Tell Us What You Think

We welcome letter submissions that respond to our magazine articles. Letters should be 300 words or fewer. Please send them to or Box 5000, Amherst, MA, 01002.

A Cover of Covers

The previous Amherst Magazine showing people walking past a newsstand
When the Spring 2020 issue of Amherst arrived in the mail, I was immediately struck by the cover drawing of a magazine newsstand. During my 20 years at Hearst Magazines, I worked at five of the titles on display. Then I read the cover story “She Is the Future of Magazines,” and I understood. Hats off to Kate (Westerbeck) Lewis ’94 who, like me, followed her dad to Amherst and then into publishing. My only regret is that, now that I have retired from Hearst, I will never have a chance to work with this magazine superstar.

T.R. Shepard III ’73
Rye, N.Y.

What was your most memorable Amherst course?

Here’s how three new graduates answered the question:

Three photos stacked on top of each other of three young women smiling

From top: Ratliff,
Adzhar and Swislow

Kristin Ratliff ’20

My favorite Amherst class was “Differential Equations” with Assistant Professor Karamatou Yacoubou Djima, a mathematics course I took this past semester. I enjoyed learning how to solve ordinary differential equations using analytical and numerical methods, as well as exploring the behavior of solutions. The best part of the class was getting to see how differential equations could be used to solve current problems in physics, engineering and biology. This course was a great way to finish my study of math at Amherst!

Atikah Adzhar ’20

2020 reminds me of the Malaysian saying, “First you fall down, then the ladder crashes onto you.” There was already uncertainty and fear in graduating, but now there’s also a pandemic. In Assistant Professor Lei Ying’s “Lu Xun and Modern China” class, we learned about modern Chinese revolutionary writer Lu Xun, who was torn between hope and despair for the future of China. I greatly sympathized with his constant doubt about the future, and when I mentioned this to Professor Ying, her response was simple and resonant: “If you have never doubted, then how can you truly believe?”

Emma Swislow ’20

During my first semester at Amherst, I took “Principles of Geology,” an introductory course that ended up being one of the most memorable classes I took in college. In our lab periods, we went on field trips around the Valley, a fantastic way to get to know the area I would be spending the next four years in. This course got me interested in a subject I ended up majoring in, introduced me to some of my closest friends in college and changed the way I see the world.

Movie Memory

As an added note to all the wonderful memories shared by others of the 1969 filming of Silent Night, Lonely Night (Voices, Spring 2020), I recall that a couple of our shy DU frat brothers invited Lloyd Bridges to come next door from the Lord Jeff Inn to DU to have a beer or two—and he did, much to the surprise of everyone!

Barry Roderick ’71
Orlando, Fla.

Bootcamp or Cradle?

On pages 1–15 of the Spring 2020 Amherst, I was struck by the emphasis in the multiple articles about today’s education being nice, fun, welcoming, self-empathizing and the like. The Amherst I attended was thought of as intellectual bootcamp rather than as an academic cradle. I took the direct, occasionally (and memorably) harsh criticism from professors as disinterested rather than personal. I understood it to be aimed at making us think harder and write more incisively. I welcomed the greater interest in me shown by a few faculty, but I certainly never expected or demanded that as a reason to take or not take a course. Obviously the world of education and Amherst are different now. Quite possibly the approaches outlined by those featured in the articles are appropriate responses to the needs of a generation far separated in time and facing different demands than mine. My Amherst education of the early 1960s, however, has served me well. I wouldn’t trade it.

Joe Wilson ’64
Ithaca, N.Y.

He’s Me!

A black and white photo of people in a cafe with a red arrow pointing to a man on the far left
I’m the person farthest to the left with an abundance of facial hair (“Fayerweather Friends,” Spring 2020, page 77). In the group of people I’m sitting with, the person second in from the right is Rob Widener ’79. I recognize two other faces but can’t recall names, though I’m pretty sure that several of the folks in that group lived in Moore Dorm on the fourth floor. It brought back partial memories and made my daughter and wife laugh at my coiffure!

Andrew Oram ’79
Keene, N.H.

I’m writing with a tip for the photo of the masked octopus on page 97 (“Costume Party,” Spring 2020). He’s me! If you need more proof, here’s a photo of the mask hanging in my dorm room in King.

Sam Shepard ’11
Raleigh, N.C.

Two photos: one of a man with an octopus mask and another with that mask hanging on a door

Does this photo prove that Sam Shepard ’11 is the masked octopus?

Recipes as Poetry

I immensely enjoyed the article “Cooking with Mrs. Knight” (Spring 2020), particularly the note from Olivia Gieger ’21 and Stuart Robbins ’20 about how the original recipe contained “hidden blanks” only apparent to a 16th-century audience. Recipes resemble poetry in a way, and the phrases in the article inspired a poem I wrote. The poem concludes as follows: And let me slip one small stale baguette / And dip it in boiled milk, letting the concoction set / And I shall savor burnt butter with Pigeons Transmogrified / As I listen carefully to a question unreplied.

Tracy Huang ’11
Washington, D.C.

Last Quarter’s Contest

A completed crossword puzzle
Thank you to all who entered the Spring 2020 crossword challenge, “Don’t Have a Cow!” The winner, chosen at random from the correct entries, is Robert F. Giddings ’65, D.V.M.

He wins an Amherst T-shirt. The Contest will return in the fall. At right is the crossword solution. For the blank square in the northeast corner, the answer is (the benighted) “Purple/Cow,” and in the southwest corner, it’s “Cow/Purple.”


The Spring 2020 cover story on Kate (Westerbeck) Lewis ’94 mentioned a plate of chocolate chip cookies. The cookies were from a recipe in Good Housekeeping, not Marie Claire. Also in the Spring 2020 issue, Mark Guyer ’66 is the correct author of the In Memory piece on John Sessions ’66.