Vassar Quarterly - Spring/Summer 2017 - 5
Professor of Biology Nancy Pokrywka
joined host Chris Duffy on campus this
spring for You're the Expert, a game
show on which three comedians first
try to guess the profession of a mystery
expert, then answer questions about
his or her field. Some have compared
the show-distributed as a podcast-
to NPR's Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me.
Chair of Vassar's Board of Trustees, William Plapinger '74; honoree Jeh Johnson; and President-elect
Humorists Josh Sharp, Obehi Janice,
Vassar and AAAVC Honor Senior
Lecturer Emeritus Jeh Johnson
and Gary Richardson took their chances
with questions about Pokrywka's work
on genetic mechanisms in fruit flies. In
addition to revealing details about the
miniscule insects and their proclivities
(apparently, some like to get drunk),
Pokrywka confessed that she finds
the insects "stunningly beautiful"-
so beautiful she was inspired to get a
From left: Karl Rabe / Yassine El Mansouri
fruit fly tattoo.
Professor Nancy Pokrywka and You're the Expert host,
Chris Duffy, on set in Skinner Hall.
Alumnae/i enamored with art and architecture are likely to remember Jeh Johnson,
a distinguished architect who taught at Vassar from 1964 until 2001. Johnson
practiced in and around the Hudson Valley, but his influence extended far beyond.
He served on numerous national boards and commissions including the National
Commission on Urban Problems-Lyndon Johnson appointed him in 1967. He was
a founding member of the National Organization of Minority Architects and of
the New York Coalition of Black Architects. In 1977, he was elected to the College
of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the highest honor awarded
to practicing architects, and later received a special citation from the New York
Chapter of the AIA recognizing his pioneering work to expand the inclusion of
women and minorities into his profession.
Alumnae/i, faculty, and administrators paid tribute to him at a brunch in
Washington, DC, this April. Karen Clopton '80, Co-chair of African American
Alumnae/i of Vassar College (AAAVC), thanked Johnson for his contributions,
presenting him with a ceremonial Kente cloth. Of the 54 members of AAAVC in
attendance, many remembered Johnson as a welcoming presence for black students
at a time when there were fewer black students and faculty members on campus.
Karen Cox '80 spoke of being an African student far from her home in Liberia.
Frequent social gatherings at Johnson's home in Poughkeepsie made her feel as
though she had a home away from home, she said. She was not alone.
A few of Johnson's colleagues and former students were on hand to pay tribute-
among them his friend and colleague Glen Johnson, Professor Emeritus of Political
Science, who also taught at Vassar for more than 40 years; Karen Van Lengen '73,
the William Kenan Jr. Professor of Architecture at the University of Virginia, who
credited Johnson for stoking her interest in architecture; and Mia Mask, Professor of
Film on the Mary Riepma Ross '32 Chair at Vassar. President-elect Elizabeth Bradley
and Chair of Vassar's Board of Trustees William Plapinger '74 also were there to
honor Johnson. The event was organized by the Office of Regional and International
VA S S A R Q u A R T E R LY