“Poetry in the Garden” at Emily Dickinson Museum July 9, 16 and 23

June 29, 2006
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—“Poetry in the Garden” returns to the Emily Dickinson Museum: The Homestead and The Evergreens, on three Sundays this summer. The series of readings will take place in the garden at the Dickinson Homestead (280 Main Street.) At 2 p.m. on Sunday, July 9, Margaret Lloyd, professor of English at Springfield College, will present “Emily Dickinson and the Soul.” At 2 p.m. on Sunday, July 16, David Porter will read poems on the theme “Traveling the Reader’s Mind, and the World, with Emily Dickinson.” At 2 p.m. on Sunday, July 23 “Emily Dickinson and Geography” will be the focus of Sarah Willburn of Trinity College. The readings are free and open to the public. Parking is available on Main Street and side streets in downtown Amherst. Some seating will be provided, but audience members are invited to bring blankets or lawn chairs. In the case of rain, the events will move indoors.

Tricia Gilrein, the museum’s program coordinator, says the “Poetry in the Garden” series is a patchwork of blankets, bonnets and baby carriages on the museum grounds under the summer sky. “The poetry series is a terrific way to lounge on a weekend afternoon. Taking in poetry in a relaxed setting like the garden is the perfect way to enjoy Emily Dickinson.”

Margaret Lloyd chairs the Humanities Department at Springfield College, where she has taught since 1987. She has published a book of poems, This Particular Earthly Scene, and has published widely in poetry journals and four anthologies. She has recently completed a book-length cycle of poems, A Moment in the Field, centering on Arthurian Legend and myth.

David Porter is professor emeritus of English at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He is author of The Art of Emily Dickinson’s Early Poetry, and Dickinson: The Modern Idiom.

Sarah Willburn is a visiting assistant professor at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., and has recently completed her first book, Possessed Victorians: Extra Spheres in Nineteenth-Century Mystical Writings, which examines the way in which mysticism and liberalism shapes the nineteenth-century individual in literary and non-fiction accounts.

The Emily Dickinson Museum, comprising the Dickinson Homestead and The Evergreens, two historic houses in Amherst, is devoted to the story and legacy of poet Emily Dickinson and her family. The Dickinson Homestead was the birthplace and residence of the poet (1830-1886). The Evergreens was the 1856 home of the poet’s brother and sister-in-law, Austin and Susan Dickinson. Merged into a single museum in 2003, both properties are owned by the Trustees of Amherst College. For more information, contact the museum at 413/542-8161 or visit the museum’s website.

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Anti-Slavery Talk Given at Amherst College to be Preserved by Library of Congress

June 23, 2006
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—The African Section of the African and Middle Eastern Division of the United States Library of Congress has selected the audio recording of a February 23 Amherst College talk by activist Francis Bok for inclusion in its historic collection of Internet materials related to the crisis in Darfur, Sudan. The talk was recorded by the Amherst Recording Council. ARC was founded by Nick Doty (Amherst ’06) in the spring of 2004 to record lectures and events on campus, so that the college might have “a record of the various and interesting goings on” and “remember as an intellectual community, including students, professors and alumni, the richness and diversity of opinion, polemic, reflection and creativity that we are so fortunate to possess.”

The Library of Congress preserves cultural artifacts and provides access to them. The library’s traditional functions (namely, acquiring, cataloging, preserving and serving collection materials of historical importance to the Congress and the American people in order to foster education and scholarship) extend to digital materials, including Websites. The library will provide a link to the Amherst College Website, and make this link available to researchers everywhere by hosting the collection on its public access Website. The talk is now available at www.amherst.edu/arc/audio/darfur.

A native of Southern Sudan, Bok was captured and enslaved at the age of seven, during an Arab militia raid on the village of Nymlal in 1986. Ten years later he escaped to Cairo. In 1999, the United Nations resettled him in North Dakota.

Bok is now an associate at the American Anti-Slavery Group in Boston and has been featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, in The New York Time, Essence and dozens of other newspapers, radio and television shows. His autobiography, Escape From Slavery, has received outstanding reviews from Entertainment Weekly, Publisher’s Weekly, The Boston Globe and the San Francisco Chronicle.

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Suzanne R. Coffey Is Named Athletic Director at Amherst College

June 15, 2006
Director of Media Relations
(413) 542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—Suzanne R. Coffey, director of athletics and associate professor of physical education at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, has been named athletic director at Amherst College. Her appointment is effective August 1.

As Amherst’s athletic director, Coffey will lead the nation’s oldest intercollegiate athletic program and oversee a broad program of instructional, competitive and recreational opportunities for the entire Amherst College community. Amherst’s 27 sport teams compete in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) and in the NCAA Division III.

"Known for her commitment to the integration of scholar-athletes into the wider academic community at Bates, Suzanne Coffey brings a distinguished record of achievement to Amherst,” remarked Gregory S. Call, Amherst’s dean of the faculty. "Her leadership within NESCAC and on the NCAA Division III Management Council has demonstrated not only a keen knowledge of the fundamental issues facing collegiate athletics at highly selective institutions, but also a willingness to seek innovative solutions. Through its particular ability to build community, and to extend lessons in discipline and imagination beyond the classroom, athletics plays a central role for many in an Amherst education. I look forward to the work Suzanne and I will do in collaboration with our faculty, coaches and students to ensure that our physical education and athletics program further enhances the intellectual and social experience for all of our students.”

“For a new athletics director, Amherst’s preeminence creates great opportunity and responsibility,” said Coffey. “The opportunity is to work with talented coaches and administrators as their strongest advocate and collaborator, one who ensures that we have the best environment of mutual support, teamwork and partnership. The responsibility is to make certain that Amherst athletics remains the ideal, a program where athletes seek excellence on the field, embrace a campus culture of intellectual inquiry off the field, and lead by example in being aware of the world beyond.”

Dale Peterson, the Eliza J. Clark Folger Professor of English and Russian at Amherst chair of the AD search committee, said, “All the members of the search committee are well pleased with the outcome of this search. We interviewed a select group of highly qualified candidates, none more so than Suzanne Coffey. We are confident that she will experience great success in leading Amherst’s highly respected athletic program. Her proven leadership within NESCAC and the NCAA, and her open and responsive dialogue with the campus community, bode well for the harmonious integration of athletics and academic excellence at Amherst College.”

Coffey has taught and been a member of the Athletics Department at Bates since 1985, when she was named associate director of athletics, assistant professor of physical education and head coach of the women’s lacrosse team. She was promoted to associate professor in 1995, and was named athletic director in 1991, after serving as interim AD the year before. In her 15 years as athletic director at Bates, she successfully administered 30 intercollegiate teams and 12 competitive club sports programs that annually involved more than 60 percent of the Bates student population. She oversaw expansion of Bates’ athletic facilities and served on campus committees related to diversity and the campus master plan.

Coffey is also a national leader in collegiate athletics. currently a member of the NCAA’s association-wide Diversity Leadership Task Force, Coffey held the top Division III post as chair of the management Council in 2004-05. In 2003-04, she was vice chair of the council and a member of key working groups that formulated NCAA reforms designed to align practices at member institutions more closely with Division III philosophy. She has also served on the association-wide Executive Committee, as well as the Championships and Budget committees. She is active in enhancing educational development opportunities for student-athletes at the regional and national level, and since March has served as interim vice president of the Institute for International Sport, in Kingston, R.I., where she is commissioner of the 2006 World Scholar-Athlete Games. In 2005, the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics selected Coffey as its Northeast Region Athletics Director of the Year.

The parent of Brad Coffey ’04, a computer science major who played varsity soccer for the Lord Jeffs, Coffey earned a B.A. degree in studio art from the University of New Hampshire, and received a master’s in public policy from the Edmund Muskie School of Public Service at the University of Southern Maine, where she currently is a doctoral candidate.

Before she began work at Bates, Coffey coached for two years at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, and for two years at the University of New Hampshire.

Dean of the Faculty Greg Call noted, “Women’s volleyball coach Sue Everden and men’s basketball coach David Hixon ’75 deserve the community’s special thanks for their excellent work as acting co-directors of athletics over the past year. I would also like to acknowledge once again the remarkable contributions of Peter Gooding, who stepped down as director of athletics last June after 27 years, and who continues to serve as head coach of men’s soccer. Peter and his talented coaching colleagues have established a tradition of excellence in Amherst’s athletic program on which we will build.”

Amherst’s athletics program is the oldest in the nation and has consistently served as a model for integrating successful athletics with outstanding academics. One third of Amherst’s students participate in varsity sports, and 80 percent are active in club and intramural sports. Amherst’s 27 varsity teams compete in the New England Small Athletic Conference and NCAA Division III, and regularly finish among the top schools in competition for the U.S. Sports Academy’s Director’s Cup.

Founded in 1821 for “the education of indigent young men of piety and talents,” Amherst College is now widely regarded as the premier liberal arts college in the nation, enrolling a diverse group of approximately 1,600 young men and women. Well known for its academic excellence, Amherst is also consistently ranked among the very best schools in the country in terms of accessibility: The college’s financial aid packages are consistently the most generous in the U.S., and among its peer universities and colleges Amherst has the greatest economic diversity. Diversity, in its broadest sense, is fundamental to Amherst’s mission. The college enrolls students from every state and more than 40 countries, and for the past several years more than 35 percent of Amherst’s students have been students of color. Amherst offers the B.A. degree in 33 fields of study.

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19th-Century Children’s Circus at Dickinson Museum July 1

June 9, 2006
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—The Emily Dickinson Museum will celebrate the 150th anniversary of The Evergreens from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, July 1, with ‘“Creatures of Bliss and Mystery’: A 19th-Century Children’s Circus and Open House.” The festivities are free and open to the public. During the event visitors will also be able to take the museum’s new visitor tour, “This was a Poet” at half-price.

The museum’s circus attractions will include tightrope walking, stilt walking, a ring toss, face painting and a magic show by historical magician Robert Olsen, who will perform famous feats from the 19th century.

“Inspired by a traveling circus, the Dickinson children put together their own version of a backyard circus with the help of their friends. The tree swing easily became a trapeze, the neighborhood pets became the circus menagerie, and a board laid across barrels turned into circus horses,” Jane Wald, the museum’s director of resources and collections, explained. “Our program, which coincides with the museum’s annual Amherst Day, will honor the spirit of the children, while educating the public about the collections and importance of The Evergreens to the Dickinson legacy.”

The Evergreens was built by Edward Dickinson, Emily and Austin’s father, on the occasion of Austin’s marriage to Susan Gilbert, which took place on July 1, 1856. The home, just west of the Homestead, was designed by well-known Northampton builder and architect William Fenno Pratt. The Evergreens is one of the earliest and best-preserved examples of Italianate domestic architecture in Amherst, and under the direction of Susan Dickinson, the home became a center of the town’s social and cultural life, reflecting the wide-ranging aesthetic and intellectual interests of the entire family.

“This was a Poet,” a new visitor experience introduced this year, is an introduction to Emily Dickinson and her poetry. The new tour is suitable for families with children and for visitors whose interest in Dickinson is just beginning. Visitors tour The Homestead to learn about the poet’s daily life and to experience the power of her work. Roughly 30 minutes long, the tour concludes outside with a short poetry reading under the Homestead’s oak tree.

The Emily Dickinson Museum, 280 Main Street, comprising the Dickinson Homestead and The Evergreens, two historic houses in Amherst, is devoted to the story and legacy of poet Emily Dickinson and her family. Merged into a single museum in 2003, both properties are owned by the Trustees of Amherst College. For more information Please visit the Emily Dickinson Museum's website.

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Curious Footprints: New Book by Nancy Pick and Frank Ward about Amherst College’s Dinosaur Tracks and Natural History Collection

June 9, 2006
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—Few people realize that Amherst College holds the world’s largest collection of dinosaur tracks. A new book explores how an evangelical minister (and college president) named Edward Hitchcock assembled that collection in the mid-1800s, while arguing that the tracks were made not by dinosaurs but by gigantic ancient birds. Curious Footprints: Professor Hitchcock’s Dinosaur Tracks and Other Natural History Treasures at Amherst College ($20, paper, 121 pp., Amherst College Press, Amherst, Mass. 2006) combines a charming biographical sketch of Hitchcock, written by Nancy Pick, with Frank Ward’s stunning color photographs of the college’s broader natural history collections. In his images, Ward captures the humor in a pair of dried pufferfish and the mystery in a shrouded skeleton of a gibbon.

Edward Hitchcock (1793-1864) was a thoroughly remarkable man. Although he never attended college, he rose to the presidency of Amherst College and became one of America’s best-known geologists. He corresponded with Charles Darwin and other eminent scientists, while shaping the education of none other than Emily Dickinson. He wrote in every conceivable genre—from poetry to scientific treatise to health-food tract — and, in the decades before Darwin’s Origin of Species, made a heroic effort to reconcile Christianity with science. “I confess I find myself drawn to you,” writes Pick, in an opening letter to Hitchcock. “You were brilliant. From the backwater of Amherst, you established a reputation even in London. And yet you were vulnerable, a little tortured, often endearingly wrong.”

A 1983 graduate of Amherst College, Nancy Pick is the author of The Rarest of the Rare: Stories Behind the Treasures at the Harvard Museum of Natural History, named one of the best science books of 2004 by Discover magazine. She has written about Edward Hitchcock for Gastronomica and the Boston Globe Magazine. Frank Ward, the Amherst College photographer for 22 years, has taught photography there and at Smith College and is now a professor of photography at Holyoke Community College. His work has appeared in Oprah magazine, Dance magazine and The New York Times.

The images in Curious Footprints were taken in the old Pratt Museum of Natural History at Amherst, before its collections were transferred to the recently opened Amherst College Museum of Natural History.

Curious Footprints is available for $20 from Amherst College Press, 413/542-2321.

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Horticulturalist Marta McDowell to Speak on Emily Dickinson’s Gardens June 25

June 7, 2006
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—The Emily Dickinson Museum: The Homestead and The Evergreens presents a lecture and garden walk by landscape historian and author Marta McDowell at 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 25, at the Amherst Woman’s Club at 35 Triangle St. in Amherst. The garden walk will follow on the Museum grounds, at 280 Main Street, directly across the street.

Advance registration for the two-hour program is required. The program fee is $15; $12 if purchased in conjunction with a ticket for the Amherst History Museum Garden Tour, which takes place on Saturday, June 24. Please call 413/542-2034 for more information.

McDowell is the author of Emily Dickinson’s Gardens. Her book explores the flowers and poems of the poet, containing memorable and rarely anthologized excerpts of Dickinson’s poetry in addition to letters and historical details emphasizing the poet’s horticultural interest. She is staff horticulturalist at the Reeves-Reed Arboretum (RRA) in Summit, N.J., and is a teacher of landscape history at RRA, the New York Botanical Garden and Drew University in Madison, N.J. McDowell has written for Woman’s Day, Gardening and Outdoor Living, Hortus, New Jersey Monthly and The New York Times.

The Emily Dickinson Museum, made up of the Dickinson Homestead and The Evergreens, two historic houses in Amherst, is devoted to the story and legacy of poet Emily Dickinson and her family. The Dickinson Homestead was the birthplace and residence of the poet (1830-1886). The Evergreens was the 1856 home of the poet’s brother and sister-in-law, Austin and Susan Dickinson. Merged into a single museum in 2003, both properties are owned by the Trustees of Amherst College. For more information, please visit the Emily Dickinson Museum’s website.

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Laura J. Yerkovich ’80 Elected Trustee at Amherst College

June 7, 2006
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—The alumni of Amherst College have elected Laura J. Yerkovich, a geologist, investment banker, homemaker and member of the Class of 1980, to a six-year term on the college’s Board of Trustees effective July 1. Yerkovich is a resident of New York City.

Born in Buffalo in 1958, Yerkovich graduated from Nichols School and entered Amherst College in 1976 as a member of the first co-ed first-year class, and received a B.A. in geology in 1980. She worked as a petroleum geologist in Texas, Colorado and Montana after graduation. After receiving her M.B.A. from The University of Texas at Austin in 1987, Yerkovich joined the Global Energy Group of The Chase Manhattan Bank, where she provided financing and mergers and acquisitions advice to corporate clients in the energy sector worldwide. Later, as a managing director in investment banking at Chase, she led a team responsible for arranging financing for projects including power plants, pipelines, refineries and major league ballparks.

Yerkovich retired from Chase in 1998 after the birth of her first child and moved to Berkeley, Calif. with her family. In Berkeley, she was a full-time homemaker and active volunteer at her church and her children’s schools. She and her family returned to New York City last year.

An active volunteer for Amherst College for more than 20 years, Yerkovich currently serves as co-chair of the Annual Fund and received the college’s Distinguished Service Award as an individual (1995) and a member of the Class of 1980 (2005). She has served on numerous alumni committees, including the Trustee Nominating Committee and the Executive Committee of the Alumni Council.

The Board of Trustees of Amherst College consists of the president of the college, ex officio, and 20 other members: 14 term trustees, elected by the board, and six alumni trustees elected by alumni of the college. Founded in 1821, Amherst is one of the nation’s leading liberal arts colleges, with 1,650 undergraduates.

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