Vassar’s Statement of and Commitment to Diversity

The primary mission of Vassar College, to furnish “the means of a thorough, well-proportioned and liberal education,” was articulated in The First Annual Catalogue and has remained constant throughout its history. Founded in 1861 to provide women an education equal to that once available only to young men, the college has since 1969 opened its doors to both women and men on terms of equality. Encouragement of excellence and respect for diversity are hallmarks of Vassar’s character as an institution. The independence of mind and the diverse intellectual interests of students are fostered by providing them a range of ways to meet our curricular expectations. The structure of the residential experience, in which students in all four classes live on campus, obliges students to master the art of living cooperatively in a diverse community. Diversity of perspective is honored as well in the college’s system of shared governance among all the constituencies of the institution….

‘In the largest sense, Vassar seeks to educate the individual imagination to see into the lives of others. As such, its academic mission cannot be separated from its definition as a residential community composed of diverse interests and perspectives. The differences among us are real and challenging. Contemporary life requires more than ever the skills and wisdom that liberal education has always promoted: the exercise of informed opinion and sound critical judgment; a willingness to engage in ethical debate in a spirit of reasonable compromise; the achievement of balance between emotional engagement and intellectual detachment; the actions of personal integrity and respect for others; independent thought and an attendant resistance to irresponsible authority. It is our mission to meet the challenges of a complex world responsibly, actively, and imaginatively.

The goals of the college are:

  • To develop a well-qualified, diverse student body which, in the aggregate, reflects cultural pluralism, and to foster in those students a respect for difference and a commitment to common purposes.
  • To educate our students, both broadly and deeply, in the liberal disciplines; to stimulate integrative thinking both within and across the disciplines; to strengthen and refine the powers of reason, imagination and expression; through curricular offerings to promote gender and racial equality and a global perspective; and to nurture not only pleasure in learning but also an informed and active concern for the well-being of society.
  • To extend these curricular values into the life of a residential community in which students may develop their skills by means of organized and informal activities, athletics, student government, contact with the surrounding community, and engagement with a concerned faculty.
  • To maintain and support a distinguished and diverse faculty in the commitment of teaching, to scholarship and artistic endeavor, and to other forms of professional development.
  • To renew, improve, and adapt the college’s educational programs and technologies in ways that are commensurate with the most provident use of its resources.
  • To continue to be a significant source of national and international leadership, producing graduates who will be distinguished both in their professional careers and in service to their communities and the world.
  • To inform, involve, and engage the alumnae/i of the college in order to promote lifelong learning and to enlist their energies in continuing development of the college.

from the 1998 mission statement

Vassar College is committed to working toward a more just, diverse, egalitarian, and inclusive college community where all members feel valued and are fully empowered to claim a place in—and responsibility for—our shared working, living, and learning. The College affirms the inherent value of a diverse campus and curriculum reflective of our lives as members of multiple local and global communities.

from the 2003 report to the president from the committee on diversity and difference, affirmed by the president and the senior officers, 2004