May 1, 2003
Director of Media Relations
AMHERST, Mass.-The board of directors of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law today announced the appointment of departing Amherst College President Tom Gerety as executive director. Gerety will complete a nine-year tenure as president of Amherst College on June 30, 2003.
"This is urgent work," said Gerety. "When faced with external threats, the American republic has always had to struggle to maintain a democracy that is open and energetic, reflecting the diverse voices and interests of our nation. The Brennan Center for Justice fights to uphold America's ideals of equality, liberty and generosity to all. It's a great time to join in this good work."
Gerety also has received a university-wide academic appointment at NYU; he will be the Brennan Center for Justice Professor.
The Brennan Center is a new type of public interest institution, incorporating elements of a public-interest law firm, a think tank and an advocacy organization. Founded in 1995, the Center brings together thinkers and advocates in pursuit of a vision of inclusive and effective democracy. With a staff that has grown from two to 40 in the past eight years, the Center engages in three programs: Criminal Justice, Democracy and Poverty. The Center has been instrumental in enacting and legally defending the McCain-Feingold law, the first comprehensive federal campaign finance reform in a generation. The Center also was key in a 2001 Supreme Court decision striking down a law that barred legal aid lawyers from challenging welfare laws.
William J. Brennan, III, chair of the Brennan Center Board, noted, "With his experience as a legal scholar, a social justice advocate, and president of a premier liberal arts college, Tom Gerety possesses all the talents needed to advance the Center's mission."
Richard L. Revesz, dean of the NYU Law School, said, "Tom Gerety will be a spectacular leader for the Brennan Center. He will be able to capture the synergies available to the Center from its relationship with NYU School of Law, bringing together the best academics, policy analysts and litigators to address our nation's pressing social problems."
Gerety said, "We're in this fight with lots of others. We need strong allies and friends. So it's essential to work closely with others who care about these issues - about civil rights, about the poor and their advocates, about the promise of democracy. I look forward to working with the Center's great staff, with the Board, and with the NYU faculty at the Law School and throughout the University. Particularly important colleagues are the many experienced and devoted people around the country - in advocacy groups, service agencies and foundations - who stand shoulder to shoulder with us in all that we do."
As Amherst's president, Gerety worked to strengthen the college's admission standards and increase the diversity of its student body. Approximately 35 percent of the first-year class is composed of students of color. Amherst has retained its commitment to need-blind admission; more than half of Amherst's students receive some form of financial aid.
Over the past nine years, Amherst's endowment nearly tripled, from $332 million to nearly a billion dollars. The Amherst College Campaign exceeded its goal, with nearly $270 million in gifts and pledges to support faculty and academic programs, financial aid and student programs, facilities and the endowment. Most of the college's academic and athletic buildings have been renovated in the past six years; a new Life Sciences Building opened in 1996, and a new Experimental Theater was constructed in 1998. Amherst has begun construction on new dormitories and major renovations of several existing dorms. Amherst is also engaged in a broad evaluation of the academic life of the college through the Special Committee on the Amherst Education.
Gerety has been a leader in several national education organizations, serving as chair of the Consortium on Financing Higher Education, a group of the nation's best private universities and colleges. He has served as president of Five Colleges, Inc. A frequent commentator on issues related to education and to human rights, he has served for 14 years on the board of the International Rescue Committee. This spring, he organized private colleges in a "friend of the court" brief supporting the affirmative action policies of the University of Michigan.
At Amherst, he was a professor of philosophy and taught a First-Year Seminar on "Inner City America," in which students volunteer at social service agencies in Amherst and Holyoke. Locally, under his leadership, Amherst has established a partnership with El Arco Iris, a multicultural community arts center in Holyoke, and has begun working with the local Habitat for Humanity chapter on using Amherst College land for a Habitat project. Gerety has established Fellowships for Action to encourage Amherst students to become involved with community or human services work in the U.S. and abroad, and he has been a leading voice in local United Way discussions.
From 1989 to 1994, Gerety was president of Trinity College in Hartford, Conn. While there, he turned the college decisively toward its inner-city environment and helped develop the strategic plans for magnet schools and other city-suburban collaborations that Trinity maintains today.
Before assuming the presidency at Trinity, Gerety was dean of the College of Law at the University of Cincinnati. Earlier, he was a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh and a visiting professor of constitutional law and jurisprudence at Stanford Law School.
Gerety holds a J.D. from Yale Law School. He also earned doctorate and masters degrees in philosophy from Yale.
At the Brennan Center, Gerety succeeds E. Joshua Rosenkranz, who helped found the Center in 1995 and who is responsible for building the Center to its present form. The Center's mission is to develop and implement an innovative, nonpartisan agenda of scholarship, public education and legal action that promotes equality and human dignity while safeguarding fundamental freedoms.
The Brennan Center's Website is http://www.brennancenter.org/.