Michael Elliott ’92 has had a lot of A’s in his lifetime. In Johnson Chapel on Thursday, for his first on-campus remarks since being named the College’s next president, he spoke about growing up in Arizona, his career spent in Atlanta (as a professor of English and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Emory University) and his upcoming arrival, in August, at Amherst.
During his talk, he noted how the Grand Canyon State had something in common with the College. In the Sonoran Desert, “if you wander off to the wrong trail, you fall into the wrong plant, you forget your sunscreen or your water, you’re not going to last very long,” he said. “It takes a certain kind of optimism and maybe even naiveté to try to make a home there and thrive. And I think it was that spirit of optimism and ambition, maybe naiveté, that I loved so much about Amherst College and that I still love so much about Amherst College.”
He continued about Amherst: “There is a utopian ambitious streak to this place that is never satisfied with what it is and that always strives to be something more. This is a place where we still believe that a liberal arts education, the creativity, the wide range of knowledge the liberal arts provides, the curiosity-driven discovery, matters in the world. And it matters not just as a private good that individuals receive, but a public good that makes the world a better place.”