Beyond Vassar

AAVC Service to Vassar Award

By Samantha Soper '91

Institutions such as The Wildlife Trust, American University, Washington National Cathedral, and the National Symphony Orchestra have all benefited from Virginia Cretella Mars’ considerable energy and enthusiasm.

And for the past 35 years, Mars also has shown a consistent commitment to Vassar College and her ’51 classmates. “Ginnie is the consummate ambassador for Vassar,” said AAVC Awards Committee Chair Meg Venecek Johnson ’84. “She embodies the best of the college, whether it’s as a lively presence on AAVC trips, a thoughtful chair of a board of trustees committee, or an enthusiastic fan on the sidelines of her granddaughter’s Vassar lacrosse game.” Graduating from Vassar was, and continues to be, a life-enhancing experience for Mars. “The importance of my education has grown with me over the years,” she said. “Vassar opened up new horizons and gave me a feeling of empowerment.”

After graduation, Mars volunteered for the Vassar club in her hometown of New Haven, Connecticut. But it wasn’t until 1970, after raising four daughters and living overseas for many years, that she reconnected with Vassar. Mars chaired her 50th reunion class fund, served as a trustee for 12 years, and currently sits on the President’s Advisory Council. Perhaps her most notable achievement was leading the college’s capital campaign from 1989–97. “The Campaign for Vassar in the mid-1990s could not have succeeded without Ginnie,” recalled Vassar President Frances Fergusson. “She was always there, traveling tirelessly for the college, eloquently evoking the reasons that people should give, and convincing them personally that this was exactly the right thing to do.” For Mars, advocating for Vassar is a privilege. “Vassar made a tremendous difference in my life, and I felt that I had received so much that it was important for me to give back to allow other students to have the opportunities I had.”

AAVC will present Mars with the 2005 Service to Vassar Award at this fall’s Volunteer Leadership Conference. “I am very excited to receive this honor, but also am a little bit surprised and certainly humbled, knowing the people who have gotten this award before and what they have contributed,” said Mars. “Even now, I receive more from Vassar than I could possibly give back. A Vassar education defined my life. It is a remarkable place.”