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Sunday, May 26, 2019
Back to Ceremony

By Jonathan L. Chenette, Dean of the Faculty

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 decades on this campus as for those who have spent an intense 4 years. I share brief tributes to two superb 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 both have been recognized.

Kathy Wildberger, Senior Lecturer in Dance & Drama
Watching on Live Stream in Montana

Kathy Wildberger studied modern dance at the Juilliard School, joined the Toronto Dance Theater, and founded and directed for 11 years her own modern dance troupe, PATH, in Baltimore. Since arriving at Vassar in 1999, she has taught modern dance and served as Assistant director of the Vassar Repertory Dance Theater, helping with choreography, overseeing costuming, and creating her own new dances for the students each year. She has also taught annually a course in the Drama Department on “Movement for Actors”. Her goal is always to help her students move beyond what is in their heads and to become fully physical in their bodies—to turn their bodies into instruments. Kathy is also a founding member of Vassar’s Native American Studies correlate (or minor.) In recent years, she has spent her summers in Montana on the Salish Kootenai Native American Reservation working with children to create and tell stories through dance, script, and body percussion.

Kathy, thank you for the grace, beauty, and power of motion you have nurtured and demonstrated in the studio and on stage in your work with our students over the past two decades.

Roberta Antognini, Associate Professor of Italian
(seated with the faculty)

Roberta came to Vassar in the fall of 1997 to teach one course, returned two years later as a full time visitor, and started on the tenure track in 2002. Born in the Italian part of Switzerland, she received her BA in Italian Literature from the Catholic University in Milan and her PhD from NYU. She published a book on Petrarch's collection of letters known as the Epistolae familiars, and then turned from the 14th century to the 20th, publishing a co-edited volume on the novelist and intellectual Giorgio Bassani. Roberta describes herself as having had “a long love affair with literary translation.” She teaches the art of translation and has published a translation of an 86-poem sequence by poet Amelia Rosselli.

Roberta served as Resident Director of Vassar’s consortial education abroad program in Bologna, Italy, five times and chaired her department once. A very successful teacher, she is known to be constantly in motion in her classroom, sweeping students up in her energy and joyful language learning.

Roberta, for over twenty years you have helped Vassar students hone their expression and cultivate a lifelong appreciation for the Italian language, literature, and culture. Con stima e affetto, ti ringraziamo… with esteem and affection, we thank you.

Will Roberta remain standing and Kathy rise as you watch the live stream.

The two of you have completed a combined 41 years of service to Vassar College, and we will truly miss you. Thank you for sharing your passion for Italian and your love of dance with our students. Graduates and attendees, please join me in expressing our gratitude.