Skip to content Skip to navigation
Skip to global navigation Menu

The college opened with 77 male exchange students under the new exchange arrangements with Trinity, Williams and Colgate.

Richard Nixon became the country’s 37th president, succeeding Lyndon Johnson and defeating Vice President Hubert Humphrey.

Representatives from the United States, South Vietnam, North Vietnam and the Viet Cong met in Paris for peace talks.

Attorney and author Charles Rembar gave the Sharpe Memorial Lecture, “Literary Censorship under the Anti-Obscenity Laws.”

Sir Ronald Syme, Camden Professor of Ancient History at Brasenose College, Oxford University, lectured on the “Augustan Poets Without Augustus.”

The student senate passed a resolution for the abolishment of parietals on a college-wide basis. Realizing that neither enforcement of parietal regulations on male exchange students nor selectively enforcing them for women was suitable, President Simpson approved the senate’s proposal, leaving the decision about men’s visiting hours in the residence halls to a corridor by corridor vote.

Voting on March 5, 1,375 students voted for “no restrictions” on visiting hours, 68 voted for a “limitation” on hours without leaving their present corridors and 10 students voted for “limited visiting hours” even if they had to move.

Elizabeth McCarthy ’17, handwriting and document expert, lectured on “Pen Points to Crime.” A lawyer and one of the country’s leading handwriting experts, McCarthy gave testimony in the Kennedy assassination inquiry and the Alger Hiss investigations. While examining Boston mayoral nomination documents in 1967, she discovered that her own name had been forged

McCarthy lectured on “Crimes in Ink” at Vassar in 1967.

Italian-born art historian Brunilde Sismondo Ridgway from Bryn Mawr College gave the Class of 1928 Lecture on “Sculpture of the Siphnian Treasury in Delphi.”

In an article entitled “Topics: Ask the Oracle About Coeducation,” Fred M. Hechinger, education editor for The New York Times, analyzed the growing interest in coeducation at previously single-sex colleges and universities. Calling the Vassar-Yale study “what turned out to be a 100 mile misunderstanding” and imagining a future when all single-sex schools had been coeducational for a time, Hechinger predicted that coeducational housing and other attempts to achieve “productive social interaction” would lead to rancor and, eventually, rebellion.

“After a violent confrontation in the parlor of Bryn Mawr’s coeducational dormitory, in which a Biedermeier vase and a shaving mug were shattered, a moderate Society for Newly Independent Girls (SNIG) will agree to a pilot exchange plan under which all Yale women will spend an all-girl week at Vassar, while all Vassar men will participate in a stag week at Yale.

“The experiment will be pronounced a success. Two years later, the first women’s college will be founded.”

The Viet Cong attacked 110 targets in South Vietnam, including the capital, Saigon.

Cognitive philosopher James W. Cornman from the University of Pennsylvania lectured on “Do We Ever Perceive Physical Objects?”

Feminist and anti-war poet Muriel Rukeyser ex-’34, read her poetry.

Architect and acoustician Cyril M. Harris, Columbia University, gave the Dickinson-Kayden Lecture, “Acoustics, Architecture, and Music.” Harris collaborated with the Danish engineer Vilhelm Jordan on the Metropolitan Opera (1966), and was at work on the design for the Kennedy Center of the Performing Arts in Washington, DC.

Mildred Bernstein Kayden ’42 established the fund in 1966 in honor of the late Professor Emeritus of Music George Sherman Dickinson.

New York’s Supreme Court issued a temporary injunction against the college’s abolition of parietals. Responding to a breach of contract suit brought by a Vassar parent, the injunction required the college to maintain parietals as they were on September 15, 1968. A first hearing was scheduled for March 17.

President Simpson notified the student body that the former rules—male visitors in the halls from 12:30 pm to 7pm Sunday through Thursday and from 12:30 pm to 11 pm on Friday and Saturday—were in effect until further notice.

The following day, Simpson announced that the stay had been lifted pending the scheduled hearing. Students were given permission to vote, corridor by corridor, “on altering the [men’s visiting] hours in any way they wanted to, even doing away with them entirely.”

The New York Times

The theme of the annual Soph-Frosh weekend, “Soulful Strut,” was exemplified by its highlight, a concert in the Chapel by singer and civil rights activist Nina Simone. The weekend, according to its planner Claudia Thomas ’71 one of “Black and blues,” also featured a “Stoned Soul Picnic” and a black nightclub group. Ms. Simone, said The Miscellany News, used “her voice as a versatile instrument to se the mood of a concert and alternately to sooth and lash the audience until they loosen up to feel the beauty and the protest of the music. She sings racial protest songs—not of hate, but of justice, freedom and pain.”

The Vassar concert was Nina Simone’s last in this country before leaving on her sixth European tour during which she performed in Dublin, Belfast, Edinburgh, Cardiff and London before appearing in Munich and Paris.

Dr. Philip W. Silver from Oberlin College lectured on “The Aesthetics of Ortega y Gasset and the Generation of 1927.”

German bass Hans-Olaf Hudemann, accompanied by Huguette van Ackere, gave a lecture-performance on “The Development of German Lieder from the Time of Schubert.”

President Nixon authorized Operation Menu, the secret bombing of North Vietnamese supply lines and sanctuaries in Cambodia.

The New York State Board of Regents amended Vassar College’s charter so that the college could matriculate men.

Dr. J. Frank McCormick, professor of botany at the University of North Carolina, gave the Helen Putnam Gates Conservation Lecture, entitled “Ecological Effects of Nuclear War.”

Scottish landscape architect and pioneer in regional and ecological planning Ian L. McHarg, from the School of Fine Arts at the University of Pennsylvania, lectured on “Design with Nature.”

Mathematician Patricia McAuley ’55 from Douglass College of Rutgers University delivered “Remarks on the Fixed Point Property.”

British critic Frank Kermode, the Lord Northcliffe Professor of Modern English Literature at University College London, gave the Class of 1928 Fund Scholars’ Lecture, entitled “The Survival of the Classics—The Example of ‘King Lear.’”

Eminent art historian of the High Renaissance Sydney J. Freedberg, Harvard University, lectured on “The Art of Il Correggio.”

Philosopher David Keyt from Cornell University lectured on “Plato’s Logical Realism and the Fallacy of Division.”

Former US ambassador to Japan Edwin O. Reischauer, Harvard University, gave the Helen Kenyon Lecture, entitled “Japan in the Modern World.”

Sterling Brown, Howard University, lectured on “Images of Negro Life and Character in American Literature.”

Phycologist Robert T. Wilce, professor of biology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, gave the Helen Gates Putnam Lecture, entitled “High Arctic Algae; Their Systematic Role in the Ocean Ecosystem: A Cool Subject.”

Dr. Sidney Morgenbesser, John Dewey professor of philosophy at Columbia University, gave an open seminar on “The Nature of Scientific Theories.”

United State troops in Vietnam reached their highest number, 543,000.

The class of 1971 elected David Galbraith ’71 as the first male class president.

Henri Ghent, director of the Brooklyn Museum Community Gallery and member of the Black Artists Emergency Coalition, lead an informal discussion on “The Invisible Art, the Museums, and the Community.”

The Vassar faculty approved the Student Afro-American Association’s “A Search for Relevant Education” “in principal” and called for the college to begin its implementation immediately.

Author and activist Grace Paley read from her work.

Former New York City Commissioner of Health Dr. Leona Baumgartner, M.D., gave the Savel and Gertrude Folks Zimand Lecture, entitled “Society and the Revolution in Health Care.” Known for her energetic advocacy of both national and international health education, she was New York City’s first female health commissioner, serving from 1954 until 1962, when President Kennedy appointed her head of the Office of Technical Cooperation and Research for the Agency for International Development. The highest-ranking woman in the United States government, Dr. Baumgartner was responsible for persuading President Lyndon Johnson to include birth control in the planning for health programs in underdeveloped countries.

Gertrude Folks Zimand ’16 was a lifelong crusader against the abuses of child labor. General secretary and trustee of the National Child Labor Committee and founder of its National Committee on the Employment of Youth, she was married to Savel Zimand, a Rumanian-born international journalist and author.

Czech Evangelical theologian Jan Milic Lochman, a visiting professor at Union Theological Seminary, lectured on “The Legacy of the Reformation.”

Forty-six American troops were killed and some 400 wounded in a protracted battle for “Hamburger Hill” near Hue, South Vietnam, after which, the American forces were ordered to withdraw, leaving it to the defeated North Vietnamese.

Speaking to the nation on television, President Nixon presented a plan to end the war, by which the United States and North Vietnam would simultaneously leave South Vietnam.

Competing in a three-day Intercollegiate Music Festival at Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis, Vassar’s six-member singing group, the G-Stringers, shared first place in the vocal category with Don Smith, a musician from the University of Illinois.

The first 800 American troops were withdrawn from Vietnam.

President Nixon made his first and only trip to Vietnam, visiting troops and meeting with South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu.

Arson was blamed for the destruction of a large carriage house and a barn on Matthew Vassar’s estate, Springside.

Milfred C. Fierce, who held that “White Studies have taken several hundred years of trial and error, revision, adjustment and improvement, and…still could use a thorough ‘housecleaning,’” was named the first director of the Black Studies program. Under his leadership and through such innovations as the Urban Center in Poughkeepsie and the African Summer Study Trip he led in the summer of 1971, the program—ultimately the multidisciplinary African Studies Program—became a vital element in the Vassar curriculum.

The Miscellany News

Under New York State’s new Bundy Law—the first of its kind in the country— Vassar was one of 52 private, nonsectarian colleges eligible for grants to assist with college costs.

The college launched a $50 million comprehensive capital campaign, the largest in Vassar’s history. President Simpson said that the aim of the project was to “enable Vassar to sustain its place of leadership among American liberal arts colleges.” The national chairman of the drive was trustee Mary St. John Villard ’34.

The specific goals of the campaign were the faculty—additional chairs, salary increases, an improved leave system, and new faculty positions to accommodate the transition to coeducation—scholarships and financial aid, the Library and scientific equipment. The campaign aimed to raise the money by 1972.

President Simpson received an anti-Vietnam War petition signed by over 150 faculty and over 1,000 students.

President Simpson called the first College Council, a body of representatives from the administration, faculty, and student body, to serve as an advisory council to the president and to meet five times a year, as well as during times of crisis.

Adele Davis, nutritionist and author, lectured on “Your Health Is in Your Hands.”

Dr. Charles E. Shaffner was appointed planning director for a proposed cooperative graduate center in engineering and technology at Vassar.

Vassar’s president, Alan Simpson, was among 79 college and university presidents who—emphasizing that they spoke for themselves and not for their institutions—sent a statement to President Nixon appealing for a “stepped-up timetable for withdrawal from Viet Nam” and saying the war “stands as a denial of so much that is best in our society.”     The New York Times

Several hundred thousand students and faculty members on hundreds of campuses across the country observed a day of moratorium in honor of the nearly 40,000 American dead in Vietnam. By request of many of the faculty and students, President Simpson authorized all interested faculty to close classes on this day to protest United States involvement in Vietnam.

“Nearly 200 miniskirted Vassar College coeds stepped through the gates of the United States Military Academy at West Point in midafternoon and handed daffodils and apples to dozens of startled cadets. The girls walked to a sun-dappled lawn, sang “America the Beautiful” and then left, smiling as easily as when they arrived.”

The New York Times

Professor R. B. Tate from Cornell University lectured on “The Writing and History of 15th and 16th Century Spain.”

Oriental art historian Hugo Münsterberg from the State University of New York at New Paltz lectured on “Chinese Buddhist Sculpture.”

Alison R. Bernstein ’69 was elected as the youngest member of the board of trustees in the history of the college.

The annual meeting of the Seven College Conference was interrupted when 38 black students demonstrated in front of Alumnae House, protesting the administration’s failure to act on their recent demands. At the meeting of representatives from Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Mount Holyoke, Radcliffe, Smith, Vassar and Wellesley, President Simpson affirmed that, despite Vassar’s coeducation decision, the college would remain a member of the group, which had met in one configuration or another since 1916. “The conference [sometimes known as the Seven Sisters],” Simpson said, “represents a fund of experience and concern. The times have changed, but we have not changed our basic commitment to education for women. In varying degrees all the colleges are interested in co-education.”

Earlier in October his suggestions that Vassar might drop out and that there might not be “a viable future for women’s education” provoked varied responses. Wellesley’s President Ruth M. Adams observed, “Over the years, it has seemed to me that our group has begun to diverge in function and constitution, and that it might be advisable to enlarge the conference or listen sympathetically to the notion of dissolving it.” David T. Truman, president of Mount Holyoke, took a slightly different position, saying “we would like to persuade the errant institution [Vassar] to stay with our association, or else we would add to the association, or if necessary do with a smaller number.” The New York Times, The Miscellany News

Playing at home, Vassar men won against a football team of Sarah Lawrence men by a score of 18-6.

Dr. Chester M. Pierce, professor of education and psychiatry at the Medical School, Graduate School of Education and School of Public Health at Harvard University, gave the Savel and Gertrude Folks Zimand Lecture, entitled, “The Success of the School System: The Most Common Problem for Black Youth.” Founding president of the Black Psychiatrists of America, Pierce was also, as an undergraduate at Harvard, the first African-American to play in a college football game south of the Mason-Dixon Line at an all-white university, in a game against the University of Virginia on October 11, 1947.

Gertrude Folks Zimand ’16 was a lifelong crusader against the abuses of child labor. General secretary and trustee of the National Child Labor Committee and founder of its National Committee on the Employment of Youth, she was married to Savel Zimand, a Rumanian-born international journalist and author.

At 3:20 AM, 34 African-American students—all women and a majority of Vassar’s 59 black students—peacefully took over the central first floor of Main Building, protesting the administration’s failure to respond to the Student Afro-American Society’s nine points. A night watchman left quietly, a small group of African-American men from area colleges and the community guarded the front door and President Simpson spoke briefly with the students through an open window. A switchboard operator stayed behind, showed one of the students how to operate the system and left.

Speaking to several hundred students later in the morning from the portico outside the Rose Parlor, Simpson said that a meeting including trustees, student leaders, member of the faculty and representatives of the group occupying Main would be convened. While disapproving of the action, he said he understood “the spirit of deep frustration and high endeavor” motivating the students, adding “I cannot imagine any circumstance in which such conversations would be improved by the use of force or the threat of force.”

Conversations between the several parties began the following day. The New York Times

President Simpson and trustee representative Orville Schell signed an agreement with Claudia Thomas ’71, president of Students’ Afro-American Society (S.A.S.).

Oberlin College art historian and curator Ellen Johnson gave the Class of 1928 Fund Lecture, “Oldenburg’s Analogies, Metamorphoses, and Sources.”

An Indonesian dance company, The Budaya Troupe, performed the Hindu epic, The Ramayana, using various elements of Balinese, Javanese and Sundanese performing arts.

German-born art historian Richard Krautheimer from New York University, visiting scholar at Vassar, lectured on “The Piazza of St. Peter’s.”

Economist Gary Gappert, Washington director of the American Committee on Africa, lectured on “The Absence of Black America in U.S. Foreign Policy.”

President Nixon ordered an additional 50,000 soldiers out of Vietnam.

The Years