Vassar Presidential Search Update

The Presidential Search Committee to find the successor to President Frances Fergusson has been selected in accordance with the college’s Governance and consists of seven trustees, five members of the faculty, and two students (see membership below). The committee is conducting a broad search and encourages nominations for president of Vassar College from alumnae/i and any other interested parties. Confidential nominations and inquiries should be sent by September 1, 2005, to: William A. Plapinger, Chair, Presidential Search Committee, Box 16, Vassar College, 124 Raymond Avenue, Poughkeepsie, NY 12604.

William A. Plapinger ’74
Trustee, Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees

Marianne H. Begemann ’79
Associate Professor of Chemistry

James M. Citrin ’81

Lisa G. Collins
Assistant Professor of Art

Robert DeMaria Jr.
Henry Noble MacCracken Professor of English

Lurita Alexis Doan ’79

David Kennett
Professor of Economics

Paula Williams Madison ’74
Trustee, President of AAVC

Walter Padilla ’07

Patricia Parton Rosenwald ’56

Daniel Ross ’06

Mary (Molly) L. Shanley
Margaret Stiles Halleck Professor of Political Science

Monica Vachher ’77

Richard E. Van Demark ’77
Trustee, Chair of the Board of Trustees

In honor of President Frances Fergusson’s last year at Vassar, AAVC wants to collect thoughts and memories about her tenure on campus. Whether you are a student, alumna/us, member of the faculty, or Vassar employee, please share a story of President Fergusson by writing the Vassar Quarterly at Alumnae House, 161 College Avenue, Poughkeepsie, NY 12603, or emailingvq@vassar.edu.

Post Your Photo on AAVC's Website

Photos may range from just you to you and your family to a recent alumnae/i gathering you attended like the one pictured below submitted by Ellen Van Pelt Wells ’49. The VQ receives numerous photos, which we usually can’t publish in the magazine, but we now have a place for them online. Log in to add your photo! Visit www.aavc.vassar.edu and click on My Profile in the upper right corner.

photo of Vassar alumnae
photo of Vassar alumnae

On an archaeological tour of Libya in October, four of the 30 Explorers’ Club passengers found they had something in common: Vassar.
Here, before a temple in Apollonia are (from left) Kate Millard ’73, Barbara Hadley Stanton ’57, Peggy Plunkett Lord ’51, and
Ellen Van Pelt Wells ’49.

Remembering Mrs. Piccirilli

I was most interested in John Ahern’s description of the 1936 visit of Alberto Moravia to Vassar [“Alberto Goes to the Prom,” Spring 2005], but was surprised at [Moravia’s] description of Maria Teresa de Negri, who welcomed him, as a “a large, authoritarian, bespectacled woman.” She was later Mrs. Bruno Piccirilli and became the head of the Italian Department. She, in fact, was tall rather than “large,” which in English has an unfortunate connotation of “hefty” or “overweight.” She was certainly not “authoritarian” in the sense of being bossy. “Bespectacled”? She wore glasses for reading but not otherwise. In fact, she was very good-looking, so it is odd that Moravia described her as he did. In my student days, she must have been in her 40s, and she had smooth black hair—no grey—large eyes, a lovely olive-tinted complexion, and perfect, classic features.

It may have seemed odd that the department head was not present [at Moravia’s lecture], but Moravia was not yet very famous. In my time there would not have been 100 students capable of following a lecture in Italian, but I suspect that Moravia was exaggerating the numbers there. Mr. Ahern wonders if male guests would have been allowed in students’ rooms on Saturday afternoons. In my student days, they were certainly allowed on weekends up to 6 p.m., but not after that time. I would imagine that rule would have been the same in 1936.

Alice Hunsaker Bird ’45-4
Henley-on-Thames, United Kingdom

I read Professor John Ahern’s article [“Alberto Goes to the Prom,” Spring 2005] as well as his translation of Moravia’s text with great interest, as I studied Italian at Vassar. I don’t know if the “large, authoritarian, bespectacled woman” referred to was Mrs. Piccirilli, since although Mrs. Piccirilli did wear glasses and certainly was authoritarian, she was not, to my eyes at least, large—she was appealingly slender with a good figure, standing perhaps around 5'6" (although she may have appeared taller as she always wore high heels and carried herself beautifully). Professor Ahern questioned whether in 1936 there would have been 100 students at Vassar capable of understanding a lecture delivered in Italian. We had only five people in the Dante 330 seminar, so if 1936 was anything like the Vassar of 16 to 20 years later, there would not have been too many people who would have understood, had the lecture been delivered in Italian. It would have been a stretch to think even 50 would have understood. I was glad to learn from Professor Ahern that Vassar’s Italian enrollment of today is considerably enlarged, and the tradition of the department serving its students delicious, Italian cuisine continues!

Jeanne Rejaunier ’56
Lecanto, Florida

In Memoriam

From onion cookbooks to Girl Scout cookies to accomplished editor to Fairy Godmother par excellence, Inez M. Krech, class of ’38, was the epitome of a Vassar woman of her time and mine. She was generous, thoughtful, intelligent, and engaged—especially fond of her volunteer work with libraries, Girl Scouts, and Vassar. I know her because she and my father both volunteered at the Hackensack Public Library in the 1950s. He moved to Colorado and they lost touch, but their friendship was propitiously rekindled shortly before my acceptance at Vassar. In an uncommonly generous move, Inez helped fund my education. I was only one of many she helped through college. In addition to her extensive volunteer activities and care of her family’s Victorian home nestled between huge apartments (she refused to let it be toppled), Inez was an accomplished writer of cookbooks and a sought-after editor. This pixie of a woman lived her life fully, working for a better future for many.

Alexandra (Sasha) Charney ’92
Denver, Colorado