Vassar College

Vassar was one of the first of the Seven Sisters. It was founded by its namesake, brewer Matthew Vassar, in 1861 in the Hudson Valley, about 70 mi (115 km) north of New York City. The first person appointed to the Vassar faculty was the astronomer Maria Mitchell, in 1865. Vassar adopted coeducation in 1969 after Vassar’s trustees declined an offer to merge with Yale University. However, immediately following World War II, Vassar accepted a very small number of male students on the G.I. Bill. Because Vassar’s charter prohibited male matriculants, the graduates were given diplomas via the University of the State of New York. These were reissued under the Vassar title after the school formally became co-ed.[4]

Vassar’s campus, also an arboretum,[6] is 1,000 acres (4 km²) marked by period and modern buildings. The great majority of students live on campus. The renovated library has unusually large holdings for a college of its size. It includes special collections of Albert EinsteinMary McCarthy, and Elizabeth Bishop.

In its early years, Vassar was associated with the social elite of the Protestant establishment. E. Digby Baltzell writes that “upper-class WASP families … educated their children at … colleges such as HarvardPrincetonYale, and Vassar.”[7] Before becoming President of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a Trustee.[8]

In recent freshman classes, minority students have comprised up to 27% of matriculants. International students from over 45 countries comprise 8% of the student body. In May 2007, falling in with its commitment to diverse and equitable education, Vassar returned to a need-blind admissions policy wherein students are admitted by their academic and personal qualities, without regard to financial status.

Roughly 2,400 students attend Vassar. About 60% come from public high schools, and 40% come from private schools (both independent and religious). The overall female-to-male ratio is about 60:40, slightly above the standard for a liberal arts college. More than 85% of graduates pursue advanced study within five years of graduation. They are taught by more than 270 faculty members, virtually all of whom hold terminal degrees in their fields.

Vassar president Frances D. Fergusson served for two decades. She retired in the spring of 2006, and was succeeded by Catharine Bond Hill, former provost at Williams College.  (Source: Wikipedia)

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