By Peter Rooney

The Amherst board of trustees has two new members: Shirley Tilghman, former president of Princeton, and Patrick Fitzgerald ’82, who led the prosecutions of two successive governors of Illinois. Tilghman was chosen by the board; Fitzgerald was elected by his fellow alumni.

Shirley Tilghman
Shirley Tilghman

Tilghman, a leader in the field of molecular biology, served on the Princeton faculty for 15 years before being named president in 2001. She famously was asked to resign from the presidential search committee so that she could become a candidate for the job. She stepped down from the presidency this year.

Fitzgerald was the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois from 2001 to 2012. In that role, he led many high-profile investigations and prosecutions, including those that resulted in the convictions, on corruption charges, of Illinois Govs. George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich. Named as a special counsel in 2003, Fitzgerald investigated the leak of CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson’s identity. Last year he joined the Chicago office of the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.

Tilghman received an honorary doctorate from Amherst in 2008, and Fitzgerald received one in 2007.
“Amherst College is very fortunate that it will soon be benefitting from the wisdom of one of academia’s most visionary leaders and one of the legal profession’s most distinguished practitioners,” says Cullen Murphy ’74, chair of the board of trustees.

Tilghman, a member of the National Research Council committee that set the blueprint for the U.S. effort in the Human Genome Project, was a founding member of the National Advisory Council of the Human Genome Project at the National Institutes of Health.

Patrick Fitzgerald '82
Patrick Fitzgerald ’82

In 1994, Fitzgerald successfully prosecuted Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman and 11 others charged in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. He served on a team of prosecutors investigating Osama bin Laden and was chief counsel in prosecutions related to the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.

The board of trustees consists of President Biddy Martin, 14 term trustees chosen by the board and six alumni trustees elected by the alumni.