By Megan Palumbo & Justin Fosdick – Sports Editor & 1851 Staff
On December 16, 2017, Dr. Vincent Claud De Baun, Lasell’s sixth president and one of the school’s biggest innovators, passed away at the age of 91 at his home in Charlottesville, VA.
Before coming to Lasell, De Baun was a member of the Navy program at Union College and served in both World War II and the Korean War. He earned his Ph.D. at Rutgers University, focusing in literature. He went on to teach at University of New Hampshire, Rutgers, and Wells College.
De Baun started at Lasell in 1966 to serve as president for two years, succeeding Blake Tewksbury’s five-year authority. While here, De Baun impacted Lasell in several ways.
“He got federal aid, and did some additional grant stuff. Although he was not there when it opened June of 1968, he was the one who got it started,” according to Vice President of Academic Affairs Diane Austin. De Baun also initiated grant-funding for the creation of the Brennan Library.
Designed by Edwin T. Steffan, the Brennan Library was intended to be a place for students to go to outside of class to educate themselves on relevant topics. “It reinforced the strength of the academic community. I think that has continued to happen with every passing year at this institution,” said Austin. Brennan Library represents Lasell’s core mission of academics, and deepens the quality of learning that Lasell still strives for today.
The Lasell Medallion award was also established after De Baun wished to reconnect with the Lasell family, the original founders of the institution. The medallion is awarded to “distinguish an alumnae and to those who has served Lasell with distinction,” according to Lasell: A History of the First Junior College for Women by Donald J. Winslow.
De Baun’s obituary said that he was “a life-long lover of literature, poetry, and the theater.” His passion for the arts allowed him to develop something that remains deep within the school’s philosophy: liberal arts.
De Baun organized a concert and lecture series for the whole Lasell community to promote a cultural atmosphere. “During that period he worked really hard to bring gifted lecturers to the campus, to add and deepen the cultural aspect of the college campus, as well as cultural performances,” said Austin.
De Baun’s quick leaving of the position at Lasell was not in vain. De Baun resigned in September of 1968 as the school year was beginning, according to Austin. However, Austin says she believes De Baun left for an amazing reason.
In a time of turmoil, De Baun felt the need to serve the black community after the death of MLK. He became a teacher at Talladega College in Alabama. His attitude and efforts certainly promoted the attributions of Lasell as it is known today.