Dear Alumni, Families, and Friends of Amherst College,

As many of you know, this weekend the College launched a new comprehensive fundraising campaign, Promise: The Campaign for Amherst’s Third Century. Fittingly, the official launch featured student talent and achievement at a gathering on campus that included students, faculty, staff, families, and friends of the College. I write today to share information about the campaign with you and to convey my enthusiasm about what the campaign will make possible.

This will be a five-year, $625 million fundraising effort. Happily, the College is already more than halfway to this goal, having received significant early support from numerous donors, including a $100 million gift from an anonymous graduate (the second alumni gift of this magnitude we have ever received). Amherst is extremely fortunate in having such supportive donors and, in recognition of this fact, this very significant gift will be used to provide matching funds for other donations to campaign priorities at significant levels.

Promise: The Campaign for Amherst’s Third Century seeks to promote the enduring values of liberal arts education—critical thinking, freedom of inquiry and expression, reasoned argument, opportunity, equity, and friendship. It seeks as well to reinvent aspects of the liberal arts to meet the needs of current and future generations of students. The campaign includes support for a new interdisciplinary science center, the largest project in Amherst’s history, likely to be unsurpassed at a liberal arts college and aimed at providing Amherst students with the best available undergraduate education in the mathematical, physical, and biological sciences. With this center and additional faculty positions, the campaign will ensure our excellence in the sciences while preserving the centrality at Amherst of the humanities, arts, and humanistic social sciences. The campaign will support scholarships and other forms of support for students, removing barriers to access and ensuring equity in the opportunities students have once they are enrolled. It will allow the College to offer more opportunities for students to do independent research and take advantage of internships and student-faculty travel. It will add to research support for faculty.

The Promise campaign focuses on the fundamentals and includes six priority areas:

Attracting and Supporting Outstanding Students and Faculty
Amherst will continue to bring together faculty dedicated to the highest standards of intellectual inquiry and instruction, and the most promising students, whatever their financial need.

Meeting Student Need in the Sciences and Math
Over the last decade, student interest and enrollment in STEM fields have surged at Amherst. When the College opens its new Science Center, we will enhance our already excellent student-faculty ratio by expanding the faculty.

Promoting Innovation in Teaching and Learning
Amherst faculty are redesigning courses and majors, considering more shared intellectual experiences, emphasizing writing and oral communication, and providing students with more opportunities to learn by doing, through research, field-based projects, international travel with faculty, career exploration, and internships.

Providing Critical Facilities
Some of our aspirations for Amherst’s third century depend on adjustments and expansions to our built environment. This includes the new Science Center, Greenway, and Greenway Residence Halls as well as improvements to other residence halls, the construction of new athletic and social spaces on campus, and a new home for the Center for Teaching and Learning and the Center for Writing and Public Speaking.

Creating a Stronger Sense of Community and Belonging
We will enhance our strong and enduring sense of fellowship with professional residential-life staff and increased support for student leadership and programming, athletics and wellness initiatives, speakers’ series, visiting positions, and environmental sustainability.

Supporting the Annual Fund
The Annual Fund has played a vital role in ensuring the College’s excellence over time, allowing Amherst to apply resources as needed across campus. The Annual Fund will continue to be a key part of our philanthropic health.

As always, I am grateful for your engagement and participation in ensuring that Amherst continues to fulfill its exceptional promise today and going forward. Our shared pursuit of a mission of excellence and insight, our shared commitment to making connections across differences, our compassionate and spirited engagement with ideas and with one another—we are all part of this distinctive and enduring community, and your contribution to it renews its promise every day.