Amherst College Graduates 428 May 23

May 23, 2004
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.-Under cloudy skies that cleared as the graduates marched off the Main Quadrangle, 428 men and women received bachelor of arts degrees today at Amherst College. In his traditional address Amherst President Anthony W. Marx, who took office last July, criticized American higher education for its lack of inclusion. "Though we believe we are a society of educational venture capitalists, we are instead still investing far more in "blue chip" students than in "start-ups." We should know better."

Matthew M. Murumba '04 from Brooklyn, N.Y offered a humorous explication of three classic texts: "Here is the Church, Here is the Steeple," "Jack and Jill" and "The Cat and the Fiddle." He concluded, "we suffer from an embarrassment of riches. Giving back to others is not a duty, but the highest form of enlightened self interest."

Seven honorary degrees were also awarded at the ceremony: to Rafael Campo '87, poet and physician; Albert O. Hirschman, political economist; Donald Mc. Routh '58, former dean of financial aid at Amherst and at Yale University; Kate Seelye '84, broadcast journalist; Theda Skocpol, sociologist and political scientist; Robert Trivers, sociobiologist; and Jeffrey Wright '87, stage and screen actor. The college also honored John S. Middleton '77 with the Medal for Eminent Service.

At Senior Class Exercises on the quadrangle yesterday, Saturday, May 22, Kate Seelye, an NPR Middle East correspondent, filmmaker and accomplished Arabist, came from her residence in Beirut, Lebanon, to tell the Class of 2004 that "even though you may not be thinking of the world, the world has been thinking of you." Chosen by the graduates to speak, Seelye, a 1984 graduate of Amherst, hoped that the new graduates' "greater sense of worldliness" might help "bridge the gulf of incomprehensibility between the United States and the Arab world."

Four graduating seniors also addressed their class Saturday. Dipayan Gupta from New Delhi offered humorous remarks about his tone-deaf attempts to find a place at "the singing college." Annie MacRae from New York City compared her college career to decorating her dorm room, "and just when we have accumulated enough to cover all the walls, we have to tear it all down." Lincoln Mayer, from Alexandria, Va., concluded a witty talk with the wry observation that "if we don't change society, society will change us." Brian Carlyle Stout, from Ashland, Ore. recounted the colorful tale of a keg party in the basement of the Robert Frost Library to celebrate the poet's birthday.

The Association of Amherst Students gave the Distinguished Teaching Award to John Servos, the Anson D. Morse Professor of History.

The college also awarded student prizes. The Thomas H. Wyman 1951 Medal, presented for the first time this year, was established by Wyman's classmates and family to commemorate his remarkable life achievements and philanthropy to his beloved Amherst. A leadership gift to the annual fund was made in the name of Luke Swarthout of New York City.

The Howard Hill Mossman Trophy, awarded annually to the member of the senior class, who has brought, during his or her four years at Amherst, the greatest honor in athletics to his or her alma mater, the word "honor" to be interpreted as relating both to achievement and to sportsmanship, was given to Paul Whiting of Mission Viejo, Calif.

The Psi Upsilon Prize was established by the Gamma Chapter of Psi Upsilon in 1941 on the occasion of the centennial anniversary of the founding of the Chapter. The prize also was awarded to Paul Whiting, the member of the graduating class considered preeminent in scholarship, leadership, athletics and character.

The Obed Finch Slingerland Memorial Prize, given by the trustees of the college to a member of the senior class, who has shown by his or her own determination and accomplishment the greatest appreciation of and desire for a college education, was awarded to Valentin Burlacu of Bucharest and Renata Robinson of Jamaica, N.Y.

The Woods-Travis Prize, an annual gift in memory of Josiah B. Woods of Enfield and Charles B. Travis of the Class of 1864, is awarded for outstanding excellence in culture and faithfulness to duty as a scholar. It went to Katherine Mooney of River Ridge, La.

The college presented Phebe and Zephaniah Swift Moore Awards on behalf of graduating seniors to three secondary school teachers: Richard Delgado, a chemistry and general science teacher from Vallejo High School in Vallejo, Calif., nominated by Erin Kirkham '04; Nydia Benitez-Nee, a counselor at Newburgh Free Academy in Newburgh, N.Y., nominated by Katyuska Eibenstiner '04; and David Taylor, a science teacher at Triton Regional High School in Byfield, Mass., nominated by Jason Cavatorta '04.

Ten current and former employees of Amherst College were named honorary members of the Class of 2003: Diana Bujevic; Dave Cetto of Amherst, Mass., a server in the dining hall; Tom Gerety of New York, the former president of the college; Samuel C. Haynes of Northampton, Mass., the director of the Campus Center and assistant dean of students; Donald Kells of Montague, Mass., the postmaster; Robert E. ("Gramps") Keyes of Amherst, Mass., a checker with dining services; Deborah C. Pelletier of Palmer, Mass., a depository associate in the Robert Frost Library; Jeanne E. Reinle of Northampton, Mass., the administrative assistant in the Economics Department.; Jason D. Sutherland, a campus police officer; and Angelo T. Vassallo of South Hadley, Mass., a custodian.

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Amherst College Celebrates Class Day May 22

May 22, 2004
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.- Kate Seelye, an NPR Middle East correspondent, filmmaker and accomplished Arabist, came from her residence in Beirut, Lebanon, to tell the Class of 2004 at Amherst College that "even though you may not be thinking of the world, the world has been thinking of you" at Senior Class Exercises at LeFrak Gymnasium on Saturday, May 22. Chosen by the graduates to speak, Seelye, a 1984 graduate of Amherst, hoped that the new graduates' "greater sense of worldliness" might help "bridge the gulf of incomprehensibility between the United States and the Arab world." She will receive an honorary degree at Commencement Exercises on Sunday, May 23, at 10 a.m.

Four graduating seniors also addressed their class. Dipayan Gupta from New Delhi offered humorous remarks about his tone-deaf attempts to find a place at "the singing college." Annie MacRae from New York City compared her college career to decorating her dorm room, "and just when we have accumulated enough to cover all the walls, we have to tear it all down." Lincoln Mayer, from Alexandria, Va., concluded a witty talk with the wry observation that "if we don't change society, society will change us." Brian Carlyle Stout, from Ashland, Ore., recounted the colorful tale of a keg party in the basement of the Robert Frost Library to celebrate the poet's birthday.

The Association of Amherst Students gave the Distinguished Teaching Award to John Servos, the Anson D. Morse Professor of History.

The college also awarded student prizes. The Thomas H. Wyman 1951 Medal, presented for the first time this year, was established by Wyman's classmates and family to commemorate his remarkable life achievements and philanthropy to his beloved Amherst. A leadership gift to the annual fund was made in the name of Luke Swarthout of New York City.

The Howard Hill Mossman Trophy, awarded annually to the member of the senior class, who has brought, during his or her four years at Amherst, the greatest honor in athletics to his or her alma mater, the word "honor" to be interpreted as relating both to achievement and to sportsmanship, was given to Paul Whiting of Mission Viejo, Calif.

The Psi Upsilon Prize was established by the Gamma Chapter of Psi Upsilon in 1941 on the occasion of the centennial anniversary of the founding of the Chapter. The prize also was awarded to Paul Whiting, the member of the graduating class considered preeminent in scholarship, leadership, athletics and character.

The Obed Finch Slingerland Memorial Prize, given by the trustees of the college to members of the senior class, who have shown by their own determination and accomplishment the greatest appreciation of and desire for a college education, was awarded to Valentin Burlacu of Bucharest and Renata Robinson of Jamaica, N.Y.

The Woods-Travis Prize, an annual gift in memory of Josiah B. Woods of Enfield and Charles B. Travis of the Class of 1864, is awarded for outstanding excellence in culture and faithfulness to duty as a scholar. It went to Katherine Mooney of River Ridge, La.

The college presented Phebe and Zephaniah Swift Moore Awards on behalf of graduating seniors to three secondary school teachers: Richard Delgado, a chemistry and general science teacher from Vallejo High School in Vallejo, Calif., nominated by Erin Kirkham '04; Nydia Benitez-Nee, a counselor at Newburgh Free Academy in Newburgh, N.Y., nominated by Katyuska Eibenstiner '04; and David Taylor, a science teacher at Triton Regional High School in Byfield, Mass., nominated by Jason Cavatorta '04.

Ten current and former employees of Amherst College were named honorary members of the Class of 2003: Diana Bujevic; Dave Cetto of Amherst, Mass., a server in the dining hall; Tom Gerety of New York, the former president of the college; Samuel C. Haynes of Northampton, Mass., the director of the Campus Center and assistant dean of students; Donald Kells of Montague, Mass., the postmaster; Robert E. ("Gramps") Keyes of Amherst, Mass., a checker with dining services; Deborah C. Pelletier of Palmer, Mass., a depository associate in the Robert Frost Library; Jeanne E. Reinle of Northampton, Mass., the administrative assistant in the Economics Department.; Jason D. Sutherland, a campus police officer; and Angelo T. Vassallo of South Hadley, Mass., a custodian.

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Amherst College To Hold Commencement Exercises May 23

May 20, 2004
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.-Amherst College will grant bachelor of arts degrees to 427 members of the Class of 2004 at Commencement Exercises on Sunday, May 23, at 10 a.m. in the Main Quadrangle. (Exercises will be held in LeFrak Gymnasium in the event of rain.) Amherst President Anthony W. Marx, who took office last July, will give the address. Matthew M. Murumba '04 from Brooklyn, N.Y. has been chosen by his classmates to speak.

Honorary degrees will also be awarded at the ceremony to Rafael Campo '87, poet and physician; Albert O. Hirschman, political economist; Donald McM. Routh '58, former dean of financial aid at Amherst and at Yale University; Kate Seelye '84, broadcast journalist; Theda Skocpol, sociologist and political scientist; Robert Trivers, sociobiologist; and Jeffrey Wright '87, stage and screen actor.

The college will honor John S. Middleton '77 with the Medal for Eminent Service. The honorary marshal is H. Jay Sarles '67.

At Senior Class Exercises on Saturday, May 22, at 2 p.m. Dipayan Gupta from New Delhi, Annie MacRae from New York City, Lincoln Mayer from Alexandria, Va., and Brian Carlyle Stout from Ashland, Ore., will offer remarks. The recipients of honorary degrees will speak at 3:30 p.m. at various locations around campus; Kate Seelye will deliver an address at Class Day Exercises at 2 p.m.

The college will award prizes at Senior Class Exercises, and present Phebe and Zephaniah Swift Moore Awards to secondary school teachers Richard Delgado, a chemistry and general science teacher from Vallejo High School in Vallejo, Calif., nominated by Erin Kirkham '04; Nydia Benitez-Nee, a counselor at Newburgh Free Academy in Newburgh, N.Y., nominated by Katyuska Eibenstiner '04; and David Taylor, a science teacher at Triton Regional High School in Byfield, Mass., nominated by Jason Cavatorta '04.

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Amherst College Will Honor High-School Teachers on Commencement Weekend

May 19, 2004
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.-Three secondary-school teachers who challenged, inspired and moved members of the Class of 2004 will receive the Phebe and Zephaniah Swift Moore Teaching Awards at Amherst College's Senior Class Exercises at 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 22, during Commencement Weekend.

The Phebe and Zephaniah Swift Moore Teaching Award recognizes teachers and counselors who have been important in the lives of Amherst students.

The awards this year will go to:

  • Richard Delgado, a chemistry and general science teacher from Vallejo High School in Vallejo, Calif., nominated by Erin Kirkham '04
  • Nydia Benitez-Nee, a counselor at Newburgh Free Academy in Newburgh, N.Y., nominated by Katyuska Eibenstiner '04; and
  • David Taylor, a science teacher at Triton Regional High School in Byfield, Mass., nominated by Jason Cavatorta '04.


This is the eighth year that Amherst has presented the award, which is accompanied by a cash prize. The recipients are chosen by a committee of seniors, faculty and staff from nominations submitted by graduating seniors.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute Awards Amherst College $1.3 Million

May 18, 2004
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.-The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) has awarded Amherst College a four-year grant of $1.3 million to improve its undergraduate life science programs, focusing on curriculum and faculty development, student research and community outreach.

Amherst will add an explicit focus on genomic biology in the curriculum by creating three new courses, reworking a key introductory biology course and developing new modules in several current courses. A new tenure-track faculty member, working in genomic biology, will lead this important curricular initiative to familiarize more Amherst undergraduates with genomic and computational approaches.

In collaboration with the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, Amherst will provide a two-week biology institute, enabling high school teachers to incorporate the latest scientific techniques into their classrooms and share new pedagogies with colleagues. Amherst also will continue its successful program of interdisciplinary collaborative research groups to provide 10-week intensive laboratory research experiences for a large group of undergraduates each summer.

Although its investigators conduct research at universities and medical schools, HHMI supports science at colleges because they also play a vital role in education, says Peter Bruns, vice president for grants and special programs at HHMI. "Good science can be done in different settings, in colleges as well as universities," says Bruns. "Colleges are a better learning environment for some students, and they serve underrepresented minorities extremely well."

HHMI invited 198 public and private baccalaureate and master's institutions to compete for the new awards. They were selected for their record of preparing students for graduate education and careers in research, teaching, or medicine. A panel of distinguished scientists and educators reviewed proposals and recommended the 42 awards approved by the Institute's Board of Trustees on May 4.

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Amherst College To Dedicate McGuire Life Sciences Building May 21

May 17, 2004
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.-Amherst College will celebrate the dedication of the McGuire Life Sciences Building on Friday, May 21, at 12:30 p.m. The building is named in honor of Nadine M. and William W. McGuire, M.D., of Wayzata, Minn., the parents of Marissa McGuire, who will graduate from Amherst this weekend.

William McGuire is chairman and CEO of UnitedHealth Group in Minnetonka, Minn., a diversified health and wellbeing services company. A physician whose former practice was in cardiopulmonary medicine, as well as a research scientist and medical educator, McGuire attended the University of Texas at Austin as a liberal arts undergraduate before receiving his M.D. from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. Nadine McGuire, also a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, serves on the boards of the Walker Art Center and the Guthrie Theater, both in Minneapolis, and is a member of the National Committee for the Performing Arts of the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

The McGuires' philanthropic commitments support the arts, education, environmental issues and scientific research. Their concern for biodiversity and their interest in environmental studies recently inspired them to establish the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Environmental Research and the Institute for Biodiversity and the Environment, both at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Because butterflies (Lepidoptera) serve as indicator species for how the environment is faring, Lepidoptera research is important to and helps facilitate the study of various ecosystems throughout the world.

The McGuires' generous gift to Amherst capped a major effort of The Amherst College Campaign that ended in June 2001-to enhance and expand Amherst's science facilities by renovating the Merrill Science Center and building a new home for Biology and Neuroscience. Amherst is widely recognized as one of the leading institutions in the country for undergraduate science education.

Designed by Centerbrook Architects of Essex, Conn. and completed in 1996, the McGuire Life Sciences Building contains 17 state-of-the-art teaching and research laboratories for the Biology and Neuroscience Departments, as well as faculty offices and classrooms. To facilitate interdisciplinary work in the sciences, the faculty and architects planned the new building to link each floor with a related discipline in Merrill Science Center, which houses the Departments of Chemistry, Physics, and Psychology. With these modern facilities in place, Amherst was able to secure competitive grants from government and private foundations to equip the new laboratories with a wide array of powerful instrumentation that supports pioneering teaching and research in the life sciences.

The McGuire Life Sciences Building serves between 500 and 600 undergraduates a year-nearly half of Amherst students will take a class here. All Amherst students are encouraged to complete courses in the natural sciences and mathematics.

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Annual Emily Dickinson Poetry Walk and Lecture Celebrate Shakespeare May 15

May 3, 2004
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.-The Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst will sponsor the annual Emily Dickinson Poetry Walk on Saturday, May 15, at 1 p.m. The walk honors the memory of the poet Emily Dickinson, who died on May 15, 1886. The event is free and open to the public. This year's walk will celebrate Dickinson's fondness for the writings of William Shakespeare: "he has had his Future who has found Shakespeare."

The day's festivities begin at 11 a.m. with a lecture at the museum at 280 Main St. by Páraic Finnerty of the University of Kent. Finnerty's talk, titled " 'Stratford on Avon - accept us all': Emily Dickinson's Bardolatry," is co-sponsored by the Museum and the Massachusetts Center for Renaissance Studies. Finnerty, who received his Ph.D. from the University of Kent at Canterbury, where he teaches English drama and American literature, was awarded The Emily Dickinson International Society's Scholar in Amherst Award in 2002 and is currently a Copeland Fellow at Amherst College. He has published articles on Dickinson and Shakespeare in The Emily Dickinson Journal and is revising a manuscript called "Emily Dickinson's Shakespeare" for future publication. The lecture is free, but space is limited, so please call 413/542-8429 to register.

The Poetry Walk will begin at 1 p.m. in the Homestead garden at the Museum, and will proceed through Amherst, stopping at various sites significant in Dickinson's life. (A full schedule is attached.) Members of the Amherst community, including representatives from the Amherst Historical Commission and Select Board, will read a selection of Dickinson's poems at each location. The Walk will also include quotations from Dickinson's letters that have references to Shakespeare and his plays.

At 2:30 p.m. the procession will arrive at West Cemetery on Triangle Street to gather at the Dickinson grave, where all are welcome to read their favorite poems and to join in a lighthearted toast to the poet's memory.

Those who choose to attend both the lecture and the Walk are invited to bring a picnic lunch to eat on the Museum grounds.
The Emily Dickinson Museum will host an Open House after the Walk from 3 to 4:30 p.m. The houses will be open for self-guided tours during that time, and guides will be on hand to answer questions. Admission is free. The Emily Dickinson Museum is owned by the Trustees of Amherst College. For more information, call the Museum at 413/542-8161 or visit www.emilydickinsonmuseum.org.

Programs and maps of the one-mile route of the Poetry Walk will be available at the Homestead. Participants are welcome to join the Walk at any point along the route. Those who wish to participate only in the cemetery reading should meet at the Dickinson grave in West Cemetery on Triangle St. at 2:30 p.m.

The Emily Dickinson Museum, comprising the Dickinson Homestead and The Evergreens, two historic house museums in Amherst, is devoted to the story and legacy of poet Emily Dickinson and her family. Both properties are owned by the Trustees of Amherst College. The Dickinson Homestead was the birthplace and residence of the poet Emily Dickinson (1830-1886). The Evergreens was the 1856 home of the poet's brother and sister-in-law, Austin and Susan Dickinson. The Emily Dickinson Museum is open Wednesday through Saturday, from 1 until 5 p.m.

Emily Dickinson Poetry Walk
Schedule of Readings

1 p.m. Dickinson Homestead garden, 280 Main Street
1:20 p.m. Amherst Train Station, Railroad Street
1:40 p.m. Front steps of The Evergreens, 214 Main Street
2 p.m. Front lawn of the Jones Library, 43 Amity Street
2:20 p.m. Parking lot behind Zanna, 187 North Pleasant Street
(next to Ren's Mobil Service, site of Dickinson home)
2:30 p.m. Dickinson grave site, West Cemetery, Triangle Street

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