In Memoriam: Liz Wexler Quinlan

Sorrow has befallen us through the loss to cancer this summer of our trustee, Liz Wexler Quinlan ’59. Liz was the AAVC president when I first became president of Vassar. In her charming, effective way, she tutored me about the mysterious ways of Vassar and helped to shape the AAVC of today. The regular every-five-year reunion schedule replaced the dysfunctional cluster system under her leadership, and she also established the Joint Coordinating Council, at a time when coordination was direly needed. Liz fought her battle against cancer with courage and grace; I know we shall all miss her lovely smile and constant optimism.

Frances D. Fergusson
President, Vassar College

In Memoriam: Nan Bennett Kay

With Nan Bennett Kay’s ’60 death on August 20, 2001, I lost a cherished friend. We were born one week apart, entered kindergarten together, were summer beach playmates, and attended Vassar together. When, as president of the class of 1960, I had difficulty identifying a classmate to chair our 25th reunion, my friend Nan agreed to serve as co-chair. As we met regularly at a halfway point between Boston and Rhode Island to plan our reunion, I came to value Nan’s strong leadership skills.

Nan continued her leadership of the class as gift chair of our 40th reunion and class president. She served the college as a member of the Development Leadership Council during the Campaign for Vassar and established the Frances Goldin Scholarship Fund in honor of her mother. This year she was elected to the Vassar Board of Trustees. Nan was also a respected leader in the Boston community, serving as a trustee for Facing History & Ourselves and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Her commitment to children was exemplified in her role as a committee chair at Harvard School of Public Health’s Center for Children’s Health and her extraordinary work as chair of the board and co-chair of the capital campaign for the Children’s Museum of Boston.

Through her recent years of illness, Nan balanced her commitment to Vassar and her community organizations without diminishing the time to her roles as a devoted mother, proud grandmother, and the loving wife of Stephen Kay. I am grateful to have known her warmth, energy, courage, and enthusiasm. We will miss her.

Marilyn Kaplan ’60

Gov. Pataki's Recent Educational Pledge

Dear President Fergusson:

We read with great interest this morning [Sept. 19] of Governor Pataki’s pledge to provide free educational assistance to families of the World Trade Center victims; this includes firemen, police officers, and emergency medical personnel who have or may lose their lives in the process of attempting the recovery of bodies. Governor Pataki is proposing to cover tuition, room and board, books…all the necessary components one needs to partake of higher education. The Governor has noted his plan would cover both state and city colleges and universities, as well as private colleges and universities in the state of New York.

We believe Vassar should go a step in this direction as well. Not only would it be a bold move by one of New York’s most illustrious institutions of higher learning, it would also be a very heartfelt and dramatic statement of support for our nation at this emotional time.

We are proposing that the college avail students who qualify for admission, according to academic criteria set forth by the admissions office, the opportunity to get a Vassar education gratis. These students — akin to Governor Pataki’s formula — would be spouses, children, and step-children of the WTC victims and the aforementioned rescue workers. It would also be wonderful should you wish to extend this aid to Pentagon bombing victims; however, the crux of the Governor’s plan is New York State victims/New York State institutions.

Madame President, it would truly be a magnificent enterprise if Vassar were to take the lead in this amongst her fellow New York colleges and universities. We cannot urge you strongly enough to consider this. We cannot imagine anyone on the faculty or on the Board who would not support you here. Further, we think it would be a fitting tribute to the college that has turned out the current head of the American Red Cross, as well as a former New York Congressman.

H. Blair Bess ’80
Alson J. Matsuura ’80
Maureen Clark Matsuura ’80

Re: Gov. Pataki’s Recent Educational Pledge

Vassar meets the full need of all admitted students, which includes not only tuition, room and board, but also the cost of books, personal needs, and trips to and from home. The Governor’s kind extension of aid would thus be augmented by Vassar’s aid, up to any student’s full need. We are thus part of the effort to offer scholarship aid to the children of the victims and have been working with the state group of independent colleges and universities to stress our commitment to meeting these needs.

Frances D. Fergusson
President, Vassar College

Hello from the Class of 2005

Graduating from high school was no easy task. I left the world as I knew it to travel up the Hudson to begin a new life. Upon arrival I was apprehensive, just as many freshmen were. But over time I have come to realize and appreciate all that is Vassar. A welcome sense of community is readily experienced everywhere on campus. People are friendly, professors are thoughtful and the food really isn’t that bad. So here’s a warm "hello" to all the alumnae/i from us, the class of 2005. We are proud to be at Vassar…and loving every minute of it! Many thanks to you all for paving the way for our futures. We can only hope to live up to the hospitable Vassar standards the alumnae/i before us have set.

John Delap ’05

This Paper Previously Scenic

The Vassar Quarterly arrived in today's mail. Colors are so bright, the truffles practically jump off the page, I can almost taste them... But then I begin to think about the paper content.

Life is not so simple anymore. Back in 1991 I wrote a piece that was published in VQ on "The Last Page" about my life as a small farmer ("I Bought the Farm"). Now I'm trying to save a mountain a mile from my house -- trying to save it from being turned into glossy paper.

Who knew that paper now comes from scenic mountains?

A private Swiss company named OMYA, the largest producer of ground calcium carbonate in the world, purchased thousands of acres in a remote valley rich in biodiversity and pure water. They propose to blast a big open pit in order to mine the marble deposit that they want to crush into particles finer than dust to make the things that are forming the basis of our throw-away society.

If you think you'll win any points by using recycled paper, you might be surprised to learn that recycled paper contains a higher proportion of mineral content than regular paper. This is all new in the last 30 years. In addition to paper (National Geographic Magazine is 45% calcium carbonate, according to OMYA), calcium carbonate is now a commonly-used filler in many building materials. Joint compound is 90% calcium carbonate, carpet backing is 85%, PVC pipe is 45%, and floor & ceiling tile also contain calcium carbonate. A one gallon can of paint can contain up to 10 pounds of calcium carbonate. And those calcium supplements you take? That could be a scenic Vermont mountain in there.

The company brags that they are saving trees and helping the environment by the switch in the paper-making process from acid-based to alkaline-based, which by itself is true. But the market for calcium carbonate has quadrupled in less the 10 years, and when they start to take apart a beautiful mountain that is part of a valley containing natural community types that are considered very rare in Vermont, something is wrong...deeply wrong.

If you'd like to help, we have an organization, a web site: www.vtce.org, and 501(c)3 status.

Annette Smith '77
Executive Director
Vermonters for a Clean Environment, Inc.

Fun Facts About Fran

Re: "An Interview with Frances Fergusson" (Fall 2001)

As a member of the Frances Daly Fergusson fan club, I am writing to add a detail to Leslie Granston ’88’s excellent article about Vassar’s President of 15 years. In 1998, on the occasion of our 35th reunion, we invited Fran to join our class, and she accepted, although it aged her up two years. The Vassar ring she wears is a gift from the Class of 1963 and is so inscribed inside. So, as our class song proclaims, "hats off to ’63" and to Fran!

Jill Spiller
President, Class of 1963

Shocked and Dismayed

To the Editor:

On behalf of Diluvians everywhere, I am saddened that the hallowed Vassar Quarterly recently wrote of the Class of 2005 being antidiluvian. And here I thought being antidiluvian was antediluvian. Oh, and also, being married to an attorney has taught me one thing: In our discussions I may act prose, but I risk losing if I act pro se. And these errors in an issue in which Frances Ferguson [sic] lauds the value of a Vassar degree!

Bruce R. Mendelsohn '90
Manager, Industry Communications