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.

A Bicentennial Fact

Pages from Amherst College's 1871 Semi-Centennial printed program

On July 12, 1871, Amherst marked the 50th anniversary of its founding with speeches and celebrations attended by nearly 700 alumni. Learn more Amherst history in the Bicentennial Timeline.

Amherst Voices: Alexandre White ’10

A sign hanging on a fence reminding people to stay six feet apart

“The structural agents that have led to both police violence and the disproportionate rates of COVID-19 deaths in Black American populations have the same roots.” Alexandre White ’10 is a sociologist whose research stands at the intersection of global pandemics and systemic racism, in an award-winning profile for Amherst magazine.

Note: Amherst magazine's profile of White won a silver award from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, as did the full issue in which the article appeared.

A Bicentennial Fact Celebrating Pride Month

In 1982 a group of Amherst alumni formed the Amherst Gay and Lesbian Alumni Group known as GALA

In June 1982 a group of Amherst alumni crossed paths at a New York City Pride parade and decided to form the Amherst Gay and Lesbian Alumni group, known as GALA.

Note: Learn more in the Bicentennial Timeline.

Amherst College Celebrates Freedom Day

Amherst College Celebrates Juneteenth Freedom Day

“With Juneteenth, we’re celebrating the progress America has made away from legal slavery, and we’re thinking about the changes that still need to be made to allow Black people true equality.” Elizabeth Herbin-Triant, associate professor of Black studies and history, on the significance of the U.S. federal government making June 19 an official national holiday—and why such recognition is “an important first step.”

An Amherst College Bicentennial Fact

a purple and white bow and text the the program for the inauguration of president biddy martin

Ten years ago, on June 14, 2011, Biddy Martin was named the 19th president of Amherst College. Learn more in the Bicentennial Timeline.

Celebrating Pride Month 2021

A young man poses in front of ACLU office building

“It’s been such a personal case for me, but the most important thing in this type of work is to not be the cis-person who’s telling the narrative.” Lawyer Josh Block ‘01 on representing the trans icon Gavin Grimm, who sued his town’s school board for barring him from the boys’ bathroom.                      

Amherst Voices: Nawoo Kim ’22

Close up of the faces of two wild black bears

“When she told me about citizen science, I was really surprised.” Nawoo Kim ’22 was one of the students who help collect, share and analyze data for the Pioneer Valley Mammal Citizen Science project, which tracks area bears, bobcats and more.  

Photo credit: Henry Godek

Celebrating Pride Month 2021: Isabel Meyers ’20

Rainbow pride flag

“When I was 18 years old, I found out that both my grandparents were gay on the same night that I came out to my mother.” Isabel Meyers ’20, in her thesis “Something Else You Should Know.” She and Theo Peierls ’20E were the winners of the 2020 David Kirp ’65 Stonewall Prize.

Learn more about the prize and its namesake. (Background flag image credit: Chickenonline from Pixabay.)


An Amherst College Bicentennial Fact

black and white image of the amherst class of 1815

In June of 1915, Charles Hamilton Houston ’15 graduated with majors in English, music and French. He went on to develop the strategy that culminated in the Brown v. Board of Education decision. Learn more in the Bicentennial Timeline

NOTE: Charles Hamilton Houston is in the back row, fifth from the right. (Photo credit: Courtesy of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice.)


Celebrating Pride Month 2021

Quote by Paul Smith for Pride Month

“Lawrence v. Texas is almost certainly the very first thing that is going to get mentioned in the newspaper when I leave this world. And it is a pretty good story, as well.” Paul Smith ’76, Amherst trustee Paul Smith ’76, who argued the landmark 2003 gay rights case in the U.S. Supreme Court, speaking in 2015, when he received an Amherst honorary degree. 

NOTE: Photo by Ted Eytan. This photo appears in it's original form on the homepage; here a cropped version is displaying. Creative Commons licence. 

Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month: Janet Lin ’97

Quote by Janet Lin class of 1997

“It's important to find a mentor.... Often people want to champion people like themselves. So early on, it was hard to find that person. ... Now I reach out to Asian women all the time; and I say, ‘Please let me help you.’” Janet Lin ’97, screenwriter and showrunner for Bridgerton, Cursed and other TV shows.

Bicentennial Commencement

Bicentennial fact: First commencement ceremony at Amherst College was in 1822

Amherst held its first Commencement ceremony in 1822. This Sunday, May 30th, the Bicentennial Class of 2021 will graduate in an in-person ceremony on Pratt Field. Congratulations to all the seniors! Commencement 2021

Amherst Voices: Dan Cluchey ’08

Quote by presidential speech writer Dan Cluchey class of 2008

“I was learning to read and by extension, learning to write with real intention, with a sort of sonic appreciation and attention to the machinery of sentences, the emotional content, the syntax.” Presidential speechwriter Dan Cluchey ’08 on his Amherst experience. Cluchey was the elected class speaker at his Commencement. 

Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month:

Quote by Min Jin Lee, visiting writer at Amherst College

“You belong now. You are loved now. You are making your history now. Thank you for letting me sit at your table.” Min Jin Lee, Amherst writer-in-residence, in a 2019 lecture to first-year students. Lee is the author, most recently, of Pachinko.

Makena Onjerika ’10

A quote by fiction writing Makena Onkerika '10

“For now, fiction has redeemed me.” Makena Onjerika ’10, who won the 2018 Caine Prize for African Writing, launched the Nairobi Fiction Writing Project.

An Amherst College Bicentennial Quiz

Test Your Amherst College knowledge

In what field has an Amherst alum not won a Nobel Prize? Test your Amherst College knowledge in our alumni magazine's special Bicentennial contest.  One randomly selected winner will receive an official Bicentennial book. Learn more about the Bicentennial and the Bicentennial books.

Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month: Kirun Kapur

Poetry quote by Kirun Kapur

“From the window she could see / women from every corner of the city / walk into the river, disappear / then rise clean, saris soaking.” Poet Kirun Kipur ’97, writer-in-residence at Amherst, from “Waiting for Sleep, I Imagine Sita in Her Youth,” a poem in Kapur's latest poetry collection Women in the Waiting Room.

Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month: Pawan Dhingra

Quote by Professor Pawan Dhingra

“The arrival of Asian immigrants to what would eventually be called America dates back to the 1500s, and the phrase “Asian American,”which was coined in the 1960s, encompasses more than 20 million people with dozens of distinct ethnic identities.” Pawan Dhingra, professor of American studies, president-elect of the Association for Asian American Studies, from his CNN opinion piece, The Most Effective Way To Fight Back Against Anti-Asian Hate.

An Amherst College Bicentennial Fact

A quote from Martha Saxton's book Amherst in the World

Visiting in 1823, Ralph Waldo Emerson referred to the College as “an infant Hercules,” whose impressive students “..write and study in a sort of fury which, I think, promises a harvest of attainments.” From “Amherst in the World” by Martha Saxton. Learn more about our Bicentennial books.

Elizabeth Aries

Quote by Professor Elizabeth Aries

“These three studies are a testament to what Amherst has worked so hard to accomplish.” Elizabeth Aries, the Clarence Francis 1910 Professor in Social Sciences, and the author of three studies, done over 15 years, on how race and class attitudes shaped Amherst students.

An Amherst College Bicentennial Fact

Bicentennial Fact: the Sycamores in front of Seelye House were planted in 1821

The American Sycamore trees in front of Seelye House were planted in 1821. This is one of many tidbits of Amherst history that Nancy Pick ’83 unearths in her new book Eye Mind Heart: Amherst College at 200

NOTES: Check out the: Bicentennial Corner: Amherst College Knowledge for more Bicentennial facts. Eye Mind Heart is one of the official Bicentennial books. Learn all about the Amherst College Bicentennial.

Amelia Worsley

National Poetry Month quote by professor worsley

“The poems about AIDS just seemed so much more present to us than they had when I've taught them before.” Amelia Worsley, assistant professor of English, on the remarkable ways the pandemic changed her poetry course.

Footnote:  April is National Poetry Month. Learn more about Literary Amherst.

Rosanne Haggerty ’82

Quote by Rosanne Haggerty about ending homelessness

“We are grateful and eager to seize this historic moment in our country to build a future where homelessness is rare and brief.” Rosanne Haggerty ’82, Founder of Community Solutions.

Community Solutions won a $100 million MacArthur foundation grant to end homelessness.

An Amherst College Bicentennial Fact

A collage of Amherst College course catalogs

In 1821-22, Amherst offered 37 courses. Today, students can choose among more than 850, with 6,000 total available through the Five College Consortium. Learn more about Amherst College at 200

NOTE: Read more facts about Amherst today.

Amherst Voices

Illustration of bystanders not intervening

“That was my goal in writing the book—to give people an understanding of the psychological factors that lead to inaction, and to give people, therefore, the tools and courage and strategies to speak up in the face of bad behavior.” Psychology Professor Catherine Sanderson in an interview about her book Why We Act: Turning Bystanders into Moral Rebels.

NOTE: Sanderson is teaching two courses this semester, “Close Relationships” and “Sports Psychology.”

 

Amherst Voices

a science lab at Amherst College

“The community I established with the instructors and my peers was unmatched. I had never been in an environment where everyone shared the aspirations I have and my fiery passion for STEM.” Maria Andrade ’23 took part in the Incubator project, a STEM skills-development program.

Celebrating Women's History Month: Sunflowers

In 2020 a field of sunflowers was planted on campus to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment

In 2020, a field of sunflowers bloomed for the first time near the Arms Music Building on campus in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment. This planting is one of the College’s Bicentennial projects.

Note: Press Release: Amherst College Launches its Bicentennial.

Celebrating Women's History Month: President Biddy Martin

In 2011, Biddy Martin was elected as the 19th president of Amherst College and the first woman to serve as president

In 2011, Biddy Martin was elected the 19th president of Amherst College. She is the first woman to serve in the position. Learn more about President Biddy Martin.