President-elect Elizabeth Howe Bradley had been approached by several colleges and universities over the past few years to consider a leadership role. But she wasn’t tempted, she said, until her current opportunity arose.
It just felt right, she told the audience gathered for her first official introduction to the Vassar community in the Students’ Building on January 31.
“I was waiting for an organization that captured what I really believed in, that had the culture and mission that I wanted to commit hours and hours of time to,” she told students, faculty members, and administrators.
What impressed her, Bradley said, was Vassar’s students, who “question everything ... and never take yes or no for an answer”; the shared governance of the faculty that allows the institution to “lead with education”; and the “deeply held values of diversity” upon which the college was founded.
The latter, she said, “is the central question of our time. How do we get this diverse group and really make it inclusive, so people can be individuals and they can also be a community that feels stronger because they are together in their difference?”
Bradley was introduced by Anthony Friscia ’78 P’15 and Geraldine Bond Laybourne ’69 P’93, who co-chaired the Presidential Search Committee. And in a surprise gesture, the Vassar College Choir and Women’s Chorus serenaded Bradley with Afternoon on a Hill by composer Eric Barnum, set to poetry by Edna St. Vincent Millay, class of 1917. Christine Howlett, Director of Choral Activities, directed the performance and Susan Brown accompanied the performers on piano.
The next day, Bradley met with an array of campus constituents, including administrators, faculty members, and students. Her tenure at Vassar begins on July 1 of this year.