arial view of campus and Holyoke Range shown half in black and white and half in color

Amherst’s Bicentennial • 1821-2021

Amherst College’s Bicentennial will celebrate the contributions the College has made to our students’ lives, to higher education, and to the world. It will allow us to reflect upon the institution’s extraordinary enduring qualities, the important ways we have changed, and new directions we may pursue over the next 100 years.  



  • To engage and build pride among the entire Amherst College community, strengthening members’ bonds with the College and with one another, and increasing their understanding of the College’s history and mission.
  • To celebrate Amherst College’s distinctive and influential contributions to higher education over the past 200 years, and to consider how the College will continue to evolve. 
  • To tell the story of the role philanthropy has played at Amherst as we are in the midst of the Promise campaign
  • To articulate and celebrate the importance of the liberal arts.

Guiding Principles

Dozens of  introductory meetings with the College community have yielded some principles regarding  how we can/should celebrate and honor this milestone:

  • Plan a variety of events and programs so that  a broad range of constituencies will be engaged. Be sure that some have the potential to connect people and groups. Have fun!
  • Engage students from across the College in student projects/initiatives.
  • Include a significant academic/intellectual component.
  • Leverage Amherst’s artistic strengths.
  • Utilize and augment existing major events such as Homecoming and Reunion, and be judicious in the number of additional “official” Bicentennial events.  
  • Sprinkle unexpected surprises and moments of wonder throughout the celebration.
  • Highlight the class of 2021.
  • Do not gloss over moments of conflict in the College’s history.
  • Produce great (and sustainable) swag!
  • Engage the Town of Amherst and the region.

Select Historical Dates of Note

May 10, 1820  •  Committee appointed to secure site and plan for construction of Amherst College

Aug. 9, 1820  •  Cornerstone of campus’s first building, South College, laid

Sept. 18, 1821  •  Inauguration of Zephaniah Swift Moore as Amherst College President

Sept.19, 1821  •  College opens, with one building, one president, two professors, and 47 students

Feb. 21, 1825  •  Massachusetts legislature grants charter to create Amherst College

Planning Structure

Sandy Genelius (Communications) and Bett Schumacher (President’s Office) are responsible for the management of the Bicentennial. Their partners are Rebecca Kennedy (Bicentennial manager) and Amanda Huhmann (Communications). The team’s work will be informed by input from people and groups across the College, including an all-constituent advisory committee and a working group of students.

Steering Committee

Charged with proposing an initial vision and planning structure, receiving recommendations from the Bicentennial Advisory Committee, and recommending project proposals to President Martin for her consideration.

  • Betsy Cannon Smith ’84, P'14, Chief Advancement Officer
  • Catherine Epstein, Provost and Dean of the Faculty; Winkley Professor of History
  • Sandy Genelius, Chief Communications Officer
  • Norm Jones, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer
  • Karu Kozuma, Chief Student Affairs Officer
  • Bett Schumacher, Chief of Staff/Secretary of the Board of Trustees
  • Cullen Murphy ’74, H’19, Chair Emeritus of the Board of Trustees.

Bicentennial Advisory Committee (BAC) 

Charged with reviewing proposals from the College community for Bicentennial events, activities, and projects and evaluating their quality, relevance, ownership, scope, and resource needs. Recommends project proposals to Steering Committee and  President Martin for review and approval.

  • Cathy Ciepiela ’83, Howard M. and Martha P. Mitchell Professor of Russian
  • Avery Farmer ’20
  • Sandy Genelius, Chief Communications Officer
  • Darryl Harper ’90, Associate Professor of Music; Director of the Center for Humanistic Inquiry
  • Amanda Huhmann, Associate Director of Strategic Communications and Planning
  • Austin Huot, Director of Conferences and Special Events
  • Phil Jackson ’85
  • Mike Kelly, Head of Archives & Special Collections
  • Rebecca Kennedy, Bicentennial Manager
  • Eunei Lee ’89, P’21
  • Doralinda Puente, Interim Assistant Manager of Retail Operations
  • David Rosa ’21
  • Bett Schumacher, Chief of Staff/Secretary of the Board of Trustees
  • Andrew Smith ’18
  • Traci Wolfe, Senior Director of Constituent Programs, Advancement
  • Janet Tobin, Associate Provost