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).
A Holocaust Memorial service was held in honor of Holocaust Observance Week.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."