Beyond Vassar

AAVC Outstanding Service to Vassar Award

By Mally Anderson '10

Eleanor Fay Gambee ’62 has worn many Vassar hats over the years, and worn them well.

She has been a trustee of the college since 2004 and on the AAVC Board of Directors since 2000. Beginning in 1973, she has been active in the New York Vassar Club and has also served on the Development Leadership Council, Gift Planning Committee, the AAVC House Committee, and the Executive Committee of the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center. In honor of her many contributions to the school, Gambee was this year’s obvious choice for the AAVC Outstanding Service to Vassar Award. The award is presented annually to an alumna or alumnus in recognition of his or her extraordinary commitment, leadership, and service in promoting the goals and highest interests of Vassar College and AAVC.

Gambee, a math major at Vassar, recently retired as senior vice president and portfolio manager at US Trust. Her devotion to volunteering extends beyond her alma mater; she presently serves on the boards of the East Side House Settlement, the American Historical Society, and the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church. 

In her acceptance remarks at Vassar Inspiration and Education Weekend on Friday, September 19, Gambee spoke of the many ways in which Vassar inspires lifelong involvement: small classes; individual attention to students; and access to gifted teachers and scholars — including Winifred Asprey ’38, beloved professor of mathematics and pioneer of computer science. Gambee also spoke of her mother, Eleanor Brown Gambee ’25, as an important source of inspiration for her own enthusiasm for Vassar volunteering. She described her mother as an alumna who was also heavily involved with Vassar activities for more than fifty years. “I know she would agree that the special pleasure of working for Vassar stems from a very deep appreciation of what Vassar has done for us,” she said. 

Gambee is the award’s eighth recipient. AAVC Awards Committee Chair Joe Heissan ’87 notes that Gambee had been on his committee’s radar for some time. Her work on behalf of Vassar “has never been done with the idea of drawing attention to herself,” he says. She was their unanimous choice for the award — despite her best efforts to make them reconsider. “The good of her classmates, the college, and the alumnae/i association has always been the focus.”