Apr 23, 2024  
Catalogue 2024-2025 
    
Catalogue 2024-2025

Learning & Living at Vassar



A Community of Special Character

Vassar College seeks to sustain a community of special character in which people of divergent views and backgrounds come together to study and live in the proud tradition of a residential liberal arts college. Vassar students, working closely with the faculty, enjoy the freedom to explore their intellectual and artistic passions, to develop their powers of reason and imagination through the process of analysis and synthesis, to effectively express their unique points of view, to challenge and rethink their own and others’ assumptions, and to struggle with complex questions that sometimes reveal conflicting truths. The lifelong love of learning, increased knowledge of oneself and others, humane concern for society and the world, and commitment to an examined and evolving set of values established at Vassar prepares and compels our graduates to actively participate in the local, national, and global communities with a profound understanding of social and political contexts.

As Vassar seeks to educate the individual imagination to see into the lives of others, its academic mission cannot be separated from its identity as a residential community comprising diverse interests and perspectives. The college expects its students to be mindful of their responsibilities to one another and to engage actively in the creation of a community of intellectual freedom, mutually understood dignity, and civil discourse. The embodiment of this commitment is the book of matriculation, which all new students sign as they agree to uphold the letter and spirit of college regulations, to adhere to the values espoused in the college’s mission statement, and to preserve the integrity of the institution.

Faculty

Assisting students to realize these goals is a faculty of more than 300 individuals, all of whom hold advanced degrees from major universities in this country and abroad. In their devotion to the teaching of undergraduates and in their concern with the needs and capabilities of the individual student, they carry on Vassar’s strongest and most distinctive emphases, including encouraging students to assume responsibility for the direction of their education.

Accreditation

Vassar College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Curriculum

The Vassar curriculum has always been characterized by boldness, breadth, and flexibility. The “Intensives,” introduced in 2019, are the newest initiative a long tradition of long curricular innovation. Vassar was among the first colleges to offer courses in drama, psychology, and Russian, the first to offer an undergraduate degree in cognitive science, and among the first to experiment with interdepartmental courses in the early 20th century. Today, the curriculum is broader, richer, and more varied than ever, with an increasing emphasis on a multidisciplinary approach to intellectual inquiry. The formal curriculum is enriched by an annual events schedule that includes prominent visitors coming to campus for lectures and residencies, art exhibitions, plays, concerts, and symposia.

The general curricular requirements are flexible: each student must fulfill the First-Year Writing Seminar requirement, the Quantitative Course requirement, and the Foreign Language Proficiency requirement. In addition to these general requirements, students must fulfill the specific requirements of their major in their choice of a department, an interdepartmental program (such as biochemistry or geography/anthropology), or a multidisciplinary program (such as urban studies or American studies).

The Advising System

Vassar students have formal and informal advisors who encourage and assist them in thinking deeply about their life goals and interests, planning their course of study, and locating and accessing campus resources. Entering students are assigned to faculty pre-major advisors until they declare an area of concentration (typically in the sophomore year), at which time they choose a major advisor from their department or program. Students may also seek advice on any matter from the dean of studies, the dean of first-year students, or their class advisor. In addition, department chairs and program directors are available to answer questions about their courses and majors. Typically, they will also consult with individual faculty members, including the house fellows, for informal advice. The associated dean of the college for residential life and wellness, director of residential life, and house advisors provide advice on nonacademic matters.

Community-Engaged Learning

Community Engaged Learning (CEL) is a community-based educational opportunity aimed to enhance learning through employing pedagogical strategies of structured critical reflection, dialogic engagement, integration of academic learning goals, and connection to clearly articulated community-desired outcomes and impact. In the CEL experience, students learn more about social issues, work alongside community partners, combine their off-campus learning with guided reflection under the mentorship of a faculty sponsor, and participate in critical community-engaged learning on-campus workshops. Students are eligible to receive either 0.5 unit (40 hours of community-based work and 30 hours of academic work) or 1.0 unit of academic credit (80 hours of community-based work and 60 hours of academic work) in the department of their faculty sponsor. All CEL is ungraded (Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory) and can be done during the academic year or in the summer. CEL is open to second semester first years, sophomores, juniors, and seniors.

The Learning, Teaching, and Research Center

The Learning, Teaching and Research Center (LTRC), located in the Library, is comprised of the programs offered by the Director of Inclusive Pedagogy for Engaged Pluralism, the Director of the Writing Center, the Director of the Center for Quantitative Reasoning, and the Faculty Directors of Teaching and Research Development, in consultation with the Associate Dean of the Faculty and Dean of the Faculty. Together, they offer a coordinated set of activities—workshops, programs, lectures, small group consultations—that seek to bind the values of equity, inclusion, and belonging within the ongoing work of deepening faculty and student capacity for effective teaching and transformative learning. 

The LTRC connects students and faculty with one another across disciplines, recognizing that both students and teachers are involved in learning, leading, and scholarship. The center’s mission includes helping students realize their academic potential and achieve their educational goals as well as supporting faculty in their professional development. To that end, the LTRC houses thriving peer-tutoring programs in writing, in quantitative reasoning, and in core academic skills. LTRC staff also design and lead faculty development seminars informed by their work with students, and encourage faculty to see how their research informs their teaching and vice versa.

The LTRC houses the Writing Center, which is staffed by peer consultants who are trained to work with students on a wide range of written work from research papers to critical essays, lab reports, or creative pieces, and at every stage of the writing process from rough draft to final revision. The Quantitative Reasoning Center offers an alternative learning site for students enrolled in courses that fulfill the Quantitative Analysis requirement. Supplemental Instruction (SI) program provides weekly peer-facilitated study sessions for specific courses in mathematics, chemistry, and physics. A team of peer academic coaches, coordinated and supported by the Director of Inclusive Pedagogy, offer workshops and one-on-one consultation to support students interested in strengthening  core study skills such as close reading, note taking, and time management. The LTRC also houses the Student Teacher Engaged Pedagogical Partnership (STEPP), a pedagogical partnership program that centers intentional dialogue about teaching practices in a semester-long faculty-student collaboration.

The LTRC also works closely with the Office of Accessibility and Educational Opportunity, the Director of Engaged Pluralism, the librarians, and Academic Computing Services on programming for both faculty and students.

The LTRC provides a variety of services for faculty, including formal and informal workshops and discussions throughout the year and also sponsors campus-wide programs and lectures. 

Pre-Health Advising

The Pre-Health Advisor, located in the Center for Career Education, works with students and alums seeking admission to schools in the
health professions (medical, dental, etc.) Students and alums are encouraged to meet with the Pre-Health Advisor and consult the available materials relative to their interests.

Fellowships

A variety of fellowships can support both students and alums in their pursuit of meaningful summer and post-graduate experiences. Students interested in learning more about both Vassar fellowships as well as nationally competitive fellowships (Fulbright, Rhodes, Marshall, etc.) should consult the Fellowships Advisor located in the Center for Career Education.

Career Education

The Center for Career Education (CCE), located on the first floor of Main Building, south wing, S-170, supports students as they explore their interests, define their career goals, and seek their next opportunity for personal growth and professional development. The CCE houses a variety of resources for locating summer and postgraduate opportunities and making connections between your college experience and the world of work. Our services and programs focus on the following areas:

  • Supporting career exploration and self-assessment (defining your interests, skills, values, and goals)

  • Educating about internship and job search documents, processes and strategies

  • Providing resources for locating (and funding) internships and summer jobs, as well as post-graduate opportunities

  • Creating opportunities for students to engage with alumnae/i for career connections and mentorship

  • Supporting the graduate school/law school research and application process

Because life-work planning is a continual process, we offer assistance throughout your college years as well as after you graduate. We encourage students to engage with the Center for Career Education early and often during their time at Vassar. Whether you are thinking about a summer internship, deciding on a major, or simply exploring options to gain experience, you can use the CCE’s staff, resources, and extensive network of alums to assist with your plans. Check out Handshake, the CCE’s internship/job database and event calendar.  

For more information, visit the Career Education Website or email the Career Education Office.  

Student Growth and Engagement

Student Growth & Engagement (SGE) fosters inclusive learning and living environments as integral components of a liberal arts education for Vassar students. SGE facilitates efforts to promote an environment that helps all students thrive and with particular attention to those served by affinity resources such as: Summer
Engagement and Orientation, the ALANA Center, Office of International Services (OIS), the LGBTQ+ Center, the Women’s Center, and the FLI Program.

SGE proactively designs and implements student engagement opportunities, which guide intellectual and personal development, to ease the transition to
college and promote belonging for all students at Vassar. The Dean of SGE is also one of the chairs of New Student Orientation. The SGE student lounge, study area and office are located in Main C110. Please reach out to Dean Wendy Maragh TaylorAssociate Dean of the College for Student Growth & Engagement, for more information and Brenda Vasquez-Tavarez, SGE Office Specialist.                                                                           

The Jeh Johnson ALANA Cultural Center provides myriad resources and programs to enhance the campus life and academic experiences of African-American/Black, Latinx, Asian/Asian-American, and Native American and Indigenous students. The center provides a comfortable gathering space for student organizations that support students of color and offers opportunities for leadership development, intra-cultural and cross-cultural dialogues, community-building,  lectures, and heritage month programs. The center, a freestanding building adjacent to the Powerhouse Theater, also catalogs cultural journals/newsletters, educational videos, career development, scholarship and fellowship information. Please reach out to Nicole BeveridgeDirector of the ALANA Cultural Center, for more information and Amanda Cora, Program Manager of the ALANA Cultural Center.

The Office of International Services (OIS) offers a full range of resources for international students and scholars, including advice and assistance in visa, immigration, tax, employment, cultural and general matters. The office, located in College Center 238, supports international students in adjusting to and embracing a new culture and also works to involve and engage all members of the campus community in events, workshops, and other opportunities to share the wealth of global perspectives and experiences. The OIS Lounge, College Center 237, provides a space of belonging and engagement.  For more information, please reach out to Andrew MeadeDirector of International Services and  Yousra Khan, OIS Office Specialist.                                    

The LGBTQ and Gender Resources Office oversees the LGBTQ+ resources. The LGBTQ+ Center, located in College Center 213, is a place for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, and ally students to relax, socialize and learn. The Center hosts discussions, lectures, social events; provides meeting space for various student organizations; and has a robust library of LGBTQ+ related books. Please reach out to Julian Vela, Director of LGBTQ and Gender Resources, for more information.                                                  

The Women’s Center works to support, celebrate, and empower all individuals who identify as women, as well as supporters of gender equity and justice. The Center offers programming on various components of gender equity, leadership, empowerment, and health, in addition to community dinners and engaging social
events. Located in College Center 235, the Women’s Center provides students with necessary resources for their own growth including information and items pertaining to women’s health and wellness, a library, and educational pamphlets about local and national gender resources. The Center offers a safe space for students to relax, study, and gather with friends. Please reach out to Christine Stuart, Interim Assistant Director of the Women’s Center, for more information: cstuart@vassar.edu.

The FLI Program serves as a support for first generation, low income and/or undocumented students at the College from matriculation through graduation. The Program hosts events andworkshops, fosters faculty relationships, builds community and helps students navigate the college landscape. Many participants begin their FLI involvement in the week before orientation, during the program’s Foundations Week, but a student who identifies as first generation, low income and/or undocumented can choose to engage with the Program at any time throughout their Vassar career. The FLI Office is located in Main C110 and the FLI Living Room (student lounge) is located in Josselyn House on the 2nd floor, through the Multipurpose Room in 234. Please reach out to Michelle Quock, Director of the FLI Program, for more information. For more information about Student Growth & Engagement please visit https://studentengagement.vassar.edu/

For more information about Student Growth & Engagement please visit the website.                                              

The Office of Religious and Spiritual Life and Contemplative Practices oversees, advises, and supports a wide range of religious and civic communities and initiatives on campus and plays an important role as a college liaison to the mid-Hudson Valley community. Staff members are available for pastoral counseling and spiritual guidance for any concern or question students may have. The director for Jewish student life and part-time affiliate advisors serve the Jewish, Episcopal, Roman Catholic, and InterVarsity communities on campus. A faculty advisor volunteers to support our Buddist Sangha. We are located in the Chapel tower, as well as at the Bayit, Vassar’s home for Jewish campus life, at 51 Collegeview Avenue, and provide programming and support for 11 different student religious groups at Vassar.

Student Employment

The Student Employment office assists students in finding jobs in the Vassar community both on campus as well as through the off-campus Community Service Work-Study (CSWS) program. Students with a work study award have priority consideration for campus jobs for the first month of each semester. There is a wide range of opportunities, and many departments rely upon student workers to support the numerous tasks that ensure the successful daily operation of Vassar College. Student Employment helps employ approximately 1,600 students during the academic year and offers a limited number of winter, spring, and summer break positions to eligible students.

For the most up to date information on current policies please visit https://offices.vassar.edu/student-employment/

Counseling Service

The Counseling Service provides a variety of services to help students and the campus community handle the challenges associated with academics, college life, and personal development. Services include short-term individual, couple, and group counseling, walk-in-clinic same day appointments, workshops, crisis intervention, educational programs, consultation, assessment, and referral to off-campus services. Services are free for students. The Counseling Service welcomes all students and embraces a philosophy of diversity.

Counselors are trained mental health professionals who work with students to explore personal problems and concerns in a secure and private setting. Students come to the Counseling Service for a variety of reasons, including relationship problems with parents, peers, or partners; depression; anxiety; alcohol and other drug use and abuse; coming out and transition issues; campus climate concerns; identity concerns; stress; concerns about academic progress or direction; or assistance in planning for the future.

Counselors at times refer students to resources outside of the Vassar community depending on the needs of the student and the limitations of the Counseling Service. Students referred for treatment off campus may use their health insurance to defray the cost. Off-campus services are the responsibility of the student and/or the student’s family. Students from low-income backgrounds can access the Mental Health and Wellness Fund through the CARE Office to assist in paying for off-campus appointment co-payments.

The Counseling Service’s consulting psychiatrist is available for limited psychiatric services for students who are receiving counseling at the Counseling Service, by referral from a counselor. If continuing psychiatric services are required, a referral is made to a private off campus psychiatrist.

Confidentiality is of the highest priority at the Counseling Service and is strictly maintained within specific legal limits. Counseling records are separate from academic and medical records at the college and are not available to college offices outside of the Counseling Service. Since email is not a secure medium and confidentiality of email cannot be guaranteed, the Counseling Service recommends that you consider this when communicating about matters of a personal or confidential nature.

Please also refer to the Counseling Service website https://offices.vassar.edu/counseling-service/ for additional information and for self help resources.

The Counseling Service, located in Metcalf House, is open Monday through Friday, 9:00 am–5:00 pm during the academic year and closes during breaks and the summer. Call 845-437-5700 to schedule an appointment.

If you are in crisis during office hours, call 845-437-5700 and explain that you need to speak to a counselor urgently. A counselor-on-call is also available 24/7 for counseling support and crisis intervention and can be accessed by calling the Campus Response Center at 845-437-7333 and requesting to be connected with the counselor-on-call.

Health Service

The Health Service addresses the health concerns of students, staff and faculty and provides care for acute illnesses and injuries as well as continuity of care for chronic conditions. Services are rendered during regular business hours by physician assistants and nurse practitioners under the direction of a supervising physician. During the hours the Health Service is closed, a member of the medical staff is on call to attend to acute concerns. In an emergency, students should contact the Campus Response Center 845-437-7333 (extension 7333 from a campus phone) to dispatch the Vassar College Emergency Medical Technician, Vassar Emergency Medical Services (VCEMS) and local community emergency responders as appropriate.

A health fee covers the cost of most medical visits on campus. Students must be covered by the Vassar Student Health Insurance plan or an equivalent health insurance policy to cover off-campus medical services including, but not limited to, hospitalization and/or surgery, specialist consultations, emergency room visits, ambulance transport, laboratory work, imaging studies, and prescription medications.

Newly enrolled students are required to submit the following to the Health Service department via the patient portal prior to attending college: a medical history form, medical treatment consent, tuberculosis self-screening form, immunization record and physical examination documentation. In addition, proof of immunization against measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) and the signing of a meningitis response form are both mandatory New York State requirements. Vassar College strongly recommends the COVID-19 primary vaccine series and a bivalent COVID booster vaccine. The following immunizations are not required, but are also strongly recommended: polio, tetanus, hepatitis B, varicella, meningitis ACWY and meningitis B, and HPV.  Religious and medical exemptions are accepted in lieu of vaccination. Students are encouraged to update their medical information yearly utilizing the Returning Student Medical Updates form also found under the “forms” icon on the patient portal.

Health Promotion and Education

The Office of Health Promotion and Education, is staffed by the Director, the Health Educator/Program Coordinator and several student wellness peer educators. Health Promotion and Education reflects Vassar College’s commitment to holistic support of health and wellness-by following three guiding principles: education, outreach, and prevention. Health Promotion and Education strives to help Vassar students make choices that sustain and enhance their health, prevent disease and reduce risk behaviors. This is done via educational programs related to various aspects of student health; through outreach aimed at facilitating connections between student health needs and services provided by the college; and by prevention through leadership, consultations, and referrals.

Sexual Assault Violence Prevention

Vassar College is committed to ensuring the safety and well being of its entire community. The Sexual Assault and Violence Prevention (SAVP) program, housed in the Office of Health Promotion and Education, coordinates student and faculty interests around issues of sexual assault, stalking, and violence in order to increase awareness of issues of violence against women, establishes campus-wide policies and protocols around these issues, and works with campus and community resources to prevent further incidences of violence.

The SAVP coordinator and the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART), composed of faculty, staff, and administrator volunteers, provide support, advocacy, and information for victims of sexual assault, relationship abuse, and stalking.

Accessibility and Educational Opportunity

Recognizing the diversity and individualized needs of Vassar’s student population in the context of the college’s commitment to inclusion, the Office for Accessibility and Educational Opportunity (AEO) provides support and resources for students diagnosed with learning differences (including ADHD), psychological disorders, chronic health conditions, mobility or orthopedic impairments, sensory impairments, and substance abuse/recovery needs. The office coordinates accommodations for academic courses, residential life, meal plans, college-sponsored extracurricular activities, and college jobs.

Students with known disabilities are encouraged to contact the AEO directly prior to or upon admission. To receive any disability-related academic or residential life accommodations, modifications, auxiliary aids, or academic services, students must first self-identify to the AEO and provide appropriate documentation of their disability or disabilities. All accommodation and service decisions are based on the nature of the student’s disability, supporting documentation, and current needs as they relate to the specific requirements of the course, program, or activity.  Students may wish to consult the AEO to explore eligibility for accommodations and services when learning, attention, medical and/or psychological challenges emerge during a particular semester. Commonly offered accommodations and support services include exam accommodations (e.g., extended time, use of a computer, lower distraction environment, etc.), access to assistive technology, alternative print formats, notetaker services, modified course load, sign language interpreters, remote closed captioning, and housing and meal plan modifications.

Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action

The Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EOAA) is responsible for monitoring the college’s compliance with federal and state nondiscrimination laws and for investigating complaints of discrimination, harassment, and gender based discrimination, including sexual harassment, in accordance with the college’s Policy Against Discrimination and Harassment. The EOAA office also offers a variety of educational programs for faculty, students, and employees including small group discussions for new faculty, workshops tailored to any group’s specific needs on creating a respectful working and learning environment free from discrimination and harassment, and other educational programs such as responding to bias incidents and hate crimes on college campuses.

In addition to helping address concerns of alleged discrimination, harassment, and sexual harassment through a variety of informal resolution mechanisms, the office conducts investigations and oversees formal grievance and hearing procedures. The procedures used to handle discrimination and harassment concerns are described in the College Regulations, Administrative Handbook, and Faculty Handbook, and may involve informal mechanisms of redress or resolution through a formal grievance hearing. Individuals who wish to report a concern, seek guidance, file a formal grievance, or request training or other assistance may do so by contacting the director of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action and/or the faculty director of Affirmative Action. The director of equal opportunity is a designated Title IX Officer for the college. Discussing a concern with an EOAA officer does not commit one to making a formal charge.

Campus Safety

The Campus Safety Office is available to provide support and safety services to the campus community 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

Safety Officers patrol campus and staff the Campus Response Center (CRC), a dispatch center located just inside the front entrance of Main Building. Call (845) 437-7333 any time of the day or night for emergency assistance or (845) 437-5221 for non-emergency matters. Emergency Blue Light phones are located throughout campus and can be used for contacting Campus Safety.

Call the CRC if you are in need of the Vassar Health Service EMT, an ambulance, the fire department, the Residential Living and Wellness Administrator on Call, the after-hours Counselor on Call services, or other emergency services.

Safety Officers also operate a Campus Safety Shuttle during the evening hours. The shuttle circles through the campus into the early morning hours. Visit Escort and Shuttle Services to see the shuttle stops and hours of operation.  

Other routine services that are provided by the Campus Safety Office include parking/vehicle registrationbicycle registrationticket appeals, and vehicle requests for activities sponsored by the College that are within a 90-mile radius of campus. Forms for these services can be found on the Campus Safety Office Forms page. 

To stay informed and receive Timely Warning Notices sent out from the Campus Safety Office, confirm your cell phone is on file with the College. To update your cell phone number, students should email registrar@vassar.edu and employees should update their contact information in Workday.

Campus Response Center (CRC)

Emergencies (24/7)
Call (845) 437-7333

Non-Emergency (24/7)
Call (845) 437-5221

Campus Safety Business Office

Hours
M-F 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.

2500 New Hackensack Road
Across from the Farm