Stories including Benjamin Kohl

Faculty Members

My most vivid and treasured memories of Vassar all revolve around faculty members:

1. Christine Havelock taking the stage for the first session of Art 105:  the only word to describe her bearing is regal, with her perfect posture and her professorial hairdo (swept up in a bun). And then the lights went down and the magic began. I came to Vassar intending to major in English, and I took Art 105/106 because everyone I spoke to told me that I shouldn’t graduate from Vassar without taking it. So I registered for it as a freshman, and by the end of the year I had decided to major in Art History. Mrs. Havelock (we called all the professors “Mr. ” and “Mrs./Miss” in those days—when did that practice end? My daughter, class of 2012, calls them all “Professor”), followed by Mr. Huenik, Mr. Carroll, Miss Askew, Mr. Palmer, Ms. Nochlin—the lectures were mesmerizing, and brilliant, the images (some of which were on glass slides!!) were a revelation, and I was hooked.

2. Benjamin Kohl, who made Renaissance and medieval history come alive, who told us that his children played “Guelphs and Ghibellines” instead of “cowboys and indians”, and who responded to spontaneous applause after one of his lectures with the most acute embarrassment. Speaking of which, I remember many times when such applause erupted in a classroom after a lecture, particularly in Art 105/106. I wonder how often that happens at other colleges and universities—my guess is rarely.

3.  John Glasse in the Religion Department—a class with a total enrollment of four students, meeting in his office in Blodgett, discussing St. Augustine as the sunlight streamed through the leaded glass windows and warmed the room—a quintessential Vassar experience.

What a life-changing, mind-opening privilege it was to spend four years exploring questions large and small in such a vibrant and warm intellectual community.

View more posts ↓