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The Vassar Cooperative Bookshop opened, with a capital of $1,300 collected as membership fees from students, faculty and alumnae. Sixty books were sold the first day. Marion Bacon ’22 was Manager, Helen Voltz ’23 student chairman and Fanny Borden ’98 faculty committee member.

The Vassar Quarterly commented, “It shows an insidious cordiality to charge accounts.”

Darius Milhaud, French composer and member of Le Groupe des Six, gave a lecture-recital on “The Evolution of Contemporary Music in Paris and Vienna.” “Warning us,” reported the Miscellany News, “against hasty judgment he said that because the critics are lost and bewildered does not mean tha the music itself is lost. They will not admit that they do no understand but merely say the author is crazy. It is not true that any modern composer has reinvented music for there is nothing in modern music which is not the logical outgrowth of the past.” M. Milhaud contrasted the modern work of the school of Paris with that being done in Vienna, citing the earlier French composer Erik Satie as “the sleeping beauty who guessed at what was to come” and declaring his contemporary colleaague Francis Poulenc “music itself, simply expressive.”

Impressed by Milhaud’s explanation, the writer for the Misc was more dubious about the music: “Mr. Milhaud played a number of compositions by Satie, Poulenc and himself. He played expressively and with excellent technique though most of the numbers were simple as to technique. As a whole the music seemed to put dissonance upon dissonance, and left an impression of incoherence. The human ear will have to accustom itself before it finds them acceptable.” When, six years later, on January 23, 1929, the avant-garde French composers’ leader, Arthur Honegger—assisted by his wife, the pianist Andreé Vaurabourg and American coloratura soprano Cobina Wright—gave a recital of his compositions, the Miscellany News reviewer observed that “the devices used,” in Honegger’s music, “to produce a feeling of continuity were either too subtle for perception at the first hearing or the material was too thin.”

President MacCracken returned, aboard the Empress of Scotland, from his study of education in the new central European republics.  Having visited and spoken at 18 universities in 15 countries, his most powerful impression was of the desire of young people abroad for education.  “Everywhere in Europe,” he said, “new colleges and universities are being erected, as the existing institutions of learning are crowded to the limit of their capacity.  All these peoples are desirous of learning more about America and our system of education.”

The New York Times

Returning to the college, MacCracken praised Yale Professor of English and Vassar trustee George Henry Nettleton, who had served as acting-president during his absence.  “Dr. Nettleton’s great interest in both the life and organization of students was an important factor in the carrying forward and realization of a number of valuable projects.”

President’s Report, 1922/23

“An extremely interesting and valuable course in artistic anatomy, given by Miss Cora Beckwith of the biology department, has been added to the curriculum.”

The Vassar Quarterly

Judge Florence E. Allen, a Supreme Court justice of Ohio and the first woman to be appointed to a state supreme court, gave a series of lectures. When Franklin Roosevelt appointed her, 11 years later, to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, Allen became the first woman federal judge.

Beyond Vassar

On February 23, President Warren G. Harding sent to the U. S. Senate a special message asking its consent for U. S. participation in the International Court of Justice established under the auspices of the League of Nations at The Hague. On March 3, the Senate rejected participation in the court.

Responding to the Senate’s rejection on March 3 of President Harding’s request for U. S. membership in the International Court of Justice, President MacCracken sent a letter to The New York Times. “Yesterday, at Vassar College,” he wrote, “the Faculty Club, at a meeting which included the entire Faculty, took unanimous action as individuals requesting the Senate to favor [President Harding’s] proposal. The Students’ Association of the college, at a meeting, which included at least 1,000 of the 1,100 students, took similar action, and resolutions were forwarded to the United State Senators from the State of New York….

“No project of international co-operation ever presented to the American people has, I believe, such popular support as this. The opposition to it is now confined to the irreconcilable opponents of Wilson, to those who condemn the League for not having solved the problems of Germany and Russia, and to those who look upon the League and its court as the agency of imperialism. These altogether make a very small minority of American citizenship, and certainly politics never made stranger bedfellows….”

The New York Times

Both Vassar and Barnard College won twice in a “home and home” debate involving teams from Vassar, Barnard, Smith, Mount Holyoke, Radcliffe and Wellesley. A team from each college defended, at home, one side of the proposition, “Resolved, That the United States Should Own and Control the Coal Mines,” and another team defended the other side away from home. Taking the affirmative, Vassar defeated Wellesley in Poughkeepsie. President MacCracken presided, and the judges were: Charles Kelly, justice of the State Supreme Court; Elizabeth Boody, Radcliffe ’22 and Edna Z. Shepard, Mount Holyoke ’22. The New York Times

In their second annual intercollegiate basketball game, the Vassar alumnae again defeated the Smith alumnae, 30 to 23, at the Seventh Regiment Armory in New York City before an enthusiastic crowd of 3,000. “The game,” according to The New York Times, “was aggressive throughout and every point Vassar scored was a point well earned, for Smith, although wanting in team work, was stronger individually. Had the passing ability of Smith equaled the individual playing ability of its six members the score might have been reversed.”

Barnard had offered a challenge to the winner of the game, which Vassar accepted. The Vassar team, again inspired by the play of the Goss sisters, Anne ’21 and Ruth ’14, defeated the Barnard team on April 6 at the Columbia University gymnasium by the score of 26 to 19.

The art department presented an exhibition of expressionist painters of Europe and America. “Many people considered the exhibition neurotic and inadvisable, yet it stimulated more discussion about art than anything else during the year,” commented a member of the department. The Vassar Quarterly

At Princeton’s senior class banquet the results of the annual class survey showed The New York Times to be the leading paper and Helen to be the favorite girl’s name. Yale was voted the best men’s college after Princeton, and “Vassar nosed out Smith by five votes for the leading woman’s college.”

The New York Times

Edith Wynne Matthison and Charles Rann Kennedy, assisted by the drama department of Bennett School, presented Antigone in the Open Air Theatre; the performance was for the benefit of Lincoln Center, the Christian Association’s community center in downtown Poughkeepsie for underprivileged children. The center was the idea of Marjorie MacCracken, President MacCracken’s wife.

Sir Israel Gollancz, fellow and secretary of the British Academy and professor of English language and literature at King’s College, London, lectured on “The Poet and the Pearl.” Professor Gollancz’s study of the anonymous 14th century alliterative poem in Middle English known as “The Pearl” began with his publication in 1891 of The Pearl: An English Poem of the Fourteenth Century/re-Set in Modern English and continued through two subsequent limited editions—in 1918 to benefit the Red Cross and in 1921, “with modern renderings, together with Boccaccio’s Olympia.” His facsimile edition of the poem and three contemporary works for the Early English Text Society appeared from Oxford University Press in 1923.

C. Mildred Thompson ’03, professor of history, succeeded Ella McCaleb ’78, becoming the second dean of Vassar College.

Under the headline “Where is the Girl of Today Bound?” The New York Times reported on a study of 200 Vassar students, “held with the sanction and aid of college authorities,” that sought to sample their opinions on contemporary questions.  Religion was important to some 75%, and churchgoing was to 40%; 141 students thought their “most important job in life” was a successful marriage and family.  Only eight of the students—drawn from all four classes—embraced socialism, and, while 30 more thought it had some good points, 70% called it “impractical.”  Responses to the work of Sigmund Freud were unenthusiastic, with 11 students thinking it valuable, 17 opposing his theories and 50 considering him “overemphasized.”  By contrast, the autosuggestive positivism of Emile Coué attracted 123 of the students, while 26 had a negative opinion of it.

Students’ actual responses to specific questions added texture to the statistics:

For What Tasks Are You Fitting Yourself?

“Marriage and family, but not immediately after college.”

“To practice medicine, vote intelligently, keep house efficiently and raise a family successfully.”

“I want to be able to do something worth while, if I don’t get married. I would rather do that, though.”

Can a Woman Marry and Have a Career?  If Not, Which Would You Choose?

“Many can. I hope I am one of them.”

“Yes, if she had a large enough personality; but few have.”

“It takes an unusual husband to stand for it.”

“Most of us would choose a career, but the marriage habit is a rather well-established one.”

Do Your Believe in Flappers?

“Their self-reliance at least in commendable.”

“Flapperism is over. Girls are going to the other extreme now.”

“The independent, self-confident, innocent flapper is quite harmless. She will get over it and be all the better for the experience.”

“Just a passing type: receiving more notoriety than she deserves.”

The Board of Trustees adopted the Vassar College Statute of Instruction, later known as The Governance of Vassar College. The faculty’s assumption of the direction of educational policy, the definition of specific trustee responsibilities and the definition and the specific scope of academic freedom were among its key provisions.

“Section 1: Direction of Educational Policy

The Faculty of Vassar College is entrusted with the direction and control of the educational policy of the college. The initiative in educational matters may arise in the Faculty or in the Board of Trustees, but the Trustees will not establish new departments or change existing departments except after full conference and discussion with the Faculty and its representatives. The Trustees will not accept gifts upon terms which would alter the status or tenure of any members of the faculty without conference in advance with the Faculty.

“Section 2: Questions Requiring Trustee Approval

a) No educational legislation requiring for its enforcement any increase of the budget of instruction may go into effect until approved by the Trustees. b) No legislation involving radical departure from established and traditional requirements for the bachelor’s degree shall be adopted until after conference with or report to the Trustees’ Committee on Faculty and Studies. The determination of the term “radical” in this connection as applied to any legislation shall be made by the President.

“Section 5: Academic Freedom

a) Within the limits of national and state law, all teachers in the service of Vassar College shall enjoy complete liberty of research, of instruction and of utterance upon matters of opinion. The teacher’s exercise of the rights and obligations of a citizen and of a member of the community shall in no way be affected by academic tenure. b) No gift shall be accepted by the Trustees the terms of which would come into conflict with this statute. c) Utterances and discussions in the classroom shall be regarded as privileged, and may not be published by anyone without the authority of the officer concerned. d) In enjoying these rights, upon the principle of academic freedom, the teachers in the service of Vassar College recognize certain correlative obligations. The teacher will bear in mind that the good name of the college rests upon the reputation of its faculty. The teacher’s conclusions should be the fruits of competent and sincere opinion, set forth with dignity, courtesy, and temperateness of language. The teacher should accept full responsibility for all utterances. His essential function as a teacher is not to dogmatize but to train students to think for themselves, and to provide them access to the necessary materials.”

The first of its kind, this document became a model for other institutions.

Two hundred thirty-one graduates and their families heard President MacCracken’s address on “The Creative College” at Commencement. Declaring that the contribution of colleges to a creative national life was insistent and unwearied review of experience, the application of intelligence in the quest for better means and more desirable ends, MacCracken deplored the country’s decline into isolationism.

“This has been a year,” he said, “of marking time. Few issues of the world have been fully met. The far horizon holds out no promise of an early peace in the world of national and racial rivalry….

“One might borrow President Roosevelt’s word and call our present state a ‘chinafied’ one in the isolation with which we have built a wall of indifference around ourselves, surrendering the prestige of free association.”

The New York Times

With the appointment of Dr. Austen Riggs as consulting psychiatrist and lecturer on mental hygiene, Vassar pioneered in providing psychotherapeutic consultation for undergraduates. An innovator of mental hygiene through talk therapy combined with a regimen of work, play and rest, Riggs founded the Stockbridge Institute for the Psychoneuroses in Stockbridge, MA, which in 1919 became The Austen Riggs Foundation. His duties at Vassar included clinics, direct treatment of students and college lectures on mental hygiene.

Recommending the appointment to the trustees, President MacCracken said, “The number of cases of mental fatigue and of nervous diseases among students, while not large, is serious enough to warrant action….”

Trustee Minutes

The constitution of the Students’ Association was revised to assure more representative government and the Faculty-Student Joint Committee was reconstituted. 

The Vocational Bureau was established under the dean’s office, with its own secretary. Originally the Teachers’ Registry, it was later called the Occupation Bureau. 

Speaking at Convocation, President MacCracken spoke of a signature he had seen in the registration books when visiting the University of Krakow—that, said The Miscellany News, “of Nicholas, the son of Nicholas, known to us as Copernicus. This name represents a world, said the president, to which every student at Vassar links herself by the simple act of registration.” MacCracken urged the freshmen to “know the professors, the employees, the village and the county—Remember you are citizens of the commonwealth of learning.”

The college opened with an enrollment of 1,150 students from 18 nations, of whom 299 were freshmen. Recent trustee action raised the total enrollment—set at 1,000 in 1905—to 1,150 largely to accommodate residents of Poughkeepsie and former students who left in good standing because of illness or for other personal reasons. Twenty-three such students resumed their studies this semester.

Speaking on “The Remoter Environment of Vassar” at Convocation, President MacCracken examined the dubious value given to academic judgment by the general public. “I must confess it does not always reassure us,” he said, “when we seem to vote on the unpopular side. Perhaps it is our fault that something derogatory attaches to the word ‘academic.’ We are going to rid ourselves of it and make academic judgments valued by our fellow citizens, so that they will turn to our judgments with at least as much attention as the people of a neighborhood valley over here to the East night before last turned to a flaming cross on a hillside and realized that the Ku Klux Klan was also in this environment, along with Washington Irving and Hendrick Hudson.”

The New York Times

Several students spoke to alumnae representatives about their activities on campus at a meeting called “Knowing Your Undergraduate College.”

The art department presented an exhibition of works by the pioneer Russian abstract artist Wassily Kandinsky.

On her début tour of the United States, English pianist Myra Hess gave a recital at the college.

Dr. Wilfred T. Grenfell, medical social worker in Labrador, gave an illustrated talk, “Among the Labrador Fishermen.” Sent originally to Newfoundland in 1882 by the Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen, he opened cottage hospitals along the Labrador coast. Extending his mission to include schools, cooperatives and social work, he eventually included aboriginal peoples in his work.

Dr. Grenfell visited Vassar several times, and between 1921 and 1926 he recruited some 25 students for summer work in Labrador.

Non-sectarian communion services were instituted in the Vassar College Chapel. 

The Years