This is Vassar: The newsletter for Vassar College Alumnae/i and Families

Illustration credit: Logan D. Stagnitto '10

Vassar Celebrates Founder’s Day, Saturday, May 2

Founder’s Day began in 1866 as a campus-wide surprise party for Matthew Vassar’s 74th birthday. It was, according to the online Vassar Encyclopedia, “a meticulously planned event including piano solos, lectures, and poetry readings” — one that so overwhelmed the college’s founder that “Vassar, with tears pooling in his eyes, could manage but a single sentence: ‘This one event has paid me for every cent I have spent for the college.’”

One can only imagine his reaction had that day’s festivities had something to do with Donkey Kong. This year, the annual 5K Fun Run kicks off a Nintendo-themed Founder’s Day. Cross country coach James McCowan ’99 says that coach Ron Stonitsch started the race in the mid-eighties. Since then it has grown into an all-campus event with more than 100 runners — some from Vassar’s cross country teams, but many other students, faculty, and staff, as well as quite a few alums hoping to demonstrate that they can still tear it up on the course. McCowan says that a friendly student-alumnae/i rivalry has developed over the years, which only adds to the excitement of the competition. “Back when I first came to Vassar as a student in the mid-nineties, you didn’t see a lot of students out running on a Saturday morning,” says McCowan. “The recent success and overwhelming turnouts just show that the Fun Run is providing an outlet for a much more physically active and healthy student body.”

After the run, Walker Field will come alive with kids’ activities, carnival rides, live music, local food vendors, and, in the Brewer tradition, free beer for those 21 and up. Megan Habermann, assistant director of campus activities and advisor to the Founder’s Day Committee, helps oversee the logistics of the day; thankfully, she says, current financial difficulties haven’t curtailed plans for the festivities.

May 2009

Back Issues