The Copeland Colloquium

The Copeland Program
The Copeland Colloquium was established in 1971 by Morris A. Copeland, Class of 1917, and his wife, Mary, with the intent “to bring together people of diverse backgrounds and different perspectives to engage with faculty and students at Amherst College in a way designed to promote the cross-fertilization of ideas.” Consistent with this mission, the Copeland Colloquium provides small groups of scholars and practicing artists and performers with an opportunity to explore a common theme in residence at Amherst College in colloquy with each other, Amherst faculty, and Amherst students. The Copeland Fellows, who often participate in colloquia and other programming on campus, bring to the College a variety of perspectives and interests, enriching the Amherst community.
Fellows are selected from many different disciplines, vocations, and professions; in the past they have included research scientists, artists, musicians, and creative writers. Many Copeland Fellows are American citizens, but the colloquium is increasingly taking on an international and cross-cultural flavor—with fellows coming from China, Africa, Russia, Poland, Switzerland, and France. Fellows’ involvements with the College have included guest lectures in Amherst courses, participation in Five College Faculty Seminars, work with individual students, recitals, exhibitions, and public lectures. The Copeland Colloquium is administered by the Office of the Dean of the Faculty and is coordinated by Janet Tobin, Assistant Dean of the Faculty.

A New Approach in 2007-2008
In 2007, the Copeland Colloquium expanded on a three-year trial basis from a single semester to the full academic year. Copeland Fellows are now selected with reference to an interdisciplinary yearlong theme that has been developed by a group of Amherst faculty members. The members of the faculty group serve as Faculty Sponsors to the Copeland Fellows and set the intellectual direction for exploring the theme.

Selection of the Theme and the Fellows
The Faculty Research Awards Committee is charged with choosing Copeland themes for their intrinsic merit and their capacity to interest different faculty constituencies. The theme is selected by the end of September. Each proposal (please send SIX copies) should be submitted by a group of at least three faculty members from at least two academic departments and should include a brief description of the theme, along with an explanation of its appeal to colleagues in different disciplines. If applicable, the names of potential Copeland Fellows may be included in the proposal. A budget for programming should also be included. Questions regarding budget should be directed to the Dean of the Faculty.

Once a faculty group’s theme has been selected, that group becomes responsible, with support from the Office of the Dean of the Faculty, for setting the intellectual direction of the program during the year in which the theme is explored. The group is encouraged to consider inviting one or two Copeland Fellows, choosing the remainder from among the nominations from the Amherst Faculty and/or through a national or international fellowship competition. The theme group is also expected to assign from among its members one or two Faculty Sponsors for each fellow. If there is more than one sponsor for a particular fellow, a Lead Sponsor should be designated. Faculty Sponsors are available to the Copeland Fellows as advisors and mentors and facilitate the fellows’ interaction with other faculty members and with students. Faculty Sponsors also provide workspace for the fellows, as well as limited administrative services, through the department of the Lead Faculty Sponsor. In selecting fellows, preference is generally given to those who are not graduates of Amherst College.

Compensation and Support for Fellows
Each Copeland Fellow receives a taxable stipend ranging from $30,000 to $50,000 (depending on rank), and limited travel and research support. They also receive full use of the College’s library, computer, and fitness facilities. Support may be available for colloquia, exhibitions, publications, and other programming, and administrative support is provided by the College to meet the needs of the Copeland Fellows and each year’s sponsoring faculty group. As Faculty Sponsors, the faculty group members are available to the Copeland Fellows as advisors and mentors and facilitate the fellows’ interaction with other faculty members and with students. Faculty sponsors also provide workspace for the fellows. Fellows are responsible for their own housing and meals. Faculty Sponsors will provide fellows with information about housing opportunities. Questions about visas should be directed to Mica Eberbach in the College’s Office of Human Resources by email or phone at 413-542-5402.

Responsibilities of Copeland Fellows
Fellows are expected to serve as a stimulus and resource for students and faculty at Amherst, and thus to participate in the larger life of the College through guest lectures in Amherst courses, participation in Five College Faculty Seminars, work with individual students, recitals, exhibitions, and public lectures. Fellows attend programs with sponsors, other faculty, and students, and they submit a brief report at the end of year about their experience. Some Copeland Fellows in the past have worked closely with their sponsors, providing research or teaching assistance, but this is arranged on a case-by-case basis between the sponsor and fellow. Fellows do not receive additional compensation for such assistance.

Responsibilities of Faculty Sponsors
As Faculty Sponsors, the theme group members are available to the Copeland Fellows as advisors and mentors and facilitate the fellows’ interaction with other faculty members and with students. Many faculty members find sponsoring a Copeland Fellow to be an extremely rewarding experience. Sponsorship is not particularly time-consuming, but faculty members who are considering hosting a Copeland Fellow should be aware of their responsibilities. Sponsors are asked to provide support in numerous ways. They secure office space (past sponsors have arranged to share their own office space, have given up their library study for the year, or have made arrangements with a colleague who will be on leave for the year to let the fellow “borrow” his or her office); attend meetings and presentations for Copeland Fellows, Faculty Sponsors, Faculty, and students; and help the fellow get settled. This sort of assistance will vary according to each fellow’s needs, but may include introducing the person to colleagues and students, helping him or her become familiar with the layout of the campus, suggesting a place to get a good cup of coffee, helping to open a bank account, or even loaning the person a sweater. The role involves being available to answer any routine questions that might come up or to address any minor problems. Faculty Sponsors also assist the Copeland Fellow in obtaining a Social Security number. Tax laws require fellows who do not already have one to apply for a Social Security number before they can receive any portion of their stipend. There is a satellite office in Northampton where this can be done.

The Copeland Colloquium is overseen by the Office of the Dean of the Faculty. For more information, please contact Janet Tobin by email or phone at 413-542-8483.