Amherst Fact: Commencement by the Numbers

Nations and states represented by this year's senior class: Amherst College

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

Mohamed Ahmed Ramy ’18

Mohamed Ahmed Ramy ’18

“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.

Foster “Butch” Brown ’73

Quote by Foster Brown

“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.

Amherst Fact

Facts about Solar Power

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.

Emily Dickinson's Words

Emily Dickinson words

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.

President Biddy Martin

Quote from President Biddy Martin: "The College's distinctive combination of core values is never more important."

“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.

Cuthbert “Tuffy” Simpkins ’69

A quote by Cuthbert Simpkins

“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.

Pam Allyn ’84

"Literature is the heartbeat of what it means to be free." Pam Allyn ’84

“Literature is the heartbeat of what it means to be free.”  Pam Allyn ’84,  is the founder of LitWorld.

NOTE: Learn more about LitWorld: Strengthening kids and communities through the power of their own stories. 

Steven Chu

"In the scientific world, people are judged by the content of their ideas." Steven Chu

“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.

2018 NCAA Division 3 Final Four: Women's Basketball

This weekend, Amherst women's basketball--currently the No. 1 team in the country--is going for its third nation

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

Leah Schmalzbauer

Quote by Professor Leah Schmalzbauer

“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.

Jason Robinson

Quote by Jason Robinson

“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.

Susannah Grant ’84

Quote about screenwriting by Susannah Grant ’84

“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.

Junot Díaz

Quote by Junot Diaz

“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

President Biddy Martin

Quote  about the Writing College by President Biddy Martin

“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.

Elon Musk

"It's just a wise move to not have Life-As-We-Know-It's eggs all in one basket." Elon Musk

“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.

Mikhail Gorbachev

Mikhail Gorbachev quote

“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

Reece Foy ’18

Quote by Reece Foy about attending the Sugar Bowl

“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 

Ursula K. Le Guin

"Obstinacy. And the fact that, although it's very hard work, I like writing." Quote by Ursula Le Guin

“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).

Waldo Shumway, class of 1911

Quote by Waldo Shumway: "Walked 17 Miles. Climbed 200 feet several times. Patagonia. Upper Cretaceous. Oysters. Shark's teeth. "

“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.

Jessica Bruder ’00

Quote by Jessica Bruder: It was bewildering, like having a front-row seat to a play performed in a language I didn't understand.

“It was bewildering, like having a front-row seat to a play performed in a language I didn't understand.” Jessica Bruder ’00 , writing in Harper’s about how she helped to break one of the biggest news stories of our time. She talks about that article in Amherst magazine

Alexandra Purdy

Quote by Alexandra Purdy: I feel like I'm revealing to people a world they didn't know was there.

“I feel like I'm revealing to people a world they didn't know was there.” Assistant Professor of Biology Alexandra Purdy, speaking to Amherst magazine about her research into gut bacteria.

Richard Wilbur ’42

"Now winter downs the dying of the year, / And night is all a settlement of snow;" by Richard Wilbur

“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.” 

Mark Vanhoenacker ’96

Quote by Mark Vanhoenacker ’96 in praise of darkness

“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

Leatrice Eiseman

Pantone Color

“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.”

Attila Ujvari ’20E

Atilla Ujvari quote: "It was awesome, it was awful. That's the whole military career, I think."

“It was awesome, it was awful. That’s the whole military career, I think.” Attila Ujvari ’20, who served as a combat medic, in an interview for the latest Amherst magazine cover story

Kwame Anthony Appiah

Kwame Anthony Appiah

“Our understandings of race and culture have led us astray.” Kwame Anthonly Appiah. Before speaking on campus this fall, Appiah sat for a video interview with Stefan Yong ’18.

Lisa Biggs ’93

Lisa Biggs quote

“Make art that recovers our fragmented, misrepresented and distorted pasts through ordinary people's stories.” Actor, playwright and performance scholar Lisa Biggs ’93 reflects on her time at Amherst and the importance of making theater, then and now.

Carolyn Sufrin ’97

Carolyn Sufrin Quote

“My form of teenage rebellion was contemplating getting a Ph.D. instead of an M.D.” Carolyn Sufrin ’97, From an Amherst magazine profile: “When Med School is Not Enough

Edward Hitchcock

Edward Hitchcock

“Why may we not add Geology to the list of poetical sciences?” Geologist Edward Hitchcock, Amherst’s third president. Amherst’s Beneski Museum of Natural History houses Hitchcock’s collection of fossil dinosaur tracks</a>, which continue to be among the largest and most studied in the world.

President John F. Kennedy

"When power corrupts, poetry cleanses." President John F. Kennedy

“When power corrupts, poetry cleanses.” President John F. Kennedy, speaking at Amherst on Oct. 26, 1963. The College will honor the 100th anniversary of Kennedy’s birth at an Oct. 28 symposium. U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III will give the keynote address.

Tusks Up!

Amherst Mammoths Mascot

Amherst Mammoths: Est. 2017. Learn more

Richard Wilbur ’42

"Outside the open window/The morning air is all awash with angels." Richard Wilbur ’42

“Outside the open window/The morning air is all awash with angels.” Richard Wilbur ’42 in his poem “Love Calls Us to the Things of This World.”Wilbur, an elder statesman of American poetry, died on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017 at age 96.

Ha Ram Hwang ’17

Ha Ram Hwang: People not only shared vocabulary with us, but emotions, sensations and stories."

People not only shared vocabulary with us, but emotions, sensations and stories. Ha Ram Hwang ’17. For a culminating project in English 490, she teamed up with a fellow student to collect hard-to-translate phrases from people around campus. 

Katerina Von Campe ’17

"No writing is ever wasted." Katerina Von Campe

“No writing is ever wasted.” Katerina Von Campe ’17, giving pointers on thesis writing to current students.students.

Vanessa Fong ’96

Quote by Vanessa Fong '96

“If parents favored the sons over the daughters, what happens to the families with only a daughter? This is a burning question, and could change everything about what we know about gender in China.” Vanessa Fong ’96, associate professor of anthropology at the College, on why she began her longitudinal study of China’s one-child policy.

Melvil Dewey, Class of 1874

"Reading is a mighty engine, beside which steam and electricity sink into insignificance." Melvil Dewey, Class of 1874

“Reading is a mighty engine, beside which steam and electricity sink into insignificance.” Melvil Dewey, Class of 1874, Dewey was an Amherst student when he devised the decimal classification system that bears his name. 

NOTE: In 2014, a turn-of-the-century building on the Amherst College campus that once provided power to the campus was repurposed to provide space on campus for student activities including live performances, rehearsals, pub nights, panel discussions, art exhibits, food truck nights, cookouts and more. Photo by David Lamb Photography, courtesy of Bruner/Cott.

Emily Dickinson

"The brain is wider than the sky." Emily Dickinson

“The brain is wider than the sky.” Emily Dickison, poet. The fifth annual Amherst Poetry Festival and Emily Dickinson Poetry Marathon takes place Sept. 14-17. On Friday, poets will read in Bassett Planetarium as the starscapes of the evening of Emily Dickinson’s birth and death are projected. On Saturday, fans will read all 1,789 of Emily Dickinson’s poems at the Emily Dickinson Museum.

Amherst Remembers

Today, Amherst remembers those lost on 9/11, including the three alumni.

Today, Amherst remembers those lost on 9/11, including the three alumni victims: Frederick C. Rimmele III ’90, Brock Safronoff ’97 and Maurita Tam ’01. [Learn more]

Gavin Grimm

“Bad news is bad news, but it was like I didn’t even feel it, because I heard how hard it was for him to tell me.”  Gavin Grimm

“Bad news is bad news, but it was like I didn’t even feel it, because I heard how hard it was for him to tell me.” Gavin Grimm, speaking about his lawyer Josh Block ‘01, in an Amherst magazine interview.

Christopher Lewis '19

“If you sit down and talk to someone you thought you have nothing in common with, in two minutes you’ll find a similarity.”

“If you sit down and talk to someone you thought you have nothing in common with, in two minutes you’ll find a similarity.” Christopher Lewis ’19, one of the students featured in #AmherstIBelong, an exhibit sponsored by the Office of Diversity & Inclusion. All are invited to the opening reception on Sept. 5 from 4-6 p.m. in the Keefe Campus Center atrium.

Amherst Fact

The class of 2021 is known as the bicentennial class, because it will graduate in the College’s bicentennial year.

The class of 2021 is known as the bicentennial class, because it will graduate in the College’s bicentennial year. Its 473 members were chosen from a record 9,285 applicants.

Read more about the incoming class: Welcome, New Students

Jim Steinman ’69

"Nothing I can say/ A total eclipse of the heart" by Jim Steinman '69

“Nothing I can say/A total eclipse of the heart.” Jim Steinman ’69 Steinman wrote and produced the 1983 hit “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” Find it on the playlist that NASA interns put together for today’s total solar eclipse. 

Note: Read about David Peck Todd, class of 1875, in the latest issue of Amherst magazine: “The Star-Crossed Astronomer” by Julie Dobrow.

Nelson Mandela

"All institutions of higher education have the obligation to open the door more widely." Nelson Mandela

“All institutions of higher education have the obligation to open the door more widely.” Nelson Mandela in his 2005 address to Amherst College, when he was awarded an honorary degree

NOTE: Mandela would have turned 99 this summer.

Richard Wilbur ’42

Quote by Richard Wilbur

“If a stranger said in sport / ‘I see you're prepared for snow,’/ Our shovel might retort / ‘Out here, you never know.’ ” Richard Wilbur ’42, in a poem about a snow shovel still leaning against a house in July. 

NOTE: Wilbur is the subject of a new biography by Robert Bagg ‘57 and Mary Bagg that is this month’s Amherst Reads featured book