Looking Back With Coach Jack Arena '83

Submitted on Tuesday, 3/5/2019, at 12:16 PM

“Thirty-six years after his hire as the men’s hockey coach at his alma mater, Jack Arena [’83] is still behind the bench at Amherst College as the second-longest tenured Division 3 hockey coach in the country,” the Boston Globe wrote in a recent profile of Arena, whose Amherst teams have made three NCAA Championship appearances, and he was named Division 3 National Coach of the Year in both 2012 and 2015.

“After his graduation in 1983, the Randolph native had planned to serve as an assistant coach at the college while taking graduate courses at the University of Massachusetts. His senior year, Arena was the Division 3 Hobey Baker recipient as the best player in the nation. But when the head coach resigned that August, Arena accepted the position on an interim basis,” the Globe wrote.

“I was 22 years old when I started coaching here. Now I’m coaching sophomores who are 22,’’ he said.

He said the best part of coaching “is my interaction with the players and the opportunity to teach them, and also a way for me to still compete and stay involved, engaged, and passionate about what I do.’’

Corrales: Venezuela, Then and Now

Submitted on Friday, 2/15/2019, at 1:45 PM

With the eyes of the world particularly focused on changes occurring in Venezuela, Javier Corrales, Dwight W. Morrow 1895 professor of Political Science at Amherst, is a voice being sought and cited. In two recent pieces:

“I think Guaidó is delivering exactly what the opposition wanted at this point, which is a bold, risk-taking response,” he told Reuters News Service, for a recent piece on European nations joining the United States in recognizing opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president. 

He was also interviewed for a piece by Public Radio International’s The World, which explored what was it that transformed the once thriving democracy in Venezuela into a nation plagued with unemployment, poverty, malnutrition and crime.

“One theory is that the medicine that was applied was the wrong medicine. So, you make the patient worse,” he said, discussing cutbacks, eliminating price controls, and other efforts the government took to shore up the economy after the the price of oil dropped in the 1980s, dealing a blow to the oil-producing nation.

“An alternative argument is that they didn’t have enough time to apply the medicine,” he added.

The Privileged Poor, by Anthony Abraham Jack ’07

Submitted on Friday, 2/15/2019, at 1:42 PM

Access is not inclusion, Harvard education professor Anthony Abraham Jack ’07 writes in his new book, The Privileged Poor, which examines the challenges faced by poor students entering college. He recently spoke with the Boston Globe about his research for the books, which included more than 100 interviews and two years of ethnographical observation at an unnamed elite university. In his book, he draws distinctions among disadvantaged students, rather than treating them as a monolithic group. Some poor students — whom Jack describes as the privileged poor — had mentors and experiences that taught them how to navigate a college campus and take advantage of the resources offered there. Others arrived with little knowledge of what would be expected of them.

“Lower-income students … face some real trauma in their lives. That trauma is painful, that’s a load that we have to bear, and I think a lot of students would have benefited from some kind of support services to deal with that pain,” he said. “My work, I hope, pushes people to make the path and the expectations explicit. There is a hidden curriculum that operates on these college campuses that is hard to decipher.”

“Students are not prepared for a lot of the interactions that they have with their peers and professors all day, because colleges look very different than high schools,” he added. “It’s about feeling out of place. Can you really focus on the material in front of you when you’re always looking to your left and to your right?”

Steven Simon on Leaving Afghanistan

Submitted on Friday, 2/15/2019, at 1:40 PM

Steven Simon, Visiting Professor of History who served on the National Security Council in the Clinton and Obama administrations, recently co-authored an opinion piece for CNN (with Aaron David Miller, a former adviser in past Republican and Democratic administrations, and Richard Sokolsky, former member of the Secretary of State's Policy Planning Office) in which the authors express support of pulling U.S. Troops out of Afghanistan.

“The US can't make Afghanistan a coherent functional state with rule of law, gender equality, and respect for human rights, no matter how many troops or additional dollars we throw at this challenge. It is sad and tragic that we promised more in Afghanistan than we could deliver—and that in the eyes of the Afghan people, women in particular, the US has abandoned them. But that's no reason to stay in a never-ending war. What we could not accomplish with over 100,000 US forces -- the maximum number deployed in 2010 -- we certainly cannot with the 14,000 now in the country,” they wrote.

“It's neither pretty, satisfying nor politically convenient to admit. But it's time to let go of America's 18-year Afghan war,” they concluded.

Getting Down To Facts With Nicholas Horton

Submitted on Friday, 2/15/2019, at 1:37 PM

The Journal of Statistics Education recently published an extensive interview with Nicholas Horton, the Beitzel Professor in Technology and Society (Statistics and Data Science), in which he discusses his life, career and involvement with the College’s burgeoning program in statistics.

“There’s a growing interest in statistics and data science amongst our students. I suspect that students are attracted by the ability to dove into complex problems, to use modern tools, and then to communicate their results,” he said. “Many of our students double major, most commonly with mathematics, computer science, and economics, but also with psychology, music, political science, sociology, and history.”

“My greatest hope is that statistics education can fully embrace data science and broader learning outcomes,” he said. “I’m proudest of the work that I’ve done as part of the National Academies and the American Statistical Association to help improve statistics and data science education at the undergraduate level.”

Carbon Neutrality By 2030

Submitted on Friday, 2/15/2019, at 1:36 PM

Amherst College’s newly-announced Climate Action Plan, that sets a goal for the College to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030, drew the attention of news outlets in the region, including the Daily Hampshire Gazette, WWLP-22 News, and the Daily Collegian at UMass-Amherst.

At its January 25-26, 2019, meeting, the Board of Trustees unanimously approved the College’s plan, which is consistent with Amherst’s strategic plan and the Board’s 2015 Statement on Sustainability and Investment Policy and follows President Biddy Martin’s recommendation to the Board.

“The financial costs of the Climate Action Plan will be substantial, but they will also be manageable with the support of our entire community and careful financial and budgetary decisions that allow us to pursue this important work alongside other key priorities,” Chairman of the Board of Trustees Andrew Nussbaum ’85 said in a letter quoted by the Gazette. “The plan represents a necessary investment in the future not just of our college but the world our graduates will inhabit.”

Getting Bubly with Aparna Nancherla ’05E

Submitted on Thursday, 2/7/2019, at 4:28 PM

Who was that woman in the Bubly commercial during the Super Bowl, explaining to singer Michael Bublé that the sparkling water isn’t named after him?

Outlets like 2Paragraphs and Parade found out: it’s Aparna Nancherla ’05E.

“It just felt like already to do a Super Bowl commercial is pretty pretty insane, but then to do it with Michael Bublé, who I am a fan of and have been for awhile, I was like, ‘Well this feels like a dream,’” she told Parade, describing the musician as “a natural charmer.”

Corrales on Foreign Influence in Venezuela

Submitted on Thursday, 1/31/2019, at 3:55 PM

In a recent opinion piece written for National Public Radio, Javier Corrales, Dwight W. Morrow 1895 professor of Political Science, analyzed the regime change afoot in Venezuela, concluding that it is home-grown, though international in nature.

“This is not to negate the importance of foreign influence in shaping developments inside Venezuela. Factors such as rising U.S. sanctions hurt the government and encourage the opposition,” he wrote. “But it was not internationally predetermined that Venezuela's opposition would gain the upper hand. It is a result of the Venezuelan government's own foreign policy blunders and the opposition's diplomatic achievements.”

“Venezuela shows that local forces have the capacity to move foreign affairs. However weakened they may be, they are not just recipients of foreign influence but also shapers of foreign forces,” Corrales concluded.

Chipo Dendere on Zimbabwe's Crackdowns

Submitted on Thursday, 1/31/2019, at 3:53 PM

For a recent Foreign Policy piece on unrest in Zimbabwe, Chipo Dendere, visiting assistant professor of political science and Consortium for Faculty Diversity Scholar, joined other experts in discussing the upsurge in violent crackdowns under President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Authorities in Zimbabwe have turned on citizens and shut down the internet following protests on fuel price hikes, in the most severe bout of state-mediated violence since Mnangagwa came to power in 2017, replacing Robert Mugabe.

What is different this time is “the open militarization of the state,” Dendere said.

“Under the Mugabe dictatorship, the police were always at the forefront, and the use of the military was there, but behind closed doors,” Dendere said.

UPDATE: Chipo penned a January 30 column for the Washington Post about the situation, focusing on leaders' shutdown of internet access.

Talking Financial Aid with Gail Holt

Submitted on Friday, 1/25/2019, at 4:00 PM

With January upon us, for many high school students considering college in the fall, it’s now time to start filling out college applications and begin looking for financial aid.

Gail Holt, Amherst College’s Dean of Financial Aid, was a recent guest on WWLP/Channel 22’s news program InFocus for a discussion on how to create a successful college application and various resources available for financial aid.