February 28, 2006
The College welcomes the comments and suggestions we have received in response to the recent article in Business Week. We are actively discussing the support and concerns expressed. I believe that only with a full discussion and debate can the College refine and advance the thinking about its future—building upon our strengths rather than just resting upon them. Led by the Committee on Academic Priorities, we have been engaged in a year-long conversation about our future. The Business Week piece touches on a subset of the issues that are being discussed. If the article gave an impression of a plan having already been set, then let me take this moment to reiterate that we still are in the formative stages of this process and remain open to further discussion before any plans are so set. We encourage you to join in these deliberations, and believe that you will find the CAP report a broader basis for engaging with us.
I hope that I might clarify some misimpressions in the Business Week article. We are not seeking students from less economic privilege who cannot compete and succeed at Amherst. We will maintain our high academic standards and seek only those who meet those standards, assessing our success along the way. As has been the case for generations, we seek to enhance the College's intellectual standing and reputation. To do so, we hope to further expand the pool of our applicants so as to keep improving our standards while broadening the mix of students who learn from each other. We propose to do so without breaching our commitment to existing constituencies that add to the mix on campus; we will continue to retain the representation of alumni children and athletes as valued members of our classes. Consistent with this, the CAP has proposed that the College add about 20 students per class, so that we can maintain our commitments while expanding our reach. And of course, we will continue to ensure that the needs of our current and future students are met here, while we seek to engage in and inspire further improvements in the public education system that prepares so many of our students. I should add that I was disappointed to see that some students, such as athletes and legacies, were stereotyped as not meeting high standards nor contributing to the mix of experiences on campus. We all know that is not true of students at Amherst.
I believe that we are engaged in an important and productive conversation about the future of the College. I thank you for continuing to share your thoughts and insights. E-mail the CAP.