2021 Reunion Schedule

Virtual Reunion will be facilitated through a Zoom-based virtual platform called Cadence. In early May, registrants will receive an email in advance of the event, inviting them to explore the platform and note which programs they wish to attend. Attendees can also use the platform to chat with other alumni who are registered and connect in a virtual space. Detailed user guides for the Cadence platform will be shared with all attendees, and staff will be available to answer questions in the weeks prior to and during Virtual Reunion.

The schedule will continuously be updated as programs are confirmed. Note that private class programs do not appear on the public schedule. Please check back frequently to see what's new!

All programs are 60 minutes unless otherwise noted. Program times are listed in EDT.

Use the fields below to search the Reunion Schedule.

Thursday, May 13, 2021
7:00 - 8:00pm Looking Back and Moving Forward: A Conversation Among President Biddy Martin and Trustees Celebrating Reunion 

Please join President Biddy Martin and Trustees Arthur W. Koenig ’66, Simon C. Krinsky ’96, David W. MacLennan ’81, P’14, Christine Noyer Seaver ’81, P’11,’14, Elizabeth C. Shelburne ’01 and Paul M. Smith ’76, P’09 as they discuss the pandemic year at Amherst and what lies ahead for the College. Learn a little about decision-making at the College and how campus leadership balances today’s priorities and anticipates navigating future initiatives.

Friday, May 14, 2021
11:30am - 12:30pm Back to the Land: An Amherst Story

In 2008, Drausin Wulsin ’76 quit his job as a banker in Cincinnati to turn his hobby, transforming a 1,250-acre family farm in rural Appalachia, into a full-time job. Today, Red Stone Farm is an organic grass-based dairy, raising grass-fed beef and lamb (as well as hogs and chickens) for sale at farmers’ markets throughout the region. The farm also hosts one of the most successful wetland restoration projects in Ohio which functions as a wetland mitigation bank, selling credits to businesses and government to offset the environmental impact on wetlands from development projects. In this session, Drausin describes the personal and family history that led him to embrace the farming life and how he turned his passion into a vocation that not only feeds the community and the environment but also feeds his soul—and, in the process, put him back in touch with his Amherst English-major roots. Presented by the Class of 1976.

11:30am - 12:30pm What the Pandemic Has Taught Me About Medicine, Science and Our Country

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed incompetence and inequities in many aspects of American life, while also revealing remarkable progress in medical science. Harold Varmus ’61, H’84 will describe what he has learned about our country’s approach to governance, health and the conduct of science from his vantage point as a medical scientist and a former federal official. Dr. Varmus is currently the Lewis Thomas University Professor at Weill Cornell Medicine and also works at the New York Genome Center and the Macaulay Honors College at CUNY. He previously led the National Institutes of Health, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and the National Cancer Institute. Presented by the Class of 1961.

1:00 - 2:00pm Shadows of the Past: Are Indigenous and Western systems of knowledge categorically antithetical?

Three Beneski Museum of Natural History student docents will provide participants with multiple points of entry into the knowledge of the world, past and present. The program will begin with a researcher’s view of our early ancestors as "Eryops & Edaphosaurus" is presented by Rilla McKeegan '21 followed by "Indigenous Stories—Memories of Mountains" with Ankit Sayed '24 and finally a citizen scientist's look at "The Anthropogenic Extinction—The Ivory-Billed Woodpecker" presented by Ben Gilsdorf '21. Following the three 10- to 12-minute presentations, the student panel will take questions from the audience.

1:00 - 2:00pm What Leads to a Successful Life

New, pioneering research about elite college graduates that follows their lives for almost half a century after graduation shows what leads to a happy, fulfilling life—and what doesn’t. Michael Kaufman '86, psychologist, director of this research at the University of Chicago and author of Redefining Success in America: A New Theory of Happiness and Human Development (2019), will extract the core lessons, showing trajectories in lives from adolescence to retirement, using examples drawn from the study’s biography-length interviews. The insights of this research are especially timely in this time of dislocation and reevaluation. Q&A and a discussion will follow the presentation. Presented by the Class of 1986.

1:00 - 2:00pm The Supreme Court and the 2020 Election

For as large a role as the Supreme Court played both formally and politically in the run-up to the 2020 elections, it stayed entirely on the sidelines in the disputes that followed Election Day—leaving matters to the states and Congress. In this discussion, two veteran Supreme Court advocates and scholars—Paul Smith ’76, H’15, P’09, Amherst College Trustee and vice president, litigation and strategy for the Campaign Legal Center and Steve Vladeck ’01, Charles Alan Wright Chair in Federal Courts at the University of Texas School of Law—walk through the Court’s role in the 2020 election; how, even as the justices largely stayed out of the big-picture disputes, they may have subtly influenced the shape of state and federal election laws going forward and, perhaps most importantly, the election’s broader role in shaping the future of the Court from both a doctrinal and institutional perspective. Presented by the Classes of 1976 and 2001.

2:30 - 3:30pm Report From Mars—Exploring Geology and Producing Oxygen

NASA’s Perseverance Rover has been exploring Mars since February. Jeff Hoffman ’66, H’99, P’01, the deputy principal investigator of the MOXIE oxygen-producing experiment, will report on what Perseverance has accomplished so far and what is planned for the future. The presentation will feature images and videos from the Red Planet. Before he joined the faculty at MIT, Jeff Hoffman was an astronaut. Among his tasks in outer space was helping to repair the Hubble Telescope. Moderated by Bill Boicourt ’66. Presented by the Class of 1966.

2:30 - 3:30pm The Future of the Republican Party and Donald Trump, Prospects on Healing the Divisions in Washington, and the Lessons Learned From the 2020 Elections

Tom Davis ’71, H’09, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives (R-Va.) from 1995-2008, will talk about the current situation in Washington, the 2020 elections and whether the Republican Party going forward will be controlled by Trump followers or its more moderate, traditional wing. Tom will also give some inside-baseball stories (he sat on the Congressional hearings about steroids in baseball) about his 14 years in Congress and his role as chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. In addition to graduating in the Amherst Class of 1971, Tom received an honorary degree from Amherst in 2009. Presented by the Class of 1971.

2:30 - 3:30pm Behind the Scenes Tour of the Mead Art Museum

Tune in to Zoom for a behind-the-scenes tour of the Mead with David E. Little, John Wieland 1958 Director and Chief Curator. You'll learn about the Mead's digital projects and explore our latest exhibitions, including "Starting Something New: Recent Contemporary Acquisitions and Gifts," "Founding Narratives," "The Living Room" and "Black Art Matters: Student Visual Art Showcase."

4:00 - 5:00pm Defending Democracy in the U.S. and Internationally

At a time of unprecedented challenges to democratic norms within and outside the United States, ’91s are leading efforts to advocate for social justice and to strengthen their societies’ commitments to democracy. This panel brings together 1991 classmates who approach these challenges from varied perspectives that include impact investing, advocacy group leadership, employment law and promoting cross-divide dialogue to strengthen democracy in the U. S. and in Eastern Europe. We’ll consider the impact on activism efforts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, the Trump era and the early days of the new administration. In addition to sharing their current perspectives and challenges, the panelists will explore how Amherst experiences shaped their approach to advocacy across their careers. Panelists include Mindy Burrell ’91, democracy and conflict resolution specialist; Alex Sokolowski ’91, deputy assistant administrator, Bureau for Europe and Eurasia, U.S. Agency for International Development; Drew Tagliabue ’91, executive director, PFLAG NYC (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People) and Georgette Wong ’91, community volunteer and impact investing pioneer. Moderated by Angela Reddock-Wright ’91, Founder, Reddock Law Group. Presented by the Class of 1991.

4:00 - 5:00pm A Little Amherst Music!

Pianist and composer Larry Axelrod ’81 will present a piano recital of music by Amherst composers, both faculty and former students. The concert will include works for piano and electronics, as well as just acoustic piano. Compositions by M. Lewis Spratlan, Peter R. Pouncey Professor of Music, Emeritus; Eric Sawyer, professor of music; Dylan Schneider ’06; Timothy Dwight Edwards ’84 and Axelrod himself will be featured. This presentation features pre-recorded content that will be available to all Reunion attendees for viewing following the program. Presented by the Class of 1981.

4:00 - 5:00pm The Storm and the War That Changed Amherst: An Amherst College Bicentennial Event

The War Memorial, with its panoramic view of the Holyoke Range, and the Main Quadrangle, with its lush carpet of grass and soaring tree canopy, almost surely are the most beloved outdoor spaces at Amherst. Each appears inevitable, timeless, as if it had always been there. In fact, both are relatively recent additions to the campus, which looked very different before their creation in 1939 and 1946, respectively.

Pulitzer Prize-winning Architecture Critic Blair Kamin '79, P'15 will discuss how the Great New England Hurricane of 1938 and World War II led to a profound reorientation of Amherst’s hilltop campus. He’ll also paint a portrait of the little-known landscape architect who designed these signature spaces. The lecture will conclude with an analysis of the war memorial’s original design as well as an appreciation of how the passage of time has transformed the memorial into the campus icon it is today. A question-and-answer session will follow. Blair Kamin is the author of Amherst College: The Campus Guide.

5:30 - 6:30pm Alumni in the Arts Reception with the Mead Art Museum

All Amherst alumni who work in the arts or are passionate about arts and culture are invited to join us for a reception on Zoom. Learn about the Mead Art Museum's latest offerings and initiatives and connect with Amherst College faculty, staff and alumni in the arts. This program is presented in partnership with the Arts at Amherst Initiative, The Common, the Loeb Center for Career Exploration and Planning and the Departments of Architectural Studies, Art & the History of Art, Music and Theatre & Dance.

7:00 - 8:00pm Reunion Trivia

Bring your favorite beverage, wear your purple and come ready to share your knowledge for a chance to win Amherst swag. You'll need a smartphone and a laptop/tablet or a dual-screen computer to play; one screen is for the game and the other to see your opponents! Will you be the trivia champion?

8:30 - 9:00pm Virtual Reunion A Cappella Concert

The classes of 1981, 1986 and 2006 invite you to join some of the founding Sabrinas along with Zumbyes and Sabrinas from the classes of 1979–1986 for a Virtual Reunion concert. They will be performing a new song arranged by Zum-alum Michael Kohl '06 along with some old favorites. Joe Osborn '81 has produced this amazing show for all classes to enjoy. Following the premiere, it will be available to watch on-demand in the "Collections" section of Cadence.

Saturday, May 15, 2021
11:30am - 12:30pm Industry Futures Post-COVID

Every industry leader’s most pressing challenge right now is to chart a course through the COVID pandemic and to an uncertain post-pandemic future. Join ’91 leaders from such diverse industries as publishing, investing, professional sports (both in-person and electronic), medicine and space research and exploration to hear their insights into how the pandemic has impacted them and shaped their strategies for the future. Panelists include Karen Fox ’91, science communications lead, NASA; Karen Hendershott ’91, breast surgical oncologist, Arizona Oncology; Matt Hulsizer ’91, P’23, co-founder and managing partner, PEAK6 Investments and Kent Johnson ’91, CEO, Highlights for Children. Moderated by Dan Burke ’91, chief strategy officer, Pacific Dental Services. Presented by the Class of 1991.

11:30am - 12:30pm “Called Back”: A Virtual Emily Dickinson Poetry Walk

Note: This public program is part of Mass Poetry's 2021 Massachusetts Poetry Festival and is presented by Mass Poetry and the Emily Dickinson Museum. Days before her death in 1886, Emily Dickinson wrote her final letter, “Little Cousins, / Called Back. / Emily.” On May 15, the 135th anniversary of the poet’s death, join the Emily Dickinson Museum for an engaging virtual poetry reading and “walk” through Amherst, the town she called “paradise.” At each stop we will see historical and contemporary images of sites of meaning for Dickinson, including her garden and conservatory at the Homestead, The Evergreens—home to the poet’s brother and sister-in-law, the town common, Amherst College and more. Not a lecture, this program infuses place with poetry. At each stop contemporary poets share their Dickinson-inspired poems and volunteers read Dickinson’s own words aloud. The final stop is Dickinson’s grave in West Cemetery where we will share reflections and a light-hearted virtual toast!

11:30am - 12:30pm The January 6 Insurrection: Predicting It, Experiencing It and Moving Forward as a Country

Amherst Professor Lawrence Douglas, James J. Grosfeld Professor of Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought (LJST) and chair of LJST, predicted last year’s less-than-peaceful transfer of power in his May 2020 book, Will He Go? Trump and the Looming Election Meltdown of 2020. Erik Wasson ’96, Capitol Hill reporter for Bloomberg, was in the House of Representatives during the violent insurrection on January 6. Soo Youn ’96, freelance journalist and contributor to The Guardian, The Washington Post and The Lily, will moderate a discussion between Professor Douglas and Wasson about the events leading up to that fateful day, what happened inside the U.S. Capitol and how we might move forward as a country. Presented by the Class of 1996.

11:30am - 12:30pm Framing Our Next Chapters with Career & Life Coach Deb Levy ’86

Our college reunion (coming on the heels of a year-long pandemic) provides each of us with a unique opportunity for self-reflection—on where we are, where we’ve been and where we hope to go. Join career/ life transition coach Deb Levy ’86 in an interactive workshop designed to help us think about our strengths, goals, priorities and choices and visualize the next chapters of our personal and professional lives. Presented by the Class of 1986.

1:00 - 2:00pm Entrepreneurship After Amherst

An Amherst degree can take you down many paths in life. Meet several members of the Class of 2011 who opted to take the entrepreneurial path and found their own companies in this panel discussion. They'll discuss their successes, challenges and learnings with launching their own endeavors. Panelists include Parker Holcomb '11Carly Leahy '11 (Modern Fertility), Saumitra Thakur '11 and Ty Wilson '11 (CustomMade Jewelry). Presented by the Class of 2011.

1:00 - 2:00pm What Is the Future of Liberal Arts Colleges?

The COVID-19 pandemic and remote learning challenged both the teaching methods and the finances of liberal arts colleges. Even before COVID, families and prospective students increasingly saw higher education narrowly as a form of career preparation—something public universities provide at a fraction of the cost of an Amherst or a Washington College. Can a wide-ranging liberal arts curriculum be sustained as costs rise and expectations change? What happens to elite, well-endowed independent institutions like Amherst if their less fortunate peers close their doors? Panelists include President Biddy Martin and Bert Rein ’61, P’93,’96, Trustee of Washington College, Chestertown, MD and partner at Wiley Rein, LLP, Washington, DC and Chestertown, Maryland. Moderated by Peter Berek ’61, P’92, Professor Emeritus of English, Mount Holyoke; Visiting Scholar, Amherst. Presented by the Class of 1961.

1:00 - 2:00pm Artificial Intelligence: Why Now and What's Next?

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been around since the 1950s, but it's only recently become disruptive across many domains and disciplines. Why are self-driving cars hard to get right? Why do Facebook and Amazon show creepily relevant ads/recommendations to users? This talk will put recent breakthroughs into a historical computing context with the goals of highlighting the many ways AI has succeeded, discussing some of the current failures of AI and speculating on societal impacts and research breakthroughs over the next five years. Matt Taylor ’01 is an associate professor of computing science at the University of Alberta and a fellow-in-residence at the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute. Presented by the Class of 2001.

2:30 - 3:30pm Fake News Poetry Workshop with Alexandra Juhasz ’86—Limited to 20 Registrants

Join Alexandra Juhasz ’86, distinguished professor of film at Brooklyn College, for an interactive poetry workshop designed to deepen our connections and enhance radical digital media literacy. Through poetry, we'll engage with others in the hard truths of fake news, technology, ourselves and the world: fakenews-poetry.org. This program is limited to 20 attendees. Please register within the Cadence platform to hold your space.

2:30 - 3:30pm Legal Status and Rights of LGBTQIA+ Americans

In recent years, the U.S. has experienced a series of dramatic swings in the legal status and rights of LGBTQIA+ Americans. Where are we? Where are we headed? How secure are the gains? What remains to be done? Join four attorneys—three openly lesbian or gay and one straight ally—from the Class of ’96 as we discuss our personal and professional encounters with inequality and the struggle to end it. Panelists include Cassie Abodeely ’96, Charlton Copeland ’96, Ashley Lunkenheimer ’96 and Clifford Rosky ’96. Presented by the Class of 1996.

2:30 - 3:30pm []

The Backstory of Eye Mind HeartAn Amherst College Bicentennial Program 

How do you squeeze two centuries into one book? Nancy Pick ’83 and three research assistants spent years collecting stories for Eye Mind Heart: A View of Amherst College at 200What choices did they make? What obstacles did they face? Join the author and Michael Harmon ’16, Constance Holden ’15 and Matthew Randolph ’16 for tales from the making of the book.  

4:00 - 5:00pm Arctic Futures: Climate, Culture, Economy, National Security

When it comes to climate change, the polar regions are the proverbial canary in the coal mine. Nowhere else are the myriad consequences of our warming world happening more rapidly or with broader impact on the environment, on the economy, on the lives and culture of indigenous peoples in the region and on international relations and national security. In this session, three nationally recognized experts—Peter Davies ’76, former director of geoscience, climate and consequence effects at Sandia National Laboratories and global fellow at the Polar Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington; Sherri Wasserman Goodman ’81, H’18, former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense (Environmental Security), secretary general of the International Military Council on Climate & Security, senior strategist and advisory board member of the Center for Climate & Security, and senior fellow at the Wilson Center’s Polar Institute and Kirk Johnson ’82, H’16, a paleontologist and Sant Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History—explore the interconnected challenges facing the Arctic in the decades to come. Moderated by Becky Hewitt, assistant professor of environmental studies, and featuring art by polar artist Lisa Goren ’81. Presented by the Classes of 1976 and 1981.

4:00 - 5:00pm Merrill Lynch: Its Impact on the World of Finance and Its Fall From Its Lofty Perch—Lessons in Leadership Brand and Culture

Win Smith ’71, P’99,’02,’08, former executive vice president of Merrill Lynch, member of Merrill Lynch's Executive Manangement Committee and chairman of Merrill Lynch International, and author of Catching Lightning in a Bottle: How Merrill Lynch Revolutionized the Financial World, will talk about the rise and fall of his former firm. He will discuss its importance in bringing Wall Street to Main Street, and also the inside story of what led to its near death in 2008. He will be questioned by Charles Merrill ’71, P’06,’10. Presented by the Class of 1971.

4:00 - 5:00pm ’91s on Creative Life during the Pandemic

Whether as professionals or just to sustain their creative drives, our classmates shine across many different arts. We invite you to take in a selection of performances from ’91s, to be made available prior to the Reunion, followed by a panel at which the creators will discuss their work in various contexts: how is it being a creative person / worker during the pandemic, how being creative shapes their lives and how their creative work connects with their Amherst experience. Panelists include Erin Ash Sullivan ’91, musician; John Cariani ’91, playwright and actor; Elaine Chiew ’91, author; Don Hoffman ’91, opera performer; Liz Kinder ’91, potter; Launa Schweizer ’91, musician; Wendy Rich Stetson ’91, actor and Jon Tyson ’91, musician. Moderated by Libbie Rifkin ’91. Presented by the Class of 1991.

5:30 - 10:00pm Social Gatherings for Classes in Reunion Years

Reunion classes will be gathering at various times on Saturday evening. Detailed information for each class gathering will be provided within the Cadence platform.

Sunday, May 16, 2021
11:00 - 11:30am Service of Remembrance and Community

Please join us for an ecumenical service to remember the lives of those alumni we have lost this year.

12:00 - 1:00pm The COVID-19 Pandemic: Where Are We Now and Where Are We Headed?

The COVID-19 pandemic is now in its second year. Are we at last approaching the transition from a pandemic disease to an endemic one, more like influenza? How long before we get there and what will it look like? What obstacles to containment of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and to effective treatment of COVID-19 disease remain? Can we expect more targeted antiviral therapy to treat COVID-19? Are the novel vaccines now available sufficient to achieve containment in this country and abroad? What level of global cooperation is necessary to contain this virus and how does this challenge compare to the global effort undertaken to fight the last pandemic, HIV/AIDS? And will we be ready for the next pandemic? Presented by Dr. Rob Gordon ’66, senior medical director at CTI, a global clinical research organization currently involved in a portfolio of clinical trials for treatment and prevention of COVID-19, and Dr. Mike Merson ’66, H’96, Wolfgang Joklik Professor of Global Health and Professor of Medicine at Duke University and former director of the World Health Organization Global Program on AIDS. Moderated by Dr. Peter Rudd ’66. Presented by the Class of 1966.

12:00 - 1:00pm The Three Prophecies of Alexander Meiklejohn

One hundred years ago at Amherst's centennial, the College's eighth president, Alexander Meiklejohn, laid out his vision for the College’s future. In the process, he also offered a subtle critique of an American society characterized by economic inequality, social and racial divisions, fears of cultural decline and an increasingly virulent nativism. In other words, a society not so different from our own today. What were the elements of Meiklejohn’s vision? What, if anything, did it have to do with his increasingly controversial tenure as Amherst’s president, which would lead to his forced resignation in 1923? As we celebrate Amherst’s bicentennial, writer and Alumni Executive Committee member Robert Howard ’76, P’10 takes us back in time and, through a close reading of Meiklejohn’s speech, draws connections between the Amherst and America of then and today. Presented by the Class of 1976.

1:30 - 2:30pm []

Amherst in the World: An Amherst College Bicentennial Event

Join moderator Frederick L. Hoxie '69, H'94, P'05 and other contributors to Amherst in the World for a discussion. Through a selection of essays, including Hoxie's Amherst and the Native WorldAmherst in the World tells the story of how an institution that was founded to train Protestant ministers transformed its mission over two centuries. Panelists include essayists Julie Dobrow S'81, P'22, author of Eclipses, Ecology, and Emily Dickinson: The Todds of AmherstMatthew Alexander Randolph '16, author of Remembering Dunbar: Amherst College and African American Education in Washington, DCK. Ian Shin '06, author of "The farthest West shakes hands with the remotest East": Amherst College, China, and Collegiate Cosmopolitanism in the Nineteenth Century and Richard F. Teichgraeber III '71, author of The "Meiklejohn Affair" Revisited: Amherst and the World in the Early Twentieth Century

2:30 - 3:30pm Black Is Beautiful: The Iconic Photography of Kwame Brathwaite

Join Kwame S. Brathwaite ’96, director of the Brathwaite Archive and son of photographer Kwame Braithwaite, and Sonya Clark ’89, H’15, professor of art and the history of art at the College, for a discussion of the breadth of the senior Brathwaite’s iconic “Black Is Beautiful” photography and how it still resonates today. Presented by the Class of 1996.

3:30 - 4:30pm Sunday Funday Mixology
The Class of 2011 has partnered with the James Beard Award-winning mixologists from Chicago's iconic cocktail bar, The Violet Hour, to help you upgrade your cocktail skills! Learn the secrets to the ultimate old-fashioned and the perfect margarita. Bring your own ingredients and be your own bartender, or simply watch and learn while the mixologist highlights the history and origins of the featured cocktails, breaks down each component and shares their best-kept secrets on how to make the perfect drink. Presented by the Class of 2011.

Old-Fashioned—bourbon, angostura bitters, lemon, demerara syrup (2:1 sugar to water)
Margarita—blanco tequila (or mezcal), orange curacao, fresh lime juice, simple syrup (1:1), orange bitters (if on hand), lime for garnish
Supplies—barspoon, jigger, vegetable peeler, cocktail shaker, ice, glassware