February 28, 1981
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."