Amherst College Art Professor Sonya Clark Launches Final Phase Of “Solidarity Book Project”; Contributors Will Sculpt Iconic Raised Fist Symbol into Pages of Books


(Amherst, Mass., February 16, 2021) — During Black History Month, Sonya Clark ’89, award-winning artist and professor of art and the history of art at Amherst College, has launched the final phase of the Solidarity Book Project (SBP), a collaborative artwork and activist initiative open to the public. In this phase, participants will learn how to sculpt the iconic raised fist symbol into the pages of thematically relevant books. At the project’s conclusion in September 2021, an immersive exhibition including participants’ sculpted books will be mounted. As is the case with all three phases of the project, each participant’s submission will be matched by individual donations from the College up to a total of $100,000 to provide access to books to Black and Indigenous communities in need.

Of the final phase of the SBP, Clark says, “We will shape the books that shaped us as a collective monument to the work of solidarity.” Members of the wider public are enthusiastically invited to participate with Clark and her Amherst College collaborators by reflecting, reading, and making art about solidarity. 


The project was envisioned to commemorate several Amherst College milestones: its Bicentennial, the 50th anniversary of the Black Studies department's formation and the fifth anniversary of Amherst Uprising, a sit-in protest on campus led by Black women in 2015. The Bicentennial also highlights the fact that the College has inhabited Nonotuck land and the ever-present issues of Indigenous rights. As the College heads into its third century, the Solidarity Book Project looks to address historical inequities with this call to solidarity with Black and Indigenous communities.      

Clark said, ”When my alma mater approached me to make a commemorative artwork for the Bicentennial, I said, ‘let’s make something together. I’ll gather folks to make a collaborative piece if Amherst will match those actions by funding underserved Black and Indigenous communities. Together, we’ll address the long legacy of settler colonialism and anti-Black racism that plagues this nation.’ Each submission enriches our purpose bit by bit.”

The project’s first call to action, #SolidarityReflection, was launched in November 2020 during Native American Heritage Month. Contributors were asked to share definitions of solidarity or stories about their experiences with solidarity in audio, video or text form. Among them were notable authors, historians, architects and artists such as Shayla Lawson, Nell Painter, Billie Tsien, Henry Drewal, Daniela Riviera and Imani Perry. Perry’s contribution defined solidarity as “mutual aid and fellow feeling…choosing the upper case ‘We’ and the lowercase ‘I’ as an act of love for the ones to whom we will hand over the future.” 

The second call to action, #SolidarityReading, invited participants to share a passage from a work that deepened their understanding of solidarity and was launched last month, just as the country’s eyes were turned to the powerful and unifying poetry of National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman at the Presidential inauguration. With words and books as the centerpiece of the SBP, many participants have added reflections and excerpts, which the project will continue to accept through the fall.

In the current third and final call to action, #SolidaritySculpting, the project invites participants to  sculpt the iconic raised fist symbol into books, guided by this instructional video. Clark encourages viewers to purchase the books they use for the project from independent, used book and BIPOC-owned establishments. 

Clark and her collaborators will be hosting several make-with sessions over the next couple of months for those who are interested in participating in the book sculpting. Please sign up for one of the following dates (all times EST):

  • Wednesday, February 24, 6pm - 7 p.m.
  • Tuesday, March 16, 11:30am - 12:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 10, 11:30am - 12:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, April 28, 6pm - 7 p.m.
  • Thursday, May 20, 11:30am - 12:30 p.m.

Through June, you can participate by submitting to any or all of the three SBP calls: #SolidarityReading, #SolidarityReflection, #SolidaritySculpting at the Solidarity Book Project website.  

Before joining the faculty at Amherst four years ago, Clark was Commonwealth Professor and Distinguished Research Fellow in the School of the Arts at Virginia Commonwealth University. Her work has been exhibited in more than 400 museums and galleries worldwide and has received favorable reviews in The New York Times, Huffington Post, Sculpture, Hyperallergic, Art in America, Artforum, Time, and Mother Jones, among other journals and newspapers. In addition to receiving an honorary doctorate from Amherst College she has received the Rappaport Prize, Jackson Pollock–Lee Krasner Grant, Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship, United States Artist Fellowship, and Anonymous Was a Woman Award. Clark has worked alongside creative individuals at many international residencies from Red Gate in China to Bellagio Rockefeller Foundation in Italy to Yaddo in New York to the American Academy in Rome to Black Rock in Senegal. 

The SBP is not Clark’s first work to tackle the issues of race, oppression, history and justice. For Black Hair Flag, for example, she stitched black cotton thread through the Confederate battle flag with Black hair styling techniques to make the US flag. For her performance piece Unraveling, she invited viewers to pull a Confederate flag apart thread by thread with her and talk about the experience while doing it. And for Monumental Cloth (sutured) she reproduced the Truce Flag, the small white towel that the Confederate Army General Robert E. Lee used to surrender at the end of the Civil War. 

The Solidarity Book Project is managed by Amir Denzel Hall ‘17, while the immersive digital archive of participation is designed by Andrew Smith ’18. SBP is a replicable model that can be implemented across educational institutions, prisons and public libraries, and other places where book knowledge and collaborative art can serve to address injustices perpetrated against marginalized communities.

Amherst College prepares students to use ideas to make a difference in the world. Since its founding, in 1821, in Western Massachusetts, Amherst has demonstrated steadfast confidence in the value of the liberal arts and the importance of critical thinking. Today, its financial aid program is among the most substantial in the nation, and its student body is among the most diverse. Small classes, an open curriculum and a singular focus on undergraduate education ensure that leading scholars engage daily with talented, curious students, equipping them for leadership in an increasingly global and complex world.

Amherst, Wesleyan Presidents Lead Coalition Of Higher Ed Leaders In Urging U.S. Department Of Education To Abandon Civil Rights Investigation Of Princeton University

(September 24, 2020) —Today, more than 80 college and university leaders have signed onto a statement co-authored by Presidents Biddy Martin of Amherst College and Michael S. Roth of Wesleyan University urging the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) to abandon its announced civil rights investigation into Princeton University.  

[Update, October 1, 2020: More than 110 have now signed the statement.]

Martin and Roth defend Princeton’s right--and the right of all “individuals, families, communities, businesses, corporations, and educational institutions”--to examine the country’s “legacies of slavery and racial oppression” and their own roles in perpetuating these legacies, past and present. They criticize the DOE for “using our country’s resources to investigate an institution that is committed to becoming more inclusive by reckoning with the impact in the present of our shared legacies of racism….We stand together in recognizing the work we still need to do if we are ever ‘to perfect the union,’” they write. “We urge the Department of Education to abandon its ill-considered investigation of Princeton University.”

The DOE informed Princeton President Christopher L. Eisgruber on September 16 that it was launching the inquiry based on a letter he had sent earlier in the month to the Princeton community outlining “plans to combat systemic racism at Princeton and beyond.” Information in Eisgruber’s letter constituted an admission that “[the University’s] educational program is and for decades has been racist,” and thus potentially in violation of federal Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, officials alleged

"Along with individuals, families, and communities all across the country, colleges and universities are working to identify, acknowledge, and change the root causes of extreme racial inequalities in the country, including in access to healthcare, health outcomes, employment, income, wealth, and education," said President Martin. “If we, as a country, are to live up to our fiercely held ideals of equality, freedom, and opportunity for all, our government agencies need to work with us and not against us.”

“Colleges and universities across the country are rightly confronting the deeply entrenched racism in American society, which impacts our campuses even today,” said President Roth. “The Department of Education’s action against Princeton is a cynical political stunt that misrepresents the admirable efforts of an institution that, like so many of us in higher education, is striving to do better.”

The full text of the presidents’ letter can be found here

Amherst College prepares students to use ideas to make a difference in the world. Since its founding, in 1821, in Western Massachusetts, Amherst has demonstrated steadfast confidence in the value of the liberal arts and the importance of critical thinking. Today, its financial aid program is among the most substantial in the nation, and its student body is among the most diverse. Small classes, an open curriculum and a singular focus on undergraduate education ensure that leading scholars engage daily with talented, curious students, equipping them for leadership in an increasingly global and complex world. The College will mark its bicentennial in 2021.

Founded in 1831, Wesleyan University is a diverse, energetic liberal arts community where critical thinking and practical idealism go hand in hand. With its distinctive scholar-teacher culture, creative programming, and commitment to interdisciplinary learning, Wesleyan challenges students to explore new ideas and change the world. Its graduates go on to lead and innovate in a wide variety of industries, including government, business, entertainment, and science.

Amherst College Partners with 2U, Inc. to Prepare for Fall 2020

Amherst College will use 2UOS Essential to build high-quality, online versions of its largest enrollment courses

(Amherst, Mass., July 8, 2020) Amherst College is preparing for the fall semester by bringing some of its highest enrollment courses online in partnership with 2U, Inc. (Nasdaq: TWOU), a global leader in education technology. Amherst faculty will reimagine their larger, lecture-style courses in a high-quality, online format with the
support of 2UOS Essential, 2U’s bundled solution to help colleges and universities build, deliver, and support a hybrid learning experience this fall. 

“Students have come to Amherst College for 200 years in order to experience a rich liberal arts education rooted in the intellectual and social relationships that students build with their peers and Amherst faculty,” Provost and Dean of the Faculty Catherine Epstein said. “While in-person interaction will always be core to who we are, we believe that we can bring the Amherst experience to life online for certain courses this fall with the support of 2U.”

In a recent announcement, Amherst laid out a plan for students, faculty, and the wider college community to safely return to campus in August. As part of that plan, courses with more than 35 students will be held online while large lecture halls will be used for medium-sized classes, and medium-sized classrooms will be used for small class sizes. 

“2U is leveraging over a decade of experience to help Amherst bring the best of its liberal arts teaching online for the upcoming school year,” 2U Co-Founder and CEO Christopher “Chip” Paucek said. “COVID-19 has accelerated the trend toward blended education that combines the rigor of traditional campus-based education with the flexibility of a proven technology platform and world-class student and faculty support.”

2UOS Essential will give Amherst the critical services to seamlessly bring the selected classes
online while ensuring effective pedagogy and ongoing tech support. This includes:

  • Faculty Training: Faculty will receive guidance from 2U’s experts in online course design
    to apply online teaching best practices as they build their online courses. This includes
    instructional design workshops and reviews as well as step-by-step guides and tutorials.
  • Video Production via Studio in a Box: Faculty will create engaging recorded video
    content at home and on their own schedule with 2U’s support and expertise. This
    includes all the production equipment needed to create high-quality asynchronous
    videos, detailed tutorials, and one-on-one guidance from 2U video producers.
    Online Campus: 2U’s LMS utilizes a scalable, highly reliable, secure cloud infrastructure.
    The mobile-friendly platform enables synchronous learning and collaboration through
    LTI-based Zoom integration.
  • Student and Faculty Support: Once courses are up and running, students and faculty will
    have access to real-time support to assist with platform log-in, enrollments issues, or any
    other technical problems that may arise.

“The most important work to create high-quality online education happens well before the first day of classes,” 2U Senior Vice President of University Relations Nathan Greeno said. “We’ve already started a collaborative process with Amherst’s faculty and administrators putting the building blocks in place to ensure a robust online education experience for both faculty and students this fall.”  

About Amherst College
Amherst College prepares students to use ideas to make a difference in the world. Since its founding, in 1821, in Western Massachusetts, Amherst has demonstrated steadfast confidence in the value of the liberal arts and the importance of critical thinking. Today, its financial aid program is among the most substantial in the nation, and its student body is among the most diverse. Small classes, an open curriculum and a singular focus on undergraduate education ensure that leading scholars engage daily with talented, curious students, equipping them for
leadership in an increasingly global and complex world. The College will celebrate its bicentennial in 2021.

About 2U, Inc. (Nasdaq: TWOU) 
Eliminating the back row in higher education is not just a metaphor—it's our mission. For more than a decade, 2U, Inc., a global leader in education technology, has been a trusted partner and brand steward of great universities. We build, deliver, and support more than 400 digital and in- person educational offerings, including graduate degrees, professional certificates, Trilogy- powered boot camps, and GetSmarter short courses. Together with our partners, 2U has positively transformed the lives of more than 225,000 students and lifelong learners. To learn
more, visit #NoBackRow


Statement on ICE Change Impacting International Students

July 7, 2020

Yesterday afternoon, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced changes to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program for non-immigrant students on F-1 and M-1 visas for academic and vocational study. The changes would force international students to leave the country or transfer to an institution offering in-person classes if their colleges and universities are offering classes entirely online during the fall semester. We are baffled by what we consider a terrible decision, and we condemn it. The announcement goes so far as to suggest that if institutions offering a mix of in-person and remote classes go completely remote during the semester, international students would then have to leave the United States.

Because Amherst will offer a combination of in-person and remote-learning opportunities, we can and will have our international students on campus and enrolled in classes that involve in-person teaching and learning. However, many institutions have decided to teach only remotely. It makes no sense whatsoever to have international students penalized because institutions have made the best possible decisions regarding the health and safety of their campuses in a pandemic. The inability to predict the course of the pandemic also means that colleges and universities across the country may have to move all classes online at some point. The action announced yesterday will also jeopardize the ability of international students to pursue professional opportunities during and immediately following their education; these opportunities are a core part of what an Amherst education offers.

While many of our international students have remained on campus, others have not. Those who were able to return to their homes abroad and our new international students were already facing the problem of obtaining visas to study on campus this fall, given the closing of embassies around the world because of the pandemic. We cannot overstate the importance of accelerating visa decisions and will continue to advocate for that acceleration as part of our effort to help these students reach our campus. Amherst is part of the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, a coalition of institutions that is dedicated to advocating for international and undocumented students who wish to study on our campuses. The Alliance is helping identify potential solutions to some of these challenges.

We will do everything we can, within the confines of the law, to help our international students persist in their studies at Amherst, an opportunity they have rightly earned. Their presence enhances the education of every other student and helps create the intellectual and social vibrancy that makes Amherst what it is. Their contributions extend far beyond our campuses to the rest of this society. We will continue working to understand the full implications of these changes, to provide good information so our students can make fully informed decisions, and to identify the forms of support available to our international students who wish to return to campus. In the meantime, we will continue to execute on our plan to offer fall classes in a hybrid mode, to welcome a significant number of students back to campus this fall, and to offer a rich mix of in-person and remote teaching.

Guggenheim Foundation Awards Prestigious Fellowship to Amherst College Professor Lisa Brooks

The English and American studies professor will research the environmental history of eastern coyotes and their adaptation to climate catastrophes and colonization.

(Amherst, Mass., April 29, 2020) – Lisa Brooks, professor of English and American studies at Amherst College, has been awarded a prestigious fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Brooks is one of just 175 writers, scholars, artists and scientists from a pool of 3,000 applicants this year to receive the award, which is based on prior achievement and future promise.

In all, 53 scholarly disciplines and artistic fields, 75 different academic institutions, 31 states and the District of Columbia, and two Canadian provinces are represented among the 2020 Guggenheim Fellows, who range in age from 29 to 82.

“It’s exceptionally encouraging to be able to share such positive news at this terribly challenging time,” said Edward Hirsch, president of the Guggenheim Foundation. “The artists, writers, scholars and scientific researchers supported by the fellowship will help us understand and learn from what we are enduring individually and collectively, and it is an honor for the Foundation to help them do their essential work.”

“We are immensely fortunate that Lisa is a member of our faculty,” said Catherine Epstein, provost and dean of the faculty at Amherst. “Her work in Native American studies is outstanding, and we’re excited to see how the Guggenheim Fellowship will enable her studies in a new direction. Having greatly enjoyed [her 2018 book,] Our Beloved Kin, I very much look forward to what she creates next.”

Brooks’ new project, titled “Tracking Molsemsis: An Indigenous and Environmental History of Eastern Coyote,” will “center Indigenous methodologies in an environmental history of coyotes and their kin, mapping their adaptation to climate catastrophes and colonization.” 

“The main question behind the book I will write is: What do we have to learn from eastern coyote (Molsemsis, or ‘little wolf’) about adapting to radical environmental change, including change caused by human beings?” Brooks said. In answering that important question, she intends to address others, such as: “How can we learn to be better relatives, as so many Indigenous stories convey, to our other-than-human kin? How can we transform our approaches to ‘solving’ environmental challenges so that we are looking to learn from these kin and not just imposing our solutions upon them and their environments? What happens if we frame the history of this continent by centering coyotes and Coyote stories? What kind of alternative future will we, with Coyote as a companion, be able to conceive?”

Brooks said the idea for the book came about as a result of her “side project,” tracking eastern coyotes in the woods around her home and in the region, reading numerous books on the animals and scouring scientific databases for information about coyotes’ remarkable adaptability, driven by her own “coyote-like curiosity.” Those experiences will serve Brooks well in her research for the project: she plans to continue tracking coyotes and consulting trackers in the region.

She said she will also tap into the extensive scholarship about coyote and wolf genetics, biology and ecology; visit Wabanaki communities in Maine and Vermont to listen to new coyote stories and older stories about wolves; track western coyotes and wolves in areas of the Pacific Northwest where wolves have returned; pursue research and conversation in archives and tribal museums; and immerse herself in the coyote stories that can be found Amherst College’s Kim-Wait/Eisenberg Native American Literature Collection and in ongoing exchange with other Native scholars who work with these literatures.

“For a long time, I have wanted to write a book that can clarify that adaptation to climate change is not possible without deep, reciprocal engagement with Indigenous communities and Traditional Ecological Knowledge, as well as deep, reciprocal engagement with the animals and plants who are constantly engaged in making the space we call home, whether we are aware of it or not,” Brooks said. “It will be a story about the capacity for adapting to catastrophic change and the threat of extermination, from which we all have much to learn.”


Created by Sen. Simon and Olga Guggenheim in memory of their son, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has sought to “further the development of scholars and artists by assisting them to engage in research in any field of knowledge and creation in any of the arts, under the freest possible conditions.” Since its founding in 1925, it has granted more than $375 million in fellowships to over 18,000 individuals, among whom are scores of Nobel laureates; poets laureate; and winners of the Pulitzer Prize, Turing Award, Bancroft Prize, National Book Award and other internationally recognized honors. For more information on the organization and the 2020 Guggenheim Fellows, visit 

Amherst College prepares students to use ideas to make a difference in the world. Since its founding in 1821 in Western Massachusetts, Amherst has demonstrated steadfast confidence in the value of the liberal arts and the importance of critical thinking. Today, its financial aid program is among the most substantial in the nation, and its student body is among the most diverse. Small classes, an open curriculum and a singular focus on undergraduate education ensure that leading scholars engage daily with talented, curious students, equipping them for leadership in an increasingly global and complex world. The College will celebrate its bicentennial in 2021. 

photo by John Weller

Martin Garnar is Named Director of the Library at Amherst College

(AMHERST, Mass., April 27, 2020) — Martin Garnar has been named director of the library at Amherst College, it was announced by Catherine Epstein, Provost and Dean of the Faculty. He joins the College from the University of Colorado Colorado Springs, where he was dean of the Kraemer Family Library and a faculty member. Garnar will assume the position on August 1, 2020.

“Martin was the unanimous and enthusiastic choice of the search committee, which was impressed with his wide range of experience, leadership style, and enthusiasm and support for the liberal arts mission,” said Epstein. “When he visited campus in February, those who met with him were struck by his knowledge, vision, collegiality, and ability to connect with members of the community.”

Prior to his position at Colorado, Garnar served as the reference services librarian and as a professor of library science at Regis University’s Dayton Memorial Library, following 10 years as a reference librarian there. He has published widely on the topics of ethics, privacy, and intellectual freedom. Most recently, Garnar edited the American Library Association (ALA)’s soon-to-be-published Intellectual Freedom Manual (10th edition) and is a frequent invited speaker and panelist at regional and national conferences. He has a long history of serving in leadership roles at the ALA: he has chaired the organization’s Office for Diversity, Literacy, and Outreach Services Advisory Committee since 2018 and has served as chair of its Intellectual Freedom Committee and Committee on Professional Ethics, among many positions.

Garnar earned a bachelor of arts degree in history and geography from the State University of New York at Binghamton, where he was an Empire State Scholar and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa; a master of arts degree in modern European history from that institution; and a master of library and information services degree from the University of Denver with a concentration in library and information resources and technologies. He is currently enrolled in the doctoral program in educational leadership, research, and policy at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs, and expects to complete his degree next year.

Susan Kimball, head of access services for Amherst’s Frost Library, filled the role during the search process.

Legendary Amherst College Men’s Basketball Coach David Hixon ’75 to Retire

Alumnus closes books on storied 42-season career with 800+ wins, eight league championships and two NCAA national titles

(AMHERST, Mass., April 13, 2020) — Legendary Amherst College head men’s basketball coach David Hixon ’75, who holds the record for number of wins in a single sport while coaching at Amherst, has decided to retire, Director of Athletics Donald Faulstick announced today. During his storied 42-season career at his alma mater, Hixon was the third coach in men’s basketball history across all National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) divisions to surpass the 800-win mark. His overall record of 826-293 places him 15th on the NCAA’s list of most wins in men’s collegiate basketball.

Additionally, Hixon’s Amherst teams defeated archrival Williams in 17 of the last 21 contests the two schools played.

“Dave has done so much for Amherst during his time here as a student, coach, teacher, recruiter, mentor, administrator, adviser and admired colleague and friend,” said Faulstick. “But in addition to his many accomplishments, what stands out to me is the love and admiration current and past student-athletes have for Dave and the impact he’s made in those people's lives. He certainly leaves big shoes to fill. I wish Dave and [wife] Mandy the best with the next chapter of their lives.”

“It is hard to imagine Amherst without Dave Hixon as coach of the men’s basketball team and citizen of the College,” said Biddy Martin, president of Amherst College. “Dave was a student at Amherst before he became a coach. His impact on the lives of the student-athletes he coached is as impressive as his 826 wins. Many of our alumni trace their accomplishments directly back to Coach Hixon. Dave’s record as a coach is extraordinary and makes him one of the greats in college basketball coaching. His positive and lasting influence on generations of student-athletes and dedication to the College as a whole are equally the measure of this man.”

While at the helm of the College’s program from 1978 to 2019, Hixon molded it into one of the best in the nation. The numbers tell the tale:

  • He led his student-athletes to 20 NCAA Division III national tournament appearances and compiled a 43-20 record in postseason play. Ten of those appearances resulted in trips to the quarterfinals and seven to the Final Four. Two of his teams won national championships, in 2007 and 2013.
  • The preeminence of Hixon’s teams are evidenced by their winning eight New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) titles, more than any other school in the league, as well as collecting six runner-up finishes. During his tenure, his teams compiled a 39-11 record in 19 years of championship play. The program was also the first in the conference to win three straight titles, from 2012 to 2014.
  • Hixon’s teams have averaged 24 wins per season since 2000. During that period, his record was 413-88--an astounding winning percentage of .824.

Hixon’s own coaching statistics reflect the high bar he set and achieved with the program:

  • His overall winning percentage is .738, currently the 10th-highest in NCAA Division III men’s basketball.
    He has the most coaching wins with a single team in Amherst College history, having broken renowned baseball coach Bill Thurston’s record of 811 in 2019.
  • His successes on the court resulted in the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) awarding him Division III Coach of the Year twice, NABC Northeast Region Coach of the Year four times and NESCAC Coach of the Year five times. 


“I have been extremely fortunate to be able to spend the majority of the past decade playing for and coaching with Coach Hixon,” said interim head men’s basketball coach Aaron Toomey ‘14. “I couldn't have envisioned having a better four-year playing career, and that’s because of Coach Hixon. In one of the toughest times in my life, he was the one who gave me a chance. He believed in me not just as a coach but as a person who could contribute to making the Amherst basketball program better.” 

In addition to basketball, Hixon coached men’s and women’s soccer and outdoor track during his Amherst career. He was just 24 when he was named head coach of men’s basketball at the College, at the time the youngest person in such a position in the country.

“I wish that everyone would have the opportunity to have a career and live a life as full and rewarding as I have had during my 48 years at Amherst as a student and coach,” said Hixon. “Relationships with players, colleagues, referees, assistant coaches, opposing coaches, parents and fans have all been a huge part of my experience and have made this such an enjoyable and gratifying way to spend a lifetime at something—and somewhere—you love. And all the while having the opportunity to raise a family with my wonderful wife [and University of Massachusetts-Amherst head men’s diving coach], Mandy, who is the best coach in the family, and two boys, Matthew and Michael. I truly want to give thanks to all who have been a part of my life’s journey and given me so much.”

Hixon, who grew up in Andover, Mass., earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the College in 1975 while also playing for the basketball team. Over the years, he has contributed in countless ways at Amherst, including by serving as a fund-raiser as a student, a member of the finance and executive committees of the Friends of Amherst Athletics, and a member of the advisory group of Amherst magazine, to name a few.

He and his father, former Andover High School coaching legend Wil Hixon, were inducted into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003.

Amherst Admission Responds to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Changes include a test-optional policy and no advance tuition deposit.

(AMHERST, Mass., April 6, 2020)—In response to the enormous global disruption that has accompanied the rapidly evolving COVID-19 public health crisis, Amherst College has announced a set of modifications designed to help students and families in these extraordinary times.  

The Amherst College Office of Admission, with the consultation and approval of the Faculty Committee on Admission & Financial Aid, will suspend for one year its requirement that students applying for first-year admission submit SAT or ACT scores. This test-optional policy applies to applicants for the first-year class during the 2020-21 admission cycle; students applying for transfer admission to Amherst already have no requirement to submit SAT or ACT scores. Applicants may still submit SAT or ACT scores for consideration. However, first-year and transfer applicants should not submit SAT Subject Tests, as they will no longer be considered in Amherst’s admission process.  

“All first-year and transfer applicants will continue to be evaluated in a holistic manner, as Amherst has done for decades. In this bicentennial year for the College, I am confident that the Amherst class of 2025 will be excellent and strongly aligned with the College’s mission, just as the 200 classes before them have been,” said Matt McGann, dean of admission and financial aid.

“Given the cancellation of many test dates and uncertainty about the future, we feel strongly that we must put the health and wellness of students above all other considerations,” McGann continued. “If future test dates are not available in students’ local areas or if students are worried about how to test in a socially distant manner,  we do not want them to feel pressure to put themselves in situations that are not in their best interest. And we wanted to provide clarity and ease anxiety as soon as we could.”

Amherst Admission has communicated its full support to high schools as they adjust their learning models to serve their students’ education and their community’s health. Many high schools have changed to pass/fail grading, moved classes online or ended the school year early. “We will not hold this against your students--it’s beyond their control,” said Dean of Admission Cate Granger Zolkos. “Everyone’s first priority should be the health, safety and wellness of family and community.”

In response to the financial disruptions facing families, students admitted to the Amherst College class of 2024 will not be asked for an enrollment deposit. These students will also benefit from Amherst’s long-standing no-loan policy. Loans are not included when students are provided their financial aid package. Further, Amherst meets the full demonstrated financial need of every family; this year, Amherst provided its students with nearly $60 million in financial aid.  “Financial fit is critically important to students and parents. Always, but especially during this time of significant financial pressure, maximizing scholarship aid and enabling students and families to create a viable financial plan, lighten their burden and strengthen the investment in their future is of paramount concern to Amherst,” said Dean of Financial Aid Gail Holt. 

All of the changes made to admission policy, on-campus programs and more can be found at  

At Amherst, as at hundreds of schools and colleges across the country, the College is learning to do things differently. Campus buildings are closed, and students, faculty and staff are studying, teaching and working from home. Although not physically present on campus, the Amherst admission staff welcomes visitors, but for now only online. The College is in the process of creating online options and will post them at as soon as they are available.

Amherst College prepares students to use ideas to make a difference in the world. Since its founding, in 1821, in Western Massachusetts, Amherst has demonstrated steadfast confidence in the value of the liberal arts and the importance of critical thinking. Today, its financial aid program is among the most substantial in the nation, and its student body is among the most diverse. Small classes, an open curriculum and a singular focus on undergraduate education ensure that leading scholars engage daily with talented, curious students, equipping them for leadership in an increasingly global and complex world. The College will celebrate its bicentennial in 2021.

Message to the Community Regarding Men’s Lacrosse

March 20, 2020

Dear students, faculty, and staff, 

We write with an update about the steps the College is taking to address problems with the culture and actions of the men’s lacrosse team. Findings of individual responsibility for violating the Honor Code lie with the disciplinary process in the Office of Student Affairs. That process is underway. Federally mandated student privacy protections mean that those findings will not be shared.

In this letter, we outline and explain the decisions we have now made in response to the incident. Before we do, we acknowledge that our decisions come at an extremely difficult time when we are all faced with the rapid spread and heartbreaking impact of the COVID-19 virus. We did not determine the timing of the egregious behavior that prompts our actions.

At Amherst, we are fortunate to have a student body, a staff, and a faculty that have begun to more closely reflect the realities of the country and the world. We have a rare and precious opportunity to learn from one another, build a truly supportive and engaged community, and create an environment that draws on a rich array of cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds and experiences. To realize the promise that this extraordinary collection of talent, perspective, and backgrounds represents, we need a shared sense of purpose, respect for others, and good stewardship. When some members of our community demean and harass entire groups and create an unwelcoming environment with their conduct, the College has an obligation to hold them to account. This we will do.

The incident that occurred nearly two weeks ago involved the use by some members of the lacrosse team of racist, harassing speech—in the form of the “n-word.” The use of this slur carries the historical weight of centuries-long violence and hatred toward black Americans. It is, unfortunately, only the most recent in a list of deeply troubling cases involving some team members over the years. Those cases include sharing photos of a teammate with a swastika drawn on his face who had passed out at a party, and GroupMe exchanges denigrating and ridiculing gender-nonconforming and trans staff. What makes these matters worse is the failure of those involved to own up to their behavior and the failure of teammates to identify who was at fault. These failures have exacerbated the harm to those directly affected and to our broader community, including those alumni who experienced racism and other indignities while at Amherst. A team culture that repeatedly violates standards of human decency and then protects those who have perpetuated these violations is not a culture acceptable at Amherst. Unfortunately, even these two incidents are not isolated. The team over recent years has been responsible for other violations, including vandalism in the dorms, overtaxing our custodial and facilities staff, and at times creating unsafe conditions.

Participation in athletics at Amherst is a privilege, not a right. Amherst athletes are required to follow the behavioral standards set by the athletic department and the College honor code as well. We realize that not every student on the men’s lacrosse team has actively participated in the violations that have come to light. However, as with any group or organization on our campus, teammates are accountable to each other and, as a team, also to the larger community. In short, we cannot ignore the harmful culture that exists on the men’s lacrosse team, and its damage to our community.

On the basis of a pattern that is endemic and egregious, and that requires immediate correction, we have determined, effective immediately, that the men’s lacrosse team is placed on probation through June 30, 2021.

If any member of the men’s lacrosse team is found responsible under our Student Code of Conduct for a violation related to: respect for persons (including, but not limited to, racism); vandalism; or sexual misconduct, then the team’s entire Spring 2021 season may be cancelled. As a condition of being allowed to play in the Spring 2021 season, the following terms of probation will be required of the team:

  1. In the fall, every member of the team will complete an educational program determined by the provost and the dean of the faculty, in consultation with the chief diversity and inclusion officer and the director of athletics;

  2. The team is prohibited from engaging in formal team gatherings prior to November 1, 2020. This includes, but is not limited to, captains’ practices and team-bonding activities. We will review whether this prohibition will continue into additional future seasons at the conclusion of the Spring 2021 season.

  3. The team will not participate in NCAA postseason play next year.

Finally, we have also concluded that a change in leadership for the lacrosse team will be necessary.

Amherst athletics is among the oldest and most prestigious athletic programs in the country. Our athletes can and must reflect the best of Amherst, holding themselves to the high standards we expect of our community in all its endeavors. We stand ready to help guide and support the work of transforming the men’s lacrosse program and to continue the work of ensuring that all our students have full access to the intellectual, social, and co-curricular opportunities Amherst offers.


Biddy Martin

Catherine Epstein
Provost and Dean of the Faculty

Don Faulstick
Director of Athletics

College Statement Related to Possible Use of Racist Slur on Campus

March 13, 2020

There is no circumstance in which any racist slur is acceptable on this campus, and there is no use of any slur that does not provoke anger, fear, sadness, and alienation in those who are targeted or outrage in those who abhor racism. That should include all of us. We condemn in the strongest possible terms the use of the racist slur at the heart of this matter. The staff in the Office of Student Affairs is actively investigating the incident with students and others who were involved, affected, and/or witnesses to it. In keeping with students’ federally protected legal rights to privacy, the outcome of that process cannot be made public by the College. The College administration continues aggressively to investigate problems that go beyond this particular incident.

New Book By Pulitzer Prize-winning Architecture Critic

A new book by Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic Blair Kamin ’79 celebrates Amherst College’s rich architectural legacy and the stories its buildings tell.

(AMHERST, Mass., Feb. 20, 2020)—In celebration of Amherst College’s upcoming bicentennial in 2021, Pulitzer Prize-winning Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin ’79 has written a fascinating new book, Amherst College: The Campus Guide. Published by Princeton Architectural Press, photographed by the acclaimed Ralph Lieberman and commissioned by the College, the book presents an architectural tour of Amherst’s 1,000-acre campus and tells the stories of nearly 100 of its buildings, landscapes, sculpture and interiors. 

“While Amherst is a community in space—an intimate face-to-face college rather than an impersonal university—it is also a community in time,” Kamin observes in the book’s introduction. “Its history now stretches back more than two hundred years, and its campus, seemingly fixed but always changing, exerts a strong gravitational pull.”

Organized as a series of six walks and covering styles that range from Greek Revival to Modernism, Amherst College: The Campus Guide accompanies the reader on a richly engaging tour of the College that spans history and culture as well as space and time. In a “Farther Afield” section, the book also explores three notable off-campus structures: the Five College Library Depository, whose nickname, “The Bunker,” reflects its original function as a Cold War command post; Amherst House at Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan, built in 1932 to resemble an Amherst fraternity house; and the architecturally distinguished Folger Shakespeare Library, in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

Throughout Amherst College: The Campus Guide, Kamin skillfully interweaves his expert, in-depth analyses of the College’s architecture and landscape architecture with campus lore. Readers learn, for example, of the townspeople who gathered to construct Amherst’s first building, South College, in 1820, and how the poet Emily Dickinson’s grandfather secured a donation from a dying, childless farmer in nearby Pelham to fund the iconic Johnson Chapel. Specially commissioned hand-drawn maps by Christopher Beck locate buildings and highlight historic and contemporary architectural elements. The campus bears the imprint of many distinguished firms in architecture and landscape architecture, including those of Frederick Law Olmsted; McKim, Mead & White; Benjamin Thompson; Edward Larrabee Barnes; Shepley Bulfinch; and Michael Van Valkenburgh.

In the book’s foreword, Amherst College President Biddy Martin describes her first visit to the campus, when she was moved by the “stunning surroundings” of the main quadrangle. “As the essays in this volume underscore, the evolution of New England campus architecture over the past two hundred years finds palpable expression in Amherst’s buildings,” notes Martin. Observing how the College’s newest buildings create fresh vantage points from which to see historic structures, she writes: “What could be more fitting than changes to a campus that offer unexpected new views and connections across past, present and future?” 

Kamin’s other books include Why Architecture Matters: Lessons from Chicago. Lieberman, an architectural historian and photographer, previously collaborated with Kamin on Gates of Harvard Yard. Together they have created a vivid and insightful new examination of such beloved campus landmarks as Johnson Chapel and the War Memorial.  

“Over the course of two hundred years, Amherst has built an extraordinary campus, one with a rich legacy and an even richer sense of possibility,” Kamin writes in the introduction. “As the college enters its third century, the transcendent traditions of elemental architecture, intimate scale, a vital landscape, and an enduring sense of place should be foremost in our minds as we endeavor to build a more perfect Amherst.”

Related Reading: An excerpt from a new book by a Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic

Legendary Amherst College Volleyball Coach Sue Everden to Begin Phased Retirement

(AMHERST, Mass., January 29, 2020) — Sue Everden, the Amherst College women’s volleyball coach since 1986 who has amassed more than 700 volleyball wins—and more than 1,000 wins overall in multiple sports, the first Amherst coach to accomplish that feat—will begin a phased retirement at the conclusion of the 2019-20 academic year, it was announced by Don Faulstick, Director of Athletics, and Everden. While her active coaching duties will conclude at that time, Everden will plan and lead a team trip to Japan that is expected to take place in spring 2021.

Amherst volleyball has had a remarkable 34 consecutive winning seasons—every year for which Everden was the coach—and posted 20 or more wins in 24 of them. She has taken her teams to all 21 NESCAC volleyball conference championships—winning three—and seven NCAA national tournaments, including the quarterfinals in 2007 when the team posted a 30-5 record. She ranks sixth in NCAA Division III victories among active coaches, and her career .716 winning percentage ranks her 27th among active DIII coaches. She is a two-time NESCAC and New England Region Coach of the Year.


As the past head coach of Amherst’s women’s squash, lacrosse and softball teams, Everden notched her 1,000th head coaching win at the College last year. She also holds the College record for most games coached, with more than 1,500. At Amherst, she was part of the explosion of women’s sports as the College went coed, breaking barriers and impacting the lives of countless student-athletes under her tutelage.

“I congratulate Sue on her retirement and remarkable coaching career,” said Faulstick. “Being the first coach in school history to win over 1,000 games is truly amazing, but not surprising. Sue’s teams were always very well prepared and played with an unmatched enthusiasm that will be hard to replicate. No matter what the score of the match was, her teams always looked like they were having the most fun. She is an amazing coach, person and colleague who cared about her students' success and experiences off the courts as much as their success on them. I'm genuinely happy for Sue and her partner, Laurie, and wish them the best in the next chapter of their lives. Although she won’t be coaching next year, I’m excited that Sue will be working on the trip to Japan. I know how richly rewarding and educational the trip will be for the students.”

“Sue is a highly respected coach who has built an exceptional program with her unwavering focus on her students,” said Biddy Martin, president of Amherst College. “Beyond teaching her teams the fundamentals of the sport, she has taught them many life lessons. At an institution that is known for its academic rigor and that can be an intense and challenging environment for 18- to 21-year-olds, Sue cared deeply about all aspects of her student-athletes and helped to guide them to success, both academically and personally. We thank her for her passion, her commitment and her immeasurable contribution to Amherst College.”

“I have always counted my lucky stars that I have had the opportunity to share in the educational experience of so many wonderfully talented, intelligent and caring women at Amherst,” said Everden. “I have dedicated my professional life to creating a culture of inclusiveness, tolerance, personal and civic accountability -- and flat-out fun. I tried to nurture the passion burning inside every member of my teams in a way that would spark additional flames that would burn bright, not only in their volleyball lives but in other aspects of their being. An indispensable part of our collective Amherst experience—and certainly mine—has been the undying support of our fans -- family, friends, faculty, staff.”

Everden completed her undergraduate work at Slippery Rock University and earned a master's degree in sports teaching and administration at Springfield (Mass.) College. She is a native Ohioan; in addition to continuing to enthusiastically support her hometown’s sports teams (Cleveland Browns, Cavs and Indians), Everden reports that, once fully retired, she and her partner also will pay a visit to “Mickey's house,” a reference her players, friends and family will immediately understand.

Emily Dickinson Museum Receives a $22 Million Gift From the Late William McC. Vickery ’57

The endowed gift, the largest ever received by the Museum, is to be used for the maintenance and improvement of its buildings, grounds and collections. The remainder will fund the maintenance of pianos for the College’s Music Department.

(AMHERST, Mass., June 5, 2019) — Amherst College today announced a gift of approximately $25 million from the late William McC. Vickery ’57 to the College’s endowment, approximately $22 million of which is designated for use by the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst, Mass. The transformative gift, the largest ever received by the museum, will be known as the “William McCall Vickery ’57 Emily Dickinson Fund” and is specifically earmarked for the maintenance and improvement of its buildings, grounds and collections. Vickery, who was a devoted Amherst alumnus, volunteer, employee and supporter, also was a founding member of the Dickinson Museum’s board of governors.

The Emily Dickinson Museum was founded in 2003 when the neighboring house, The Evergreens, a 19th-century Dickinson home, was transferred to the College. (The Dickinson Homestead has been owned by the College since 1965.). Today, the Museum includes those two historic structures, three acres of the original Dickinson landscape, and more than 7,000 objects. The Museum, a part of Amherst College, earns and raises independently the majority of its own resources.

Of Vickery’s gift, Amherst College President Biddy Martin said, “There was no aspect of Amherst’s mission that did not interest him, no area of the College that did not benefit from his energetic, wry, and deeply insightful engagement. His gift to the Emily Dickinson Museum is a gift to us all and to generations to come, as is his gift to the College’s Department of Music. Bill understood and he helped ensure that the poetry and music that were special to him will remain at the heart of Amherst.”

A pivotal figure in the Museum’s advancement over the last 16 years, “Bill Vickery truly cherished the Emily Dickinson Museum,” said Executive Director Jane Wald. “He was acutely aware of the importance—and possibility—of restoring Emily Dickinson’s Homestead, her brother’s house, The Evergreens, and the historic gardens and grounds. He was at the lead in every undertaking for the Museum’s improvement, and his quiet enthusiasm was infectious and never deterred. His transformative gift will enable the Museum to become the true center of celebration of Emily Dickinson’s life and work.”

Part of the Vickery’s gift will be used to create the “William McCall Vickery ’57 Piano Fund” to fund the restoring, rebuilding, repairing and purchasing of pianos for the College’s music department. A patron of the music program at Amherst, in 2007, in honor of his 50th reunion, Vickery endowed The William McCall Vickery 1957 Professorship, honoring a senior faculty member who is distinguished by and dedicated to teaching and research of art history or musicology.

John Beeson ‘71, chair of the Board of Governors, said, "Bill's extraordinary legacy gift will inspire others to support a wide range of projects related both to historic preservation and to the continued expansion of key programs about Emily Dickinson's life and significance. It will require that continued support to help realize the full potential of Bill Vickery's vision."

Born in Savannah, Ga., Vickery attended Ridgewood High School in New Jersey. At Amherst College, he majored in economics and graduated cum laude. After earning an MBA from Harvard Business School, he launched a 27-year career in advertising with Dancer Fitzgerald Sample in New York City. In 1987, Vickery retired as vice chair of the company’s board and chair of DFS International. The year following his retirement, Vickery began his “second career” at his alma mater, holding positions in Advancement and as assistant treasurer until his retirement in 2008. Throughout his life, Vickery contributed generously to more than 26 individual funds at Amherst College, including the Russian Culture Fund, the Robert Frost Statue Fund, the squash courts renovation fund, the Orchestra Fund, the women’s basketball program, and the Choral Society, and he endowed the William McCall Vickery 1957 Professor of the History of Art.

Throughout the years, Vickery’s philanthropy set an example and inspired others to support the Emily Dickinson Museum. He served on its collections and physical plant committee and development committee and was a generous supporter of the Museum’s operations and restoration projects, including the campaign to restore Emily Dickinson’s bedroom in 2014, which Vickery led and championed.

“My husband, Hubbard, and I shared a wonderful friendship with Bill for most of our lives,” said Linda Smith, a member of the Museum’s Board of Governors. “He led us and many others into supporting the Emily Dickinson Museum in so many ways. He believed in the truth and enduring nature of Dickinson’s poetry, and he demonstrated his commitment to the Museum’s future over and over again by his extraordinary generosity.” 

Since its inception, the Museum has welcomed more than 150,000 visitors from 50 countries and serves as the premier center for study, interpretation, and celebration of Emily Dickinson’s place in literature, history, and culture. This generous gift will support the Museum in furthering its mission to spark the imagination by amplifying Dickinson’s revolutionary poetic voice from the place she called home. The Museum is open Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Learn more at

Amherst College prepares students to use ideas to make a difference in the world. Since its founding, in 1821, in Western Massachusetts, Amherst has demonstrated steadfast confidence in the value of the liberal arts and the importance of critical thinking. Today, its financial aid program is among the most substantial in the nation, and its student body is among the most diverse. Small classes, an open curriculum and a singular focus on undergraduate education ensure that leading scholars engage daily with talented, curious students, equipping them for leadership in an increasingly global and complex world. The College will celebrate its bicentennial in 2021.

Two-time National Book Award Winner Jesmyn Ward to Headline Litfest 2020

This event, marking its fifth year, will also feature award-winning authors Susan Choi and Laila Lalami and former Obama Deputy National Security Advisor and best-selling writer Ben Rhodes.


(AMHERST, Mass., Dec. 5, 2019)—Amherst College will host LitFest 2020, its annual literary festival celebrating fiction, nonfiction, poetry and spoken-word performance, from Feb. 27 to March 1. The event will feature readings, conversations and book signings with, among others, Jesmyn Ward, winner of a 2017 National Book Award (NBA) for fiction; 2019 NBA fiction winner Susan Choi and fiction finalist Laila Lalami; and memoirist Ben Rhodes, former speechwriter and deputy national security advisor to President Barack Obama. The festival takes place on the Amherst College campus and is free and open to the public. 

LitFest, now in its fifth year, builds literary community among students, faculty, staff and the public, and gives members of Amherst’s very diverse student body opportunities to engage directly with renowned authors whose perspectives and texts can inform and inspire their own. These role models and connections are an outgrowth of a literary publishing internship with the College’s own award-winning literary magazine, The Common, which celebrates its 10th publishing year in 2020. The internship provides hands-on publishing experience for Amherst students year-round. 

Details about the main LitFest 2020 events are below, and the full festival schedule is available online at

NBF Presents A Conversation with 2019 Fiction Winner Susan Choi and Finalist Laila Lalami

Friday, Feb. 28, 7:30–9 p.m.
As part of the NBF Presents (formerly the National Book Awards on Campus) program—a partnership between the National Book Foundation, Amherst College and The Common—the festival will host readings and a conversation with Choi, who won the NBA in fiction this year for her novel Trust Exercise, and Lalami, who was a finalist in the same category for The Other Americans. The event will be followed by an audience Q&A and book signing with both authors. 

Headline Event: An Afternoon with Jesmyn Ward

Saturday, Feb. 29, 4–5:30 p.m.
Ward, two-time winner of the NBA for Fiction—in 2011 for Salvage the Bones and in 2017 for Sing, Unburied, Sing—will give a reading, followed by a conversation hosted by Amherst College alumna and The Common editor-in-chief Jennifer Acker ’00. The event will be followed by an audience Q&A and book signing with Ward.

Writing the White House: An Insider’s Account

Sunday, March 1, 2020, 1–2:30 p.m.

Obama aide Ben Rhodes, author of the best-selling memoir The World As It Is, and his Random House editor Andy Ward ’94, will participate in a conversation with The Atlantic’s Cullen Murphy ’74, part of an ongoing series of editor-author conversations in memory of Richard Todd ’62, renowned editor, writer and founding member of The Common’s editorial board. The event will be followed by an audience Q&A and book signing.

Additional LitFest 2020 events include conversations with local poet Karen Skolfield, whose new collection Battle Dress investigates the life of a female U.S. soldier; a Spoken-Word Slam for Amherst College students; and free public tours of the Emily Dickinson Museum, adjacent to the Amherst campus. The festival is organized by the Center for Humanistic Inquiry at Amherst College, The Common and the Emily Dickinson Museum.

More than 20 renowned writers—including Mark Bowden, Michael Chabon, Jennifer Egan, Masha Gessen, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Stacy Schiff and Zadie Smith—have traveled to campus for LitFest since its inception in 2016. Many of those writers were recruited for the event as a result of a partnership between Amherst College, The Common and the NBF Presents program. The NBA authors who have participated in the initiative over its five years include Lauren Groff ’01 (nominated for Fates and Furies in 2015 and Florida in 2018), Angela Flournoy (nominated for The Turner House in 2015) and Brandon Hobson (nominated for Where the Dead Sit Talking in 2018), to name just a few.

About LitFest 

In addition to welcoming prestigious writers to campus, LitFest aims to illuminate Amherst’s distinguished literary history and the tradition of creative writing at the College, as well as the extraordinary resources and opportunities available for current and prospective students, scholars and others. These opportunities include chances to study with renowned faculty and alumni authors; the College’s award-winning literary magazine, The Common, and its Literary Publishing Internship that teaches participating students editorial skills and the ins and outs of publishing; extensive holdings of manuscripts related to Emily Dickinson, Richard Wilbur ’42 and other authors and poets in the College’s archives; and the College-owned Emily Dickinson Museum in downtown Amherst and Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. Read more at

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to Visit Campus this Fall

October 5, 2019

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

I am delighted to announce that we will welcome U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to campus this fall. On Thursday, October 3, Justice Ginsburg and I will hold an onstage conversation at 5:00 p.m. in Johnson Chapel. Justice Ginsburg has also generously offered to meet with students in Cole Assembly Room in Converse Hall at 3:30 p.m. for a review of cases from the last term. The second woman ever appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and the first Jewish justice since 1969, Justice Ginsburg is well known for her clear voice in support of the constitutional rights of all members of our society.  Her early career as a pathbreaking lawyer in defense of fundamental rights, as well as her nearly forty years as an appellate judge and Supreme Court Justice, have been well-documented in many media, including opera, late-night television, and two feature-length films.

This will be Justice Ginsburg’s second visit to Amherst. In 1991, two years prior to her appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court, Amherst College president Peter Pouncey awarded Ginsburg an honorary degree, citing her “lifelong insistence that inequality for some unbalances a society and makes it precarious for all.” Her unwavering dedication to righting that imbalance over the course of her lengthy and principled career as a jurist has made Ginsburg not only a pioneer for gender equality but an inspiration to all who seek to address systematic injustice.

The fireside chat with Justice Ginsburg in Johnson Chapel will be a ticketed event open to Amherst College community members. Questions from the audience will be invited. Tickets can be reserved on the event webpage at no cost on a first-come, first-served basis starting at 8:00 a.m. on Thursday, September 19. Because we expect Johnson Chapel to be full to capacity, the talk will be live-streamed to the Amherst College webpage (Amherst College login required) and to Stirn auditorium, where ticketed overflow seating will be available. We anticipate that faculty members may host livestream-watching gatherings. Further details on that will follow. We will announce the sign-up process for the afternoon seminar closer to the event.

I anticipate a rich, enjoyable, and engaged community dialogue with Justice Ginsburg in October. Meanwhile, I look forward to seeing you on campus for the start of the new academic year.



Photo credit: Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States