Education: Vassarette to Wellesley

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On their campus by the shores of Lake Waban, the students of Wellesley (Mass.) College last week celebrated ''Tree Day." Chosen as Wellesley's prettiest senior, Marion Chapman, 22, daughter of a Portland, Me. attorney, let down her golden hair, supervised the planting of a golden oak near Pendleton Hall.

Meanwhile, Wellesley's trustees did some choosing, too. In the 18 months since stately old President Ellen Fitz Pendleton had announced that she would like to resign, they had weighed 100 candidates, quizzed 1,000 alumnae, to find a woman who combined "intellectual honesty, leadership, tolerance, savoir jalre, sympathetic understanding of youth, vision, and a sense of humor." Satisfied that they had at last discovered such a paragon, Wellesley's trustees asked Oberlin (Ohio) College's Dean of Women Mildred Helen McAfee to become Ellen Pendleton's successor and Wellesley's seventh president.

The news of Mildred McAfee's appointment, which reached the slender, curly-topped educator just three days after her 36th birthday, was as exciting to Vassar as to Wellesley women. The Vassar class of 1920 recalls Mildred McAfee as a fairly good hockeyist and basketballer who was glib enough at debating to help defeat Wellesley on one occasion. As a matter of fact, Vassarette McAfee is something of an academic cosmopolite. She was born on the campus of Park College at Parkville, Mo., founded by her grandfather. After Vassar she made a grand tour of Eastern & Midwestern male and female institutions teaching economics and sociology, wound up at Oberlin in 1934.

To her father, Secretary Cleland Boyd McAfee of the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions, Mildred McAfee is a "distinctly Christian" joy. Less from austerity than from habit, she does not drink, smoke or play cards. But she enjoys the cinema, likes to dance. In her spare time she knits, and, like Ellen Fitz Pendleton, writes an occasional detective story.

Of Wellesley's presidents, none but Ellen Fitz Pendleton has been a Wellesley alumna. Modern Wellesley is the creation of snow-haired, precise "Pres. Penn," who in 25 years increased the "college's endowment by $7,000,000, ruled it with an iron hand. Early in President Pendleton's term the famed 1914 Fire burned most of Wellesley to the ground. Undismayed, the president set out to build a vast neo-Gothic plant which now covers the Waban campus with tons of imposing stone. Big (1,500 students) and expensive ($500 tuition), Wellesley thinks of itself as a happy compromise between studious Bryn Mawr and social Smith and Vassar.