Vassar Quarterly - Spring 2018 - 10
ove-in Day at Vassar College is a joyous affair
for new arrivals, and Elizabeth Bradley was no
exception this past September.
For Vassar's 11th president, the significance
of joining thousands of new and existing students
as an on-campus resident cannot be overstated. Embracing the
longstanding tradition of the college's presidents living on campus,
Bradley was eager to implement her philosophy of inclusiveness and
shared experiences, stemming from her days as Head of Branford
College at Yale, where she and her family lived alongside students
and were a vital part of campus life.
As a key tenet of this philosophy, she has made her new home,
the President's House, truly an open house. She has established
office hours at her home every Sunday evening between 7:30pm and
10:30pm, for example; anyone can make an appointment to come
by and talk about anything at all.
Having an open-door policy required, ironically, a closer look at
her new home's doors ... and ceilings and windows, and so on. The
majestic President's House, built in 1895 and renovated more than a
half-century ago, was long overdue for another renovation; architectural
features under review included the terrace, a ceiling in the entryway
that was collapsing from water damage, windows that had not
opened for a decade, rotted steel and brick above the garage, and the
need to make the first floor and the main bathroom accessible to all.
Thanks to a generous alumnae/i donation that funded the
renovation, and the efforts of a hardworking team who completed it in
record time, the President's House has become a focal point of campus
life. The house is truly a home for all, busy and alive at all times.
Bradley hosts events large and small, such
as an impromptu hot chocolate and cookie
party during a recent snowstorm or the
intimate President's Teas featuring thoughtprovoking speakers. She even hosted a
welcome party for the entire student body,
complete with a cappella entertainment.
A commitment to bringing students
together also led Bradley to request that the
terrace be expanded to accommodate more
guests and that a walkway be constructed
alongside the President's House, so that
students and others can use the most direct
route to the Bridge building.
"I enjoy our new house, but what makes
it feel like home is not the new wallpaper and
windows but rather the presence of students,
faculty, and staff who come visit and share
their stories and hopes for Vassar and our
community," says Bradley. "I am looking
forward to many more parties, events, and
dinners at the house to enjoy our community
together." -Alison Hendrie
Karl rabe, except Inauguration by John Abbott and construction crew, courtesy of E. Bradley
Policy for the