Angie Tissi-Gassoway is Named Amherst College’s Chief Student Affairs Officer and Dean of Students

Angie Tissi-Gassoway (AMHERST, Mass., March 21, 2023) — Amherst College today named Angie Tissi-Gassoway its new Chief Student Affairs Officer (CSAO) and Dean of Students. She will be responsible for all functions of the Office of Student Affairs, including residential engagement and wellbeing; housing and operations; identity and cultural resources; counseling and mental health; student activities and leadership; health and community safety services; accessibility; case management; community standards; new student programs and orientation; and immigration and visa services. The appointment is effective immediately. Tissi-Gassoway has served as the interim CSAO since February of this year, before which they served as the interim Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer for 14 months.

Tissi-Gassoway joined Amherst in July 2012 as an area coordinator in Residential Life and, since then, has held various roles in the offices of both Student Affairs and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), including Director of the Queer Resource Center; Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Identity and Cultural Resources; and Associate Dean of Students for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Amherst College Names Michael Thomas Its New Chief Financial and Administrative Officer

Mike Thomas (AMHERST, Mass., February 1, 2023) — Amherst College today named Michael Thomas its new Chief Financial and Administrative Officer (CFAO). On the finance side, he will be responsible for all finance functions of the College, including budgeting, accounting, financial reporting, long-range financial planning, and asset, liability, and risk management. On the administrative side, Thomas will oversee facilities, health and safety, and business services (dining and auxiliary), among key operating functions. 

He joins Amherst from Middlebury, where he was Vice President for Administration and Chief Risk Officer for the past two years and Vice President for Finance and Assistant Treasurer for the previous four and a half years. Thomas will report to and serve as a strategic partner to President Michael A. Elliott. His appointment is effective March 27, 2023, and he succeeds former Amherst CFAO Kevin Weinman, who became the president of Marist College in fall 2021.

Acclaimed Authors and Poets Headline Amherst College’s Eighth Annual LitFest

Pulitzer Prize winner Hilton Als and Macarthur Fellowship winner Valeria Luiselli among acclaimed authors and poets to headline LitFest, Feb. 23-26.

Covers of books by authors presenting at the 2023 LitFes, Amherst College. (AMHERST, Mass., Jan. 26, 2022)—From Feb. 23–26, Amherst College will host the eighth annual LitFest, a literary festival celebrating fiction, nonfiction, poetry and spoken-word performance, along with the College’s extraordinary literary life. This year’s lineup includes Pulitzer Prize winner Hilton Als, MacArthur Fellowship winner Valeria Luiselli, and 2022 National Book Award finalists Meghan O’Rourke and Ingrid Rojas Contreras, among others. 

Since its inception in 2016, more than 30 renowned writers—including Michael Chabon, Natalie Diaz, Masha Gessen, Min Jin Lee, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Zadie Smith and Jesmyn Ward—have participated in LitFest, many as a result of a partnership between Amherst College; its award-winning literary magazine, The Common; and the National Book Foundation (NBF) Presents program. More information about the events, the writers and the livestreams is available at The 2023 authors’ schedule is as follows (all times are EST):

Jessica Johnson Announces Retirement From Amherst College

(AMHERST, Mass. – December 19, 2022) — Jessica Johnson has announced that she will retire as head softball coach of Amherst College.

Johnson capped off her career stating, "I owe a debt of gratitude to this game and to everyone who has helped shape me and my career along this two-decade journey. From those who got me started in coaching to those who coached beside me along the way, the far-too-selfless and unsung behind-the-scenes supporters, academic partners and campus resources, conference partners, and regional and national peers, I thank you for it all, to endless depths. And to all the players and families that let me into your lives, I am forever grateful and will forever be in your corner. I am deeply proud of my time and work with each team I have had the privilege to lead, and while I look forward to the opportunity to continue to impact this sport in the future, I am excited to now better align my professional commitments with the needs of my daughter and my mental and physical health.”

Siddhartha V. Shah, Curator and Director of Education and Civic Engagement At the Peabody Essex Museum, is Named Director of The Mead Art Museum at Amherst College

Siddhartha Shah (AMHERST, Mass., Aug. 10, 2022) — Amherst College announced today that Siddhartha V. Shah, director of education and civic engagement and the curator of South Asian art at the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM), has been named the John Wieland 1958 Director of the College’s Mead Art Museum. Shah will take over the reins of the Mead from interim director Michael Kunichika–who is director of the Amherst Center for Russian Culture and an associate professor of Russian at Amherst–on Nov. 15.

In his new role, Shah will oversee the museum’s collections, acquisitions, exhibitions and programs, as well as a variety of initiatives aimed at deepening engagement with the community both on and off campus. He will work closely with faculty members across disciplines to make the Mead’s resources available for their courses, research and creative work; with students to foster their involvement with the museum as interns, docents, artists, scholars and visitors; and with area schools and community organizations to expand programming in the region. In addition, he will serve as the museum’s chief fundraiser.

Amherst College Files Amicus Brief With Supreme Court Supporting the Use of a “Race-conscious” Admissions Process

Amherst College Seal (AMHERST, Mass., Aug. 1, 2022) — Amherst College today filed an amicus curiae brief with the Supreme Court of the United States in support of Harvard College and the University of North Carolina and the legality of a “race-conscious” admissions process. In doing so, Amherst reinforced its steadfast commitment to the educational benefits of diversity and the inclusion of race as one component of many in its holistic consideration of each admission application.

Amherst initiated and coordinated the brief, which details the “compelling interest” of a racially diverse student body for liberal arts colleges, consistent with the Supreme Court’s decision in the landmark Grutter v. Bollinger case nearly 20 years ago. Thirty-two peer institutions joined Amherst as signatories to the brief.

Michael A. Elliott ’92, Professor of English and Dean of The College of Arts and Sciences at Emory University, is Named 20th President of Amherst College

Michael A. Elliott

(AMHERST, Mass., June 1, 2022) — Amherst College announced today that Michael A. Elliott ’92, a professor of English and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Emory University, has been named its 20th president. Elliott will begin his tenure at Amherst on Aug. 1. He succeeds Biddy Martin, who has served as Amherst’s president since 2011 and who announced last year that she would conclude her term in 2022.

The announcement was made in an email to the College community by Andrew J. Nussbaum ’85, chair of the Board of Trustees and of the Presidential Search Committee, which included faculty, students, staff, and trustees. The committee recommended and the board approved, both unanimously, Elliott’s appointment.

Poet Sonia Sanchez, Author Gary Shteyngart Among Eight To Be Honored at Two Amherst College Commencements This Year

A student in commencement regalia leaving the stage after receiving his diploma.

(AMHERST, Mass., April 26, 2022) — Eight influential leaders in business, economics, neuroscience, art curation, geoscience, higher education, poetry and literature will receive honorary degrees from Amherst College during two Commencement exercises this year. The first event, which will celebrate the class of 2022, will take place on Sunday, May 29, at 10 a.m. on the school’s main quad, while the second, a COVID-19-delayed in-person Commencement for the class of 2020, will occur on Saturday, June 11, at 3 p.m. at the same location. Amherst President Biddy Martin will deliver the traditional Commencement addresses—the final two she will give as president of the College—at both ceremonies.

The 2022 honorands will speak in a series of conversations that are free and open to the public on May 28, and the 2020 honorands will make brief remarks during the graduation ceremony on June 10. Schedules for both weekends are available on the Commencement website.

Amherst College Music Department Donates Steinway Piano to the Drake

(AMHERST, Mass., Feb. 21, 2022) – The Drake, the Downtown Amherst Foundation’s (DAF) soon-to-open arts and cultural venue, will be the permanent home of a Steinway & Sons piano, thanks to a gift from the Amherst College Department of Music. The department donated the instrument after the College made a $100,000 gift to The Drake project in January 2022.

The Emily Dickinson Museum Receives $600,000 Commitment for Reconstruction of the Evergreens Carriage House

Challenge gift from John and Elizabeth Armstrong kicks off major $3.5M 20th Anniversary fundraising effort, Twice as Bold, in support of Museum’s long range plan

Elizabeth and John Armstrong (AMHERST, Mass., February 17, 2022) – The Emily Dickinson Museum today announced a major pledge of $600,000 from former Board members and long-time friends John and Elizabeth Armstrong for the design and reconstruction of the Carriage House that once stood to the east of The Evergreens, the home of Emily Dickinson’s brother Austin and his wife Susan. The project flows from a recently-completed long range plan, which maps programmatic and capital enhancements over the next decade at the Museum’s historic downtown Amherst location. By significantly expanding access to the Museum and its programs for both onsite and online visitors, the changes firmly establish the Museum as the premier center for the study and celebration of Dickinson’s life and work, and as a source and site of inspiration for new generations of poets, artists, writers, and thinkers.

Acclaimed Authors and Poets to Headline Amherst College’s Seventh Annual Litfest

Pulitzer Prize Winners Natalie Diaz and Viet Thanh Nguyen Among Acclaimed Authors and Poets to Headline Amherst College’s Seventh Annual Litfest, Feb. 24-27

Amherst College LitFest 2022: Illuminating great writing and Amherst's literary life

(AMHERST, Mass., Jan. 13, 2022)—From Feb. 24-27, Amherst College will host the seventh annual LitFest, a literary festival celebrating fiction, nonfiction, poetry and spoken-word performance, along with the College’s extraordinary literary life. This year’s lineup includes Katie Kitamura and Elizabeth McCracken, both 2021 National Book Award (NBA) nominees; Pulitzer Prize winners Natalie Diaz and Viet Thanh Nguyen; and journalists Vann Newkirk and David Graham, among others. After last year’s pandemic-induced decision to hold the event virtually, the 2022 festival will largely be in-person, with virtual options for many of the sessions. 

Since its inception in 2016, more than 30 renowned writers—including Anne Applebaum, Michael Chabon, Susan Choi, Masha Gessen, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Zadie Smith and Jesmyn Ward—have participated in LitFest, many as a result of a partnership between Amherst College; its award-winning literary magazine, The Common; and the National Book Foundation (NBF) Presents program. More information about the events, the writers and the livestreams is available at The 2022 schedule is as follows (all times are Eastern Standard):

Amherst College and Rashad Devoe Resolve Lawsuit

(Amherst, Mass., Jan. 12, 2022) — Amherst College and Rashad Devoe have resolved the legal claims recently brought by Coach Devoe, the former head coach of Amherst’s men’s lacrosse team.

Amherst College and Coach Devoe are both committed to increasing diversity across collegiate sports, and particularly in men’s lacrosse. They move forward with mutual respect for the work each has done to achieve this goal.

College Makes Bicentennial Donations to Town Library, Arts Venue

Funds to be Split Evenly Between the Jones Library and The Drake, A New Arts and Cultural Hub Being Developed in Downtown Amherst

Aerial view of downtown Amherst, Massachusetts (AMHERST, Mass., Jan. 5, 2022) — Amherst College will make a special $200,000 donation–to mark the occasion of its Bicentennial–to two of the town of Amherst’s important institutions, one historic and another one new. The funds will be split evenly between the 93-year-old Jones Library, which is slated to undergo a major restoration and renovation that was overwhelmingly approved by voters last month, and The Drake, a new arts and cultural performance venue for the downtown district.

 “Amherst College and the Town of Amherst have had a 200-plus-year relationship, beginning with the establishment of a charity fund in 1818 by the citizens of the town to give free instruction to ‘indigent young men of promising talents and hopeful piety,’” said Biddy Martin, president of the College. “As we mark the College’s Bicentennial, our ties to the town remain strong. We are especially pleased to be providing support for two projects that will benefit the town and are also aligned with our mission.”

New Collaborative Solar Facility Goes Online

Facility is a first-of-its-kind collaboration among Amherst and four other leading New England liberal arts colleges

EDITORS’ NOTE: Presidents and other senior leaders from the partnership colleges may be available for interviews. Contact the media relations director at each institution: Amherst (Caroline Hanna, 413/542-8417), Bowdoin (Doug Cook, 207/725-3964), Hampshire (Jennifer Chrisler, 202-276-4311), Smith (Stacey Schmeidel, 704/682-2629), Williams (Greg Shook, 202/329-9075).

Drone footage and high-res images available upon request

solar energy facility

(Amherst, Mass.; Brunswick, Maine; Northampton, Mass.; Williamstown, Mass., Nov. 15, 2021)—An innovative collaborative energy project has started delivering electricity to five New England colleges—and to tens of thousands of students, staff and faculty—as a new solar energy facility has gone online in Farmington, Maine.

Launched in 2018, the New England College Renewable Partnership is a first-of-its-kind collaboration among five leading New England liberal arts institutions: Amherst, Bowdoin, Hampshire, Smith and Williams