Amherst College Will Honor High School Teachers at Commencement May 27

April 26, 2007
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—Three secondary school teachers who challenged, inspired and moved members of the Class of 2007 will receive the Phebe and Zephaniah Swift Moore Teaching Awards at Amherst College’s 186th Commencement Exercises at 10 a.m. on Sunday, May 27, at the college. The teachers are Jim Cortez, from The Bolles School in Jacksonville, Fla.; Bob Fenster, from Hillsborough High School in Hillsborough, N.J.; and Joanne McClelland, from Chapel Hill High School in Chapel Hill, N.C.

“American colleges and universities must recognize that the secondary schools matter,” says Anthony W. Marx, the president of Amherst. “Education is the best tool we have for improving the world. Teachers who are willing to take the time to help their students achieve are making a difference in many lives.”

The Phebe and Zephaniah Swift Moore Teaching Awards recognize teachers who have been important in the careers of Amherst students.

Jim Cortez, a chemistry teacher from The Bolles School in Jacksonville, Fla., was nominated by Alexander Bridges of Ponte Vedra, Fla. Bridges admits that Cortez “puzzled and confounded me more than all of my other teachers combined.” He describes Cortez’s classroom as “a three-dimensional habitat for his courses,” and says his teaching style made students “digest the material and struggle with it personally.” Bridges is grateful for this teacher’s influence, to which he attributes his “deepest academic motivations.” “He encouraged me to take personal responsibility for my work, kindling a deeper commitment to my studies and a profound respect for academia.…He taught me that I could study hard and still laugh at myself and stop once in a while to enjoy the ride.”

Bob Fenster, a U.S. history teacher from Hillsborough High School in Hillsborough, N.J., was nominated by Thomas Chen. Chen calls Fenster a “a teacher who opens his students’ minds to multicultural history, a teacher for whose students reading and writing go beyond textbooks and into film, music and the Internet,” and praises his unique multimedia presentation style that employed “PowerPoint, video, music and text all in one class period. With carefully crafted media presentations, Fenster showed the horrors of Nazi Germany, the historical view of hip hop and the reigning power of the Beatles and Bob Dylan.” This history teacher inspired Chen to switch his own career path from law to teaching, in order to follow Fenster’s example of training lawyers and activists. “Fenster embodies the noblest aims of teaching—providing the tools to understand the past and the present, and as a way to make a better future,” Chen said.

Joanne McClelland, an English teacher of AP literature at Chapel Hill High School in Chapel Hill, N.C., was nominated by Samuel Guzzardi. Guzzardi recognizes the profound influence that McClelland has exerted on his life—“Her ‘tough love’ style of sharp commentary delivered with stern but supportive eyes immediately won me over,” he said. “Her message to me was simple and unwavering: with privilege comes responsibility.” Born in a housing project, McClelland used her own success against prejudice to found and lead AVID, the Advancement Via Individual Determination, a program that provides guidance and academic support to first-generation college students. Her unconventional approach to literature through the lens of personal experience has led Guzzardi to create his own interdisciplinary major, Experiential Justice Studies, at Amherst. And McClelland’s motto, “with privilege comes responsibility,” inspired Guzzardi to accept a position with Teach for America to work with fifth-grade Latino students in the Bronx. Guzzardi noted that McClelland’s “tireless insistence that I always do my best has fueled me with the unrelenting sense of dedication and focus to which I attribute my success at Amherst.”

This is the 11th year that Amherst College has presented the award, with which it expresses its appreciation for the profession of teaching. The recipients are chosen by a committee of seniors, faculty and staff from nominations submitted by graduating seniors.

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Amherst College German Professor Ute Brandes Edits New Edition of Anna Seghers’ Short Stories

April 25, 2007
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—Ute Brandes, a professor of German at Amherst College, has just published the first of a two-volume edition of Anna Seghers’s short stories from 1958 to 1966, in the 25-volume Werkausgabe of Seghers’s literary works (35€, 480 pp., Aufbau-Verlag, Berlin 2007).

Anna Seghers was one of the great figures of German modernism and a leading intellectual voice among émigré and postwar writers. As a leftist author and German Jew, she went into exile in 1933, first to France, later to Mexico. In 1942 her antifascist novel, The Seventh Cross, was a bestseller in America. After the war she was widely read in German-speaking countries, and her works were translated into more than 40 languages. Her short stories, newly presented in Brandes’s edition, were written at the height of the Cold War in East Germany, a period notorious for censorship and self-censorship. Brandes’s editing and critical essays focus on restoring the original features of the texts and their variants, on their reception in East and West, and on the aesthetic and political implications of certain narrative strategies which make Seghers’s works richly original.

The 12 stories in this edition include “Brot und Salz,” “Vierzig Jahre der Margarete Wolf,” “Das Licht auf dem Galgen,” the story cycle “Die Kraft der Schwachen” and the posthumous novella “Der gerechte Richter,” first published in 1990.

A member of the Amherst faculty since 1982, Brandes is the author of Günter Grass (1998), Anna Seghers (1992), Zwischen Gestern und Morgen: Schriftstellerinnen der DDR aus amerikanischer Sicht (1992) and Zitat und Montage in der neueren DDR-Prosa (1984). Brandes received a Ph.D. degree from Harvard University in 1982 and a B.A from the University of New Hampshire in 1972.

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Amherst College Center for Community Engagement Names Molly Mead Director

April 19, 2007
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—Molly Mead, a professor of urban studies and founding director of the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service at Tufts University, has been named the first director of the new Center for Community Engagement at Amherst College. Her appointment is effective July 1.

Mead joined the faculty of Tufts’ department of urban and environmental policy in 1990 and was named founding director of the Tisch College in 1999. She taught in the center for human services at the University of Massachusetts at Boston from 1984 through 1989. Mead also directed several community-based organizations in Massachusetts and has served as an independent trainer for a wide range of service agencies since the mid-1970s. Mead earned an A.B. degree in history and government from Cornell University, an MBA from Simmons College and an Ed.D. from the University of Massachusetts.

The Center for Community Engagement was created last year at Amherst College by a philanthropic investment of more than $13 million from the Argosy Foundation, a family philanthropy established by John E. Abele, a 1959 graduate of Amherst College. Abele was the founding chairman of Boston Scientific Corporation, a pioneer in the less-invasive medical device. “The focus of the center—connecting students to communities through public service so they can better understand life’s circumstances and act on their ability to bring about positive change—is in keeping with the vision of the Argosy Foundation,” says Abele.

As the founding director of Amherst College’s Center for Community Engagement, Mead will build on the strengths of the college’s existing outreach and public service programs to make substantive and exciting opportunities for service available to all Amherst students, including those who cannot afford to volunteer without pay. Mead and her staff will expand and deepen Amherst’s partnerships with community-based organizations in the Amherst area and will also seek to forge new partnerships regionally, nationally and globally. The center will provide robust training, mentoring and reflection programs for outreach participants to ensure that their service is generally helpful to the community and that these experiences are meaningful in the context of students’ broader education. The center will also offer support and resources to Amherst faculty members wishing to develop courses that employ community-based learning pedagogies. An advisory board made up of faculty, staff, students, alumni and community partners will guide the center’s ongoing work. The center will officially open in newly renovated space in the Keefe Campus Center with a college-wide celebration at the start of the 2007-08 academic year.

Each year, one in four Amherst students volunteers time locally as mentors or tutors to children in area public schools, at domestic-violence prevention programs, hospitals and other valuable community organizations. Groups of Amherst students also have traveled to New York City and Washington, D.C. during the January Interterm to teach in underserved urban schools, assist in pro bono legal work and talk with Amherst alumni who have chosen careers in public service.

Founded in 1821 for “the education of indigent young men of piety and talents,” Amherst College is now widely regarded as the premier liberal arts college in the nation, enrolling a diverse group of approximately 1,600 young men and women. Well known for its academic excellence, Amherst is also consistently ranked among the very best schools in the country in terms of accessibility: The college’s financial aid packages are consistently the most generous in the U.S., and among its peer universities and colleges Amherst has the greatest economic diversity. Diversity, in its broadest sense, is fundamental to Amherst’s mission. The college enrolls students from every state and more than 40 countries, and for the past several years more than 35 percent of Amherst’s students have been students of color. Amherst offers the B.A. degree in 33 fields of study.

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Amherst College Glee Club Presents Annual Senior Concert April 28

April 19, 2007
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—The Amherst College Men's Glee Club will present its annual Senior Concert at 8 p.m. on Saturday, April 28, in Buckley Recital Hall in the Arms Music Building on the Amherst College campus. The Glee Club is directed by Mallorie Chernin; Katie Vogele, a 2006 graduate of Mount Holyoke College, is assistant director. The concert is free and open to the public.

The music for the Senior Concert is chosen by the seniors, who pick favorite songs from their four years of participation in the Glee Club. The singers will perform sacred and secular music, songs of other nations and spirituals, including music by Jacob Handl, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Kurt Knecht, William Dawson and many more. The concert will end with the traditional “Senior Song” by James S. Hamilton of the Amherst College class of 1906 and the passing of the historic senior chalice. Further information is available from Mallorie Chernin at 413/542-2484 or by e-mail at mchernin@amherst.edu.

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Amherst College Orchestra Celebrates the Class of ’07 April 21

April 19, 2007
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417


AMHERST, Mass.—The Amherst College Orchestra will celebrate the Class of 2007 in its annual senior concert at 8 p.m. on Saturday, April 21, in Buckley Recital Hall in the Arms Music Center at Amherst College. The Amherst College Orchestra will pay tribute to the graduating class in the final concert of the academic year, performing the “Academic Festival Overture,” composed by Johannes Brahms in gratitude for the conferral of an honorary degree, the two-movement “Unfinished” Symphony by Franz Schubert and the rousing Symphony No. 9, “From the New World,” by Antonin Dvorak.

The concert is free and open to the public; refreshments will be served. Black Sheep desserts and coffee will be served at intermission; the concert will be followed by an after-party for the Class of 2007 (admission by ticket stub).

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Poet John Hennessy To Read at Amherst Books April 26

April 19, 2007
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—John Hennessy, a poet “without an ounce of pretension—about either his working-class roots or the deftly turned poetry he makes of it,” according to Mary Jo Salter, will read from his new collection, Bridge and Tunnel (2007), at 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 26, at Amherst Books (8 Main Street, Amherst, Mass.). Sponsored by the Creative Writing Center at Amherst College, Hennessy’s reading is free and open to the public.

Salter, poet and Emily Dickinson Senior Lecturer in the Humanities at Mount Holyoke College, praises “Hennessy’s witty mythologizing gift.” Daniel Hall, poet-in-residence at Amherst College, writes of Bridge and Tunnel, a gritty rhapsody to Hennessy’s New Jersey childhood: “Whether he is … grappling with his mother’s bizarre cosmology, or explaining mortality to his young son, Hennessy’s music recalls the wild delirium of a Klezmer band. This startling new voice is really a houseful of voices, sage and seductive, heartbreaking and hilarious by turns.”

Hennessy grew up in New Jersey and received a B.A. degree from Princeton University. He has lived in New York, Amsterdam and Austin, and completed graduate degrees at the University of Texas and the University of Arkansas. His poems have appeared in The New Republic, The Yale Review, New Letters, Ontario Review, Fulcrum Annual, Harvard Review, Salt (UK), Notre Dame Review, Jacket (Australia), The Sewanee Review and Best New Poets 2005.

Hennessy teaches at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

The Amherst College Creative Writing Center sponsors a yearly reading series featuring both emerging and established authors. For more information, see the Creative Writing Center Website or call 413/542-8200.

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Symposium on Transatlantic Visions at Amherst College April 27-29

April 19, 2007
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—The third annual Symposium on Transatlantic Visions will take place in the Alumni House at Amherst College on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, April 27, 28 and 29. Titled “Luso-Hispanic Voices: Nation, Language and Identity,” the symposium will feature three keynote addresses that will be free and open to the public.

Ilán Stavans, the Lewis-Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture and Five College 40th Anniversary Professor at Amherst College, will speak on “Nebrija’s Children” at 6 p.m. on Friday, April 27.

Barbara Simerka, professor of Hispanic studies at Queens College, will speak on “Distant Refractions: Don Quijote and Postmodern Cinema” at 11:45 a.m. on Saturday, April 28.

Onésimo T. Almeida, senior lecturer in Portuguese and Brazilian studies at Brown University, will speak on “Language, a Window into the World of Identity” at 12 p.m. on Sunday, April 29.

The Symposium on Transatlantic Visions is sponsored by España, Cooperación Cultural Exterior; the Amherst College Department of Spanish; Citizens Bank of Amherst; the Mount Holyoke College Department of Spanish; the Smith College Department of Spanish; The University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Spanish and Portuguese Program, Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures and the office of the Dean of the Graduate School.

See the complete schedule.

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Junior Laura Stein Recognized by Massachusetts Dept. of Mental Retardation For Work

April 18, 2007
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—On Friday, Mar. 30, in the Sunderland Public Library, the Massachusetts Department of Mental Retardation awarded Laura Stein, an Amherst College junior from Rockport, Maine, a Certificate of Recognition for her work with mentally retarded and developmentally disabled people. The ceremony was part of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (MR/DD) Awareness month, where the department provides information and support for improving the quality of life of people with developmental disabilities. Deborah Omasta-Mokrzecki, the manager of dining services and student dining in Amherst College Dining Services, was also honored.

The daughter of Robert W. Stein and Sarah Stein of Rockport, Maine, Stein began her work with developmentally disabled individuals at the age of 15, when she created a “Tennis for Fun” program in her hometown to teach tennis to adults with special needs. At Amherst she extended the program, working with Riverside Industries and several Amherst College volunteers to continue to give lessons on campus. Stein dedicated herself wholeheartedly to the program, applying for and receiving a grant to purchase equipment for her lessons and even arranging transportation for many of the participants to and from the lessons. “Stein has single-handedly built this program from the ground up,” said a representative of Riverside Industries, “Riverside praises her tenacity and initiative in offering this service to local adults.”

Last week, Stein also received a Student Community Engagement Leadership Award from the Association of Amherst Students for her work with this program.

The Department of Mental Retardation is dedicated to creating, in partnership with others, innovative and genuine opportunities for individuals with mental retardation to participate fully and meaningfully in, and contribute to, their communities as valued members. For more information, please visit Its Website.

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Amherst College Women’s Chorus and Concert Choir Present Annual Spring Concerts May 4 and May 5

April 17, 2007
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—The Amherst College Women’s Chorus will present its annual Spring Concert at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, May 4, in Buckley Recital Hall in the Arms Music Building on the Amherst College campus. The Amherst College Concert Choir will present a concert at 8 p.m. on Saturday, May 5, in Buckley Recital Hall. Both concerts are free and open to the public.

Directed by Mallorie Chernin, the Amherst College Women’s Chorus on Friday will perform sacred music and music from around the world. The chorus will sing in Tamil, French, Latin, Yiddish and Zulu. Katie Vogele, a 2006 graduate of Mount Holyoke College, is the assistant director of the Women’s Chorus and Timothy Cheng Amherst ’06 is the pianist.

On Saturday, May 5, the Amherst College Concert Choir, also under the direction of Mallorie Chernin, will feature Ralph Vaughan Williams’ “Serenade to Music” with guest pianist Ludmilla Krasin. Other composers include Lotti, Brahms, Matthew Harris and Percy Hall. Katie Vogele is the assistant director.

Further information is available from Mallorie Chernin at 413/542-2484 or by e-mail at mchernin@amherst.edu.

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Deborah Omasta-Mokrzecki Recognized by Massachusetts Department of Mental Retardation for Work with Disabled Adults

April 17, 2007
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—On Friday, Mar. 30, in the Sunderland Public Library, the Massachusetts Department of Mental Retardation awarded Deborah Omasta-Mokrzecki, the manager of dining services and student dining in Amherst College Dining Services, a Certificate of Recognition for her work with mentally retarded and developmentally disabled people. The ceremony was part of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (MR/DD) Awareness month, where the department provides information and support for improving the quality of life of people with developmental disabilities. Laura Stein, an Amherst College junior from Rockport, Maine, was also recognized.

A resident of Hadley, Mass., Omasta has for five years worked with her staff and managers at Valentine Hall, the college’s central dining facility, to partner with Riverside Industries to hire food service attendants, food servers, salad servers, dishwashers and meal checkers/cashiers. Omasta-Mokrzecki is consistently praised for her vision and sensitivity in her work with Riverside. “If this was a screening of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ starring Deborah Omasta-Mokrzecki, it would be revealed that she dramatically changed the lives of at least 15 people served by Riverside Industries by giving them a chance to work,” a representative for the company stated. “Deb’s willingness to work in a collaborative style with Riverside is an absolute joy.”

The Department of Mental Retardation is dedicated to creating, in partnership with others, innovative and genuine opportunities for individuals with mental retardation to participate fully and meaningfully in, and contribute to, their communities as valued members. Its Website is at www.mass.gov/dmr/.

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