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

Young alums attend their first reunion (Photo © Stockton Photo)

A Record-Breaking Reunion

Call it Sesquicentennial fever, but Reunion 2011, held June 10 through 12, was one for the record books. Members of Vassar’s “vintage” classes were especially well represented. Maisry MacCracken ’31, daughter of Vassar’s fifth president, Henry Noble MacCracken, visited her childhood stomping ground to celebrate her 80th reunion. Thanks to her longevity (she’s now 101!), it was the first time Vassar had ever had an 80th reunion attendee. Nineteen alumnae from the Class of ’41 celebrated their 70th reunion, breaking the record for the number of alumnae returning for their 70th. (The determined class also set a record for the most number of attendees for their 65th reunion five years ago.)

In total, approximately 1,300 alumnae and alumni from classes ending in ones and sixes returned to campus. They brought more than 440 guests (94 of them also alumnae/i, plus 143 children) for a grand total of 1889 attendees. Included in that number were former members of the Alumnae and Alumni of Vassar College (AAVC) Board of Directors, who form the 1871 Circle; they returned to campus for the first-ever meeting of the group.

At the President’s Hour on Saturday, President Hill spoke to alumnae/i about how the college is upholding its traditions of both excellence and access. AAVC also bestowed its annual Spirit of Vassar award. Typically given each year to one person who exemplifies the “enduring spirit of community and caring,” the 2011 honor was bestowed on the nine living former AAVC presidents—Franny Prindle Taft '42, Kathleen Holman Langan '46, Joan Andrews Watters '50, Frances Aaron Hess '53, Billie Davis Gaines '58, Joan Strashinsky Kjelleren '71, Susan McCallum Bledsoe '64, Paula Williams Madison '74, and Margaret Venecek Johnson '84. (Read about their contributions in the upcoming fall issue of the Vassar Quarterly.)

While on campus, alumnae/i attended several Alumnae/i College presentations by current and emeritus faculty members. Subjects ranged from the history of fashion at Vassar, by costume designer Holly Hummel, senior lecturer emeritus of drama, to an examination of Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt’s Vassar connections, by Glen Johnson, professor emeritus of political science. Vassarites also attended a staged reading of the acclaimed theatrical piece Vassar Voices, which tells the college’s history through the words of founder Matthew Vassar and his contemporaries, as well as the students, administrators, and faculty members who have passed through the college.

The much anticipated alumnae/i parade kicked off to the exuberant sound of tubas and trombones on Saturday morning. Participants marched with their class banners or rode in their “Reunion chariots” from the Chapel to the Athletic and Fitness Center, where they attended Vassar’s annual Celebration of Gifts. This year, class fund chairs reported that more than $20 million in reunion gifts had been pledged to the Annual Fund.

One thing was evident: The old Vassar spirit is alive and well! –Elizabeth Randolph

Reunion Collage 1

Clockwise, from top left: Members of the Class of 1966 during the alumnae/i parade (Photo © Vassar College-Jim Mills); Jean McKee '51 shows school spirit at the Celebration of Gifts (Photo © VC-JM); classmates from the Class of 1991 (Photo © Stockton Photo, Inc.); President Hill and Maisry MacCracken are all smiles at MacCracken's 80th reunion (Photo © SP, Inc.)

Reunion Collage 2

Clockwise, from top left: Family and friends catch a moment of rest on a campus lawn; Spirit of Vassar award recipients and past AAVC presidents Frances Aaron Hess, Billie Davis Gaines and Franny Prindle Taft; a reception held by the African American Alumnae/i of Vassar College; young alums near Sunset Lake; alumnae/i authors show off their work in the college bookstore; members of the Class of 2001 celebrating their 10-year reunion in the Mug (All photos © Stockton Photo, Inc.)


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