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February 10, 1986

Chair of the Board of Trustees Mary Draper Janney ’42 announced that Bucknell University provost and vice president for academic affairs Frances Daly Fergusson would succeed the retiring Virginia Smith as Vassar’s ninth president, effective July 1, 1986. Fergusson, Janney said, “values the faculty-student relationship as central to the educational enterprise in an undergraduate college….Most importantly, she fits Vassar.”

At a news conference on campus, Fergusson—a graduate of Wellesley with a PhD in art history from Harvard—praised Vassar for resisting current trends towards specialization and career-oriented courses and for adhering to the “strong liberal arts tradition,” adding that this particularly attracted her to the college: “instead of predetermination there is exploration with a desire to see what else a student can learn and can become, to move away from replicating the past.”

The New York Times

The Years