January 2, 2011

Cappy Talks Sciences And Legacy In New Interview

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You've probably never picked up a copy of Chronogram, the Hudson Valley arts and culture magazine that is sometimes available by the entrance to Main. But it may be worth taking a look at the current issue, which features an extensive interview with Cappy. Here are some selections, in which she talks about the new science building planned for 2013, her greatest challenges as president, and what she would like her legacy to be.

Cappy on the sciences and the new science building: "[W]e are behind on the sciences. Not in terms of the curriculum, but we’ve got a very charming but outdated physics building that could be used for a Back to the Future movie set. Our chemistry building is not that old but unfortunately has been more or less dysfunctional from the day it opened... [R]ather than just renovate the existing buildings and have them not be adequate for what’s going on in the curriculum, we have a new plan that renovates some of them and adds an exciting new building. This new building will literally form a bridge between parts of our campus and connect to our existing biology building, Olmsted Hall."

 On Vassar's commitment to financial aid: "We’re not like a car dealership looking to make a profit. We are doing something in the public interest, educating the most interesting, brightest students who can qualify to get in. I think it’s part of the country’s commitment to equal opportunity. If you’re a smart kid, you should have the opportunity to go to the best school you can possibly attend, regardless of your family’s ability to pay."

On her greatest challenge since becoming president, the economy: "It had been a pretty good couple of decades, so there weren’t a lot of people out there who remembered bad times and making hard decisions. It had really been an environment of 'What are we going to add?' as opposed to 'How are we going to get this all to work out?'"

On her eventual legacy: "I’m hoping I can really solidify the institution’s commitment to a diverse student body from all different backgrounds...Part of the magic of the place is the place itself, our physical campus. Vassar’s previous president did a wonderful job of getting through much of what needed to be renovated. I see the sciences as the piece I hope to get done for future generations."

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