What troubled me at Wellesley in the late 1950s was the incredible emphasis on social life and the push to find a man. That may have been reflective of a national mood among women, just on the cusp of feminism, but it was hard on those of us who knew we wanted to do something much more meaningful than just get married, but were unsure what that meaningful thing might be, or become. I've often quoted the inspiring comments of Dean Frisch at our first freshman convocation speaking of her own emotions when first stepping through the gates of Heidelberg University. Then I contrast that with our graduation speaker (class of 1959) who said to us (I paraphrase) the nation should be grateful for WC because "an educated woman means an educated family." So much for Heidelberg and the great German tradition of learning!

So for many years, although I often reflected back on various teachers, especially in the English and Bible departments, and what they had offered us (what a selection just of poets: Richard Wilbur, David Russell Ferry, Philip Booth, among the leading poets of their day and today as well), I was almost half-embarrassed about attending a school that seemed geared mostly toward awarding what we called an MRS degree. It took me a while, maybe about 10 years, before I woke up to the fact that all around me, whenever I met smart women, it seemed as though they too were graduates of that same institution.

I don't think I was blind as an undergraduate to the considerable virtues of the institution, but I do think the emphasis on marriage as a goal among the student body at that time was overwhelming. And disturbing for those of us who didn't share it. (What's wrong with me that I want to travel and see the world and not necessarily with a husband in tow?) So I went out from the Kings of Israel, and from Shakespeare, Milton, and Donne, well educated, ready for anything, inspired by professors like Mr. Denbeaux in Bible and Mr. Quinn (Moby Dick!) in English, but awfully glad to shake myself loose from the relentless pursuit of an MRS.