Chris Coons ’85

Chris Coons '85

“Access to higher education is one of the surest ways to provide students from all backgrounds a ladder to success.” Chris Coons ‘85 is a U.S. Senator from Delaware and was a chemistry major at Amherst. 

Footnote: Amherst magazine sent a reporter to spend a day with Coons in 2011 when he was a freshman senator in Joe Biden’s old seat.

Kellie Jones ’81

Kellie Jones Quote

“Art is not only part of history—even a living history—it is part of and makes community, it is part of and makes family.” Kellie Jones ’81, art historian and curator, one of 23 new recipients of a MacArthur “genius grant,” from her 2011 book, Energy / Experimentation: Black Art and Abstraction, 1964-1980.

The Beneski Museum of Natural History

Beneski Museum Fact

The Beneski Museum of Natural History is one of New England’s largest natural history museums, with three floors of exhibits and more than 1,700 specimens on display.

Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson Quote

“The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.” Emily Dickinson, poet. As part of the Amherst Poetry Festival Sept. 15-17, fans will read all 1,789 of Emily Dickinson’s poems in the home and landscape where she wrote them. Dickinson’s home, now the Emily Dickinson Museum, was built in 1813 by her grandfather Samuel Fowler Dickinson, a founder of Amherst College. 

Brittanie Lewis ’17

Brittanie Lewis '17

“You are now part of a conversation that would be lacking without your voice.” Brittanie Lewis '17 in The New York Times, offering her advice to new college students.


Alex Vasquez

Alex Vasquez quote
“Ideas are not here to harm you; ideas are here to challenge you.” Dean of Students Alex Vasquez speaking last week to the new first-year class. Learn more about the Class of 2020.

The Frost Library

Frost Library Collections Fact

Frost Library, named after poet Robert Frost, who taught at Amherst for many years,  holds more than 1.5 million volumes and nearly 600,000 other media materials, including 330,400 e-books.

FOOTNOTE: On Oct. 26, 1963, in one of his last public appearances before his assassination, President John F. Kennedy visited campus to receive an honorary degree and to speak at the groundbreaking of the library.

Dan Cluchey ’08

Dan Cluchey quote

“My process was to work backward from that thousand-word fever-dream ending.” Dan Cluchey ’08. In this interview, a former Obama administration speechwriter discusses the inspiration and creative process that went into writing a novel.

Mark R. Rigg ’89

Mark Rigg quote

“When Bob told me about the day he was injured, he called it his second birthday.” Mark R. Rigg ’89. In the new Amherst magazine, Rigg shares his point of view about how a Amherst experience forged an unusual friendship in “A College in Common."

The Wildlife Sanctuary

Wildlife Sanctuary Fact

The Amherst College Wildlife Sanctuary includes approximately 500 acres in a diverse collection of open fields (both actively maintained and unmanaged), wetlands, flood plain woods, river, upland woods, plantation pines, and ponds—and is an important place for both recreation and research.

Helen Wan ’95

Helen Wan Quote

“I wonder what could be more practical than doing something that makes you happy and fulfilled.” Helen Wan ’95, lawyer-turned-novelist writes about “Letting in Uncertainty” in Amherst magazine.

Sarah Sander ’06

Sarah Sander Quote

“Turn out all your lights, go out on your porch and watch. ” Firefly researcher Sarah Sander ’06 in the new Amherst magazine.

Christopher Lim ’12

Christopher Lim ’12

“HIV tricks our cells into being little virus factories.” Christopher ’12. Ph.D. candidate in molecular biophysics and biochemistry at Yale; majored in biochemistry at Amherst. In the lab, Lim studies how HIV evades the defenses of the human body. Outside, he's making STEM a bigger tent.

Eleanor Ray ’09

Eleanor Ray ’09

“Its past is still alive and shifting in relation to the new.” Eleanor Ray ’09. Ray’s tiny paintings “suggest a reverse hubris,  a pride in how much she can do with so little,” wrote one critic.

Andrew Hacker ’51

Andrew Hacker Quote

“I kept asking that why question. I've always thought that the center of the liberal arts is that three-letter word.” Andrew Hacker ’51, professor emeritus in the department of political science at Queens College in New York. Hacker—whose political science research relies heavily on the use of numbers—went to the math department at Queens College a few years ago and asked if he could teach, experimentally, one of the introductory courses. He went on to write a book about math education.

David Foster Wallace ’85

David Foster Wallace Quote

“The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you.” David Foster Wallace ’85, from his novel Infinite Jest. Novelist, short story writer, and essayist, as well as a professor of English and creative writing, Wallace majored in English and Philosophy at Amherst. Wallace was a towering figure in modern literature. In 1999, three years after Infinite Jest was published, he did an interview-by-mail with Amherst magazine.

Tess Taylor ’00

Tess Taylor quote The pastoralthe seemingly idyllic spacehas always been defined by its own conflicted edges.” Tess Taylor ’00, author of The Forage House and Work & Days. In Amherst magazine, Taylor told the story behind her new book of poems.

Gregory Campeau ’11

Quote by Gregory Campeau
“How could any of us have changed our mindsreally changed our minds–had we not lived amongst one another and eaten meals together?” Gregory Campeau ’11, History major; English teacher.  Every year the seniors elect a classmate to deliver an address at Commencement. Campeau gave the address in 2011

Sonia Sanchez

Sonia Sanchez Quote

“A people without a thorough knowledge of roots and history cannot move into the future, cannot rest in the proper chair of life.” Sonia Sanchez, Poet, activist and scholar who taught at Amherst from 1972 to 1975 and was the first chair of the Black Studies department. 

Lynettra Artis ’05

Always Amherst

“My favorite place on campus was Charles Drew Memorial African American Theme House. While we lived there, we were family.” Lynettra Artis ’05. #AlwaysAmherst. The Annual Fund closes at 11:59 p.m. PDT on Thursday, June 30th. Help us hit our goal.

Professor Rose Olver

Rose Olver Quote

“The addition of gender opened up practically every known psychological principle to question.” Professor Rose Olver was the L. Stanton Williams ‘41 Professor of Psychology and Sexuality, Women’s and Gender Studies, Emerita. The late Professor Olver was the first woman hired into a tenure-track position at Amherst.

Lauren Groff ’01

Lauren Groff Quote “Storytelling is a landscape, and tragedy is comedy is drama. It simply depends on how you frame what you're seeing.” Lauren Groff, ′01. This is a line from Groff’s novel Fates and Furies, a 2015 National Book Award finalist. Read the book review in Amherst magazine.

Kirun Kapur ’97

Kirun Kapur Quote “He was arming me / with shoes to wear, with fury, feathers, flight.” Kirun Kapur ’97 from her book of poetry, Visiting Indira Gandhi’s Palmist. Tess Taylor ’00, the on-air poetry reviewer for NPR’s All Things Considered, reviewed Kapur’s debut book of poetry in the Fall 2015 Amherst magazine.

Henry Ward Beecher, Class of 1834

Henry Ward Beecher quote “The soul without imagination is what an observatory would be without a telescope.” Henry Ward Beecher, Class of 1834. American Congregationalist clergyman, social reformer, speaker and younger brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe. Beecher was once as well-known as Oprah Winfrey is today. Debby Applegate ’89 won a Pulitzer Prize for her biography of the famous minister

Christine Bader ’93

Christine Bader quote  “I have seen the best and worst of what companies can do–and still believe that business can be a force for good.” Christine Bader ’93, Director of Social Responsibility at Amazon. Bader wrote The Evolution of a Corporate Idealist: When Girl Meets Oil, which was a featured book in the Amherst Reads book club

President Biddy Martin

Quote by President Biddy Martin
“If there has ever been a time when we need to recognize the value of our own lives and the lives of others as of our own ... this is the time. ”
Amherst President Biddy Martin, speaking to the Class of 2016 during her annual Commencement address. For videos, audio, speeches and photos from Amherst's 195th Commencement, please visit our Commencement web pages.

John Abele ’59

Quote by John Abele “We knew our dad’s ship was somewhere way up in the North Pacific, but where do you start?” John Abele ’59. American businessman and the co-founder and a director of Boston Scientific, a medical device company. Abele last saw his father in 1942, just before Lt. Cmdr. Mannert L. Abele and the crew of the USS Grunion headed for war duty in the North Pacific. It took six decades to clear up the mystery of what happened to the crew.


Emily Jordan Folger

Emily Folger Quote

“The poet is one of our best sources, one of the wells from which we Americans draw our national thought, our faith and our hope.” Emily Jordan Folger, ’32 Honorary doctorate; Co-founder of the Folger Shakespeare Library. Folger made this comment in a speech about her late husband, Henry Clay Folger, Class of 1879. The couple founded Amherst’s Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C.. This month the Folger brings Shakespeare’s First Folio to Amherst as part of a national touring exhibition celebrating 400 years of Shakespeare.

Kirk Johnson ’82

Kirk Johnson quote

“It was the culmination of all my childhood dreams to lead a shovel army into the mountains and extract literally thousands of gigantic bones.” Kirk Johnson ’82, Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and honorary degree recipient. Read “Out of the Shadow” from Amherst Magazine, which traces Johnson's path from Amherst College's geology department, to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Photo credit: @Denver Museum of Nature & Science.

Tracy Jarrett ’11

Quote by Tracy Jarrett ’11

“It is important for me to tell the story that my mother cannot tell for herself.” Tracey Jarrett ’11, of NBC news, on her reporting on HIV and AIDS. Julie Keith Jarrett ’81 died from AIDS in 1994. To imagine the person her mother might have become, Tracy Jarrett ’11 traveled from East Harlem to Cape Town to Chicago.

Michael Harmon ’16

Michael Harmon quote

“We’re not in a history-less vacuum but instead are rooted in a tradition of discussion.”
Michal Harmon ’16. Harmon spearheaded a faculty lecture series on Amherst’s history and defining characteristics inquiry, and progress.

Katharine Sims

Katharine Sims quote

“Environmental protection doesn’t always turn out to be incompatible with development goals...” Katharine Sims, assistant professor of economics. Sims, and colleague Lawrence Douglas, James J. Grosfeld Professor of Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought, were recently awarded esteemed Carnegie Fellowships to further their research.

Sam Rosenblum ’16

Sam Rosenblum quote

“Witnessing a musical, having that experience, is in some ways like being in a liberal arts classroom at its best.” Sam Rosenblum, '16, political science,  Jayson Paul ’16, physics and philosophy, and visiting director A. Scott Parry, sat down with President Biddy Martin to discuss the upcoming musical “Into the Woods.

Chris Bohjalian ’82

Chris Bohjalian ’82

“We are hungry for novels that tell our story, that tell the world what our ancestors endured a century ago.”  Chris Bohjalian ’82, author of such books as The Sandcastle Girls, an award-winning novel about the Armenian Genocide. He is one of six who will receive honorary degrees at Amherst’s Commencement on May 22.

Mary Catherine Bateson

Mary Catherine Bateson

“To me, the starting place is the sense of wonder. And that can take you into science. It can take you into art. Other human beings are amazing and beautiful.” Mary Catherine Bateson: Dean of the Faculty and Professor of Anthropology, 1980-1987. On the Oct. 1, 2015 episode of “On Being,” Krista Tippett interviewed Mary Catherine Bateson (daughter of anthropologists Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson).

David Suzuki ’58

David Suzuki Quote

“An educational system isn’t worth a great deal if it teaches young people how to make a living but doesn’t teach them how to make a life.” David Suzuki, ’58: science educator, environmental activist, and host of The Nature of Things with David Suzuki. This is one of the most well-known quotes by Suzuki, who has hosted Canada’s most popular nature program for many decades. For more about Suzuki, see this Amherst magazine profile.

Anna Deavere Smith

Anna Deavere Smith Quote

“Friendship is a wildly underrated medication.” Anna Deavere Smith: playwright and actor; campus speaker: April 13. Amherst will welcome Smith to campus on April 13 for a program titled “Snapshots: Portraits of a World in Transition.” The event is free and open to the public.

Judith Frank

Judy Frank Quote

“I want students to reach for the stuff that they're scared to write, the stuff that has really shaped their lives—and that’s harder than you would think.” Judith Frank: fiction writer; Eliza J. Clark Folger Professor of English. Frank, a two-time novelist, is professor of English, director of studies in the English department and Elizabeth W. Bruss Reader. She has taught the College’s Fiction Writing I course for many semesters.

Aleksandra Burshteyn ’16

Burshteyn Quote

“How do people grapple with memories and experiences of a world, of institutions and cultural values that suddenly no longer exist?” Aleksandra Burshteyn ’16: excerpt from Burshteyn's 2016 Thomas J. Watson Fellows application. Burshteyn is one of two Amherst College seniors who will embark on a global journey to learn their stories, as the College’s 2016 Thomas J. Watson Fellows.

William H. Hastie

William H. Hastie Quote

“Difficulty need not foreshadow despair or defeat.” William Hastie ’25: lawyer, judge, educator, public official and advocate for the civil rights of African Americans. Hastie was the first African-American to serve as Govenor of the United States Virgin Islands, as a Federal judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals, and as a Federal appellate judge. 

850+ Courses

Five College Consortium

Students have access to 850+ courses offered on the Amherst College campus as well as 6,000 more via the Five College Consortium. Learn more about the Five College Consortium. All of the Five College campuses are connected via a free bus service, so students are never more than a half hour from arriving at another campus to take a class, join an intramural club or socialize.

Jonatha Brooke ’85

Jonatha Brooke

“From the first minute, it was clear that survival was in finding a creative way through it.” 
Singer-songwriter Jonatha Brooke ’85  referring to her mother’s dementia. Brooke put her career on hold to care for her mother, who had dementia. Then she wrote a musical about it, My Mother Has Four Noses. It ran off-Broadway to critical acclaim.

Catherine Epstein

Catherine Epstein quote

“Students need arguments that they can then amplify or argue against.” Catherine Epstein, Professor of History and Dean of the Faculty on her textbook about Nazi  Germany. Epstein structured her 2014 textbook, Nazi Germany: Confronting the Myths, by setting up and then debunking various myths.

Diverse. Visionary. Thought-provoking. Curious. Entertaining. Inspirational. The voices of Amherst come from the past and the present. Read, enjoy and continue the conversation by sharing these quotes by email, Facebook or Twitter.