Amherst College Bicentennial: William H. Pritchard ’53

William Pritchard Quote

“It’s dangerous to consider the past from the standpoint of age, since change is of the essence and sentimentalizing one’s past is to be avoided. Yet is it possible that in those days everything was better?” Professor William H. Pritchard ’53, in a new essay for Amherst magazine’s special Bicentennial issue.

posted 1/16/22

The Bicentennial Podcast: Kirk Johnson ’82

Bicentennial Podcast quotes

“Like the museum I run, Amherst is a product of the 19th century, and it is living in the 21st century, with its eyes on the 22nd century.” Kirk Johnson ’82, Sant Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, in Episode 10 of Amherst's new Bicentennial podcast series. Listen on your favorite podcasting platform.

The Bicentennial Podcast: Dr. Meron Hirpa ’11

Bicentennial Podcast quotes

“I decided that my experiences, where I was coming from, my background was very different from everybody else. And my path forward was also going to be different from someone else.”  Dr. Meron Hirpa ’11 in Episode 9 of Amherst’s new Bicentennial podcast series, narrated by Jeffrey Wright ’87 Listen on your favorite podcasting platform.

Congratulations to German Giammattei ’22!

German Giammattei

“German has embodied so many of the ideals that our culture celebrates. There are so many people proud of him today.”  Men's soccer coach Justin Serpone, speaking about German Giammattei ’22 , who was just named the United Soccer Coaches NCAA Division III National Player of the Year for men's soccer. Giammattei is only the second player ever to win the honor twice.

The Bicentennial Podcast: William H. Pritchard

Bicentennial Podcast quotes

“I decided that there was nothing in the world that I would rather do than come back and teach at Amherst.” William H. Pritchard, the Henry Clay Folger Professor of English, Emeritus, in Episode 8 of Amherst’s new Bicentennial podcast series. Listen on your favorite podcasting platform. (Posted: 12/15/21)

The Bicentennial Podcast: Chris Lehane ’90

Bicentennial Podcast quotes

“Biden, without missing a beat, turns to me and says, ‘Great, let’s go get some pizza, and we’ll hang out.’” Chris Lehane  ’90 in Episode 7 of Amherst’s new Bicentennial podcast series, on meeting Joe Biden, who was then a U.S. senator, after Biden spoke at Amherst in the late 1980s. Listen on your favorite podcasting platform. (Posted: 12/10/21)

Amherst College Bicentennial: Jennifer Acker ’00

footprint in sand

“Revision meant squarely facing my initial efforts and letting the professor’s comments, and those from any peers, settle in, drifting down past the discomfort and embarrassment of my work being criticized to nestle comfortably near the root of the problem, like the sand that collects at the bottom of your sock after a day at the beach.” Jennifer Acker ‘00, founder and editor-in-chief of The Common and an award-winning author, in a new essay for Amherst magazine’s special Bicentennial issue. (Posted: 11/29/21)

NOTE: Learn more about The Common, including its Literary Publishing Internship for Amherst students 

Amherst College Bicentennial: Lauren Groff ’01

Illustration of a crew team in a boat on a river

“There is not a month that goes by when—on a run when I’m not feeling at my best, or if I’m in the middle of doing something for work that seems impossible—I do not tell myself what our kind and dedicated coach, Bill Stekl, once said: ‘Nearly anyone can do nearly anything, as long as they do it slowly enough.’ ” Novelist Lauren Groff ‘01, in a new essay for Amherst magazine’s special Bicentennial issue. (Posted: 12/6/21)

Amherst College Bicentennial: Carmella de los Angeles Guiol ’09

A white house with green shutters

“When I think about what has endured from my time at Amherst, the most valuable treasure that I took away from those four years, what immediately springs to my mind are my friends.” Carmella de los Angeles Guiol ’09, , in a new essay for Amherst magazine’s special Bicentennial issue. (Posted: 11/29/21)

NOTE: Guiol ghostwrites memoirs and blogs about digital health. She wrote an earlier essay for Amherst magazine on finding her mother tongue. 

Amherst College Bicentennial: Rafael Campo ’87, ‘04H

the mt holyoke range at sunset

“It was at Amherst College that I first learned our mysterious humanity can never be entirely explicated by our fascinating physiology or even our elegant genetics, and that the hardest questions about us require only the embrace of our empathetic imaginations as response.” Rafael Campo ’87, ‘04H, poet and physician, in a new essay for Amherst magazine’s special Bicentennial issue. (Posted: 11/22/21)

Note: At Amherst, Campo opted not to decide between the humanities and the sciences, but to study both. Learn about his majors, English and neuroscience

Amherst College Bicentennial: Rand Richards Cooper ’80

illustration by HannaBarczyk

“In course after course, we were both urged and trained to take responsibility for our own ideas—and, in doing so, to become thoughtful human beings. The method was, in the most encouraging way possible, to leave you no room to hide.” Rand Richards Cooper ’80. a fiction writer and journalist, in a new essay for Amherst magazine’s special Bicentennial issue. (Posted: 11/22/21)

NOTE: Cooper is a frequent contributor to Amherst magazine who interviewed Moderna president Stephen Hoge ’98 earlier this year.

Native American Heritage Month

leather, beadered moccasins

With a $2.5 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Five Colleges, Inc., and its member campuses are transforming how they approach Native American and Indigenous studies, with the goal of enhancing teaching, learning and scholarship in the field. (Posted 11/22/21)

Learn about the Five College Native American and Indigenous Studies Certificate.

The Bicentennial Podcast: Becky Rwakabukoza ’14

Bicentennial Podcast quotes

“My classes put all the pieces together and showed me what the picture is.” Becky Rwakabukoza ’14, in Episode 4 of Amherst’s new Bicentennial podcast series, narrated by Jeffrey Wright ’87. Listen on your favorite podcasting platform. (Posted 12/1/21)

The Bicentennial Podcast: Kathy Chia ’88

Bicentennial Podcast quotes

“Throughout my Amherst education, I think every course that I took has ended up feeding into what I do as an architect.” Kathy Chia ’88, in Episode 3 of Amherst’s new Bicentennial podcast series, narrated by Jeffrey Wright ’87. Listen on your favorite podcasting platform. (Posted 11/19/21)

The Bicentennial Podcast: Freddie Bryant ’87

Bicentennial Podcast quotes

“I know that people say math and music are connected, but for me, it’s music and prose. It’s music and words, it’s music and stories, it’s music and history, it’s music and struggle.” Bryant, in Episode 2 of Amherst's new Bicentennial podcast series, narrated by Jeffrey Wright ’87. Listen on your favorite podcasting platform. (Posted 11/17/21)

The Bicentennial Podcast: Anthony Abraham Jack ’07

Bicentennial Podcast quotes

“We can craft what is to come. We can engineer a different society, we can engineer a different way of life if we only have the courage and the imagination and the will to do so.” Anthony Abraham Jack ’07 in Episode 1 of Amherst's new Bicentennial podcast series, narrated by Jeffrey Wright ’87. Listen on your favorite podcasting platform. (Posted 11/15/21)

Native American Heritage Month 2021

Quote by Kiara Vigil

 “I feel extremely fortunate and honored to be able to not only gain access to a language lost to me because of colonization, but to collaborate with Indigenous language teachers on creating new materials that will benefit Dakota people for generations to come.” Associate Professor of American Studies Kiara Vigil, cofounder of the College’s Native American and Indigenous Studies Program. Read about the funding that will enable her to learn, practice and preserve the endangered language of her ancestors, Dakota, and translate Dakota-language papers and publications. (Posted 11/15/21)

The Bicentennial Podcast: President Biddy Martin

Bicentennial Podcast quotes

“One of the first weeks I was on campus, I passed by two students sitting on a bench outside of Val. I stopped, and asked what they were talking about, and here’s what they said: “We‘re comparing Infinite Jest to James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. And I remember thinking, ‘I’ve arrived in heaven.’” President Biddy Martin in the premiere Bicentennial podcast. Martin, in discussion with former College Presidents Tom Gerety and Tony Marx as part of Amherst’s new Bicentennial podcast series. Listen on your favorite podcasting platform. (Posted 11/12/21)

In Honor of Veterans Day

A view of memorial hill facing the mt holyoke range

“Service and sacrifice, not triumph and victory, are the overriding themes.” Blair Kamin ’79 writing about the College's War Memorial in his book Amherst College, a Campus Guide.

Native American Heritage Month 2021

traditional native american textiles

Indiginous Feminism, taught by Jennifer Hamilton, visiting professor in American studies in the Spring 2022 semester, explores how questions of sex, gender and sexuality relate to sovereignty, colonization and imperialsm. 

Amherst College Bicentennial: Celebrating 200 Years -- Helen Wan ’95

illustration by Marc Rosenthal

“I used to scurry back to my dorm with each new assignment, nerdily think about it at dinner and start writing the minute I got back from Valentine. Sometimes I’d stay up late, knocking out a draft in the wee hours. I’d look at the time and be amazed how close it was to morning.” Helen Wan ’95, lawyer and author, in a new essay for Amherst magazine’s special Bicentennial issue.

Amherst College Bicentennial: Celebrating 200 Years -- Debby Applegate ’89

Quote by Debby Applegate

“However people arrived, it seemed to me that the College created a community, however imperfect, out of our most thoughtful, curious and eager impulses. Later, when I wrote about Amherst as a professional historian, I found the annals of the College teeming with these sorts of characters.” Debby Applegate ’89, a Pulitzer Prize winner for biography, in a new essay for Amherst magazine’s special Bicentennial issue. (illustration by John S. Dykes)

NOTE: Applegate began working on what would become her first book, The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher, as an undergraduate in Frost Library; it won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for biography. Her second book, Madam: The Biography of Polly Adler, Icon of the Jazz Age, is out on Nov. 2. (Posted: 11/1/21)

Amherst College Bicentennial: Celebrating 200 Years -- J.M. Holmes ’12

Quote by J.M. Holmes

“Throughout my time at Amherst and far beyond, these inexplicable generosities have accrued and coalesced into something larger than the sum of their parts. To call this compilation the Amherst experience would be inaccurate, or at least incomplete, but I will carry the opportunity, or wonder, or wisdom given to me from these kindnesses to the end of my journey.” J.M. Holmes ’12, author of the story collection How Are You Going to Save Yourself?, in a new essay for Amherst magazine’s special Bicentennial issue.

NOTE: Holmes won Amherst’s Howe Prize for fiction and has written for the New Yorker. He is now writing for Showtime’s City on a Hill and working on his first novel. (Posted: 11/1/21)

Breaking News

Aerial view of Amherst College

Amherst is ending the longstanding practice of legacy admission preference. Paired with a new, expanded financial aid program for lower- and middle-income families, the College is sending a clear signal to prospective students that its education is within reach for all. Read the full story  (Posted: 10/20/21)

Amherst Voices: Matt McGann

Students attending convocation outside on the quad

“There are so many talented students in the country and on this planet. We hope that any student who wants to use ideas to make a difference in the world will consider applying to Amherst.” Dean of Admission and Financial Aid Matthew L. McGann on Amherst's decision to end legacy admission preference and expand financial aid.  (Posted: 10/20/21)

Amherst Voices: President Biddy Martin

students walking towards the science center at amherst college

“We want to create as much opportunity for as many academically talented young people as possible at Amherst, regardless of financial background or legacy status.” President Biddy Martin on Amherst's decision to end legacy admission preference and expand financial aid. (Posted:  10/20/21))

Breaking News

students playing games on the academic quad

Under a new financial aid program, Amherst students from 80% of U.S. households will typically receive a scholarship that covers full tuition. Those from families earning less than the median U.S. household income will typically receive a scholarship that covers not only full tuition, but also housing and meals. Read the full story  (Posted: 10/20/21)

National Hispanic Heritage Month 2021

Quote by Rick Lopez i honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month

“I urge students to push past the limits of presumptions and preconceived categories and, instead, to use historical evidence to figure out for themselves the relationships between particular groups, nations, ethnicities and environments.” Professor and Dean of New Students Rick López ’93. Learn more about Professor López's teaching interests and a recent first-year seminar he taught called “Finding Your Roots.” (Posted 10-11-21)

Amherst College Bicentennial: Celebrating 200 Years

Male students from the early 1920s in a science lab at Amherst College

“To give [students] that zest, that delight in things intellectual, to give them an appreciation of a kind of life which is well worth living, to make them men of intellectual culture—that certainly is one part of the work of any liberal college.” Alexander Meiklejohn, Amherst’s 8th president from 1912 to 1924. Read about him in“Your Life at Amherst—in 1921,” by Nancy Pick ’83, excerpted from the Bicentennial book Eye Mind Heart: A View of Amherst College at 200.

National Hispanic Heritage Month 2021

Spanglish book overs

“I would say [Spanglish] is the most important linguistic phenomenon in the Hispanic world, in the Spanish-speaking world, and in the English-speaking world.” Professor Ilan Stavans, who has made Amherst one of a growing number of colleges and universities that include Spanglish in their curricula.

National Hispanic Heritage Month 2021

Presencia de América Latina by Jorge González Camarena (Mexican), 1964-65.

In 2017 the faculty approved a Latinx and Latin American studies major. The preceding decade brought a twofold increase in the number of Latin American, Latinx and Caribbean students at Amherst, and an eightfold increase in the number of courses focusing on those regions and cultures. Learn more Amherst College history in the Bicentennial Timeline

“Presencia de América Latina.” Mural by Jorge González Camarena (Mexican), 1964-65.

Amherst Voices: Shayla Lawson

Shayla Lawson giving the DeMott lecture in 2021 at Amherst College

“You are not gifted a perfect earth. There is absolutely no reason for us to expect you to be perfect in it. But you are perfect for it.” Shayla Lawson, assistant professor of English and National Book Critics Circle Finalist, in this year’s DeMott Lecture.

Amherst Voices: Lauren Groff ’01

Matrix by Lauren Groff

“It‘s super fraught, this idea of historical fiction. It can feel like tourism in time. Or it can feel like decorative writing, as opposed to necessary writing. There‘s a profound bias against it that prevents people from picking it up and seeing the contemporary resonance.” Lauren Groff ’01 on her new novel Matrix, which explores the lives of nuns in a medieval English convent.

National Hispanic Heritage Month 2021

LaCausa students protesting in 1978 for Latinx issues and cultural awareness

A 1978 occupation in Fayerweather by La Causa—the cultural, political and service organization for students interested in Latinx issues and culture awareness—led to the establishment of the José; Martí; Cultural Center in Keefe Campus Center. Learn more Amherst College history in the Bicentennial Timeline

Breaking News

Biddy Martin on the academic quad with the holyoke range in the background

President Biddy Martin, who has served as the 19th president of Amherst since 2011, announced today that she will conclude her tenure next summer. Her years of leadership will mark one of the longest-serving presidencies of the College—and the longest in 50 years—with remarkable achievements across the institution’s priorities. Read the full press release.

Amherst Voices: President Biddy Martin

Biddy Martin at Commencement 2021

“It is an honor to be part of an intellectually curious community that aims high, values critical and independent thought, finds joy in one another’s company, and is committed to current and future generations.” Amherst President Biddy Martin, who today announced that she will conclude her tenure next summer, after 11 years leading the College, and return after a sabbatical to teach

Amherst Voices: Andrew J. Nussbaum ’85

the holyoke range during sunset

“Over the past decade, Amherst has prospered in astonishing ways—simply not possible without Biddy’s gifted leadership, compassionate vision and unflagging commitment to Amherst’s mission and values.”  Andrew J. Nussbaum ’85, chair of the Amherst College Board of Trustees, in a letter to the community about President Biddy Martin, who announced today that she will conclude her tenure next summer.

Amherst Voices: Paul Rieckhoff ’98

9/11 memorial in new york city

“The anniversary of Sept. 11 is about never forgetting that people came together in a time of crisis in a way we’ve never seen in our lifetime as Americans.” Paul Rieckhoff ’98, founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, speaking on CNN in 2020. Now a visiting lecturer at Amherst, he is teaching the fall 2021 course Understanding 9/11

Amherst Remembers

south pool memorial in new york city for victims of september 11

Twenty years after Sept. 11, 2001, Amherst College mourns the three alumni lost that day: Frederick C. Rimmele III ’90, Brock Safronoff ’97 and Maurita Tam ’01. Amherst magazine 2011: “Three in 2,996.”

Amherst Remembers

new york city skyline with blue memorial lights for victims of sept 11

On Sept. 11, 2001, the Amherst community gathered in the gymnasium to share thoughts and emotions on that morning’s attacks. One student said: “What we need now is community.” Read a dispatch from the Fall 2001 issue of Amherst magazine.

Amherst Voices: Pawan Dhingra

Quote by Professor Pawan Dhingra

“We tend to think that once you get tenure you know everything, but that’s not true. You’re never a finished product.” From an interview with Pawan Dhingra, associate provost and associate dean, by Carla Diaz ’13 in Amherst magazine.

A Bicentennial Fact

A historical fact about Johnson Chapel

On Aug. 28, 1828, the Amherst trustees named the new chapel in honor of a local carpenter whose bequest funded its construction. Today, Johnson Chapel is a classroom, office, concert venue, lecture hall and landmark.

Learn more Amherst College history in the Bicentennial Timeline.

An Amherst Welcome

A woman poses for a photo in front of a giant purple inflatable mammoth

This week, Amherst College welcomes the class of 2025! Learn more: Orientation Schedule.

Amherst Voices: Ilan Stavans

illustration of a man during a virtual meeting

“My interest is not in witnessing how my students accumulate information. What I want for them, what I enjoy seeing, is that they learn how to think, because that they will take with them forever, applying it to life itself.” Professor Ilan Stavans, in an essay for Amherst magazine about his year of pandemic teaching.

Note: Illustration by Giovanni-Alberti

A Bicentennial Fact

Men and women shaking hands in 1821 agreeing to the founding of Amherst College

On Aug. 18, 1818, at the annual meeting of a local primary school, Col. Rufus Graves presented a plan for a charitable foundation to give free instruction to “indigent young men of promising talents and hopeful piety” This is the origin of Amherst College.

Note: Learn more about Amherst's history in the Bicentennial Timeline.

Amherst Voices: Thomas Mitchell ’87

A map of hilton head south carolina

“We were trying to address a problem of people who lack political and economic capital.” Thomas Mitchell ’87 was once a student activist at Amherst, now he is a “genius grant” winner for his work to close a loophole that cheats the Black community.”

 

Amherst Voices: Stephen Hoge ’98

A close of a pair of gloved hands working with biology cultures

“I thought science was about things that were known. Amherst fixed that. It helped me understand that science is actually about how you approach the unknown, how you ask questions and use the answers.” Moderna President Stephen Hoge ’98, in a new interview for Amherst magazine.