Eight students from the Vassar Debate Society competed in the World Debate Tournament in Oxford, England. One pair, Michael Fanuele ’94 and Tim Yusuf ’94, placed within the top 32 teams in the world. In describing his experience, Yusuf commented that "[Oxford] tried to make the tournament as internaitonal as possible," and reflected on a fulfilling competition in which "the top thirty teams were all very close [in terms of skill.]" The two debaters planned to compete again at the following year’s tournament in Melbourne, Australia.     The Miscellany News

New Federal rules reducing the amount middle class families put toward college costs, increasing governmental contributions and leaving a larger gap for colleges and universities to cover for the 1993/4 academic year posed a potential $1.5 to $2 million additional expense for the college.  Explaining that Vassar simply didn’t have the money, Director of Financial Aid Michael Fraher told the States New Service, “Basically, we’re going to continue to use the old formula.” Students already receiving aid would receive the same packages in 1993/94, but students not qualifying for Vassar aid at present wouldn’t qualify for it in the future.     The New York Times

The Vassar Experimental Theater’s production of Caryl Churchill and David Lan’s play with dance, A Mouthful of Birds (1985), directed by Denny Partridge, was selected for the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, one of only two plays in the state to be chosen. “We’re delighted that Vassar can compete so well against pre-professional schools,” said Partridge. “It’s a measure of how bright, talented and committed the students at Vassar are.”

In the end, due to scheduling problems and the size of the production, Vassar was unable to participate in the festival.     Poughkeepsie Journal

Bill Clinton was inaugurated as the 42nd President of the United States.

The Night Owls were among nine musical groups selected to perform on “The Voice of America,” the final float in President Clinton’s inaugural parade. Unfortunately, the float’s brakes locked up as it entered the parade, forcing it to remain on the sidelines. “All of us felt very honored to be asked to participate in the parade, and there were a lot of broken hearts,” said Night Owls business manager Rebecca Lewison ’93, adding, “But we all got much closer because of the time we spent practicing for it.”     The Poughkeepsie Journal

Along with Liquid Soul from Chicago, the Mello-Hawks Steel Orchestra from the Virgin Islands and the San Bernardino Westside Steppers from California, among others, the Vassar singing group was one of the “stationary acts” in the “Pre-Parade” at Clinton’s second inauguration in 1997.

President Bill Clinton nominated Washington lawyer Margaret Milner Richardson ’65, former general counsel to the Internal Revenue Service, to be the IRS’s head.  A Texan who defined herself as a “yellow-dog Democrat,” Richardson served as IRS commissioner through President Clinton’s first term, emphasizing the use of technology and redoubling compliance efforts.

The River Arts theater group performed “A Balancing Act,” a series of vignettes about social problems such as drugs, alcohol and co-dependency, in the Villard Room. “‘A Balancing Act’ opens the door to communication, gets social problems out in the open, starts people discussing the issues,” said Liz Rossi, River Arts’s business manager. “It’s a good way,” Ann Dadarria, nurse practitioner at Baldwin health services said, “to talk about drugs and alcohol without sitting down and preaching.”     The Poughkeepsie Journal

A bomb in the basement garage of the World Trade Center in Manhattan exploded, killing six people and injuring over 1,000 others.  Islamic terrorists with possible ties to the al-Qaeda organization were later indicted and found guilty of the attack.

A planned recruiting visit by the U.S. Marines was canceled after protests from the Vassar Student Association, the Student Activist Union and the Bisexual, Gay and Lesbian Alliance. “In light of the current outcry regarding the ban on homosexuals in the military,” the VSA Council said in a letter to the Office of Career Development, “we feel that a visit would be not only unwelcome, but potentially chaotic.”     The Miscellany News

Shady Cosgrove ’96 finished second at the National Intercollegiate Women’s Fencing Association championships at Walker Field House, where she competed in a women’s épée competition for the first time. “It’s the first time she’s actually had the chance to fence women’s épée because it is not offered at Vassar,” said coach Christina Christidi. “In fact, she fences that weapon on the men’s team.”     The Poughkeepsie Journal

The Office of Residential Life proposed the elimination of desk messengers and a revision of the schedule for night security guards in the residence halls, because of the installation of personal telephones and an electronic ID card entry system in the halls.

Smoking was banned in the Retreat and limited to designated areas of the Mug and Café after a visit from the Dutchess County Board of Health determined that the college was in violation of the Indoor Clean Air Act, which prohibited smoking in any public facility. Many students expressed dismay in the lack of an alternative space for smokers, including Vassar Student Association president Jung Yun ’94. “We have to deal with the fact that there are strict legal restrictions that the college must enforce, but at the same time, there should be a place where people can smoke and know that they’re not violating nonsmokers’ space,” she said.

Dean of the College Colton Johnson agreed. But, he said, “We have to observe the smoking laws of the State of New York.” The administration was also considering removing cigarettes from residence hall vending machines.     The Miscellany News

George Williamson Jr., former chaplain at Vassar, lectured on "Religion on the Wrong Side: The Gay and Lesbian Repression, a Model."

The president of the Nickelodeon channel and creator of Nick at Nite, Geraldine Laybourne ’69, spoke on “Creating a Career out of Personal Passions.” Receiving an award from the Mid-Hudson Association for the Education of Young Children, Laybourne urged her audience to “Multiply your strengths and bolster your weaknesses,” Laybourne, who cited her involvement in campus politics as the key to her subsequent successes, concluded by saying, “above all, do what you are best at.”     Miscellany News

The ski team was placed on probation after the college received two letters from motels where the team had stayed, complaining of their destructive behavior. The Vassar Student Association Council mandated that the team mail letters of apology to the hotels, along with paying for the additional cleaning fees and writing a separate letter of apology to the college community. Additionally, the team was informed that their organization would be deauthorized if the incident were repeated.     Miscellany News

The Intercultural Center (ICC) opened as a permanent home for the main student of color organizations, the Black Student Union, the Asian Student Alliance and Poder Latino.  A part of the renovation of the old facilities buildings behind Main Building made possible by the opening of the new Buildings and Grounds Services Center at the south end of the campus, the center was built in half of the “vehicles building”—originally the open-air “coal pocket” for the college boilers.  The rest of the building became the Coal Bin Theatre, renamed a few years later as The Susan Stein Shiva Theater.  The architect for these new facilities was Jeh V. Johnson, senior lecturer in art.

The fulfillment of a trustee promise made to students of color many years earlier, the ICC contained office space for each group as well as a community room, a conference room, and a kitchen. A number of events commemorated the opening, including remarks from President Frances Fergusson, exhibitions of cultural music and dance, lectures and workshops sponsored by the Center’s resident groups. The new center’s director, Edward Pittman ’82, director of multicultural affairs, called the ICC “an essential piece of the goal of the college to make the campus a comfortable place for students who come from diverse backgrounds.”     Miscellany News



African-American author, social activist and feminist bell hooks, professor of Women’s Studies at Oberlin College, lectured on "Race, Gender, and Representation" as a part of Women's Week. Molly Salkein '94 found the lecture to be "amazing, bizarre and fantastic. [hooks] placed the burden of education and coalition on everyone." hooks’s Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black was published in 1989, and Yearning: Race, Gender and Cultural Politics appeared in 1990.

Women's Week events also included a concert by singer, songwriter, guitarist, and feminist icon Ani DiFranco, and a lecture by El Salvadoran educators and activists Regina de los Angeles, Garay Gómez and Dora Alicia Lainez Escamilla, who spoke on "Women in War, Women in Peace."  A devastating civil war in El Salvador of 12 years’ duration, in which the United States had been clandestinely involved and in which some 75,000 Salvadorans had died, ended in January 1992.

Author Tom Wolfe, a key figure in the “new journalism” of the mid-1960s, gave the first Alex Krieger Memorial Lecture, “End of the Century and Spirit of the Age.” Wolfe punctuated his discussion of recent changes in American culture with personal anecdotes and quotations from psychologists. “This is an extraordinary time,” he said. “Suddenly we have the feeling we are immune to ordinary dangers and we get the hubris to sweep away moral codes that have been in place for years.”      The Poughkeepsie Journal   

The Alex Krieger Memorial Fund was started by his parents in memory of Alex Krieger ’95 who died in his freshman year in an automobile accident while driving to Pennsylvania for an ultimate Frisbee match.  The annual lectures brought eminent American humorists and cultural critics to Vassar in recognition of Krieger’s keen appreciation of the genres.

Singer, songwriter, guitarist, and feminist icon Ani DiFranco performed in the Villard Room.  She had also appeared at Vassar in 1992.

In 2004, DiFranco, along with Brian Grunert, won a Grammy Award for Best Recording Package for the album Evolve.

The music department presented “A Tribute To Cole Porter,” a lecture and recital celebrating American Culture professor Richard Severo’s gift to the college of 104 rare recordings by the American composer.  Speaking about Porter and his work, Severo said he thought the collection belonged at a liberal arts college. “A generation is losing songs that were standards,” he said. After Severo’s talk, Vassar voice teacher Richard Lalli performed twelve Porter songs, including “Begin the Beguine” and “Miss Otis Regrets.”     The Poughkeepsie Journal

Puerto Rican-American Salsa musician Tito Puente and his orchestra played in the All Campus Dining Center. Puente, who brought salsa music to national attention throughout his decades-long career, was also known for his charitable efforts, including a scholarship fund at the Juilliard School and a number of concerts to help Puerto Rican victims of the 1989 Hurricane Hugo. “It’s good, exciting music,” said Puente of his work. “We’re giving it from our heart and soul. We’re laying it down and the people are eating it up. And that’s good.”     The Miscellany News

The Debate Society hosted an English-style debate tournament for 35 college teams belonging to the American Parliamentary Debating Association. In English-style debate, said the tournament’s coordinator John Mulkeen ‘93, “the judges look at humor, wit and style, as well as the strength of a team’s argument.” Vassar placed sixth among 76 teams, losing out to Harvard.     The Poughkeepsie Journal

Vassar women’s heavyweight four boat won first place at the prestigious Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta in Philadelphia, beating out second-place finisher Northwestern by six seconds. “We are ecstatic, but not surprised,” said coach Ed Clark. “I knew they would do it. They’ve worked very hard.”     The Poughkeepsie Journa

Music professor Richard Wilson premiered “The Prelude” and “Scene 1,” scenes from his opera about much-maligned 10th century English king Ethelred the Unready, with the American Symphony Orchestra. Wilson wrote the opera, his first, after receiving a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1992. “I wanted to do something different with the award,” he said. “I thought it would be amusing to try.”     The Poughkeepsie Journal

Political activist, author and teacher Angela Davis spoke at the Baccalaureate Service of the college’s 127th commencement, an annual pre-graduation event sponsored by the Council of Black Seniors. Davis, a professor of history and philosophy at the University of California at Santa Cruz, spoke of the political changes in the United States. “During the Reagan-Bush years,” she said, “there was a great deal of hopelessness and despair. When the Reagan-Bush reign was overthrown, a lot of us felt we had a new lease on life….  The good news is we have created new space. The good news is that it is possible to forge a measure of hope.”  In conclusion, she implored the standing-room-only audience to “address each other’s differences with respect.”     The Poughkeepsie Journal

The Daisy Chain carried its traditional 150-foot long tribute—3,500 marguerites and 250 pounds of laurel—and President Fergusson conferred the bachelor’s degree on 583 members of the Class of 1993 at the college’s 127th Commencement.  Commencement speaker Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, discussed his company’s socially conscious “caring capitalism.” “It becomes more and more clear to us at Ben and Jerry’s,” he said, “that our success is testament to the human spirit—people joining together for a common good.”

President Frances Daly Fergusson also spoke, urging students, “Be generous with your talent and knowledge.”  After the ceremony, Ben and Jerry were generous, treating the commencement crowd to free ice cream.      The Poughkeepsie Journal, The New York Times

Some 2,300 historians from 220 institutions in 31 countries traveled to Vassar for the triennial Berkshire Conference on the History of Women. Started in 1936 by a group of female historians from Northeastern colleges in response to the exclusion of female scholars from the prestigious history conferences of the day, the “Berks” was the largest regular meeting of historians, except that of the American Historical Association. Vassar professor emeritus Evalyn Clark ’24, who joined the conference in 1939, noted in a 1993 New York Times article that the men’s conferences were dedicated to “introducing grand old men to young men of promise.” She said that she supposed she was now “a grand old woman.”

Dean of the Faculty Nancy Schrom Dye ’69 observed that her professors “like Evalyn Clark, who exemplified a tradition of women who were scholars,” were her most direct influences, and Cynthia Russett, a historian from Yale, said that without women’s colleges like Vassar, Smith and Bryn Mawr, “there for sure wouldn’t have been a Berks.”     The New York Times

President Clinton ordered a missile attack against Iraq in retaliation of an alleged plot to kill former President George H. W. Bush.

H. Daniel Peck, professor of English at Vassar, directed a summer institute “to study the national importance of an area that has produced great writers and painters and ultimately produced one of the first visions of a national culture for a fledgling America.” Professors from universities across the nation attended the institute, called “Hudson River Valley Images and Texts,” studying such artists as painters Thomas Cole, Asher Durand and Frederick E. Church and writers of the stature of Washington Irving and John Burroughs.

“’We really did prove to ourselves through the course of our study that the Hudson River Valley provided a paradigm for national culture,’ Dr. Peck said. ‘It was an extraordinary experience that left everyone feeling rewarded.’”     The New York Times

Art critic Roberta Smith profiled Highlights from the Vassar College Art Gallery, a wide-ranging exhibition at the IBM Gallery of Science and Art in New York City, in the The New York Times, writing, “From the start of the exhibition, the highlights, or at least the points of interest, come fast and furious.”  The show, she said, “roams across the map of Western art history, touching on ancient Greece, the Renaissance north and south, 16th-century and 17th-century paintings of the Dutch, Flemish, Venetian and French schools.”

“But the star of the show’s American landscape section” Smith said, “is George Inness’s 'Valley of the Shadow of Death' of 1867.  A large and dark, nearly monochromatic painting in which deep browns and blues barely signify earth and sky and the white-robed figure of Christ is small enough to be missed at first glance, this painting has the plainness abstraction that takes the breath away.  The painting lends one of the world’s oldest stories an aura of diffuse, ecumenical mysticism, while being in its own right remarkably ahead of its time.”

The paintings were in New York City for much of the summer, and the exhibit closed on September 11th in time for the paintings’ return to the campus and the opening of the new Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center in November.

The Russell and Janet Doubleday Studio Arts Building opened, another renovation in the old facilities buildings behind Main Building made possible by the opening of the new Buildings and Grounds Services Center at the south end of the campus.  The new space provided cohesive space for student artists, with a room for studio artists, a printmaking studio, a sculpture area and a welding area. “It is a much improved facility,” said associate professor of art Peter Charlap.

The new facility, funded by the Doubleday Foundation, housed printmaking, sculpting and welding classes; drawing and painting classes remained in Ely Hall.     The Miscellany News

The new “variable use” meal plan substituted declining “points” for the fixed times and numbers—14 or 21 per week—of meals in the old plan.  The food committee and the new director of campus dining, Andrew Meade, hoped that the more flexible plan would allow for more variety in students’ campus dining experience, deliver more variety and higher quality in the offerings and reduce waste, which under the old plan was unacceptably large.

Student organizations collaborated on a street festival as the culmination of Step Beyond Week, an annual effort that sent students out to volunteer in the Poughkeepsie community. Participants in the festival included the Ebony Theatre Ensemble, the Pro-Choice Coalition, the Jewish Student Union and Lathrop House. Assistant to the President Robert Pounder, professor of classics, observed that the festival and Step Beyond Week would help the college play a more prominent role in the community and strengthen its ties with Poughkeepsie residents.  All proceeds from the Street Festival went to the United Way.      The Miscellany News

Alice Kessler-Harris of the women's studies program at Rutgers University, lectured and led a discussion on "The Politics of Culture and the Cultural Concept in American Studies." Speaking on the struggle for a unified American culture and the reasons why that stuggle has been unsuccessful, Kessler-Harris reminded her audience that "if the fight for identity is a request for inclusion and if the heart of our project is the pursuit of what constitutes our collective or democratic culture, then we, all of us, need to see the new politics of culture as a tug of war over who gets to create the public culture and how."     The Miscellany News

The Ford Foundation awarded a $100,000 Ford Diversity Grant to the college to develop a great level of multiculturalism in lower-level courses central to several disciplines. Vassar’s proposal to the foundation, “Diversity at the Center” stipulated that students would work in conjunction with faculty to recast these central courses.

“This is part of a broad ongoing effort to diversify the faculty and the curriculum,” Dean of the Faculty Nancy Schrom Dye ’69 said of the grant. “What is most important about this grant is that students are empowered to be agents of curricular change.”  Dean of the College Colton Johnson and Director of Multicultural Affairs Edward Pittman ’82 administered the grant.    The Miscellany News

Milwaukee alternative rock band The Violent Femmes— with singer, guitarist and songwriter Gordon Gano, Bassist Brian Ritchie and drummer Guy Hoffman—performed at Walker Field House.

The college dedicated the newly renovated Ely Hall to launch the interdisciplinary program in environmental science, which linked biology, geology and chemistry, using the campus and Dutchess County as living laboratories. The building renovations and the new program were made possible by a $42 million gift from Priscilla Bullitt Collins ’42. To celebrate the building’s opening, the environmental science program presented a panel called “Environmental Sciences and Public Impact: The Role of Undergraduate Education.”     The Poughkeepsie Journal

Eighteen U. S. soldiers were ambushed and killed by Somali militiamen in Mogadishu.  Some 200 Somali civilians were killed in the ensuing fighting.

Linda Nochlin '51, groundbreaking feminist art historian and author of "Why Have There Been no Great Women Artists?", lectured on "Vassar, Art, and Me: Memories of a Radical Art Historian."  Her remarks were published in the Spring 1994 issue of The Vassar Quarterly.

Nochlin taught at Vassar from 1952-1980.

The college announced a $200 million capital fundraising campaign, the Campaign for Vassar. President Frances Fergusson launched the effort, the largest ever undertaken by an undergraduate liberal arts college, with an event at the J. Pierpont Morgan Library in New York City, where she stated that the campaign would have “a significant impact on the college, solidifying its position at the forefront of American undergraduate education.” Vice President for Development Kathleen Kavanagh reported, “Donors are telling us that they believe in Vassar and its future.”    The Miscellany News

Completed in June, 1996, the campaign raised over $206 million.

The college celebrated the opening of the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center.  Designed by Cesar Pelli and named for Frances Lehman Loeb ’28, whose gift of $7.5 million for the center was the largest gift even given the college by a living individual, the 20,000-square-foot center replaced the Vassar College Art Gallery in Taylor Hall.  Providing extensive exhibition space in galleries, “the size of the galleries at the Frick” according to Pelli, the center also contained more intimate venues and curatorial and office space. “This is not a normal art gallery,” Pelli pointed out.  “It is primarily a teaching experience….  Natural light is important in a teaching collection.  It is more real for studying ancient pieces made before electric light.” 

A thorough renovation and reconfiguration of Taylor Hall was part of Pelli’s project, which also included a sculpture garden designed by landscape architect Diana Balmori.  Students expressed their enthusiasm about the new facility: “I am very excited about it,” said Gabrielle Tenaglia ’94. “This is a wonderful opportunity for students and the community.”      The New York Times, The Poughkeepsie Journal

Comedian Nora Dunn performed in the All Campus Dining Center. Dunn was known for quitting her job on “Saturday Night Live” to protest the show’s hiring of Andrew Dice Clay, whose comedy relied on verbally assaulting women and minorities.     The Poughkeepsie Journal

In discussing her decision with The Miscellany News before her show at Vassar, Dunn explained that “Dice Clay’s work is about blaming women in much the same fashion that the Germans blamed the Jews. It’s like, here’s everything that’s wrong with me, everything that men can’t be, everything that’s wrong with us – and here’s the reason.”

The Reverend Al Sharpton spoke at a forum in honor of  the 10th anniversary of the African American Alumnae/i of Vassar College, “Empowerment: Organizing as a Force.” Sharpton urged African-American students to recall the struggles their ancestors had faced: “What is worst is the children who came out of bondage and have gotten amnesia and forgotten what brought them across,” he said. “Unless we return back to our ethics and spirits that brought us across, history will record us as the worst ‘stiff necks’ who ever lived.”   The anniversary program also included a workshop on fundraising and a panel discussion on the future of black studies led by Professor Constance Berkley.     The Poughkeepsie Journal

Dr. Jana Sawicki, professor of philosophy and women’s studies at Williams College, lectured on "Foucault: Feminism and Questions of Identity."  Molly Salkeild ’94 found the “general question of the efficacy of post-modernism and Foucault in finding some sort of effective political action,” as discussed by Sawicki in her lecture, to be particularly memorable. “The whole concept of everything being determined by difference made it impossible for mass-based political action to happen,” Salkeild told the Miscellany News.

Professor Sawicki’s Disciplining Foucault: Feminism, Power and the Body was published by Routledge in 1991.

An article in the “In School” section of The New York Times by Michael Winerip profiled the efforts of members of the African American Alumnae of Vassar College to encourage able African-American and Hispanic students “from New York’s roughest neighborhoods” to visit Vassar and consider applying for admission.  Winerip’s article followed the bus trip program, in its fifth year, from tentative talks onto the bus chartered for Poughkeepsie and through the often searching conversations on campus.  The two alumnae in Winerip’s account, Paula Walker ’74, assistant news editor at Channel 4, and Audrey Lee Jacobs ’76, a lawyer and publicist, convinced 14 promising high school seniors to venture to the campus, and what followed was frank and engaging.

Attending the biggest dance of Vassar’s year, the Homo Hop, given by BiGala, the bisexual, gay and lesbian organization was an eye-opener for the homecoming king at Thomas Jefferson High School.  “Everybody’s mixed together here,” he said, “It’s a very huggy place.”  A senior at Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx said, “Not my type of crowd, but I was glad I saw it.  It’s like my religion teacher says, ‘Take off the blinder, Jeremy.’”

The alumnae were candid about their own concerns over 20 years earlier. Winerip wrote of Walker’s experience in 1970, “For Paula Walker it seemed an alien, white place. ‘My older brother said you better take a gun with you.’” Ms. Jacobs, responding to a question from a 15-year-old senior about the “trade offs” she made to be at Vassar, said, “Every problem you read in the newspaper you’ll find here at Vassar.  I spent a lot of time fighting here.  Maybe too much.  I wasn’t always happy.  But I wouldn’t be wasting my weekend here if Vassar hadn’t served me well.”     The New York Times

President Clinton signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) concluding negotiations begun by his predecessor, President George H. W. Bush to establish an integrated market among Canada, the United States and Mexico.