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The consortium grew to include around 50 institutions, but it eventually disbanded after State Department support was withdrawn due to congressional budget cuts in the 1990s.