A Note from Amherst

Two of the new greenway dorms, connected by a bridge

September 12, 2016

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

The education Amherst offers is grounded in the values of the liberal arts: breadth and depth of knowledge, rigorous analytical ability, and the capacity for creative problem solving. It is the form of education best suited for the demands of an uncertain and changing world. It works because of a faculty of distinguished scholar-teachers with high expectations and a strong commitment to student success. It inspires because of a student body filled with avid learners who teach one another what it means to make friendship a defining feature of community and democracy. Every initiative we undertake is aimed at renewing these critical features of an outstanding educational experience.

President Addresses Article on Alumni Giving

August 4, 2016
Dear Amherst College Community,

This morning The New York Times ran a story that featured Amherst College, among other schools. I want to provide context for several parts of the article and share information with you about the generosity of our alumni and the strength of Amherst’s longstanding values.

Your Help Needed in the Amherst Water Conservation Effort

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

As you may know, Western Massachusetts has experienced below-normal precipitation this year; as a result, water levels in town reservoirs are the lowest they have been in recent history. The situation prompted the state to issue a drought watch this month, and the Town of Amherst has now imposed mandatory water conservation measures for the town, including our campuses. The College has to do its part to conserve water and prevent what could become a bigger problem. This requires your help. 

President Martin's Reflections on This Week's Tragic Events

July 8, 2016
Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,
Yesterday I sat down to write a letter about the fatal shootings of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota. I knew from conversations and email that those killings and their implications led many of us to seek the comfort of friendship and a caring community. Many students, faculty, and staff of color have understandably felt particularly distressed in the wake of the killings of Sterling and Castile. And some feel alone in the pain of this moment. I wantedand still wantto assure you that you are not alone in your distress, pain, or determination to end racial injustice. Together, we can acknowledge the horror of the killings, the pattern they fit, and the despair that pattern has caused. Together, we can also eliminate it. This message was the heart of my intention yesterday. It remains so today.

Amherst and Today’s Supreme Court Decision

June 23, 2016

We believe the Supreme Court has made a wise decision in upholding the legitimacy of making race one among many factors in college admissions decisions. Amherst admits students using the highest academic standards while also considering students’ potential contributions to the Amherst community and to the society as a whole. As the College has become more diverse, every marker of student excellence has continued to rise. The country needs to develop talent wherever it exists. It exists everywhere. We also need to learn how to build relationships and collaborate with people whose backgrounds, experiences, and points of view differ from our own. Educational institutions have a responsibility to promote those abilities, which have never been more important to our society, our democracy, and our role in the world.

Academic Year-End Update from President Biddy Martin

June 7, 2016

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

With a beautiful Commencement weekend and a memorable Reunion behind us, I write to thank you for your contributions to the life of the College and to provide you with an update on some of our projects and initiatives. The links in this letter will connect you with stories, videos, photographs, and speeches from graduation and Reunion weekends as well as news highlights for this past year.

New Year Greetings and Campus Update from President Biddy Martin

December 28, 2015

Dear Alumni and Families,

I write to wish you a happy 2016 and to thank you for your support of the College. Those of us on campus look to you for ideas and inspiration—in smooth sailing and in storms. The events of the past month have made me aware of the need to communicate with you more directly and frequently, regardless of the immediate circumstances. The speed at which stories are spread through social media and the unavoidably abbreviated and sometimes misleading accounts that appear in even the best newspapers make it difficult to cut through the noise with messages that accurately convey what is occurring on the campus.  What matters at Amherst today is what has always mattered—a rigorous liberal arts education that enables talented students from a range of backgrounds to understand the world they will enter so that they may have a positive impact on it.

President Martin's Observations about Recent Events

November 20, 2015

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

I am writing today to provide an update and share some of my observations about this past week on campus. I want to thank students, staff, and faculty for their contributions to an extraordinary set of events in the life of the College. I am confident that our students' call for change will have positive and lasting benefits, helping us advance the difficult, but crucial and rewarding, work of making Amherst a more fully inclusive community. I also thank the many alumni and parents who have contacted me to share their responses to the statement I sent this past Sunday. As many of you know, our students are now busy completing work that needs to be done before break, and either preparing to leave Amherst for a week or eagerly awaiting the benefits of a break on campus.

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.