August 26, 2016
Dear Vassar community,
Greetings and welcome to the new academic year. Weather has been ideal for the arrival and orientation of new students and faculty this week, and spirits have been high. Thanks to all who have contributed to such an auspicious early start to the year.
For those of you returning to campus, you will notice some changes. One is hearing from me (ordinarily Dean of the Faculty, but Interim President for 2016-17) rather than President Emerita Hill. As most of you know from announcements over the summer, Cappy has left her position a year earlier than expected, having accepted an appointment as Managing Director of Ithaka S+R. She starts her new role after Labor Day. The appointment allows her to build upon the work she has done in advancing research on the economics of higher education and good practices to promote access, affordability, diversity, and inclusion. Below you will read about a campus opportunity on September 7th to hear from President Emerita Hill one more time and to honor her and say farewell as she takes up her new work.
Changes to campus over the summer include the open outdoor space gradually taking shape in the area where Mudd Chemistry once stood and the first stages of renovation of ACDC. You’ll notice numerous new faces in campus offices, including at least thirty-seven new faculty members. As you meet any of our 665 new first-year students, please join me in conveying a special welcome.
We return to our full-fledged academic pursuits at an unsettling time. Reeling from racial violence, mass atrocities, worldwide displacement of millions of people, political divisions, environmental damage, and more, we often struggle to maintain our balance. For students seeking answers and help, classrooms will be places to ask questions, gain perspective, deepen self-knowledge, and open pathways toward solutions. Know as well that we are scheduling events and opportunities for conversation on campus this semester and that there are many resources, including Counseling Services, Campus Life and Diversity offices, house teams, and health education, available to assist you. Many Vassar students will have an opportunity to help shape the outlines of a better future by voting in a U.S. presidential election for the first time on November 8. Your voices are needed.
I hope we can carve out time to be joyful and creative together during this interim year between Vassar presidencies. An early occasion for such communal celebration will be this year’s Convocation on September 7th at 3:30 p.m. in the Chapel. President Emerita Hill will be the featured speaker, addressing the power of a liberal education, and we will celebrate her and our collective accomplishments under her leadership with an all-campus reception afterward. The reception will take place in the Atrium of the Bridge for Laboratory Sciences. For those of you who have attended Convocation before, anticipate some small and fun variations on the format of Convocations past. For all, come to hear one of higher education’s most influential leaders and afterward to enjoy the food and festivities and to bid Cappy a fond farewell.
Best wishes for the start of the new academic year,
Professor of Music