Dean of the Faculty

Information for New Faculty, 2014-2015

Please check this page frequently, as new information will be added regularly.

Welcome to the Amherst College community.  What follows is basic information for new faculty members that will be helpful as you begin your career at the college.  While not meant to be comprehensive, the following items provide some guidance about dates, policies, and resources at Amherst.  Please feel free to contact the Office of the Dean of the Faculty when you have questions or concerns.  We look forward to getting to know each of you over the course of the year.

                                                                                                                                Catherine Epstein
                                                                                                                                Dean of the Faculty
                                                                                                                                Professor of History

Upcoming Events; First Days; Guidelines and Policies; Services for Students; Services for FacultyIT Information for New Faculty

 Dinosaur aeriel viewDinosaurs and friends


Wednesday, August 13, 4:30 p.m. 
Dean’s Welcome Barbecue with Dinosaurs and Friends
Amherst College Beneski Museum of Natural History

All new faculty and their families, as well as their department chairs, are invited to a barbecue and introduction to the Beneski Museum of Natural History (which dinosaur lovers young and old particularly enjoy).  Information will be provided about teaching using the museum’s collections.

Tuesday, August 26, Noon
Luncheon for New Faculty

Amherst College Alumni House

This lunch is an opportunity to learn about the early weeks of the semester, to discuss registration practices, to ask questions, and to meet the librarian of the college; the directors of the Mead Art Museum, Athletics, and the Center for Community Engagement; the registrar; deans from the offices of the Student Affairs and the Dean of the Faculty; and representatives from the Department of Information Technology and the Office of Human Resources.  Colleagues will offer information about the services provided by their departments. The handout for this lunch is now posted and will be provided to you in hard copy.

Monday, September 1, 5:00 p.m.Convocation
First Faculty Meeting

Converse Hall

Preceding Convocation, there will be a short faculty meeting from 5:00 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. in the Cole Assembly Room in Converse Hall to introduce new and returning colleagues and approve some new courses.  After the meeting, there will be a light supper in Converse Hall lobby until 7:00 p.m., allowing time for everyone to suit up in regalia for Convocation.

Monday, September 1, 7:30 p.m.
Johnson Chapel

Please plan to attend Convocation on Monday, September 1, at 7:30 p.m., in Johnson Chapel. Faculty and administrators who participate wear academic regalia.  If you need to rent regalia, early notice is essential.  Please contact Paula Mieczkowski at 413-542-8269 or Patricia Allen at 413-542-8094 or by email at or for rental information.  Paula and Pat can also help with purchasing regalia at any time during the year.

Friday, September 5, Noon-1:30 p.m.
Lunch Discussion for New Faculty: Teaching at Amherst, Observations on Local Culture and Expectations

Mullins and Faerber Rooms, Lewis-Sebring Dining Commons, Valentine Dining Hall

During this lunch, we will discuss what Amherst students want/expect in their classroom experiences. What kinds of workload and writing/testing work well?  What are the expectations/conventions regarding grading?  When/how is authority in the classroom established/challenged?

Tuesday, September 9, 5:00 p.m.-6:15 p.m.
Library Reception for New Faculty

Periodicals Reading Room, Frost Library
Library reading room
New faculty, department chairs, and faculty library representatives are invited to join our librarians and archivists for refreshments and conversation about support for research, library instruction for courses, or other library resources or services.  The librarians and archivists look forward to hearing more about what faculty are working on and teaching this semester.

Friday, September 12, Noon-1:30 p.m.
Lunch Discussion for Visiting Faculty Members
How to Get the Most Out of Your Time at Amherst
(for visiting faculty members only)
Mullins and Faerber Rooms, Lewis-Sebring Dining Commons, Valentine Dining Hall

Serving as a visiting faculty member at Amherst can be a rewarding and exciting experience.  In this session, colleagues who have been/are visiting faculty members offer their insights.  What worked for them in helping to get the most out of being at Amherst?  What pitfalls can be anticipated and avoided?

Thursday, September 18, Noon-2 p.m.Mead Salome dancer
Lunch and Learning at the Mead Art Museum: A Workshop for New Faculty Members

Mead Art Museum

Join Pamela Russell, Interim Director of the  Mead Art Museum, for an interactive workshop led by Harvard professor Laura Nasrallah on best practices for teaching with objects across disciplines from chemistry to classics, from gender studies to geology. The Mead houses the College’s renowned 19,000-object art collection representing virtually every national school and historical era, and offers exciting resources for faculty and students alike. A scholar of Early Christianity, Laura will demonstrate how interaction with original works of art has transformed her teaching. Pam will introduce you to the breadth and excellence of the Mead’s collection and show you how to integrate works of art into your own courses. Join us for lunch followed by an overview of the Mead’s galleries and storerooms, and stay for the participatory workshop in our well-equipped study room. Professor Nasrallah will also be giving a public lecture (more information).

Friday, September 26, Noon-1:30 p.m.
Lunch Discussion for New Faculty
Student Rights/Student Problems—Faculty Responsibilities

Mullins and Faerber Rooms, Lewis-Sebring Dining Commons, Valentine Dining Hall

Colleges are now facing the convergence of a generation of students who arrive on campus with serious problems and, at the same time, a legal and regulatory climate with heightened expectations for reporting and procedures.  Areas of prime concern include sexual harassment (Title IX), disabilities (ADA), privacy (FERPA), and reporting of infractions (Clery Act).  Amid our recurring notifications on these areas, we as teachers, both new and veteran, may wonder how our role with students is changing and how the college is working to assure the rights and intellectual freedom of all parties.  Faculty members are invited to a lunchtime discussion of where we stand and what we should be doing.  Suzanne Coffey, chief student affairs officer;  Alex Vasquez, dean of students; Laurie Frankl, Title IX coordinator; and Lisa Rutherford, chief policy officer and general counsel, will participate.

Friday, October 24, Noon-1:30 p.m.
Lunch Discussion for New Faculty
Faculty Governance

Mullins and Faerber Rooms, Lewis-Sebring Dining Commons, Valentine Dining Hall

Amherst prides itself on its tradition of faculty governance.  This conversation will focus on the roles that faculty members play in setting policy and making decisions at the college.  Under discussion will be the faculty meeting and its norms, as well as the roles and responsibilities of two major college committees—the Committee of Six (the executive committee of the faculty) and the Committee on Educational Policy (CEP).   

Friday, October 31, Noon-1:30 p.m. - POSTPONED, NEW DATES TO BE ANNOUNCED
Lunch Discussion for New Faculty
Perspectives on the Start of the
First Year
Friedmann Room, Campus Center

This lunch will provide an opportunity to discuss early experiences with classes and to meet with colleagues who joined the Amherst faculty within the last two years, who will offer their perspectives on the start of the first year and answer questions.  

Friday, November 14, Noon-1:30 p.m.   
Lunch Discussion for New Faculty
"Let’s Talk Athletics
Friends Room, Alumni Gym  

An opportunity to meet Interim Director of Athletics, Don Faulstick, and coaches to discuss the role of athletics at the college.

Monday, December 15, Noon to 1:30 p.m.
Lunch Discussion for New Faculty
End-of-Semester Reflections and Plans Going Forward

Friedmann Room, Campus Center                     

A conversation with new faculty focusing on their thoughts about their first semester at Amherst and what lies ahead.

Thursday, February 6, Noon (rescheduled from October 31)
Reflections on the First Semester of Teaching at Amherst College
Mullins and Faerber Rooms, Lewis-Sebring Dining Commons, Valentine Dining Hall

This lunch will provide an opportunity to discuss what colleagues learned about Amherst’s distinctive culture of teaching in their first semester of teaching here. How did they adjust/balance their teaching/research? How did they use their teaching evaluations to make adjustments/changes in their pedagogy? We will talk about the opportunities and the challenges that starting to teach here can pose. The discussion will be led by Alexandra Purdy, Hannah Holleman, and Carolyn Palmquist.

Friday, February 13, Noon (This is a repeat of the session done on October 24, 2014)
Faculty Governance
Mullins and Faerber Rooms, Lewis-Sebring Dining Commons, Valentine Dining Hall

During this lunch we will talk about the role of the faculty in the governance of the college. We will discuss Amherst’s traditions and procedures of faculty governance, including the norms of faculty meetings and the work of committees (e.g. the Committee of Six and the Committee on Educational Policy). The discussion will be led by Tekla Harms, Adam Honig, and Martha Umphrey.

Friday, May 8, Noon-1:30 p.m
Lunch Discussion for New Faculty: Reflections and Plans Going Forward

Mullins and Faerber Rooms, Lewis-Sebring Dining Commons, Valentine Dining Hall

A conversation with all new faculty focusing on their thoughts about their first year at Amherst and what lies ahead.

First Days

Moodle Hotline and Training for Faculty

Academic Technology Services (ATS) has created a special Moodle hotline (x5050) to make it easier for faculty to get questions answered quickly.  The Moodle hotline is staffed from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, during the semester.  If you have not yet attended one of the Moodle workshops, but would like to, please see the IT training calendar at  Workshops are scheduled for Wednesday, August 20, at 10:00 a.m. and Tuesday, August 26, at 2:00 p.m.  If the workshop times are not convenient for you, please call the Moodle hotline (x5050) to schedule an appointment.  If you have questions, please contact Paul Chapin at

Information Security Training

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts requires that all employees of the college receive training on information security.  Please see the the Department of Information Technology's New Employee Security Training page for details.

Monday Classes on Wednesday, September 3

Please note that during the first week of classes, due to the Labor Day holiday and the faculty's desire to have an equal number of class days for each day of the week in the course of the fall semester, Monday classes will be held on Wednesday, September 3.   The first Wednesday classes will meet on September 10.  The last day of classes in December is on a Wednesday (December 10, 2014) to make up for the one missed in the first week.

First Classes

At the start of every semester, faculty members are responsible for explaining to their students the implications for each course of the Statement of Intellectual Responsibility.  It may also be prudent to explain this policy in the course syllabus and/or the course web site.  Further information about the college's policies and services can be found on the Academic Honesty web page.

Add/Drop Period

During the first week of a semester’s add/drop period, students who wish to enroll in classes should be accommodated if space permits.  During the second week, faculty members should use their discretion when students seek late admittance to courses.  If a faculty member feels that it is impossible for a student to make up missed work after the first week, he or she should inform the student immediately upon the student’s request to enroll in the class.  Although first-year faculty members do not have formal advising responsibilities, they are encouraged to hold extra office hours during the add/drop period (September 2-September 10) and spring preregistration period (November 6–12).  As students make course selections, they often wish to consult faculty members about course content and/or requirements.

Faculty Meetings

Faculty meetings are normally held on first and third Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. in the Cole Assembly Room, and all faculty members have the right and responsibility to attend.  Please reserve these evenings throughout the year, please visit our Faculty Meetings web site for scheduled meetings and dates already released.

Guidelines and Policies

Title IX/ Mandatory Reporting

All faculty members (including visiting professors and adjunct professors) are mandatory reporters of information regarding sexual misconduct.  If you receive a report, observe, or otherwise learn about conduct that is prohibited by the college’s Sexual Misconduct Policy, you are required to share all known information, as soon as possible, with Laurie Frankl, Amherst’s Title IX coordinator, or with one of Amherst’s deputy Title IX coordinators.  For more information about Title IX at Amherst, please see Amherst’s Sexual Respect and Title IX webpage.

Mid-Semester Warning Grades

As the midpoint of the semester approaches, the registrar sends faculty members a reminder about mid-term grades, which includes a link to the registrar’s web page.  There, you will find instructions for submitting mid-term grades for each of your courses or sections.  If you have students earning grades of D or F at that time, you will be asked to submit the grade and provide comments, which will be forwarded to the Office of Student Affairs.  Class deans will meet with the students to offer support and guidance.  The deadline for mid-semester warning grades for the fall semester is Wednesday, October 22.

Final Grades

It is important that faculty members meet all deadlines for the submission of grades to the Registrar's Office, but it is imperative that spring semester senior grades are turned in by Monday, May 18, at 9 a.m.  The grades for the other three classes are due by 4 p.m. on Wednesday, May 20.

Intellectual Dishonesty

In cases of cheating and plagiarism, faculty members have the responsibility to enforce the Statement of Intellectual Responsibility.  They are strongly encouraged to report all instances to the Office of Student Affairs, which keeps student records and will be aware of any previous infractions a particular student may have committed.  Without such reporting, students may be able to commit multiple infractions without serious consequence.  The college's discipline system handles instances of suspected or proven cheating and plagiarism.  In every instance, the particular grade penalty is imposed only at the discretion of the instructor.  If an instructor suspects an instance of plagiarism off the internet, staff members of the Office of Student Affairs can help locate the source.

Course Evaluation by Students

Evaluation procedures for tenure-track faculty are described in the Faculty Handbook in section III.D.2, Annual Conversation with the Chair, and in section III.D.4, Reappointment Procedures.  Each department designs a form in essay format appropriate to its subject matter.  It may be helpful to ask the chair for a copy of that form early in the semester.  At the time of a faculty member’s reappointment, retrospective letters will also be solicited from all the students he or she has taught at Amherst.  Visiting faculty members are encouraged to arrange with their chairs, early in the semester, how, if at all, they want to be evaluated by students.

Completion of Work and Extensions

All course work in a given semester must be submitted by the last day of classes at 5:00 p.m. Extensions will be given only for extraordinary reasons, and only when students have obtained signatures of the course instructor and the class dean.  Work not submitted by the date set in the extension will not be accepted for credit.  Only for medical reasons or those of grave personal emergency will extensions be granted beyond the second day after the examination period.  Amherst does not use the grade of incomplete.

Faculty Entertainment Allowance

Students very much appreciate the opportunity to interact with their teachers and coaches outside the classroom, and funding is available to support this activity.  All Amherst tenure-line faculty members, lecturers, and visiting faculty members, and all coaches, are eligible to receive up to $200 per year for costs related to meals and informal meetings with students. Those teaching First-Year Seminars are eligible to receive an additional $100 in funding for entertainment costs for their seminar students.  Please fill out this form and submit it to Joanne Thornton in the controller’s office, along with receipts for expenses incurred entertaining students.The form must be submitted within the fiscal year in which expenses are incurred.

Pilot Program this Academic Year to Support Hosting Students for Meals at Faculty HomesResearch suggests that even one visit to a faculty member’s home can have a significant impact on college students.  To encourage and support this important experience, the dean has created a pilot program that will be in place during the 2014-2015 academic year.   Funding of up to $100 per year is now available to all Amherst tenure-line faculty members, lecturers, visiting faculty members, and coaches, who host a class or a group of students for a meal at their home.  The meal need not be home-cooked (take-out is fine).  Not all colleagues are in a position to participate in this program, but those who are willing and able are urged to do so.  The home-meal program supplements the $200 annual faculty entertainment allowance described above.   Please fill out this form and submit it to Joanne Thornton in the controller’s office, along with receipts for expenses incurred entertaining students.  The form must be submitted within the fiscal year in which expenses are incurred.

Free Meals When Dining with Students in Amherst Dining Halls All Amherst tenure-line and visiting faculty members, lecturers and all coaches, are eligible for six free meals each semester (a total of thirteen for faculty members who are teaching First-Year Seminars) at Valentine simply by presenting their Amherst College I.D. Card to the meal checker.  The free meals are pre-loaded on the individuals’ I.D., and one meal is deducted from the allotment each time the card is used.  The meals are in addition to the $200 entertainment allowance.

College Policies

Visit the links below for information on important matters of policy and procedure:

 Helpful Links for Faculty Members

Five College Faculty Resources Online

For links to information to the many resources and opportunities available to Amherst faculty members and their students through the Five College Consortium, visit

Services for Students

Academic Support Services

Amherst offers a variety of services to support students' academic work.  In addition to the advising and teaching support provided by the faculty, assistance is also made available through the Moss Quantitative Center and writing centers, English as a Second Language Writing Services, academic services for students with disabilities, departmental peer tutoring, the Reading and Study Skills Workshop (fall semester), and Math Review during winter break.  For more information, visit Services for Academic Support.

Students with Personal Difficulties

Information that will be helpful to you in the case of a student emergency can be found here.

Services for Faculty Members

Technology Services

Information Technology provides a variety of services to faculty members, including computers, email, network drives, common software, web pages, and other resources. The Academic Technology Services division of IT can assist you with your technology needs for teaching, the classroom, and research, including the Moodle learning management system for course web sites, e-reserves and audio/video reserves. The AC Data web site provides faculty members with real-time access to class lists, advisee schedules, and advisee transcripts. The IT service desk ( or (413)542-2526) is available from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and students staff the desk in the evenings and on weekends.  For more information, visit the IT web site

Adding to the Library's Collections

If you notice gaps in your field in the library's collections and want to have books purchased, please contact Susan Sheridan at x 2850 or the Research and Instruction Librarian for your department.

Funding for the Faculty

The Dean of the Faculty's Office administers institutional grant and fellowship programs for the faculty.  For more information on funding criteria, application deadlines, and awards, visit Funding through the Dean of the Faculty's Office listing on the website.

Faculty and Staff Assistance Program

FSAP is a confidential resource for faculty, staff, and their immediate family members that is available free of charge.  FSAP staff are licensed professionals who offer assessment, brief counseling, and referrals to help resolve a broad range of personal, work, and family problems. Employees and their families may call 413-545-0350 to make an appointment.