The president was joined by Cullen Murphy '74, chair of the Board of Trustees. Their remarks preceded by the annual meeting of the Society of the Alumni, presided over by the chair, William H. Woolverton '73, P'17, '12.
Provost Peter Uvin, joined by selected committee chairs, provided an update on and discussion of the college’s strategic planning process. Sub-committees recently issued their draft reports and recommendations and are seeking feedback from all members of the Amherst community—faculty, staff, students, alumni and parents.
In the spring of 2013, Amherst College invited all 21,000 alumni to participate in a comprehensive survey about their Amherst experience and their lives since. Forty-two percent did so. The responses, analyzed over six generations, are informing the college’s strategic planning process and the Advancement Office’s efforts to engage alumni with Amherst. What did we find out? What surprised us? Join Jesse Barba and Kate Doria of the Office of Institutional Research for a closer look at… you.
When Amherst made headlines in 2013 for not joining an elite group of institutions using massive open online courses (MOOCs) to teach, some observers concluded that the faculty had rejected online teaching altogether. In fact, the digital classroom is alive and well at Amherst College. Rhonda Cobham-Sander, professor of Black studies and English, a self-described dud when it comes to technology, and Missy Roser ’94, head of library research and instruction, collaborated with professors and librarians at two other institutions on a course that propelled their students into the digital age as they traveled back in time. The class explored the literature produced after West Indian workers migrated to build the Panama Canal and Asian indentured laborers replaced them on Caribbean sugar cane plantations. Working remotely with students and scholars based at other institutions, students learned how to utilize, critique and annotate digitized archives, while analyzing poems, novels and life histories. Their digital collaboration is reframing the stories scholars tell about the literature of interlocking diasporas.
In May 1940, when the Germans overran Europe, FDR insisted that Harry Hopkins, a sickly Iowa-born social worker with no foreign policy experience, move into the White House a few doors down from the president’s own bedroom. As envoy for the physically disabled president, Hopkins formed a lifelong friendship with Winston and Clementine Churchill and earned a measure of respect from Joseph Stalin. In his book, The Hopkins Touch: Harry Hopkins and the Forging of the Alliance to Defeat Hitler, published by Oxford, Dave Roll ’62 resurrects the life of this spectral character, arguably the most powerful presidential aide in the history of the American republic. He will be joined by Ronald Rosbottom, the Winifred L. Arms Professor in the Arts and Humanities and professor of French and European Studies, author of the forthcoming When Paris Went Dark: The City of Light Under German Occupation, 1940–44. Dave is a partner at law firm Steptoe & Johnson and founder of the Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation, a public interest organization that provides pro bono legal services to social entrepreneurs around the world.
Professor Kevin Sweeney’s talk examined the origins of the Second Amendment in light of both the possession and use of firearms in colonial America and of on-going efforts during the late 1700s to reorganize and re-arm state militias. Even though the ownership of firearms was widespread, political leaders debated how best to insure militiamen had the right kind of firearm and the necessary training to use it. The Federalists who shaped the Second Amendment were more concerned about securing muskets to insure the nation's defense than in protecting an individual's right to own a hand gun for self-defense.
Burt Griffin ’54 and David Slawson ’53 were counsel to the Warren Commission and investigated President Kennedy’s assassination along with fellow alum John McCloy, Class of 1916, who served on the Commission. Hear from Griffin and Slawson about their work and ask questions about “who?” and “why?” Presented by the Class of 1954.
How does the college field successful teams in a demanding academic and social environment? Some Old Jocks look at Amherst athletics today. Tom Blackburn ’54, Tony Mahar ’54, Ralph Powell ’54, Cliff Storms ’54 and Dick Sturtevant ’54 discuss today’s consistently successful program with Don Faulstick, interim director of athletics. Presented by the Class of 1954.
Bob Abrams ’54 on “Pediatrics, 2014: The Best of Times, The Worst of Times,” Don Lindberg ’54 on “The National Library of Medicine: Providing Patient Information,” Bob Schapiro ’54 on “Gastroenterology: From Sherlock to Surgeon” and Hank Tulgan ’54 on “Cardiology: Beyond Bed Rest” discuss how technology has changed medical practice and patient relationships. Presented by the Class of 1954.
Since 1954, Amherst has abandoned its core curriculum, admitted women and altered the student body’s economic and ethnic composition. Hadley Arkes, the Edward N. Ney Professor in American Institutions; Rick López ’93, associate professor of history; Jacqueline De La Fuente ’09; and Raj Borsellino ’09 will explore these changes with moderator Matthew Mitchell ’54. Presented by the Class of 1954.
Joseph Stiglitz ’64, professor at Columbia Business School, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (in the Department of Economics) and the School of International and Public Affairs, is a renowned scholar. He created a new branch of economics, the “Economics of Information.” Among many awards and honors, Stiglitz was awarded the 2001 Nobel Prize in Economics for his analyses of markets with asymmetric information, and he was a lead author of the 1995 Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. In 2011, Time named Stiglitz one of the 100 most influential people in the world. He is now serving as president of the International Economic Association. Stiglitz reflected on societal advances and issues as a kickoff to the programs presented by the 50th Reunion Class of 1964.
Charged by the Class of 1964 with suggesting ways to improve the Washington political environment, the “democracy team” will propose a context for viewing the issues and will discuss reforms that could have a positive effect. They will also present an action plan that might lead our political system out of its seeming gridlock and make it better able to address the nation’s problems. The presentation represents the culmination of conversations and research conducted since January by a Class of 1964 “problem-solving team.” Panelists are Robert R. Benedetti ’64, Center for California Studies, California State University, Sacramento; Neil C. Bicknell ’64, president, The Bicknell Group, LLC; Mitchell R. Meisner, ’64, Partner, Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn, Detroit, Michigan; Mark J. Sandler ’64; Joseph E. Stiglitz ’64, professor, Columbia University; and Charles C. (Smokey) Stover ’64, co-founder and treasurer, Innovative Development Expertise & Advisory Services (IDEAS). Presented by the Class of 1964.
Rabbi Peter J. Rubinstein ’64, Central Synagogue, New York City, and David Stringer ’64, retired teacher, Ann Arbor (Mich.) Public Schools, will focus on the evolution of cultural values—the drivers of our significant decisions—over the last 50 years, with an emphasis on five dualistic themes: Faith in large institutions vs. fragmentation Spirituality vs. data Happiness vs. anxiety Religious values vs. rational self-interest Direct personal relationships vs. technology-mediated relationships What touchstones do we use today to give direction to our lives? Presented by the Class of 1964.
During Part 1 of this double session, the speakers will review key changes in medical care over 50 years to stimulate questions about what lies ahead for us in the 21st century. Our panel includes Dr. Cyril M. (Kim) Hetsko ’64, clinical professor of medicine, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, moderator; Dr. Thomas P. Jacobs ’64, professor of medicine, Columbia University; Dr. Douglas Lowy ’64, deputy director, National Cancer Institute; Dr. Appleton (Tony) Mason ’64, associate professor, Albany Medical College, family medicine, geriatrics, hospice and palliative care; and Dr. David L. Pearle ’64, professor of medicine (cardiology), MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. Topics will include the wide-reaching impact of evidence-based medicine; David Pearle on the 75 percent reduction in cardiovascular mortality in the United States and the reasons for that success; and Doug Lowy on the potential of precision (personalized) medicine to improve outcomes using treatment focused on molecular abnormalities identified in a growing number of diseases. Tom Jacobs, Tony Mason and the audience will be invited to comment on the respective topics. Presented by the Class of 1964.