POUGHKEEPSIE, NY — Inspiration comes in many forms. For Vassar alumna and trustee Barbara Manfrey Vogelstein, the new chairperson of the trustees' development committee, inspiration came in the form of a fundraising challenge: find a major donor for the college's ambitious new drama and film center. While talking about the project with her husband, John, they came up with a great solution — to make the gift themselves.
As a result, Vassar College proudly announces the donation of $10 million by Barbara Manfrey and John L. Vogelstein, one of the largest single contributions to the college, leading to the May 2006 re-dedication of the Vogelstein Center for Drama and Film. The 54,000 square foot facility was designed by renowned architect Cesar Pelli, and has served the campus since May, 2003.
"We are grateful for the opportunity to honor outgoing president Frances Fergusson by funding this beautiful building envisioned and erected under her leadership. Her accomplishments of the past twenty years, the positive things she has done for Vassar on so many levels, were our inspiration," stated Ms. Vogelstein, who graduated in 1976. "At the same time," she added, "we are pleased to show our support for incoming president Catharine Hill, as the college prepares for her arrival."
President Fergusson will retire in June 30, 2006, with Hill, currently the Provost at Williams College, taking the helm July 1.
Barbara Vogelstein was elected to the Vassar College Board of Trustees in 1999, and has held numerous volunteer leadership positions on behalf of the college. Vogelstein actively attends and supports Vassar programs both on- and off-campus, and she and her husband have consistently provided generous financial support to the college.
After graduating from Vassar with a degree in economics, Vogelstein joined Warburg Pincus, one of the world's largest private equity firms. Elected to the partnership at age 30, she was the firm's first woman venture capital partner. In 1988 she was selected to found the firm's London office, its first overseas operation. From 1991 to 2000, she was a partner of Apax Partners & Co. Ventures, a leading worldwide venture capital firm, where she chaired the firm's media investment group. Over her career, she served as director of 15 public and private companies.
John L. Vogelstein, formerly president and now vice-chairman of Warburg Pincus, is also a stalwart philanthropist to education. After attending Harvard College, he joined Lazard Frères & Co., where he became a partner in 1964. He joined Warburg Pincus in 1967. He is chairman of the Board of Directors of Prep for Prep; vice chairman of the Board of Overseers of the Leonard N. Stern School of Business at New York University; trustee of New York University and Temple Emanu-El; member of the Board of Governors of the RAND Graduate School; and a director of the New York City Ballet. For many years he was a trustee of the Taft School, and later served as its board chairman. He is also a director of the Journal Register Co., Mattel, Inc., and Flamel Technologies, Inc.
"By all measures, Barbara and John's generosity has always set a shining example of altruism and philanthropy for other alumnae/i at Vassar, but the timing of this gift truly creates an impact for the college," said Richard Van Demark, a 1977 Vassar graduate and chair of the college's Board of Trustees. "President Fergusson and the board set aside some very specific goals we wished to accomplish during the last year of her presidency. Barbara and John Vogelstein stepped right in and made sure we met this goal, and we are indebted to them for their leadership and their support."
Upon its 2003 opening, the Vogelstein Center brought the Vassar departments of drama and film under the same roof for the first time, providing them both high-tech academic space and professional-level production facilities. Among its principal areas, the building houses a gracious proscenium theater with full fly-tower, orchestra pit and back-of-house facilities, seating 320 patrons on the orchestra, parterre, and balcony levels; a Hollywood-grade film screening theater; an acting studio suitable for rehearsals and in-class performances; a professional-level production studio for film and video; smaller screening rooms; classrooms; seminar rooms; multimedia editing rooms; and offices.
In addition to dozens of academic projects, the Center has already presented Anna Deavere Smith and the esteemed Shakespearean troupe Actors From the London Stage, previews of such films as The Motorcycle Diaries and The Squid and the Whale (written and directed by Vassar alumnus Noah Baumbach), and several productions for the college's highly regarded Powerhouse Summer Theater season.
Vassar's department of drama was founded in the 1920s by Winifred Smith and flourished in the 1930s under the leadership of Hallie Flanagan Davis, who later headed President Franklin Roosevelt's Federal Theater Project. Among the department's outstanding features in recent years have been its productions of classic works by Aeschylus, George Bernard Shaw, and Thornton Wilder. The study of film at Vassar began in 1969 with a seminar in film history, and was formally established as a major in 1995. Film majors combine the study of film history and theory with the practice of screenwriting and production.
Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential, liberal arts college founded in 1861.