Students hold Welcome to Amherst signs.

With bubbles, signs and cheers, orientation leaders are the first members of the Amherst College community to meet the arriving class of 2026 on move-in day. These students play a pivotal role in guiding new students during their transition to college life.

President Elliott greets new students and their families.

Top: Lauren Dinhofer ’23 smears purple coloring under President Michael A. Elliott’s eyes. Adorned with Amherst spirit, the new president is finally ready to give the incoming students a proper greeting.

Bottom: As the Scarborough family’s minivan pulls up in line, Elliott offers a warm welcome.

A large group of students in green matching tshirts hold up Welcome to the Herd signs.

Dressed in green T-shirts, orientation leaders pose for an impromptu group photo with President Elliott. 

President Elliott greets new students as they enter a residence hall.

Top: Francelia Walsh-Despeignes ’24 and President Elliott get to know each other in the stairwell of Charles Pratt, a first-year residence hall. The orange T-shirt indicates that Walsh-Despeignes is a community advisor. 

Bottom left: Hailing from Greece, George Chaidemenos ’26 shakes hands with Elliott. As a welcome gift when Elliott was named president, Chaidemenos had sent him a replica of the Antikythera mechanism, an ancient Greek device that many consider the world’s first computer thanks to its complex ability to predict celestial events.

Bottom right: Haru Nakazawa ’24 and Elliott chat over an empty moving cart. As a community advisor, Nakazawa will be living among the first-year students and offering his support throughout the academic year. With more than 100 residents, Charles Pratt is the largest first-year residence hall on campus.

New roommates set up their residence hall.

Top: Custodians Carl Carrano and Eric Baldwin rearrange a residence hall room in Williston Hall.

Bottom: Fellow New Yorkers and new roommates Kayly Vargas ’26 (left) and Jenna Berkman ’26 further set up this room in Williston with the help of their mothers. The most represented home state among the class of 2026 is New York, with Massachusetts and California a close second and third, respectively.

Two new roommates pose together.

Roommates Berkman (left) and Vargas are enrolled in the same first-year seminar, “Drugs in History.” All new students take a first-year seminar.

A heavy rainfall.

After a busy morning moving in, rain in the afternoon scrambled outdoor plans for the President’s Welcome and the class photo.

President Elliott welcomes the new class of students.

On Saturday morning, students gathered under sunny skies on the quad for the President’s Welcome.

Top: Speaking first, Liz Agosto, chief student affairs officer and dean of students, told the incoming class that “our goal, first and foremost, is to build relationships, because those are the things that will ground us and help us thrive.”

Bottom: “You are my class,” President Elliott told the audience. “We are forever bonded.” He noted that this was not only their orientation but his first orientation as the new president.

Two students hold up large banners on move-in day at Amherst College.

Students gather in small “squads” for some orientation activities. Leaders Hannah Colaizzo ’23 (left) and Tom Ye ’25 display the flag for Squad 21. They nicknamed their group “The Stags,” for “no particular reason,” Ye said later, “other than that this year’s theme was to have all new students become Mammoths by the end of orientation!”

A group of students pose together in a semi-circle on the academic quad.

Building community one game at a time, the members of Squad 21 began by learning each other’s names. The challenge was for each to introduce themselves by first name, then name an item they would bring to a picnic that incorporates their first initial. Left to right in this photo are “Treya Tangerine,” “Tim Tzatziki,” “Sofia Spaghetti,” “Hannah Hummus,” “George Glasses,” “Ben Bottle of Water,” “Jack Jar” and “Daniel Dishes.”

A group of students huddle together in a lounge

Eighteen new students are transfers to Amherst from other colleges and universities. Angie Camarena ’25 (top right) came from Miami for a liberal arts education at Amherst. She plans to study art in addition to her major in biology.

Bottom: Camarena and other transfer students gather for a squad meeting with their orientation leaders in the Science Center.

A group of students with bicycles prepares for a ride.

As part of one of Amherst’s LEAP Orientation Programs, students prepare for a Sunday morning bike ride on the Norwottuck Rail Trail into Northampton. At the rear, other new students board buses and head for a hike along the Holyoke Range or a paddle on the Connecticut River.

A group of young women pick ing flowers.

Another LEAP event, “Grounded: Food, Farming, Climate Change and Community” at Amherst’s Book & Plow Farm, included activities such as natural tie-dye, potato harvesting, garlic rendering, flower picking and bouquet weaving. The local and sustainable farm supplies the dining hall with nutritious, student-grown food.

A group of college students stand in a circle, stacking their hands in the center.

Groups of students “take the LEAP,” daring to begin friendships through activities in this team-building group.

Students attend a lecture in Johnson Chapel; Professor Sanderson addresses them from the stage.

Catherine A. Sanderson, the Poler Family Professor of Psychology (bottom left), offers advice to new students on how to make college great at this year’s DeMott Lecture. 

Students and faculty gather for the convocation ceremony in Johnson Chapel.

Opening Convocation marks the start of the academic year and is the first official gathering of the new class in Johnson Chapel, “the ceremonial heart of the College,” in President Elliott’s words.

Faculty in regalia receiving honorary degrees at Convocation.

One Convocation tradition is awarding honorary master of arts degrees to faculty members who have recently achieved the rank of full professor. Catherine Epstein, provost and dean of the faculty (far left), and President Ellliot (2nd from left) presented those awards this year to (left to right) Edward Melillo, the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of History and Environmental Studies and chair of environmental studies; Sheila Jaswal, professor of chemistry and faculty equity and inclusion officer;  Lee Spector, the Class of 1993 Professor of Computer Science; Stefan Bradley, the Charles Hamilton Houston ’15 Professor of Black Studies and History; and Amy Wagaman, professor of statistics.

President Elliott addressing students durning convocation.

As he addressed the first-year students and new transfer students gathered at Johnson Chapel, President Elliott said he had read each of their admission essays over the summer. He concluded his speech—and orientation week—by saying, “Let us all try to develop our minds by enlarging our hearts, and by engaging in reciprocity and generosity with one another.” With those words of encouragement, Amherst’s new students began their remarkable academic journey.