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A Letter from the Dean

To the Class of 2021:

As you begin your first year of college, please reflect on the values of the community you are about to join, as articulated in the Vassar Catalogue:

“Vassar College seeks to sustain a community of special character in which people of divergent views and backgrounds come together to study and live in the proud tradition of a residential liberal arts college. Vassar students, working closely with the faculty, enjoy the freedom to explore their intellectual and artistic passions, to develop their powers of reason and imagination through the process of analysis and synthesis, to effectively express their unique points of view, to challenge and rethink their own and others’ assumptions, and to struggle with complex questions that sometimes reveal conflicting truths. The lifelong love of learning, increased knowledge of oneself and others, humane concern for society and the world, and commitment to an examined and evolving set of values established at Vassar prepares and compels our graduates to actively participate in the local, national, and global communities with a profound understanding of social and political contexts.

“As Vassar seeks to educate the individual imagination to see into the lives of others, its academic mission cannot be separated from its identity as a residential community comprising diverse interests and perspectives. The college expects its students to be mindful of their responsibilities to one another and to engage actively in the creation of a community of intellectual freedom, mutually understood dignity, and civil discourse. The embodiment of this commitment is the book of matriculation, which all new students sign as they agree to uphold the letter and spirit of college regulations, to adhere to the values espoused in the college’s mission statement, and to preserve the integrity of the institution.”

Vassar has set lofty goals with the confidence that our students are both able and eager to embrace the challenge. Each student is given considerable responsibility to design and implement a course of study that aspires to fulfill the ideals espoused in the above statement. Vassar places considerable faith and control in the hands of its students who are expected to find their own way of taking the liberal arts education offered at Vassar and making it inimitably their own.

Given Vassar’s rich and varied curriculum, your education depends on the care with which you plan your academic program. Your course selections should reflect your interests and abilities, but also acknowledge that your first year of study is a time for intellectual adventurousness. We hope that in planning your fall semester courses, especially in working with your pre-major advisor, you keep an open mind, remain flexible, and identify numerous and alternative course options that take advantage of the many possibilities Vassar offers you.

Denise A. Walen
Dean of First-Year Students and Professor of Drama