Amherst Magazine

Words of Wisdom from the President to the Class of 2016

Compiled by Emily Gold Boutilier

Five noteworthy quotes from President Biddy Martin’s convocation address on Sept. 3 in Johnson Chapel:

  • “Resistance [to combatting our ‘willful ignorance’] is largely unconscious and is often a form of love of those from whom we’ve inculcated our prejudices. Critical thinking cannot be programmed, but it can be exemplified, and it is our job to exemplify it by turning our analytical skills and our patience not only outward but also inward.”
  • “[Amherst is] not an island, and we don’t want it to be. It’s a launching pad or a platform for the work that needs to be done to address the monumental challenges in the world.”
  • “My first wish is that you rid the world of what feels, to me, like the presentation—by the media, by politicians and by many others—of some dimly related bullet points that go by the name of analysis.”
  • “[L]et your leisure time be inflected by your intellectual development. … Play can be deadening when conceived only as an escape from thought or responsibility.”
  • “Use your leisure, your play, your relaxation and your relationships as a rallying toward the project of being and becoming who you are and letting others be engaged in the same project. Respect yourselves. Respect your own boundaries … and respect the boundaries of others. Take yourselves seriously, and in the process, I hope you have a great deal of fun.”
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Photo by Rob Mattson