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June 11, 1895

In perfect June weather, Class Day was held entirely out of doors for the first time. A platform and an amphitheater of seats were set up in the northeast corner of Main Building, where the ivy-covered walls shaded the audience, served as a sounding board for the speakers and provided an attractive contrast to the light gowns of the assembled seniors. Class president Juliette Greer ’95 introduced the class historian, Anne Laziere Crawford ’95, whose “spicy history” was “enlivened with class songs.” The Glee Club offered a musical interlude, and after the class prophecy envisioned by Anna Jeannette Graham ’95, the assembly moved to the class tree, where Ida Poppenheim ’95 gave the senior charge and passed Matthew Vassar’s spade to Susanna Chamberlain ’96, who delivered the junior response.

Some 200 alumnae reunited for Class Day. The toasts at their luncheon included that of the president of the Associate Alumnae of Vassar College to “The Students and Society.” Professor Abby Leach ’85 toasted “The Progress of the College,” and “President Taylor” was hailed by Mary V. Clark ’93.

At their annual meeting, the trustees granted President Taylor a six-month leave of absence, during which he planned to travel abroad. They also authorized the seeking the funding, $100,000, for a new residence hall, to be ready, if possible, in the fall.

The New York Times

The trustees also commissioned a residence to be built for President Taylor on the campus. The President’s House, designed by New York City architects Rossiter & Wright, was completed in late 1895. Built with funds bequeathed by John Guy Vassar, charter trustee and nephew of the Founder, the house marked Taylor’s first decade of service to the college. One of his priorities during that time was housing that would allow faculty members with families to live elsewhere than in Main Building, and the new home allowed him the same opportunity.

In addition to the appointment of Professor George Gow, from Smith College, to succeed Dr. Bowman as director of the music department, the trustees announced the appointment of Laura Johnson Wylie ’77, who had received her Ph.D from Yale in 1894, as assistant in English. She and Gertrude Buck, appointed in 1897, introduced in their teaching the idea that the arts must be experienced in order to be known; for the first time students of English practiced creative writing—poetry, narrative, description—as well as exposition and criticism. At the basis of Miss Wylie’s teaching was her belief that literature is essentially social in nature and function.

The Years