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May 1970

Responding to concerns voiced by students and faculty over a proposed graduate institute of engineering and technology at Vassar, the trustees appointed a joint ad hoc committee made up of trustees, administrators, students and members of the faculty to develop plans for such an institute that would reflect the college’s concerns about the effects of technology on human values. The committee’s chair was Constance Dimock Ellis ’38.

In March, consultant Charles E. Schnaffer submitted a report to the board of trustees titled “An ‘Engineered’ Engineering Education for the Mid-Hudson Region,” and analyzed the feasibility of establishing a graduate institute of engineering and technology at Vassar.

The project became known on the campus as “VIT,” the Vassar Institute of Technology, and in The New Vassar: 1964-1970, his report on those transitional years submitted to the Vassar community in December, 1970, President Simpson described his dilemma: “It was already apparent that a proposal, innocently embraced as a potential improvement of the educational resources of the region with benefits to all participants, would be attacked on ideological grounds as a sinister surrender to the industrial-military complex. A resolute minority of Vassar students, in a year dominated by the peace movement, set themselves the task of frustrating this project. Their perseverance in what I am obliged to regard as a bad cause has won my admiration for their resourcefulness if for little else.”

The Years