In a letter to The New York Times, President MacCracken entered an ongoing argument about the place of “vocationalism” in the collegiate curriculum.  Citing a Times editorial of February 14, MacCracken said it "would leave the undergraduate student with the impression that if the branch of learning with which he is associated is to be directly useful in later life, it is, therefore somewhat degrading.  If it has no utility in this world or the next, it is to be regarded as something ennobling and sublime." Declaring that the “result of such arguments is to accentuate the intellectual snobbery already prevalent in colleges of the arts,” he said those places had “relinquished the right to be called liberal in their attitude toward the rest of learning.”  Praising the teaching of “cookery” as he saw it in the 1918 Vassar Training Camp for Nurses as “taught with a purpose so high as to make it a cultural subject,” he suggested “typewriting…another of the pariah studies…may be made a start toward a liberal training in etymology, pure diction, a nice use of style” and could “become quite as useful an aid toward scholarly precision as the bibliographical lists…copied down in the name of culture from the lips of professors.”

In conclusion, MacCracken said, “Let us have done once and for all with this debate about vocationalism.  It gets us nowhere.  Any student at any time can make any subject vocational….  The obligation of the college reaches only so far as to secure teachers who believe that their subjects are the best in the world; that from them a way leads on to more advanced study, and that the values of liberal culture reside, not alone in the subject matter, but rather in a perception of the beauty of the laws controlling [it]: in a single minded devotion to the matter at hand, and in the mystical combination of truth and personal honor that is bound up in the word scholarship.”