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Dean of the Faculty

Sunday, May 27, 2018
Back to Ceremony

By Jonathan L. Chenette

Thank you, President Bradley.

Commencement is a day of transition for more than just our graduating seniors. Some members of Vassar’s faculty complete their long tenure of service to the College today and move on to a new phase. This transition can be similarly significant for those who have spent as many as 5 decades on this campus as for those who have spent an intense 4 years. I share brief tributes to seven distinguished faculty members marking their retirement transitions today, representing the many distinguished faculty who have touched the lives of today’s graduates. Please hold your applause until all have been recognized.

Nicholas Adams, Professor of Art

On the Mary Conover Mellon Chair

In Absentia

Nick came to Vassar in 1989, after undergraduate studies at Cornell, master’s and PhD degrees from NYU, and 11 years as a faculty member at Lehigh University. His early books focus on Renaissance architecture, fortifications, and weaponry, but later he shifted to writing about modernist architects in the U.S. and Scandinavia, such as his definitive book on the influential architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. His teaching and scholarship weave together keen observations about architecture and urban design with a vivid sense of the history and cultural legacy of the cities and buildings under consideration, whether in Siena, Italy, Gothenburg, Sweden, or Buffalo, New York.

Nick, you have helped generations of Vassar students learn to think and write critically about cities, planning, and architecture. For this superb preparation to engage constructively with the places they will live, we thank you.

Jennifer Church, Professor of Philosophy

In the audience

Jennifer received her BA from Macalester College and MA and PhD degrees from the University of Michigan. She came to Vassar in 1982. She is the author of dozens of articles and two books on rationality, the imagination, perception, and consciousness. Her most recent, Possibilities of Perception, offers an account of what it takes to perceive everything from birds and trees to distant galaxies and interpersonal obligations. At Vassar, she has taught such courses as “Philosophy of Music” and “Limits of the Universe and Limits of Understanding.” To sample Jennifer’s insights in bite-size morsels, try her entry at askphilosophers.org, where she answers such quandaries as “Can I hate someone I love?”

Jennifer, thank you for your sharp thinking that has modeled clarity, careful reasoning, and cogent expression for generations of Vassar students.

Todd Crow, Professor of Music

on the George Sherman Dickinson Chair

On Stage

Todd received his BA from UC Santa Barbara and his MS from Juilliard. His Vassar career spans five decades, starting in 1969, our first year of coeducation. Todd’s distinguished career as a pianist has taken him to many of classical music’s most famous concert halls, from Carnegie Hall, to London’s Wigmore Hall, to Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw. His many CD recordings include sonatas of Haydn and Schubert and a set called “Todd Crow: The BBC Recordings,” capturing live radio broadcasts of Mendelssohn, Schumann, and Liszt. Three weeks ago, he presented a memorable performance of Brahms’s Second Piano Concerto, ably supported by the Vassar College Orchestra.

Thank you, Todd, for your gifts of music, your gentleness and humanity, and your nearly-half-century of service to Vassar College.

John Feroe, Professor of Mathematics and Statistics

On Stage

John received his BA from St. Olaf College and his MA and PhD from UC San Diego. He came to Vassar in 1974. He published numerous articles on applied mathematics topics such as modeling nerve axon behavior and pitch perception in music. His natural leadership and inability to say “no” got him elected to major faculty committees, elected to several terms as department chair, and selected for a decade-long appointment as Assistant to the President and Secretary of the Board of Trustees. John served as Secretary to the Presidential Search Committee in 2016–17, supporting the search that led to President Bradley’s appointment.  He served as Assistant to President Bradley during her first months in office. Throughout his career, he has nurtured a love of folk dancing, which now he can enjoy even more.

John, for your Vassar career of scholarship, teaching, and dedicated service, we thank you.

Susan Kuretsky, Professor of Art

On the Sarah Gibson Blanding Chair

On Stage

Susan arrived at Vassar as a student, receiving her BA in 1963. She earned MA and PhD degrees from Harvard, returning here to teach in 1975. A specialist on 17th-century Dutch art, she has authored exhibition catalogues for world-renowned institutions such as the National Gallery in Washington and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Her scholarly articles range from imaginative readings of works by Rembrandt to tracing the origins of modern firefighting in prints by Jan van der Heyden. She has mentored generations of art professionals, one of whom curated the exhibition “Master Class,” currently at Vassar’s FLLAC, in Susan’s honor. Susan also served as the faculty co-chair of Vassar’s sesquicentennial “World Changing” campaign that raised over $430M for the College.

Susan, like your own Vassar mentors, you have given everything you have to this College and your students. We owe you a great debt. Thank you.

Marque-Luisa Miringoff, Professor of Sociology

On Stage

Marque received her BA from SUNY Albany, her MA from Rutgers, and her PhD from the University of Chicago. She came to Vassar in 1976 and has specialized in public health and the sociology of medicine. She is co-founder and director of the Institute for Innovation in Social Policy, devoted to analyzing, publishing, and hosting conferences on social indicators as a guide to social health. Her three books on America’s social health have had widespread influence on policy-makers and scholars. Her courses such as “Health, Medicine, and Public Policy” and “Disaster and Disorder” have helped our students engage critically with a world in which social inequalities all-too-often give rise to health inequalities.

Thank you, Marque, for over four decades of devotion to public health, innovation, and inspiring teaching for Vassar students.

Karen Robertson, Senior Lecturer of English

On stage

Karen received her BA from Barnard and her master’s and PhD from Columbia University. She has taught at Vassar since 1982. Valued as a generous and generative colleague, Karen has co-taught with 21 other faculty members at Vassar, particularly in “Intro to Women’s Studies” but also in the Medieval and Renaissance Studies program, for which she has frequently served as Coordinator. Her three co-edited book publications have focused on sexuality and politics in Renaissance drama. In process is her book on memories and representations of Pocahontas.

Karen, thank you for over three decades of inspiring Vassar students in the study of gender and literature and for being a teacher of teachers to many thankful colleagues.

Will our new emeriti/ae please rise?

The seven of you have completed a combined 279 years of service to Vassar College, and we will truly miss you. Thank you for sharing your intellectual and creative passions with generations of Vassar students. Graduates and attendees, please join me in expressing our gratitude. APPLAUSE