Vassar Today

Three Faculty Members Retire

By Jessica Winum

This year’s commencement ceremonies served as a farewell not only to the class of 2001, but also to three faculty members who retired at the end of June — Betsy Halpern-Amaru, professor of religion; Annea Lockwood, professor of music; and Jeh Johnson, lecturer in art. Betsy Halpern-Amaru has been at Vassar since 1981, when she accepted the post of visiting assistant professor of religion. She moved up the ranks from there, becoming a full professor in 1995. Halpern-Amaru served as acting chair of the religion department from 1993 to 1994, as chair from 1994 to 1996, and held seats on a number of college committees.

In addition to her work within the Vassar community, Amaru has been an active scholar. She is the author of over 25 articles and book chapters and of two books, The Empowerment of Women in the Book of Jubilee and Rewriting the Bible: Land and Covenant in Post-Biblical Jewish Literature, and has served on panels and delivered lectures and papers at conferences.

A member of the faculty since 1982, Annea Lockwood has collaborated extensively with sound-poets and choreographers in her musical explorations of everything from electroacoustic and environmental sound to instrumental and vocal works that include nonwestern instruments. Her compositions, including "Glass Concert," "World Rhythms," and "Thousand Year Dreaming," have been performed at festivals in Scandinavia, Germany, Austria, Britain, Italy, New Zealand, Australia, and the U.S., and recorded on various labels. Lockwood has also frequently taught at other institutions as a guest composer.

A distinguished architect, Jeh Johnson has been teaching at Vassar since 1964. Throughout his career, Johnson has served on numerous boards and commissions, from both local and national, including an appointment by President Lyndon Johnson to serve as a member of the National Commission on Urban Problems in 1967. His professional work has included more than 650 design projects of many types and scales. Among them are Vassar’s ALANA Center and Susan Stein Shiva Theater, the Catharine Street Center and Library in Poughkeepsie, the Dutchess County YMCA, the former Poughkeepsie Day School building on the Vassar campus, and numerous multi-family housing projects and African-American churches.

Johnson was a founding member of the National Organization of Minority Architects and of the New York Coalition of Black Architects. He was elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects in 1977, the highest honor awarded to practicing architects. Twenty years later, the New York Chapter of the AIA awarded Johnson a Special Citation for his efforts in expanding the inclusion of women and minorities into his profession, his pioneering work in the field of housing, and his commitment to maintaining the cultural integrity and social responsibility of the profession of architecture.