Sara Schulwolf ’17 Wins National Public Health Excellence Award

Submitted on Friday, 6/3/2022, at 3:01 PM

UConn Today highlights Schulwolf’s 2022 Excellence in Public Health Award from the U.S. Public Health Service. A student at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, she co-founded Students for Accurate Vaccine Information (SAVI), “dedicated to building COVID-19 vaccine confidence in the community through education, advocacy, and outreach.”

In addition to describing some of the initiatives of SAVI, which Schulwolf founded along with classmate Timothy Mason, the article quotes a coordinator of the award program; the medical school’s dean; and Dr. Melissa Held, the school’s associate dean of student affairs, who nominated Schulwolf. Writer Lauren Woods notes Schulwolf’s other activities: “She has taught two semesters of middle school health classes with Hartford Health Educators [and] participated in UConn Urban Service Track/AHEC Scholars Program’s Home and Community Care, Covid-19 vaccination clinics and tele-surveillance projects, and also the City of Hartford’s door-to-door Covid vaccination campaign.”

Schulwolf is quoted as saying, “Public health is something that I have been passionate about for as long as I’ve wanted to pursue medicine, and I am extremely grateful for the opportunities and support that I’ve received through UConn that have allowed me to turn my interests into action.”

Amanda Holmes ’85 Is the Woman Guiding Fishtown’s Future

Submitted on Tuesday, 5/31/2022, at 3:43 PM

An article in the Glen Arbor Sun celebrates the recognition of Fishtown, a commercial fishery in Leland, Mich., which has secured a spot on the National Register of Historic Places and the Michigan Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation. Holmes, executive director of the Fishtown Preservation Society, is among the people credited for these successes.

“Earlier this month, the Governor’s Award was bestowed upon FPS for their historic preservation efforts to save, raise and rehabilitate Fishtown from rising water levels,” writes reporter Abby Chatfield. The article touches upon the fishing village’s past (dating back to the 1850s), present and future, and includes a section about Holmes, who lives on her family’s farmstead nearby. 

“Holmes received her undergraduate degree in American Studies from Amherst College. This was followed by a PhD in Folklore and Folklife, along with a certificate in Historic Preservation from the University of Pennsylvania,” Chatfield writes. “An aspect of her work that she really enjoys is recording people’s stories (to be unveiled in a future project) while working with others to educate the public that Fishtown is still a working place, not just a tourist center.”

Study Co-Authored by Professor Joshua Hyman Shows That Public School Investment Reduces Adult Crime

Submitted on Friday, 5/27/2022, at 2:27 PM

The University of Michigan’s Record summarizes the findings of the policy brief, which tracked the life outcomes of two groups of Michigan students from kindergarten through adulthood, based on how well the students’ elementary schools were funded.

The brief was written by Hyman, an assistant professor of economics at Amherst; E. Jason Baron of Duke University; and Brittany Vasquez of the University of Michigan. They used data from the Michigan Department of Education, Center for Educational Performance, National Student Clearinghouse and Michigan State Police. Among other findings, they determined that young people who attended better-funded schools were 15 percent less likely to be arrested by age 30, and that these reductions in crime alone saved more than enough money to make up for increases in school funding.

“[E]arly investments in children’s lives can prevent contact with the adult criminal justice system,” the researchers wrote. “Specifically, our results show that improving public schools can keep children on a path of increased school engagement and completion, thereby lowering their criminal propensity in adulthood.”

The Presidential Exit Interview

Submitted on Wednesday, 5/25/2022, at 4:30 PM

Biddy Martin is one of nine departing college and university presidents quoted in a May 17 article for The Chronicle of Higher Education. She shares her thoughts on Amherst’s successful and ongoing efforts to diversify and support the student body during her 11-year term, which ends this summer.

Chronicle writer Eric Kelderman begins by acknowledging Martin’s 2008–11 role as chancellor of the University of Wisconsin–Madison, which she left to assume the presidency at Amherst. He then cites statistics that reflect the College’s increased diversity: “A plurality of enrolled students are persons of color, as are 60 percent of students admitted for the fall. In addition, more than 20 percent of those admitted are first-generation college students, and more than a quarter of enrolled students are eligible to receive Pell Grants.”

“I think the much harder and more interesting challenge is what to do once you have a diverse student body,” Martin is quoted as saying. “And what do you do to ensure that it feels good to be at a place like Amherst, regardless of your background, and that you can go in the direction that you really most want to go?”

Can Social Entrepreneur Rosanne Haggerty ’82, H’03, End Homelessness in the U.S.?

Submitted on Monday, 5/23/2022, at 7:08 PM

Harvard Business School Senior Lecturer Brian Trelstad appears on a recent episode of the school’s Cold Call podcast to discuss Haggerty’s nonprofit Community Solutions and its Built For Zero movement, which works to end homelessness in communities nationwide.

Speaking with podcast host Brian Kenney, Trelstad outlines what makes Haggerty “an exceptional social entrepreneur” from whom the business world can learn important lessons. The two men talk about Haggerty’s earlier career and leadership style, and consider the approach, challenges and successes of Community Solutions, which last year received $100 million from the MacArthur Foundation’s 100&Change competition to continue its work. Also mentioned on the episode is Jake Maguire ’07, director of communications for Community Solutions.

Though Haggerty herself does not appear on the Cold Call podcast, she does speak with President Biddy Martin about her mission on the April 27 episode of Amherst’s Bicentennial podcast.

Professor Austin Sarat Discusses Presidential Clemency on “The Takeaway”

Submitted on Friday, 5/20/2022, at 5:03 PM

Sarat, the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science, appeared on an April 2022 episode of WNYC Studios’ radio show The Takeaway to comment upon the history and potential of the power of U.S. presidents to grant clemency to those convicted of crimes.

The episode, hosted by Melissa Harris-Perry and titled “I Beg Your Pardon,” aired the day after President Joe Biden issued three pardons and 75 commutations to people convicted of drug offenses or other nonviolent crimes, while 18,000 petitions for clemency were still pending. Sarat gave his opinion on Biden’s actions, and spoke more broadly about clemency as an often unpopular political move that requires a “stiff political backbone and some courage.” 

Also discussed were the clemency review process, conceptions of clemency as mercy versus error correction versus political favor-trading, and comparisons between various presidents’ records regarding how and how often they exercised clemency. Sarat advocated for Biden to commute the sentences of those on death row. “If we want a more equitable use of the clemency power,” he said, “we need to elect presidents with a fine-tuned sense of justice and, more importantly, with a commitment to being merciful.”

Mead Art Museum Introduces “Mead on the Move”

Submitted on Monday, 5/16/2022, at 9:03 AM highlights the new program, piloted in fall 2021 and launched in spring 2022, that “brings art education from the museum’s galleries into pre-K through 12th grade classrooms” in the Amherst area. School visits are developed and facilitated by Amherst College student museum educators and led by Museum Educator Olivia Feal.

“‘Mead on the Move’ draws from the Mead’s core teaching themes designed to complement Massachusetts state learning guidelines,” writes Dylan Corey. The reporter quotes Feal’s description of a trial visit to Wildwood Elementary School: “It was a windy day when we visited, so the tissue paper was flying around, and it was hilarious and a great time. I can’t wait for the students to visit the Mead again, but I also love meeting teachers in their classrooms and having the visit be on students’ and teachers’ terms in their familiar spaces.”

Emily Potter-Ndiaye, the Mead’s Dwight and Kirsten Poler & Andrew W. Mellon Head of Education and Curator of Academic Programs, notes that, through the program, “Amherst College students gain a sense of connection and perspective with hands-on teaching skills, while our teacher and student partners build personal and curricular connections with artworks from their local museum collections.”

Jim Steinman ’69, H’13: The Eccentric King of Fairytale Rebellion and Grand Drama

Submitted on Thursday, 5/12/2022, at 7:02 PM

Around the first anniversary of his death, published a feature on the life and career of Steinman, the songwriter behind such hits as Celine Dion’s “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” and Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell album.

“At Amherst College he wrote a musical version of a futuristic rock take on Peter Pan, The Dream Engine, which laid the foundation for much of his later work, including Bat Out of Hell and Bonnie Tyler’s 1983 hit ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart,’” writes classic rock reporter Dave Ling.

Punctuated with music videos from YouTube and a playlist of Steinman’s songs, the article delves into his “tempestuous relationship” with Meat Loaf and other figures in the music industry, his longtime health problems, his work in musical theater, and the “massively bombastic” energy for which his creative projects were famous. 

A Singing Surgeon’s Journey

Submitted on Monday, 5/9/2022, at 9:03 AM

In an Outside the Office column for Cataract & Refractive Surgery Today, Dr. Brian Kim ’97 writes about joining the Zumbyes at Amherst and how he still draws upon his singing skills in his work as an ophthalmologist today.

“Even though my college days are decades ago, the skills I learned from my Zumbye brothers help me care for my patients to this day,” writes Kim, a partner at Professional Eye Associates in Dalton, Ga., and clinical assistant professor of ophthalmology at the Medical College of Georgia. He explains how he has become known for singing to his patients to distract them from their anxiety. 

He describes how he auditioned for the acappella group twice despite having “no musical background,” and how they “taught me the basics—breathing techniques, singing from the diaphragm, opening the mouth and projecting sound.” He fondly remembers the Zumbyes’ tour of Florida, during which the group stayed at his family’s home and performed the national anthem at a Golden State Warriors NBA game. 

The column also includes Kim’s thoughts on his medical training, teaching experiences and family life.

Professor Katrina Karkazis on How Perceptions of Testosterone Shape Policy and Sport

Submitted on Thursday, 5/5/2022, at 4:52 PM

Karkazis, a professor of sexuality, women’s and gender studies at Amherst and a senior research fellow with the Global Health Justice partnership at Yale, appears on a recent episode of WPSU radio’s Take Note to talk about her 2019 book Testosterone: An Unauthorized Biography, in which she and co-author Rebecca M. Jordan-Young correct mistaken or oversimplified ideas about the hormone.

“Part of the argument in the book is that it’s impossible to know both what testosterone is and what it does without also thinking about it as a cultural entity,” Karkazis says to host John Weber. “And there are a lot of notions about what we want it to do, what we think it does, that aren't always borne out by the evidence.” 

The interview delves into the testosterone myths reflected in a famous episode of This American Life. Karkazis points out that there are multiple types of testosterone, that it can be measured in different ways, and that “there is no straightforward direct relationship between testosterone level and violence.” The host and professor also discuss how misunderstandings about the hormone shape policies as to who may or may not participate in women’s athletic competitions. 

New Study and Interactive Map, Co-Created by Professor Katharine Sims and Margot Lurie ’21, Point to Environmental Justice Disparities

Submitted on Tuesday, 4/26/2022, at 2:04 PM

The study, published in Environmental Research Letters and publicized by the TNC Network, shows that, across New England, “communities in the lowest income quartile, and communities with the highest proportions of people of color, have access to only about half as much protected land near where they live.” It is accompanied by an online mapping tool to highlight “specific opportunities for future conservation based on environmental justice criteria.”

“We hope that this tool can both empower local communities interested in protecting nearby land and offer guidance to conservation organizations regarding who needs to be at the table in land-use planning decisions,” says Lurie, who helped to catalyze the project through her work as an academic intern at Amherst.

“Changes in leadership structure, outreach, and programming can increase access by making open spaces truly welcoming to all,” says Sims, professor of economics and environmental studies.

The team behind the study and map also includes Boston-based social justice scholar Neenah Estrella-Luna and Harvard Forest researchers Lucy Lee and Jonathan Thompson.

How Poetry and Prose Help Shape Amy Speace ’90’s Songs

Submitted on Friday, 4/22/2022, at 4:56 PM

Speace has just released the album Tucson and is pursuing an M.F.A. in poetry at Spalding University in Kentucky. In a Q&A for No Depression: The Journal of Roots Music, the singer-songwriter discusses her reading habits.

Interviewer Henry Carrigan asks Speace such questions as “What books are on your nightstand now?,” “How does reading influence your songwriting?” and “What’s your ideal reading experience?”

In her answers, Speace makes several direct and indirect references to Amherst College and its literary alumni: She identifies Lauren Groff ’01 as one of the “masters” of “strong narrative and incredibly rich language”; lists Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace ’85, as a book she has “faked reading”; and declares The Montague Bookmill, which she discovered while a student at Amherst, “my all-time favorite bookstore.”

Professor Olufemi Vaughan Wins 2022 Guggenheim Fellowship

Submitted on Tuesday, 4/19/2022, at 5:00 PM

“A ‘Guggenheim’ is one of the most sought-after honors in academe and culture,” says a brief article in The Boston Globe. “Eleven of this year’s 180 recipients are Massachusetts residents.” And one of those is Vaughan, the Alfred Sargent Lee ’41 and Mary Farley Ames Lee Professor of Black Studies and chair of Black studies at Amherst.

The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, based in New York, has awarded the fellowships annually for 97 years. “The work supported by the Foundation will aid in our collective effort to better understand the new world we’re in, where we’ve come from, and where we’re going,” says foundation president Edward Hirsch in a press release about the fellowship recipients for 2022.

At Amherst, Vaughan teaches such courses as “African Migrations and Globalization” and “Christianity and Islam in Africa.” His many publications include the books Religion and the Making of Nigeria and Nigerian Chiefs: Traditional Power in Modern Politics, 1890s–1990s. He has prevously received Woodrow Wilson Fellowships, a Ford Foundation Fellowship and the 2021 Waldo G. Leland Prize from the American Historical Association, among other honors.

How Amherst College Became a Champion for Community College Transfer Students

Submitted on Friday, 4/15/2022, at 4:25 PM

“Amherst enrolls 10 to 15 community college transfer students a year (out of about 495 new students),” says an Inside Higher Ed Q&A with Associate Dean of Admission Alexandra Hurd ’06. “It’s a small program but a big commitment to transfers.” 

The article, written by Yazmin Padilla of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program, explains that “in 2010, Amherst was reaching the end of a Jack Kent Cooke Foundation grant designed to lay the foundation for a community college transfer program. Despite the challenges of the Great Recession, the campus decided to sustain their commitment.” 

It goes on to explore how Amherst enrolls and supports these transfer students as part of an intentionally diverse campus population, through such measures as financial aid, transfer-focused orientation events and the Class & Access Resource Center. “President [Biddy] Martin has really pushed us past the point of representation and to a conversation on inclusion,” says Hurd, adding that “faculty very much supported the program and voiced how much they value having these students in their classrooms and as part of the community.”

Attorney and Author Scott Turow ’70 Knows the True Value of Persistence

Submitted on Wednesday, 4/13/2022, at 12:06 PM

Turow, who practices law in Chicago and whose bestselling novels include Innocent and The Burden of Proof, is the subject of a column in Michigan’s Oakland County Legal News.

“Literary success didn’t come easy for Turow, whose books have sold more than 30 million copies worldwide and have been translated into some 25 languages,” writes Tom Kirvan. “His first novel, in fact, was rejected 25 times before gaining a semblance of acceptance, thereby assuring that Turow would be a lifelong proponent of ‘stick-to-itiveness.’”

In addition to that first novel, 1987’s Presumed Innocent, the column mentions Turow’s first nonfiction book, One L, published in 1977, while he was at Harvard Law School; his forthcoming novel, Suspect; and his years teaching creative writing at Stanford University after graduating from Amherst. It also quotes some of Turow’s remarks from a presentation at the University of Michigan Law School many years ago.