Basu on the Quandary of India's Election of Women

Submitted on Thursday, 5/16/2019, at 12:00 PM

A recent piece in the New York Times examined why, despite having made their way into leadership positions much earlier than women in many Western democracies, women in India struggle to win representation in the country’s parliament.

Among other experts weighing in, the Times turned to Amrita Basu, Amherst’s Domenic J. Paino 1955 Professor of Political Science and chair of sexuality, women's and gender studies, for an opinion.

She noted that the issue doesn’t seem to be in the final vote.

“When women are nominated to run for national elections, they actually do well,” she said. “The question is why a larger number is not nominated. I think it is some combination of societal prejudice, but also the growing criminalization of politics. To contest parliamentary elections is to be often subject to slander and abuse. Election campaigns have just become more violent, more corrupt, more dangerous.”

A Mammoth Discovery For A Small Child

Submitted on Thursday, 5/16/2019, at 11:56 AM

A Florida toddler recently made the news for stumbling onto the kind of discovery that likely would have thrilled Amherst Professor Frederick Brewster Loomis: a mammoth tooth, found in the same general area where Loomis found a Columbian mammoth skeleton, the inspiration for Amherst’s trunked and tusked mascot.

Florida Today reports: “Monte Brigance, a retired offshore electrician from Livingston, Texas, was baby-sitting his grandson Colt Couch, [age 3] during the unexpected discovery in southeast Palm Bay.”

“‘He was throwing rocks into the pond. That's his favorite thing to do: throw rocks in the pond that he picks up out of the bank. About half of this was sticking out of the soil, and he couldn't pull it up,’ Brigance said, holding the mammoth tooth.”

Brigance helped his grandson pull up the object, which was later confirmed as a mammoth tooth.

Melbourne, Florida’s Crane Creek is host to deposits rich in prehistoric bones, in an an area known as the “Melbourne Bone Bed.” In was here where Loomis (Amherst Class of 1896 and a biology and geology professor) and James Gidley of the Smithsonian Institution unearthed the two complete mammoth skeletons, one being the one that now resides in Amherst’s Beneski Museum of Natural History.

McGann: Need-Blind and Loan Free at Amherst

Submitted on Thursday, 5/9/2019, at 1:23 PM

Matt McGann, Amherst's dean of admission and financial aid, was recently quoted in a New England Public Radio piece on need-blind admissions.

For a piece on the College of the Holy Cross moving away from this model, NEPR cited Amherst, noting that not only does ability to pay not factor into admission here, the College brings admitted students here using no loans.

That approach has paid dividends for the school, McGann said.

"We're very proud of our socioeconomic diversity, our racial and ethnic diversity, our geographic diversity, our diversity of thought — and much of this is attributable directly to our financial and admission policies," he said.

"13 Going on 30," Going on 15, with Maddy Sprung-Kayser '13

Submitted on Thursday, 5/9/2019, at 1:12 PM

Maddy Sprung-Kayser '13, now an executive producer and corporate counsel for Pineapple Media, got a shoutout on Instagram from actress Jennifer Garner, who was waxing nostalgic about her 2004 film "13 Going on 30," for which Sprung-Kayser performed as an extra.

Posting a clip of the film’s slumber party scene, Garner said the body-swap comedy “benefitted from the performances of so many young actresses” who were now “ruling the world,” including Oscar-winner Brie Larson, recently seen as Captain Marvel, and Pretty Little Liars star Ashley Benson.

“I loved my day with this slumber party crew,” Garner wrote. “At the last minute I tossed my adopted LA family member Maddy Sprung-Keyser into the scene. @maddsk went on to be an Academic All American swimmer at Amherst, got her law degree from NYU, and is producing podcasts for Looking back into her adolescence … is extra special today.”

The Black Pioneers of Virginia: Emerson Investigates

Submitted on Thursday, 5/2/2019, at 2:04 PM

Archaeologist-anthropologist Matthew Emerson, a visiting scholar at Amherst, was recently interviewed by the Washington Post about his work tracking down the remains of a 17th-Century farm near Pungoteague, Va., home to Anthony and Mary Johnson, free blacks who were early settlers there.

“In the earliest days, free blacks sometimes lived alongside whites and participated in society, but that changed as the system of slavery hardened toward the end of the 1600s,” the Post wrote.

Emerson found evidence of postholes and a type of well, but any evidence of African culture has proved elusive, he said.

“People have asked, is this African American history you’re doing? No, it isn’t,” said Emerson. “It’s African history. These are people who were born in Africa and brought here.”

Hunting Down Fraudsters With Lisa Osofsky '83

Submitted on Thursday, 5/2/2019, at 1:39 PM

“Fans of hard-hitting American justice have long dreamed of a British system of prosecuting white collar crime with similar venom and a less deferential approach,” the Daily Mail writes in a recent article, in which they profile Lisa Osofsky ’83, director of the UK’s Serious Fraud Office, as that dream come true.

“Her directness in talking about cases could come straight out of the mouth of Paul Giamatti who plays Manhattan attorney Chuck Rhoades in the award-winning US TV series Billions,” writes the Daily Mail’s Alex Brummer.

“The mood of the SFO and Osofsky is fairly chipper at present after its success in bringing two more Barclays executives to justice for manipulating interest rates. Colin Bermingham, 62, and Carlo Palombo, 40, were convicted of conspiracy to defraud. They were sentenced to five years and four years in jail respectively,” Brummer wrote.

“I feel the right thing was done,” Osofsky said. “We had a hard-working jury that stayed with it and brought home the most senior person we had in the ring.”

Talking "The Privileged Poor" with Tony Jack '07

Submitted on Thursday, 4/25/2019, at 12:27 PM

Buzz continues to emanate around Anthony Jack ’07 and his new book, The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges Are Failing Disadvantaged Students, based on his study of diverse, low-income students.

“Parents using great wealth to get their kids into selective colleges is bad,” writes Washington Post columnist Jay Mathews in a column devoted to Jack’s book. “But in a country this rich, such misbehavior is unlikely to stop. So how about working on a more important and soluble problem: the clumsy way we treat not the richest but the poorest students admitted to such schools.”

“Jack’s book brings home the pain and reality of on-campus poverty and puts the blame squarely on elite institutions for fostering policies that often ‘emphasize class differences, amplifying students’ feelings of difference and undercutting their sense of belonging,’” writes The Hechinger Report’s Liz Willen, quoting Jack.

“It’s imperative that we’re intentional when it comes to inclusion,” Jack told the Harvard Gazette. “It’s not just about access and putting students in the seats … If we’re to diversify our campuses to many more first-generation or low-income students, that means that we need to reach out to families more."

“We need to make sure that the roadmap exists not just for legacy students whose parents had been to college and can give them tips for being successful. Not every family can do that,” he said.

Pawan Dhingra on the history of the "Patel Motel"

Submitted on Thursday, 4/25/2019, at 11:38 AM

For an in-depth article about the Indian Americans who run many motels in the United States, India Abroad spoke at length with Pawan Dhingra, professor of American Studies and the author of Life Behind the Lobby: Indian American Motel Owners and the American Dream (Stanford University Press, 2012), about the challenges they face integrating in their communities.

“As the motel owners and their families now live in residences outside their motels side by side with other communities, and are launching their businesses, and their children go to schools and colleges, mixing with people from different backgrounds, they have got much better exposure,” Dhingra told India Abroad.

Still, “I know from my own research that these motel owners can experience a distance from local governments, from competitive ownerships and so the business side of things can get in a way of how accepted they feel in their local community, even if their neighbors have nothing to do with how they’re treated,” Dhingra said.

Kevin McAleenan ’94 Picked For The DHS

Submitted on Thursday, 4/25/2019, at 11:33 AM

Quickly following President Trump’s recent firing of Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection Kevin McAleenan ’94 was in the headlines as the man Trump picked to head the agency.

“There’s more to McAleenan than his border cop image,” the Washington Post wrote, contributing to a body of profiles written by outlets including the Boston Globe and USA Today

“McAleenan is a lawyer with degrees from the University of Chicago and Amherst College who pores over academic reports on migration trends and speaks of international aid as being vitally important to stemming the northward flow of Central Americans. And perhaps most important, at a time of great policy upheaval, McAleenan will be a rare Trump administration official who remains in good standing with lawmakers from both parties, someone who knows that the nation’s immigration quandary has spanned a generation of Republicans and Democrats and has no easy fixes,” the Post wrote.

UpdateCloser to campus, the news received a write-up in the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

Avant-Garde Meets Einstein: Dimensionism at the Mead

Submitted on Thursday, 4/11/2019, at 12:30 PM

The Mead Art Museum’s exhibition, Dimensionism: Modern Art in the Age of Einstein, is getting attention.

“The exhibition challenges the narrative that Western culture is split into two cultures, science and the humanities,” wrote the Christian Science Monitor, which interviewed Vanja Malloy, the Mead Museum’s curator of American art and the exhibition’s organizer.

“Both art and science challenge our idea of what we see as reality,” Malloy told the Monitor. “And science is something that informs our worldview whether or not we like to admit it.”

Other recent write-ups included pieces in the Springfield, MA Republican and the Art Newspaper.

The exhibit, which opened at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive last November, runs through July 28 at the Mead. The exhibition features approximately 70 artworks and is accompanied by an illustrated exhibition catalogue published by MIT Press.