April 17, 2012

AMHERST, Mass.—Amherst College President Biddy Martin has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the organization has announced. Martin joins 219 other new members, whom the Academy describes as “the world’s most accomplished leaders from academia, business, public affairs, the humanities and the arts.”

She will be inducted with the rest of the 2012 class—which includes her predecessor and former president Anthony W. Marx—at a ceremony on Oct. 6 at the organization’s headquarters in Cambridge, Mass. Other members of the Academy with Amherst connections include William H. Pritchard ’53, Henry Clay Folger Professor of English; Amos B. Hostetter Jr. '58, chairman of Pilot House Venture Group; Harold Varmus ’61, director of the National Cancer Institute; David Kessler ’73, professor of pediatrics and epidemiology and biostatistics at the School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco; and trustees Danielle S. Allen and Howard Gardner, to name just a few.

“I am honored to have been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences,” said Martin. “I thank the members for this recognition.” 


One of the nation’s most prestigious honorary societies, the Academy is a leading center for independent policy research. Members contribute to publications and studies of science and technology policy, energy and global security, social policy and American institutions, the humanities and culture and education.

“Election to the Academy is both an honor for extraordinary accomplishment and a call to serve,” said Academy President Leslie C. Berlowitz. “We look forward to drawing on the knowledge and expertise of these distinguished men and women to advance solutions to the pressing policy challenges of the day.”

Since its founding in 1780, the Academy has elected leading “thinkers and doers” from each generation, including George Washington and Benjamin Franklin in the 18th century, Daniel Webster and Ralph Waldo Emerson in the 19th and Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill in the 20th. The current membership includes more than 250 Nobel laureates and more than 60 Pulitzer Prize winners.

This year’s new members are winners of the National Medal of Science, Lasker Award, Pulitzer and Shaw prizes, Avery Fisher Prize and Fields Medal; recipients of MacArthur and Guggenheim fellowships; Kennedy Center honorees; Grammy, Emmy, Academy and Tony award winners; and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees. In addition to Martin, the 2012 inductees include Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and screenwriter Neil Simon; film icons Clint Eastwood and Mel Brooks; U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton; Amazon.com founder Jeffrey Bezos; businesswoman and philanthropist Melinda Gates; recording artist Paul McCartney; oncologist Brian Druker, whose research dramatically improved survival rates for leukemia patients; and George F. Bass, a pioneer in underwater archaeology, to name a few. (An alphabetical list of the 220 new members can be found at www.amacad.org/news/alphalist2012.pdf. The new class is listed by discipline at www.amacad.org/news/classlist2012.pdf.)

Elected the 19th president of Amherst in June 2011, Martin previously served as chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison since 2008 and as Cornell University’s provost from 2000 to 2008. A distinguished scholar of German studies and the author of numerous articles and two books—one on a literary and cultural figure in the Freud circle, Lou Andreas-Salomé, and a second on gender theory—Martin served on the faculty of Cornell for more than two decades. She began as an assistant professor of German studies and women’s studies, earned tenure in 1991 and eventually served as chair of the German studies department, senior associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences and provost from 2000 to 2008. As chancellor at UW-Madison, she led successful initiatives to increase need-based financial aid, improve undergraduate education and enhance research. She also spearheaded an effort to gain greater operating flexibility and increased autonomy for Wisconsin’s flagship campus.

A graduate of the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va., where she majored in English literature and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Martin earned an M.A. in German literature from Middlebury College’s program in Mainz, Germany, and her Ph.D. in German literature, in 1985, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.