College Row Winter 1999
College improves the way it judges teaching
Professor Duane Bailey
Black women of Amherst
A candidate's return
"IN MEMORIAM" Student Antics Revisited
A networking success
Amherst College and Michael P. Whittingham
Did he check his luggage?
The faculty voted last fall for new procedures that will make student evaluations of teaching by junior professors more just and effective throughout the college. Until now, teaching evaluation practices have varied greatly at Amherst from one academic department to another, so that the teaching of some candidates for faculty reappointment and tenure has been critiqued more thoroughly than that of others.
The new procedures were adopted after an ad hoc committee studied those uneven practices and said they badly served the interests of both the junior faculty and the college.
Young faculty members are usually considered for reappointment after three years, and for appointment with tenure after six. They are judged on the basis of two main criteria: their artistic or scholarly work, and teaching effectiveness. The first category is scrutinized by colleagues in the candidate's field. The second, success in teaching, is more difficult to evaluate and largely depends on student appraisals.
In pressing reform, Frederick T. Griffiths, Class of 1880 Professor of Greek, urged the faculty to "bring the evaluation of teaching into balance with the evaluation of research and artistic creation, which colleagues find to be well served for the most part." Griffiths was chair of an Ad Hoc Committee to Evaluate Faculty Procedures Concerning Reappointment, Tenure, and Untenured Faculty Development. It found that some departments at Amherst gather evaluations from up to 90 percent of students in a professor's course while others may secure less than 20 percent. That is because some departments have asked for in-class assessments before the end of the course while others have asked only for retrospective appraisals. Also, department chairs often give junior faculty only summaries of student evaluations, sometimes making it harder for the professor to correct specific problems.
On the committee's recommendation, the faculty voted October 20 to direct all departments to seek in-class appraisals in all classes taught by junior faculty. "These evaluations are to be signed and are normally to be solicited
in essay format in all classes in the final week of each semester on a form to be devised by the instructor in collaboration with the department," the faculty ruled. "After the submission of grades they will be made available to the instructor without the names of the respondents."
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Duane W. Bailey, a professor of mathematics at Amherst for 35 years, died of heart failure October 27 at Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton, Mass. He was 62.
Bailey was a prominent and highly respected member of the faculty and was frequently elected by his colleagues to its major governing committees. He was instrumental, in the late '70s, in launching the computer science program at Amherst, and also served the campus as an advisor for information technology.
He was born September 22, 1936, in Moscow, Idaho, eldest son of Duane Wallin and Floy (Lewis) Bailey. He grew up on a farm in Naches, Wash., where the family raised fine fruit and walnuts. He took pride in this farming background and in later years avidly pursued interests in beekeeping, propagating flowers, and breeding English Bulldogs.
His principal love, however, was mathematics, which he studied at Washington State College in Pullman, graduating after three years, in 1957. Bailey earned a doctorate in mathematics at the University of Oregon in 1961. He joined the Amherst faculty as an assistant professor two years later, after serving two years as an instructor in mathematics at Yale. At Amherst he became associate professor in 1967, full professor in 1973, and in 1994 was named the college's William J. Walker Professor of Mathematics and Astronomy. In spite of illness in recent years, Bailey continued teaching and writing up to the time of his death. His most recent project was writing a book with his son, Duane A. Bailey '82, about elements of computer programming. It will be published by McGraw-Hill this spring.
Bailey was a coauthor of works on algebra and calculus, and with Bruce Cornwell developed a series of computer-generated films entitled "Calculus in Motion," which was published by Houghton Mifflin Co. in 1973.
Dean of the Faculty Lisa A. Raskin said Bailey "was a stalwart of our faculty who not only loved the Amherst classroom, but also served us in many other capacities, earning the warmest trust and respect. He served us well and faithfully on all our major committees and in other important rolesmost of all, as a great teacher. He always impressed and delighted us with his sharp analysis, wonderful humor, and devotion both to his own discipline and to the best interests of
Bailey first became interested in computing in 1957, when he spent the first of three summers working for General Electric. At Amherst he became the first chairman of the faculty computer committee and installed the college's first academic computing equipment. In 1979 he introduced computer science as an academic subject at the college. He later supervised the installation of a broadband computer network, and he became Amherst's coordinator for computer planning in 1984.
Bailey always regarded himself as a mathematician first and foremost, however, and he considered the solving of problems to be the key to understanding.
He is survived by his wife, Leeta (Linn) Bailey of Amherst, who worked for 20 years at the Amherst College Library; by their three sons, Duane A. Bailey of Williamstown, Mass., Mark W. Bailey of Clinton, N.Y., and Gregory K. Bailey of Amherst; three grandchildren; and two brothers, Richard W. of Selah, Wash., and Donald L. of Tieton, Wash. A campus memorial service will be held at a date to be announced. The family has asked that memorial donations be made to the Critical Care Fund at the Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton, Mass.
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A new book, Black Women of Amherst College, by Mavis C. Campbell, a professor of history at the college, will soon be published by Amherst College Press. The 308-page volume includes a 57-page introductory essay by Campbell followed by her biographical sketches of 67 alumnae from the classes of 1980 through 1997. (To date, 256 black women have graduated from Amherst.)
The book is partly intended to be a companion to the 1976 work, Black Men of Amherst, written by the late Harold Wade '68. But whereas Wade's book was a history of many illustrious black male graduates from 150 years of the college's history, the young graduates profiled by Campbell date, of course, only from years since the college became coeducational in 1976. Her essay, though, provides an extensive, new review of the coeducational movement at Amherst and other collegesa movement that goes back to the 19th century.
In a Foreword to Black Women of Amherst College, President Gerety notes that Wade's earlier book appeared "the year that Amherst became coeducational, and in that sense it marked the end of one era but did not account for the beginning of another." He writes that he and Campbell agreed "it was time to correct the imbalance.
"Even so," Gerety says, "there was concern that the work might be premature... Most of our women graduates are still under 40 years of age, less than half way into their careers. Surely the story of their highest accomplishments is yet to be told. Happily, Professor Campbell's book puts that worry to rest." Her book
shows that Amherst's black alumnae, he writes, "have now begun to make names for themselves in their communities, their professions, and even the world." Each, he says, "brings honor to Amherst's name as well as to her own."
Campbell agrees, reporting that "the thrilling side to the writing of this bookthe labor-of-love aspectwas to see the impressive achievements of these black women within the relatively short period of coeducation at Amherst."
In a Preface to the new volume, Campbell's Amherst colleague, Theodore P. Greene, Winthrop H. Smith Professor of History, Emeritus, observes that "any reader browsing for a time among all these biographical sketches can gain some clearer understanding of the new world opening up for black women in America." In "soliciting, compiling, and ordering all this wealth of information on the first classes of black women to graduate from Amherst," Greene says, Campbell makes "a major contribution to the history and to the community of Amherst College."
When the book becomes available, this magazine will report how to obtain a copy.
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It was, perhaps, too early in the candidate's career to be an official state visit. But a visit to campus by Francisco Flores '81 had all the earmarks of an appearance by a foreign dignitary.
The majority-party candidate for president of El Salvador, Flores spent a day at Amherst in October meeting with students and former professors, speaking in classes and touring the campus. Accompanied by his wife, Lourdes, and a small delegation of advisers and supporters, Flores was trailed by reporters and TV crews from his native country, all eager for a look at Amherst College, which had been characterized by some El Salvador media organizations as a small, undistinguished institution in the hinterlands.
In President Gerety's first-year seminar on inner-city America, Flores fielded questions about racism, his country's infrastructure, and economic development in depressed regions, emphasizing the need for coalition building and working together across party lines. Flores also visited a Caribbean history class taught by Prof. Mavis Campbell (with whom he'd studied while an Amherst student), and outlined the beginnings of his commitment to politics, which was shaped, in part, when Lourdes's father was assassinated in front of Lourdes, Flores,
and their infant child.
A political science major at Amherst, Flores now represents El Salvador's ARENA Party. The presidential elections will be held in March.
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Student Antics Revisited
The undergraduate tomfoolery of "burying" textbooks and holding mock
funeral services for a particularly onerous class was introduced early in the college's first 50 years. Practiced on many campuses in the 19th century, this
tradition was periodically revived and abandoned at Amherst at different times during the 1860s, 1870s, and 1880s.
Planned in secret, the pageants included processions and burials or cremations. Mathematics courses, especially algebra and geometry, were the most frequent victims. Students observed the trappings of formal mourning. They composed "hymns" in Latin or Greek and sang "dirges" around funeral pyres. They prepared clever printed programs for each occasion, and secretly distributed them on the evening prior to the ceremonies, which normally took place in the early hours of the morning. These were class-sponsored events, seen as a way of demonstrating class spirit, and the programs always boldly identified the hosting class.
One of the more elaborate and notorious pageants took place in November 1883 after the sophomore class finished its course in Analytical Geometry. Clyde Fitch, Class of 1886, was selected by his classmates to play the role of the departed "Mattie Mattix." His face chalked white, Fitch was drawn in an antique cart, followed by dancing "mourners." Last in the procession was a cart carrying Mattie's "attendants": four demons, complete with a burning fire. The Amherst Student noted that the ceremony surpassed "anything of a like nature ever witnessed at Amherst."
The faculty were not so impressed and, according to a later article about the event, "saw to it that the Puritan forefathers of the college were never again made to turn in their graves by any similar nightmare." It is not clear, however, that they succeeded.
These dramatic presentations held considerable significance for the students. The programs and other memorabilia from these mock funerals were often preserved in scrapbooks compiled during their college days, and have survived in the College's Archives and Special Collections in the Robert Frost Library.
Archivist of the College and Special Collections Coordinator
When it comes to assisting Amherst students and graduates with careers, professional development, and post-graduate opportunities, our alumni are often there when you need them. One example is Dr. Joel Ehrenkranz '73. As head of endocrinology and metabolism at Morristown Memorial Hospital in New Jersey, an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and scientific director at Franklin Diagnostics, Ehrenkranz is well connected. And he recently established a research opportunity to assist fellow alumni who share his passion for medicine and science. The result is a new Amherst-NIH Medical Research Fellowship developed to give a recent graduate of Amherst an opportunity to conduct basic science for one year at the National Institutes of Health.
Each year nearly 100 Amherst students and alumni apply to medical school or look for research opportunities in medical science. Jacob Chung '97 was one of those students and was accepted last year as the first-ever Amherst-NIH Fellow.
During his senior year, Chung went to the Amherst Career Center looking for research opportunities. After searching through the list of "physician contacts" compiled by the center, he got in touch with several alumni who were offering summer research positions. One of the alumni he reached was Ehrenkranz, and he became excited by the prospect of working at the NIH. Ehrenkranz, he says, was "very eager to sponsor a student in research because it was through a similar opportunity during his time at Amherst that he decided he wanted to engage in a medical research career." At the NIH Chung worked as the primary investigator on a research project in endocrinology, using advanced imaging techniques to study the intracellular metabolism of the thyroid hormone. He recently was accepted to study medicine at New York University.
The Career Center frequently receives job and internship postings from alumni who are eager to help students in a variety of career fields. It also houses alumni contact information organized by state, career field, college major, and employer. The more popular career fields such as medicine, law, business, arts and communications, government, non-profits, and the environment also have directories of Amherst alumni who have shown specific interest in helping students either by providing an observation experience, internship, or research opportunity. Students and alumni are free to use these directories during regular office hours, or alumni may call to purchase printouts of the contact information for other alumni in their career field or geographic location.
The link between Chung and Ehrenkranz is just one example of alumni connections that produce happy results. Students or alumni interested in the new Amherst-NIH fellowship may call the Career Center at (413) 542-2265, or they may contact the program directly by reaching Christine Uveges at Premier Diagnostics Corporation, (973) 285-1135. It is a one-year program and participants receive a monthly stipend.
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Amherst College and Michael P. Whittingham, Class of '77, are pleased to announce the resolution of Mr. Whittingham's claims against the College. The College regrets having been in an adversarial position with a former employee and alumnus. Mr. Whittingham is a talented and accomplished professional, who contributed to the strength of Amherst's recruitment efforts and to the College community while he served for seven years in the Office of Admission as an Assistant Dean and as an Associate Dean. Both the College and Mr. Whittingham are pleased to take this step to restore their relationship to a positive one.
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A descendant of Stephen E. Jones--a resident of Louisville, Ky., who graduated from Amherst in 1853--recently asked the National Railway Historical Society how Jones might have traveled from his home to Amherst in the 1850s. A worker in the society's library found, in the American Railway Guide and Pocket Companion for the United States, 1851, that there could have been 11 stages to the journey:
Louisville, Ky., to Pittsburgh, Pa., via river steamboat; Pittsburgh to Hollidaysburg, Pa., via Alleghany & Portage Railroad; Hollidaysburg to Philadelphia, Pa., via Pennsylvania Railroad; Philadelphia to Jersey City, N.J., via the Philadelphia & Trenton Railroad, Camden & Amboy Railroad, and New Jersey Railroad; Jersey City to New York, N.Y., via ferry; New York to New Haven, Conn., via New York & New Haven Railroad; New Haven to Springfield, Mass., via New Haven, Hartford & Springfield Railroad; Springfield to Northampton, Mass., via Connecticut River Railroad; Northampton to Amherst, Mass. via roadway.
This bit of Jones family lore was sent to us by William Bowmer '36.