“It made me think of the long chain of generations we all belong to and the ways past, present and future interact.” Professor Ilan Stavans, offering a paean to his favorite building on campus. His essay appears in the new Amherst magazine.
“This is a place that now can be seen as a center—as a place to go to learn about Native history, culture, tradition, from Native peoples themselves.” Assistant Professor Kiara Vigil, speaking of the 2,600 volumes that brought scholars from around the country to study at Amherst this summer.
NOTE: The College’s Kim-Wait Eisenberg Native American Literature Collection is among the most comprehensive of its kind.
“The story of beavers is the story of early American history, in all of its grandeur and destructiveness.” Ben Goldfarb was interviewed by Geoffrey Giller ’10 for the cover story of the newest issue of Amherst magazine.
“Putting your team first is like putting your audience first.” Chelsea Cutler ’19, in “Songs Not Papers. Cutler's debut single, “You Make Me,” hit the Billboard viral chart last year. An Amherst soccer player, Cutler intentionally dresses like an athlete onstage, refusing to buy into the sexist stereotype of female performers in high heels and tight clothes.
“We can suck the fish into the robot without killing it.” Orin Hoffman ’01 in “Send in the Robots.” Hoffman is the chief roboticist for the Lionfish Project, which helps fisherman by deploying robots to reach lionfish in deeper waters. Lionfish have no natural predators and are throwing off the ecological balance of coral reefs.
“Considering my chronically contentious relationship with the English language, it is no surprise that I came to realize my bilingualism in the midst of a fight.” Min Cheng, a staff therapist in the College’s Counseling Center. This essay is adapted from Confluences: Lost & Found in Translation, a new multilingual magazine conceived by Aqiil Gopee ’20, Hapshiba Kwon ’20 and Emily Merriam, a Writing Center advisor. You can read Cheng’s essay in Chinese, French, Korean and Urdu at confluences.wordpress.amherst.edu.
“I went from introducing myself as a researcher, writer, student, to settling with and becoming a volunteer, and then in time, a friend.” JinJin Xu ’17, in “Real Lives of Refugees.” Traveling from China to India, Thailand to Germany, Xu interviewed a number of asylum seekers. She plans to transform those stories into a book about dislocated motherhood.
NOTE: In 2017, Amherst was distinguished for being the only school with three Watson Fellow winners, including JinJin Xu ’17.
“It is an accidental career. You won't find ‘admission officer’ on any of those career-pondering checklists. But as I was doing this work, I loved it.” Katharine “Katie” Fretwell ’81, former Dean of Admission, just retired after three decades of service to her alma mater. Read our interview.
“The experiment is conceptually simple, but the phenomenon is both beautiful and remarkably complex.” Physics Professor David Hall ’91, speaking of the rare electrical phenomenon of “ball lightning.” Hall and his students are among the only people in the world to have made and observed a microscopic simile of ball lightning in his Amherst lab.
“I was tired of intellectual historical ideas that float in ether. So I challenged myself to find out about how physical things shape how we experience ourselves.” Trent Maxey, associate professor of Asian languages & civilizations and history, speaking of his book in progress, Automotive Modernity: The Politics of Mobility in 20th-Century Japan.
“You find errors that happen seemingly randomly, and you create an environment in which they can happen at your wish.” Sabato Visconti ’09 is a “glitch artist,” who purposefully distorts images digitally. His art has been shown at many museums and festivals, including the Tate Britain.
“Any study of human behavior or culture is going to have children in it.” Karen Sanchéz-Eppler, professor of American studies and English, speaking about the growing field of childhood studies. In “They Study Childhood,” four Amherst professors discuss their thought-provoking research into the history and psychology of children.
“I had such a great experience being in a place that was so alive and different. I wondered: how could I recreate this for other students?” Jason Kung ’08, one of three young entrepreneurs in China profiled in the new Amherst magazine.
“These Wade Fellows helped show us how to reconcile the blessings and burden of our education, to take it and do something for our community.” Adrienne White-Faines ’82, speaking of the College’s Wade Fellows. Since 1977, black alumni Wade Fellows have returned to campus to engage with currents students as informal career counselors, mentors and role models.
“It was like we were waiting for paint to dry. Literally.” Rilla McKeegan ’21, on coloring sections of a Slinky toy for a design-your-own-adventure project for Physics 123 “The Newtonian Synthesis: Dynamics of Particles and Systems, Waves.”
NOTE: During the 2018 Undergraduate Awards, McKeegan was awarded the Bassett Physics Prize given to students who have “distinguished themselves by the excellence and maturity of their performance in the class and laboratory work of the first course in physics.” [Learn more]
“The only way to describe it is ‘Kafkaesque.’ ” Professor Geoffrey Woglom on the firestorm Andreas Georgiou ’83 entered after recalculating the Greek deficit. Woglom and Georgiou will speak at Reunion 2018. See the full schedule.
“Nonfiction is like those TV contests where you get a basket of pre-chosen ingredients to cook with...Fiction, on the other hand. My god! There are no constraints.” Catherine Newman ’90, essayist and memoirist, on the challenges of writing her first novel.
Nations and states represented by this year’s seniors: 29 countries (including Australia, Botswana, China, Germany, Iceland, Kazakhstan, Nepal, South Africa, Switzerland and Taiwan) and 41 U.S. states and territories. The Class of 2018 and Commencement, By the Numbers
“I turned to my father and listened carefully to his parting words: Kol ma yatamanah almar’ yedrekoh. ‘Everything a person dreams of can be realized.’ ” Mohamed Ahmed Ramy ’18 addressing his classmates at Senior Assembly.
“To keep both our focus and sense of humor, we describe our project as one to save the Earth in two years, and then we will move on to save Mars or Venus.” — Foster “Butch” Brown ’73, an environmental geochemist, speaking about his collaborative environmental work in the Amazon rainforest.
By joining with four peer schools in a pioneering partnership, Amherst College will replace nearly half its energy use with solar power—and reduce its carbon footprint by 17.5 percent. Learn More About the Partnership.
Like. Little. Upon. One. Words most used by Emily Dickinson. Students in Data Science taught by Professor of Statistics Nick Horton, studied Emily Dickinson, not just as a poet, but as the generator of a complex data set.
“The College’s distinctive combination of core values—critical thinking, persistent questioning, pursuit of truth, freedom of inquiry, freedom of expression, equity, civility, and friendship—is never more important.” President Biddy Martin, announcing the start of the College’s new fundraising campaign.
NOTE: The Promise campaign launched this weekend with talks, performances and a dinner.
“Are you for the seemingly simple and straightforward ideas of freedom, justice and equality? The only positive response is a maximum uncompromising effort to accomplish these ideas. Don't sit back and say, ‘I have done my part.’ ” Cuthbert “Tuffy” Simpkins ’69, writing in The Amherst Student 50 years ago about the April 4, 1968, assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.
NOTE: In the new Amherst magazine, Simpkins reflects on Harold Wade Jr. ’68, who spoke at Johnson Chapel about King on April 5, 1968.
“In the scientific world, people are judged by the content of their ideas.” Steven Chu, a Nobel-winning physicist and former U.S. secretary of energy, will speak at Amherst on March 21 in a talk that is free and open to the public.
This weekend, Amherst women′s basketball—currently the No. 1 team in the country—is going for its third national title and second consecutive undefeated season. Live From Rochester : Breaking Down the Final Four
“This is the cutting edge of academic publishing. I think it has found its feet.” Leah Schmalzbauer, professor of American studies and sociology, chairs the editorial board for Amherst College Press, a pioneer in making scholarly publications freely available to the public.
“We have these special connections to places where we've lived and visited, and these places have a resonance with us, a sort of blurred memory that evokes emotional ephemera.” Jason Robinson, associate professor of music. Robinson's new album, Resonant Geographies, was released on March 1, 2018, from pfMENTUM.
“I've found that if you decide to be very truthful as opposed to very factual, you're gonna end up with a better script.” Susannah Grant ’84, screenwriter of Ever After, Pocohontas, Erin Brockovich (for which she was nominated for an Academy Award), The Soloist, Confirmation and the forthcoming biopic of Helen Gurley Brown.
From an interview in No Film School, titled Superheroes to Real Life Heroes: David S. Goyer & Susannah Grant On Screenwriting.
“In order to write the book you want to write, in the end you have to become the person you need to become to write that book.” Junot Díaz, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, will headline Amherst College’s annual literary festival on March 2 at 7:30 p.m. in Johnson Chapel
“Amherst is often called a singing college, but I was drawn here, in part, because it’s also known as a writing college.” President Biddy Martin shared this sentiment during Amherst’s inaugural LitFest, which celebrates the College’s extraordinary literary life.
“It's just a wise move to not have Life-As-We-Know-It's eggs all in one basket.” Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, which built the rocket that launched on Feb. 6, on why the Earth can benefit from space exploration, from a talk he gave at Amherst before receiving an honorary degree in 2009.
“Gorbachev is hard to understand.” Mikhail Gorbachev, speaking about himself to Professor William Taubman, Emeritus. Taubman is the author of Mikhail Gorbachev: His Life and Times, which is reviewed by Paul Statt ’78 in the latest Amherst magazine
“In less than an hour, I would be on a nationally televised broadcast of ESPN where more than 20 million people would see the name ‘Amherst’ written across my chest.” Reece Foy ’18, football player, political science major and local volunteer, on being honored as a member of the 2017 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team at the Sugar Bowl
“Obstinacy. And the fact that, although it's very hard work, I like writing.” Ursula K. Le Guin, answering how she kept going after years of rejections from publishers. The interviewer was Nicholas O’Connell ’80, who edited At the Field’s End: Interviews with 22 Pacific Northwest Writers. Le Guin died on Jan. 22 at age 88. Note: Several classes at Amherst have covered works of Le Guin, including “Religion in Contemporary Fiction” (The Telling) and “Utopia/Dystopia” (The Dispossessed).
“Simple solutions, even when possible, are seldom useful.” Admiral Stansfield Turner ’45, former director of the CIA, in the introduction to his 1985 book Secrecy and Democracy: The CIA in Transition. Turner died on Jan. 18 at age 94. Note: Turner's obituary in The New York Times: Stansfield Turner, C.I.A. Director Who Confronted Communism Under Carter, Dies at 94.
“Walked 17 Miles. Climbed 200 feet several times. Patagonia. Upper Cretaceous. Oysters. Shark's teeth.” Diary entry of Waldo Shumway, class of 1911, on a dinosaur-fossil expedition with Professor Frederic Brewster Loomis, who unearthed the mammoth skeleton on display at the Beneski Museum of Natural History.
“Now winter downs the dying of the year, / And night is all a settlement of snow;” from "Year's End" by Richard Wilbur who died on Oct. 14, 2017. Amherst remembers the poet in The Splendor of Mere Being.”
“Whatever your feelings about the longest night, the winter solstice — transcendent, yet precise; celestial, but very local — is worth pausing to savor. ” 747 Pilot Mark Vanhoenacker ’96, writing in The New York Times in praise of darkness
“It's truly a reflection of what's needed in our world today.” Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, on the color purple (obviously). Pantone chose a purple hue as the 2018 color of the year, saying that it “communicates originality, ingenuity and visionary thinking.”