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May 24, 1987

Historical preservationist Adele Chatfield-Taylor and her husband playwright John Guare delivered the first dual commencement address in college history. Having won a coin-toss to see who would start Chatfield-Taylor told the Class of 1987 that, in the close of the 20th century, man “will be witnessing and participating in one of the great transitions in history when we finally have to design a way to materially and spiritually co-exist.” This coexistence could only be achieved through collaborations: “Collaborations in the arts. Collaborations between generations, who can no longer afford to be separated by their famous generation gap. Collaborations between the settled periods of the past and the focused challenges of the future—neither of which alone is sufficient.”

Guare, in his address, advised the graduating class to “stay aware and keep a burning sense of what is right in the world. Your part is not letting the world stay as it is.” As did his wife, Guare also spoke about collaboration and coexistence, saying, “If you life for yourself and what you alone can get out of the world, you’ll kill off the most valuable asset you ultimately have: your imaginations. And, by God, it’s imagination and daring that’s going to solve the immediate problems of the world.”

President Fergusson gave her first charge to a graduating class—a traditional presidential assignment—telling the graduates, “Our goal has not been to educate you, which requires more than four short years. Rather, we have tried to prepare you for a life of education.”

The Miscellany News, News from Vassar

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