Amherst: Ahead of the Curve in Latino Enrollment

Submitted on Friday, 6/15/2012, at 9:31 AM

In a recent piece touting Massachusetts as a leader in attracting Latino college students, Boston Globe higher education writer Mary Carmichael spotlighted Amherst as setting the gold standard. She spoke with Ilan Stavans, Lewis-Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture, about the college’s doubling its Latino enrollment in the past decade, and with Tom Parker, director of admissions, about Amherst’s generous financial aid package.

“Amherst’s healthy endowment means it can afford to give students plenty of financial aid - the average award is $41,150 and includes no loans,” Carmichael wrote. “During recruitment season, the school flies almost 200 kids from around the country to campus for ‘diversity open houses.’ Once students are enrolled, it buys them two round-trip plane tickets apiece every year. That can make a big difference to Latino students from the Southwest, [said Parker], because ‘these may be kids who have never been to Massachusetts - maybe kids who have never even been in an airport.’”

The piece drew the attention of a blogger at NBC Latino, who followed up with a piece also featuring Tom Parker. “The last three classes at Amherst have been 42 percent American students of color, including Latinos, and 10 percent non-US citizens … We are just trying to reflect what the U.S. looks like,” he said.

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Tiersky asks Chen Guangcheng

Submitted on Tuesday, 6/19/2012, at 9:28 AM

Ronald F. Tiersky, Joseph B. Eastman '04 Professor of Political Science, had a chance to put a question to Chinese human rights activist Chen Guangcheng at a May 31 forum hosted by the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations. Tiersky asked Chen about struggles going on within the top leadership between old-style communists and those with a perspective more like Chen’s.

Chen responded, “Everything is in a state of historic transition…the development of civil society in China and how to have it function well after it's established -- that's going to depend on the Chinese people…many people want to move the mountain in one week. That's not realistic. We have to move it bit by bit and start with ourselves. If everybody would do that, then maybe the effect would be very good. But you can't expect it to happen overnight.”

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Little White Houses in the News

Submitted on Friday, 6/15/2012, at 9:22 AM

The Boston Globe recently wrote about "The Little White House Project: ‘Dwell in Possibility’," an art installation on the grounds of the Emily Dickinson Museum. The houses, designed by Deerfield Academy student Peter Krasznekewicz, are emblazoned with lines of the poet’s work, painted large. When the exhibit is dismantled at the end of June, materials used in the construction of the houses will be recycled by Pioneer Valley Habitat for Humanity for a new, actual home.

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Stavans on the passing of Carlos Fuentes

Submitted on Thursday, 6/14/2012, at 12:17 PM

After Mexican novelist and essayist Carlos Fuentes died May 15 at the age of 83, National Public Radio and PBS turned to Ilan Stavans, Lewis-Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture, for perspective. He told NPR’s Robert Siegel, “He liked to see Mexico in epic tones and with a very broad brush and scope of things. He used history as the main engine that drove Mexico…The issue of identity for him was crucial. He was forthcoming in the idea that Mexicans were always looking for a collective identity, and he could help them dig in and shape that identity in a clearer fashion.”

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Bethune on a Brighter Economy

Submitted on Thursday, 6/14/2012, at 12:15 PM

Brian A. Bethune, Visiting Assistant Professor of Economics, recently weighed in on hiring surges and unemployment drops reported by the U.S. Labor Department. Noting reports that the United States added 243,000 jobs in January, Bethune told the Associated Press, “This is a very positive employment report from almost any angle.”

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Corrales Speculates on Succession in Venezuela

Submitted on Tuesday, 5/8/2012, at 11:41 AM

Political Science Professor Javier Corrales weighed in on Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez recently making appointments to Venezuela’s Council of State: "There are no surprising names here," he told CNN. He said that it remains unclear whether a successor to the ailing Chavez might be picked from this powerful group. "Anything is possible," Corrales said. He suggested a hypothetical scenario in which Chavez might remain president, but delegate power to the council.

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Mead Director Discusses Mellon Endowment Grant

Submitted on Wednesday, 4/25/2012, at 10:50 AM

The Daily Hampshire Gazette  spoke with Elizabeth Barker, director of the Mead Art Museum, about news that the museum is receiving a $1,000,000 Endowment Challenge Grant from Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. This grant will allow Amherst to endow its Coordinator of College Programs position, which is dedicated to best integrating the college's art collection with curriculum. As a condition of the grant, Amherst College has committed to raise a minimum of $1,000,000 within three years. The college seeks to raise an additional $500,000 to underwrite the museum-based academic programs, which engage 90 percent of Amherst's student body each year. "Making visual literacy part of the learning experience really brings a new dimension to the classroom," Barker said. "It has a way of sticking in students' minds that goes beyond a lecture or a traditional seminar ... and the questions students come up when they look at a piece of art can really give us a new way of looking at our own collection."

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Kansas City: Douglas has a "Lovely Sense of Humor"

Submitted on Tuesday, 4/24/2012, at 2:21 PM

Andrea Kempf, a retired librarian writing for the Kansas City Jewish Chronicle, gave a thumbs-up for The Vices, by Lawrence Douglas, James J. Grosfeld Professor of Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought. “This elegant witty novel is a delight to read,” she wrote. “[Douglas] has come to fiction late, but his novels are all the better for his maturity and in addition he also has a lovely sense of humor. I would seriously recommend this novel for book clubs.”

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Joel Gordon Builds a Better Stylus

Submitted on Tuesday, 4/24/2012, at 9:59 AM

The Daily Hampshire Gazette spoke with Joel Gordon, professor emeritus of physics, about his manufacturing a low-cost stylus for use with touch-screen devices such as the iPad or iPhone. He’s selling them for $5 each, with all the proceeds to benefit the Amherst Senior Center. Gordon is chairman of the town’s Council on Aging.

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