Now that the academic year is done, let’s take a look back at some of the most clicked, tweeted, liked and shared bits of Amherst-related news. Here, in approximately chronological order, are the year’s highlights:
1. Amherst is exemplary in recruitment and financial aid
The New York Times, the National Journal, The Washington Post and WBUR all cited Amherst’s leadership among elite colleges in enrolling and supporting low-income students. And President Biddy Martin unveiled four new “access and success” initiatives at a White House summit in January.
2. Frost Library acquires a rare, extensive collection of Native American books
The 1,500-volume Younghee Kim-Wait ’82 Pablo Eisenberg Collection is considered the most complete collection of Native literature and historical materials in existence.
Visitors examine some books in the Younghee Kim-Wait ’82 Pablo Eisenberg Collection.
3. Julie Segre ’87 battles a “superbug” and becomes Federal Employee of the Year
The Amherst alumna and trustee, a senior investigator at the National Human Genome Research Institute, was honored in October with a Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal for using DNA sequencing techniques to stop a deadly bacterial outbreak in 2011.
4. Want a front-office job in Major League Baseball? Go to Amherst!
Bloomberg News, NPR’s Only a Game and The New York Times marveled at the number of Amherst alumni in such positions, including Boston Red Sox General Manager Ben Cherington ’96; Pittsburgh Pirates GM Neal Huntington ’91; and Dan Duquette ’80, executive vice president of baseball operations with the Baltimore Orioles.
Ben Cherington ’96 in Fenway Park in 2007
5. Before her mastectomy, Deb Cohan ’90 gets the whole world dancing
Millions have watched the YouTube video of Cohan and her surgical team rocking their bodies to Beyoncé. Cohan later told Amherst magazine that dancing is “my most direct way of accessing and expressing my emotions.”
6. Katie Fretwell ’81 is chosen to succeed retiring Dean of Admission and Financial Aid Tom Parker
Parker’s retirement ends an illustrious 15-year career at the college. Fretwell, who has worked in the Admission Office for nearly 25 years, will step into her new position on July 1.
Katie Fretwell '81
7. Amherst physicists create magnetic monopoles in the lab
Professor of Physics David S. Hall ’91, Postdoctoral Research Associate Michael Ray, Saugat Kandel ’12 and collaborators from Finland published a paper in Nature about their unprecedented accomplishment, which confirms an 85-year-old theory and provides insight into the possibility of natural single-pole magnetic particles.
Professor of Physics David S. Hall ’91 (left) and Postdoctoral Research Associate Michael Ray
8. Oprah dons Amherst attire
When does a simple Amherst shirt become big news? When Oprah Winfrey wears it in an Instagram photo. Everybody loves her in the color purple!
9. Professor Austin Sarat and former students publish Gruesome Spectacles: Botched Executions and America’s Death Penalty
The book grew out of Sarat’s 2011 Mellon Seminar and is based on extensive research by Kate Blumstein ’13, Heather Richard ’13, Aubrey Jones ’13 and Madeline Sprung-Keyser ’13 into 120 years of executions in the United States. It reveals that a troublingly high percentage of them go wrong. The Chronicle of Higher Education highlighted the research, and Sarat discussed the implications in the Providence Journal and on HuffPost Live.
From left: Madeline Sprung-Keyser ’13, Professor Austin Sarat and Aubrey Jones ’13
10. Alumni Zumbyes put on a surprise concert for Angela Pratt ’11
Friends arranged for them to gather in New York City to sing for her bachelorette party.
11. Professor Catherine Sanderson teaches the secrets to happiness
Sanderson, the James E. Ostendarp Professor of Psychology, offers popular lectures on the psychology of happiness through One Day University and at Amherst.
Professor Catherine Sanderson
12. Students and young alums rake in scholarships and fellowships
First Christopher Finch ’14 and Terrence Cullen ’13 won prestigious scholarships to Cambridge. Next came the announcement of Watson Fellowships that will take Meghna Sridhar ’14 and Gus Greenstein ’14 around the world. After that, three juniors were honored by the Goldwater and Truman Scholarship programs. Then Yun (Nancy) Tang ’14 was named a Carnegie Fellow. Finally, a record 15 Amherst seniors and graduates received Fulbright Fellowships to teach and study abroad. Phew!
Pierre Joseph '15, who won a Truman Scholarship
13. Moose on the loose!
Twitter went wild over President Biddy Martin’s photo of a moose near her house on May 15. Within days, the moose had its own Twitter feed, and some students, faculty and alumni began rooting for a new Amherst “moosecot.” (Bearly two weeks later, during Reunion, another large visitor showed up in the Wildlife Sanctuary.)
The photo that President Biddy Martin tweeted of the moose outside her home, titled "Moose by Martin"
14. Men’s tennis team become NCAA national champs
The fourth-ranked Amherst team won the title for only the second time in program history, defeating top-ranked Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in Claremont, Calif., in May. In addition, women’s tennis finished as national runner-up, Joey Fritz ’14 of men’s tennis won the individual singles national championship, Jordan Brewer ’14 of women’s tennis finished as the national runner-up in the individual singles championship, and Brewer and Gabby Devlin ’14 won their third straight doubles national championship.
The Amherst men's tennis team poses with their NCAA championship T-shirts and trophies.