The Institute

The Vassar Institute for the Liberal Arts will convene scholars and thought leaders from Vassar, our local area and around the globe. Reflecting the Vassar ethos of “going to the source,” the Institute will create a space for meaningful dialogue and lively debate, and will be an incubator for scholarly discoveries limited only by the imagination. Opening 2024.

The Vassar Institute will serve as a “public classroom” and academic launchpad hosting programming, inspired by faculty and students and run by a faculty director, that will advance bold and wide-ranging discourse on crucial topics of local, national, and global interest. The Institute will be a regional draw for intellectual thought and original discussions.

Don’t miss our new podcast, Conversations @ The Salt Line.


The Institute will accommodate a wide variety of gatherings, including lectures, classes and training sessions, conferences, and meetings of varying sizes. The Institute will play an important role in fostering dialogue about contemporary challenges, creating a stimulating ecosystem for intellectual pursuit, and drawing together the finest minds and most curious souls.

Conversations @ The Salt Line

Welcome to Conversations @ The Salt Line, a podcast where we explore subjects that stimulate, reflect on the world’s grand challenges, and find common ground while embracing diverging perspectives because we understand that pursuing honest dialogue and debate nurtures an intellectual curiosity that leads to understanding and connection.


The Summer Institute

The Summer Institute was established to enable Vassar to play a key role in fostering dialogue about higher education and contemporary challenges, globally, nationally, and locally.

Art and Public Space at Vassar and in Poughkeepsie
July 27–28, 2021

From Protest to Progress: Higher Education, Cities, and Racial Justice
August 17–18, 2020

Summer Institute for the Liberal Arts: A Workshop (PDF, 171 KB)
August 20–21, 2019

The Inaugural Summer Institute for the Liberal Arts
July 7–10, 2018

Design and Sustainability

A computer rendering of a large brick building with a slanted roof like that on a house.


A photo of the cross-section of a tree trunk.


A photo of leaves on a bush.


A computer rendering of a large brick building with a slanted roof like that on a house. There is a large green lawn in front of the building.


Designed by renowned architects Frederick Fisher and Partners, the Institute complements the spirited Vassar vibe and shared belief in the importance of the inclusive exploration of the liberal arts. The Los Angeles-based architecture firm has been involved in projects at Princeton, the University of Southern California, Caltech, and Otis College of Art and Design among others. Fisher’s firm brings an enthusiasm for light, space, and art integration to projects around the globe. Fisher’s mission is simple: improve life through architecture. They are committed to inspiring wonder, discovery, and responsibility for our natural and cultural worlds.

The Institute is a classic yet sleek structure that reflects the Vassar campus as a living thing, a classroom for creative collisions. Combining naturally cultivated functionality, where wide open landscapes meet innovative communities, The Institute will provide nearly limitless indoor-outdoor connections with natural light, views to campus, and to the surrounding park-like scenery. The landscape design creates a welcoming approach with fully accessible pathways and highlights native plant species and on-site water filtration.


The design of the building preserves the domestic scale of the surrounding neighborhood with inventive, discrete elements; a three-story gable roof inn, a two-story Institute with a restaurant below, and a glass lobby to create the notion of a public living room.

Maintaining the strong commitment to being a neighborhood partner, Vassar has committed to maintaining the majority of Alumnae lawn in perpetuity and enhancing the space with water and electrical services. This will further aid the dozens of annual complimentary community events that the community hosts there each year.

The Institute shares the commitment to sustainability that has become part of the fabric and education at Vassar. The building will be carbon neutral, utilize geothermal and solar energy, and other sustainable features, including an all-electric kitchen in the restaurant. Recognizing the careful attention being paid to every detail of design to uphold the promise of sustainability, Vassar was awarded a $1.1 million grant from New York State Energy and Research Development to create programming for students, local schools, and businesses to teach about sustainability making The Institute a living learning lab.

View schematic (PDF, 7.4 MB)

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