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September 28, 1950

Vassar’s 85th year opened with an enrollment of 1,369 students, of whom 374 were freshmen. In her remarks at Convocation, Professor of Economics Emily C. Brown spoke of the supreme importance of “free inquiry and free speech, of academic freedom in the fullest sense.” Referring to the increasing power and scope of anti-communist inquiries and interventions, she said, “As a nation we need to be wary lest, in our fears over possible disloyal and dangerous acts, we destroy the freedom of opinion and discussion which is essential for the democratic process…. In standing firmly for academic freedom, the colleges and universities support the cause of freedom in the nation.

“…we believe at Vassar in free inquiry. No problem is too dangerous or controversial to be touched,” she continued, “or to be studied objectively. We have such faith in the strength and value of free institutions that we are not afraid of where free inquiry may lead us…. Academic freedom…is the foundation of the life of this college.”

Professor Brown received a standing ovation from the assembly.

The Years