By Emily Gold Boutilier


Remember October 2008? That was the month after the collapse of Lehman Brothers. The stock market seemed to be in free fall, and at least hourly, a news commentator could be heard drawing comparisons to the Great Depression.  

That’s also the month that Amherst launched its Lives of Consequence campaign, which aimed to raise $425 million for such college priorities as financial aid and faculty hiring. Bad timing? Not for a community that knows when support is most needed. Scholarship funds become ever more critical during an economic crisis.

The campaign is now raising money for, among other things,
the planned science center.

And a year ahead of schedule, the fundraising campaign has surpassed its goal, in part through two anonymous and historic donations of $100 million and $25 million, respectively. Beyond sheer size, what makes these unusual is that they are unrestricted gifts to the endowment: the college can use the money wherever needed.

“These anonymous donors gave so generously to Amherst in part to inspire others to support the campaign —and our alumni, parents and friends responded enthusiastically,” says Chief Advancement Officer Megan Morey.

Now the college has announced a second, final phase of the campaign that aspires to raise an additional $75 million. Known as Creating Connections, it will help fund the original campaign priorities: scholarships, building upgrades, faculty and curricular support, and learning outside the classroom. In addition, it will support the sciences—specifically, the construction of a new science center (see “Enlightening the Earth, Spring 2012) —and departments and programs that enhance the classroom experience, such as the Mead Art Museum, Frost Library, the Career Center and music and athletics programs.

“This campaign seeks to enrich the Amherst experience,” Morey says, “including all the connections that strengthen students’ intellectual pursuits and our sense of this community.”

It also celebrates interactions among faculty, students and alumni, through—for example—Amherst Connects, an initiative that will live on after the campaign ends in 2013. Amherst Connects encompasses various means through which alumni, parents and friends can engage with the college and with each other. These include volunteering, networking, attending events, giving to the Annual Fund and participating in an online book club and a virtual lecture series.  

The college officially launched Creating Connections on April 11 in New York City. The event included an alumni panel, moderated by President Biddy Martin, that explored the importance of a liberal arts education to health care and society. Also at the event, professors and students presented posters about their research.

For more on Creating Connections, visit

Drawing by Behnisch Arichitekten