Masha Gessen on Michelle Wolf, Civility and Authoritarianism

Submitted on Wednesday, 5/2/2018, at 12:24 PM

“There is a fiction that holds that journalists and their subjects can eat and socialize together and yet maintain the distance necessary to continue performing their professional roles,” wrote Masha Gessen, John J. McCloy '16 Professor of American Institutions and International Diplomacy, in a April 30 column in the New Yorker in which she pondered the controversy about comedian Michelle Wolf’s performance at the 2018 White House Correspondents’ Association dinner.

“Wolf’s routine burst the bubbles of civility and performance, and of the separation of media and comedy. It plunged the attendees into the reality that is, in the Trump era, the stuff of comedy. Through her obscene humor, Wolf exposed the obscenity of the fictions—and the fundamental unfunniness of it all,” she wrote.

NPR: The American Talent Initiative, with Pres. Martin

Submitted on Wednesday, 5/2/2018, at 12:20 PM

National Public Radio recently spoke with Amherst College President Biddy Martin and the heads of Ohio State University, the University of Michigan and the University of Wisconsin-Madison about their participation in the American Talent Initiative, an effort to strenuously expanding the number of talented low- and moderate-income students at America’s top-performing colleges.

Amherst was among was among 30 institutions that signed on to the initiative in 2016. To be able to belong, a college has to have a healthy graduation rate, 70 percent of their students in six years. About one third of the roughly 300 eligible institutions have signed on to the goal enrolling 50,000 additional low- and moderate-income students by 2025.

This commitment to economic diversity has a definite and positive impact on the life of a college, she said.

“I think the institutions have to let themselves be changed by the student bodies we have,” she said. “There's also a whole set of ways — including curriculum pedagogy and cultural dimensions of the place — that change as the student body changes, and that is a really wonderful and fascinating process to watch.”

Jeff Jordan '81 a Top Venture Capitalist

Submitted on Wednesday, 5/2/2018, at 12:17 PM

Jeff Jordan ’81 made #6 in a “Top 20” list of venture capitalists compiled by the New York Times and CB Insights, a research firm that follows the venture capital industry. 

Following a post-graduate (MBA, Stanford) career at firms including The Boston Consulting Group, The Walt Disney Company and, he joined eBay as Senior Vice President and General Manager, where he oversaw the acquisitions of Paypal and He subsequently went on to serve as president of Paypal and president and CEO of OpenTable. Since 2011 he has served as a General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz. The list marked notable investments including Airbnb, Pinterest and Instacart.

For the data-driven list, CB Insights looks at factors such as connectedness and returns after a start-up is sold or goes public. Investments in start-ups with valuations of $1 billion or more, called unicorns, are also taken into account. The actual list ranks 100 professionals, publishing details about the top 20.

Reviews of "Our Beloved Kin"

Submitted on Wednesday, 4/25/2018, at 2:05 PM

Lisa Brooks, associate professor of English and American Studies, continues to get press coverage concerning her new book Our Beloved Kin: A New History of King Philip’s War (Yale University Press), most notably a March 9 review in the Wall Street Journal (subscription only).

UPDATE: In an April 8 review in the Portland Press-Herald, William David Barry writes, "At last, in Lisa Brooks’ commanding, meticulously researched and elegantly readable new book, Our Beloved Kin: A New History of King Philip’s War, academics and general readers arrive at something of a fair understanding of the armed conflict between colonial New Englanders and Native Americans."

The Gift at Campaign's Launch

Submitted on Wednesday, 4/25/2018, at 2:05 PM

Amherst College’s new comprehensive campaign, Promise: The Campaign for Amherst’s Third Century, since launching publicly on April 7, was noted in a recent piece by Inside Higher Ed, both in a roundup of current capital campaigns, and a special note concerning the inclusion of a $100 million anonymous gift. The gift was announced as part of the campaign launch, to raise $625 million over five years.

UPDATE: The gift and the campaign were written up April 21 in Philanthropy News Digest, which quoted Suzanne Newby-Estes, the College's executive director of advancement and campaign operations. "We are just expanding the faculty, and it's important to recognize that the needs of the institution change over time, so it's not only just for STEM, it's just what the institution needs right now," she said.  "One hundred years from now it could be completely different."

Self-Immolation, Suicide and Protest

Submitted on Wednesday, 4/25/2018, at 1:54 PM

Following the April 14 suicide-by-immolation in Brooklyn of LGBT-rights advocate David Buckel, WBEZ-FM’s On the Media spoke with Andrew Poe, Amherst College professor of political science, on how this destructive act has evolved in the public eye as a manner of protest.

“I don’t think it’s an effective mode of protest in itself,” Poe told On the Media’s Bob Garfield. “It really is rare that such an act would provoke political transformation.” 

How Big Forests Solve Global Problems

Submitted on Wednesday, 4/25/2018, at 1:51 PM

In a New York Times op-ed, John Reid ’88 P’20 makes a case that while forest conservation solutions are necessary, they can be practical and affordable too.

Rabbi Seltzer receives Milestone Award

Submitted on Wednesday, 4/25/2018, at 1:50 PM

Rabbi Bruce Bromberg Seltzer, Jewish advisor and Hillel director at Amherst College, recently received a Milestone Award from Hillel International for 20 years of service to Jewish campus communities. 

Rabbi Seltzer received the award at Hillel International’s fourth annual Global Assembly, held in December at the Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center, the Massachusetts Jewish Ledger reported. He was one of three Milestone Award recipients at the conference, which drew more than 1,000 attendees.

Photos: The Zumbyes Take Darien

Submitted on Thursday, 4/19/2018, at 12:16 PM

The Zumbyes —Amherst College’s oldest a cappella group—recently performed at the Darien (Conn.) Library, and their performance became the subject of a photo feature in the Darien News.

“I think we bring an energy that crowds can really connect with, and we have some really tight harmonies that are enjoyable as well,” singer David Green ’19E told reporter Jarret Liotta.

CBS: Sanderson Applauds Alum's Journey to Happiness

Submitted on Thursday, 4/19/2018, at 12:15 PM

A recent broadcast of CBS Sunday Morning featured a segment on Cristian Hinojosa ’00 and his search for happiness, which saw him leaving a six-figure investment banking job to become a firefighter for the Dallas Fire Department.

For the piece, the program spoke with Catherine Sanderson, Amherst’s Manwell Family Professor of Life Sciences (Psychology), not just because she is a go-to on the topic of studying happiness, but also because she was Hinojosa’s advisor at Amherst. Sanderson said she feels proud of him for leaving a job that, while much more lucrative, was making him miserable. Because, she said, money can’t buy happiness.

"When you talk to people who love their jobs, overwhelmingly what they say is not, 'I love my paycheck,'" Sanderson told CBS Sunday Morning. "What they say is, 'I find the job meaningful.'"