Need-Blind Admissions

I was quite pleased to read in a recent issue that the college administration has decided to return to a need-blind admissions policy and increase aid to those who might otherwise have to take out a second loan [“Need-Blind and Open to All,” Fall 2007]. I remember being quite upset back in the late nineties when the need-blind policy was changed to need-sensitive. It is critical that Vassar College, being the world-class institution it is, remain a realistic choice for middle-class students. I recall how my excitement at having been admitted to Vassar soon gave way to skepticism that I would actually be able to attend due to the high cost of tuition.

For this middle-class student and many like me, getting that acceptance letter did not necessarily mean the dream of attending a top liberal arts college had become a reality. Just as important as that letter was the negotiations with the financial aid office that followed. I am so happy to learn that our new college president and the administration truly value the economic, as well as cultural, diversity of the student body.

Stephanie Bosco-Ruggiero ’99
Wappingers Falls, New York

Declining Standards?

As a retired attorney, I was, quite frankly, appalled that Harvard Law School would allow Jose Klein ’97 to satisfy the Law School Writing Project requirement by drawing pictures and sending them off to be made into melamine plates [“Warren Burger and Fries,” Summer 2008].

While I recognize that Vassar has no control over the academic requirements established by another institution, I think that the VQ compounded the nonsense by writing an article glorifying Harvard’s complete lack of academic standards.

Has higher education really descended to this level? I had hoped that Vassar — or in this case, theVassar Quarterly — hadn’t become so “politically correct” as to condone such an assault on academic excellence. I’d expect it of Harvard, but not Vassar.

Belinda Laird Hylinski ’63
Alamo, California

Justice Is Served

I enjoyed Thomas Hopkins's article about Jose Klein '97 and his whimsical use of Make-A-Plate technology to fulfill Harvard Law School's Written Work Requirement ["Warren Burger and Fries," Summer 2008]. Klein's result is more than delightful. He has served up on plates evidence that a picture may be worth a thousand words — even to lawyers!

Jean D. Portell ’62
Brooklyn, New York

Service to Country

Thank you indeed for the very thoughtful article “International Diplomacy: Alumnae/i in the Foreign Service” [Spring 2008]. As a career FSO myself, now approaching 20 years of service, I recognize a great deal in what Evan Weinberg ’99 wrote.

However, you captured only the top of the U.S. Foreign Service, career and non-career ambassadors, and the lower end, our very talented entry-level officers. Most of our workaday diplomatic corps falls in the middle — the diplomatic equivalent of majors, lieutenant colonels, and colonels — and have served our country for 5 to 25 years. I personally know a handful of grads in this category, and I imagine there must be more out there. There are also other Foreign Service professionals at agencies such as Commerce, Agriculture, and USAID, and domestic civil servants supporting our work from Washington.

I would love to see a follow-up article on these colleagues: Vassar grads at mid-career in the Foreign Service and Civil Service. Barring that, though, your readers might simply be pleased to know that there are Vassar alumnae/i who have proudly dedicated their careers in service to the United States, working at every level.

Speaking of service to country: thank you also for the excellent profile of Major Benjamin Busch ’91, USMC, in your summer issue. It would be great to see more about our fellow grads in uniform.

David Morris ’82
Alexandria, Virginia

Thank You

I thoroughly enjoyed the article about Benjamin Busch’s experience as a soldier in Iraq in the most recent Quarterly. I did notice one thing however that seemed to be missing from the piece: a formal thank you. While the rest of us were pursuing our own self-interests, Mr. Busch chose to put his life on the line in order to serve his country. Thanks to his dedication and sacrifice, the rest of us have the ability to chase our dreams, our goals, and our own motivations. We all owe a significant debt of gratitude to people like Mr. Busch, a debt that the majority of us cannot easily repay. His decision to serve his country as a Vassar graduate makes me even more proud of the institution that provided his collegiate education.

Christopher Shustak ’83
Holden, Massachusetts