President Martin Presents Awards and Honorary Degrees

May 22, 2016

At Amherst’s 195th Commencement exercises, President Biddy Martin awarded honorary degrees, the Medal for Eminent Service and the Swift Moore Teaching Awards.

2016 Honorary Degrees

Best-selling author Chris Bohjalian ’82, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace President,William Burns, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Ebola response manager Inger Damon ’84, astronomer and astrophysicist Sandra Faber, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Director Kirk Johnson ’82 and renowned sociologist and educator Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot will receive honorary degrees from Amherst College during its 195th Commencement exercises on Sunday, May 22.

Read the honorary degree citations:


2016 Medal for Eminent Service

Kelly Close ’90 received the Medal for Eminent Service. The award is presented to members of the Amherst community who have demonstrated extraordinary devotion to the college.


The three winners of the Swift Moore Teaching Award
(Left to right) William Kahn, Dawn Gafa, Robert Gerver

2016 Swift Moore Teaching Awards

Secondary-school instructors who challenged, inspired and moved members of Amherst College's Class of 2016 will be honored with the Phebe and Zephaniah Swift Moore Teaching Award. This year’s recipients include:

  • Dawn Gafa, mathematics and physics teacher, Hazel Park High School, Hazel Park, Michigan
  • Robert Gerver, mathematics and statistics teacher, North Shore High School, Glen Head, New York
  • William Kahn, law, American history and government teacher, Brooklyn Technical High School, Brooklyn, New York

Class of 2016 Honorary Class Members

The Class of 2016 elected the following Amherst College staff members to be honorary classmates, and honored them at Senior Assembly:

  • Harris Daniels, Mathematics
  • Tony D. Esposito, Frost Cafe
  • Don Kells, Post Office
  • Doralinda Puente, Schwemm’s Coffee House
  • Zaweeda Sahabdeen, Dining Services