170 Works of Contemporary Art Gifted to Mead Art Museum

(AMHERST, Mass., August 8, 2019) — The Mead Art Museum at Amherst College announced today that it has received a gift of more than 170 works of contemporary art from an anonymous donor, significantly expanding the Mead’s holdings of recent work. To celebrate this donation, as well as the range of other contemporary artworks that have either been given to or purchased by the Mead in the last several years, the Museum will present the exhibition Starting Something New: Recent Contemporary Art Acquisitions and Gifts, opening September 10, 2019, and running through July 26, 2020.

This gift, which includes works by established artists such as Mona Hatoum, David Hockney, Thomas Ruff, and Cindy Sherman, also includes a significant number of pieces by a diverse roster of emerging and mid-career artists from across the United States and around the world, such as Dario Escobar, Toba Khedoori, Robin Rhode, and Analia Saban. At the same time, the contribution also extends the range of media reflected at the Museum, bringing in new video, photography, and sculptures, as well as paintings, drawings, and a number of mixed-media pieces.

Concurrently this fall, the Mead will open an exhibition marking a decade of acquisitions made through the Trinkett Clark Memorial Student Acquisition Fund. Established in 2008 in honor of Trinkett Clark, former curator of American Art at the Mead, the fund sponsors the purchase of one print selected by Amherst College students each academic year, with the first work having been acquired in 2009. This fund—in conjunction with classes taught at the museum—empowers students to take an active role in the development of the Mead Art Museum collection and has enriched the diversity of the Museum’s collection. Ten Years of Trinkett Clark Memorial Student Acquisitions also will run September 10 through January 5, 2020.

“We are so incredibly fortunate to be the recipients of a gift of contemporary art of this scale and scope,” said David E. Little, director and chief curator of the Mead Art Museum. “The addition of more than 170 works of contemporary art will have a tremendous impact on our collection and supports us in our ongoing efforts to expand our holdings in ways that reflect the diversity of the Amherst College community. This goal is advanced further through important new acquisitions of artworks by artists such as Heather Agyepong, Kapwani Kiwanga, and Paul Sepuya, which will be on view this fall. The 10-year anniversary of the Trinkett Clark Memorial fund reminds us of and reaffirms the hands-on student engagement that keeps the Mead a central part of the life of the College.”

Starting Something New: Recent Contemporary Art Acquisitions and Gifts brings together more than 60 artworks made between 1967 and 2019. The works were chosen because they highlight the ways in which artists experiment with different—and often unexpected—media, as well as for the ways in which they explore and reflect on today’s most pressing political issues. For example, Conversations with the Dead (1967-1968), Danny Lyon’s urgently relevant documentary photographs from inside a prison, explore the impact of the prison industrial complex on both inmates and the society as a whole. Kapwani Kiwanga’s Greenbook, Mississippi (2019), a doctored facsimile of a page from Victor H. Green’s “The Negro Motorist Green-book,” demonstrates how artists engage with and integrate complex topics such as race, geography, and culture into their work. And Mona Hatoum’s Rubber Mat (1996), with its grotesque intestines of silicone rubber, serves to comment on the body as a cultural battleground in its own right. 

Fall Programs at the Mead Art Museum

This fall, the Mead will present a range of programs that continue the Museum’s art-focused engagement with campus audiences around topics of interest. Highlight programs on campus include:

  • Curating the Contemporary (September 10, 5-6 p.m., Stirn Auditorium, free and open to the public): To celebrate the opening of Starting Something New, the Mead will convene a panel called Curating the Contemporary, in which contemporary art curators will discuss what it means to curate contemporary art in a college art museum setting today. The panelists are: Horace Ballard, Curator of American Art at the Williams College Museum of Art; Emma Chubb, (Inaugural) Charlotte Feng Ford ’83 Curator of Contemporary Art at the Smith College Museum of Art; and David E. Little, John Wieland 1958 Director and Chief Curator of the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College. Tiffany Bradley, founder of Colored Criticism, will moderate the discussion.
  • Craftivism with Survivors Art Collective (October 22, 12-3 p.m., Mead): Join the Reproductive Justice Alliance and the Women’s and Gender Center (WGC) for an afternoon of craftivism at the Mead. Artists from the Survivors Art Collective in Easthampton, Mass., will participate in conversation over lunch and then lead art-making workshops in the galleries. Buttons, stickers, zines, and other works of art will be sold throughout the week in the Keefe Campus Center and in the WGC. All proceeds will benefit a local non-profit that supports reproductive justice work in western Massachusetts.
  • The Sounds of Stonewall (November 13, 7-8 p.m., Mead): To honor the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the Amherst College Choral Society and the Amherst College Stonewall Committee will present a live performance of musical selections inspired by tunes that played on the jukebox at the Stonewall Inn in 1969, along with pieces by contemporary LGBT composers.
  • A Day With(out) Art Video Installation (On view December 1–Saturday, December 7, 2019, Mead): On December 1, 2019, Visual AIDS will commemorate the 30th anniversary of Day With(out) Art with seven newly commissioned videos by Shanti Avirgan, Nguyen Tan Hoang, Carl George, Viva Ruiz, Iman Shervington, Jack Waters, and Derrick Woods-Morrow. These artists will consider the contemporary impact and presence of HIV/AIDS while revisiting cultural histories of art and activism from the past 30 years. This video exhibition is presented in conjunction with Visual AIDS, the Smith College Museum of Art, the Amherst College Stonewall Committee, and the Queer Resource Center.
  • Understanding the Cultural & Political Impact of HIV/AIDs through Art (December 3, 12-2 m., Mead): A panel discussion on the cultural and political impact of HIV/AIDS, featuring: Amherst College Arts Librarian Sara Smith; Queer Resource Center Director Jxhn Martin; Brown Post-Baccalaureate Curatorial Fellow at Smith College Museum of Art Shanice Bailey; and the Director of A Positive Place, Betsy Shally-Jensen, as well as local community members who are currently living with HIV/AIDs and survivors of the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s and 90s. This program is presented in conjunction with A Day With(out) Art video installation and in collaboration with A Positive Place at Cooley Dickinson Health Care, the Smith College Museum of Art, the Amherst College Stonewall Committee, and the Queer Resource Center. 

About the Mead Art Museum

Situated in the vibrant Five Colleges academic community of western Massachusetts, the Mead Art Museum serves as a laboratory for interdisciplinary research and innovative teaching involving original works of art. An accredited member of the American Alliance of Museums, the Mead participates in Museums10, a regional cultural collaboration.

The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. year-round, and until midnight on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday during the academic term. 

Admission to the museum is free and open to the public. For more information, including a searchable catalogue of the collection and a complete schedule of exhibitions and events, visit amherst.edu/mead or call (413) 542-2335.

Amherst College Names Letitia Johnson its New Chief Investment Officer

(AMHERST, Mass., August 1, 2019) — Amherst College today named Letitia Johnson its new chief investment officer, responsible for the management and oversight of the College’s $2.9 billion long-term investment pool (LTIP), composed of the endowments of Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts; the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C.; and several long-term College reserves. Johnson joins the College from global investment firm Cambridge Associates. At Amherst, she will report to Chief Financial and Administrative Officer Kevin Weinman. Her appointment is effective Sept. 9, 2019. She succeeds current CIO Mauricia Geissler, who has served in the role since 2003.

Johnson has spent her entire career at Cambridge Associates, based in its Boston office. Since 2015, she has served as managing director and Endowment & Foundation Team lead, managing more than 10 portfolios and clients ranging from $100 million to $4 billion and with total assets of more than $7 billion. Before that, Johnson was a managing director, beginning in 2011, and joined the firm in 2006 as an investment director. She graduated from Brown University with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and earned an MBA from Yale’s School of Management.

“I am thrilled to be joining the Amherst College community,” said Johnson. "Being able to focus on and contribute to one single portfolio and mission is a wonderful opportunity. I look forward to partnering with the investment and leadership team, the board and the broader Amherst constituencies in the important task of managing an endowment that is critical to the current and future success of the College and Library.”

“I am delighted that Letitia will be taking over the management of the endowment,” said Biddy Martin, president of the College. “The wise investment of gifts to the College has allowed Amherst to deliver on its mission for almost 200 years and will continue to make an Amherst education possible for exceptional students, regardless of means.”

As a result of the generosity of supporters and positive investment returns over time, spending from the College and Library endowments constitutes a majority of annual budgetary support for each institution. Amherst’s endowment is anticipated to fund 53 percent of its current fiscal year operating budget, one of the highest rates in higher education.  This draw supports the recruitment and hiring of the best faculty, as well as the admittance of the most qualified students without regard for their financial circumstances. As a result, nearly 60 percent of Amherst students receive grant-based financial aid from the College, averaging more than$50,000 per student annually. The endowment funds an even higher proportion of the Folger Shakespeare Library’s budget, more than 60 percent in the most recent fiscal year.

“The mission of Amherst College, the caliber of the investment portfolio and the talented investment team are each a valuable asset,” said Simon Krinsky ’96, a member of the Amherst College board of trustees and chair of its investment committee. “That combination was very attractive to a wide array of candidates. In Letitia, we have found an experienced investor with excellent leadership skills, high EQ, humility and vision. In short, we have found the person we need to steward our endowment for many years to come.” 

“I am excited that Letitia will be stepping into this crucial role,” said Weinman. “She impressed me and the search committee with her deep enthusiasm for the ambitious mission of the College and the Library, and a clear understanding of the critical importance of the endowment to achieving the goals of each.”

Geissler joined Amherst as its first chief investment officer. During her 16-year career at the College, the endowment grew from approximately $900 million to its current $2.4 billion level, while distributing more than $1 billion to support the College. She created and mentored a skilled team of eight investment professionals and instituted a popular student intern program. In addition to her investment insights and expertise, Geissler is recognized nationally for her attentive leadership and dedicated support of her team. She was named one of Trusted Insight's 2018 Top 30 Endowment Chief Investment Officers.

“I am deeply grateful for the many contributions made by Mauricia over a lengthy and distinguished period of service to Amherst College,” Krinsky said. “She built the investment function at Amherst College from scratch and leaves behind a talented and dedicated team of professionals committed to the ongoing success of the College. On behalf of the investment committee of the board of trustees, I thank Mauricia for her incredible work.”  

David Barrett Partners conducted the CIO search on behalf of the College. In addition to Weinman and Krinsky, the search committee included Amherst College board member Dwight Poler ’87, investment committee member Ben Gomez, and Cait Haught ’10.

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. 

Folger Shakespeare Library is the world’s largest Shakespeare collection, the ultimate resource for exploring Shakespeare and his world. The Folger welcomes millions of visitors online and in person. We provide unparalleled access to a huge array of resources, from original sources to modern interpretations. With the Folger, you can experience the power of performance, the wonder of exhibitions, and the excitement of pathbreaking research. We offer the opportunity to see and even work with early modern sources, driving discovery and transforming education for students of all ages. Join us online, on the road, or in Washington, DC. 

Photographer Annie Leibovitz Among Seven to be Honored at Amherst College’s Commencement May 26

(AMHERST, Mass., April 16, 2019) — Seven influential leaders in neuroscience, photography, religion, writing, astrophysics and social justice philanthropy will receive honorary degrees from Amherst College during its 198th Commencement exercises on Sunday, May 26, at 10 a.m. on the school’s main quad. Amherst President Biddy Martin will deliver the traditional Commencement address during the ceremony, and each of the honorees will speak in a series of conversations that are free and open to the public on Saturday, May 25. The schedule for the weekend is available on the Commencement website.

This year’s honorary degree recipients include the following distinguished guests:

  • Harvard neuroscientist David P. Corey ’74
  • Photographer Annie Leibovitz
  • Cape Town, South Africa, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba
  • Book author, science writer and scriptwriter Charles C. Mann ’76
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology astrophysicist Nergis Mavalvala
  • Journalist, book author and former Amherst Board of Trustees chair Cullen Murphy ’74
  • Ford Foundation President Darren Walker

The Honorees and Their Accomplishments

David P. Corey

David P. Corey is the Bertarelli Professor of Translational Medical Science in the Department of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School. His team uses a variety of biophysical, structural, genetic and imaging methods to understand how vertebrate ears convert the vibration of sound to a neural signal. Over 40 years, this has progressed from a basic morphological and biophysical description of the process, to a molecular identification of some of the proteins involved and solution of their structure at the level of single atoms. Because mutation of many of these proteins causes different forms of hereditary deafness, his laboratory is now using this understanding to develop new gene therapy methods to treat hearing loss. Corey joined the faculty at Harvard in 1984 as an assistant professor of neuroscience and an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Previously, he received his doctorate in neurobiology from Caltech and postdoctoral training in biophysics at the Yale School of Medicine. He graduated from Amherst in 1974 with a degree in physics and a budding interest in neuroscience.

Annie Leibovitz

Annie Leibovitz’s large and distinguished body of work encompasses some of the most well-known portraits of our time. Leibovitz began her career as a photojournalist for Rolling Stone in 1970, while she was still a student. In 1983, when she joined the staff of the revived Vanity Fair, she was established as the foremost rock music photographer and an astute documentarian of the social landscape. At Vanity Fair, and later at Vogue, her work with actors, directors, writers, musicians, athletes, and political and business figures, as well as her fashion photographs, expanded her collective portrait of contemporary life. Leibovitz has published several books and has exhibited widely. She is a Commandeur in the French government’s Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and has been designated a Living Legend by the Library of Congress. She holds a bachelors degree from the San Francisco Art Institute.

Thabo Makgoba

Thabo Makgoba is the archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa; metropolitan of the Anglican Church of the ecclesiastical province of Southern Africa; and chancellor of the University of the Western Cape. After earning his bachelor’s degree at Wits University in Johannesburg, Makgoba trained as a priest and earned a diploma in theology at St. Paul’s College in Grahamstown, South Africa, before being ordained. Among many other achievements, he has served in a number of positions in the Anglican Diocese of Johannesburg; earned another bachelor’s degree—this time in applied psychology—and a master’s degree in educational psychology from Wits, and published three books. He holds a doctorate in spirituality from the University of Cape Town and four honorary degrees, and participates on the boards multiple nongovernment and religious organizations. The youngest person ever to be elected the archbishop of Cape Town, Makgoba is credited with pioneering the use of indaba (the isiZulu word for “discussion,” often used in South Africa as a synonym for “conference”) in the worldwide Anglican Communion as a means of addressing and appreciating difference.

Charles C. Mann

Charles C. Mann’s most recent book is The Wizard and the Prophet: Two Remarkable Scientists and Their Dueling Visions to Shape Tomorrow's World. His previous books include 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created, a New York Times best-seller, and 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, winner of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences’ Keck award for the best book of the year. A correspondent for The AtlanticScience and Wired, Mann has covered the intersection of science, technology and commerce for many newspapers and magazines here and abroad. In addition to the aforementioned books, he has co-written four others, television scripts for HBO and Law & Order, and texts for museum exhibits and Native American cultural centers. He is a member of Amherst’s class of 1976. 

Nergis Mavalvala

Nergis Mavalvala, the Curtis and Kathleen Marble Professor of Astrophysics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a 2010 recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, is a physicist whose research focuses on the detection of gravitational waves and quantum measurement science. She is a leading figure on the scientific team that announced, in 2016, the first direct detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO). Mavalvala has also conducted pioneering experiments on generation and application of squeezed states of light, and on optical cooling and trapping of macroscopic objects to enable observation of quantum phenomena in human-scale systems. She was a postdoctoral fellow and research scientist at the California Institute of Technology before joining the physics faculty at MIT in 2002, and was appointed associate head of MIT’s Department of Physics in February 2015. Elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2017, Mavalvala earned her bachelor’s degrees in physics and astronomy from Wellesley College and her doctorate in physics from MIT.

Cullen Murphy

Cullen Murphy served as chair of Amherst’s Board of Trustees from 2012 until 2018. At present he is editor at large of The Atlantic magazine, where from 1985 until 2006 he served as managing editor. From 2006 until 2018 he was editor at large of Vanity Fair. For 25 years he wrote the comic strip Prince Valiant, which was drawn by his father, John Cullen Murphy. He has also written a number of books, among them Rubbish!: The Archaeology of Garbage, with co-author William Rathje; the essay collection Just Curious; The Word According to Eve: Women and the Bible in Ancient Times and Our Own; Are We Rome?: The Fall of an Empire and the Fate of America; and God’s Jury: The Inquisition and the Making of the Modern World. His most recent book, Cartoon County: My Father and His Friends in the Golden Age of Make-Believe, was published in 2017. Murphy is a former member of the governing boards of the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Emily Dickinson Museum, and the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities. He graduated from Amherst in 1974 with a degree in European studies.  

Darren Walker

Darren Walker is president of the Ford Foundation, an international social justice philanthropy with a $13 billion endowment and $600 million in annual grantmaking. For two decades, he has been a leader in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors. Walker led the philanthropy committee that helped bring a resolution to the city of Detroit’s historic bankruptcy, and he chairs the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance. He co-chairs New York City’s Commission on City Art, Monuments and Markers, and serves on the Commission on the Future of Rikers Island Correctional Institution and the UN International Labour Organization’s Global Commission on the Future of Work. He also serves on the boards of Carnegie Hall, the High Line and the Committee to Protect Journalists, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Walker graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, which in 2009 recognized him with its Distinguished Alumnus Award.

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.

The Common Magazine Receives $8,000 Amazon Literary Partnership Grant

Amherst, MA-- The Common magazine, the award-winning literary journal based at Amherst College, has been selected for a 2019 Amazon Literary Partnership grant. Since 2017, funding from the Amazon Literary Partnership has helped further The Common’s mission of publishing and promoting emerging and diverse authors who deepen our individual and collective sense of place.

Since 2009, the Amazon Literary Partnership program has awarded more than $12 million in grants to more than 150 organizations, including the National Book Foundation, PEN America, and Poets & Writers amongst others. Through these grants, the Literary Partnership program helps to uplift and amplify marginalized voices in order to promote a more diverse literary community. In 2019, the Amazon Literary Partnership worked with the Community of Literary Magazines and Presses to establish a new Literary Magazine Fund, and The Common is one of only 15 magazines awarded a grant from the Fund in its inaugural year.

“The Amazon Literary Partnership’s goal has been to support organizations that are vital to sustaining the literary culture of their communities,” said Neal Thompson, Manager of the Amazon Literary Partnership. “By funding organizations working to uplift the voices of underrepresented writers, we hope to champion the writers of the world we live in now.”

With this grant, The Common plans to continue its series of portfolios featuring translated Arabic fiction, co-edited by Jordanian author Hisham Bustani, with an upcoming collection from Sudan.  This portfolio by Sudanese writers, a literary community often overlooked even by Arabic publishers, will follow The Common’s Issue 11 portfolio, featuring 26 authors from 15 Arabic countries, as well as portfolios of Jordanian and Syrian writers in Issues 15 and 17, respectively. In fall 2018, the Amazon Literary Partnership helped fund a portfolio of writers and artists from Puerto Rico, responding a year after Hurricane Maria.

“I’m delighted that the Amazon Literary Partnership program recognizes the important work The Common is doing,” said Amherst College Dean of the Faculty Catherine Epstein. “With these funds the magazine can continue to broaden readers’ horizons and support diverse writers from around the world.”

About The Common

The Common is an award-winning print and digital literary journal published biannually. The magazine is based at Amherst College in Massachusetts. Since its debut in 2011, The Common has published more than 830 authors from 42 countries. Pieces from The Common have been awarded the O. Henry Prize, the PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Award, The Pushcart Prize, and have been selections and notable mentions in multiple genres in the prestigious Best American series. The journal’s editorial vision and design have been praised in The New Yorker, The Boston Globe, Slate, The Millions, Orion Magazine, and The Chronicle of Higher Education.  For more information and to read or subscribe, visit www.thecommononline.org

About The Amazon Literary Partnership

With the goal of helping writers tell their stories and find their readers, the Amazon Literary Partnership supports nonprofit literary organizations that share the organization’s obsession with empowering writers to create, publish, learn, teach, experiment, and thrive. Amazon provides grant funding to innovative groups that support a diversity of voices and strive for a lasting impact not only on writers’ lives, but on the broader literary and publishing communities. To learn more about the Amazon Literary Partnership, visit www.amazonliterarypartnership.com.

About CLMP

The Community of Literary Magazines and Presses ensures a vibrant, diverse literary landscape by helping small literary publishers work better. CLMP communicates the art of literary publishing to readers, writers, booksellers, librarians, educators, funders and other literary stakeholders and works to bring all of these communities together. Learn more about CLMP.

Betsy Cannon Smith ’84 is Named Amherst College's Chief Advancement Officer

(AMHERST, Mass., May 23, 2019) — Betsy Cannon Smith ’84, P’15 was named Amherst College’s Chief Advancement Officer today by President Biddy Martin. Cannon Smith, who has been alumni secretary since 1993, has served the College in a number of key leadership positions within the Advancement division since joining that group in 1986, including with alumni and parent programs, the annual fund, and the leadership gifts component of the College’s comprehensive campaigns. The appointment is effective immediately.

“I am delighted that Betsy will lead our talented advancement team and the Promise campaign efforts,” said Martin. “She has earned the respect and trust of generations of alumni, as well as colleagues and leaders on campus and off. Her comprehensive and deep familiarity with alumni, staff, and faculty is extraordinary, as is her devotion to the College and its mission. I feel fortunate to have her as a partner in our efforts to ensure Amherst realizes its promise."

In addition to leading the College’s Promise campaign, which kicked off in April 2018 and will span its bicentennial celebration in 2021, Cannon Smith will advise the Board of Trustees and Martin on advancement issues and serve on the College’s senior leadership team. She will enhance and execute the strategic plan for advancement by capitalizing on Amherst’s existing philanthropic strengths and identifying new opportunities. She will promote and cultivate alumni and parent engagement with creative programming and will collaborate with departments and colleagues across the College. Cannon Smith, who earned a degree in English from Amherst, has served as the liaison with the Board of Trustees for areas including trusteeships, honorary degrees and medals for eminent service. She also was a member of the 2003 search committee for the College’s president.

“It is an honor and a privilege to serve the College in this role,” said Cannon Smith. “I love this College and working closely with alumni, parents, and friends, as well as the campus community, to make possible the Amherst experience for successive generations of students. I'm thrilled to lead our committed and talented advancement team as we work with those who care so deeply for Amherst.”

Amherst College prepares students to use ideas to make a difference in the world. Since its 1821 founding 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.

Mead Art Museum Names Curator Dr. Galina Mardilovich Curator of Russian and European Art

(AMHERST, Mass., May 15, 2019)The Mead Art Museum at Amherst College announced today that it has appointed Dr. Galina Mardilovich to the position of curator of Russian and European art, effective July 1, 2019. Mardilovich, who has served as the acting curator at the Mead since August 2018, will oversee the museum’s program for Russian and European art, including researching the collection, developing exhibitions, and proposing new acquisitions. In addition, Mardilovich will collaborate with the Amherst Center for Russian Culture on the use of the Thomas P. Whitney ’37 Collection of Russian Art, a unique art and rare book collection that includes more than 600 paintings, drawings, and sculptures produced by artists both in Russia and in exile beginning in the late 19th century.

During her time at the Mead, Mardilovich has already curated two exhibitions that showcase her acumen for connecting the two collections under her purview: Constructing Collage and Fleeting Nature: Selections from the Collection (co-curated). She has also curated two exhibitions drawn specifically from the Mead’s Russian collection: Views from the Eastern Front: Russian Modernism and the Great War and Paste, Stick, Glue: Constructing Collage in Russia. The latter exhibition—an historical overview of the many ways in which Russian and Soviet artists employed collage, and the related techniques of film montage and photomontage—highlights the Mead’s tremendous collection resources in this area, including artworks by Liubov’ Popova, Aleksandr Rodchenko, Varvara Stepanova, El Lissitzky, Oscar Rabin, Oleg Kudryashov, and Alexander Kosolapov, among others.

“Galina is an outstanding scholar, teacher, and curator who, in her short time here, has already presented rich intellectual content in her exhibitions and built strong relationships with the Mead staff, faculty, and the broader Amherst College community,” said David E. Little, director and chief curator of the Mead Art Museum. “As a scholar who specializes in both prints and Russian art, Galina is uniquely positioned to create innovative exhibitions and programs, while extending our history of published scholarship in this field. I am excited that she has accepted this position and will be able to continue contributing to our community.”

Mardilovich received her Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge (2013) and is currently working on a book that focuses on printmaking in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Her work has been supported by research fellowships and grants from the Gates Cambridge Trust, Metropolitan Museum of Art, American Philosophical Society, Getty Research Institute, and Francis Haskell Memorial Fund, among others. In 2014, she was the recipient of the Mary Zirin Prize for independent scholarship, awarded by the Association of Women in Slavic Studies. Mardilovich has published widely, contributing articles and reviews to outlets such as The Burlington Magazine, Print Quarterly, and Art History.

“I am excited about the opportunity to invigorate the wonderful exhibition program and work of the Mead, and to find new ways of engaging with the rich collections here, for both the students and our broader community,” said Mardilovich. “It has been inspiring to work with colleagues across the Amherst College faculty, and I am looking forward to continuing to build those relationships.”

About the Mead Art Museum

Established with funds bequeathed by William Rutherford Mead (Class of 1867), a partner in the storied architectural firm of McKim, Mead, and White, the Mead Art Museum holds the 19,000-object art collection of Amherst College, representing a wide range of historical periods, national schools, and artistic media. The Mead’s Thomas P. Whitney Collection of Russian Art features more than 600 objects created by artists in Russia and in exile in the 19th and 20th centuries. Whitney, a diplomat, writer, translator and journalist, graduated from Amherst College in 1937, co-created the Amherst Center for Russian Culture in 1991, and donated his collection of Russian artwork to Amherst College in 2001. The Mead’s collection also includes American and European paintings, Mexican ceramics, Tibetan scroll paintings, an English paneled room, ancient Assyrian carvings, West African sculpture, Korean ceramics, and Japanese prints, along with fine holdings of American furniture and silver. 

Danielle Amodeo
 413.542.5651 (o)


Renowned Neuroradiologist Nadia Biassou is Named 2019-21 Wade Fellow at Amherst College

Class of 1988 Alumna Will Share Her Experiences with Students to Inform and Inspire Their Career Exploration through Reinvigorated Program

(AMHERST, Mass., March 14, 2019) — Renowned diagnostic neuroradiologist Nadia Biassou, a member of Amherst College’s class of 1988, has been named a Wade Fellow at the school for the 2019-21 academic years. The appointment will bring Biassou to campus during the academic year with the goal of sharing her extensive experiences with students to help them learn how identity informs career exploration and to collaborate on programming that teaches them skills for navigating a complex professional world before and after graduation. Her term begins in fall 2019, and the Wade Fellowship programming is open to all Amherst students. 

“I am so honored to have been selected to serve as the next Amherst Wade Fellow,” said Biassou, who currently is a Senior Research Physician in the Radiology and Imaging Sciences Department at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center in Bethesda, Md. “Amherst afforded me such a rare and extraordinary opportunity to explore a topic on the neuroscience of language that became my lifelong work and passion. I hope to help more students focus on finding their own voice as the basis for defining their life’s work and careers.”

"We are thrilled to have Dr. Biassou as our next distinguished Wade Fellow,” said Dr. Norm Jones, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer for the College. “Her compelling personal story has tremendously informed her professional story, and I'm very excited about her willingness to talk about her many life lessons—both the struggles and the successes—which will provide powerful testimony to our students about how each of them can learn and grow and accomplish in a challenging and changing world. This program is an excellent example of how generously Amherst alumni give back to the College in a wide variety of ways.”

This fall, for the first time, the Wade Fellowship program will include six Amherst student fellows, who will serve as ambassadors to other Amherst students and support their career exploration activities, including research projects, professional networking, and national organizations and events of interest, among other needs.

Biassou joins an impressive list of former Wade Fellows, most recently Harvard University Assistant Professor of Education Anthony Jack, Amherst class of 2007 and author of the acclaimed new book, The Privileged Poor. Other notable past Wade Fellows include: Kimberlyn Leary, Associate Professor of Psychology at the Harvard Medical School and Associate Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; Hugh Price, Commissioner, National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development for the Aspen Institute and former President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Urban League; and Kellie Jones, Professor in Art History and Archaeology and the Institute for Research in African American Studies (IRAAS) at Columbia University, among others.

In addition to her NIH responsibilities, Biassou has taught and mentored numerous physicians-in-training from George Washington University Hospital, where she serves as Clinical Professor of Radiology, and Georgetown University Hospital, where she is a member of the core faculty in the division of neuroradiology. She also lectures around the world. In addition to her work as a physician, Biassou is a trained linguist and obtained her master’s and doctorate in linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania. She specialized in the relationship between brain and language and studied under the tutelage of renowned neuroscientists Professors Jean-Luc Nespoulous of the University of Toulouse (France); Loraine Obler of the Boston University School of Medicine; and Murray Grossman and Mark Liberman of the University of Pennsylvania. Biassou went on to study medicine at the University of Chicago-Pritzker School of Medicine, graduating with distinction in internal medicine and neurology. She is one of less than a handful of cognitive neuroscientists worldwide to have achieved training in both medicine and linguistics. She is the only African American female in the nation with combined formalized training in medicine, biomedical imaging and linguistics and cognitive science. Biassou collaborates in numerous cutting-edge interdisciplinary research with other federal agencies, universities and industries.  She was appointed as a Senior Fellow to the Linguistics Data Consortium at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania in 2018.

The Wade Fellowship was launched in 1976 to expose Amherst students to the successful and rewarding careers of notable black alumni. It is named after Harold Wade of the Amherst class of 1968, who, after graduating with honors from the College, enrolled at Harvard Law School but tragically drowned just before his 26th birthday. At that time, he was working on the groundbreaking book, Black Men of Amherst. Wade’s mother and a group of friends and classmates finished the book, which was published by the Amherst Press in 1976.

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.

John Kasich to Speak at Amherst College on February 7

Popular Two-Term Ohio Governor and 2016 Presidential Contender to Headline Public Event

(AMHERST, Mass., January 16, 2019) — Amherst College today announced that John R. Kasich, Ohio’s outgoing two-term governor and 2016 presidential contender, will speak on campus on Thursday, February 7, at 8 p.m. at Johnson Chapel. The event is open to the public.

Kasich, a Republican, has served as Ohio governor since January 2011 and officially completed his second term today with the swearing-in of his successor, Mike DeWine. (The state’s governors are limited to two successive terms.) Kasich’s priorities were focused on restoring fiscal stability to Ohio, driving economic growth and job creation, modernizing infrastructure, developing a model to fight drug abuse and addiction and seeking bipartisan solutions on key national issues such as health care.

Prior to serving as Ohio’s governor, he was a member of Congress for 18 years, where he served as chairman of the House Budget Committee and worked to balance the federal budget for the first time since man walked on the moon. Kasich also served as a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

He left Congress in 2001 and served as a managing director of Lehman Brothers, as well as a commentator for FOX News and a presidential fellow at The Ohio State University, from which he graduated in 1974 with a degree in political science.

Kasich, 66, has authored four New York Times best-selling books: Courage is ContagiousStand for Something: The Battle for America’s SoulEvery Other Monday; and, in 2017, Two Paths: America Divided or United. He was born in McKees Rocks, Pa., a suburb of Pittsburgh, and lives in Westerville, Ohio, outside Columbus, with his wife and their twin daughters.

Amherst College prepares students to use ideas to make a difference in the world. Since its 1821 founding 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.



Pulitzer Prize-Winning Novelist Jennifer Egan to Headline LitFest 2019, February 27–March 2

Event, Marking its Fourth Year, will also Feature Award-Winning Authors Jamel Brinkley, Brandon Hobson, Elizabeth Kolbert and Charles C. Mann


Jennifer Egan

(AMHERST, Mass., December 19, 2018) — Amherst College will host LitFest 2019, its fourth annual literary festival celebrating fiction, nonfiction, poetry and spoken-word performance, on February 27-March 2. The event will feature readings, conversations and book signings with Pulitzer Prize-winning authors Jennifer Egan and Elizabeth Kolbert, renowned science writer Charles C. Mann, and 2018 National Book Award for Fiction finalists Jamel Brinkley and Brandon Hobson, among others. The festival takes place on the Amherst College campus and is free and open to the public.

The festival builds literary community among students, faculty, staff and the public, and gives Amherst’s student body—widely recognized as one of the most globally, racially and socioeconomically diverse of any elite liberal arts college in the country—opportunities to engage directly with renowned authors from similarly diverse backgrounds and experiences whose perspectives and texts can inform and inspire their own. These role models and connections are an outgrowth of The Common's Literary Publishing Internship, which provides hands-on publishing experience for Amherst students year-round. 

Details about the main LitFest 2019 events are below, and the full festival schedule is available online at amherst.edu/go/litfest.

National Book Awards on Campus: A Conversation with 2018 Fiction Finalists Jamel Brinkley and Brandon Hobson
Thursday, February 28, 2019, 7:30–9 p.m.
As part of National Book Awards on Campus, a partnership between the National Book Foundation, Amherst College and its award-winning literary magazine, The Common, cultural critic Rebecca Carroll will host readings and a conversation with 2018 National Book Award for Fiction finalists Jamel Brinkley, nominated for A Lucky Man: Stories, and Brandon Hobson, nominated for Where the Dead Sit Talking. The event will be followed by an audience Q&A and book signing with both authors.

Headline Event: An Evening with Jennifer Egan
Friday, March 1, 2019, 7:30–9 p.m.
Jennifer Egan, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Visit from the Goon Squad and, most recently, of Manhattan Beach, will give a reading, followed by a conversation hosted by Amherst College alumna and editor-in-chief of The Common, Jennifer Acker. The event will be followed by an audience Q&A and book signing with Egan.

A Conversation with Science Writers Elizabeth Kolbert and Charles C. Mann
Saturday, March 2, 2019, 1–2:30 p.m.
Amherst College alumnus Cullen Murphy, editor-at-large of The Atlantic, will host a conversation with Elizabeth Kolbert, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sixth Extinction, and Amherst College alumnus Charles C. Mann, author of the award-winning The Wizard and the Prophet. The event will be followed by an audience Q&A and book signing with both writers. 

Additional LitFest 2019 events include conversations with author and cultural critic Rebecca Carroll and Amherst College Writer-in-Residence Shayla Lawson; a “Spoken Word Slam” for Amherst College students; and free public tours of the Emily Dickinson Museum. The festival is organized by the Center for Humanistic Inquiry at Amherst College, The Common magazine and the Emily Dickinson Museum.

Since its inception in 2016, LitFest has brought to campus more than 20 renowned writers—including Mark Bowden, Michael Chabon, Junot Díaz, Masha Gessen, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Stacey Schiff and Zadie Smith—for public conversations and book signings, as well as intimate master classes with Amherst and Five College students. From the first year, the College and its award-winning literary magazine, The Common, partnered with the National Book Foundation’s National Book Awards (NBA) on Campus program, which brings NBA winners and finalists to colleges and universities. NBA authors who have participated in LitFest over its four years include Amherst College alumna Lauren Groff (nominated for Fates and Furies in 2016 and Florida in 2018), Angela Flournoy (The Turner House), Chris Bachelder (The Throwback Special), Jacqueline Woodson (Another Brooklyn), Carmen Maria Machado (Her Body and Other Parties), and Min Jin Lee (Pachinko). LitFest has grown in popularity each year, with audiences doubling from 850 in 2016 to 1,700 in 2018.

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—from attracting remarkable faculty and alumni writers to collecting exceptional written material—as well as the extraordinary resources and opportunities available for current and prospective students, scholars and others. These opportunities include studying 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 and other authors and poets in College archives; and the College-owned Emily Dickinson Museum in downtown Amherst and Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. Read more at amherst.edu/go/writingcollege.

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Five Leading Liberal Arts Colleges Partner to Create New Solar Energy Facility in Maine

The Partnership is First Collaborative Purchase of New England-Generated Solar by Any Higher-Ed Consortium

(AMHERST, Mass., December 14, 2018) — Five of the nation’s leading liberal arts colleges have formed a pioneering collaborative that will allow them to offset 46,000 megawatt hours per year of their collective electrical needs with electricity created at a new solar power facility to be built in Farmington, Maine. The partnership represents the first collaborative purchase of New England-generated solar electricity by higher-education institutions.

Amherst, Bowdoin, Hampshire, Smith and Williams colleges are partnering with a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources, a leading clean energy company, which will construct a utility-scale solar power facility that annually will create enough electricity to power about 5,000 New England homes.

Each of the colleges will purchase zero-carbon electricity from the Maine site to reduce carbon emissions from campus electricity use. The facility is expected to open in 2019.

The New England College Renewable Partnership is innovative and impactful in several ways:

  • It facilitates the development of additional solar electricity generation in New England.
  • It will have a significant sustainability impact, moving each of the five campuses closer to their climate-action goals.
  • It helps each school manage costs by “locking in” the price of electricity for the next 20 years.
  • And, most importantly, it provides market access that would not have been available to individual institutions, offering a scalable model that other colleges and universities can follow.

Competitive Energy Services acted as adviser to the colleges.

The Impact at Amherst

At Amherst, which has already reduced greenhouse emissions by more than one-third during the past decade, the use of the solar power generated at the new facility represents another step toward the college’s goal of achieving carbon neutrality. 

“Amherst is delighted to be part of this important partnership, which illustrates how changes in sustainability practices at our institutions can have a larger impact,” said Biddy Martin, president of Amherst. “The involvement of four other highly regarded institutions in New England allows all of us to move forward with our climate action plans and multiplies the effect overall. It also sends an important message that every institution and every individual can be an agent for positive forward movement on the urgent challenge of sustainability.”

Through the partnership, Amherst will purchase 10,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of renewable energy, or approximately half of its annual electricity use — and nearly all of its purchased electricity. (The other half is derived from a combined heat and power plant on campus.) This partnership will enable Amherst to reduce its CO2 emissions by more than 3,200 metric tons, decreasing its greenhouse gas emissions by 17.5 percent. 

“The group spent more than two years carefully searching for the right project that will generate renewable energy in our region, and allow us to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions in a cost-effective, collaborative way,” said Laura Draucker, Amherst’s director of sustainability. “The Farmington project meets our aspirational goals, including our desire to purchase project-specific Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), which is not common in New England. We hope this partnership will inspire other colleges and universities to consider joining forces with like-minded institutions to achieve scaled environmental and financial benefits.”

The Impact at Bowdoin

For Bowdoin, which today is announcing that it has achieved carbon neutrality two years ahead of schedule, the NEC Renewable Partnership represents a second pioneering expansion of clean solar energy in Maine. It follows the 2014 development with Solar City of what was then the state’s largest solar array, with rooftop systems on the college’s major athletic facilities and on college-owned land at the former Brunswick Naval Air Station.

“Today at Bowdoin, we celebrate the dual milestones of carbon neutrality and this promising and innovative solar project with our partner colleges from Massachusetts, but we are far from done,” said Bowdoin College President Clayton Rose. 

“In the coming year, we will be working with members of our campus community to put forward ambitious new plans at the college focused on greater sustainability achievements and environmental stewardship. In the meantime, it is a point of great pride that Maine will be home to this new source of clean solar energy and, that for the second time in recent years, Bowdoin is helping to establish the largest solar facility in our state.”  

Close to half of Bowdoin’s annual electricity consumption will come from solar energy when the Farmington solar complex comes online. This does not include the existing 1.2 MW solar facility hosted by the college since 2014. The Farmington solar complex will reduce Bowdoin’s own-source greenhouse gas emissions by about 11 percent.

Given the new facility’s location in Maine, Bowdoin officials anticipate that the solar partnership may also provide educational and research opportunities for Bowdoin students and faculty who will soon be working together in the new $16.5-million Roux Center for the Environment slated to open on the Brunswick campus in the fall of 2018.

The Impact at Hampshire

“Across the U.S., in the absence of federal leadership, much of the action on climate change and reducing emissions is coming locally, from communities and institutions joining together,” said Hampshire President Jonathan Lash, a global environmental leader who was president of World Resources Institute and served two U.S. presidents on national environmental councils. “Five independent, private colleges partnering for a major green-energy purchase sends a signal that we’re taking responsibility for the effects of our actions.”

Since 2011, Hampshire has led a Sustainability Initiative to transform its operations, curriculum, food systems and culture to further its goal of sustainability. Building on a decades-long practice of environmental science, studies and stewardship, the college has been aggressively acting on the initiative and becoming more sustainable, and this partnership with four peer colleges across New England advances Hampshire further toward its goals. To cite other progress, Hampshire today is:

  • Supplying 100% of campus electricity using on-campus photovoltaic systems, on an annualized basis; these on-campus systems are rated at 4.9 megawatts DC output;
  • fully divested from fossil fuels;
  • promoting sustainable design as the home of higher education’s largest certified Living Building, the R.W. Kern Center, the 17th building certified under the most rigorous green-building design standard; as well as the home of a second center built to the same standard, the Hitchcock Center for the Environment;
  • increasing the use of its farm and local sources to supply campus food;
  • operating more efficiently after establishing a Sustainable Revolving Fund to increase investment in and implement energy-saving renovations;
  • reducing emissions and saving money by converting mowed lawns back into natural meadows;
    moving closer to achieving its Climate Action Plan to make the campus climate neutral by 2022.

“This is the challenge facing our students as they reshape the workforce in the next 20 years: how to turn the U.S. economy into a low-carbon economy,” said Lash, who will retire in June. “It may seem like a distant challenge, but for our students, it’s very real and immediate. Spending so much time on campus, they learn from not only what we teach, but how we choose to live. We’re working together with them to address this serious challenge.”

Hampshire’s incoming president is Miriam E. Nelson, outgoing deputy director of the Sustainability Institute at the University of New Hampshire.

The Impact at Smith

The NEC Renewable Partnership significantly expands on Smith’s existing commitment to renewable energy purchases for Smith, says Smith College President Kathleen McCartney. “This is a groundbreaking demonstration of the first collaborative purchase of New England-generated solar electricity by higher-education institutions,” she notes, “but I hope it will not be the last. This initiative demonstrates that by working together, we can make a substantive, positive impact on our environment -- at the institutional level, the regional level and beyond.”

Michael Howard, Smith’s executive vice president for finance and administration, says the partnership is a significant shift into renewable energy for the college, as Smith will purchase about 30 percent of its electricity through the partnership. This is all of the electricity that the college currently does not produce on site. (Solar panels on Smith’s campus already provide the equivalent of 2 percent of Smith’s electric use.) The Renewable Partnership will reduce college greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent, bringing Smith significantly closer to its goal of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

The NEC Renewable Partnership will be a template for anticipated future electricity purchases, as the 
scale of the project -- and the contract model -- enable significant progress toward environmental sustainability at minimal cost.

In addition, the partnership will provide educational opportunities for Smith students.

“This partnership demonstrates the substantial value that can be created through institutional collaborations,” Howard said. “When we are able to work together toward common objectives, we can be more innovative -- more impactful -- than we can be on our own. And those benefits accrue to all members of our communities.”     

The Impact at Williams

The NEC Renewable Partnership enables Williams College to further its commitment to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions as well as advance toward meeting its two most recent sustainability goals. Set in September 2015 by the college’s Board of Trustees, these goals are to reduce emissions to 35 percent below 1990 levels and purchase sufficient carbon offsets to achieve carbon neutrality—both by the end of 2020. The solar commitment is the latest in a series of steps toward these goals, including

investing in new projects to lower energy use in existing campus buildings, as well as investing in sustainable design, building practices, and systems for all new and ongoing construction projects, among numerous other initiatives aimed at reducing carbon emissions.

“The Farmington solar complex makes it possible for Williams to procure renewable energy and the related environmental attributes at competitive rates, both of which would not be attainable without this collaborative partnership,” said Matt Sheehy, associate vice president for finance at Williams College. “Williams has an obligation to reduce its carbon footprint in substantive ways, both on campus and beyond, and we are invigorated by this partnership with our friends in higher learning to invest in achieving net carbon neutrality,”said Williams College’s Interim President Tiku Majumder.

The NEC Renewable Partnership creates opportunities for Williams to continue to invest in other sustainability projects and opportunities as they arise while moving the college toward its 2020 emissions goals. “We knew from the start that we would need close to 100 percent renewable electricity to meet Williams’ most recent sustainability goals,” said Amy Johns, director of the Zilkha Center for Environmental Initiatives at Williams College. “And we are thrilled both with this particular project and with the chance to work closely with our peer institutions.”

Emily Dickinson Museum Announces Significant Upgrade and Expansion

$300,000 National Endowment for the Humanities Grant and Purchase of Adjacent Property Will Significantly Enhance the Celebrated Amherst, Mass., Museum’s Offerings 


(AMHERST, Mass., November 12, 2018) — The Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst, Mass., today announced a major upgrade and expansion made possible by a $300,000 National Endowment for the Humanities grant, which will protect historic collections at the existing museum, and the purchase of an adjacent property that will eventually open even more of the poet’s Homestead to visitors. The Museum, which attracts an average of 15,000 visitors each year, holds the largest and most diverse collection of objects related to poet Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) and her family, illustrating important themes in 19th century social and cultural history such as gender and domesticity, changes in aesthetic tastes, class and social prominence, and civic engagement.

The Emily Dickinson Museum, created in 2003 under the ownership of Amherst College, currently comprises two houses, The Homestead, a National Historic Landmark where Emily Dickinson was born and wrote nearly all of her poetry, and The Evergreens, where Dickinson family heirs lived until 1988. The NEH grant will be equally matched by Amherst College, which owns the Museum but does not fully fund its operations or restoration projects, and will be used for the replacement and expansion of the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems at The Evergreens. The Italianate-style home, built in 1856, has remained largely unchanged since the 1890s and contains thousands of historic objects related to the Dickinson family. 


“Enhanced insulation and a new HVAC system in The Evergreens will create the kind of stable environment necessary for long-term protection and stewardship of this unique historic collection and will allow us to display significantly more of the collection,” said Jane Wald, Emily Dickinson Museum executive director. “We’re delighted that the National Endowment for the Humanities and Amherst College recognize the importance of the material legacy of a family whose contributions to our national literary culture are so profound.”

In July, the Museum purchased a third of an acre property on Triangle Street in Amherst, directly north of The Homestead. The Museum’s administrative offices, currently housed in the Homestead, will be moved into the newly acquired 2,200-square-foot building which, in turn, will allow the Museum to expand interpretation of the poet’s life and work by restoring additional spaces in the Homestead. The purchase was unanimously approved by the Museum’s Board of Governors, which also provided the bulk of funding in partnership with Amherst College. 

“The Museum is at an inflection point in its current trajectory,” said immediate past chair of the Board of Governors Ken Rosenthal, who led the fundraising drive. “An extraordinary visitor experience depends on moving administrative workspaces out of restorable spaces and sets the Emily Dickinson Museum firmly on a path into the future.” 

The NEH’s Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections program helps cultural institutions meet the challenge of preserving large and diverse holdings of humanities materials for future generations by supporting sustainable conservation measures that mitigate deterioration, prolong the useful life of collections, and support institutional resilience. The $600,000 project was one of 218 proposals that received a total of $43 million from the NEH this summer. In a highly competitive peer-review process, NEH approves only one out of four grant applications. 

From the time of the Museum’s founding in 2003, the Board of Governors and Museum staff have completed numerous projects intended to restore the Dickinson homes and grounds as closely as possible to their nineteenth-century appearance and to provide the mechanical infrastructure to support Museum functions. Most recently, in 2017, Emily Dickinson’s garden conservatory was reconstructed from original materials saved on site and the Homestead library interior finishes restored. 

The Museum’s mission is to spark the imagination by amplifying Emily Dickinson’s revolutionary poetic voice from the place she called home. It is open Wednesday through Sunday, 11 am to 5 pm. Learn more at www.EmilyDickinsonMuseum.org.

Amherst College Announces Two New Major Initiatives to Expand the Loeb Center

The Meiklejohn Fellows Program and the Charles Hamilton Houston Internship Program will increase student career opportunities.

(AMHERST, Mass., November 7, 2018) — Amherst College today announced that it has launched two new, innovative programs as a part of its rapidly modernizing and expanding Loeb Center for Career Exploration and Planning: The Meiklejohn Fellows Program and The Charles Hamilton Houston Internship Program. These initiatives will significantly expand the opportunities for summer internships, research positions and other experiential offerings for Amherst students to help prepare them for post-graduation careers and endeavors. 

Gifts from life trustee Charles Ashby Lewis ’64, who has been particularly influential throughout the Loeb’s modernization process, and his wife, Penny Sebring; trustee Arthur W. Koenig ’66, who laid the groundwork for and helped build connections between the Meiklejohn and Houston programs, and his wife, Yvonne; trustee Ted W. Beneski ’78 and his wife, Laurie; and a matching gift from a major anonymous donor have made the creation of these two milestone programs possible. The gifts are part of Amherst’s comprehensive campaign, Promise: The Campaign for Amherst’s Third Century.

“I am extremely grateful to our generous alumni for their extraordinary contributions. They have become our partners in our efforts to help students pursue a rigorous liberal arts education, knowing that the College will offer opportunities for them to prepare for possible careers,” said Biddy Martin, president of the College. “The expansion of the Loeb Center’s programs through the Meiklejohn Fellows and Houston Internships provides all our students significant opportunities to acquire the skills and work experiences they will need when they graduate.” 

“As Amherst has admirably diversified its student body, I have been pleased to help modernize what is now the Loeb Center,” said Lewis. “It seeks to enable all Amherst students to obtain meaningful first positions in their chosen fields before graduating.”

“These two wonderful programs are the result of experience and understanding gained over years of developing Amherst's diversity programs,” said Koenig. “The College learned that a diverse student body requires more than academic support. The Meiklejohn Fellowships and the Houston Internships offer this to all students.”

“The interaction between these two new programs, and the deep alumni commitment fueling it, will empower much of our center’s work in the years to come,” said Loeb Center director Emily Griffen. “We will be able to more nimbly meet the needs of our students as they navigate a broad range of post-graduate options.”

The Meiklejohn Fellows Program provides wrap-around infrastructure for first-generation and/or low-income Amherst students through coordinated financial, academic, career planning, and social supports. The College’s first-year class is exceptionally strong academically and the most racially/ethnically and socioeconomically diverse on record: 31 percent are Meiklejohn Fellows and 49 percent self-identify as U.S. students of color. The program is named for Alexander Meiklejohn, who, at 41 years of age, was Amherst’s youngest president and served from 1912 to 1923. He was a notable education reformer, a staunch defender of academic freedom, and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. While at Amherst, Meiklejohn laid the intellectual groundwork for it to become the rigorous liberal arts college that it is today.

The Charles Hamilton Houston Internship Program, over time, will make a large number of paid internships and research opportunities available to all Amherst students, in the process helping to create “social capital” for many. The program is named for Houston, who graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa as a member of the Amherst class of 1915, and went on to become the first African-American editor of the Harvard Law Review. He became dean of the Howard University College of Law at 34, eventually mentoring Thurgood Marshall, among others. Houston is considered one of the prime architects of the legal strategy which challenged the principle of “separate but equal” in public education, leading to the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954.

Meiklejohn was the president of Amherst when Houston was a student. Fittingly, the two programs will be linked, in that all Meiklejohn Fellows will be guaranteed a Houston Internship after either their first or second years. In today’s rapidly changing world, it is increasingly important for students to begin to explore careers early in their college lives. And, in turn, in providing new structures to help all students explore and plan for careers, the Loeb Center and its Houston program will help to fortify the College’s commitment to the liberal arts.

Another important initiative in the modernization of the Loeb Center is the creation of a number of industry-specific Career Programs. They have been made possible by gifts from Lewis; trustee Douglas C. Grissom ’89 and his wife, Ann M. Grissom P’22; and Loeb Center Advisory Council members Sara H. Banner ’89 and her husband, Jon. The Loeb Center was named in 2016 in recognition of a gift from Michael R. Loeb ’77 and his wife, Marjorie. It reports to the College’s Dean of the Faculty, Catherine Epstein, to reinforce its significance in the overall academic experience and growth of Amherst students.

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.  

The Common Magazine, Based at Amherst College, Receives $50,000 Gift to Support its Literary Publishing Internship

(AMHERST, Mass., November 5, 2018)  The Common, the award-winning literary journal based at Amherst College, has received a $50,000 gift from Sally Wood, whose daughter and late husband attended Amherst. The gift supports student interns who show exceptional editorial promise and leadership skills. The students funded through this gift—one per year for four years—will be known as the Thomas E. Wood ’61 Fellows, in honor of the donor’s late husband, an English major, avid reader, and gifted writer and poet.

“We are deeply grateful to the Wood family for this generous gift,” said Jennifer Acker, editor in chief of The Common. “We are pleased to be able to honor Mr. Wood’s memory and to strengthen and expand our mentorship of talented student leaders who display a passion for literature.” Since 2010, Acker has directed the Literary Publishing Internship (LPI), which employs eight to 10 students during the school year, during the January Interterm and over the summer. Interns critically evaluate submissions; write, edit and proofread prose and poetry; create multimedia web features; write and design publicity materials; develop, organize and staff innovative events on campus and across the country; and research magazine production and distribution. 

“I would like to thank the family of Thomas E. Wood ’61 for their gift and for their commitment to the vibrant literary community at Amherst,” said Amherst College President Biddy Martin. “This generous support for The Common’s internship program allows our exceptional students to engage deeply and consequentially in reading and writing outside the classroom.”


Julia Pike ’19

Julia Pike, a member of Amherst’s class of 2019, is the first recipient of the Thomas E. Wood ’61 Fellowship. Pike, an English major, is a previous recipient of the Gregory S. Call Student Research Grant, which enabled her to spend eight weeks on the Amherst College campus during summer 2018 working on her thesis, a speculative fiction novella inspired by climate change. She was also awarded the Harry Richmond Hunter Jr. Prize, given for the best essay written by a sophomore as part of the work of any English course at the College. Her writing has been published in Two Thirds North, The Molotov Cocktail and Rookie Magazine, as well as in The Common.

“I am thrilled to have been named the inaugural Thomas E. Wood ’61 Fellow and am especially excited about taking on more editorial work, as well as planning community events. I am so grateful to the family of Mr. Wood for giving me this opportunity,” Pike said.


Thomas E. Wood ’61

The Common is an award-winning print and digital literary journal published biannually. Issues of The Common include short stories, essays, poems and images that embody a strong sense of place. Former LPI interns have gone on to publish novels, win Watson Fellowships, study English literature at top graduate programs and work at nonprofit organizations and literary publishers around the world. Since its debut in 2011, The Common has published more than 650 authors from 40 countries. Pieces from The Common have been awarded the O. Henry Prize, the PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Award for Emerging Writers, and have been selections and notable mentions in multiple genres in the prestigious Best American series. The journal’s editorial vision and design have been praised in The New YorkerThe Boston GlobeSlateThe MillionsOrion Magazine, and The Chronicle of Higher Education.  For more information and to read or subscribe, visit www.thecommononline.org.

Amherst College Announces $50 Million Anonymous Gift as Part of its Promise: The Campaign for Amherst's Third Century

Amherst College seal, with a sunburst over an open book and the words Terras Irradient
(AMHERST, Mass., September 10, 2018) — Amherst College has received a gift of $50 million by an anonymous donor as part of its comprehensive campaign, Promise: The Campaign for Amherst’s Third Century. This gift, along with a $100 million gift from an anonymous alumnus announced at the campaign’s launch in April, has provided a strong base for the College’s goal of raising $625 million over the next five years.

“The extraordinary generosity of our donors makes it possible for this gem of a College to provide students with the best possible education, one that has close colloquy between faculty with students at its heart,” said Amherst President Biddy Martin. “The priorities of our Promise campaign are straightforward and focused on the fundamentals of great education—a faculty of distinguished scholars who treat teaching as a calling, financial aid that allows us to enroll promising students regardless of means, curricular and pedagogical experimentation, new approaches to career exploration, and more creative ways of building and enjoying community. This generous gift will ensure that we can continue to develop independent, versatile, and creative thinkers.”

The Promise campaign includes support for a new interdisciplinary science center, the largest project in Amherst’s history, that is likely to be unsurpassed at a liberal arts college. With this center and additional faculty positions, the College will set a new standard in the mathematical, physical and biological sciences and enhance its historic excellence in the humanities, arts and social sciences. The science center opened last week.

The campaign will enhance need-based scholarships and other forms of support for students, continuing Amherst’s commitment to removing barriers to access and ensuring equity in the opportunities students have once they are enrolled. Amherst’s incoming class of 2022 possesses the strongest academic credentials on record and is the most racially and socioeconomically diverse to enroll. It marked the College’s highest number of applicants (9,724) and self-identified students of color (47% of the class) and is projected to include 60% financial aid recipients—and 29% who qualify for Pell grants—and 16% first generation students. The class also boasts a record average ACT and SAT composite score.

For more information on the Promise campaign, visit amherst.edu/give.

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.

The Lord Jeffrey Inn Introduces New Name and Logo


(AMHERST, Mass., August 27, 2018) — Amherst College today announced that, in keeping with a decision made by the board of trustees in 2016, the Lord Jeffery Inn will become the Inn on Boltwood shortly after the New Year. The new name of the property highlights its location on Boltwood Avenue in Amherst, where it has been since its opening nearly a century ago. Although the avenue is only a quarter of a mile long, it directly connects Main Street in downtown Amherst to the heart of the College’s campus and serves as a symbolic and a tangible connection between town and college. The Inn’s full-service restaurant has been named 30Boltwood since 2012 when it opened.

In the heart of New England, where the maple-lined lawn of Amherst Common meets the campus of Amherst College, the historic Inn has been a treasured landmark hotel in Western Massachusetts since 1926. The property features 49 guestrooms and suites, a ballroom, conference facilities, a tented garden area, and the restaurant. Recognized as a Silver LEED Certified hotel and member of Historic Hotels of America, the Inn prides itself on its commitment to both environmental sustainability and historic preservation. The property underwent a major renovation in 2012.

“This Inn has played an important role in the community over the years and will continue to do so,” commented Kevin Weinman, Chief Financial and Administrative Officer of Amherst College and President of the Amherst Inn Company. “The name is changing, but its beauty and impeccable level of service will remain the same. The Inn on Boltwood will continue to proudly serve our local community, as well as welcome visitors to the Town of Amherst and all that the town and area have to offer."

The Lord Jeffery Inn is professionally managed by Waterford Hotel Group, a national hotel management firm. “The renaming of the Inn represents another important chapter in the story of this historic property. We are proud to be affiliated with this beautiful inn, and we look forward to introducing it as the Inn on Boltwood early next year,” said Michael Heaton, President of Waterford Hotel Group.

The rich history of the Inn has served many notable guests, including Robert Frost, who frequently stayed there, and Archibald MacLeish. It hosted a gala celebration for Frost’s 80th birthday in 1954, which MacLeish attended. The Inn was conceived by Ernest M. Whitcomb (AC 1904), who formed a committee of like-minded alumni and led the effort to raise the approximately $400,000 in funds needed to construct the original structure. It officially opened on June 3, 1926.

The 46,000-square-foot Inn, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Amherst College, is designed to meet the needs of Amherst College faculty, staff, alumni and visiting guests as well as corporate and leisure travelers. With more than 8,000 square feet of flexible indoor and outdoor meeting space, including a 2,360-square-foot ballroom and multi-purpose meeting room, the Inn is the ideal venue for business functions, conferences, board meetings, and social events. A tented garden area offers the option of outdoor space for as many as 180 guests. 30Boltwood, the Inn’s full-service restaurant, provides exceptional food and beverage as well as catering menus created to appeal to today’s sophisticated palate. For more information, visit www.lordjefferyinn.com.