Parker: Best Students Want Diversity

Thomas H. Parker, Dean of Admission and Financial Aid, was quoted in recent press accounts decrying the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to hear a case which would revisit the use affirmative action in college admissions. Educators are concerned that the court could possibly undo the 2003 Grutter v. Bollinger case which allowed colleges to assure diversity by taking race into account when enrolling students.

Parker told the New York Times, “Nine years, when you’re talking about a decision of this magnitude, it really took me aback. What happens with the next president, the next Supreme Court appointee? Do we revisit it again, so that higher education is zigging and zagging? If the court says that any consideration of race whatsoever is prohibited, then we’re in a real pickle. Bright kids have no interest in homogeneity. They find it creepy.”

“What happens if the swing vote changes in six or seven years? Do we revisit it again? This is not a way to establish law,’’ he told the Boston Globe.


Billy McBride on Paintings of the Negro Baseball Leagues

Billy McBride, Assistant Athletic Director-Diversity and Inclusion, spoke with Springfield’s WGGB-TV for a piece on the history of negro league baseball, currently the subject of an exhibit of paintings by Kadir Nelson at the Eric Carle Museum. McBride said, “I can appreciate how [Nelson] captured the essence of our history, of things that went before that a lot of the time you simply don’t know…There is a history, there is a strong history of Black Americans, of African Americans in this country who have done great things.  But a lot of our children and a lot of our colleagues don’t know.”


Gazette: Martin Focuses on the Community

President Biddy Martin was the subject of a Feb. 18 story in the Daily Hampshire Gazette. The article touches on plans for the college, including the new $200 million science building, community outreach by students, and building closer ties with town officials and local community colleges.


Corrales Comments on Chavez Cancer

Political science professor Javier Corrales recently spoke with the Associated Press following news that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez will be undergoing surgery in Cuba to remove a cancerous growth.

“The key question is whether [Chavez] is beginning to pay attention to advice from all those forces, ranging from family members to political operators, telling him to come forward with a succession plan,” Corrales said.


Dean of Admissions Addresses Application Leap

Thomas H. Parker, Dean of Admission and Financial Aid, was quoted in a Feb. 16 Boston Globe article remarking on the recording-breaking amount of applications to the school. Amherst's 1 percent jump was keeping his staff busy, he told the newspaper. “You hire somebody new to read all these applications in the spring, and then in the fall they can’t sit there and twiddle their thumbs, so they go out and recruit like the rest of us,’’ Parker said. “Naturally that generates even more applications. It’s a crazy irony.’’


Sarat: Not Always Right To Be Polite

The desire for civility in public discourse should not be used to silence dissent, Austin Sarat, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science, said at a forum recently presented by the University of Massachusetts Boston's new Center for Civil Discourse. In an excerpt recorded by Boston radio station WBUR, he said, “It's not always better to be polite than to be right, and breaches of civility do not always threaten democratic dialogue...Civility is a secondary, not a primary, moral virtue… we need to be careful to nurture the conditions under which civility can flourish.”


Himmelstein Talks Risks of Corporate Philanthropy

National Public Radio’s Alan Greenblatt recently spoke with Amherst sociology professor Jerome Himmelstein about the recent flap over the Susan G. Komen For The Cure Foundation dropping funding for Planned Parenthood (albeit temporarily). Himmelstein commented on the implications for businesses supporting charities which might turn into public relations nightmares. “Most corporate grants are fairly predictable, even when corporate donors talk about being innovative or entrepreneurial," he said. Still, they don't want to be perceived as caving in to pressure either, or anger consumers on the other side of the issue, he added.


Pat Fitzgerald '82 Talks Teamwork

A recent talk given for Amherst alums in Chicago by Patrick Fitzgerald ’82, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, got a mention in the New York Times by way of Chicago News Cooperative columnist James Warren. Fitzgerald was specifically speaking about state, city, and Cook County law enforcement agencies teaming up against gangs, but Warren extolled this as the kind of teamwork needed from politicians and businesses in general.  Warren paraphrased Patrick, writing that “any assumption about inevitable friction among the agencies is folderol…they dissect their latest list of the top 20 bad guys in Chicago and constructively plot how to nab them.” Warren added, “It’s the sort of coordination that is lacking in Congress and state legislatures…”