March 8, 2007

At the behest of the Instruction Committee of the Board of Trustees, our group has been meeting since September to organize the adoption of a mission statement. On the basis of broad on-campus consultation about the first draft (Nov. 28, 2006), we created a second draft (Jan. 28, 2007), which we shared with all on- and off-campus constituencies for comment (see both drafts ) . Our March 6, 2007 revision of the statement is below .

At the faculty meeting of March 27, the statement will be discussed in order to give our group a sense of what may be called for before reporting to the Board of Trustees at their meeting of April 23-24. After that conversation, we will bring the statement, with appropriate revisions, back to the Faculty for a vote and submit a final draft to the Board for approval at their meeting of May 25-26.

In all, we have received over a hundred specific responses in meetings or in writing from students, faculty, staff, administrators, and parents, as well as from meetings of the Student Senate, the Executive Committee of the Alumni Council, Life and Emeriti Trustees, and the Instruction Committee.

We have received generally positive responses to the content of the statement and the expression. Suggestions for substantial changes go in no single direction. We included a list of eleven issues to be considered in drafting a mission statement; this list has generally been found to be valid and adequate. No one wants a longer statement. Some would prefer a shorter one, but others want particular points amplified or clarified. In revising the first draft, we moved from three sentences to five and added about forty words, a change that seems to have aided comprehension. The third draft is slightly shorter. See Major Revisions .

Here is our revision of the statement:

The Mission of Amherst College

Terras irradient
“Let them give light to the world.”

Amherst College educates men and women of exceptional potential from all backgrounds so that they may seek, value, and advance knowledge, engage the world around them, and lead principled lives of consequence.

Undergraduates work closely with faculty, staff, and administrators committed to the highest standards of instruction in the liberal arts and to the highest standards of research and artistic creation. Students assume substantial responsibility for undertaking inquiry and for shaping their education within and beyond the curriculum.

From its founding, Amherst has brought together the most promising students, whatever their financial need, in order to promote diversity of experience and ideas within a purposefully small residential community. Its graduates have linked education with leadership—in service to the College, to their communities, and to the world beyond.

[March 6, 2007]

Comments and suggestions from all members of the Amherst family continue to be helpful as we refine the statement. Please contact us at

  Rhonda Cobham-Sander Stanley Rabinowitz
Tekla Harms Greg Call (ex officio)
Peter Lobdell Rick Griffiths (ex officio)
Rose Olver  

Frequently asked questions about the adoption of a mission statement