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December 9, 1936

Speaking at a dinner celebrating the 10th anniversary of the granting of a provisional charter to Sarah Lawrence College, President MacCracken recalled the college’s ties with Vassar, which had ended with his retirement earlier in the day as chairman of the Sarah Lawrence board of trustees. MacCracken said that the founder of Sarah Lawrence, William Van Duzer Lawrence, had consulted him about his intentions and that they had agreed to a high degree of overlap between the boards of the two colleges.

“Our affiliation with the trustees of Vassar College,” he said, “was due to Mr. Lawrence’s recognition of his own advanced age and his concern lest the college, inadequately endowed, fall a prey to misfortune or more grasping hands. Such gestures were not wanting ten years ago from powerful sources predicting disasters…. Mr. Lawrence, alarmed at this prospect, sought a defensive alliance with Vassar, giving that college the power through its members of the board of trustees to control and finally take over Sarah Lawrence.” Vassar, MacCracken continued, accepted this responsibility “having good reason to believe that there was a need for another and a different college for women.

“The offered control it never exerted, and all its powers under the agreement desired by Mr. Lawrence it now willingly lays down, with the exception of friendliest good wishes to its younger sister. The history of this cooperation is unique in American education, too often marked by competitive and unfriendly rivalry.”

The Sarah Lawrence provisional charter was made permanent in 1932, and, responding to MacCracken’s remarks, the president of Sarah Lawrence, Dr. Constance Warren ’04, noted that the severing of ties with Vassar marked the “coming of age” for the college she led.

The New York Times

The Years