News & Features

Vassar Historian Elizabeth Daniels Honored for 65 Years of Service

Watch a YNN video about Daniels and her 65 years at Vassar
Watch a YNN video about Daniels and her 65 years at Vassar

Vassar celebrated a host of employment anniversaries in late April, but only one member of the Vassar community could say she had worked at the college for 65 years—Elizabeth “Betty” Daniels ’41.

Daniels has been a member of the Vassar community for almost half of the college’s history and has filled almost every conceivable role—student, teacher, administrator, parent of a student, and historian. She taught generations of Vassar students, after being appointed instructor of English in 1947, then rose through the ranks to become the Helen D. Lockwood Chair, then dean of freshmen, dean of studies, acting dean of the faculty, and twice-chair of the English Department.

She has served on or chaired virtually every college committee, including the Committee on Alternatives, which ushered in coeducation. In 1985—at the age of 65—Daniels retired from teaching (for just one weekend) then returned to serve as Vassar historian, a position she’s held ever since. In that role, the retirement-averse Daniels has preserved, celebrated, and shared the history of the college through such vehicles as the online Vassar Encyclopedia, which she launched during the 2003-2004 academic year.

The role of historian seems particularly suited to Daniels, who has been a witness to so much of the college’s history.  As President Catharine Hill says in the YNN news report, above, on Daniels’s milestone: "She's a part of who we are and I think we're a part of who she is.”

Posted Wednesday, April 25, 2012