By Vassar Quarterly

Military Might

I read with great interest the Vassar Quarterly Sesquicentennial issue. Another great edition from a consistently fine publication. I especially enjoyed “For School, For Country,” by Peter Bronski, which tracked Vassar’s proud and, at times, contentious relationship with the US Armed Forces through times of war.

I have my own long history with the US military spanning nearly 25 years. I enlisted in the infantry in the US Army shortly after graduating from VC in 1985. I then attended Officer Candidate School, and was commissioned in Armor (i.e. tanks) in 1988. After graduating from the Army’s grueling ranger and airborne schools, I went on to serve as a platoon leader with a heavy tank unit in South Korea, and then as a paratrooper unit stateside. I left the active duty army in 1991, but soon missed the military terribly and joined the Army Reserve, and later the Colorado Army National Guard (COARNG). I now serve as the COARNG State Surgeon and have been deployed three times as an army physician in the Global War on Terror.

I consider myself a product and proud “ambassador” of both institutions (Vassar and the US Army), although at times I feel neither understands the other fully. Still, there is much more common ground than most people think.

Mark H. Chandler ’85
Denver, Colorado

I loved the photo of my mother, Elspeth McClure Clarke ’44, in her Navy WAVES uniform riding in an open car with FK Millar ’44, my godmother. I scanned a copy of the article and sent it by email to my older daughter who is a Navy Intelligence officer currently deployed on an aircraft carrier off the coast of northern Japan that is assisting in the earthquake/tsunami relief effort. Women are still a distinct minority in the Navy and the other branches of the armed services, but thanks to those who paved the way many years ago, women serving in the military today are on a more equal footing and gaining respect for their contributions across the board.

Dumont Clarke ’74
Charlotte, North Carolina

Parental Approval

We were completely fooled by the clever cover showing Meryl Streep ’71 masquerading as the founder! She remains the quintessential actor of our time and a model for future alumnae.

As parents [of Emily R. Sufrin ’13], we found the historical overview of the college fascinating and meaningful. The detailed outline and historical photographs of the various phases of development over the decades were the best summary of the college I have yet to find. I found the quote from Jack Nadler ’78 to be in keeping with my own impressions of the colleges as we toured with our daughter before she applied. During our visit to Vassar, we connected with a sense of egalitarianism and unpretentiousness. These virtues were missing at the previously all-men’s schools; there was a distinct difference in their cultures. It was good to read a concurring statement by an astute alum.

Thanks for this beautiful and enlightening tribute to Vassar.

Christine D. Guzman Sufrin and Ronald K. Sufrin
Los Angeles, California

As a parent of a current sophomore [Katherine Sweeney], I had a hard time putting the special Sesquicentennial edition down. I have been back to read many of the articles and still feel like there is more for me to read. We receive similar publications from my high school and college, my wife's college, and our daughter's high school. I may be likely to find a compelling article or two in most of these magazines. However, a desire to learn about various era's of Vassar's impressive history has inspired me to read about issues ranging from war contributions to coeducation to fashion statements, and even a potential merger with Yale.

When we moved our daughter into Raymond Hall, my wife and I listened to an inspiring administration ask us to believe in Vassar, have faith in our child, and leave. There have been so many positive signs and so much growth in our daughter since that day. Thank you so very much for helping us learn even more about the history that has been part of the development of your outstanding institution.

Chris [and Ruth] Sweeney
Reading, Massachusetts

About Betty

Having majored in English, I've been forever grateful to count Ida Treat Bergeret, Susan Turner, and dear Billy Rose amongst my professors. But, oh, how I regret not having had Elizabeth Daniels (or, incidentally, Helen Drusilla Lockwood) as a teacher. I hope Mrs. Daniels's article in your spectacular 150th Anniversary issue is part of a memoir she's writing.

Ann Proctor McKee ’56
Monmouth Beach, New Jersey

I enjoyed the article about the amazing Elizabeth Adams Daniels ’41 and her alternative parents on the faculty. She mentions Professor Anna Kitchel, who acted as a fostering mother. I am glad to know that. I have cherished memories of the professor. In a seminar one day, she asked us what we thought of change. I have a clear memory of her being a bit shaken about it. We 18-year-olds could have cared less—the change we were looking forward to was being 19 and maybe getting a new boyfriend.

My class is having its 65th reunion this year, and about 28 of us are planning to attend. I am hoping that my health will permit me to make the trek from California. I would like to shake Ms. Daniel’s hand and thank her for her devotion to my beloved alma mater.

Mary McAlpine Johnson Bisharat ’46

Celebrating Poets

It’s great that Elizabeth Bishop ’34 is being celebrated! (Winter 2011). Let’s remember in this sesquicentennial year that Vassar has always been a wonderful home for poets: Edna St. Vincent Millay ’17, the first woman to receive a Pulitzer Prize, Muriel Rukeyser ’34, an important poet, and Mary Oliver ’59, our third Pulitzer Prize winner—who, the day after graduating from high school, went "as a pilgrim" to Millay’s home, Steepletop. In these days when bans are finally lifted, let’s also acknowledge that these four poets loved women, and were either bisexual or lesbian.

Anne MacKay ’49

Editor’s note: We regret that we were not able to include additional content in the sesquicentennial issue. We chose to focus on Elizabeth Bishop because this year marks the centenary of her birth. The good news is that the magazine isn't the only way Vassar's remembering its history! There's the new chronicle of Vassar history by college historian Colton Johnson and other efforts taking place in departments across campus. We are confident that these projects will bring a broader representation of Vassar people than we ever could have presented in just one issue of the magazine.