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.’"
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.
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
“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