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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