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October 1921

The Vassar College Endowment fund in New York City announced a conditional gift of $500,000 for faculty salary endowment from John D. Rockefeller’s General Education Board, contingent upon the alumnae raising an additional $1.5 million within two years. Granting that Vassar “has been paying salaries far below those of any other college of like standard,” the statement announced the campaign goal of $3 million, declaring that “the whole country has been organized and the Alumnae are hard at work in every state…. The Trustees are financing the entire campaign, so that no money raised need be used for expenses.”

Within two weeks, the campaign was gaining broad support. On October 7, the fund announced a $100,000 gift from Edward S. Harkness, a Rockefeller associate, and President Warren Harding telegraphed his best wishes the following week, saying, “The assurance of adequate compensation to teachers is an important contribution to the development of our educational system….”

Several hundred alumnae learned at a luncheon at the Hotel Astor on October 14 that the Alumnae Association had agreed to raise all of the funding needed to match the General Education Board’s challenge. In his remarks, the venerable social reformer and writer, the Rev. Lyman Abbott, editor of The Outlook and a member of the fund’s National Advisory Committee, compared the funding appeal of men’s institutions with Vassar’s. “Vassar does not,” he said, “send out women to become great lawyers, doctors, scientists, business administrators or money makers. It has been doing something much better than that. It has been educating women to be great mothers…. It is Vassar’s problem to send out mothers and teachers who are noble, heroic and intelligent. I don’t know how to raise money…. But if I were working in this campaign I would say, ‘Do you want a country of brave, courageous, sensible, intelligent mothers and teachers who know how to think? Vassar is turning them out. Help her.’” The New York Times

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