Skip to content Skip to navigation
Skip to global navigation Menu

Dr. Jonathan Beckwith, the leader of the group of researchers at the Harvard Medical School that isolated the first gene in 1969, lectured on “Politics of Genetic Engineering.” When the breakthrough was announced, an editorial in The New York Times, “Playing with Biological Fire,” noted the Beckwith team’s concern about its implications and uses, concluding, “It is an act of faith to believe that when and if this new power becomes available it will be used more to benefit than to hurt the human species. But every day’s newspaper provides evidence suggesting that the contrary may be true.”

Harvard University Press published Beckwith’s Making Genes, Making Waves: A Social Activist in Science in 2002.

A bomb threat called in at 11:27 pm interrupted a concert in the Chapel by singer Harry Chapin. Security searched the building and the Arlington branch fire and police were notified. The bomb threat was the first the campus had received in several years.

German-born representational sculptor Walter Erlebacher gave the Class of 1928 Lecture, showing slides and speaking about his work. A sculptor of the human body and teacher at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Erlebacher was married to the modern realist painter Martha Mayer Erlebacher. He returned to Vassar for a lecture in 1982.

Computer scientist Malcolm H. Gotterer from Florida International University lectured on “Selecting Data Base and File Structure Designs.”

Obesity researcher Dr. Irving Faust, Rockefeller University, lectured on “Growth and Regulation of Adipose Tissue.”

Internationally renowned jazz pianist Keith Jarrett gave a concert in Skinner Hall.

Ramie and Merri Arian, singers associated with the North American Federation of Temple Youth, gave a concert of Jewish folk music.

Novelist Robert Stone, author of Dog Soldiers (1974), read from his work for the Matthew Vassar Lecture. Stone’s novel, a complex account of the effects of the Vietnamese war and particularly the heroin trade it stimulated on the lives of returning soldiers, won the National Book Award for Fiction in 1975. Stone adapted the book for the film Who’ll Stop the Rain (1978).

Robert Meeropol, son of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg who were executed on June 19, 1953, by the U.S. Government for conspiracy to commit espionage, lectured on the circumstances surrounding his parents’ deaths. Meeropol’s older brother Michael spoke at Vassar on “The Significance of the Rosenberg Case Today” in September 1995.

Professor of Mathematics Nathaniel Friedman from the State University of New York at Albany lectured on “Mathematical Models and Difference Equations.”

Community activist Marie Tarver from the Poughkeepsie Model Cities Agency lectured on urban problems in Poughkeepsie. The first African-American member, in 1964, of the Poughkeepsie board of education, Tarver received an Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Award for her community service in 1990.

Feminist author Carolyn Heilbrun, professor of English literature at Columbia University, lectured on “Marriage: The Modern Discovery.” The first woman to be tenured in Columbia’s English department, Heilbrun complemented feminist landmarks such as Toward a Recognition of Androgyny (1973) and Reinventing Womanhood (1979) with ten mystery novels published under the pseudonym Amanda Cross and featuring sleuth Kate Fansler.

French historian Alan B. Spitzer from the University of Iowa gave the C. Mildred Thompson Lecture on “Post-Revolutionary Youth: The French Generation of 1820.” His book, The French Generation of 1820, an analysis of the intellectual climate of the Bourbon restoration in France from1814 until 1830, was published by Princeton University Press in 1987.

Over spring break, 25 rooms in Main and two Terrace Apartments were broken into and robbed.

Swedish physical chemist Dr. Kai Pedersen from the University of Uppsala gave the Matthew Vassar Lecture on “The Importance of the Work of The Svedberg and Arne Tiselius in the Early Development of Modern Protein Chemistry.” Dr. Pederson’s subjects were the Swedish biochemists The (Theodor) Svedberg, the early student of colloids and the developer of their study using the technique of analytical ultracentrifugation, and Arne Tisellus, Svedberg’s student and successor, especially in the electrophoresis of proteins. Svedberg received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1926, and Tiselius received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1938.

Economist Estelle James from the State University of New York at Stony Brook lectured on “Income and Employment Effects of Sexual Integration.”

Earle Brown, American avant-garde composer, gave an informal presentation of some of his recent work. Brown experimented both in free or “open” forms, in which instrumentalists and/or the conductor had a range of random choices, and in unorthodox notations, drawing on early techniques as well as the graphic notation of music.

Visiting Scholar Walter Allen, British critic and novelist, lectured on “The Comedy of Dickens.” Allen’s definitive The English Novel: A Short Critical History (1954) was followed by The Novel Today (1955), Six Great Novelists (1955) and Tradition and Dream: The English and American Novel from the Twenties to Our Time (1964).

Dr. James Tobin, Sterling Professor of Economics at Yale University, gave the Martin H. Crego Lecture on “The Crisis in Economic Policy.” A member of President Kennedy’s Council of Economic Advisors, Tobin received the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1981.

The Crego lecture, part of the Crego Endowment established in 1956 by Jean Crego ’32 in honor of her father, was an annual lecture in the general field of economics under the auspices of the economics department.

Vassar held a “Conference on the Politics of Hunger,” featuring nutritionist and hunger researcher Jean Mayer from the Harvard School of Public Health and author Emma Rothschild. An advisor on world hunger to Presidents Nixon, Ford and Carter, Dr. Mayer organized the 1969 White House Conference on Food, Nutrition and Health and helped found the National Council on Hunger and Malnutrition in the United States.

Ms. Rothschild’s research and writing on the subject included “The Politics of Food” (1974) and “Running Out of Food” (1974) in The New York Review of Books, “Food Politics” (1976) in Foreign Affairs and “Short Term, Long Term” (1975), an account of the UN World Food Conference held outside Rome in November 1974 in The New Yorker.

The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation announced over $4 million in fellowship awards to 308 scholars, scientists and artists chosen from 2,319 applicants. Among those awarded a fellowship was Vassar English professor, Harriett Hawkins, whose research topic was “Tragic and Satiric Studies in the Art of the Insoluble.” Professor Hawkins spent her year’s sabbatical at the University of Oxford, where she was a member fo the senior faculty at Balliol and Linacre Colleges.

The British Academy awarded the Rose Mary Crawshay Prize for English Literature to Professor Hawkins’s Poetic Freedom and Poetic Truth: Chaucer to Milton (1976) in 1978.

Professor Franco Fido from the department of Hispanic and Italian studies at Brown University gave the Matthew Vassar Lecture on “Boccaccio’s ars narrandi in the sixth day of The Decameron.

Vassar held a symposium on “American Biography.” The speakers included Justin Kaplan, biographer of Mark Twain; Nancy Milford, Zelda Fitzgerald’s biographer; James David Barber, presidential historian and Martin Duberman, whose subjects had been Charles Francis Adams and James Russell Lowell.

Harry Blum from the National Institutes of Health lectured on “Biological Shape and Visual Science.” A former researcher in the Air Force Cambridge Research Laboratories in Cambridge, MA, Blum was a pioneer in the development of topological algorithms and pattern recognition.

African-American poet, painter and experimental novelist Clarence Major read from his poetry for the Class of 1928 Poetry Reading.

Poet and critic Dr. Hasye Cooperman from The New School for Social Research lectured on “The Yiddish Language in America.”

Pierre Tabatoni, French cultural attaché in New York, gave the Matthew Vassar Lecture on “Pratiques et Mythes de Progrès Social en France.

Feminist legal educator and lawyer Nancy Erickson from the Woman’s Law Center in New York City lectured on “The Equal Rights Amendment.” The author of Woman’s Guide to Marriage and Divorce in New York (1974), Nancy Erickson taught women and the law at New York Law School and Cornell Law School.

Joint resolutions granting women full protection under the law were introduced in both houses of Congress in December 1923, and reintroduced annually until the amendment passed in 1972. Despite congressional extension of the deadline for its ratification by the states, the amendment fell three states short at the final deadline, June 30, 1982.

The following evening Ms. Erickson and Lucinda Cisler, author of Women: a Bibliography (1970), spoke on “The Politics and Impact of the Supreme Court Abortion Decisions.”

Ms. Cisler chaired the National Organization for Women (NOW) Taskforce on Reproduction and Its Control from 1969 until 1971 and was the founder and first secretary of the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (NARAL).

Hispanist María de la Soledad Carrasco Urgoiti from Hunter College gave the Matthew Vassar lecture on “The Moor of Granada in Literature.” Her El problema morisco en Aragón al comienzo del reinado de Felipe II was published by University of North Carolina Press in 1969.

American folk-blues singer Maria Muldaur and singer-songwriter Tim Moore performed a concert in the Chapel. Muldaur’s “Midnight at the Oasis,” from her debut album, Maria Muldaur (1973), achieved eighth place on Billboard magazine’s Hot 100 chart in 1974, and three of Moore’s songs from his first album, Tim Moore (1973), “A Fool Like You,” “Second Avenue” and “When You Close Your Eyes,” received significant play on the radio.

Julliard student Robert Black performed piano works by Lizst, Busoni, and Chopin. Black completed his work at The Julliard School in 1975 and founded the New York New Music Ensemble, the first of several efforts both as concert pianist and conductor to promote the work of new composers.

Poet and filmmaker Gerard Malanga, assistant to Andy Warhol during the making of his films from 1963 until 1970, read from his recent work. Malanga appeared from time to time in Warhol’s films.

Drew Middleton, military correspondent for The New York Times, lectured on “The Press and the Pentagon.” A sports writer for The Poughkeepsie Eagle News in the late 1930’s, Middleton was a foreign correspondent in Europe, first with the Associated Press and later with The Times, throughout World War II. His memoirs, Where Has Last July Gone? appeared in 1973.

Prolific African-American science-fiction writer and critic Samuel R. Delany read from his works. Delany’s 11th novel, Dahlgren, was published in January 1975, and his 12th, Triton, and a critical work, The Jewel-Hinged Jaw: Notes on the Language of Science Fiction appeared in 1976 and 1977.

Sovietologist Dr. Robert Tucker from Princeton University offered “Reflections of a Stalin Biographer.” An attaché at the United States embassy in Moscow between 1944 and 1953, Tucker published The Soviet Political Mind: Studies in Stalinism and Post-Stalin Change in 1963, and his Stalin as Revolutionary, 1879-1929: A Study in History and Personality and Stalin in Power: The Revolution from Above followed in 1973 and 1990.

Actress and author Jane Marla Robbins performed her one-woman play, Dear Nobody, for the Dickinson-Kayden Event. Written with Terry Belanger, Robbins’s play focused on the 18th century English author and diarist Fanny Burney and a number of her “friends,” such as Samuel Johnson, Mme. DeStael and King George III. New York Times theater critic Clive Barnes, reviewing the play’s debut in 1974, said the secret of the play’s great success was “simple but twofold. Fanny Burney happens to be one of the most interesting people one could have wished to meet in the whole of 18th-century London. And, secondly, Jane Marla Robbins, the actress and co-author of the occasion, plays her capitally.”

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

Michael Wood, professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University, lectured on “Nice Guys Finish Last: Images of Success in American Movies.” Dr. Wood’s America in the Movies was published by Basic Books and Secker & Warburg in 1975.

Spanish lawyer, journalist and playwright Joaquín Calvo Sotelo, a member of the Royal Spanish Academy and author of some 60 plays, lectured on “Personajes Universales del Teatro Espanol.

Social historian, critic and historian of dress Anne Hollander gave the Matthew Vassar Lecture on “Fabric of Vision: The Role of Drapery in the Pictorial Imagination.” Hollander’s influential book Seeing Through Clothes appeared in 1978, and Fabric of Vision: Dress and Drapery in Painting was published by the National Gallery in London in 2002.

African-American computer scientist Dr. Milton White, chief executive officer of the processing system company Datanamics, lectured on “Computer Technology and Black America.”

Humorist and Washington Post columnist Art Buchwald offered advice and encouragement to the graduates at the 116th commencement. “You are the generation,” he said, “of Watergate and Kahoutek. You were raised on Bonanza and Kojak. Walter Cronkite is your godfather, and Nixon was your president. You flopped at streaking, and you blew Earth Day, and you’ve seen war live and in color on television and your previous president said he was not a crook.”

Reflecting on the day Richard Nixon resigned the presidency, Buchwald said, “We’re all going to make it. For 200 years we’ve muddled along. It’s less than a year since a President of the United States was forced to resign…because he lied to the American public. But what is more important was that as it happened, we did not see one tank or helmeted officer in the street. A country of over 200 million people was able to change Presidents overnight, without one bayonet being unsheathed. I believe any country that can still do that can’t be all bad.”

Vassar News Office

Dean of Studies Natalie J. Marshall ’51 succeeded John Duggan as vice-president for student affairs.

Richard Moll, formerly at Bowdoin College, replaced Richard D. Stephenson as director of admissions. Stephenson became admissions director at Simon’s Rock College in Great Barrington, MA.

An underestimate of the number of returning students led to the conversion of parlors and study rooms in Cushing House, Jewett House and Main Building for emergency student housing.

“This is a significant achievement,” said admissions director Richard Moll, announcing the addition of senior students to the admission staff. “Only a handful of colleges in the country involve students so directly in the admissions process.”

Student Government vice president Ellen Dickstein ’77 attended the second annual Seven Sisters Leadership Conference at Wellesley College.

The Office of Admission held a conference for “prospective student chairmen,” drawn from the regional alumnae clubs to recruit and interview admission candidates from local high schools.

The hours at the Retreat were extended from 5 P.M. to midnight on weeknights.

“Nightlife,” Vassar’s discotheque, opened in the All Purpose Room of the College Center.

The Vassar Print Room in Taylor Hall presented an exhibition of eighteen lithographs by the 19th century French printmaker and caricaturist Honoré Daumier.

Caroline Bird ’35 spoke at the Women’s Center about her book, The Case Against College, in which she maintained that college “is good for some people, but it is not good for everybody.”

A female student was assaulted on the Quad in the early morning hours.

The Vassar Experimental Theatre presented Federico García Lorca’s play Yerma.

The Miscellany News announced that the 1975 Vassarion would soon be available. shortly, when material Vice President for Student Affairs Natalie J. Marshall ’51 considered “libelous, grossly indecent, or racist” was removed.

As a result of Poughkeepsie police officer George Lochner’s report on Vassar’s security system, Vice President for Administration James Ritterskamp endorsed a “tighter security force.”

The College announced the establishment of a research professorship in classical studies in honor of the Harvard classical archeologist, Carl Blegen and his wife Elizabeth Pierce Blegen ’10. Funded at the level of $625,000 by combining a trust fund established by Mrs. Blegen’s will and two small endowment funds, the professorship recognized an increased interest in classical studies at Vassar and among several of Vassar’s peer institutions—“a source of satisfaction to all,” said Dean of the Faculty Barbara Wells, “especially in a time when we are witnessing a national preoccupation with prevocationalism.”

The New York Times

Vassar’s radio station WVKR joined 175 college radio stations in a boycott of Warner Brothers-Reprise Records, over the company’s decision to stop providing newly released albums to college radio stations at no charge.

Activist and Georgia state senator Julian Bond spoke in Chicago Auditorium, on “The New Politics.”

In memory of Professor of History C. Mildred Thompson ’03, the history department held a symposium, which featured discussions on “Vassar Training in History: Is there a Future in the Past?” and “The Historical Role of Women.”

Vice President for Administration James Ritterskamp reported a deficit of $646,000 for the 1975-1976 academic year.

Dr. Ruth Patrick, winner of the 1975 Tyler Ecology Award for environmental research and preservation, gave the Matthew Vassar Lecture on “The Structure and Functioning of Stream Ecosystems.”

Dr. Vassos Lyssarides, head of the Greek-Cypriot Socialist Party (EDEK) and member of the governing National Council of Cyprus, gave a speech entitled “Post-Vietnam Intervention in Proxy” in the College Center.

The Women’s Studies program appointed its first coordinator, Assistant Professor of History Teresa Vilardi.

The Miscellany News reported that critic and novelist Mary McCarthy ’33 had been chosen as commencement speaker.

Central Hudson Gas and Electric cut off Vassar’s access to gas.

The Years