Amherst Magazine

The Next Stage

This spring, five Amherst faculty members officially retired. Here are snapshots of each of them.

Peter Czap sat out the Cuban Missile Crisis in Moscow. It was October 1962, about a month into his first trip to the Soviet Union, and the United States had just discovered Soviet missile bases being built in Cuba. Suddenly, the International Herald-Tribune stopped appearing at Czap’s door. Moscow Radio became his only source for news.

Czap, who’d gone to Moscow to conduct archival research, witnessed the anxiety among ordinary Russians who had no way of knowing exactly what was going on.

Then, one day, he discovered three weeks of Herald-Tribunes stacked at his door. The crisis was over. He locked himself in his room and read every last paper.

An expert in peasant life and nationalism in the Soviet Union, Czap credits his interest in Russian history to the 1958 National Defense Education Act, which offered scholarship money to potential scholars in critical fields. At Amherst, he became the Henry Winkley Professor of History. In the 1970s, before anyone was thinking about the U.S.S.R.’s eventual collapse, he taught a course on the Soviet Union as a multiethnic state. The course focused on unresolved tensions arising from the Soviet policies aimed at weakening the national consciousnesses of the various non-Russian republics.

Ten years ago, Czap was run over by a car. Many friends helped him through the recovery. As a way of returning the favor, he now wants to do more volunteer work. He also plans to become a certified master gardener, to spend time fishing and to pursue new research interests. He lives in an 18th-century house in Amherst with his wife, Susan Snively, who just retired as associate dean of students and director of the Writing Center.

By Emily Gold Boutilier

Peter Gooding became Amherst’s soccer coach in 1968 and went on to serve as athletic director for 28 years. Last year, when Amherst named its newest athletic field in honor of Gooding and his wife, Myra, the college set up a special Web site for students and colleagues to post tributes. Dave Wilson ’82 and Jim Barrows ’80 wrote to share the story of a grueling practice, during which Gooding kept stopping the players to offer criticism and tactical advice. After blowing the whistle over and over, Gooding interrupted practice once again. But this time, it was to point out a beautiful sunset. (Longtime football coach Jim Ostendarp was also known to stop practice for a sunset.)

As a coach, Gooding taught not only technical skills but also perspective. He guided the men’s soccer team to the NCAA Regional Finals in 1998 and 2002. The National Soccer Coaches Association of America awarded him its highest distinction, the Honor Award. He was president and director of coaching of NSCAA and helped initiate and design its Academy Program. He also served as dean, in 1976, of the first co-ed first-year class.

Gooding is now spending time with his family and teaching short courses to soccer coaches. “I came to this country as a soccer coach,” Gooding, who is British, told Amherst magazine last year, “and, within reason, I would hope to leave the country still coaching soccer or engaged in how soccer is coached. It may seem like a trivial pursuit, but not to me.”

By Marjan Hajibandeh ’09E

“When I arrived in 1972,” Thomas Kearns remembers, “mandatory chapel had only recently ended, and my classes were filled with young men only, most of whom wore coats and ties.”
 
In the 1960s, Kearns graduated from law school and practiced law in Berkeley, Calif. (“with mostly hippie, penniless friends for clients”), while beginning
his graduate studies in philosophy at UC Berkeley. He later received his Ph.D.
in philosophy from the University of Wisconsin.

At Amherst, he became the William H. Hastie Professor of Philosophy. His research interests lie at the intersection of moral philosophy and philosophy of law; in recent years, he has also become increasingly interested in issues of free will. He takes great pleasure in the fact that he assisted Austin Sarat, the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science and Five College 40th Anniversary Professor, in the 1992 creation of the Department of Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought. Kearns also has collaborated with Sarat to publish a series of books based on lectures and conferences sponsored by the department.

Kearns says that, as a teacher, he’s required his students to “re-examine ideas that seem clear and certain but, in fact, are neither”—achieving what one former student, Edward Ramos ’08, calls a “balance between a relaxed classroom atmosphere and an intense intellectual hothouse.”

Kearns is pleased to leave behind a philosophy department “that is bigger and better than when I arrived,” he says. He will spend September and October traveling and trekking in the Indian Himalayas.

By Marjan Hajibandeh '09E

In 1970, Kim Townsend, then a young member of the English department faculty, knew he wanted to spend his sabbatical in a foreign country, and not a familiar one like England or France. “So I went to Alabama,” he says.

He spent a year teaching at Miles College, an open-admission black college in Birmingham. It was one of the many and varied experiences he’s had during a long career. Townsend arrived at Amherst in 1962 with a newly minted doctorate from Harvard. He remembers sitting for an interview with then-president Calvin Plimpton, who asked the young Ph.D. where he saw himself in 10 years. “I said, ‘I’d like to be here,’” Townsend remembers. And 45 years later, the professor is retiring.

Townsend was 26 when he taught his first Amherst course. Over the years, he’s taught everything from Wordsworth and Keats to nonfiction writing. He’s offered a course on friendship, another on community. He’s also published two books, Sherwood Anderson (a 1987 biography) and Manhood at Harvard, which grew out of “American Men’s Lives,” a course he gave for many years.

Meg Ray ’08, who took three courses with Townsend, describes him as an “incredibly wise” professor who, in class, drew on his own life experiences.

In retirement, he plans to finish a book he’s been writing on friendship.

By Emily Gold Boutilier

As a professor of biology, Bill Zimmerman welcomed, over many years, nearly a quarter of each Amherst class into Biology 14, a course for non-majors that examined the evolutionary roots of human behavior. Eleanor Goodman ’01 remembers signing up for the course “unconvinced that, as a music and English double-major, I would learn anything of use,” she says. “But from the first moment, the class appealed to my sense of curiosity and desire for intellectual discovery.”

After his undergraduate education at Princeton, Zimmerman stayed on as a graduate student to do research with Colin Pittendrigh on the physiology of circadian rhythms, the biological clocks that regulate daily activities in all organisms. Zimmerman came to Amherst in 1966. For the next 30 years, his research, mainly on the biochemistry of the photoreceptor cells in mammalian retinas, was supported by National Science Foundation and National Eye Institute research grants. A colleague, Walter Godchaux, and he were the first to isolate and characterize the G protein transductin, a molecule that is involved in the first steps of visual transduction in vertebrate retinas.

In 2000, Zimmerman and a fellow vision scientist, Timothy Goldsmith, co-
authored Biology, Evolution and Human Nature, based on the similar courses they had been teaching.

Now that time is his to spend and not just to probe, Zimmerman plans to travel more with his wife, Michele, and to spend more time with their children and grandchildren, walking their Rhodesian Ridgebacks, fishing, working on their land in South Amherst and going to seminars and meetings on human behavioral evolution. He is also thinking about revising the textbook based on Biology 14.

By Samuel Masinter ’04