$50 Million for Promise Campaign

Submitted on Thursday, 9/13/2018, at 4:12 PM

Media reporting on philanthropy in higher education quickly took notice of the College’s recent announcement that an anonymous donor has contributed $50 million as part of Promise: The Campaign for Amherst’s Third Century.

“The campaign’s priorities are attracting and supporting outstanding students and faculty; meeting student need in the sciences and math; promoting innovation in teaching and learning; and providing critical facilities. It is also focused on creating a strong sense of community and belonging and supporting the Annual Fund,” wrote the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

The gift, along with a $100 million gift from an anonymous alumnus announced at the campaign’s launch in April, has provided a strong base for the College’s goal of raising $625 million over the next five years.

Inside Higher Ed, Philanthropy News Digest, and University Business have reported on the major gift.

Woman in STEM Scott '06 Responds to the Haters

Submitted on Thursday, 9/13/2018, at 4:10 PM

Social media watchers took note when actor/model/app developer Lyndsey Scott ’06 recently issued a smackdown on Instagram after trolls suggested women can’t code.

When an Instagram account reported that the actor and former Victoria’s Secret model can program code in Python, C++, Java, MIPS, and Objective-C, commenters piled in with comments like “what a waste.”

“Lyndsey used the opportunity to destroy everyone in the comments by listing her accomplishments in her field,” reported Buzzfeed.

“I have 27481 points on Stack Overflow; I'm on the iOS tutorial team for RayWendelich.com; I'm the Lead iOS software engineer for Rallybound, the 841st fastest growing company in the US according to Inc. Magazine," she wrote. "I have a Bachelor's degree from Amherst where I double majored in computer science and theater, and I'm able to live my life doing everything I love.”

“Scott's savage response to the commenters is so, so satisfying,” wrote Claire Peltier for A Plus.

She usually tries to ignore such negativity, but she felt it was important to respond here, Scott later posted. “Just stating facts in the hope I’ll convince at least one negative commenter that programmers can come in all shapes, sizes, genders, races, etc. so they’ll think twice before doubting other women and girls they encounter in tech.”

Coben's Books Coming to Netflix

Submitted on Thursday, 9/6/2018, at 11:11 PM

Bestselling author Harlan Coben ’84 has signed a multi-year exclusive deal with Netflix to develop 14 of his works —including his upcoming novel Run Away—into series for the streaming service, The Slanted reports.

“Harlan’s page-turning crime novels are beloved by readers around the world,” Erik Barmack, Vice President of International Originals for Netflix, told the publication. “We are excited to continue our partnership with him and develop his suspenseful thrillers into global Netflix originals.”

Coben, a perennial #1 New York Times bestselling author of thirty novels, has sold over 75 million books. Neflix currently airs two crime drama series based on his writing: Safe, starring Michael C. Hall, which premiered earlier this year, and the 2015 French series No Second Chance.

“I’m thrilled to continue our relationship,” Coben said.

Corrales on Venezuela's Refugee Crisis

Submitted on Thursday, 9/6/2018, at 11:08 PM

Political turmoil and a plummeting economy in Venezuela have resulted in millions of Venezuelans fleeing to surrounding countries in South and Central America.

Javier Corrales, Dwight W. Morrow 1895 professor of Political Science at Amherst spoke with PBS NewsHour about the implications of this refugee crisis for these countries and Venezuela.

“These are countries that are not necessarily impoverished, but they do not have the capacity to have a refugee crisis of this magnitude, and happening at this speed,” he said. “There’s no question that these governments are going to have to respond. These are a large number of people in dire need suddenly arriving.”

Reading With The New Books Network

Submitted on Thursday, 9/6/2018, at 11:07 PM

The Society for Scholarly Publishing’s The Scholarly Kitchen recently featured an interview with Marshall Poe, founder of the New Books Network, an ever-expanding network of podcasts devoted to new scholarly works.

The College has partnered with Poe since 2015, providing a platform for the library of podcasts. The network now boasts 81 subject-specific podcast channels. Various channels have interviewed Amherst faculty about their newest books, and the network has devoted episodes to titles published by Amherst College Press.

“I sometimes think of the NBN as a kind of audio library; we’ve published 5,100 author interviews and add 100 new interviews every month. It just grows and grows, and as it does it becomes richer and richer. Even today, you can find pretty much anything in our online archive,” Poe said.

Watching a Baby Planet

Submitted on Thursday, 8/30/2018, at 4:29 PM

“For the first time, astronomers have caught a baby planet in the process of growing,”wrote Paul Scott Anderson for the science website EarthSky, one of a number of outlets taking notice of a recent paper by a team of scientists, including Kate Follette, assistant professor of Astronomy at Amherst, who observed a new planet in the process of growing by accreting material from the disk surrounding PDS 70, and orange dwarf star located 370 light years from Earth.

“This isn’t just a newly developing planet, located in a gap in a star’s disk of primordial dust and gas. That’s been done before. This is direct evidence that such a planet is still gathering material from the star’s surrounding disk, and thus that it’s growing larger,” Anderson wrote.

Using adaptive optics on the 6.5-meter Magellan Clay Telescope in Chile, the team of astronomers led by Kevin Wagner of the University of Arizona studied the ten-million-year old star, publishing their observations in a paper for The Astrophysical Journal Letters  

The paper also attracted the attention of The Space Reporter and the American Astronomical Society’s AAS Nova.

Victoria Wilson on Beating the Trick Question

Submitted on Thursday, 8/23/2018, at 2:02 PM

In an extensive and entertaining piece on how to survive the common pitfalls of a job interview, College Magazine turned to Victoria Wilson, Amherst’s associate director for internship programs, on how to handle the trap question, “Why shouldn’t I hire you?”

“Stay calm,” she said. “If an applicant is unsure of how to answer immediately, the worst thing to do would be to charge ahead blindly or say ‘I don’t know.’”

Taking time doesn’t show weakness, it shows thoughtfulness, she added.

Chipo Dendere's Take on Zimbabwe's Election

Submitted on Thursday, 8/23/2018, at 11:44 AM

In numerous news accounts on Zimbabwe’s recent election, Chipo Dendere, visiting assistant professor of political science and Consortium for Faculty Diversity Scholar, is an expert whose name keeps popping up.

“Zimbabwe is deeply divided between the rural and urban constituencies,” she wrote in an August 8 piece for Al Jazeera, urging unity among opposition groups, who have since sought a court nullification of the July 30 presidential election won by the incumbent Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Chipo Dendere has authored or been quoted in Zimbabwe election coverage including Washington Post, China Global Television Network, New Vision (Uganda), and Africa News.

McQuirter: Starting a Plant-Based Life at Amherst

Submitted on Thursday, 8/9/2018, at 11:03 PM

Tracye McQuirter ‘88, the author (with her mother Mary) of the new book Ageless Vegan: The Secret to Living a Long, Plant-based Life, recently spoke with Huffpost about the intersection of race, politics and food, and traced her own journey back to when, as a second-year at Amherst, she heard a life-changing speech by activist and comedian Dick Gregory.

“He talked about politics, economics and culture of food, food deserts, why black folks eat the way we eat … he talked about using food as a tool for liberation. He traced the path of a hamburger, from a cow on the farm to the slaughterhouse, to a fast food restaurant, to a clogged artery, to a heart attack. It blew my mind.”

Judge Peter J. Messitte ‘63 and the Emoluments Clause

Submitted on Thursday, 8/9/2018, at 11:01 PM

It was an Amherst alum, U.S. District Court Judge Peter J. Messitte ‘63, who last month rejected President Trump’s latest effort to stop a lawsuit that alleges Trump is violating the Constitution’s previously-obscure “emoluments” clause, which bans federal officials from accepting benefits from foreign or state governments without congressional approval.

The case, and Judge Messitte, are the subject of a recent article penned by the judge’s son Zach Messitte for the Baltimore Sun.

“Public service runs deep in my family,” said the younger Messitte, writing about how a judge’s life experience informs his judicial ability. 

“Even though the emoluments case may be the most far-reaching constitutional case of his more than three decades as a judge, my father has heard thousands of cases that have an impact on Maryland: He’s put MS-13 gang members behind bars; adjudicated part of the collapse of the savings and loan industry in the state; and ordered the end of mandatory busing in Prince George’s County, effectively concluding a government effort to desegregate the schools,” he wrote.