Frances D. Fergusson

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Frances Daly Fergusson
Frances D. Fergusson, Vassar College, c. 1986.jpg
Fergusson c. 1986
9th President of Vassar College
In office
Preceded byVirginia B. Smith
Succeeded byCatharine Bond Hill
Personal details
Born (1944-10-03) October 3, 1944 (age 75)
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Alma mater
ProfessionArt historian, college president

Frances Daly Fergusson (born October 3, 1944, in Boston) served as president of Vassar College from 1986 to 2006. A graduate of Wellesley College, Fergusson earned her A.M. and Ph.D. in Art History at Harvard University before starting her teaching career at Newton College.[1]


In 1975, she began teaching at University of Massachusetts at Boston, where she later became an assistant chancellor. Fergusson continued her career in academic administration from 1982 until 1986 at Bucknell University, where she served as Provost and Vice President of the university. She left Bucknell to become Vassar's president. Fergusson has published extensively in the field of architectural history, including an award-winning article on the iconography of St. Charles' Church in Vienna.[1]

An avid and effective fundraiser, she raised more than $750 million for Vassar College. Her administration oversaw extensive renovation of the campus, including refurbishment of the library, the creation of a new art center, and construction of a modern drama and film center. Both the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center and the Vogelstein Center for Drama and Film were designed by architect Cesar Pelli.

While serving as Vassar's president, Fergusson also contributed her administrative talents as a member of the Boards of Trustees of the Ford Foundation from (1989–2001) and the Mayo Foundation / Mayo Clinic from 1988 to 2002. She was chair of the board of the Mayo Clinic from 1998 to 2002. She has also served on the boards of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU), the Foreign Policy Association, The Noguchi Museum, WNET/Thirteen, and the Society of Architectural Historians of the United States. She was the president of the Board of Overseers of Harvard University (2007–2008), and is a member of the boards of the Getty Trust, The School of American Ballet, Second Stage Theatre, the National Humanities Council, and The Foundation for Contemporary Arts. In the corporate world, she serves on the boards of Pfizer and Mattel, and was formerly a director of Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, Central Hudson Gas and Electric Corporation and HSBC Bank.[1][2]

On February 16, 2005, Fergusson announced her intention to step down as president of Vassar College after twenty years as head of the institution. Catharine Bond Hill assumed the position of president at the end of the 2005 2006 academic year.[3]

Fergusson served on the search committee that brought Drew Faust to the presidency of Harvard, on a subsequent governance committee that brought about changes in the Corporation of Harvard, and is the chair of the Visiting Committee to the Harvard Library.[citation needed]


  • Doctor of Literature degree (honorary) from the University of London[1]
  • Centennial Medal of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University (1999)[1]
  • Honorary doctoral degrees from Bard College, and the University of Hartford[citation needed]
  • Harvard Medal for "outstanding service to the University."[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Frances Daly Fergusson". Vassar College Encyclopedia. Vassar College. Retrieved February 1, 2010.
  2. ^ "Frances Daly Fergusson Profile". Forbes. Archived from the original on October 16, 2008.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
  3. ^ "Frances D. Fergusson Will Conclude Her Presidency in June 2006". Office of College Relations. Vassar College. February 16, 2005. Archived from the original on July 8, 2010. Retrieved April 18, 2010.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)