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June 12, 1939

President MacCracken conferred the bachelor’s degree on 252 members of the Class of 1939 on what he referred to as “this my twenty-fifth appearance as dispenser of diplomas,” the day, he confided, of his wife’s birthday and the 32nd anniversary of their marriage. His informal tone continued as he bade farewell to five trustees. “No college,” he said, “could accept without concern the retirement of such members as Jean McCoy Allis, Stephen Pierce Duggan, George Henry Nettleton and Russell C. Leffingwell, but when with them Helen Kenyon of 1905 bows a farewell as trustee, our state of mind must be, as Ko-Ko remarked, ‘simply appalling.’”

After bidding farewell to two faculty colleagues, Professor of Spanish Edith Fahnestock and Professor of History Eloise Ellery ’95—“two who have built their whole lives into the fabric of Vassar instruction….teachers of the modern world, travelers and commentators upon it”—he turned his attention to the graduates. “And now last,” he said, “but not least, in all this farewelling comes our ‘good Trebonius,’ the class of 1939. You are all thinking, ‘What about us? We are the ones that are really leaving. The others are just taking off some harness. They will still be here at Vassar, working for it, no doubt, just as hard as ever in independent ways, but we shall be gone in the morning.

“Well, as to that, the first thing a graduating person has to learn is that she is just part of a procession, even at this commencement, which is yours and your parents’. The alumnae ask to share Vassar, and every alumna is more than just her class, it appears. It is seventy-four years of striving toward achievement in years of generous self-cultivation, of strenuous effort, of high fidelity to the record.

“You will come to feel, if you do not already feel it, that it is a pretty fine thing just to be a part of that record.”

The New York Times

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