Ferry Cooperative House, closed for over a year for complete restoration and renovation, reopened, with 27 residents.  One reason for the closing, the deterioration of cooperative governance in the house, led to discussions about its becoming an academic building.  A concerned group of students worked with Dean of Students DB Brown to develop new guidelines and policies, and the house remained residential.

Under an agreement arranged by the New-York Historical Society, the New York State Attorney General and the auction house Sotheby’s, by which New York State institutions could pre-empt a sale of any of 183 Old Master paintings being sold by the society, Vassar acquired “Crucifixion With the Donor, Brother Amelius de Emaei,” by an anonymous painter of the Brussels school for the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center.  As the highest bid for the work, estimated at between $80,000 and $120,000, exceeded the estimate at $184,000, the college was able not only to pre-empt the sale but to receive, under the agreement, a 3 percent discount. Vassar’s price was $179,050.     The New York Times

“The Great Ivy League Nude Posture Photo Scandal,” an article by Ron Rosenbaum in The New York Times Magazine reviewed the practice at several men’s and women’s colleges in the 1940s and 50s and into the 60s of “posture pictures,” the taking of nude photographs of entering students in order that weaknesses of physique could be discovered, analyzed and addressed by prescribed physical exercises.  The photography program was in many cases—certainly at Vassar—associated with the later discredited work of Columbia University anthropologist William H. Sheldon in somatotypology, the study of body typology as it was associated with temperament and intellectual development.  Rosenbaum further disclosed that Sheldon’s copies of thousands of the photographs were in the archives of the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC, part of the Smithsonian Institution, and that pictures and negatives from the Vassar Classes of ’42 and ’52 were among them.

As the materials were being deaccessioned, they reverted to the individual colleges, and shortly after Rosenbaum brought their existence to light Elizabeth Daniels ’41 and Nancy MacKechnie, Vassar’s curator of rare books and manuscripts, traveled to the Smithsonian and put the Vassar materials through a macerator, collected the shredded material in clear plastic bags and on their return to campus presented the bags to President Fergusson.

Andrew Hacker, professor of political science at Queens College of the City University of New York, gave a lecture entitled “Bell Curves and Bigger Prisons: White America’s Agenda?”  The author of Two Nations: Black and White, Separate, Hostile, Unequal (1992), Hacker referred in his title to the controversial book by Harvard psychologist Richard Herrnstein and American Enterprise Institute political scientist Charles Murray, The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life (1994), that posited a growing and dangerous separation in American life between a highly intelligent “cognitive elite” and those of average or below average intelligence.  Herrnstein and Murray’s book also implied that genetic differences might well be stronger influences on personal traits like intelligence than such cultural agencies as parental income or education.

Dr. Billie Davis Gaines ’58 from Emory University spoke on “Higher Learning: Collaborative Research as the Essence of Higher Learning, Breaking Down Barriers of Rank, Age, and Gender.”

Journalist, author and political satirist P.J. O’Rourke gave “An evening with P.J. O’Rourke” as the 1995 Alex Kreiger Memorial Lecture in the Chapel. “Many activists and conservatives alike felt vindicated by O’Rourke’s speech" wrote Margo Hasselman '98, "his humor, contradictory though it was, brought out the flaws in both outlooks on politics.” A self-described libertarian, O’Rourke published Give War a Chance in 1992 and All the Trouble in the World in 1994.  His Age and Guile Beat Youth, Innocence and a Bad Haircut appeared in 1995.     The Miscellany News

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.  The annual lectures brought eminent American humorists and cultural critics to Vassar in recognition of Krieger’s keen appreciation of the genres.

David Croteau of the departments of sociology and anthropology at Virginia Commonwealth University lectured on “Politics and the Class Divide: Why Class Can’t Be Swept Under The Carpet.”  Croteau collaborated with Vassar sociologist and media scholar William Hoynes on By Invitation Only: How the Media Limit Political Debate (1994), and his Politics and the Class Divide: Working People and the Middle Class Left appeared in 1995.

Professor John McCleary, of the mathematics department lectured on “Hilbert’s Third Problem and a Certain Infinite Series.”  Professor McCleary’s subject derived from the 3rd of 23 mathematical problems posed by the German mathematician David Hilbert in 1900.

Margot Adler, Wicca priestess, scholar and National Public Radio reporter lectured on “Witches, Goddesses and the Revival of Earth-Centered Traditions.”  Writing about Adler's upcoming visit for The Miscellany News, Sara Moore '95 quoted Adler's description of the pagan movement as "basically small groups of people meeting in living rooms and parks, not charging much money, bringing food. It’s a very decentralized, anarchistic, grass-roots movement.”

Adler's influential book, Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in American Today was published in 1979, and Heretic’s Heart: A Journey Through Spirit and Revolution appeared in 1997.

National Archives archivist Nancy Sahli ’67 lectured on “The Price of the Past.”  The program director for the National Archives’ National Historical Publications & Records Commission (NHPRC), Sahli served from time to time as a consultant to the college on archival preservation.

The headline in The New York Times read “The Trouble with Angels is Averted at Vassar,’ summarizing the resolution of a difficult campus issue.  Modern technology—from the installation of a campus telephone system providing phones in all residence hall rooms to controlled identification card entrance to the halls and a campus-wide network of emergency “blue phones”—had made much of the traditional work done by “white angels,” the halls’ desk messengers, obsolete.

A proposal to eliminate the positions aroused fierce student and alumnae/i opposition, which led to a compromise, where the “angels,” recast as “messengers” were present in the halls from 2 pm until 11 pm for what Dean of Students DB Brown called “more administrative work.”   “I think it’s a good system,” medieval studies major Steven Miller ’97 told The Times, “the changes aren’t as drastically different as people conceived them to be.”  Paulette Roberts ’86, however, said in an interview the change “literally made me mournful.”

African-American poet Margaret Walker, the recipient in 1992 of the Carter administration’s Living Legacy Award, lectured “The Art and Ethos of This Is My Century.”  Walker’s This is My Century: New and Collected Poems was published in 1989. 

Author and lesbian/feminist activist Susie Bright delivered “Susie Bright’s Sexual State of the Union Address.”  “I feel so indignant and fierce…about sexual liberation,” Bright told the audience at the popular Saturday evening lecture. Erica Swift ’98 explained that Bright “uses sexual expression as a means of enlightenment, and her presentations are used as a way to introduce and confront people with different ideas about sexuality.”     The Miscellany News

The “sexpert’s” 11th book, The Sexual State of the Union, was published by Simon and Schuster in 1998.

Karsten Harries, philosopher of art, architecture and phenomenology at Yale University, lectured on “The Limits of Autonomy.” His book The Ethical Function of Architecture, published by Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press in 1997, won the American Institute of Architects 8th Annual International Book Award for Criticism. 

Professor Harries lectured at Vassar in 1971 and again in 1981.

German-born American historian Fritz Stern, a scholar of modern European history at Columbia University, lectured on “The German Idea of Genius.”  Professor Stern, whose Dreams and Delusions: The Drama of German History was published by Knopf in 1987, received the prestigious German honor, Pour le mérite für Wissenschaft und Künste, in 1994.

He lectured on "The German Past and the American Present" at Vassar in 1971.

One hundred sixty-eight people, including 19 children, died when a bomb destroyed a federal office building in Oklahoma City, OK.  The bombers, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, sought to avenge the deaths of 80 members of the radical Branch Davidian religious sect at the hands of federal officers on this date in 1993 in Waco Texas.

British political theorist and author Alan Ryan from the department of politics at Princeton University lectured on “Pragmatism and Patriotism, from Randolph Bourne to Richard Rorty.”  Professor Ryan’s Property and Political Theory was published by Blackwell in 1987, and his John Dewey and the High Tide of American Liberalism appeared in 1995.  A frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books and The London Review of Books, Professor Ryan was warden of New College, Oxford, from 1996 until 2009.

Texas attorney Sarah Weddington, one of two women who represented “Jane Roe” before the United States Supreme Court in the 1973 Roe v. Wade litigation, lectured on “Women and Roe v. Wade.

Among the alumnae returning for Reunion, Margaret Milner Richardson ‘65 gave a talk entitled “Many Happy Returns.”  “My dream,” the commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service said, “is to someday stand before an audience like this—maybe our 35th reunion—and say, ‘I’m from the I. R. S. and I’m here to help you’ without anyone laughing, at least not out loud.”     The New York Times

The United States established full diplomatic relations with Vietnam.

An appeals panel of the United States Court of Appeals Second Circuit reversed the 1994 decision of Senior Judge Constance Baker Motley that Vassar had discriminated against former biology professor Cynthia Fisher in 1985 when she was not granted tenure.  This finding was substantiated in an en banc review.  Appealed, the case was declined by the Supreme Court in January, 1998.

Michael Meeropol, oldest son of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, lectured on "The Significance of the Rosenberg Case Today."  “The case of my parents was the epitome of Cold War America,” Meeropol told students, “because everyone expects me to believe my parents are innocent, I have to act as an impartial observer, I must acknowledge every piece of evidence, I must respond rationally.”     The Miscellany News

Meeropol’s younger brother Robert spoke at Vassar in 1975 about the 1953 execution of his parents as Soviet spies.

Journalist Eric Freedman, who—with his Detroit News colleague Jim Mitzelfeld—shared the 1994 Pulitzer Prize in Journalism for Beat Reporting, lectured on "How Many Activists Does it Take to Screw in a Light Bulb?"  In awarding the prize, the Pulitzer committee cited the team’s “dogged reporting that disclosed flagrant spending abuses at Michigan's House Fiscal Agency.”

First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke in the Outdoor Theater.  Earlier in the day she received the Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Medal at the Hyde Park estate of the former first lady, where she was cited for her humanitarian work.  At Vassar, before a crowd of over 6,000—many of them parents of freshmen on campus for Freshmen Parents’ Weekend—Clinton spoke of the progress on humanitarian fronts of the current administration and attacked plans in the Republican Congress to cut student aid, Medicare and Medicaid. After her remarks, she lingered along a rope barrier, shaking hands and speaking with members of the audience.

Clinton was the United States Senator for New York from 2001 until 2009, when she became Secretary of State in the administration of President Barack Obama.

Denis Hayes, the coordinator of the first of Earth Day (April 22, 1970), lectured on "Environmental Politics and Millennial Change" as a part of the dedication of the new Priscilla Collins Field Station. Hayes spoke of Collins as “the most genuinely modest person that I have ever known…[she] leaves in her wake a world that is vastly improved.”     The Miscellany News

Founder in 1990 of the international Earth Day Network, Hayes was head of the Solar Energy Research Institute during the Carter administration.  In 1992 he became president of the Seattle-based Bullitt Foundation, founded in 1952 by Dorothy Bullitt, mother of Priscilla Bullitt Collins ’42, whose gifts to Vassar focused, as did her mother’s foundation, on environmental studies and preservation. The new field station, along with the renovation of Ely Hall and the founding in 1993 of the interdisciplinary program in environmental science linking biology, geology and chemistry, were made possible by a $42 million gift from Bullitt Collins.

Environmentalist Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature (1989), lectured on "Hope, Human and Wild."   Serialized in The New Yorker before its publication, McKibben’s book was the first to address for a general audience the concept of climate change, and Hope, Human and Wild: True Stories of Living Lightly on the Earth (1997) offered examples of cultural “sustainability” from the author’s experiences in the Adirondacks, Brazil and India.

McKibben’s lecture was a part of the John Burroughs Slabsides Centennial.

Pioneer Latina attorney and activist Iris Morales, an active member of the New York Young Lords Puerto Rican organization from 1969 until 1975, lectured on "Latina Movements USA: From the 60s to the 90s."  Her documentary, Palente, Siempre Palente! The Young Lords, aired on the Public Broadcasting System in 1996.

Musician and activist John Hall, founder and lead singer of Orleans, lectured and sang about "The Politics of Rock and Roll."  The co-founder in 1979—with Jackson Browne, Graham Nash and Bonnie Raitt—of the anti-nuclear group Musicians United for Safe Energy, Hall, a resident of Dover Plains, NY, served in the United States House of Representatives from New York’s 19th district between 2007 and 2011.

The house for the Vassar Jewish Union officially opened on Collegeview Avenue.  The facility included meeting rooms, an office and a kosher kitchen. Vassar Jewish Union treasurer Ronit Eichen ’99 told The Miscellany News, “I think the ultimate goal of the house is to create an environment where everyone can feel as comfortable as possible with what they believe.”

Chinese human rights activist Harry Wu spoke on "Behind Prison Walls.”  Released in 1979 after 19 years in 12 Chinese labor camps, Wu, a naturalized United States citizen, was arrested as a spy and jailed in July 1995, after he attempted to enter the People’s Republic.  Convicted in late August on charges of espionage and sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment, Wu was immediately expelled from the country “as punishment.”     The New York Times

 Of the Chinese government, Wu told students, “they’re afraid of me, but I’m not afraid of them... I have the truth on my side.” His lecture was a part of Multicultural Awareness Week.   The Miscellany News

Feminist geographer Joni Seager from Bentley College lectured on "The Environment: What's Gender Got To Do With It?"  Her book Earth Follies: Coming to Feminist Terms with the Global Environmental Crisis was published by Routledge in 1993.

Luce Visiting Professor Dr. Heather Hendershot lectured on "Before Power Rangers: Children and Media Censorship."  During her Vassar residency, she put the finishing touches on her book, Saturday Morning Censors: Television Regulation Before the V-Chip (1998). 

Russell Simmon’s Def College Jam, an experimental tour celebrating the 10th year of the hip hop organization, Def Jam, presented “The Show Live” in Walker Field House, featuring Jayo Felony, Flatlinerz, Method Man and Redman. Though other stops on the tour had a variety of violent incidents, the show at Vassar went over fairly smoothly. “We covered our budget, we put on a good show, and no incidents were instigated,” ViCE co-CEO David Lee ’97 told The Miscellany News. “Everyone involved put in the cooperative effort to let this show go as smoothly as it did,” said Nobi Nakanishi ’97, his co-CEO. 

Cultural critic and social historian Tricia Rose, professor of Africana Studies and history at New York University, lectured on "Black Musical Resistance and the Politics of Commodification."  Rose’s Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America was published by Wesleyan University Press: University Press of New England in 1994.

Musician and social activist Pete Seeger lectured and performed in a program called "Music Can Save The World – Maybe."  A Hudson Valley neighbor and a frequent visitor to Vassar, Seeger met with protests by the American Legion and other local organizations on his first appearance on campus in February of 1962.

A political standoff over the federal budget between President Clinton and the Republican majority in the House of Representatives resulted in a partial governmental shutdown.