First Words

Look Who's Talking

By Veronika Ruff '01

These notable figures were among Vassar’s featured guests this year:

Pulitzer Prize winning-poet John Ashbery, the New York State Poet for 2001-2002, read in October as part of an exhibit about language and art in the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center. • Political theorist and author of the international best-seller Jihad vs. McWorld Benjamin Barber lectured on terrorism. • Ron Carter, legendary jazz bassist who has worked with artists ranging from Miles Davis to A Tribe Called Quest, performed in Skinner. • Eminent German philosopher Jürgen Habermas spoke to a full house in Rocky. His lecture was entitled "How To Answer the Ethical Question." • Yolanda Kakabadse, executive president of the Fundacion Futuro Latinamericano and president of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, lectured in December. • The Program in Jewish Studies (with a gift from Dr. Lawrence Fishman and Suzanne Rubenstein Fishman '55) presented "I Will Bear Witness," a one-man show based on the diaries of Victor Klemperer, a Jewish man living in Nazi Germany. The production opened at Poughkeepsie’s Bardavon Opera House in November. • Filmmakers Spike Lee (Do the Right Thing) and Budd Schulberg (On the Waterfront) spoke about their new film, Save Us, Joe Louis. Their conversation was called "New Hollywood Meets Old Hollywood." Shulberg’s son, Benn, is a VC senior. • Joan Mandle ’66, co-founder and executive director of Democracy Matters (a national organization committed to bettering American democracy) and professor at Colgate U., joined a panel discussion on campaign finance reform organized by Vassar’s chapter of Democracy Matters. • Credited with saving the peregrine falcon from extinction, SUNY New Paltz professor Heinz Meng lectured on his groundbreaking work. He brought his famous falcons to the talk, sponsored by Vassar’s Program in Environmental Studies. • Linda Nochlin ’51, famed art historian and author of "Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?," joined Princeton professor Carol Armstrong to open an exhibit at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center (curated by Armstrong) called "Camera Women," which portrays the changing role of women in photography since 1839. • Two sculptures by Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988) were placed on long-term loan (facilitated by Noguchi Foundation trustee Priscilla Morgan ’41) at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center. • Rebecca Odes ’90, co-founder of explained, "How a Vassar Grad Helped Start the Most Popular Website for Adolescent Girls." • As part of the Elizabeth Bishop ’34 Series, poet Sharon Olds discussed and read her work. • Tayeb Salih, Sudanese writer and the visiting Randolph Distinguished Professor at Vassar College, lectured on "PRE-texts" in November. Salih is known for his 1960s’ Season of Migration, declared the "most important Arabic novel of the 20th century." • Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jane Smiley ’71 read from her latest novel, Horse Heaven, in the Villard Room for this year’s William Gifford Lecture. • Cornel West, prominent activist and Harvard professor of Afro-American studies and philosophy of religion, spoke on "Restoring Hope."