The Founders Society was established in 1997 to honor the dedication of a distinguished group of Amherst College's most generous alumni and friends. Like the five men whose energy and commitment built the College in 1821, Founders Society members provide the foundation of the Amherst experience today. So much of what Amherst is now was made possible because of the tireless dedication and enthusiasm of Samuel Fowler Dickinson, Colonel Rufus Graves, Nathaniel Smith, Hezekiah Wright Strong, and Sampson Vryling Stoddard Wilder. The Founders Society is named in their memory and to honor their generosity.
The "Charity Fund" these five men began—with its ambitious goal of $50,000—was made possible through their collective dedication, conviction and enthusiasm for an idea that was both simple and radical: to create a college for those with exceptional talent, regardless of their ability to pay, and to envelop them in a powerful intellectual environment. The result has been generations of accomplished alumni who have changed the world and the lives of others around them, in every field and endeavor to which they dedicated their lives.
With their goal to create an institution that would last in perpetuity, the founders decided five-sixths of the Charity Fund's income would be for scholarships for students, and the remaining one-sixth of the income would be returned to the principal. The Charity Fund became the cornerstone of what is now one of the country's most generous financial aid programs, in addition to supporting the teaching and research of an accomplished faculty and a campus so beautiful that it earned the name, "The Fairest College," beloved by generations of Amherst alumni. Founders Society members continue to build on this historic legacy by supporting the students, faculty and programs that make Amherst the extraordinary and broad-ranging institution it is today and will continue to be for generations to come.
Amherst College is pleased to honor donors whose generosity supports its educational mission. Those donors who have made cumulative gifts of $1 million or more to Amherst are honored as members of the Founders Society. In addition to their philanthropic support, Founders Society members are at the heart of the Amherst community, serving as volunteers, board members and advocates for the College.