Vassar Today

Vivat academia, vivant professores!

By Samantha Soper '91

Two distinguished faculty members will retire at the end of spring semester, having committed decades of service to educating Vassar students, crossed over departmental lines to help build inter-disciplinary programs, and been leaders to their peers.

Anne Constantinople

Randolph Distinguished Professor of Psychology

After earning a B.A. in psychology from Smith College and a Ph.D. in personality and social psychology from the University of Rochester, Anne Constantinople started her teaching career at Bryn Mawr College in 1965. Two years later she joined the faculty at Vassar. “The psychology department [at Bryn Mawr] was known for its emphasis on animal learning and didn’t have much use for human beings,” she said. “Vassar, on the other hand, was the home of the Mellon Studies on Normal Personality Development, which had formed an important part of my education as a graduate student. And [Vassar] was considering becoming coeducational. For all my experience with women’s institutions, both in high school and college, I was really impressed by the energy that coeducation brought to the classroom at Rochester,” recalled Constantinople. She hoped that would be the case at Vassar, too.

Over the course of her career at Vassar, she has taught courses in personality, social, and developmental psychology and gender and psychology. In 1973 she became an adviser and instructor in the American Culture Program. During her 36-year tenure, Constantinople has seen many things change. But the one thing that hasn’t changed much, she said, is “students’ readiness to engage in their work and take the business of being a student seriously.” It is that very student enthusiasm and intellect that made her appreciate teaching some courses consistently over the years. “I so enjoyed reading the theorists (over and over again) and the papers that students wrote, which often taught me something new about theory or character,” said Constantinople.

Her immediate plans for the future are to remain in Poughkeepsie and “maybe work at Barnes and Noble, if the stock market continues to slide!” Eventually, she would like to return to the Maryland/Virginia area where she grew up and still has family.


Cleveland cartoon
Cleveland cartoon

Jesse Kalin

Professor of Philosophy,
Associate Dean of the Faculty 2002-03

In the fall of 1971, with a B.A. from Stanford and a Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley, Jesse Kalin joined Vassar’s department of philosophy. His primary interests have been ethics and the philosophy of film, and to some extent he ties these ideas together, “mostly through the notion of portrayals and explorations of the human condition, which applies to literature as much as film,” he said.

In addition to his roles as professor and chair of the Asian Studies Program, Kalin is associate dean of the college for the current academic year. Included in this job description is “keeping track of routine business, representing the dean on various committees, and worrying about the snow when the dean is away,” joked Kalin. As important as those duties have been — especially this winter — Kalin commented that “much more important has been the Philosophy Department and its place as both a primary teaching locus for the college and as a discipline of central importance to the liberal arts. The responsibilities there have been most challenging and rewarding.”

When asked what he intends to do after packing up his office in Rockefeller Hall, Kalin said he’ll “do some occasional teaching, repair and remodel [his] house (finally), and try to get [his] roses to grow.”

Cartoon credit: Anne Cleveland ’37