Monday, April 29, 2013

Matthew Vassar

Born this day in 1792: Matthew Vassar (1792–1868), founder of Vassar College

Today we give the nod to Matthew Vassar, lest we forget the men who have proved to be more than a product of their time, place, race, and class and have helped to advance the cause of women. At the urging of his niece, Lydia Booth, Vassar donated half of his fortune and 200 acres of land for the establishment of a college for women to rival the leading educational institutions of the day.

Notable Vassar alumnae:
• Edna St. Vincent Millay (1917), the first woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry
• Ellen Swallow Richards (1870), environmental pioneer and the first woman to teach at MIT
• Helen C. Putnam (1878), the first woman gynecologist
• Bernadine Healy (1965), cardiologist, the first woman to head the National Institutes of Health
• Vicki Miles-LaGrange (1974), the first African-American woman sworn in as a United States Attorney

Notable instructors:
• Rear Admiral Grace Hopper (1928), a pioneer computer scientist, taught at Vassar before joining the U.S. Naval Reserves
• Maria Mitchell, astronomer, one of the original faculty members at Vassar, was the first woman to be elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

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