Introducing the 19th President of Amherst College

Jide Zeitlan

Letter from Jide J. Zeitlin ’85, Chair of the Board of Trustees and of the Presidential Search Committee

June 14, 2011

On behalf of the Board of Trustees, it is my privilege to announce the election of Carolyn A. Martin as the nineteenth president of Amherst College, effective this August. Martin is the chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and prior to that was the provost of Cornell University. The press release and newly established pages on the Amherst website provide a fuller introduction to Chancellor Martin.

Chancellor Martin is an extraordinary individual, with extensive experience in senior roles at highly respected institutions. She believes deeply in the liberal arts and in the type of community that we at Amherst represent. Chancellor Martin has described the Amherst presidency as “the role of a lifetime” and the only one for which she would leave her current position. We are very fortunate to have her. 

Chancellor Martin’s selection comes at the end of a robust process during which the presidential search committee met with an exceptionally rich pool of candidates. Our conversations with leaders across America and beyond have affirmed Amherst’s strengths, both academically and in terms of the diversity of students we have drawn to our college. Presidents, deans, and respected intellectuals were prepared to leave world-class institutions to come to Amherst because of the quality of this place—built by the commitment each of you has shown over many years. Your commitment represents an act of faith in the power of this community to shape lives.

Educational institutions, at our level, require an immense investment of time (not the least of which by our students and their families in a lifetime of preparation to get to Amherst); an immense investment of knowledge (by our faculty in their engagement with our students and by our staff in support of faculty, students, and alumni); and, an immense investment of financial and other resources (by families, alumni, and friends). This commitment is made in the belief that Amherst can bend life trajectories in ways that have disproportionally positive consequences for individuals, families, and society.

Your search committee worked hard over these past eight months. More importantly, the members represented the best of Amherst: committee members were fully engaged throughout; they were both smart and wise; and they put the interests of Amherst well ahead of narrow interest-group considerations. I thank the members of the search committee for their service. 

Tony Marx is leaving Amherst as strong as ever, whether measured by selectivity, student diversity, prominence, or a host of other measures. He deserves our gratitude. As suggested above, this strength directly contributed to the exceptional pool of candidates we were able to attract. The world and Amherst are different in 2011 than they were in 2003. I believe that Chancellor Martin has the ability to build on almost 200 years of academic excellence, in ways that are consistent with our values while allowing us to remain highly relevant in a world where knowledge is advancing at a rapid pace and where globalization has increased the level of interaction and transparency between different geographies, beliefs, and disciplines.

I hope you will join me in enthusiastically welcoming Chancellor Martin to our community.

Cordially,

Jide J. Zeitlin ’85


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Carolyn A. “Biddy” Martin

Amherst College’s 19th President

Johnson Chapel