December 30, 2010

With the new year upon us, the Office of Public Affairs staff has compiled a list of our favorite Amherst College stories from the past 12 months. Here are a handful of pieces in chronological order that surprised us, inspired us, got us thinking or simply reminded us of the excellence of the Amherst community:

Mead Launches Project to Conserve Rare Tibetan TangkasIn January, the Mead Art Museum announced that it had embarked on an ambitious project to conserve six Tibetan tangkas, cloth paintings of Buddhist deities mounted on silk scrolls. The project will eventually allow the long-hidden treasures—whose fragile condition has rendered them virtually inaccessible to scholars and other museum visitors for more than half a century—to be handled safely, studied and displayed.

A Decade of PaintingRobert Sweeney, who has taught painting and drawing in the Department of Art and the History of Art for more than 30 years, exhibited his work from the past decade in the Eli Marsh Gallery Jan. 28 through Feb. 14. Sweeney discussed his work in a lengthy gallery talk on Jan. 29.

Women’s Basketball Edges Williams in NCAA ThrillerIn perhaps the most exciting game of the 2009-2010 season, the women's basketball squad earned a 71-66 win over archrival Williams to advance to the NCAA Quarterfinals in March. The then-30-0 Lord Jeffs, who overcame a 12-point halftime deficit and trailed by as many as 15 during that game, ended the year ranked third in the nation. They also logged a 32-1 record, registering the most wins in any season in Amherst basketball history. 

2010 graphic

Women’s Hockey Team Wins National Championship, AgainWith a 7-2 victory over Norwich University, the top-ranked women’s ice hockey team won the NCAA Championship for the second time in as many years. The Lord Jeffs wrapped up yet another spectacular season with a 23-2-4 record.

Swim Teams Each Place Among Top Six at NCAA ChampionshipsRyan Lichtenfels '12 swam one of the most dominant races in program history and Kendra Stern '11 broke her own national record in the 100-yard freestyle to lead Amherst on the final day of the NCAA Championships in March. The Lord Jeff men placed fifth, while the women finished sixth.

Proving DarwinBiology professor Ethan Temeles and his colleagues published two papers that offered new knowledge about how hummingbirds function and also provided strong support for Charles Darwin’s famous theories of natural and sexual selection.

2010’s Most-Read Web Stories

Thanks to Web analytics, tracking what news articles on the site garnered the largest number of eyeballs can be done with just a click of the mouse. Below are the headlines that generated the most page views during the year, in no particular order:

A Record 12 Amherst Seniors or Recent Graduates Win Fulbright Fellowships

The Class of 2010 and Commencement Weekend, by the Numbers

Amherst Inn Company Awards Contract to Standard Builders for Lord Jeffery Inn Renovation Project

Senior Elias Aba Milki Awarded Watson Fellowship to Study Hip-Hop and Healing

Three actors wielding baseball bats destroy 14 life-size portrait heads, but don’t worry: it’s art.

Senior Clare Howard Awarded 2010 Gates Cambridge Scholarship

Top Guns

Philosophy question? There’s an app for that

Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales, Poet Mary Jo Salter, Nobel Laureate Paul Nurse Among Eight to Be Honored at Amherst Commencement

Summer is time to kick college search into gear, Amherst College admission director says

Dueling: Dangerous and Rational? Viewed through a modern lens, the duels of centuries past appear to be extremely irrational acts. But economics professor Chris Kingston concluded in a paper he published this year that the individuals who played these dangerous games did so for very rational reasons. His research even piqued the interest of Freakonomics bloggers Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Leavitt, who posted an item about it on their New York Times blog.

Lord Jeff Contract Awarded; Work on Inn Begins Newington, Conn.-based Standard Builders was awarded the contract for the Lord Jeffery Inn renovations in May. The $14 million project, the most extensive rehab of the Lord Jeff since its opening more than 80 years ago, is slated for completion in the summer of 2011.

Miraculous Comeback Over Emory Puts Amherst Men’s Tennis in NCAA SemifinalsAfter being swept in doubles play and having its back to the wall in singles, the Amherst men's tennis team rallied for a 5-4 win over Emory in the NCAA Quarterfinals to mark one of the most amazing performances in school history.

Professor Honored by Russia
In June, 50 friends and colleagues met in the intimate, book-lined Center for Russian Culture at Amherst to watch Russian consul general Hon. Andrey K. Yushmanov present Professor William Taubman with one of Russia’s top civilian medals.

Environmental Economist Finds That Conserving Land May Be Good for the Economy – As the oil spill clean-up effort in the Gulf of Mexico raged during the summer, Kate Sims had some promising news for proponents of environmental regulation: A study of hers found that the protection of land areas in Thailand actually helped the economies of nearby communities.

Historian Profiles a “Model Nazi”Model Nazi, history professor Catherine Epstein’s book about Arthur Greiser, shed light on a relatively unknown yet influential figure in Nazi Germany—the man who initiated the first mass gassing of Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe.

Minding the Gap – Amherst’s Office of Admission reported this summer that growing numbers of students of all backgrounds who have been admitted to Amherst are choosing to defer their schooling and spend several months working, volunteering and traveling, among other activities. The consensus is that these “gap years” are time well-spent.

Marx Announces Departure – Amherst College President Anthony W. Marx alerted the community in October that he will resign on June 30, 2011, after eight years as head of the college, to become president of the New York Public Library.

Football Posts Record-Breaking Day During 70-49 Win Over Tufts – The football team put on quite the show at Pratt Field against Tufts University, using 367 rushing yards to tie a program record for longest winning streak (14) with a 70-49 win over the college.

A Long-Awaited Latino Literature Anthology Debuts – Thirteen years in the making and covering more than 400 years of writings by 201 writers, professor Ilan Stavans’ Norton Anthology of Latino Literature was an audacious effort to ensure that Latino voices become an integral part of our collective culture. Stavans discussed the book in a Q&A and audio interview on the college’s website, as well as with the National Public Radio program On Point.

NPR Personality Garrison Keillor Hosts Benefit for Dickinson Museum on Campus – “Because I could not stop my bike, I ran into a tree.” So said Keillor at his benefit performance for the Emily Dickinson Museum on Dec. 9. In addition to reciting parodies of Dickinson poems, Keillor sang about “the most famous shy person in America” and offered his take on her well-known reclusiveness.