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May 25, 1955

President Blanding participated in a conference at Barnard College that brought the heads of 15 women’s colleges together with members of the Council for Financial Aid to Education, a nonprofit group formed to help keep America’s industrial sector informed about the needs of American higher education. Council member Alfred P. Sloan, Jr., chairman of General Motors Corporation, who had just given $5 million to higher education for physical science research, told the college leaders that they were not planning “big enough.” He outlined what he called “Operation Expansion,” a multi-point strategy that he though the “education industry” should consider.

Noting that individual men had often given generously to women’s education, President Blanding said that such gifts were not enough to keep up with current needs without continually increasing tuition. “The real hope for the future,” she said, “must be reliance upon increased corporate giving and some recognition of the claim of women’s colleges to a due share of corporate gifts.” John A. Pollard, director of research for the council, underscored the institutions’ plight, observing that a study in 1954 of 28 women’s colleges had found that the average annual faculty salary was $4,529.

The New York Times

Within a year’s time Vassar was among many colleges receiving funds from foundations established by Ford, Esso and Colgate-Palmolive.

The Years