June 2015 Featured Book

John William Ward cover.jpg
John William Ward: An American Idealist
By Kim Townsend, Class of 1959 Professor of English, Emeritus

"When Townsend looks back on his years at Amherst, he remembers the late 1960s and the 1970s as a particularly memorable era -- times that were "uplifting and exciting and confusing," as he puts it -- as the social and political forces roiling the country washed up on Amherst College's shores as well. Smack-dab in the middle of those tumultuous years was the college's president, John William Ward..." - Daily Hampshire Gazette

This first-ever biography of John William Ward, the fourteenth president of Amherst College, explores the roots of his idealism and covers his presidency, his later success in Massachusetts politics, and the events leading up to his eventual suicide.

President from 1971 to 1979, Ward served during a tumultuous period in the history of the elite liberal arts college, and in the history of the nation. He presided over the once all-male college's transition to coeducation, worked to support African-American students in their fight for equality and justice, and was arrested for civil disobedience in protest against the Vietnam War. Ward was emblematic of his time. Idealist that he was, he tried to make Amherst College a model of a democratic society.