playing, a lecture/demonstration by former police commander Sylvia Bailey on self-defense, a lecture/discussion by Brother-to-Brother’s Michael Grupp on male reactions to rape and a screening of a film about sexual harassment. The Miscellany News
Patricia Goldman-Rakic '59, professor of neuroscience at Yale University Medical School, delivered the Matthew Vassar Lecture on "Psychobiological Studies in Nonhuman Primates: An Unplanned Odyssey." A prominent researcher, Goldman-Rakic was responsible for mapping the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain used in complex planning and controlling social behavior. The authors of Cognitive Neuroscience: The Biology of the Mind explained this accomplishment: “At a time when most neurobiologists were examining the visual system in detail, [she] dove into the most complex cortical zone in the brain.” Michael S. Gazzaniga, et al, Cognitive Neuroscience: The Biology of the MindDr. Goldman-Rakic’s lecture was followed by a panel discussion on career options for students concentrating in biopsychology.
The Philaletheis musical Godspell (1970), directed by Kara Kennedy ’89, was performed in the Chapel. 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. A Godspell touring company performed at Vassar in 1977, and an earlier Philaletheis production, in 1983, took place in the Aula. Kennedy explained her goal with the show, “We created an atmosphere, or we tried to, where people could get emotionally involved…the best way to draw someone in is to appeal to their sense of humor…by the second act, people are listening to the message – that there is hope.” The Miscellany News
Talking Drums, an eight person group that performed music and dance inspired by West Africa’s folk cultures, presented African folk music in Skinner Hall. Talking Drums was led by master drummer Martin Kwaakye Obeng from Gomoa Aboso, Ghana. Mike Rorro ’89 described the drumming as “a spontaneous art,” in which the group created “percussive undercurrents of energy.” The Miscellany News
A New York Times article cited Vassar’s seven-year admissions program to “recruit and retain minority students” as a success in the context of an overall national decline in college enrollment and graduation among students of color. The article noted Vassar’s “academic resource center that provides counseling, tutoring, seminars on special skills and special cultural programs for minority students.”
The Vassar Student Association council voted to send an all-female delegation to the Seven Sisters Women’s’ Conference on “Women and Politics” after a college-wide controversy over whether male students should be part of the delegation. The council also determined that delegates to future conferences would be selected by campus women’s groups.
In the past the other Seven Sister schools had allowed Vassar men to attend the conference as observers, but not as active participants.
Philaletheis presented “What I Need is a Good Bonk on the Head” and “The View from the River Styx”, two one-act plays written by Adam Langer ’88, in the Aula. Langer directed “The View from the River Styx,” in which the Devil goes to college, and Laura VonEschen ’90 directed “What I Need is a Good Bonk on the Head,” in which the characters rebel against their playwright.
Langer produced What I Need is a Good Bonk on the Head in Chicago in 1989 at the Shattered Globe Theater at Sheffield’s School Street Café. On his web site he recalled the play: “A playwright’s characters come to life and write him out of their play. I starred in this show when I was at Vassar and still cringed the last time I saw myself on the videotape.”
Violinist Betty-Jean Hagen and pianist Todd Crow, professor of music, performed works by Schumann and Prokofiev in Skinner Hall.
Hagen joined the faculty in the fall of 1988 as a Lecturer in Music.
Ellen Currie, Vassar’s writer in residence and author of Available Light (1986), read her works in New England Building.
Publisher’s Weekly wrote of Available Light, “There is pathos underlying the rollicking comedy in Currie's inspired debut, but readers gleefully rocketing at top speed from page to page will not be consciously aware of it until they are brought up short in the novel's final chapters. Written with deadpan, irreverent comic verve, with dialogue so saucy that one keeps wanting to say, ‘Listen to this!’ the book has as memorable a cast of characters as we'll see this season.Ellen Currie read from her work at Vassar, under the auspices of the English department, in 1987.
Vassar hosted the annual Middle Atlantic Fencing Association Championship, with the men’s team placing second of thirteen teams.
The Board of Trustees raised tuition $1,200 to a total of $12,300 and room and board $220 for a total of $4,470.
Vice-President for Finance and Treasurer Anthony Stellato said of the increases, “We can take comfort in the fact that overall charges at Vassar are far from the top of our peer colleges.” The Miscellany News
The men’s lacrosse team competed in their first varsity game, losing to Manhattanville 11-5 despite a strong start. Goaltender Robert Green ’91 explained, “We just lost our intensity. If we can keep up what we started then we’ll be fine.” The Miscellany News
Mark Resmer ’85, who directed the college’s computing since 1982, resigned from his position to become the director of computing, media and telecommunication at California State University College in Sonoma County. Originally an exchange student to Vassar from the University of York in England, Resmer matriculated at Vassar when he became director of academic computing. He made history at Commencement in 1985 as the only person ever to rise from the gathered faculty to receive his undergraduate diploma.
Philaletheis presented feminist Susan Griffin’s Emmy award-winning play Voices(1975) directed by Heidi Robbins ’88. The show, which features the monologues of five different women on the turns their lives have taken, is crafted around the women’s gendered struggles. “The play felt hopelessly monotonous and uncompromising at first, but thanks to the five wonderful performances, it developed real style and real feeling over time.” The Miscellany News
Jorge Salaverry, a former Nicaraguan Sandinista, lectured on “Why I Left the Sandinistas” in the Villard Room. “We were thinking that our dream of having democracy had finally come true. The reality is that that enthusiasm, that joy lasted very little,” Salaverry said, “because we very soon realized that we had changed from a dictatorship with one head, to a dictatorship of nine heads which are the nine comandantes of the Sandinista Party.” The lecture was followed by a reception held by The Vassar Spectator, the conservative campus newspaper, and The Vassar Conservative Society. The Vassar Spectator
Italian film scholar and theorist Angela Dalle Vacche from Yale University delivered a Foreign Film Festival lecture on "The Body in the Mirror: Italian Film Theorizing History" in Chicago Hall.Dalle Vacche taught at Vassar from 1985-1986 in the Italian department.
Reverend Al Sharpton, representing the family of Tawana Brawley, an African-American teenager from Wappinger’s Falls, NY, who disappeared for four days in November 1987 during which she claimed that she was physically and sexually assaulted in a racially-charged crime, announced at Vassar that Brawley would speak about her ordeal.
Sharpton said the next day, “At some point it will be necessary to break the pain of the family and to say that we see the system will not work without a victim coming forward.” Poughkeepsie JournalIn October 1988, a grand jury determined that Brawley had not been sexually assaulted and may have orchestrated her own disappearance and alleged brutalization.
F. Elizabeth Richey, professor emeritus of physical education, died. A memorial service was held in the Chapel on September 18 in memory of Richey, Vassar’s field hockey and squash coach from 1937 until 1978. Richey was inducted into the United States Field Hockey Association Hall of Fame on January 16, 1988.
Congressman William H. Gray III of Pennsylvania, the first African-American to serve as chairman of the U.S. House Committee on the Budget, delivered the 1988 Commencement address. Gray evoked the non-violent philosophy of Martin Luther King Jr., spoke of the threat of nuclear war and told the graduating seniors, “You are a generation raised on pizza and Pop Tarts, Rambo and Reagan. You were born in the burning sixties, grew to maturity in the painful seventies, and in the decade of the eighties, you accepted your responsibility for the future as you educated yourselves for this moment.
“You are now the miracle of time and space. You have been born for just this moment. You are ready to set the tone, tune the instruments, make the music. It is your song that will now play. It is your song that must be heard. It is your turn to dance.” Press & Information Office, News
Gray, the brother of Dr. Marian Gray Secundy ’60, later served as majority whip (1989-1991) in the House of Representatives, the first African American to fill this position. Gray was president of the United Negro College Fund from 1991 until 2004.
The New York Stage and Film Company, described by co-founder Leslie Urdang as “the first company doing both theatre and film, and both development and production in one place,” held its summer retreat at Vassar.In the summer of 1988, Vassar and the New York Stage and Film Company also jointly oversaw an eight-week apprenticeship program.
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art curator Dr. Sandra S. Phillips, a Vassar College Art Gallery curator from February 1986 until November 1987, organized an exhibition at Vassar and Bard College on “Charmed Places: Hudson River Artists and Their Houses, Studios and Vistas.” Bard displayed paintings by the Hudson River School artists of their home environments, as well as old photographs and some architectural plans, and Vassar showed twenty new photographs taken by prominent “New Color” photographer Len Jenshel of the artists’ homes in the present day.
The exhibit was the first to explore the Hudson River School painters in relation the environment in which they created, as well as the first to discuss the link between Hudson Valley art and architecture.
Dr. Phillips was married to monotype artist Matt Phillips, the long-time head of the art department at Bard.
Lathrop House was rewired to allow students to have electronics and appliances—including personal computers, refrigerators, and stereos—in their rooms. This was part of an ongoing program to rewire all residence halls.
Reverend Janet Cooper Nelson replaced Rabbi Susan Berman ’78 as the Director of Religious Activities and Chaplaincy Services (DRACS). On her new position leading Vassar’s religious communities, Nelson told The Miscellany News, “Worship life at college should be excellent, not marginal.” Nelson hoped to engage students and to “get every Vassar College student off-campus to do something,” believing firmly in the benefits of volunteer work.
Nancy Schrom Dye ’69, associate dean at the University of Kentucky, became dean of the college, succeeding Professor of Religion H. Patrick Sullivan, who had served as dean of the college from 1978 until 1988.
A women’s historian, Dye was also appointed professor of history. Her book, As Equals and as Sisters: Feminism, the Labor Movement and the Women’s Trade Union of New York appeared in 1980, and she co-edited Gender, Class, Race and Reform in the Progressive Era with Noralee Frankel in 1991.
Under the auspices of the United States Information Agency and the American Council of Teachers of Russian, 21 Soviet and 17 American teenagers lived together on the Vassar campus in the first exchange of secondary school students between the two countries. On a trip to the Capitol at Albany, 15-year-old Sasha Popov told reporter Grace O’Connor from The Albany Times Union, “I have very good impressions so far," and Chris Turner, 16, an award-winning student for Russian from Tamarac High School in Troy, NY, praised the classroom discussions. But, he said, the best talk was in the residence halls where everyone is very frank: “They ask about us and we ask about them.”
Asked about the implication of his visit to the United States, Soviet student Oleg Kachalov said, “We shall do our foreign policy and Americans will do their foreign policy, and this friendship will be very useful then.”
Under the exchange program, a similar delegation of American students studied with their Soviet counterparts in Moscow. The Albany Times Union
Dr. Margaret Good Myers, Vassar economics professor from 1934 to 1964, died. An active participant in Planned Parenthood of Dutchess and Ulster and the Poughkeepsie League of Women Voters, Myers advocated feminist economic policies, such as husbands and wives both working part-time.
“They say colleges don’t prepare women for homemaking,” Myers said in 1950. “No girl should be taught to live the way we force them to live…. Why, the swing from feminism has reached the point where some women are afraid to say they are bored with their children. Children can’t be the whole life.” The Houston Chronicle
Construction began to expand the Retreat (first constructed in 1975) to alleviate overcrowding. “Because the demands on the Retreat in recent years have been so much greater than it was built to handle,” President Fergusson said of the planned renovation, “it has not been as pleasant a place as it ought to be for students, other members of the campus community or visitors.” Miscellany News
The renovated Retreat re-opened on October 17.
The American Collegiate Consortium (ACC) launched its inaugural academic year, an upshot of the liberalization of the Soviet Union under Mikhail Gorbachev. Fifty-six Soviet students studied in American colleges for the 1988-1989 year, the first American exchange in which students from the Soviet Union were not accompanied by adult chaperones. As one of 18 American member colleges, Vassar received two students, one from Estonia and another from Ukraine. No Vassar students traveled to the Soviet Union in 1988-1989.
In 1989-1990, Professor of Russian Alexis Klimoff was the first resident director of the American Collegiate Consortium in Moscow, in charge of the approximately 70 American students studying in the Soviet Union. Four Soviet students came to Vassar for the 1989-1990 academic year, while four Vassar students studied in the Soviet Union.
Through the consortium, based at Middlebury College, American students paid tuition to their home institutions and then matriculated at Soviet universities for the year, and vice versa, as part of a “non-currency exchange.”
The consortium grew to include around 50 institutions, but it eventually disbanded after State Department support was withdrawn due to congressional budget cuts in the 1990s.
Due to an overenrollment, 42 exchange, transfer, international and visiting students were placed in “emergency housing,” converted triples and doubles in the residence halls and rooms in Marshall House, Alumnae House, Blegen House and Cooper House on the Vassar Farm.
The biology department offered for the first time “Perspectives in Human Biology,” an introductory course designed to attract non-biology majors. The course focused on biology-related current events and their ethical dimensions. In fall of 1988, the class discussed AIDS, human ecology and genetic engineering.Professor of Biology Patricia Johnson explained, “The major innovation of this course is that it is the first course in the history of the biology department taught without a lab. Instead it will have fifty minute conference section.” Miscellany News
The Raymond Avenue Ramblers performed at the tenth annual Clifden Arts Week in Clifden, County Galway, Ireland. The event was conceived by Brendan Flynn, the head of the Clifden Community School, a local secondary school with which the Vassar comparative education semester abroad was associated.
Clifden Arts Week drew poets, artists, musicians, musical groups and people associated with the arts from all over Ireland and from England, Scotland and several European countries. The festivities were frequently opened by the President—or Uachtaráin—of Ireland.
Professor of Education Tom McHugh, the founder of comparative education program, also founded and led The Ramblers, whose other members included Associate Director of Counseling Services D.B. Brown, Assistant Professor of Psychology Randy Cornelius, Matthew Hickey ’88, Jake Fleisher ’88, Joe Keenan ’75 and Hudson River Clearwater member Steve Stanne. The Ramblers were the only American group participating in the event.
On the 25th anniversary of its publication, Mary McCarthy '33 read from her novel The Group (1963), an account of the lives of a group of Vassar women in the years after their graduation. The reading was followed by a question and answer session, during which McCarthy confirmed that the principal character, Kay, was based partially on herself during her college years and partially on “someone who had been at Vassar and someone I never liked.” The New York Times
Vassar received a grant from the Ford Foundation to finance a Ford Scholars Program in the humanities and social sciences, a summer research program.
A bulletin addressed to faculty explained the program and invited research proposals for the following summer:
“The Vassar Ford Scholars Program, funded by the Ford Foundation matching grant, has been established to encourage our students to consider a career in college teaching. The Program provides an opportunity for the student Ford Scholars to work as assistants on faculty-initiated research projects. We expect to name twenty Ford Scholars each year for a ten-year period.
“The model for the Ford Scholars Program is the Undergraduate Research Summer Institution. Since the URSI Program supports research in the natural sciences, the Ford Scholars Program will give preference to faculty and students in the humanities and social sciences, with a special commitment to participation by minority students.”
The student research began in the summer of 1989, and Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies Patricia Kenworthy served as it’s inaugural director. While the original Ford matching grant funded only the program’s first ten years, the program continued, funded by gifts, grants and endowed funds.
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute awarded Vassar $700,000 over five years to support biological education and research. During the fall 1988 semester, the grant was used to fund a faculty workshop, a research symposium presenting work by faculty and students and an annual lecture by an eminent scholar in one of the supported fields.
Stencil prints from the 1947 “Jazz” series by Henri Matisse were exhibited in Jazz D’Esprit: Matisse Makes Music in the Vassar College Art Gallery. “The vibrant and uplifting nature of the prints demonstrates an interesting combination of both the influence of the vivacious jazz musical style and the use of abstraction.” The Miscellany News
The drama department performed Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest(1895). Director Deirdre Burns ’88 “recognized the comic elements of the script and succeeded in employing her actor’s strengths,” praised Jennifer Harriton and Beth Saulnier ’90 in their review for The Miscellany News. “It demonstrates how much talened and potential the Drama Department contains.”
The Colorado String Quartet, “the first all-women quartet to attain international stature,” performed Beethoven’s Quartet in G Major, Op. 18. No. 2, Charles Ives’s Quartet No. 2 and Brahms’s Quartet in C minor, Op. 51, No. 1 in Skinner Hall. Colorado String Quartet Official Website
“Gifted with the ability to fuse four individual voices into a unique, harmonious whole,” described a review of the performance in The Miscellany News, “Their playing is always tight, as if each member anticipates the others’ inflections and intentions. Without any apparent visual cues, their crisp attack kicks in spontaneously, as do their cut-offs.”
Students from the Undergraduate Research Summer Institute (URSI) presented a mini-symposium on their summer work. The opening address was given by Dr. Eve Slater ’67, executive director of clinical and regulatory development of the research lab division of the pharmaceutical company Merck, Sharpe and Dome. Forty-one students presented posters about their research and four gave oral presentations. A faculty development workshop was also held.
Students participated in First Step ’88, a weekend program designed to engage the campus in community service. On Friday, students performed volunteer jobs in the community, such as cleaning up litter or painting a soup kitchen. Friday also featured a clothing drive at the Mug and a benefit concert at the Aula—at which the Raymond Avenue Ramblers and Betty and the Baby Boomers performed. The Ramblers were a Vassar faculty/staff/student group and the Boomers, a group from Dutchess County, consisted of Betty Boomer, Jean Valla McAvoy, Paul Rubeo and Steve Stanne.
First Step ’88 continued with a 36-hour Hunger Action Ultimate Frisbee Marathon, performances by campus bands, movie screenings, a campus party and all-campus meals on Saturday and Sunday. The goal was to raise $10,000 to combat homelessness and hunger.
Linda Fairstein '69, head of the sex crimes unit of the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, gave a lecture on sex crime prosecution in the Villard Room. The lead prosecutor in the “Preppy Murder” trial of Robert Chambers in 1986, Fairstein spoke of the need to improve the prosecution of sex offenders, observing, “traditionally victims haven’t expected justice.” The Miscellany News
A forum, Learning for Living in a Global Village, celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Maguire Fellowship program, established by Helen Maguire Muller ’45/4 to allow graduates to study and travel abroad in fulfillment of both academic and personal plans. A panel of students spoke about their junior year abroad experiences and a faculty panel discussed the educational value of study abroad.
The Vassar College Art Gallery presented Signs and Stories, Native American Desert Arts, guest-curated by Professor of English Frank Bergon and Assistant Professor of Anthropology Charles Briggs. The exhibit included textiles, baskets and ceramic arts created by Southwestern Native Americans between 1850 and 1987. Highly popular, the show attracted about 2,000 visitors in its first month. “The beautiful, rich colors and designs are wonderful to see, and you will inevitably learn about the Native American Indians of the Great Basin and the Southwest,” Isabel Borland ’91 wrote in her review of the exhibit for The Miscellany News.
The Students Afro-American Society (SAS) met with Vassar’s chief of security George Lochner to discuss allegations that black students were asked for identification on campus more frequently than white students. “The administration has never given us a hard and fast rule about carding, Lochner said of the carding procedure. “It’s possible that we could be doing it excessively…. I’d love to have a policy, but I don’t think it’s possible. The system just doesn’t work great. It’s a problem for us and a problem for our relations with minority students and guests.” The Miscellany News
Elizabeth L. Eisenstein '45/4, Alice Freeman Palmer Professor of History at the University of Michigan from 1975 until her retirement in 1988, lectured on campus as the President's Distinguished Visitor. Eisenstein’s two-volume The Printing Press As An Agent of Change: Communications and Cultural Transformations in Early Modern Europe (1979) established the parameters of modern print culture studies.
Dr. Eisenstein spoke at Vassar in 1978 and 1981.
The Ebony Theater Ensemble presented “Apollo at Vassar,” a talent show of never-before-seen acts, based on the model of the Apollo Theatre in New York City. Students from Marist, Yale, West Point and the State University of New York at New Paltz were invited to attend. The prizes were $100 for winning first place, a trip for two to the real Apollo Theater for winning third place, and a “booby trap” prize of one t-shirt for coming in second – a ploy by event creator and ETE president and founder Karen Griffith ‘89to keep the competition “interesting and unusual.” The Miscellany News
Edward “Vance” Blankenbaker ‘92 won “Apollo” with a performance of Sam Cooke’s “Bring It Home To Me.”
Vice President George H. W. Bush and his running mate, Indiana Senator Dan Quayle, handily defeated Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis and Texas Senator Lloyd Bensen in the presidential election, taking 53.4 percent of the popular voted and 426 electoral college votes to their opponents’ 111.
The Cooperative Bookshop held a book signing party to celebrate the publication of new books by four faculty members: Professor of English Frank Bergon’s Shoshone Mike (1987), Visiting Assistant Professor of Drama Sarah Kozloff’s Invisible Storytellers: Voice-Over Narration in American Fiction Film (1988), Lecturer in English Nancy Willard’s Things Invisible to See: A Novel (1985) and The Firebrat (1988) and New Perspectives on Poughkeepsie’s Past: Essays to Honor Edmund Platt (1987), edited by Professor of History Clyde Griffen, to which Associate Professor of Religion and Africana Studies Lawrence H. Mamiya and Associate Professor of Geography Harvey Keyes Flad also contributed.
Jeff Greenfield, political reporter for the ABC News television program, Nightline, spoke on campus, discussing television coverage of the 1988 presidential election. Greenfield said he doubted that television coverage had caused the “negative campaigning” used by candidates George H. W. Bush and Michael Dukakis. “Nothing I say,” Greenfield said, “is meant as an excuse or justification for the kind of coverage that was put on this campaign.” But, he declared, “television has changed American politics less than most people think it has… and… television has less to do with who wins than is commonly understood.” The Miscellany News
President Frances Ferguson spoke about the value of a liberal arts education in a four-person panel on “Keeping America Competitive: The Role of Education” at the New York Times Presidents Forum, a yearly meeting of college presidents, administrators and industry leaders. Other speakers were General Electric Foundation President Paul M. Ostergard, Professor Thomas A. Kochan of the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Fred. M. Hechinger, president of the New York Times Foundation. New York Governor Mario Cuomo delivered the forum’s keynote address.
Two hundred and seventy people lost their lives when a bomb exploded on Pan American Airways flight 103, a flight from London Heathrow Airport to John F. Kennedy International Airport, over Lockerbie, Scotland. Among the dead was a Vassar student returning from a semester abroad in Abingdon, England.
A memorial service was held in memory of the student on February 1, 1989, in the Chapel.
The Vassar Cooperative Day Care Center, a co-op started by Vassar families, celebrated its tenth anniversary with a party and concert in the Villard Room. Carol Gainey, director of the co-op, described the day care as “a family affair:” some parents spent their lunch hours at the co-op, and there were bi-annual events where parents would help fix up the center, followed by a picnic. The Miscellany News
A group of students created CARES, a confidential peer listening service, founded to provide support for victims of sexual assault. “I now would feel comfortable telling someone to come to Vassar, something I wasn’t sure about before,” commented Heather Fox ’90, one of the group’s founding members. “We saw a need for this service now, not next year.” CARES was staffed by 20 volunteers available twenty-four hours a day by pager or in person at the group’s office in the basement of Strong house.Although other hotlines and peer listening services such as Help Line and The Listening Center already existed, CARES was formed to address the need for a peer organization dealing specifically with issues of personal violation. “Other organizations don’t have the extensive training,” explained Fox. The Miscellany News
George Tuckel, local environmentalist and bioregionalist. lectured on "Living in a Culture of Waste" in the Josselyn House living room. Tuckel spoke at the beginning of “Waste Not Week,” organized by the Vassar Environmental Group (VEG). “Utilizing waster is a useful way to cope with the environment. We live in a society of surplus and waste,” explained Ben Horsbrugh ’89, one of the week’s key organizers.
Throughout “Waste Not Week,” students attended other lectures, dorm workshops, an environmental fair with representatives from local and international organizations, student musical performances and a hike on the Vassar Farm. The Miscellany News
As part on the year-long recognition of the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Africana Studies program, African-American poet and civil rights activist Sonia Sanchez spoke in the Chapel. A visiting lecturer at several universities, Sanchez taught courses in Black Women and literature.
South African activist Teboho "Tsietsi" Macdonald Mashinini, a teen-age leader in the 1976 Soweto uprising living in exile, spoke to an audience in the Villard Room. “We call for the unconditional release of all political prisoners, including Nelson Mandela. Only when they are free will we rest,” Mashinini told the audience. “I am sure in the coming years our people will rise up and rightfully take what is theirs.” The Miscellany NewsMashinini died under mysterious circumstances in Guinea in 1990.
Naomi Tutu, daughter of the anti-apartheid leader Archbishop Desmond Tutu, lectured in the Chapel on political and economic problems facing black South Africans. Discussing the effect of decades of apartheid, Tutu said education had been used “as a tool of oppression,” and that “apartheid tended to emphasize black subservience and turned African adults into a docile community….” Beginning in the 1970s, she said, the black consciousness movement among young Africans foreshadowed the “inevitability of black majority rule” in her country. The Miscellany News
The president of the National Organization for Women (NOW) and second-wave feminist, Molly Yard, spoke in Rockefeller Hall about the abortion crisis in the United States. “The reason people get abortions now,” she told her audience, “is because, for the most part, birth control fails or they are pregnant as a result of rape…. What we are being told by fundamentalists and by President [George H. W.] Bush is that if your birth control fails, you are forced to compulsory pregnancy. And what we say in the National Organization for Women is that, to hell with that, we’re not going to take it. We absolutely refuse to have compulsory pregnancy in this country.” The Miscellany News
Noting a distinct lack of male organizations at Vassar, two students formed the Vassar Gentleman’s Club. One female student claimed that the organization’s presence signified male resentment for a student government composed mostly of women and the absence at Vassar of a football team, cheerleaders and fraternities, but one founder claimed, “we seek only a reputation of a tasteful nature.” Unlike other exclusive fraternity-styled organizations on campus such as The Bacchanal Society and The Order of the Royal Moose, membership in the Gentleman's Club was open to all. The Miscellany News
Alternative rock band They Might Be Giants performed, filling the Villard Room with off-beat pop, complete with an accordian. “I wish people weren’t so suspicious right off the bat when they hear that some kind of rock music has a lighter side to it, a lighter touch,” singer John Flansburgh told The Miscellany News, “We just want to present our view of the world in an imaginative kind of music.”
Vladislav I. Guerassev, the economic affairs officer of the Soviet delegation to the United Nations, gave the annual Matthew Vassar Lecture, speaking in the Villard Room on “Implications of Perestroika for U.S./Soviet Relations.” Declaring that “the Soviet Union could see no advantage in pursuing nuclear superiority,” Guerassev said it was time to “identify areas of possible superpower cooperation,” so that the two great nations could forge a “global partnership.” The Miscellany News
An alumna from the Class of ’87 posed nude for the March issue of Playboy magazine. Indignant that The Vassar Quarterly didn't publish her story with the notes about other graduates’ activities, she spoke instead to The Poughkeepsie Journal. “Vassar is reluctant to acknowledge women [graduates],” she said, “who do something besides go out in starched shirts and pressed suits and make a name for themselves in the corporate world.”
She "missed the deadline for publication for our spring issue," the Quarterly's editor, Georgette Weir, explained to The Miscellany News, "but will find her name in the class notes of the upcoming summer issue."
The trustees voted to increase fees for the next academic year by 9.16%, raising the total the comprehensive from $16,770 to $18,300. They also voted to increase the yearly student activity fee from $100 to $150, as proposed by the Vassar Students Association (VSA).
The College Center academic computing cluster opened in room 235. The space provided several Macintosh computers for general student use, marking the first step in a long-term plan to increase computer access on campus. The college hoped that someday each residence hall would have a similar computer cluster.
Comedienne and actress Sandra Bernhard performed in the Chapel. She spoke with The Miscellany News about her fame and sensibilities. On her reputation for pushing the boundaries of what was appropriate for mainstream television, Bernhard said, “I just address reality… say things everybody says, with their freinds, or at parties, or for fun. I don’t think there’s anything dirty… What’s dirty?”Bernhard later played Nancy Bartlett, one of the first openly lesbian recurring characters on American television, on the television situation comedy program Roseanne.
I. M. Appalled, the movie critic in the annual April 1 edition of The Miscellany News, discussed the recently announced sequel to Gone With The Wind (1939). The role of Scarlett O’Hara went to “master letter-turner Vanna White” of the television show “Wheel of Fortune,” and the role of Rhett Butler in Gone With The Wind II: The Tawdry, Titillating Tara Years was to be played by the former member of the Monty Python troupe, John Cleese.
“‘I think what was tragically overlooked in the first film is that Gone With The Wind is essentially a comedy,’ said Cleese…. ‘Anyway, I have some great ideas. For instance, in our version of the famous scene in which Rhett carries Scarlett up the staircase to the bedroom, I’m going to drop her.’
“‘Wow,’ said Vanna.”
Cast as “Mammy,” the role made famous by Hattie McDaniel, Meryl Streep ’71 was unavailable for comment. “Her spokesman stated only, ‘Ms. Streep is working on the accent. She’s on an intense, high-calorie, no exercise regimen. She’s consulting with hair and make-up specialists. When you see her she will be Mammy.’”
Poet and novelist Jean Stewart gave an informal talk in the Gold Parlor about her work. Disabled as a young woman by a hip malady, Stewart was a fervent advocate for the rights of the disabled. “We’re the largest minority in the country… It’s simply a matter of priorities, and we’re talking about civil piberties.” Stewart explained. The Miscellany NewsHer novel, The Body’s Memory, was published in 1989 by St. Martin’s Press.
In one of a series of events marking the 50th anniversary of the death of Irish poet William Butler Yeats, Senator Michael B. Yeats spoke about his father. Senator Yeats’s wife, Irish harper Gráinne Yeats, gave a concert of traditional Irish music and, introduced by Eamon Grennan from the English department, Irish poet John Montague read his poetry and selections from Yeats.
Three Yeats scholars discussed “Recovering Yeats/Discovering Yeats: The Revision of the Yeats Canon.” Professor George Mills Harper from Florida State University spoke about his work with the manuscript materials for Yeats’s A Vision (1925, 1937) and his partnership with Professor Richard Finneran in the first Collected Works of William Butler Yeats since the poet’s death. Professor Ronald Schuchard from Emory University spoke about his collaboration with Professor John Kelly at Oxford University on The Collected Letters of W. B. Yeats and Professor Colton Johnson spoke about his edition of Volume Ten of The Collected Works, especially his recovery of Yeats’s radio broadcasts, playing an excerpt from one of them.
W. B. Yeats spoke and read his poetry at Vassar in December 1903 and again in May 1920. Senator and Mrs. Yeats visited Vassar in March 1970, and she presented an evening of Irish music in February 1974.
Gibson said he hoped that the graduates had developed “critical, analytical” minds, able to recognize and resolve the racial tensions in current society. “If students don’t recognize the repugnance of such acts,” he said, “what will they do later in life, when the issues get tougher and the pressures greater?” Gibson encouraged the new graduates to “stand for something.” Press & Information Office, News, The New York Times
The AppleTalk network would not reach the THs or TAs because of their distance from the central campus.
The demand specifically questioned Vassar’s involvement with the Overlap Group, 23 colleges and universities, including Seven Sisters and Ivy League schools, formed in 1956. The group met yearly to discuss standardized formulas used to calculate and offer comparable financial aid packages at equally competitive schools, so that accepted students could chose their schools regardless of the offers of financial assistance.
Vassar sent copies of Overlap meeting minutes and information about associations with which it shared financial aid data to the Department of Justice, and since the investigation was expected to last over a year, Director of Vassar Financial Aid Michael Fraher suggested the group not meet in the coming year. The investigation took two years, the Overlap Group disbanded and the practice of offering equal financial aid packages among its members went away with it. The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Miscellany News
On the first day of her two-day visit, Gordimer met with classes and spoke informally to students in the Josselyn Living Room. When asked why she wrote, she replied, “It’s the one thing I can really do. The compulsion to write is an attempt to make some sense of life. That’s what art really is.” Asked about how she found her subjects, she replied that, in South Africa, her subjects chose her. “The whole fabric of in South Africa is so intense, if you are a writer, the subjects come beating on your door.” The Miscellany News
Active in the African National Congress from its earliest, illegal days and the author of three books banned by the apartheid government, Gordimer was a close friend of Nelson Mandela. She won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1991 and in later decades was active in HIV/AIDS causes.
Helen Forster Novy was a painter and a philanthropist in the areas of education, community health and the arts.
The group published a map of its route, and although about 50 students were trained and willing to engage in acts of civil disobedience, this tactic was not used. The march was both supported and contested by Poughkeepsie residents, one town student remarking that Vassar wrongly judges Poughkeepsie as a city fostering hate. As a result of the march, students created a multi-college activist group The Alliance to Stop Hate, drawing on students from Vassar, Dutchess Community College, the State University of New York at New Paltz, West Point and Marist College.
In September 1985, McCarthy talked about Vassar with broadcast journalist Faith Daniels:
“I’m very fond of Vassar, even when I’ve been on the outs with Vassar. I’m very fond of the place, and let’s say I’m fond of, and amused by, the idea of the Vassar girl of all ages, because all are recognizable to me. Their desire to be superior—superior to others, superior to their community. There is a certain daringness, sometimes simply a wish to be daring and sometimes the reality, because they’re not all that way. And, on the positive side, I think they are very well educated on the whole. I mean, you can’t educate everybody.” Quoted in Frances Kiernan, Seeing Mary Plain: a Life of Mary McCarthy
Mary McCarthy’s papers are in the Vassar Special Collections Library
Later called “Exploring Transfer,” the program received endowed funding, insuring its continuance. Founded in 1950, the Charles A. Dana Foundation was a private philanthropic foundation with grant programs in health and higher education.