Amherst College: A Chronology

 

See also "A History of Amherst College


President Zephaniah Swift Moore, 1821-1823

1820 Aug 9 Cornerstone of first building (South College) laid.
1821 Sep 18 Amherst Collegiate Institution dedicated.
  Sep 19 College opened with 47 students.
  Oct Student Literary Societies, Athena and Alexandria, formed.
1823 Jan 29 Death of President Moore.

President Heman Humphrey, 1823-1845

1823 Oct 15 President Humphrey inaugurated.
1825 Jan 29 Massachusetts State Legislature grants Charter to Amherst College.
1826 Spring President Humphrey placed at head of new Church of Christ at Amherst College.
  Aug Introduction of "parallel course," new curriculum with emphasis on modern history and science.
1827 Feb 28 Johnson Chapel dedicated.
  May First of series of religious revivals at the College.
1828   Student government, "House of Students," formed.
1829 Aug Trustees dropped parallel course.
1830 Aug Antivenenean Society formed. Motto: "Water Is Indeed Best."
1831 May First student publication, The Sprite, begun.
1833 Summer Anti-Slavery Society and Colonization Society formed.
1834 Summer Colonization Society disbanded at Faculty's request.
  Oct Anti-Slavery Society refused President Humphrey's request to disband.
1837   First Secret Society (fraternity) at Amherst College, Alpha Delta Phi, opened.
1837-1839   Financial assistance sought from Massachusetts State Legislature.
1842 Jul Society of Alumni formed at Commencement.
1844 Jan 19 President Humphrey announced resignation.
    Hon. David Sears established Sears Fund of Literature and Benevolence with $10,000.

President Edward Hitchcock, 1845-1854

1845 Apr 11 President Hitchcock inaugurated.
1846 Jul 1 Three Student Literary Societies reorganized to two societies.
1847   Delta Upsilon, a non-secret society, formed.
  Aug Debts of the College cancelled.
1852   Custom of Class Day begun.
  Oct 11 Trustees established Scientific Department.
1853 Aug 9 Phi Beta Kappa chapter opened at Amherst College.
  Nov 22 Library dedicated.
1854 Jul 11 President Hitchcock resigned.

President William A. Stearns, 1854-1876

1854 Nov 11 President Stearns inaugurated.
1855 Oct First Olio, student yearbook, issued.
1857   Scientific Department dropped by Trustees. Sabrina, bronze statue, given to the College by Governor Joel Hayden.
1859   Seniors allowed elective courses.
  Jul 1 First Intercollegiate baseball game played - Amherst vs. Williams.
1860   Barrett Gymnasium completed.
  Aug Department of Physical Culture established.
  Sep "Vital Statistics," anthropometric measurements of students taken.
1861 Apr 3 President Emeritus Humphrey died.
1862   "Freshmen Visitation," hazing, banned by Faculty.
1864 Feb 27 President Emeritus Hitchcock died.
1868 Feb Amherst Student, student newspaper, issued.
  Oct 20 Cornerstone of Walker Hall laid.
1869 Apr Evening prayers established.
    Student activities include Crew and Glee Club.
1870 Sep 22 Cornerstone of Stearns Church laid.
1871 Jul 12 Semi-Centennial celebrated. 700 alumni visited the College.
1873 Jul 1 Stearns Church dedicated.
1874   Melvil Dewey reorganized library according to a decimal classification system.
    Former Treasurer Edward Dickinson died.
1876 Jun 8 President Stearns died.

President Julius H. Seelye (AC 1849), 1876-1890

1876 Jul 28 Julius H. Seelye (1849) became first alumnus to be elected President of the College.
1877 May 5 Blake Field dedicated.
  Jun 27 President Seelye inaugurated. Sabrina abducted for the first time.
1880 Fall President Seelye introduced student governance system, College Senate.
1882 Mar 29 Fire in Walker Hall damaged building, destroyed most early records of the College.
1884   Pratt Gymnasium completed.
1890 May 22 Pratt Field opened.
  Jun 24 President Seelye announced resignation.

President Merrill E. Gates, 1890-1899

1890 Jun 25 President Gates inaugurated at Commencement.
    South College renovated, rooms have steam heat.
1891 May Pratt Field and Grandstand-Field House dedicated.
1894   Fayerweather Laboratory completed.
    College enrollment at high with 434 students. Tuition $110.
  Mar 20 College Senate ended by student vote.
1895 May 12 President Emeritus Julius H. Seelye died.
    Former Treasurer William Austin Dickinson died.
1897   Pratt Health Cottage given to the College.
1898   Professor David Peck Todd's New Astronomy for Beginners published.
  Jun 9 President Gates announced resignation.

President George Harris (AC 1866), 1899-1912

1899   President Harris inaugurated. Became first president to not have teaching assignments.
  Sep Grandstand-Field House destroyed by fire.
1900   Professor Todd traveled abroad to observe eclipse of the sun.
  Mar Students approved new honor system constitution.
  Oct Faculty abolished students' cane rush custom.
    Pratt Health Cottage addition completed.
1901   Electric lights in all College buildings. President Harris recommended central heating plant to heat buildings.
1902 Feb Grade system changed: 2,3, and 4 grading to A+ through E.
    Flag rush instituted as substitute for cane rush.
1903   First undergraduate automobile arrived on campus.
  May 2 Ground broken for Observatory.
1904 Jan "Water Famine" due to pipe damage in College Well, only source of water.
1905 Jun College Hall rededicated after Class of 1884 funded restoration work.
1907   Outdoor skating rink given to the College by Charles M. Pratt (AC 1879).
1909   Biology-Geology Building completed
1911   First Amherst Graduate's Quarterly issued.
    Bachelor of Science degree discontinued.
  Nov 15 President Harris announced resignation.

President Alexander Meiklejohn, 1912-1924

1912   President Meiklejohn inaugurated.
    Faculty voted to modify educational policy including freshman required courses.
    Anonymous donor gave $100,000 to the George Daniel Olds Professorship in Social and Economic Institutions.
    College enrollment totals 426 students.
    Hitchcock Playing Fields dedicated to the memory of Professor Edward "Old Doc" Hitchcock (AC 1849).
1913   Library and English Department offered joint instruction in library use.
    Student Council became new student government.
    Interfraternity Conference became students' fraternity governance organization.
1914   Alumni Council established.
    Paul F. Good (AC 1913) became first Amherst graduate to be awarded a Rhodes Scholarship.
    William Butler Yeats invited to the College to deliver four lectures.
    Noah Webster Memorial statue erected.
1915   Trustees voted mandatory faculty retirement at age 65.
    Herbert L. Pratt (AC 1895) gave College Audubon's Birds of America.
1916   Robert Frost received first appointment at Amherst College as Professor ad interim of English Literature.
    Massachusetts State Legislature amended Amherst College charter; clause for required number of clerical trustees removed.
    55 Amherst graduates and undergraduates at Plattsburg Military camp.
    Converse Memorial Library constructed.
    Student Association proposed new honor system.
1917   Student Association levied $12 universal tax on student body.
    Tradition of Treadway Interfraternity Scholarship Cup for fraternity having highest scholastic average begun.
1918   R.O.T.C. unit established on campus.
    Trustees awarded special wartime degrees to seniors in the Army and Navy (A.B. honoris causa).
    Professor Thorstein B. Veblen lectured at the College.
    S.A.T.C. (Student Army Training Corps) established in place of R.O.T.C. when draft age was lowered to 18 years.
    President Meiklejohn proposed two-tiered system, Junior and Senior Colleges, in his Report of the President.
1920   President Meiklejohn on one year leave, 1920-21.
    Amherst faculty offered courses for labor union members at Holyoke and Springfield.
    Acting President Olds visited alumni groups in western cities on four week tour.
    President Meiklejohn's The Liberal College published.
1921   Glee Club and Mandolin Club gave seven joint concerts while on western trip in Illinois, Indiana, and New York.
    Faculty continued "Classes for Workers" program.
    Christian Association began campaign to fund two year teaching appointment at Doshisha University.
    Amherst College celebrated Centennial. Over half of the living alumni returned to the College.
1922   President Emeritus George Harris (AC 1866) died.
    Stewart Nichols (AC 1922) appointed Amherst representative at Doshisha University.
    President Emeritus Merrill E. Gates died.
    Student Association voted permission for students to play summer baseball on approved teams.
    Alumni Reading and Study program begun.
1923   Physicist Niels Bohr gave series of lectures on atomic theory while at the College.
    Board of Trustees requested the resignation of Alexander Meiklejohn as President of the College. President Meiklejohn resigned, effective July 1924.
    Professor George D. Olds was Acting President 1923-24.
    New Chi Psi Lodge dedicated.
    Hitchcock Field facilities improved; additional fields graded.
1924   Calvin Coolidge (AC 1895) endorsed by undergraduate Republican Club.
    Glee Club competed in intercollegiate singing contest against eight colleges in New York City.
    Cal Coolidge Club opened with 307 members.
    Bertrand Russell lectured at the College.
    Alexander Meiklejohn ends tenure as President of the College.

President George D. Olds, 1924-1927

1924   President George D. Olds inaugurated.
    "Dean's List" Juniors and Seniors (85% average or better) allowed unlimited class cuts.
1925   Plans to remodel and enlarge Johnson Chapel announced.
    Amy Lowell gave reading of her poems at Johnson Chapel by invitation of Professor Robert Frost.
    (Baseball) Cage completed.
1926   Central Heating Plant completed.
    President George D. Olds announced resignation.
    Lord Jeffery Inn completed; financed by the Amherst Inn Corporation.
    Wild Life Sanctuary land set aside.
1927   Faculty changed chapel requirements allowing students greater flexibility.
    George D. Olds ends tenure as President of the College.

President Arthur Stanley Pease, 1927-1932

1927   President Pease inaugurated.
    Enrollment totaled 767. President noted in annual report that faculty and student body were concerned with size of the College.
    Honor system replaced with system of proctored examinations.
    Physical examination by College Physician required from all students.
    Alumni Council gave $22,000 for scholarship aid. 1928
    Faculty salaries raised.
    Professor Atherton Sprague appointed to new duties of Freshman Dean.
    No students allowed to own or operate automobiles during the semester.
    Full-time College physician appointed.
    60% of the student body participated in athletic activities.
1929   Committee on Religious Activity recommended ending Saturday chapel.
    Faculty "retiring allowance" plans studied by the College.
    Moore Laboratory of Chemistry dedicated.
    College garage built for College service vehicles.
1930   Henry Clay Folger (AC 1879) bequeathed funds for the Folger Shakespeare Library to the Trustees of Amherst College.
    Entire sophomore class placed on probation for hazing freshmen during "Chapel Rush."
    Student committee, Committee of Seven, formed to govern dormitories.
1931   Sherman Pratt Fellowships for foreign students at Amherst College started.
    Commons Club organized by non-fraternity men.
    President Emeritus George D. Olds died.
    Student Council voted $1,000 appropriation toward a new gymnasium.
1932   Folger Shakespeare Library dedicated.
    Student enrollment totaled 661 (767 in 1927). Freshman class limited to not more than 200 members.
    Arthur Stanley Pease ended tenure as President of the College.

President Stanley King (AC 1903), 1932-1946

1932   President King (AC 1903) inaugurated.
    New admission requirements including personal interview when possible, emphasis on academic record or subjects, elimination of Latin requirement.
    Chapel attendance requirements revised.
    Committee of Six established.
    House libraries established in North and South.
1933   Life Trustee Calvin Coolidge (AC 1895) died.
    Masquers, student drama organization, performed in Vienna.
    Johnson Chapel reconstruction completed.
    More cars on campus; parking space established east of Pratt Gym.
1934   Student aid totaled $62,567
    President King met with 8 alumni groups in the Midwest on 7-day tour.
    Undergraduates held Amherst Anti-War Week.
    A. N. Milliken (AC 1880) donated $10,000 for the Hitchcock Memorial Room to house the collection of College memorabilia.
1935   Trustee George A. Plimpton (AC 1876) died.
    Amherst House at Doshisha University dedicated.
    College furnished all student dormitories.
    Alumni Gymnasium completed.
1936 Mar Flooding of the Connecticut River. Amherst College fed and housed more than 400 Hadley residents.
    Full medical and surgical care became available to students during term time.
1937   Amherst Day School opened in the Little Red Schoolhouse providing Nursery school to the children of faculty and townspeople.
    Student aid totaled $98,705.
    Faculty committee undertook study of curriculum.
    Freshman English became a required course.
1938   First outdoor Commencement held.
  Sep Hurricane toppled over 500 trees on College and fraternity-owned land. Classes suspended for 3 days.
    Campus regraded and replanted.
1938   Freshman curriculum requirements changed.
    Problem of pensions considered by a Trustee-Faculty committee.
    Student eating and housing problems considered by committee appointed by President King.
    Kirby Theater dedicated.
    Frederick S. Allis (AC 1893) resigned after 25 years as Secretary of the Alumni Council.
    Editorial for the Commencement issue of the Amherst Student favored military training.
1939   Regulations to discourage fraternity hazing passed by Student Council.
    New requirements for honors work adopted by Faculty.
    College offered "Graduate Record Examination" in cooperation with the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
1940   Tuition increased from $400 to $450.
    Selective Service Law passed. 169 students registered on campus.
    Civil Aeronautics Authority (CAA) program available on campus.
1941   Faculty, at the request of the Massachusetts Committee on Public Safety, voted not to allow student automobiles on campus.
    Largest freshman class to date, 273 students, admitted to the College to offset expected losses to armed services.
    Course in applied music added to the curriculum.
    Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America (TIAA) program adopted by the College.
    Valentine Hall, dining facilities and dormitory, opened.
    Faculty Club moved to the White Homestead.
    25% of faculty left the College to enter military service or government work.
    Accelerated program adopted by the College. Optional 12 week summer term added, allowing graduation in three years.
    Psi Upsilon Prize established for "The First Citizen of the College".
1942   War Department Civilian Protection School used facilities of the College.
    War Service Committee established, served as liaison between College and military groups on and off campus.
    Department of Geology moved to renovated Pratt Museum, the former Gymnasium.
    All attics and upper floors of College buildings inspected by Building and Grounds in the eventuality of air raids.
    Students organized volunteer fire department. College purchased fire truck.
    Regular enrollment at lowest since 1822.
    Only 175 regular civilian students enrolled vs. 950 Armed Services trainees.
1943   College held first midwinter Commencement.
    Publication of the Amherst Student suspended "for the duration."
    Student Council voted to suspend rush "for the duration."
    Fraternity houses leased for housing of military personnel. Meeting rooms [GOTE] of the houses locked and sealed.
1944   Amherst College in Battle Dress issued. Publication of the Olio still suspended.
    Veterans entered College under GI Bill.
1945   Amherst-MIT combined 5-year program began.
    Pentagonal Conference hosted at Amherst College to consider common problems of postwar college programs at Bowdoin, Dartmouth, Wesleyan, Williams, and Amherst.
    470 regular students enrolled.
    Faculty salaries studied and readjusted.
    Faculty committee recommended retirement at age 65 with only special annual appointment to age 70.
    Trustees announced reopening of fraternities for Fall 1946.
1946   C. W. Cole (AC 1927) elected twelfth President of the College.
    Trustees authorized razing of Stearns Church to make space for new freshmen dormitories and art building.
    War Memorial dedicated.
    125th anniversary of the College celebrated.
    GI Village, emergency housing for married veteran students, constructed.
    James and Stearns Halls, freshmen dormitories, constructed.
    Last military unit left campus.
    End of Stanley King's tenure as President of Amherst College.

President Charles W. Cole (AC 1927), 1946-1960

1946   President Cole (AC 1927) inaugurated.
    Fall enrollment totaled 1,174 students (735 veterans).
    Committee on Educational Policy formed. New curriculum is designed.
    House Management Committee (HMC) formed to supervise fraternity, social, and intellectual business; complemented the Fraternity Business Manager (HBM).
    Committee on Faculty Housing formed.
    Trustees directed fraternities to drop discriminatory provisions regarding pledging.
1947   Summer session dropped.
    Faculty salaries increased 7.5-12%.
    New Curriculum started.
    Eugene D. Wilson (AC 1929) appointed Director of Admissions.
    Approximately 22% of students on scholarship aid.
1948   New Curriculum went into effect for upperclassmen.
    Robert Frost appointed Simpson Lecturer in Literature.
    Phi Kappa Psi pledged Tom Gibbs (1951), a black student. Chapter was expelled from the national organization.
    Converse Library collection totaled 275,280 volumes.
1949   College received $150,000 in grants and contracts for research.
    22 lectures, sponsored by the Harlan Fiske Stone Memorial Lecture series, given on "The Meaning of Freedom," between September and May.
    College radio station [WAMF] began broadcasting supported with $3,000 loan to the student-run station from the Trustees.
    First Amherst Alumni News produced.
1950   Mead Fine Arts Building dedicated.
    First Parents Day held at Amherst College.
    President Emeritus Stanley King died.
1951   Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corp (AFROTC) added to curriculum.
    Sabrina "kidnapped" by the Class of 1951.
    Stanley King's "Consecrated Eminence": The Story of the Campus and Buildings of Amherst College published.
    320 cadets enrolled in AFROTC.
    Hampshire Inter-Library Center (HILC), a cooperative loan system, incorporated.
    House Management Committee passed restrictions regulating presence of women in fraternity houses.
    Fraternities had first year of "hundred percent" rushing.
1952   Alumni Fund set record total with $134,000 raised.
    Office of Student Counselor created.
    Trustees formed Committee on Endowment.
    New England Colleges Fund incorporated.
1953   Merrill Center for Economics dedicated. Willard F. Thorp (AC 1920) named Director.
    Phi Delta lost national affiliation by violating the national's discriminatory clause.
    Future size of the College considered.
    Internship program for entry-level teaching faculty begun with grant from the Fund for the Advancement of Education.
    North and South dormitories renovated and fireproofed.
1954   Robert Frost's 80th birthday celebrated by the College.
    More than half of senior class doing honors work.
    80% of students active in intramural sports, 50% engaged in intercollegiate sports.
    Sabrina, an undergraduate humor magazine, began publication.
    Orr Skating Rink opened.
1955   Millicent Bingham Todd gave 900 Emily Dickinson manuscripts and letters to the College.
    Alumni House opened.
    Committee on Cooperation, members representing Amherst, Smith and Mt. Holyoke Colleges and the University of Massachusetts, met to discuss cooperative efforts of the four institutions.
    College received major grant from the Ford Foundation to increase faculty salaries.
    Gail Kennedy's Education at Amherst published.
1956   AFROTC at Amherst College disbanded.
    Mayo-Smith teaching grant, "Green Dean," established for the Admission Office.
    Trustees appointed committee to study fraternities.
    Merrill Place apartments, faculty housing, completed.
    President Cole requested reaffirmation of non-discriminatory policy from fraternities.
1957   G.I. Village, located on the eastern slope of campus below the quad, is demolished.
    Committee of Eight restudied question of fraternities.
    President Cole appointed faculty committee on Future Size of the College and Related Problems.
    Undergraduate Committee of Fourteen made recommendations on compulsory chapel.
    48 undergraduates held "sit down strike" in Chapel to express opposition to compulsory services.
    Further protests to compulsory Chapel held. Group of students filled foundation hole of new religion building (Chapin Hall).
1958   Honor system adopted by students.
    Committee of representatives from four colleges investigated founding of "New College" [Fund for the Advancement of Education].
    Committee to Review the Curriculum appointed.
    "Underachiever's Program" initiated.
1959   Committee to Review the Curriculum made recommendations for changing the curriculum.
    Symposium on Emily Dickinson sponsored by the College.
    30% of students received scholarship aid.
    Converse Library holdings totaled 327,000 volumes.
    Faculty Advisory Program for Freshmen initiated.
    Joint Astronomy Department organized by Four Colleges.
    Four Colleges initiated cooperative doctoral degrees.
1960   Calvin H. Plimpton (AC 1939) elected thirteenth President of Amherst College.
    Phi Alpha Psi offered non-selective rush.
    Language Lab built.
    Amherst students participated in March on Washington, picketing White House for civil rights.
    End of Charles W. Cole's (AC 1927) tenure as President of Amherst College.

President Calvin H. Plimpton (AC 1939), 1960-1972

1960   President Plimpton (AC 1939) is inaugurated.
    Chapel requirements changed, attendance required at two of four services: two religious, two secular.
    Trustees recommended increase in College size from 1,000 to 1,200 students.
1961   College budget for current operations (1961-62) doubled from 1951-52 budget.
    Trustees requested fraternities to transfer titles to College.
    Compulsory chapel ended, assembly continued.
    Faculty voted to end "Underachiever Program."
1962   Amherst Capital Program, $36,000,000 fund drive, begun.
    Ford Foundation offered $2,500,000 matching grant for general College purposes.
    Amherst College received $3,500,000 from anonymous donor to build a new library.
    Women's visiting hours permitted in dormitories.
    Phi Delta Sigma honored Ed Newport for 50 years of service at the College.
1963   Eleven of 13 fraternities transferred titles to the College.
    Crossett, Davis and Stone dormitories, "social dorms," completed.
    Valentine Hall Annex completed.
    College marked death of Robert Frost.
  Oct 26 President John F. Kennedy visited Amherst College for special convocation and groundbreaking ceremony of the Robert Frost Library.
    Faculty changed College Calendar for 1964-65 academic year.
1964   Faculty Committee on Educational Policy (CEP) issued "A Report on the Curriculum of Amherst College." Recommended changes in "New Curriculum" including a four-course instead of five-course semester.
    Amherst and Mount Holyoke students participated in Holyoke-Springfield tutorial program for underprivileged children.
    163 students chose to remain independent of fraternity affiliation (vs. 105 students in 1961).
    First Alumni College held.
1965   Faculty voted to adopt a new curriculum which included Problems of Inquiry courses for Freshmen.
    Faculty issued "Report on Student Life." Recommended fraternities be replaced with groups of societies.
    Robert Frost Library completed.
1966   Emily Dickinson House purchased.
    "New College Plan" undertaken. Harold F. Johnson (AC 1918) gave $6 million to start Hampshire College.
    Amherst Capital Program ended. $21,000,000 raised.
    Dean C. Scott Porter (AC 1919), Dean of the College for 35 years, died.
    Five-College Cooperation begun.
    College Council, composed of 4 professors, 2 deans, and 6 students, begun.
1967   Sociology added to the curriculum.
    Black-White Action Committee (BWAC) established.
    Four-College bus began night service.
    Independent Study offered to students.
    "Drug Scene '67" colloquium sponsored by the Amherst Student Council.
    Arthur Vining Davis Foundation gave $1,000,000 for new Science Center.
    Students protested army recruiter on campus, endorsed recruiting ban.
1968   Chapel (Assembly) ended.
    Music Building dedicated.
    Black-White Action Committee proposed Amherst Summer Action Program (ASAP); 3 summer programs for the College: A Better Chance (ABC) tutorial, Smith-Amherst Tutorial Program. (SATP), and an English Teachers Institute. Trustees allocated $30,000 support.
    Science Center opened.
1969   Trustees ended Town Tuition Scholarship Program.
    College Council recommended self-determination for dormitory social hours with report "Women Visitors at Amherst."
    Faculty voted to implement Black Studies curriculum for 1969-70.
    College held two-day "Moratorium."
    Amherst College Summer Commission issued report recommending changes for internal governance.
    23 women attended Amherst as a part of Ten-College exchange.
    Faculty approved Program of Field Study for students.
    Five-College Long Range Planning Committee formed.
    The Amherst Student published "A Special Report: Drugs and the Campus."
1970   Students voted to abolish Student Council.
    Blacks from the five Colleges occupied four buildings on Amherst campus.
    National Student Strike observed at the College.
    Hampshire College opened.
    Four undergraduates seated on Presidential Search Committee.
    Five-College Committee for the Strike published "Consider ... These are the Days" booklet.
    Students placed representatives on faculty committees.
1971   Professor John William Ward named fourteenth President of Amherst College.
    Faculty voted in favor of 4-0-4 college calendar.
    Calvin H. Plimpton (1939) ended tenure as President of Amherst College.

President John William Ward, 1971-1979

1971   President Ward inaugurated.
    College celebrated Sesquicentennial.
    Select Committee on Coeducation formed.
    Morris A. Copeland (AC 1917) donated $500,000, to endow the Copeland Colloquium Fund.
    Faculty rejected Pennsylvania Plan which required College to report felony convictions of Pennsylvania students receiving PHEAA funds.
    College held first Interterm.
1972   Students established Student Assembly government.
    President Ward arrested at Westover Air Force Base Protest.
    President Ward made recommendation for coeducation to Board of Trustees. Faculty voted support for recommendation.
    Sloan Foundation granted $400,000 for the creation of Neuroscience Program.
1973   Board of Trustees postponed decision on coeducation.
    College hosted All New England Black Students' Conference.
    Faculty dropped language requirement.
    College hosted eight-week Springfield-Amherst Summer Academy (SASA).
    Freshman Gerald Penney drowned while taking swimming test.
1974   President Ward stopped plans on College Center.
    66% of the freshman class pledged fraternities.
    DeBevoise Fieldhouse dedicated.
    Trustees voted to admit women as degree candidates.
1975   Office of Institutional Research formed.
    Faculty established limited pass/fail system for student grades.
    Valentine employees approved union contract with Amherst College.
    Special Committee of the Faculty formed to propose a new curriculum.
1976   Endowment at the College reached $100 million.
    College opened with largest enrollment to date with 1,490 students: 289 women, 1,201 men. Women admitted as freshmen for first time.
    Women's intercollegiate sports teams compete in field hockey, cross country soccer, basketball, squash, and lacrosse.
    Committee of Six adopted tenure disclosure policy.
    Trustees voted student seat on Student Life Committee.
1977   Select Committee on Curriculum proposed new curriculum, Introduction to Liberal Studies (ILS), for freshmen.
    Amherst Action Coalition (AAC) demanded College disinvestment of South African stock.
    41 women pledged fraternities.
    Sabrina stolen from Converse Hall location. Statue "recovered" from students by College Security.
   

Faculty approved curriculum changes with Introduction to Liberal Studies (ILS) requirements and adjunct program.

    Former Phi Kappa Psi house (56 College Street) renamed Charles Drew House.
1978   President Emeritus Charles W. Cole (AC 1927) died.
    Faculty passed guidelines to protect students, faculty and staff from unconsented administration-assisted CIA investigations.
    9 of 10 fraternities joined Inter-Fraternity Council (IFC).
    Professor Birnbaum won suit against CIA for invasion of privacy.
    President Ward announced resignation.
1979   IFC outlined new fraternity rush rules.
    Ad Hoc Committee on Affirmative Action reported on hiring and wage discrimination against female staff and faculty members.
    College announced Capital Fund Drive.
    Trustees announced appointment of Julian Gibbs (1946) as 15th President.
    Cross burned in front of Charles Drew House. Two students suspended for their actions.
    Students occupy Converse Hall for ten-day sit-in to protest elimination of Black Freshman Orientation and other racial issues on campus.
    John William Ward ends tenure as President of the College.

President Julian Gibbs, 1979-1983

1981   For the first time all nine fraternities accepted women as members. Five houses are coed.
1982   Five Colleges, Inc. contracts with OCLC to develop a Five College Automated Library System.
    Renovation of Fayerweather Hall to become a Fine Art Center begins.
    Planning gets underway for a new $3.2 million Seelye-Mudd mathematics and computer sciences building.
1983   President Julian H. Gibbs, AC 1946, dies in office. 
    Professor G. Armour Craig, AC 1937, is appointed Acting President.
    Conduits for a broadband local area network are initiated.
    The Advisory Committee on Student Life reports favorably to the Trustees on the need for a social center.
    An Ad Hoc Trustee Committee on Campus Life is appointed.
1984   Subsequent to the recommendation of the Ad Hoc Trustee Committee on Campus Life chaired by Charles Longsworth, The Board of Trustees recommends abolition of fraternities and construction of a campus center.

The Trustees approve a five-part program of construction and renovation to improve residential and social conditions:
  1. Fayerweather to become a campus center
  2. Mead Art building to be renovated and Fine Arts facilities extended
  3. Milliken Student Health Center to be renovated and converted to dormitory space
  4. The house at 95 College St. to be renovated to provide student health facilities
  5. A new dormitory to be built near Jenkins and Taplin

President Peter R. Pouncey, 1984-1994

1984   Peter R. Pouncey, Professor of Classics at Columbia University and former Dean of Columbia College, is inaugurated as the 16th President of Amherst College.
    The Seelye G. Mudd Building opens, housing the Mathematics Department, its library, and the Academic Computer Center.
    Greek letter houses are renamed for individuals who were associated with those societies and who had served Amherst memorably.
    The Presidential Advisory Committee on Student, Residential, and Social Life is formed.
    The President’s Advisory Committee on Investments in South Africa is formed.
1985   Plans to convert Fayerweather to a Campus Center are abandoned in favor of a new building between Mead and the social dorms. Fine Arts Center plans are cancelled.
    The Trustees Committee on Student Life releases its report.
    NASA astronaut, Jeffrey A. Hoffman ’66, astronaut, made his first slace flight aboard the shuttle “Discovery.”
    The New Gymnasium burns due to electrical failure.
    Former President John William Ward dies.
    An anonymous alumnus gives a million dollar challenge grant for the Campaign for Amherst.
    The Trustees vote to divest approximately 35% of the College’s stock in South Africa.
1986   The five-year Campaign for Amherst closes at $56.5 million in gifts, well above the original goal of $43 million.
    Cohan Dormitory is completed, the gift of Donald S. Cohan ’51. Building named in 1989.
    The new gymnasium is rebuilt and named for Samuel J. Le Frak for his dedicated support of the College.
1987  

A Women’s and Gender Studies Department is established.

   

The Trustees vote to divest of all securities in companies doing business in South Africa.

   

The Trustees vote to increase faculty from 157 to 165 over the next five years.

   

Richard Wilbur ’42 named Poet Laureate of the U.S.

   

The Campus Center opens ($7 million, 36,000 sq. ft.). Stirn Auditorium opens in the Mead Art Building. Formal dedication of Charles Drew House (56 College Street).

1988   The editorial headquarters of the American Journal of Physics is moved to Amherst, Professor Robert Romer, editor.
    A $310,000 grant from Digital Equipment Corporation is announced for a VAX 8550 computer system to be boused in the Academic Computer Center in Seelye Mudd (replaces the College’s DEC VAX 11/780).
    $1,700,000 grants from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to the four colleges are received for improved undergraduate education in biological and related sciences.
1989   The OCLC computerized library catalogue is operative. Additions to the card catalogue cease.
    A Special Committee for the Curriculum is appointed (Marie Huet, chair) to conduct a review of the curriculum.
    The Justice Department conducts an antitrust investigation of colleges regarding the setting of tuition rates and financial aid.
    Harold Varmus ’61 is awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine.
    The Asian Studies Department becomes the Asian Languages and Civilizations Department. The Mathematics Department becomes the Mathematics and Computer Sciences Department.
1990   The College receives the John J. McCloy ’16 Papers (90 linear feet).
    The Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought program is established.
    The former Faculty Club in the White Homestead is remodeled and enlarged to become the Eugene S. Wilson Admissions Center.
    Four measures are taken to curb growth in the College’s spending:
  1. Administrative and staff hiring freeze
  2. More stringent review of visiting faculty appointments
  3. 2% growth limit for all expenses except salaries and financial aid
  4. $1.1 million cut in the 1991 budget
    Henry W. Kendall ’50 awarded Nobel Prize in physics jointly with two others. James I. Merrill ’47 wins national poetry prize from the Library of Congress.  David Kessler ’73 appointed Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
1991   The faculty rejects a plan of the Select Committee on the Curriculum to replace the single ILS (Introduction to Liberal Studies) requirement for freshmen with two required freshman courses, “The Interpretation of Text” and “The Understanding of Process.” (President Pouncey had urged the requirement of non-science majors to take at least one serious laboratory science course.)
    Ralph Beals serves as Acting President of the College for the 1991 spring semester while President Pouncey is on sabbatical.
    Thomas P. Whitney ’37 gives his vast library and archive of books and manuscripts to create the Amherst College Center for Russian Culture.
    Concerns and protests about the Gulf War lead in February to a proposal for a two-day moratorium from classes to discuss the issues (rejected by a faculty vote of 68 to 47).
    The report of the Library Study Committee (Ralph Beals, chair) recommends that the Robert Frost Library be renovated and expanded to meet needs for the next 30 years. Estimated cost more than $20 million. A $500,000 NEH challenge grant is obtained to support renovation and expansion of the library.
    The Board of Trustees examines the extent of its commitment to a needs-blind admission policy.
1992   A Priorities Planning Committee is formed to address College spending priorities until the year 2000.
    The student body votes to abolish its senate and to adopt a revised constitution.
    The College acquires for storage purposes the 44,000 sq. ft. former U.S. Strategic Air Command Bunker in South Amherst. Cost: $510,000.
    The faculty adopts a revised statement on sexual harassment that will appear in future editions of the Faculty and Student Handbooks.
    Amherst College is the most selective in the U.S. (4,572 applicants for 392 places). Women comprise 45% of the freshman class; 40% of students receiving scholarships; 82% from outside New England; nearly 25% students of color.
    Following the Rodney King verdict in California, a group of students takes over Converse Hall to demand a faster pace in the hiring of minorities for faculty and administrative positions.
1993   The Report of the Priorities Planning Committee recommends consolidation of Biology, Psychology, and Neuroscience with the other sciences in Merrill Science Center; Merrill to be expanded by 40,000 sq. ft; the Bunker to accommodate 15 years of library growth; Webster to house the Center for Russian Culture; and Appleton to be converted to a dormitory. Total cost estimate $14.5 million. Implementation of this plan is approved. The report also includes budget and fundraising proposals, a slightly larger student body, and breadth requirements in the curriculum.
    Hermenia Gardener becomes the College’s first full-time Affirmative Action Officer.

President Tom Gerety, 1994-2003

1994   Tom Gerety succeeds Peter R. Pouncey as the 17th President of Amherst College. Previously, Gerety had been President of Trinity College, Professor of Law at the University of Pittsburgh, and Dean of the College of Law at the University of Cincinnati.
    Valentine Dining Hall is renovated and expanded.
    The National Science Foundation awards a $1.98 million matching grant to upgrade biology and neuroscience laboratories
    The Student Government Organization rewrites its constitution, which is ratified in February 1995.
1995   The Committee on Educational Policy recommends magna and cum laude degrees to be awarded on grade point average alone. A summa will require a thesis with departmental honors (distinction or great distinction). This becomes policy in November 1996.
    The Robert Frost Library is rededicated at the renovation featuring a new Media Center containing $400,000 worth of computer and audio-visual equipment.
Installation of a high-speed fiber optic network is begun.
    An anonymous $25 million challenge gift is received: $5 million to establish the President Peter R. Pouncey Professorship, and to recruit and financially support minority students; $10 million to match trustee gifts over $10 million; $10 million to match other leadership gifts over $2 million.
    A $849,696 grant is received from the National Science Foundation for a 4-year multi-disciplinary science project (biology and chemistry).
    The African-American Religious History Project begun in 1987 is awarded $450,000 by the Lilly Endowment and $454,000 by the Pew Charitable Trusts ($250,000 from Lilly and $950,000 from Lilly and Pew were received previously).
    Johnson Chapel is made handicapped-accessible and its interiors are refinished.
    President Gerety forms an ad hoc Committee to Study the First Year and asks the College Council to study residential life as a whole.
1996   The 175th anniversary of the College’s founding is celebrated and a $200 million fundraising campaign is officially begun.
    The new life sciences building is completed ($19 million) and the adjoining Merill Science Center undergoes renovation.
    The Trustees issue a Statement on Diversity at Amherst College reaffirming commitment to equal opportunity and affirmative action.
    A gene is cloned at Amherst College (Professor Patrick Williamson).
    A fire at the Observatory destroyed one of its two telescopes and damaged offices.
    Separate French and Spanish language departments are created from the former Romance Languages Department.
1997   A $2 million challenge grant is received from the Kresge Foundation to renovate and expand the science laboratories and improve other teaching spaces.
    Webster Hall is renovated and remodeled to house the Center for Russian Culture and the Russian Department, the Department of Theater and Dance, the Asian Language and Civilization Department, and the Creative Writing Center.
    Early orientation for minority and cultural groups is eliminated in favor of all freshmen arriving at College on the same day.
    Amherst and Duke University start Hopscotch, a new periodical on Hispanic culture and politics. (Professors Stavans and Benitez-Rojo)
    The Arms Music Center is named in memory of Winifred and Robert Arms ’27.
    The Board of Trustees announces plans to revamp the College’s subsidized faculty housing system.
1998   The Board of Trustees overrides faculty opposition to its faculty housing plan.
    The faculty approve the Code of Conduct as revised by College counsel.
    The faculty approve student participation in a program leading to certification as public school teachers.
    The Trustees reiterate their on-campus fraternity ban.
    President Gerety voices concern about merit scholarships vs. need-based admissions.
    The Cage is renovated and renamed the Coolidge Cage in honor of Calvin Coolidge (AC 1895), President of the United States 1923 - 1929.
    The Quantitative Center for informal tutorial service is established.
    The Summer Program, begun 30 years ago in 1968, now accommodates about 40 different groups.
    The Faculty Committee on Admissions and Financial Aid is charged with reviewing the admission process, including the role of athletics, early decision, and financial aid.
    The Amherst Center for Russian Culture officially opens in Webster Hall.
    The Ad Hoc Tenure Committee’s report recommends more student and peer evaluation of faculty, noting that “there are stronger incentives to invest time in scholarship or artistic work than in excellent, rather than adequate, teaching.”
1999   Improved procedures are adopted for obtaining student evaluations of teaching (as recommended by the Ad Hoc Committee to Evaluate Faculty Procedures Concerning Reappointment, Tenure and Untenured Faculty Development).
    Appleton Hall is converted to a dormitory.
    The Center for Religious Life opens at renovated 38 Woodside Avenue (dedicated in 2001 as the Cadigan Center for Religious Life, in honor of George Cadigan ’33).
    An expanded Fitness Center opens in Alumni Gymnasium.
    Black Women of Amherst College, by Mavis C. Campbell, is published.
    The Campus Center (opened in 1987) is officially dedicated and named for Harry V. Keefe, Jr. ’43.
    The role of athletics in admissions, as portrayed in the report of the Faculty Committee on Admissions and Financial Aid, prompts creation of a College Committee on Admissions and Financial Aid, which will review the composition and diversity of the first-year class.
2000   Renovation of Fayerweather Hall for use by the Fine Arts Department is begun (an $11 million project, completed January 2002).
    The Faculty Computer Committee sees need for more teaching spaces equipped with computer projection and multi-media capabilities.
    Professor Lewis Spratlan wins the Pulitzer Prize for music.
    More than 10% of freshmen are again pledging off-campus fraternities. Although on-campus fraternities were banned in 1984, four of them continue to function off campus.
    The original $200 million goal of the Capital Campaign is achieved. The campaign is completed June 30, 2001.
2001   The Trustees approve a plan to house all freshmen on the Freshman Quad and to “de-triple” James and Stearns Halls. The plan involves converting Williston Hall and the Pratt Geology Building into dorms, constructing a new space for geology, razing and rebuilding James and Stearns Halls, and some changes to North and South colleges and Appleton Hall. (The Dormitory Master Planning Committee is working on a timetable for construction. A rough estimate of total cost of the project is $50 million over 5 years.)
    The five-year College Campaign exceeds its $200 million goal, concluding with $269 million.
    The College celebrates 25 years of coeducation at Amherst.
    Thomas P. Whitney ’37 gives to the College his major collections of some 400 objects of Russian art.
    The Mead Art Museum reopens following a $4 million renovation.
    The faculty votes in favor of adopting a new honors system recognizing Latin and English honors. Beginning with the Class of 2001, seniors may choose either the traditional sheepskin or a paper diploma.
    The College contracts with Verizon to more than triple the internet bandwidth.
2002   After major exterior and interior renovations, Fayerweather Hall reopens.
    Cooper House is renovated for use by the Black Studies and Philosophy departments.
    The faculty outlines a new honors system that will allow students to graduate with both English and Latin honors.
    Milliken Hall is razed to provide the site for a new dormitory.
    Two modular housing units, informally referred to as the Waldorf and the Plaza, are installed to provide temporary housing for 100 students during Freshman Quad construction work.
2003   President Gerety coordinates a joint amicus brief among 28 peer U.S. liberal arts colleges supporting the University of Michigan’s race-sensitive admissions procedures.
    A petition declaring opposition to a U.S. attack on Iraq is signed by 138 staff and administrators.

President Anthony W. Marx, 2003-2011

2003 Oct 26 Anthony W. Marx is inaugurated as the 18th president of the College, succeeding Tom Gerety, who will become Executive Director of the Brennan Center, associated with the New York University School of Law. The date of President Marx’s inauguration marks the 40th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s visit to Amherst College in 1963. President Kennedy attended a Convocation ceremony and a later groundbreaking ceremony for the Robert Frost Library.
2004 April Two new dormitories, King and Wieland Halls, are dedicated. They are named after John Wieland (AC 1958) and Stanley King (AC 1903, 11th President, 1932-1946). The buildings will be opened for residency in fall 2005.
2005 Sept James Hall and Stearns Hall, completely rebuilt, are opened as First Year residence halls.
2006 Feb The new Earth Sciences Building and Museum of Natural History opens after sixteen months of construction.  It houses Amherst’s vast and significant natural history collections, formerly held at the Pratt Museum.
  Sept The incoming class of 2010 sets a new record for racial diversity, with 38.6% identifying themselves as a member of a racial minority, according to statistics kept by the Office of Admission.
2007 Sept Charles Pratt dormitory, formerly the Pratt Museum of Natural History, opens as a residence hall for 117 First Year students.
  Sept Amherst announces it will eliminate loans in favor of scholarships and grants in all financial aid packages beginning in 2008.
  Sept The Center for Community Engagement officially opens with offices in the Keefe Campus Center.  The CCE was established as a result of a $13 million philanthropic grant from the Argosy Foundation, headed by John Abele (AC 1959).
  Nov The faculty endorses a new major in environmental studies.
2008 Mar The trustees announce that all admissions decisions for international students will be need-blind.  Amherst becomes the 8th academic institution in the country to adopt such a policy.
  Nov In response to a world-wide economic downturn, which resulted in a 20.1% decrease in the market value of the college’s endowment, Amherst introduces austerity measures that include a 10% reduction in department budgets, a hiring freeze, and a review of capital projects and policies regarding financial aid and program development.
  Nov The faculty endorses a new major in Film and Media Studies beginning in fall 2010.
 2009 Nov The College announces it received two record-setting anonymous donations in the amounts of $25 million and $100 million as part of the "Lives of Consequence" campaign.
  Dec Bryn Geffert is named Librarian of the College beginning in January 2010.
2010 Jan Dean of Students Ben Lieber steps down after twenty-five years in that position to serve as Dean of Student Research and Academic Support. Lieber is succeeded by Allen Hart (AC 1982).
  Sept The incoming freshman class of 2014 is the largest in the College's history, numbering 490 students. Of these, 251 (52.2%) are female.
  Dec The faculty approves a revision of the Latin honors system.  Beginning with Commencement 2011, summa cum laude honors will go to students in the top 25% of their class, while those in the top 40% will receive the honor magna cum laude, rather than cum laude as it had been previously.
2011 Apr The College switches over from a paper to electronic course registration system.
  June Tony Marx steps down as Amherst's 18th President to become the President and CEO of the New York Public Library.

 

President Carolyn A. "Biddy" Martin, 2011-

 2011 June 14 Carolyn A. "Biddy" Martin is announced as the 19th President of Amherst College, with her tenure taking effect in August.  Martin served as chancellor of the University of Wisconsin Madison and was a former longtime professor and provost at Cornell University.
  Oct 16 Inauguration of Carolyn A. "Biddy" Martin as Amherst's 19th President.