In anticipation of the construction of a long-planned center for drama and film, the film and drama departments moved from Avery Hall to the former Poughkeepsie Day School building on New Hackensack Road. “It will be a wonderful facility for the departments of drama and film, bringing them together in one building with state-of-the-art facilities for the first time,” said President Fergusson. During the transition period, the drama department planned to use the Powerhouse Theatre for most performances.

Security offices were also permanently moved from Avery to New Hackensack.    The Miscellany News

The college launched a new website through which students could access reading lists and order books for upcoming classes. Separately, the Student Activist Union (SAU) created a separate website containing students’ reading lists. The websites were in response to many students’ interest in supporting local bookstores as well as student concerns that there were not enough price options at the college bookstore. “For me, it’s worth the effort to get books somewhere else, because I know I will be supporting more independent sellers,” said SAU action coordinator Pulin Modi ’02.    The Miscellany News

Nearly 100 Vassar students protested George W. Bush’s inauguration in Washington D.C. Many students traveled with a group organized by the Student Activist’s Union. “I’m here primarily so my voice is heard about how upset I am about the Bush presidency,” said David Rossini ’04. “I came to document history in the making,” said Jacob Blumenfeld ’04, who carried a video camera at the protest.

On campus, students, members of the faculty and community members attended a teach-in to discuss electoral reform and to question the legitimacy of the stopping of the recount of presidential election votes in Florida. “The key questions are, why did this happen, where did it leave us, [and] could this happen again?” declared Nancy Kassop, professor of political science at the State University of New York (SUNY) at New Paltz.  

“This is such an important day. The events in Florida may have been very disturbing for many of us, but it was very important that they happened, because it brought to light faults in the voting process that have been going on for years in this country,” said Dr. Kristen Jemiolo of the League of Women Voters and Dutchess Unite. The teach-in was co-sponsored by the department of political science, the office of religious and spiritual life, the office of field work, Bard College, the Marist College Praxis Program and the Poughkeepsie Institute.      The Miscellany News

Cushing House and Noyes House encouraged their guests to wear 1950s-style clothing to a Bi-Dormal Formal celebrating “The Fabulous 50’s.”

Victorian men and women crowded the halls and buses carrying bowler-hatted and fancily-coiffed passengers drove from Kenyon Hall to Rockefeller Hall and the New England Building as three scenes from a new production by Dreamworks and Warner Brothers of H. G. Wells’s The Time Machine (1895) were filmed at the college. The scenes involved the search by the dean of Columbia University, played by Jeremy Irons, for Professor Alexander Hartdigan, played by Guy Pearce, and the buildings—completed in 1901 and 1898—were chosen for their late Victorian style.   

Several students and a few faculty members were chosen to act as extras.  “I’m totally thrilled to have been a part of it, completely thrilled,” said James Schenk ’01 who served as an extra and a stand-in for Guy Pearce. “It was a good experience to see how things are done. You don’t realize the amount of work that goes into it” he added. Film major Pat Johnson ’01, another extra, said “It’s going to be fun….  We’re wearing the costumes from Titanic, we can see how a movie set works and it’ll be a really great experience.”  Johnson praised the college’s willingness to allow the production to film on campus.  “It’s no big deal for the studio,” he said, “they could pay anyone to be in it, but it’s a great opportunity for the students.”  

Professor of Economics David Kennett played the non-speaking part of Dr. Thomas Post, “a rather irritable professor who is trying to get away from a pesky demanding student.”  He said of the role, “It’s a real stretch for me.”  Also appearing in the scenes at Vassar was Will Carlough ’99, a former film major currently pursuing a career in film in New York City, who had a speaking part as “student number two.”

The production limited access to certain paths throughout campus and occasionally interfered with the work of students and professors in New England Building and Rockefeller Hall.    The Miscellany News

Developmental geneticist and theoretical biologist Stuart A. Kauffman MD lectured in the Villard Room on "Investigations: The Physical Nature of Autonomous Agents May Answer the Question 'What is the Meaning of Life?'"  A former professor of biochemistry and biophysics at the University of Pennsylvania and a MacArthur Fellow from 1987 until 1993, Dr. Kauffman gained prominence for his work in evolutionary biology on the origins of life. He was the author of Origins of Order: Self-Organization and Selection in Evolution (1993) and At Home in the Universe: The Search for Laws of Self-Organization and Complexity (1995).  His Investigations appeared from Oxford University Press in 2000.

Dr. Vladimir Papov from the international pharmaceutical firm Boehringer Ingelheim lectured on "Proteomics—The Flip-Side of Genomics” in Mudd Chemistry. Dr. Papov’s research in proteomics—the study of the structure and function of proteins—involved the use of mass spectrometry to sequence particular organisms’ entire repertoire of proteins in order to further understand their structure.

Working with Assitant to the Dean of the College Andrew Meade and Christine White, the director of the card office, seven local businesses agreed to accept charges to the Vassar ID Card, or V-Card, as payment for their goods and services. "Topics we, along with Christine and folks who work with her, will be tackling," said Meade, "are how to make this program user friendly and as attractive to students and possible as well as how to best get word of this program out to parents."

Business owners and the college hoped the new system would make their restaurants and stores more accessible to students.  The Miscellany News

Celebrating Black History Month, the Africana Studies Program, the American Culture Program, the Office of the Dean of the Faculty, the history department, the Black Student Union (BSU) and the Council of Black Seniors (CBS) presented a month-long series of events.  A film series included Armistad (1997), Carmen Jones (1954) and Rosewood (1997), a gospel concert was held in the Chapel and “Midnight Love,” a formal dance open to the entire campus community, featured classic soul and R&B music. 

Highlights of the month included a campus residency on February 7th and 8th by journalist Wallace Terry, a former war correspondent for TIME magazine, reporter for The Washington Post and the author of Bloods: An Oral History of the Vietnam War (1984) and—in conjunction with the Dutchess County Arts Council—two performances by Raymond Jackson, a concert pianist and professor of music at Howard University.  Terry spoke on “Battle Hearts: How the Dream of Martin Luther King Came True on the Battlefields” and opened an exhibition in the James W. Palmer II ’90 Gallery entitled “The Way We War.”  Professor Jackson gave two performances on March 1, a morning program for young people and “Piano Music of Black Composers,” a lecture-performance, in the evening.     The Miscellany News

Sponsored by the Vassar Student Association (VSA) and Davison House, Robert L.E. Egger lectured on “Hunger Isn't About Food: Using Food as a Tool to Support Those Moving From Welfare to Work.” Egger was the founder and president of the DC Central Kitchen, where unemployed men and women learned marketable culinary skills, and the founding chairperson of the Washington, DC, Mayor’s Commission on Nutrition.

Along with four students from Barnard College and New York University, the co-chair of Vassar Students for a Free Tibet (SFT) was arrested in New York City at a pro-Tibet protest after, dressed in corporate attire, infiltrating the British Petroleum Amoco offices in New York City.  The action was part of an "International Day of Action Against BP Amoco" that involved similar protests in Denver, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and Beijing.  The protesters’ complaints against BP Amoco centered on the company’s investments in a Chinese oil company that planned to build an oil pipeline through Tibet, against the wishes of the Tibetan people.

Reaching a vice president's office, said Ashley Spicer '01, "We took off our suits, revealing our Students for a Free Tibet t-shirts and told the secretary we wanted to speak to the vice president about BP Amoco's investments in China.... We declared we would not leave willingly until they left Tibet."  After blocking a doorway and chanting for two hours, the women were arrested. "Honestly," said Spicer, "I've never heard five girls chant so loudly."

Writing about the experience in The Miscellany News, she said that, being alone in a cell "encouaged deeper relflection about what had happened and why I had done what I had done....  Overall, because of our race, our age, our crime and the prestige of the colleges we attended, we were given a relatively cushy experience in jail compared to the majority of people who go to jail in our country, let alone those who are thrown in jail in Tibet and other countries under oppresive régimes....  As we were leaving, a sargeant ask us, 'so was it worth it, girls?'  We looked him square in the eye and answered resolutely and honestly: 'yes.'"     The Miscellany News

As part of Equal Rights Awareness Week the Feminist Alliance, the Women’s Center, the Student Activist Union (SAU) and the Queer Coalition of Vassar College (QCVC) sponsored CUNTFEST. The event was based on the book Cunt: A Declaration of Independence (1998) by Inga Musico and included self-defense workshops, a reading by Musico from her book and performance art by lesbian-feminist Jess Dobkin.    The Miscellany News

The college held its first All-College Day, a day of community-related events and discussion for faculty, staff, students, and administrators.

A pioneer in environmental studies, Dr. Wes Jackson, president of The Land Institute, lectured on “Natural Systems Agriculture: A Necessarily Radical Paradigm.” Much of Jackson’s work with the institute focused on sustainable agriculture, particularly the use of perennial plants in agriculture, to maintain soil integrity and prevent erosion. Jackson referred to this type of agriculture as using “nature as model.”

The Vassar College Unitarian Universalists held an intercollegiate conference, “Rhythms: Harmonizing the Unique and the Universal,"at the Chapel. The first Unitarian conference hosted by the college, the event was attended by students from Wesleyan, Columbia, Cornell, Bryn Mawr, Penn State and Middlebury.

Jane Marcus, professor of English at the City University of New York, lectured in the Villard Room on "A Very Fine Negress: Race in a Room of One's Own." Professor Marcus’s work focused on feminist critiques of modernist literature, particularly that of Virginia Wolff. She helped found women’s studies departments at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Texas. The author of Virginia Woolf and the Languages of Patriarchy (1987), Professor Marcus published Hearts of Darkness: White Women Write Race in 2004.

The Vassar men’s volleyball team finished fourth in the nation in the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division III, becoming the college’s first varsity team to reach the NCAA National Championship Tournament.

Dr. Joseph Glenmullen, author of Prozac Backlash: Overcoming the Dangers of Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil and Other Antidepressents with Safe, Effective Alternates (2000), lectured in Rockefeller Hall on alternatives to anti-depressants. Dr. Glenmullen, a clinical instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School was a noted voice in the growing discussion of the side-effects of anti-depressants.

Sociologist of religion and morality Robert Bellah from the University of California at Berkeley spoke in the Villard Room on "Habits of the Heart Revisited."  The author of Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life (1985), Professor Bellah reexamined the original tracing of these two elements in American democracy from their discovery by Alexis de Tocqueville in revisions of his work in 1996—when he drew attention to decline of “social capital” and the persistence and growth of “neocapitalism”—and again in 2008—expressing grave concern about the mounting economic and social inequalities in American society.

Choreographer Deborah Jowitt, dance critic since 1967 for The Village Voice, lectured in the Kenyon Dance Studio on "Screaming Fits, Walking on Walls and Men in Tutus: Postmodern Dance 1960-2000."  A member of the dance department faculty at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts since 1975, Jowitt was honored in 2001 by the Congress on Research in Dance for her “Outstanding Contribution to Dance Research.”

Under the sponsorship of the Women’s Center, some 65 registered participants joined a conference on practical feminist politics addressing the assertion, “Feminism is Stupid.”  Organized by three seniors and sophomore, the conference included workshops, discussions and a keynote address by African-American feminist writer Barbara Smith, author of Writings on Race, Gender and Freedom: The Truth Never Hurts (1998) and editor of Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology (1983).

A panel discussion included Professor of Political Science Mary L. Shanley, Professor of Art Lisa Collins, Professor of Sociology Diane Harriford, Rachel Simmons ’96 and the founder of Brooklyn’s Black Girl Revolution, Brigette M. Moore.  Tracing the history of feminism and observing “in 1971, it seemed like things would change quickly, and they didn’t so much,” Professor Shanley underscored a major theme of the conference: the importance of “intersectionality” in addressing discrimination.  Professor Harriford agreed, observing that “people talk about feminism as if it is joining a sorority” and that students still asked her “what does racism have to do with feminism?”  She asserted that the mainstreaming of feminism weakened the recognition of social inequality as a function of structures of oppression in favor of personalizing feminism as many middle-class feminists had done.

Proceeds from the conference went to the Manuela Ramos Movement, a Peruvian organization funding counseling centers battered women shelters and family planning centers throughout Peru.  The group’s funding was recently cut off by President Bush’s reinstatement of the “Mexico City Policy,” a strategy formulated by President Ronald Reagan in 1984, effectively banning all international aid to groups providing advice, counsel or information regarding abortion.    The Miscellany News

The Vassar Volunteers, HungerAction and the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life sponsored “Faces of Homelessness,” a panel of three members of the Poughkeepsie community and two members of the college community who shared their stories about homelessness and poverty.  Organized by Sari Toplin ’03 with the help of Sam Speers, director of religious and spiritual life, the event was intended to be, as Speers put it, “a reminder that people who have spent time on the streets are people and that their situations are not necessarily all that different [from ours] as we imagine they might be.”  Toplin agreed, adding that she hoped such panels would continue into the future.  “This event,” she said, “is about connecting people to people as human beings and not constantly throwing around this concept of the ‘other’ who live on the street and is dirty and stupid….  My hope it that through sharing stories…it will trigger something in their hearts, and they’ll think about the issues.”     The Miscellany News

Kadiatou Diallo lectured on "The Legacy of Amadou Diallo" in the Chapel. Her unarmed son Amadou, a 23-year old Guinean immigrant, was shot and killed on February 4, 1999, by four New York City plain-clothes officers who thought him a possible rape suspect. Forty-one shots were fired, of which 19 struck Diallo.  The incident was widely denounced as gross police brutality, and, indicted by a grand jury, the police officers were acquitted on February 25, 2000.

Ms. Dialo’s lecture focused on her son’s life, the injustice of his death and her work to bring about racial harmony in New York City through the Amadou Diallo Foundation.    The Miscellany News

A $61 million lawsuit brought by the Diallo family for wrongful death, filed on April 18, 2000, was settled in March 2004 for $3 million.  Diallo's family established the Amadou Diallo Foundation in 2001.

New Zealand-born South African Anglican priest and social justice activist Michael Lapsley lectured in the New England Building on "Memory, Healing and Justice: Creating a New South Africa.” Expelled from South Africa in the 1970’s by the apartheid regime for his activist work, Father Lapsley was later seriously injured in a letter bomb explosion, sent by the apartheid government.

In conjunction with Planned Parenthood of the Mid-Hudson Valley and LGBT and Friends from Newburgh, the Queer Coalition of Vassar College (QCVC) sponsored a high school prom, “Over the Rainbow.”  Held in the Aula, the event welcomed over 60 area students to the dance and after-party.  “One of the things that’s really important to understand about LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Transgendered) youth,” said Matt Kavanagh ’01, one of the event’s organizers, “is that they don’t really have a safe space in the Hudson Valley.  They often are in the closet in high school, their schools and communities are often places where they face harassment and abuse….  We wanted to have one night where these kids could be themselves, enjoy each others’ company, have same sex dates, dress in drag is they want to, be whoever they are without being threatened.”

Additional support for the prom came from the Vassar Student Association (VSA), the Gill Foundation in Colorado and several community members.  Its organizers hoped that the prom would become an annual event.     The Miscellany News

“It is a good thing and will be accepted,” an anonymous participant in the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia wrote on Vassar’s copy of the final draft of the United States Constitution.  The document—one of two in existence—was among 70 rare historical documents on display in the Library’s exhibition, “Treasures of Americana, 1760-1830.”   Other documents on display included “a letter from a Revolutionary War soldier to his wife, a 54-page diatribe by Alexander Hamilton against President John Adams’s ‘unfortunate character’ and an 1818 petition to President James Monroe from several Indian chiefs.”     The New York Times

Harvard University Professor of Psychology Howard Gardner, the American developmental psychologist whose Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences (1983) introduced the theory of multiple intelligences, spoke about how recognition of different kinds of intelligence could lead to new methods of teaching and of evaluating learning.  Specifically, his remarks explored eight distinct kinds of intellectual ability or forms of intelligence: spatial; mathematical; linguistic; naturalist; kinesthetic; musical; interpersonal and intrapersonal.

During his visit to the college, Gardner, who spoke at a Vassar symposium on cognitive language comprehension in 1980, also conducted several experiments with students and faculty on the Library lawn, illustrating different forms of intelligence.  His visit was supported by the new Carolyn Grant ’36 Endowment, which, reflecting Carolyn Grant Fay’s accomplishments in expressive arts therapies, engaged students and faculty members in exploring “pedagogical methodologies that engage the imagination in a hands-on way.”     The Miscellany News

Novelist Stephen King delivered the commencement address to the graduating Class of 2001. Focusing his speech on the fleeting nature of life and the 624 graduates' mortality, Mr. King acknowledged that he was “casting gloom, even the pall of death, on what should be a joyous and wonderful day.”

“A couple of years ago,” he said, “I found out what ‘you can’t take it with you’ means.  I found out while I was lying in a ditch at the side of a country road, covered with mud and blood and with the tibia of my right leg poking out the side of my jeans like the branch of a tree taken down in a thunderstorm.  I had a MasterCard in my wallet, but when you’re lying in the ditch with broken glass in your hair, no one accepts MasterCard.”

Then King, whose sons Joe and Owen were Vassar graduates, evoked—according to The New York Times—“a characteristically creepy picture of a happy family eating fried chicken and cake in their backyard as hungry men, women and children watch silently from behind a fence. The backyard, Mr. King said, was America, and the starving people were the rest of the world.”  King announced that he was donating $20,000 in the class’s name to a local charity serving the homeless, the hungry and those with H.I.V. “He asked the graduates and their families to remember this vision as they sat down to celebratory luncheons, and to contribute to the same local charity that he was giving to.” At the conclusion of the ceremony, “$20 bills and personal checks for Dutchess Outreach were piling up in a cardboard box.”    The New York Times

In an interview with Vassar: The Alumnae/i Quarterly, President Frances Fergusson reflected on her first 15 years at the college. “When I arrived,” she said, “there were three major issues that needed to be addressed.  As an architectural historian, I believe that spaces have a very large effect on behavior.  The campus felt rather alienating and unfriendly because it was congested and unkempt.  The morale of the faculty was quite low.  Salaries had slipped, teaching conditions were not as good as they had been; there was a perception that we were in danger of losing the quality of students that they had been used to teaching.  We also needed to work on the issue of community.  People felt themselves to be individuals with no larger concept or commitment to community.  It’s not something that you ever fully achieve, but the conversation’s always there.

 “And certainly we’ve been able to improve everything from faculty salaries to the teaching and research facilities, which are now quite phenomenal and getting even better.  We are without a doubt a very desirable school right now.”

 “I’m proud,” Fergusson continued, “of the fact that if you were to come to Vassar during the course of the year, you wouldn’t feel that any of the old traditions or commitments to liberal education have been lost….  This year we probably had a total of seven different Shakespeare plays performed on campus.  We had our annual Beowulf marathon in old English, we had the opera workshop, we had the marathon reading of the Iliad and the Odyssey—one or the other each year—and so on.  So you see that our students aren’t just present-minded by any means, but at the same time they’re thinking in very advanced intellectual terms.  There’s a wonderful balance between the traditional and the new.”     Vassar: The Alumnae/i Quarterly

As part of the its efforts to revitalize the Arlington area, the college purchased the building at the corner of Raymond and College Avenues housing the Juliet Café for $925,000.  Opened as a cinema in 1935, the Juliet, later converted to a multiplex format, closed in September 1990.  The building subsequently housed a patisserie and billiards parlor, which closed in 2010.

Commandeered by Islamic terrorists, three American airliners crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon near Washington, DC.  A fourth plane, presumably targeting either the Capitol or The White House, crashed into a hillside in Pennsylvania.  In all, 2,996 people—including the 19 terrorists—died in the attacks.

Within hours of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, a large-screen television was set up in the Villard Room, along with a bank of long distance phones for students to contact their loved ones. Counseling services provided counseling staff until midnight, and the Chapel remained open all night.  On September 12 President Fergusson led the college in a service of grief and remembrance under the great tree on the Library lawn, where members of the college community placed flowers and messages.

 In the following days and weeks, the College responded with relief efforts and support services.  In a letter to President Bush, students, faculty members, administrators and staff urged him “to use the channels of diplomacy and law to bring the terrorist criminals to justice, and counsel all possible restraint in the use of force.”  “The war on terrorism,” the letter said, “must be a war on poverty and ignorance at home and abroad as well as a war on those who perpetrated the crimes of September 11.  It must not be a war on foreign cultures or foreign populations.”  Vassar Student Association President Adrienn Lanczos ’02 said, “Not all students were united in their broader political stance, but it seems as if most Vassar students have expressed a sense of frustration with those who would allow misinformed prejudices and impulsive reactionary politics to guide the domestic response of our wounded nation.”

Two members of the immediate Vassar family, Ruth Ketler ’80 and John Schwartz ’75, died in the destruction of the trade center.    The Miscellany News, Vassar; The Alumnae/i Quarterly

After protracted negotiations, the college discontinued its longstanding support of the annual fundraising campaign of United Way of Dutchess County, citing United Way's continued support of the Boy Scouts of America despite that organization’s discrimination against gays.  In 2000, United Way president and CEO James Williamson offered to allow a special opt-out for Vassar participants which would disallow their contributions from supporting the Boy Scouts. “We didn’t want anything,” he said, “to get in the way of people’s honest desire to help people.”

Mixed campus response to this compromise and the philanthropy’s continued support of the Boy Scouts led to the college’s decision.  President Fran Fergusson—a past chair of the annual campaign—stated that, “Just as I would not expect us to want to give to any agency that would discriminate on the basis of race or religion, we should not want to give to agencies that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. That is a firm principle in my mind, and a simple matter of human dignity.”

Under President Fergusson’s leadership, for 2001 the college established its own philanthropic campaign, Community Works, raising $70,000 from the campus constituencies, 100 percent of which went to support local organizations and agencies chosen by a campus committee of students, administrators, faculty and staff.     In 2004, the total raised for Community Works was $88,500.     The Miscellany News

Novelist Jane Smiley ‘71, the winner of the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for her best-selling novel, A Thousand Acres (1991), spoke about her work in the Villard Room. Smiley was elected in 2001 to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Plans were announced for a new student entertainment space on the second floor of the Students’ Building.  Originally the upper level of the main auditorium of the building—given anonymously to the Students Association in 1913 by a former Students' Association president—the space had housed a bakery, a dishwashing room, changing rooms and offices when the building was modified in 1972 to accommodate central dining. 

Funding for the new facility, intended to return the building to some of its original purposes, had been sought for several years.  An alumna trustee, moved by the events of September 11, offered $5 million to realize it. “Students can use it for large events, but also informal gatherings,” said dean of the college Colton Johnson. The project, he said, was to be completed in the fall of 2002.    The Miscellany News

The college approved plans for a memorial garden—to be completed in April or May—for the victims of the September 11th attacks on New York City and Washington. A triangular area between the Aula and Noyes Circle, formerly the site of a Japanese garden, was chosen for the Peace Garden, which featured a stone fountain.    The Miscellany News

The American Culture and International Studies programs announced, in light of the September 11th attacks, a new multidisciplinary class in Middle East foreign policy and terrorism. “We thought a course would be another mode of helping to come to grips with the events of September 11 and their larger context,” said Peter Stillman, professor of political science.    The Miscellany News

John Richetti, A. M. Rosenthal Professor of English at Columbia University, spoke in the Library’s new Class of ’51 Reading Room on "The Sex/Gender System and the Woman's Novel in the English 18th Century."  The editor of The Cambridge Companion to the Eighteenth-Century Novel (1996), Professor Richetti published The English Novel in History, 1700-1789 in 1999.

Felipe Agüero, a professor of political science at the University of Miami, spoke about his torture by the Chilean government under General Augusto Pinochet and his recent identification of his torturer.  Shortly after the Pinochet coup in 1973, Agüero, a 21 year-old Chilean student, was arrested, detained and tortured.  At an academic conference in 1988, he recognized his torturer—by then a professor at the Catholic University in Santiago— but remained silent, out of shame and lingering fear, until he named the man in February 2001.

Professor Agüero stressed the importance of open discussion of experiences with torture in the larger discussion of military repression. “People’s narratives need to be heard badly, more than anything else,” said Agüero, stressing that people have a “responsibility” to tell their stories.     The Miscellany New

President Fergusson led a service of recollection in the Chapel for victims of the September 11 attacks.

Director, screenwriter and actor Spike Lee and Academy Award-winning screenwriter Budd Schulberg spoke in the Chapel on their respective careers and their collaboration on a film about American boxer Joe Louis and his two championship bouts with German boxer Max Schmeling in 1936 and 1938.  Widely credited for creating the modern prototype of the young schemer who schemes, lies and cheats his way to success in the character of Sammy Glick in What Makes Sammy Run (1941), Schulberg won Academy Awards for best story and best screenplay for On the Waterfront (1954).  Over 40 years younger than his collaborator, Lee was first acclaimed for his film She’s Gotta Have It (1986) and was nominated for a screenwriting Oscar for Do the Right Thing (1989).  His film 4 Little Girls was nominated for Best Documentary Feature in 1997.

“Spike is a fanatic for accuracy,” Schulberg told his Vassar audience.  “He’s not the easiest director I’ve ever worked with, but he really respects the writer in a way I didn’t always find in Hollywood….  I can’t just sit down and write entertainment.  That’s one thing that drew Spike and me together.”  “To me,” Lee said, “it’s been an honor, and more than an honor, a great learning experience, learning from one of the great screenwriters of all time.”

“The young director and the elderly screenwriter,” wrote Claudia Rowe in The New York Times, “made a tender pair onstage.  Mr. Lee took notes as Mr. Schulberg spoke.  He fussed with the older man’s microphone, refilled the writer’s water glass before his own, and gently helped him from the stage when their talk was over.”

The project—tentatively called “The War to Come” and later named “Save Us Joe Louis”—was suspended at the time of Schulberg’s death, at the age of 95, on August 5, 2009.