President Bill Clinton was inaugurated for his second term.

The Vassar Night Owls were among the “stationary acts” in the “Pre-Parade” at President Clinton’s second inauguration.  Other acts included Liquid Soul from Chicago, the Danvers, MA, high school band, Darla’s Dancers from McConnelsville, OH, the Mello-Hawks Steel Orchestra from the Virgin Islands and the San Bernardino Westside Steppers from California.

The ensemble was among nine musical groups selected to perform on “The Voice of America,” the final float in Clinton’s first inaugural parade in 1993. Unfortunately, the float’s brakes locked up as it entered the parade, forcing it to remain on the sidelines.

The Andrew Mellon Foundation awarded a three-year $200,000 grant to the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center.  The grant supported work to develop stronger relationships between the center's collection and the curriculum, focusing on the Magoon Collection, over 3,000 works acquired by Matthew Vassar from founding trustee Rev. Elias Magoon prior to the opening of the college in 1865.

Among the projects developed under the Mellon grant were the online presentation of the collection, The Magoon Collection of 19th Century British & American Art (1998) and two exhibitions, Landscapes of Retrospection: The Magoon Collection of British Drawings and Prints 1739-1860 (1999) and Humanizing Landscapes: Geography, Culture and the Magoon Collection 1739-1860 (2000).

Kevin Jennings, Executive Director of the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Teachers Networks, lectured in Sanders Auditorium on "Teaching Respect for All: Why Schools Must Address Issues of Sexual Orientation."   The founder, while a student at Concord Academy, of the first gay-straight alliance, Jennings co-founded the Gay and Lesbian Independent School Teacher Network (GLISTeN) in Boston in 1990 and was the principle author of “Making Schools Safe for Gay & Lesbian Youth,” a report from the Governor’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth which was the basis, in 1993, for the Massachusetts law that was the first in the United States prohibiting public school discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Jenning’s book, Becoming Visible: A Reader in Gay and Lesbian History for High School and College Students was published in 1993, and in 2009, United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan appointed Jennings as Assistant Deputy Secretary for the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools.

C. Gordon Post, professor emeritus of political science, died in Poughkeepsie at the age of 93.  A graduate of Johns Hopkins University, Professor Post joined the Vassar faculty in 1933, after receiving his doctorate from his alma mater. He was the author of The Supreme Court and Political Questions (1936), Significant Cases in British Constitutional Law (1957) and An Introduction to the Law (1963).  He collaborated with President Henry Noble MacCracken on Fair Play: An Introduction to Race and Group Relations, which appeared in 1942.  Retiring from Vassar in 1969, he served as the Robert D. Campbell Visiting Professor at Wells College between 1969 and 1985.

Post appeared frequently in dramatic productions during the heyday of The Vassar Experimental Theatre, appearing as Caliban in Shakespeare's The Tempest in 1944 and Becket in T. S. Eliot's Murder in the Cathedral (1935) in 1941.  His first appearance was in 1934 as the Soviet politician Tsexovoi opposite MacCracken's Ivan Borodin—a role modeled on physiologist Ivan Pavlov—in the American première of Fear (1931) by the Russian socialist realist playwright Aleksandr Afinogenov.  In a letter, a student observed: "The play was swell with Prexy and a new college heart-throb, Political Science Prof. Mr. Post, featured."

Stacey M. Floyd, '91, a doctoral candidate at Temple University, lectured in the Intercultural Center on "Racial Bodies/Forsaken Souls: A Womanist/Ethical Investigation on Black Women at Seven Sisters Colleges." 

Students from Vassar, Bard, and Dutchess Community College presented a "Report on Local Transportation in Poughkeepsie" to City Mayor Colette Lafuente '63 and the Common Council. When she accepted the document, Lafuente stated that the city "will generally look at the report as a planning document.” Peter Leonard, Vassar professor for the course, described the class' process and product as “not just a great Poughkeepsie project, but a great American project...showing a commitment to the city and to this brand of education.”     The Miscellany News

A spring Nor'easter brought April Fools' chaos to the campus, disrupting classes and damaging trees and buildings. Administrative offices were closed and classes were cancelled at the discretion of individual professors.  College horticultualist and grounds manager Jeff Horst reported "fallen trees and many broken limbs all through campus.  The trees were damaged by the sheer weight of snow and the wind.  All the rain we had the day before softened the soil.  That's why we've seen whole root systems torn out."  "I never went through such a night," Horst said.  "Trees and branches were falling everywhere to the point where I was counseling people not to walk anywhere."  Trees fell on the northeast corner of Cushing House and on the College Center.

Vice President, Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer Anthony Stellato estimated that the storm damage would cost the college "tens of thousands of dollars—perhaps in excess fo $100,000...particularly after taking into account the cost to replace trees, repair damage, pay personnel to address the emergency and lost productivity."  "On the other hand," he said, "it is impossible to measure the non-financial 'costs' of losing beautifully mature trees.  This...goes well beyond any dollars which we will have to expend."

Up to three feet of snow and gale-force winds left thousands in the region without power and hit the Boston area with the third worst storm in the city's history.     The Miscellany News, The New York Times

The Miscellany News reported an 18 percent increase in applications for the Class of 2001.  Applications for the incoming class totaled 4,761 compared to 4,037 applications for the Class of 2000.  "We've received far more applications from qualified applicants than we have spaces to offer," Dean of Admission and Financial Aid David Borus explained.  "Eighty percent or more of the applicants have the academic ability to come here." Admission offers were given to 1,987 of the applicants, for an acceptance percentage of 41.7.

Six hundred fifty students, about one third of those accepted and 20 more than expected, enrolled in the Class of 2001.

 Meryl Streep '71 spoke about fame in the Chapel as the President’s Distinguished Visitor.  “The reason I’m interested in the F word,” she said, “is that I’ve read surveys that have shown young people don’t care how or why, but they aspire to be famous.  I wonder to what extent that’s true, and I would like to weigh in with my considerable expertise in this area.”

Noting that she had appeared in 24 movies since winning an Emmy in 1978 for her portrayal of Inga Helms-Weiss in the television miniseries Holocaust, Streep said, “The process of becoming 24 different women and crawling inside their lives and making them seem real is the biggest reward of my career, and the money is good.  But the accompanying demon, fame, is the beast that moves in on your honeymoon…listens on the phone, walks ahead of you into restaurants, hospitals, schools, pushes children aside, my own included, to get ‘one more photo, please.’  It makes every trip to the mall a self-conscious nightmare…and making new friends very, very tricky….  I guess what I’m saying is, the real measure of your life is taken in an interior vessel—your heart.

“Grabbing a cold gold at the Oscars was great,” Streep concluded, “but it didn’t come close to being handed my first born, or my fourth-born, for that matter.  Having my picture on the cover of TIME and Newsweek was a kick, but it didn’t touch seeing my mother’s face at her 80th birthday surprise.  One category of experience just feels authentic and real, and the other is virtual.”     The Vassar Quarterly  

 In a steady, light rain President Fergusson awarded the bachelor’s degree to 577 members of the Class of 1997 at Vassar’s 131st Commencement.  In his commencement address Alan J. Pakula—the producer of To Kill a Mockingbird (1963), the director of All the President’s Men (1976) and the writer, producer and director of Sophie’s Choice (1982)—recalled his father’s warning that filmmakers always had to “start over every time.”  “I told him,” Pakula said, “that was the very thing that made me feel alive….  Each film is a new life, a new beginning….  With each film I enter a new world.”   Graduating senior Joshua Weinstein appreciated the speaker’s message: “It was about following your passion, and about the fact that what’s important in art is the process, not just the product.”     The New York Times

Author Thomas Beller ’87 reflected in an essay in The New York Times on the approach of his 10th reunion and on the “ridiculous ‘R’ sentence” in the invitation: “I know you ‘R’ looking forward to this…opportunity to Recapture memories, Renew friendships, Reacquaint yourself with Vassar, Rekindle school pride and Re-establish ties.”  About the sentence, Beller rationalized, “I’m sure my alma mater is not alone in this sort of thing; there is something about alumni correspondence that inspires this sort of inanity.”

About returning, he wrote, “these emotions are draining, and inevitably allow the persistent tug of nostalgia and curiosity to work its special magic.  Like tax payments, I bet most of the checks for reunion weekend arrive on the last possible day.”  Admitting the fear that, despite the years and accomplishments, “one will instantly revert to one’s freshman year condition when put back in the same surroundings,” Beller added, “there is something annoying in the sheer statistical adamance of the number 10.  I have no trouble getting older, I just want to take my time about it.”

“Of course,” Beller concluded, “almost everyone I know is capitulating.  The essential logic seems to be: I don’t want to go (or admit to wanting to go), but I don’t want to miss it.  Curiosity and nostalgia seize the day….  The checks ‘R’ in the mail.  Mine is among them.”     The New York Times

As the academic year began, major construction projects, some made possible by the successful completion in June of 1996 of The Campaign for Vassar College, were underway across the campus.  Two large projects, the Martha Rivers and E. Bronson Ingram Library addition and a new athletics building were supplemented by other projects, including improvements to the College Center and at Ferry House.  In addition to the 33,000 sqare foot Ingram addition, the Library project, expected to last at least two years, involved renovation and updating of all existing components of the Library.  To accommodate the work, which, according to Director of Libraries Sabrina Pape, would "bring the Library into the 21st century, some library functions such as the Reserve Room were moved within the Library, while others—cataloguing, acquisitions and interlibrary loan—were moved, along with about one third of the Library's holdings, to a 130,000 square foot Library Annex, a former IBM building on nearby Boardman Road.  A shuttle service promised a 24-hour delivery of any material requested from the annex.  "Vassar has really taken [efforts to retain access to books] a step further than many other schools," said Jordan Klein '99, a member of the Library Committee.  "It's still going to be inconvenient," he conceded, "but we're really working to minimize it."

The new athletic building, just north of Walker Fieldhouse and connected to in by a 100-foot glassed-in walkway, contained a new 1,200-seat wood-floor gymnasium with an elevated running track, a 5,000 square foot exercise room, a four-team locker room, along with laundry,office and trainers spaces.  A spacious atrium in the new building feature a new dining site, the "Atrium" juice bar.  "This is a huge step," said Athletic Director Andy Jennings, "moving us to the point where we want to be...the college realized the importance of providing [an athletics program] not only commensurate with our quality in academics, but also competitive with our peer institutions."  A subsequent phase of development for the athletics program included "the addition of three fields, a track and a baseball," said Jennings, along with improved crew facilities on the Hudson River.  Jennings called this development "a really positive step—we can now launch and store eights, and have a safer environment in which to row."

Projects at the College Center and Ferry House included the further development of College Center Circle—originally a parking area—into an outdoor gathering place for students and the replacment of asphalt paving from the area surrounding Ferry with the bluestone flag walks desgined in 1951 by the building's architect, Marcel Breuer, but never executed.     The Miscellany News

Author Karin Cook '90 read from her novel, What Girls Learn (1997), in Sanders Auditorium.

Eminent art historian Professor Svetlana Alpers from the University of California at Berkeley lectured on "Realities of the Studio or the Vexations of Art" in Taylor Hall.  Praised for her persistent study of the language of description and the co-founder of the interdisciplinary journal Representations (1983), Alpers published The Art of Describing: Dutch Art in the Seventeenth Century in 1983 and—with Michael Baxandall—Tiepolo and the Pictorial Intelligence in 1994. Her The Vexations of Art: Velázquez and Others appeared from Yale University Press in 2005. 

As part of the annual Multicultural Awareness Week (MAW), November 8-16, Tanya Odom '92, a graduate student at Harvard and a diversity consultant, spoke about her work.  "One of the things," she said, "that Vassar didn't teach me was to value conflict.  How can you live in a world where everybody is yessing everybody to death?  You need to hear what other people are thinking.     The Miscellany News.

Lebanese literary scholar Mona Takieddine Amyuni from the American University in Beirut lectured on "Exile and the Contemporary Arab Poet: Adonis, Nizar Kabbani, and Mahmoud Darwish" as a part of the "Issues of the 90s" lecture series.

Rachel J. Simmons ’96, a Women's Studies major, was among the 32 United States students awarded Rhodes Scholarships for study at the University of Oxford in England. While at Vassar, she played soccer and served as Student Assistant to the President, Miscellany News writer and editor, and as an organizer for student activism, especially concerning welfare. Simmons has since written the New York Times bestseller Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls. 

The Miscellany News

A campus-wide card access system, similar to that installed in the residence halls prior to the 1994-95 academic year, allowed electronic security and monitoring of all campus buildings.