Submitted by Patricia M. Allen

September 4, 2007
Contact: EmanuelCostache
Public Affairs Intern
Stacey Schmeidel
Director of Public Affairs

New Center for Community Engagement Will Open with Sept. 8 Panels on Education, Affordable Housing, Healthy Communities, America’s Prison System

AMHERST, Mass.—To celebrate the opening of the new Center for Community Engagement, Amherst College will host four panel discussions—on America’s prison system, public education, affordable housing and healthy communities—on Saturday, Sept. 8. Featuring national and local leaders, the discussions will take place at 11:45 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. in locations across campus. The events are open to the public at no charge.

A full schedule is below, and biographical information about the panelists follows.

– 11:45 a.m., Pruyne Lecture Hall (Fayerweather 115), “Pathways to College: Feeding the K-16 Pipeline.” Panelists are Wendy Kohler, executive director of program development, Amherst Regional Public Schools; Mike Morris ’00, 5th/6th-grade teacher, Fort River School, Amherst; and Rhonda Cobham-Sander, professor of English and black studies at Amherst College.

– 11:45 a.m., Cole Assembly Room, Converse Hall, “Inside-Out: Educating America’s Prisoners.” Panelists are Phil Scraton, professor of criminology and social justice at the Institute of Criminology and Social Justice, Queen’s University, Belfast; and Kristin Bumiller, professor of political science and women’s and gender studies at Amherst College.

– 2:30 p.m., Cole Assembly Room, Converse Hall, “Affordable Housing: Transforming People, Buildings and Communities.” Panelists are Rosanne Haggerty ’82, founder and president, Common Ground; and MJ Adams, executive director, Pioneer Valley Habitat for Humanity. Scott Laidlaw, director of community outreach at Amherst College, will moderate the panel.

– 2:30 p.m., Pruyne Lecture Hall (Fayerweather 115), “Planning for Healthy Communities.” Panelists are Tom Wolff, founder, Healthy Communities Massachusetts; Betty Medina Lichtenstein, executive director, Enlace de Familias; and Carleen Basler, assistant professor of American studies and sociology at Amherst College.

Kristin Bumiller teaches an Amherst College class that enrolls an equal number of Amherst College students and residents of the Hampshire County House of Corrections. She has been a member of the Amherst College faculty since 1989.

In addition to his ongoing research and teaching at Queen’s University, Belfast, Phil Scraton is the author of nearly a dozen books on criminal investigations, disaster analysis and the criminalization and marginalization of youth. His new book, Power, Conflict and Criminalisation, will be published by Routledge in 2007.

Wendy Kohler manages all grants development for Amherst Public Schools and supervises district-wide programs. She also supervises the public schools’ cooperation with Amherst’s town agencies, the colleges and the university.

Mike Morris ’00 is director of the Pipeline Project, a joint academic enrichment program between Amherst College and Amherst Public Schools. Last year, the Pipeline Project brought 60 students from modest backgrounds to Amherst College twice a week for tutoring and exposure to art, music and culture. The project also encourages parent participation and includes a summer program.

In addition to serving on the Amherst College faculty, Rhonda Cobham-Sander is the special assistant to the president for diversity at Amherst College. She regularly teaches courses in African-American and Caribbean fiction and poetry.

A life trustee of Amherst College, Rosanne Haggerty ’82 established Common Ground in New York City to solve homelessness by moving people out of shelters and into homes while providing support for employment and health care. Her work with Common Ground earned her a prestigious MacArthur “genius grant.” Common Ground now has expanded to include programs in New York’s Hudson Valley and Connecticut.

Under the direction of MJ Adams the Pioneer Valley Habitat for Humanity is in the second year of a four-year partnership with Amherst College. The college has donated three acres of land where four homes will be built, one each year. Students, faculty and staff have and will continue to provide volunteer labor for the project; the first home will be finished later this calendar year, and a wall-raising will be held at the second home on Saturday, Sept. 8.

Tom Wolff has more than 30 years’ experience as a consultant on coalition building and community development across North America. He founded Healthy Communities Massachusetts in 1994 as a statewide network aimed at supporting community development efforts across the commonwealth.

Betty Medina Lichtenstein is executive director of Enlace de Familias, a community organization in Holyoke whose mission is to support families in ways that reflect the diversity of individual families. She is also founder of the Holyoke Community Charter School.

A member of the Amherst College faculty since 2003, Carleen Basler teaches and conducts research on topics related to race and ethnicity, Latin identity, social stratification, immigration and social movements. Most of her published works center on Mexican and Mexican-American ethnic and political identity.

Amherst College’s Center for Community Engagement was established to encourage the integration of ideals and action by involving hundreds of Amherst College students in community service through linked curricular and co-curricular programs. The center was established with a seven-year investment by the Argosy Foundation, led by John Abele ’59.