Another Confession

Re “Confessions of a Campus Tobacco Pusher,” (Summer 2001): I found the article exceedingly interesting. I tried to learn to smoke while I was a student at Vassar.

Fortunately it disagreed with me. I could hold a lot more bourbon or scotch than I could cigarettes. To sit and read while smoking was the pits. I smoked a little, sociably on weekends, to look sophisticated, but buying my own cigarettes was the last thing I ever wanted to do — I didn’t want to bother carrying them around. I had enough other stuff to fiddle with in my bike basket.

My father — an eye, ear and nose specialist — used to grow burley tobacco on the Kentucky farm worked by tenants. He would want his tobacco crop to look good, and at same time would cuss out his otolaryngology patients for smoking.

Ann Snyder Harrod ’60
Keswick, Virginia

In Memoriam: Evalyn Anna Clark

Evalyn Anna Clark, 98, professor emerita of history at Vassar College, died June 17, 2001. Born to English parents, Harry and Emily Dennis Clark, in Canadaigua, NY, April 20, 1903, she attended public school there and was awarded a full scholarship to Vassar by Mrs. Frederick F. Thompson of Canadaigua. Miss Clark was elected to Phi Beta Kappa junior year, graduated with honors in classics in 1924, and continued studies in classics and ancient history on a Vassar alumnae fellowship at Johns Hopkins, where she received her Ph.D. in 1927.

Miss Clark’s long and distinguished teaching career began at New Jersey College for Women (later Douglass College), but in 1939 she returned to Vassar. In the meantime, stimulated by extensive summer travels and independent research in Europe as well as postdoctoral study at Harvard and Columbia universities, she had become intensely interested in the evolution and development of nationalism in Europe. She arrived at Vassar just as World War II began in Europe, assigned to teach a seminar in contemporary European history (1870 to the present). Her response to the circumstances was immediate and influenced the development of her dynamic teaching skills. She later wrote: “Perforce I jettisoned any orthodox chronological approach and began with 1939 and the New York Times, constantly working backward to trace the roots of the conflict…a contentious subject…Heated class discussion was inevitable and continual. This period of the Second World War and after was a kind of crucible for me to form new approaches to teaching…I still look back at the 1940s with a sense of exhilaration as our ‘finest hour’ of intense effort, of a striving for intellectual integrity and of comradeship.” She never lost that enthusiasm.

A dedicated person, strong and vibrant, Miss Clark made history become relevant to the living. It was exciting, not a mere chronicle of events, but a history of ideas challenging and stimulating thought. She was truly a scholar/teacher, a model and a mentor until her mandatory retirement in 1968. She has been a warm friend to generations of students who have continued to share their experiences with her over the years.

Evalyn Clark’s view of the 20th century that her life nearly spanned was through the eye of a historian and from many perspectives, including that of the perceptive worldwide traveler. She had a rich life. Many other lives that were enriched by her will greatly miss her friendship and counsel. 

Margaret R. Wright
Professor Emerita of Biology

In Memoriam: Dr. Anne D. Gounaris

Dr. Anne D. Gounaris, Professor Emeritus of chemistry served in the Department of Chemistry for 23 years from 1966–1989. She was an inspiring teacher, one of the few who could communicate the beauty of the clarity of science. 

A biochemist, Anne’s research focused on the relationship of protein conformation to function. Her first degree was in nursing. She graduated summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, from Boston University. She received a Ph.D. in chemistry from Harvard University, and served postdoctoral fellowships at the Carlsberg Laboratory in Copenhagen, the Brookhaven National Laboratory, and the Rockefeller University. These were the most prestigious positions in the emerging field of biochemistry. In her day, they were granted to few if any women. 

Anne joined Vassar in 1966 to begin a program in biochemistry. While at the college, she served sabbaticals as visiting fellow in medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and visiting research fellow at Newham College, Cambridge University, and the Strangeways Laboratory. She also chaired the planning committee for the building of the Seeley Mudd Chemistry Building.

Anne was unpretentious. Her intellectual curiosity never flagged. In retirement, she pursued interests in traveling and bioinformatics. 

While she would have demurred at the suggestion, Anne was a role model for many Vassar students and a pioneer for women in science. The accomplishments of her career are astounding and her legacy to Vassar is profound. 

Eve Slater ’67

Short Hills, New Jersey