Amherst Magazine

The New Water Cooler

By Emily Gold Boutilier

Elizabeth Minkel ’07 is a New York-based editor who moonlights as a clerk at thoroughbred racetracks. Theodore Putala ’87, a neighborhood barman, wrote a modern retelling of Hamlet.

Both write blogs that are part of the Amherst Alumni Blogroll, one of the new features on the Amherst Alumni Web site (www.amherst.edu/alumni) designed to better connect the alumni community. The Blogroll links to nearly 80 alumni blogs.

Also on the site are the new Alumni Artists’ Network—a gallery of photos, drawings, paintings, ceramics and more by about 40 visual artists—and Amherst Reads, an online book club started last year that features excerpts, audio interviews, reviews, discussion forums and lists of alumni-authored books.

But perhaps most important is the improved alumni directory, a tool for networking and reconnecting. The directory allows anyone with an Amherst user name and password to find, for example, the contact information of everyone in Northern California who majored in law, jurisprudence and social thought (31 alumni fit that description) or every alumnus engineer in Iowa (there’s one). A search for English majors who now work in medicine turns up 115 names. Job searchers can also use the directory to find, for example, the 15 alumni who work for Google, the 19 willing to give career advice in journalism and the six offering a Washington, D.C., summer internship.

The curious can find and contact 104 people who lived in James Dormitory in 1996-97, 11 Houston-area residents who played football at Amherst, four ’93s who were in Mr. Gad’s House of Improv and five alumni who came to Amherst from South Lakes High School in Virginia. In other words, the new directory is doing its part to keep Internet-addiction experts in business.