Sports educator Mariah Burton Nelson, author of The Stronger Women Get, the More Men Love Football: Sexism and the American Culture of Sport (1994) lectured in the Villard Room before a banquet for the Seven Sisters Swimming and Diving Championship. Burton Nelson, who played basketball professionally across the United States and Europe, spoke about the ongoing challenges facing women athletes. “I thought that she made a lot of really good points,” said Sarah Kramer ’98, “including…that women don’t need to get power over men. They just need to get power over themselves.”     The Miscellany News


Writer-in-residence, novelist Madison Smartt Bell, 1995 National Book Award finalist for his novel All Souls’ Rising, gave a reading in Sanders Auditorium.  Heather Appel ‘99, writing about the lecture for The Miscellany News, reported that “Cindy Sherman ’99 enjoyed his straightforward style. ‘By not being flowery, he was able to convey more,’ she said.”

Bell read from his previous work at Vassar in 1987, when his wife, poet Elizabeth Spires ’74, was writer-in-residence.

African-American professor of Judaic and Near Eastern studies and author Dr. Julius Lester from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst spoke on "Blacks and Jews: Where are We and Where are We Going?" in the Villard Room. “I agreed with him about the similarities between Jews and Blacks,” commented Makeda Tiye Smith ’98, “I disagreed, however, with his views about Black anti-semitism. …It is also in Black people’s self-interst to oppose any kind of racism, rather than justifying their resentment of what they feel as Jewish people trying to identify with them. I feel [Lester] overly compensated for Black anti-semitism.”      The Miscellany News

A folk singer and active member of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) during the civil rights struggles of the 1960s, Lester, whose maternal great-grandfather was a German Jew, converted to Judaism in 1982.  He served as lay leader of Beth El Synagogue in St. Johnsbury, VT, from 1992 and 2006.

Controversial poet, music critic and dramatist Amiri Baraka—also known as LeRoi Jones—offered "Reflections on the Struggle: Poetry, Politics, Words, and Wisdom" in the Villard Room.  Advising revolution-minded students, he told the audience that “you can’t change anything by being angry. If you political types want to pull together an organization you should [center it around] study and activism.”     The Miscellany News

Baraka also spoke at Vassar in 1983. His Transbluesency: The Selected Poems of Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones and a long poem, Wise, Why’s Y’s appeared in 1995

Elizabeth Spires '74, author of Worldlings (1992) and wife of Vassar writer-in-residence Madison Smartt Bell, read her poetry in Josselyn parlor.

Gender sociologist Dr. Michael Kimmel '72, professor of sociology at The State University of New York at Stony Brook, lectured on "Clarence, William, Iron Mike, and Us: Issues for Women and Men in the 90s" in the Villard Room.  Kimmel’s work focused on concepts of maleness and the meaning of manliness.   He edited The Politics of Manhood: Profeminist Men Respond to the Mythopoetic Men’s Movement (and Mythopoetic Leaders Answer) (1995), and his Manhood in America: A Cultural History appeared in 1996.

One of the first men to graduate from Vassar, Kimmel noted in a later memoir, “I hold the distinction of having been the first man to ride the bus from Vassar to Yale University for the weekend, a high school friend being in their first coed class.”     The Miscellany News

In an article in New York magazine, Professor of English Donald Foster revealed that a computerized textual analysis showed that the anonymous author of the sensational roman à clef centering on Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign was Newsweek columnist Joe Klein.  Denying authorship, Klein said the professor should get a new computer, and Foster responded, “Joe Klein wrote this book, or else it’s an almost impossibly clever hoax by someone who wanted his work to be taken for Joe Klein’s.”     The Albany Times Union

On July 17, 1996, after repeatedly denying authorship and dismissing Foster’s scholarship, Klein admitted the novel was his work.

Lynn Povich ‘65, Vassar executive-in-residence and editor-in-chief of Working Woman Magazine, lectured on "Beyond Work: The Four Forces That Will Shape Your Life No Matter what Career You Choose."

Povich spoke to the strength of the education she had received at Vassar, admitting that “I didn’t appreciate [Vassar’s feminist roots] until I was in the working world and [experienced] some subtle and not-so-subtle discrimination.” She also outlined coming changes in the working world, including the “need to be techno-literate in order to compete and succeed.” However, some students felt that her messages could be more inclusive. Emily Porter ’99 remarked that “if she intends to advance the feminist movement, she must take into account the position of all women, rather than only those who are in her high socio-economic group.”     The Miscellany News

University of Pennsylvania history professor Michael Katz lectured on "Redefining the Welfare State: 1980 – 1997" in the Villard Room. Katz addressed the audience about the ongoing political debate over “viewing welfare from a market perspective.” The recent increase in support that this view has had across both sides of the aisle, and along with reduced state power, Katz said, has been and will continue to alter the welfare system.     The Miscellany News

His Improving Poor People: the Welfare State, the "Underclass," and Urban Schools as History was published in 1995 and an expanded edition of his 1986 work In the Shadow of the Poorhouse: A Social History of Welfare in America was released in 1996. Katz also co-edited The Mixed Economy of Social Welfare: England, Germany, and the United States from the 1870s to the 1930s (1996) with Christoph Sachsse.

The annual Martin H. Crego lecture was given by Jonathan Gruber, Castle Krob Associate Professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, on "Health Care for the Poor in the US: The Story of Medicaid in the Last Fifteen Years."  A Faculty Research Fellow with the National Bureau of Economic Research since 1992, Gruber assumed directorship of the bureau’s Program on Children in 1996. His lecture discussed the successes and shortcomings of the Medicaid program from an economic perspective. Jennifer D’Angelo ’99 reflected afterwards that “the economically efficient program for low-income health care in the U.S has been under harsh scrutiny and the research and findings of Gruber are very important for future decision making and in the improvement of the health of Americans.”     The Miscellany News

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.

Asian-American political activist John Tateishi lectured on "The Asian American Political Agenda: An Awakening Dragon in the 21st Century?"  Appointed chair of the National Redress Committee of the Japanese American Citizen’s League in 1978, Tateishi, who had been interned at the age of three with his parents during World War II, succeeded in 1988 in gaining a public apology from Congress and President Reagan and the eventual disbursement of $1.6 billion in reparations. Reflecting on his experience, he told the audience that “while standing at the barbed-wire fences, I can remember so clearly thinking America was out there.” Katherine Youn ’96, President of the Asian Students’ Alliance, described Tateishi “a living testimony…a role model for what we can believe in and what we can fight for.”     The Miscellany News

Tateishi returned to speak again at Vassar on October 8, 1996.

Urvashi Vaid '79, former executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian task Force, lectured on "Virtual Equality: Mainstreaming the Gay and Lesbian Movement" in the Villard Room.  Her book of the same name appeared in 1995.

The Charles Griffin Memorial Lecture was given in Sanders Lecture Hall by American historian Edward Ayers from the University of Virginia, who spoke on "The American Civil War as a Moral Problem.”  Professor Ayers published The Promise of the New South: Life after Reconstruction (1992) and he edited, with Bradley Mittendorf, The Oxford Book of the American South: Testimony, Memory and Fiction (1997), both from Oxford University Press.  With William G. Thomas III, he was responsible for the groundbreaking digital study of the Civil War, The Valley of the Shadow.

The Charles Griffin Memorial Lecture honored the former dean of the faculty and professor of history Charles Caroll Griffin, a distinguished Latin Americanist, who taught at Vassar from 1934 until his retirement in 1967.  Professor Griffin died in 1976.

The traditional chain of daisies and laurel accompanied the 563 members of the Class of 1996 into the Outdoor Theater for Vassar’s 130th Commencement.  In his commencement address, Maurice Sendak,” the writer of such children’s classic as Where the Wild Things Are (1963) and In the Night Kitchen (1970), issued a charge to the class: “So be our brave new world! Denounce the money-changers and defy the hype, the sleaze, the deadly cynicism that chokes the hope out of all our lives. I invite you to take the plunge. And when the hard work is done, have safe sex and let the wild rumpus begin!”

The senior class gift, $4,618.06, was intended to refurbish the garden fountain at Pratt House and aid the college with scholarships, career development and athletics.  In his remarks, the class president, Michael Keenan ‘96, recalled his first sight of Vassar: “It’s so beautiful here that I thought I hope I don’t break anything.  You have to understand, I come from Queens.”     The New York Times

The Preservation League of New York State held its annual conference at Vassar.  Featured presentations focused on downtown development, heritage tourism, laws affecting preservation and fund-raising.  Tours of historic sites in the Hudson Valley were also offered.

A truck bomb allegedly set off by the Islamic militant organization Hezbollah killed 19 Americans at the Khobar Towers military complex in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.

The Campaign for Vassar College, launched on July 1, 1989, concluded, exceeding its $200 million goal with a total of $206,280,277, the largest amount raised to date by a liberal arts college in a capital campaign.

The Annual John Christie Lecture was given by Ira Katznelson, Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History at Columbia University, who spoke on "The End of Liberalism? Tools for a Usable Past" in Sanders Auditorium. Katznelson centered his remarks on Theodor Lowi’s theories on the New Deal. “If we are to construct a usable past, “ Katznelson said, “we need to attend to key silences of Lowi,” specifically regarding the government’s active and planned role on a micro-economic scale and the role of race and marginalization during the New Deal period.      The Miscellany News

John Aldrich Christie taught in the department of English for many years.  A Thoreau scholar, he was largely responsible for the development of the interdisciplinary program in American Culture, originally called in 1973 The Changing American Culture.

Jamaican master drummer Henry Miller performed and lectured on "African Jamaican Rhythms Movement" in the Intercultural Center.

Robert McNamara, former secretary of defense, spoke on U.S. military policy to a small group of students and President Ferguson. In his remarks, he stressed the need for more education about the beliefs and practices, as well as policies of other nations. He admitted that the lack of American understanding, and lack of desire for understanding, of Vietnam was a major failure by the United States government, and described the Vietnam War as “a war of nationalism, not aggression.”     The Miscellany News

Between November 1995 and February 1998, Vassar history professor Robert Brigham joined Secretary McNamara and other American diplomats, military men and scholars in a series of meetings in Hanoi, Vietnam, with Vietnamese scholars and former civilian and military officials.  The wide-ranging discussions led to Argument Without End: In Search of Answers to the Vietnam Tragedy (1999) written by McNamara, Brigham and Brown University historian James G. Blight.

A book-signing party for college historian Elizabeth A. Daniels ‘41’s Main to Mudd and More was held in the College Center Gallery.

President Bill Clinton defeated his Republican challenger, Kansas Senator Bob Dole, winning 49.2 percent of the popular vote to Dole’s 40.7 percent and outpolling him in electoral votes 379 to 159.

Santiago Portilla, speechwriter for Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo, and Cecilia Rodriguez, American representative to the Zapatistas, participated in the Symposium on the Modern Revolutionary State of Mexico. Hosted by the Student Activist Union as a part of Multicultural Awareness Week, the lectures and panel discussions focused on changes in Mexico’s recent history, human rights violations, shifting economic strategies, and the relationship between Mexico and the United States. Spence Holman ’99, co-coordinator of SAU, was pleased with the outcome of the event, telling The Miscellany News that “in general it went well, and although the situation was tense, it was non-combative.”

In a survey of the use and growth of electronic mail on college campuses in The New York Times, Trip Gabriel quoted Abigail Butler ’96 on the new phenomenon, called “Blitzmail” at Dartmouth and “Broadcast” at Vassar.  “People probably spend easily three hours a day,” Butler reported, “sending and receiving messages.  It’s the No.1 way that romances go on at colleges.  It’s like the dating game online….  One woman, an English major, met a physics major who quoted Shakespeare to her, and it was love at first Broadcast.  I’ve also known people who sat home on Friday and Saturday nights, Broadcasting back and forth to people they know only by nicknames, while the rest of the world goes by.

“After a while, it starts to be really unfulfilling,” Butler—known online as Snow White—continued, “Every Broadcast conversation with someone new is the same for the first 20 messages, finding out who they are.  It’s easier just to meet someone.”

Gabriel’s article provoked a letter to The Times from writer on etiquette Letitia Baldrige ’46.  “The success of Blitzmail,” Jacqueline Kennedy’s former White House social secretary and chief of staff wrote, “is hardly a sign of improved quality of self-expression.  Sentences aren’t made on E-mail. Punctuation isn’t punctuated; spelling is obliterated.  But it doesn’t matter.  It’s the quick thought that counts.  It was only a few years ago that the term ‘couch potato’ was coined to celebrate our obsession with television watching.  Here’s a new idea: ‘chair zuchinni,’ to describe the person stuck to a chair in front of a computer, slouched low and transfixed by a monitor….  Romance, where hast thou gone?  Hast thou gone the way of all manners?”     The New York Times

Deputy Chief of Security Donald Marsala was named new Chief of Security, succeeding George Lochner, a former Poughkeepsie police chief. “[Marsala] has a good working relationship with [the guards],” said VSA President Jen Kohnen ‘97, “and there’s a good balance between an authority figure and someone that they can talk to about their concerns. He also has a good rapport with students.” Before coming to Vassar, Marsala, a graduate of the FBI Academy, served on the police force in Tarrytown, NY.     The Miscellany News

Native American writer, poet and filmmaker Sherman Alexie, author of The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven (1994), Reservation Blues (1995), and Indian Killer (1996), read from his works in Josselyn parlor.

Alexie went on to write the acclaimed The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian (2007), winner of the National Book Award in Young People’s Literature.

In a letter to the college community, President Fergusson announced that Professor of Political Science Glen Johnson, a member of the Vassar faculty since 1964, woud serve as acting president in the fall term of 1997.  A member of the board of the Ford Foundation, Fergusson planned to spend most of her sabbatical representing the foundation in Africa and Asia.  "The pleasure and intellectual engagement of traveling on behalf of Ford," she said, "is that one has a chance to meet both with Presidents and senior Ministers of countries and with people very much at the grass roots level, including those who live at the very bottom of the economic ladder....  The travel is often not comfortable by Western standards, but very memorable.... There is no doubt," she added, "that Professor Johnson will do a superb job as Acting President in my absence."     The Miscellany News