Kurt Hertzfeld, former Amherst College treasurer, interviewed by Peter Shea, who was the current college treasurer at the time of the interview.
Shea: My name is Peter Shea. I'm the current treasurer of Amherst College. I've been with the college since 1987, and I'm sitting here with Kurt Hertzfeld, who was treasurer at Amherst College from '68 to '81, and he stayed on for about three years with the Investment Committee, working with them after he served as treasurer. Why don't you tell us a bit about what was going on in 1968 when you first arrived?
Hertzfeld: Well, first I must tell you that the surroundings and the conditions of higher education in 1968 were entirely different from what they are today. So when I talk about, let's say, certain problems of relationships or simplicity of administration, it is not only Amherst College. The 1950s and 1960s saw tremendous changes in higher education. When I started out at the University of Rochester in 1948, and then came to Boston University a little later, the federal government had practically no relationship to higher education. Contracts, grants were practically nonexistent. We were not in even on unemployment and social security coverage. So the higher education was just like a little private business. And so when I talk about my coming to Amherst in 1968, I want to be sure that it is not misunderstood, that Amherst was an exceptionally poorly administered place. It was just a place that had carried on the history and let's say the simplicity of administration until a point when it had to change. And Cal Plimpton in 1968 told me and told the people, he talked about bringing somebody in, they commended me, that I was brought in to change certain administrative procedures in order to bring Amherst College, like though there've been many other colleges, up to the requirements of the time. So when I came in February 1st, '68, the first thing I really had to do is, to some extent, redefine the position of the Treasurer's Office at Amherst College. In the past, the Treasurer's Office really had rather limited functions. It doesn't mean that it was not doing its job, but the job as it was defined was very limited. It was essentially a function of, and I can't even say accounting, it's bookkeeping. Keep the records so you could make an annual report, get the payroll out. There was no personnel function, even though the director of Valentine Hall was called Personnel Officer, but there was no personnel function. The plant was run by a competent man, but he ran it by himself. There was no plan. It was an ad hoc thing and so on.
Shea: I did notice in reading your first treasurer's report, which I found very interesting, that one of the first things you did was start a five-year plan of budgeting versus what they had been doing before.
Hertzfeld: Well, until I came, and it's interesting, and again, typical for the time, that the budget of the college was not published. Nobody knew it, except of course the administration. But this is something which today you can't understand. So what we did first is reviewed the budgets, the budget process, and very soon thereafter created the Personnel Department because different departments were people hiring by themselves, there was confusion, and consolidated the service function on the Treasurer's Office in an effective, or we tried to be, effective operating organization in support of the academic endeavor. As a matter of fact, as I think told you one time before, one of the reasons I came to Amherst College from Boston University was the hope, let's say, my very strong feeling, that the administrative function should be a function not only to be administrative, but to be administrative in the support of the academic mission of the college. And I thought this would be more possible to do in an environment of a college than a university where I had to deal essentially with 12 deans on an entirely different level. So I tried to get involved in the college. It was not the easiest thing to do because, well, quite frankly, the faculty did not expect the administration to participate in any academic, not that I won't participate in academic life, but I want to add an academic, an administrative structure. For instance, as you said, a three-year budget, five-year budget. One of the terrible things about university or higher education is that in many state institutions, like in Massachusetts, there is an annual appropriation. There's no guarantee for the next year. Therefore, it is very inefficient in one year to add, let's say $3 million, I'm talking about university, in the next year, reducing that $3 million. It's really a waste of money. So I suggested, and we did go first to a three-year budget, and then to a five-year budget. And I believe you still have a-
Shea: We're now doing 10-year projections.
Hertzfeld: Well, see. Well, actually we did some projections, but in terms of operation. So this was the first task in response. The other task, which didn't affect the life of the college immediately was the redefining of the investment function.
Shea: I noticed too, in that report that they had changed and looked at the investment policies.
Hertzfeld: As you know, at that time, the investment portfolio was about almost 70% in bonds. The college administration had practically nothing to do with investment. There was an Investment Committee and the Investment Committee, in a way had to approve anything that's being done by the trust company. But the trust company, again, which was rather common at that time, the trust company ran the investment portfolio and in a very, very, very conservative manner. We, together with other colleges, felt that in the long term, it brought a participation in equities, and we didn't have hedge funds and things like that at that time, of course, would be indicated. And let's say that the college administration, that is the Treasurer's Office, through the Investment Committee, should have a more direct stake in the administration of college portfolio. We did that, it required a change in the bylaws, and we also, at that time, started to talk about a different definition of income. In the past, the income available to the college was dividends and interest. That's one of the reasons why we were still having bonds, of course.
Hertzfeld: We then really, together with some other institution, Amherst and Smith was one of the leaders in it, talked about a concept of total return, where we said that it is not important where the income comes from. That it's better to have 10% appreciation with zero dividends per year than 3%, oh, it was zero interest than 5% interest you see.
Shea: But in those days, you couldn't spend that.
Hertzfeld: That's right. And there was, it's called total return, where you say you take into consideration the total return on the investment, which is interest, dividends, and appreciation or depreciation, it had totaled the conservative financial elements. We were a little nervous about it because stocks could go up and down and above all, there was a question whether from a legal point of view, this was possible, especially on the permanent endowment funds. This actually took several years to fully implement. We implemented part of it in funds where we had discussion. Now it's accepted throughout, and it certainly was a good thing for the college. So this was another, I believe, very important, almost a historic-
Shea: Sure, was the beginning of the looking at spending rates instead of what just came in.
Hertzfeld: In that manner, say we will, for instance, appropriate 5% or 7% or 4%, whatever, for current purposes. So that was really the activity in the first year or two. at the college.
Shea: How much resistance from the community was there for both the budgeting and investments?
Hertzfeld: Oh, oh, there was a lot of resistance. It was not so much, I believe, resistance to what we proposed I mean per se. I think it was resistance from the administration, especially the Treasurer's Office taking a more direct-
Shea: Active role, yeah.
Hertzfeld: Active role in the college with great suspicions. Because in the past, and they have heard that the treasurers looked at as the money bag, who held on to all the money. Now, an interesting thing, and I think you remember, either in the first or second treasures report, I refer to that. And I said, if I remember right, the college has an obligation to spend all the money it can get but it has also the obligation to spend it wisely, because the concept here is that the opportunity to do "good," I mean, is so great that there's no point sitting on the money. But accepting this, we have to spend it wisely. And that's where I felt the longer term budget and all this had to come in, and that, while the faculty felt it's a good idea to spend all the money ahead, they were not so, well, I shouldn't say that they objected to wisely, but their definition of what is wise. They were more concerned whether the English Department had an additional, they did not take the total college into consideration-
Shea: Or next year.
Hertzfeld: Or next year. You see, you understand what I'm talking about. And I don't blame them in a way, you see, and that's the way the history was. Also, at that time, it was a very interesting period about Five College. We met once a week in Northfield. That is the dean of the faculty, the presidents, and the treasurers to plan the Five College program. And looking back, I must say it's one of my very satisfying efforts, because I think Five Colleges has contributed tremendously to the ability of this area to be a quality educational center.
Shea: It was also an interesting time in the country.
Shea: And that didn't escape Amherst College.
Hertzfeld: You are so right, Peter, you cannot, and again, when I said in the beginning, you have to take my problems when I came here in the context of the time, you also have to take really the late '60s and early '70s, what the college did in the context of the time. And I may say so in a very difficult time in terms of economic conditions for the college, which didn't help. But like any other institution, the college was subjected to influences from insiders as well as outside of some turmoil post-Vietnam era, which made administration very difficult and which pulled people some because of really difference of opinion, but also in some cases, just to cause trouble because that was the aim of that period, you see, and not in all cases. I mean, I think there were very, very genuine feelings and some I shared personally. But there is no question that it was also used for political and selfish purposes. And it was difficult. As you know, Cal Plimpton had problems, there were outsiders coming in, interrupting meetings, faculty meetings dealt with Vietnam rather than with college, and then of course, Bill Ward with his sit-in on, which was a problem with some of the trustees and many of the alumni. The unfortunate Penny episode, which at that time was made a racial case.
Shea: And that was the case of a student drowning.
Hertzfeld: Yeah, yeah. To say a freshman black student drowned. And it was an unfortunate thing. It was very difficult to do not only that "housekeeping" job to do what you're supposed to do, but to really do good planning for the future. And I'm glad that this time is over. This connection, I must say, I mentioned two presidents. I served under four presidents, Calvin Plimpton, Bill Ward, Mr. Gibbs, I think Armour Craig, who was of course chairman of English Department, was a very, very nice man. And he did a fine job keeping the college going in a very difficult time. I mean, Bill Ward's departure was not the most, let's say, beneficial thing all around, you know? And Armour Craig kept the college together. He had the confidence of faculty, he had the confidence of the trustees, and he was a very nice man. But he could not be the visionary for the future. He knew it was only two years and he had problems. This is not negative about Armour Craig or the country, it was impossible for him. Cal Plimpton, I have great, great respect for Cal Plimpton and his wife. They were patricians and as such had to be taken into the way they are. But he certainly did the very best for the college. And I think he was a good president. Unfortunately, at the end of his career, it was the late '60s, the faculty gave him a hard time and certain faculty members in terms of, the late '60s gave him a hard time, but they would've given any president a hard time because of the administration. Bill Ward who came in, I think was a very, very good president. I liked Bill, even though I disagreed with him in several areas, which is good. I mean, that's in the way what the treasurer is for. And, but we disagreed, as we should disagree. I respect him. He did co-education. It was a very interesting period, I should mention that too, to go to co-education. I did the modeling for different sizes of the college, to expand the college to how much and where are you going to put people. It was a somewhat busy period. I think personally that, and I want to address this, two things about Bill Ward which hurt him. He was a courageous man, has great integrity. But at times, he had a little, I don't want to say Irish temper, he was a little stubborn. Number one, Prosser Gifford and I, Prosser Gifford being the dean of the faculty, begged him not to take on every controversial item with the faculty. That he should be as present somewhat above the fray to do adjusting, to let us do some of the dirty work, and be the, his Irish chin was just sticking out. And it got very red. He was loved by the faculty in the beginning as a faculty member, but he lost a lot of friends by doing that. And the second thing was this Vietnam sit-in, he felt that sitting in at this-
Hertzfeld: Westover was really Bill Ward and not the president of Amherst College sitting in. And I think that was a naive assumption, because quite frankly, if just Bill Ward had sat in, it will not be the publicity on it, I mean Bill Ward, but Bill Ward being president of Amherst College caused the publicity. And he really, in a way, made a mistake not to see that point. And that didn't help him and the college, and in the end, I think that and accumulating faculty dissatisfaction. And, let me say, I support him totally in some of the things he did with the faculty. But the way he did it, he was too courageous about it, perhaps too impatient about it. And it caused him problem with the faculty. And then of course, this other thing caused problem with the fees and many, many alumni. And that finally, well, it was not announced that was the resignation, but his position here became somewhat difficult.
Shea: And co-education, talk a bit more about that. I think the first class was '77.
Hertzfeld: Well, as you know, we were the last of the colleges, not of the college, of the little three our type of class.
Shea: Right, Williams did it a lot earlier.
Hertzfeld: Oh yeah, oh yeah. Williams also abolished fraternities earlier than we did. Amherst, in a way, was a very conservative place. The administration, the faculty were in favor of co-education. I think we could have and should have implemented it earlier. The fact we implemented it was, I think without co-education, Amherst College would at this point not be what it is.
Shea: Well, eventually it would've had to happen.
Hertzfeld: Yeah, yeah. That's right. In a way, we were lucky because, let's say there was one advantage to do it late, because the alumni who still opposed it, realized-
Shea: The ship had sailed.
Hertzfeld: Up here.
Hertzfeld: That it had to come.
Hertzfeld: So there was-
Shea: At that point, the government was saying you had to basically.
Hertzfeld: See, there was vocal opposition, or heart opposition and vocal, but really the brain-
Shea: Knew it, right.
Hertzfeld: Knew it, you see. And I think we did it carefully. I give you a very funny incident. A very close friend of mine of class of '41, a doctor, he was so opposed to coeducation, and he just you couldn't talk to him. Yet his daughter was in the first class of Amherst College.
Shea: And did that change his mind?
Hertzfeld: Well, he still said, "I don't like it." But it was in a-
Shea: I think a lot of alums found when their daughters and granddaughters were going there.
Hertzfeld: He didn't like it in a happy way so that's where I mean, we were kind of lucky.
Shea: And the school grew at that time, too.
Shea: The college grew, student model.
Hertzfeld: Yeah, see, that was the question, should we get as big as, Williams, Williams expanded to 2000 or something like that, or we had to get grow a little bit because we had to expand faculty. So I think we went to 1600 or something. I don't know.
Shea: That's where we are now.
Hertzfeld: Yeah, yeah, something like that. But that was really, and I'm really proud of it. This was the result of modeling, modeling both financial and personnel modeling, meaning we knew exactly what we were going to do and how we going to do it. And the transition was really very smooth, very smooth. And it was a good move. And I gave Bill Ward, if he didn't do anything else, he forced the issue. And that's his credit. Also, another aspect, when I came in 1968, almost all of our service personnel lived in Amherst. And we had father and son and cousin and brother working, you know.
Shea: Still a fair number of that.
Hertzfeld: Yes, but because of conditions has become rather expensive in Amherst for these people to live, and they tended to move out. Also Cal Plimpton, and was very active in town in his way as the patrician. He was on the board of Amherst College. He was on the board of the university, and he would give receptions for the town. But it was a different relationship.
Shea: Well, the town was changing a lot at that point too. The university was growing.
Hertzfeld: Right, oh, the university was-
Shea: And that changed the town.
Hertzfeld: Yeah. Now, there was one incident, which perhaps, I should mention because it was a difficult one, and I don't remember exactly what year it was, but the town made one of its big studies of, and you of course have been active in town, where should we expand? I mean, what's best, the planning? Well, they had a lot of plans, but in many cases they were not implemented.
Shea: I think a lot of plans went on the shelf in town.
Hertzfeld: Yeah, well, in this plan, they came up with the East Village, North Village, South Village, okay. East Village down Route 9. Was a nice plan. There ought to be a little shopping center and housing, and everybody was enthusiastic about it, but nobody had the land. Amherst College owned 100 acres there. 100 acres wasn't enough for it. Jones owned 300 acres. Jones had owned it far since he paid 50 cents, I'm just kidding now. I mean, I don't know what he paid. He owned it for years and years and years. Family probably owned it, so on book value it was nothing. He didn't want to sell it. And I didn't blame him because of the taxes involved. He had been approached before. So I went to Jones and said, "Look, the college will buy from you on a long-term payout. You get the money and it reduces your taxes significantly." See? And we had 400 acres. So the land was available. Paparazzo, you might have heard the name, he was a developer in Connecticut. And he was written up nationally, how well this was done. So we bought Paparazzo up to develop the land. Well, his ideas got a little big. Unfortunately, when this developed, I was away for a month. And when I came back, there was a plan that was much bigger than I thought it would be. I was more a gradual developer. Or perhaps I do him injustice, perhaps he presented the whole plan without saying it's going to be. Well, not in my backyard started. Some people boarded this land, which is now, of course, up of Route 9 now developed, some people started to lobby against it and it became really a political issue. Rumor started I got a million dollars for arranging for this.
Shea: Oh, really?
Hertzfeld: Oh, yeah, oh yeah. I haven't spent it yet. And I don't know what bank it is.
Shea: I'm not sure where it is, right?
Hertzfeld: No, I wasn't sure where. But anyhow, it got ugly and Paparazzo pulled out of it, and the land stayed empty. And then just the opposite, I'm not now knocking what's there, but we want to have housing for our working people so they could live in Amherst. Now, you know what's up there? Very fancy houses, very, very large houses. So it didn't work out. That was one of the big disappointments in our relationships to Amherst, to the town. But-
Shea: And the town still struggles with affordable housing.
Shea: It's not an easy issue with .
Hertzfeld: Well, planning in Amherst has been very difficult. I mean, same back of Route 9, which we are paying for now. So yeah.
Shea: So Kurt, one of the biggest changes that took place in your tenure was the advent of use of computers in accounting and in taking care of the college. Why don't you tell us a bit about what it was like when you came and what it was like when you left?
Hertzfeld: Well, when I came, of course, we didn't have computers. As a matter of fact, the wonderful thing was the new IBM electric typewriter. The president's office got the first one. Well, anyhow, so it was a different story. Then the computer came in and of course, I must confess, my grandchildren know a lot more about the computer than I do and probably your kids know more than you do.
Shea: My kids know more than I do, that's for sure.
Hertzfeld: It's something you have to grow up with. I use them, but they came in, Amherst was the first one to have. Originally, there were two computer departments, one academic and one administrative. I, at first, thought that we should combine them. The faculty resisted it very much. And I think basically they were right not for technical reasons. I mean, I think we could have a better computer and more capacity. They only had one. But I think for just administrative reasons, despite who's going to do first, if some faculty member wanted to get to do something and we were running the payroll, some dog hunting, it would've been. So we had two computer departments. Smith and Mount Holyoke approached us to see whether we would perform services for them, which we did before we formed the three college computer group which later on was joined by Amherst College. And the treasurers and the computer managers, each one had a computer manager, even though they didn't have a computer but just the internal liaison, met monthly to this plan. This worked, let's say, it helped us to defray the expense of getting started and to plan. It fell apart after we were get going and then when everybody want to have his or her, well in this case, it was his, special things. To work together, you would have to program together, otherwise-
Shea: Doing the same things the same way, the same everything.
Hertzfeld: And as you could see, even I'm sure today, if you got four treasurers together, you would have difficulty to do that.
Shea: Just do with the systems.
Hertzfeld: Yeah, yeah. The system, exactly. And also what they were interested, and I understand it, Amherst College was interested in getting this on and Smith was interested in this on. So slowly, each of the colleges had its own computer service. To think of Amherst College without the computer now is just-
Shea: And that breakup of the three college computer system was right around the time of PCs coming in. Personal computers and-
Hertzfeld: Yeah, yeah.
Shea: And having them on everyone's desk.
Hertzfeld: Yeah, you're right.
Shea: That changed lot.
Hertzfeld: I mean, I can't say I'm glad we did it because we had to do it. It should have been done. It's one of those things. It was not the easiest period because of, I think it would have been easier had we done it alone. We wouldn't have some of the difficulties. On the other hand, it helped us get started. It certainly was more economical to do in the beginning. I believe since then, they've combined, right, the academic and-
Shea: At Amherst. Well, under one director. They're really still is a director of administrative.
Hertzfeld: Oh, okay.
Shea: But there's one head of all us.
Hertzfeld: As you know, Peter, and I'm not saying this in a funny way-
Shea: It's a little bigger school than it was.
Hertzfeld: I have kept out of your way, way because I felt very strongly in a small town, in a small organization that even coming up too often, I could make a very innocent remark that, no, no, is misinterpreted so purposely. So I'm not as familiar with what is going on currently. And perhaps this talking might give us the opportunity at lunch from time to time just you and I, because I am really very sensitive not to-
Shea: I think the separation's been long enough.
Shea: You don't have to worry about that.
Hertzfeld: Oh no, that's right. I see. But I'm interested in what's going on. The computer also was interesting. We were fortunate and then in some way had to be careful on the, I must say quickly now that I had never been under pressure. But as you know, a long time trustee and chairman of the board, Beitzel was a high official at IBM. We got, for instance, a first color printer, long before anybody else had a color printer. That's because Spike arranged us to get. On the other hand, and I had never had a conversation with Spike about sticking with IBM or anything else, but on the other hand, just common sense told me to be careful.
Hertzfeld: Oh, common courtesy and common sense.
Hertzfeld: So we stuck with IBM pretty much. I don't know whether there's still an IBM.
Shea: Well, not really.
Hertzfeld: No? No.
Shea: IBM doesn't really do the, it's so much more.
Hertzfeld: Yeah, difference, yeah, yeah. You're right. You're right, yeah.
Shea: But we did stick with it for a long time when it was-
Hertzfeld: I can't go into detail because frankly, my function was to manage, to push. But really technically, I'm not qualified to talk about that. I mean, I just don't have the background to do that. Paul Plewart was the man who let us think four college group quite well. He left us, slid on. And I think as a whole, it was a successful effort.
Shea: So during your time at Amherst, how much construction had gone on?
Hertzfeld: Because there's always construction, something going on. And you know more than I do because you had your hands full, I have nothing with you for this.
Shea: There's a fair amount of it going on these days. That's true.
Hertzfeld: On either.
Shea: But you had your share.
Hertzfeld: Yeah, well we had our share. We try to keep up the plant, but that comes a point that seems to me every 20 or 30 years and you hit it when you really have to renew everything. I mean, it's not the same in the house, in your home. We did the tunnels.
Hertzfeld: Yeah, I mean, the tunnels were there, but the pipe had to be redone and things like that. We built a couple dormitories.
Shea: Now was that 'cause of co-education?
Shea: Was that because of co-education needing more space?
Hertzfeld: Yeah, okay. We built a new heating plant, which I think is a cute looking but was quite effective. But you have expanded it or something.
Shea: Right now we're building a co-generation plant to generate our own electricity.
Hertzfeld: Oh, yeah. Well, isn't it? We looked into that at that time it was not-
Shea: Well, electric rates have changed a bit-
Hertzfeld: Oh yeah, I mean-
Shea: So it's quite feasible.
Hertzfeld: Yeah, well at that time, it didn't make sense, but we looked into it. I'm trying to think. We did some work in Morgan Hall, then of course we built the gym.
Shea: Right, oh, the addition on the gym.
Hertzfeld: Yeah, yeah, yeah. There was always something to be done. And I'm glad in a way that you did a major innovations because from time to time fixing up becomes too expensive that you really have to-
Hertzfeld: And of course what you ran into.
Shea: Well, with historic buildings.
Hertzfeld: Well, the dormitories became obsolete, I mean, in terms of today's standard. Oh, we did Morrow, we converted Morrow from chemistry into a dormitory.
Shea: Right, okay, sure.
Hertzfeld: Yeah, yeah. We did that and we did remodel .
Shea: Okay, right.
Hertzfeld: I don't know, have you remodeled-
Shea: It's been remodeled since again, yeah.
Hertzfeld: Well, that's a long story, fair enough. I'm not going into that, okay?
Shea: As a matter of fact, we're looking at a major renovation of Merrill right now, 'cause it's 40 years old it's science and-
Hertzfeld: To me, it's the new building. There was the Faculty Club was in Merrill.
Hertzfeld: Well, it's an interesting thing that we're talking about Faculty Club. The Faculty Club was in the basement of where now the Admissions Office is.
Hertzfeld: See, and there was a women's division of the Faculty Club. Now, remember that goes back the old days.
Shea: What was it, the Women of Amherst?
Hertzfeld: The Women of Amherst. They had get togethers, especially the first when new faculty came in and everybody came and we got to know the new faculty members and they got to know us. And that's something that's neglected now. I wish something like that would be, not a big reception, but something where you can meet a guy or a woman and say hello and say, I'm the treasurer. You're a human being to them not the guy-
Shea: Saying no.
Hertzfeld: You know somewhere sitting.
Hertzfeld: I regret very much, they had dinners where people brought. Now, with the women's movement, the first thing was, well, why should the women do this? And it fell apart. I understand that, but I think there's a real void that was caused. The Faculty Club today is not, excuse me, is eating.
Shea: It's just lunch.
Hertzfeld: And the people who know each other had lunch with each other, you see. The old function does not exist. And I wish they would. I met most of the faculty in the early days and it's also a good time to meet them. They were glad to meet you, see. And you met families and that is not, perhaps today people are not interested in that.
Shea: Well, with the two wager earner families and everybody having different careers.
Hertzfeld: But still they're human beings.
Shea: It makes it harder, it does.
Hertzfeld: Yeah, they're human beings and I think some social exchange to show that the treasurer is a human being, also that the faculty member with the long hair or the, is also a human being. I mean, I don't mean to dispart your, I mean, but the faculty member that is specialist in something is also human being. See, I think that's important. I didn't get that very much. Also, well, I told you it just was different. I know it can't be done, but I know whether previously, I have told you today, when I first came, Prosser lived in the house where now Five College is. I lived in Clark House.
Shea: Political science.
Hertzfeld: You see, it was, yeah. We had the trustees for the trustee meeting. The president, Prosser Gifford, and I had the trustees for dinner. Many trustees stayed in our houses. And again, trustees coming now here very often give me a call because we got to know them. It became a different relationship. They were more personal. Now you can say, well, that means that they perhaps didn't have the same oversight because there was personal relationship. But perhaps that disadvantage was offset by some real commitments more than just coming here.
Shea: And the relationship with Amherst and Folger at the time, how was that?
Hertzfeld: Well, I'm glad you asked the question because that's one of my more pleasant things in life. The prestige, most of them had never been to the Folger. They were all Amherst alumni. And Folger was really sleepy, fine, great library for scholars. And you came in, you had to be quiet and that's it. Well, the great credit of, I think it was Cal, he bought in OB Hardison, but OB Hardison, it was a good decision. But the decision that was made is to bring Folger closer to Amherst College for selfish reason. There was a tremendous resource. And it was used very little. I never met Wright, the director of Folger. It's hard to believe, isn't it?
Hertzfeld: Well, OB Hardison was put in and OB Hardison was a great guy. He was a scholar, a marketer. He started the Friends of Folger Library. He started the theater and we had a beautiful theater there back in Folger and it wasn't used. You see, he got the Folger Theater and I was fortunate enough to become the liaison-
Shea: As am I.
Hertzfeld: Between Folger and Amherst College. It was not because okay, merits I add, but because A, I was interested, B, financial, and C there was nobody else who really was particularly interested. Well, I went to the Folger once a month and it was just wonderful to see the place used. I mean the place used, a tremendous assets. We had more original manuscripts of Shakespeare than anybody in the world. We lent them to other people and they were sitting there. Nobody had seen them except 20 scholars a year.
Hertzfeld: A Folger Committee was formed where it was great board. And they were very energetic. And I went to the board meetings and it was really a wonderful period to get the Folger where it is. we spent a lot of money fixing it up. Again, it was in the same condition as some of the buildings were here. They would come in and and grout some of the building and then three years later they had to come in and grout the same thing again. So we really fixed the place up. And it was a great pleasure. OB Hardison unfortunately died before he should have died. I'm very pleased he dedicated the book to me.
Shea: They just had their 75th anniversary-
Shea: Last year.
Shea: The board has evolved into somewhat more independent board with oversight from Amherst Board. But I'm still the liaison and I go to all their board meetings.
Hertzfeld: Oh, see I set the first one in.
Shea: It's a great place, it is a great place.
Hertzfeld: Show you are chairman. It's fresh air.
Shea: And they're financially doing quite well.
Hertzfeld: Oh, wonderful. Wonderful. I take great pride in that because it's one of those turnaround situation. Well, I mentioned the Japanese relationship. I don't know what the relationship is now.
Shea: With Doshisha?
Shea: We still have exchange and-
Hertzfeld: Well, there was a very close relationship there. I remember, I don't recall the name now, we had a professor-
Hertzfeld: In the residence at Doshisha. And again, I was quite active and that helped in my, I mentioned the business I was in while I was here. We had a diamond company where the largest diamond company in Japan was a partner. So I had to go to Japan three times a year. And every time I went to Japan, I went to Doshisha. So that in a way helped you see.
Shea: Yeah, sure.
Hertzfeld: So I got quite acquainted with Doshisha. There's an Amherst house, as you know, there. And I always felt-
Shea: Otis Cary.
Shea: Otis Cary.
Hertzfeld: Otis Cary, yeah, absolutely. I always felt, but I was totally unsuccessful that we missed the boat on Doshisha. That the relationship with Japan, 'cause it's been a broader one with Doshisha being a headquarters, I mean a cultural relationship, that we might have been more active in Japanese cultural life than we were. I didn't succeed in that. I think we probably had too many, when I say that it isn't, I'm just speaking out thinking. It is not a criticism. I'm very careful because I don't want them misunderstanding here. I think it was a lost opportunity, but sometimes you have to lose opportunities because you don't have the resources to take advantage of them, you see. But Otis Cary was a nice guy, but he had no other interest in the Amherst House and to have, I don't know, two students every here that come over and for him to be over there.. And I thought that was too limited.
Shea: I think we have two that go over there and two are there.
Hertzfeld: I think that was too limited. And there was a program here where a bunch of Doshisha students would come in the summer. I think that's not going on.
Shea: I don't think that happens anymore.
Hertzfeld: No, no, no. I know that because we used to be host family for some of them. So if you think the emergence of Japan since the war and our opportunity, I just feel we had to miss the boat or we missed the boats. And I tried to do something about it, but it might have been the right thing, okay? Because it might not have been sufficient. It might have been half hearted, you see? They didn't have a department from here really. But think of Japan, think of what's going on and here we had a really, perhaps we should have Five Colleges.
Shea: Well, the university also had a very close relationship with Clark and Japan and between the two of us we would found something would have happened.
Hertzfeld: Together, yeah. But again, you can't do everything.
Hertzfeld: It was very satisfying to me. I met some very interesting people, but it probably was very good for the students and for me, I think it's limited.
Shea: I think there's some faculty involvement now and student. But it's still a small program.
Hertzfeld: Yeah, yeah, I just thought there was an opportunity, but you have opportunities in life you can take advantage of it. Well, I think I have given you a pretty, it was really a pleasure to talk about- The first pleasure was to think about it, to think back because one, there's a danger in life and especially in today's time, that you think only about the disappointments and the bad things. I mean our newspapers and our life is, if you hear a reporter, oh, if he says something good, immediately followed by but. "The market goes up, but it might go down tomorrow." See.
Shea: So true these days too.
Hertzfeld: It is this type of thinking and I found myself at times thinking about Amherst, what I should have done, what I could have done, why I didn't do it, and thinking back before coming here, when I had to think of what was going on really, it was a much more positive.
Shea: That's good.
Hertzfeld: So in a way, I think I'm thankful for the opportunity of having been here.
Shea: Thank you.
Shea: Okay, take care.
Hertzfeld: Take care.
Kurt Herzfeld was appointed treasurer of Amherst College in 1968 and served until his retirement in 1981. During his years at Amherst, he participated in the implementation of coeducation and oversaw the implementation of the first computers for the college. He was witness to the turbulence of the sit-ins and protests against the Vietnam War and was a leader in bringing a more professional approach to the Office of Treasurer and the management of the endowment.
Peter Shea served as treasurer of Amherst College from 2002 to 2012. He joined the college in 1987 as associate comptroller. In 1988 he was named the college's comptroller and assistant treasurer and served in that capacity until 1997 when he was appointed associate treasurer and director of the budget. In 2001 he was named acting treasurer.
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