President Martin's Statement on Campus Protests

November 15, 2015

Dear Students, Faculty, Staff, Alumni, and Families,

On Thursday night I attended a student-organized protest against racism and other entrenched forms of prejudice and inequality.  The sit-in was held in Frost Library.  It had started Thursday at 1 p.m. and there were several hundred people from all parts of the campus in Frost when I arrived from out of town.  The gathering of students continued throughout the day on Friday and into the evening and through the night. Students have continued to gather through the weekend. 

My Annual Campus Update, Fall 2015

From President Biddy Martin

President Biddy Martin

September 17, 2015

Dear Faculty, Staff, Students, Alumni, Parents and Friends,

The academic year is underway, and it could not have started more auspiciously. The week before last, a new class of students and their families drove through purple and white balloon arches on the first-year quad, where they were greeted by upperclass students and members of the College staff eager to help them unload cars, move belongings into the residence halls, and get to know them. On their second day, students learned that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor would visit Amherst in their second week. Her visit to campus on September 8 moved and energized the community, leading us to make her memoir, My Beloved World, available to students who wish to read and own it. Video of the event in Johnson Chapel is available online until November 1 for anyone with an Amherst College account. I encourage you to watch it.

Our new students hail from 41 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. The 9 percent who are international students come from 28 countries. As a class, these students boast a record composite SAT average. Their distinctions include recognition as National Merit winners; Intel competition finalists; and Advanced Placement, National Hispanic Recognition, National Achievement, Jack Kent Cooke, Ron Brown, QuestBridge and Ventures scholars. Twelve percent represent the first generation of their families to attend college, 56 percent are recipients of Amherst financial aid, and 21 percent are Pell Grant recipients. Among our newest future alumni, 44 percent have self-identified as American students of color, and two are veterans of the U.S. military.

Letter to the Community

September 10, 2014

Dear members of the Amherst College community,

This week, 469 first-year students and 15 transfer students have started classes at the fairest College, long known for its rigorous education in the liberal arts. The combination at Amherst of high expectations and a commitment to students’ success has once again drawn talented students from a wide range of backgrounds. Our financial aid policies allow us to enroll the most promising young people regardless of socioeconomic circumstance, and the College continues to receive well-deserved attention for its commitment to access and affordability.

Let me begin this update with more information about the exceptional students who constitute our newest incoming class. These students enter the College having been recognized as Advanced Placement Scholars, National Merit winners, Intel Semi-Finalists, National Achievement winners, Jack Kent Cooke Scholars and National Hispanic Recognition Scholars. One marker of their overall excellence is that 85 percent of the class of 2018 ranked in the top decile in their high school graduating classes. This class earned the highest SAT composite (2,155 out of 2,400) of any entering class in Amherst history.

The diversity of these students will enhance the rigor of their shared learning here with the breadth of life experiences they embody. The 469 students (50:50 male/female) represent 39 states, the District of Columbia and 31 foreign countries. Forty-four percent are American students of color, 10 percent are non-U.S. citizens, an additional 7 percent are dual citizens of the United States and another country, and 15 percent are first-generation college students. Sixty percent will be receiving Amherst grant aid. We are also pleased to welcome the College’s 15 new transfer students, including one military veteran.

Changes in Student Affairs Leadership

Dear Members of the Amherst Community,

Earlier you received a message from Jim Larimore about his decision to step away from his position as Dean of Students and to assume a role as adviser to the president for the remainder of the semester. We are fortunate that we will continue to benefit from his knowledge of student affairs over the next several months.

Amherst College opposes boycott of Israeli academic institutions

Submitted on Monday, 12/30/2013, at 10:31 AM

Dear Members of the Amherst Community,

I join my colleague presidents in the American Association of Universities (AAU) and many among liberal arts colleges who oppose the boycott of Israeli academic institutions that was recently passed by a majority of the American Studies Association (ASA) members, as well as by two other academic associations.  

President Martin Responds to Offensive Message about Homecoming

I have just learned that a troubling email was sent to our student residential counselors last week from the Office of Residential Life, offering advice for Homecoming Weekend. The content of this communication is offensive and the sending of it shows remarkably poor judgment. The email appears to have originated from a document that was several years old.

Fall 2013 Update

President Biddy Martin

A Letter to the Community from President Biddy Martin

August 30, 2013

Dear Students, Staff, Faculty, Alumni, Parents and Friends of Amherst College,

What follows is a letter that reflects my commitment to keeping you informed about the College. Let me warn you now that it is long. Most, if not all, of you will find it too long. I hope you will find it useful nonetheless.

The slower pace of summer has given way to the sparkling liveliness of eighteen hundred curious young people who are eager to connect with one another and set forth on the adventure of an Amherst education. The Class of 2017 arrived in force on Sunday, August 25. These 466 students—half women, half men—hail from forty states, the District of Columbia, and thirty different countries. Among them, they speak thirty languages. Eighteen percent are first-generation college students; twenty-five percent of our entering students receive Pell Grants; and fifty-eight percent receive Amherst College need-based grants. Our students come from 378 different secondary schools. Forty-five percent of them identify as U.S. students of color. Nine percent of our entering class comes from outside the United States and another five percent have dual citizenship in the U.S. and another country. In addition to their outstanding academic records and accomplishments, our new students bring musical talent, a wide range of experience in dance, and achievement in debate, 4-H, novel-writing, athletics and much more. I have had two formal occasions on which to spend time with the Class of 2017, the new student welcome and the DeMott Lecture, which was given this year by author and Amherst parent, Elizabeth Kolbert. Her book, Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change was required summer reading for all new students, and helped set the theme for orientation as well as for the 2013-2014 Copeland Colloquium. The members of the Class of 2017 are engaged, thoughtful and inquisitive, certain to have a lasting impact on the College as they mark out their distinctive paths through it.

Plans for the Amherst College Science Center

May 2, 2013

Dear Members of the Amherst Community,

I write to inform you that after careful consideration the college has decided to change direction on its new science center, moving it from the anticipated Merrill site to an alternate location. The administration and Board of Trustees have made this decision for two key reasons: first, because of the escalation in cost, which can be attributed, in large part, to the demands of the site; and, second, because the impact of the preparatory work indicates that construction will cause unacceptable disruption to faculty research, teaching, and student life. The significance to Amherst of a cutting-edge interdisciplinary science center requires that we build a spectacular center within the timeframe and budget that were anticipated for the Merrill site. We will. Fiscal responsibility demands that we pivot to a less difficult site that allows for a single phase of construction.

A Letter to the Community and Invitation to Meet

December 4, 2012

Dear Amherst Community Members,

This past weekend someone made the cowardly and mean-spirited decision to carve a racist epithet in the snow on top of a car parked on the street just north of the Lord Jeffrey Inn. S/he spelled out the “N word” on a car that belongs to an employee of the College. One of our students took the step of filing a complaint with the police when she became aware of the incident. I applaud her initiative. Neither the Amherst College nor the Town of Amherst Police has identified the perpetrator; not surprisingly, no one has taken responsibility. In the face of such an aggressive act, I suggest that the rest of us take responsibility, not for having spelled out a racist epithet on a car, but for a response to it that condemns this act and all the forms of racism of which it is an instance. We cannot undo what is done, but we can call racism by its name, agree that it will not be tolerated on our campus, and counter it by doing more to create a culture that honors our differences and our shared humanity.

President Martin’s Statement on Sexual Assault

October 18, 2012

Dear Members of the Amherst Community,

I write in response to the recent news about an incident of sexual violence and misconduct on the Amherst campus and to reports that the College has failed to treat similar incidents with adequate transparency or seriousness. A student’s first-person account in this week’s Amherst Student is horrifying—her rape, her painful efforts to deal with it on her own, and her subsequent experiences when she sought help on the campus.