- Amherst Works, 2011 DecemberAmherst Works, 2011 December
Brief bio: I’ve been at Amherst College for 25 years. I came from the University of Toronto. I received my Ph.D. from MIT and my undergrad degree from McGill. I grew up in D.C.
Date started at Amherst: July 1986
Current position: Professor of Geology and, off and on for the last 10 years, I’ve been the Director of the Beneski Museum of Natural History
Various positions held at Amherst: Faculty member
Funniest experience at the College: My wife and I didn’t make it to the hospital when my daughter was born. She was delivered in my car.
What do you splurge on? Bicycles
Favorite thing to do outside of the College: I’m involved with my son in scouting.
Little-known fact about you: I was a figure skater as a child. I was good, since there weren’t many boys.
Celebrity sighting at Amherst College: Leslie Stahl (reporter for 60 Minutes)
Your coworkers think you are… lucky to be alive! I did a lot of mountaineering when I was younger.
What sideline or hobby do you have? I am an avid bicyclist. I bike between 4,000 and 5,000 miles per year.
One thing you would change about yourself: The color of my hair (gray)
What really sets you off? Pettiness
One product, trend or fashion you’d like to see return: ’70s music, or pop music before rap
People in high school thought you were… a serious student.
Strangest job you ever held: Looking for uranium in the tap water of hunting lodges in Northern Wisconsin
Dumbest thing you ever did: Didn’t beach a canoe, so it blew away from a very small island in a very large lake
Proudest moment: The birth of my children
Closing comment: I’m very proud to be a part of the museum. Love that Harvard, Yale and Amherst all have [natural history] museums and Williams doesn’t!
Date started at Amherst: As a casual in January  and then in a regular, benefitted position in October 2003
Current position: Collections Curator, Beneski Museum of Natural History
Various positions held at Amherst: I’ve served on the ACPP Committee (2 terms), the Wildlife Sanctuary Committee, ABC and, most recently, the Presidential Search Committee.
Funniest experience at the College: While taking down the dinosaur skeleton at the Pratt Museum, we found a matchbook in the wall. It turned out that the people who had put up the skeleton had put the matchbook in the wall with all of the names of those working on the skeleton. It was from the 1940s.
What do you splurge on? My mortgage
Favorite thing to do outside of the College: I co-teach a dance class (hip-hop) for teenage moms in Holyoke. It’s volunteer work. I started as a dance major in college.
Little-known fact about you: I descended from Geronimo (on my Mom’s side).
Celebrity sighting at Amherst College: The Beneskis
Your coworkers think you are… dedicated to my work.
What sideline or hobby do you have? Gardening
One thing you would change about yourself: I’d be taller.
What really sets you off? Senators … vilifying those people in our country who have the least power and calling it patriotism
One product, trend or fashion you’d like to see return: Return to horse-and-buggy travel
People in high school thought you were… I was supposed to give the commencement speech and I slept through it. … I’ve never been to a class reunion.
Strangest job you ever held: In grad school, I bartended and worked (briefly) at a bar in Chicopee where most of the patrons spoke Polish.
Dumbest thing you ever did: Wrecked a car that I loved because I didn’t replace the timing belt
Proudest moment: When I was asked to be on the Presidential Search Committee
Closing comment: Hey, all of you AC employees: Come to the natural [history] museum and see our cool exhibits!
Alfred Joseph Venne, aka “Fred”
Brief bio: 25+ years of public school service in the Northampton area. The most recently held position was as the Principal for the Williamsburg Public School. Past Executive Director of a social services agency. Youth sports coach [of] soccer, swimming, cross-country, basketball, to name a few.
Date started at Amherst: July 2011
Current position: Museum Educator [at] Beneski Museum of Natural History and Bassett Planetarium Educator
Various positions held at Amherst: Hasn’t been here long enough to have held any others
Funniest experience at the College: Giving a tour to a group of kindergarteners and then the same tour to a group of senior citizens, and they all had the same “wide-eyed with wonderment” expressions.
What do you splurge on? Pizza
Favorite thing to do outside of the College: Being with my family: my wife and 3 sons, ages 9, 14 &18
Little-known fact about you: While [I was] competitively swimming at UMASS as a student, my bathing suit ended up at my ankles. I continued to swim (a bit hindered) and came in 2nd place!
Celebrity sighting at Amherst College: No one so far
Your coworkers think you are… attentive to details and interested in everything.
What sideline or hobby do you have? I am an avid runner (averaging 50 miles per week) and cyclist (averaging 100 miles per week).
One thing you would change about yourself: I did! I changed my career so I could teach the type of science outreach that you can do here and bring it to a broader audience.
What really sets you off? Nothing
One product, trend or fashion you’d like to see return: The reliance on electronics would be diminished. [Editor’s note:This interview occurred before the big storm.]
People in high school thought you were… polite.
Strangest job you ever held: I used to clean the Amherst Medical Center (when it was Kaiser), Hickory Ridge Golf Club and a small convenience store from 12:00 a.m. to 4:00 a.m.
Dumbest thing you ever did: On a hot summer’s night, when I was about 8 years old, I rode my bike behind the mosquito sprayer who was spraying my neighborhood.
Proudest moment: The birth of my children
Closing comment: In my short time at the College, I have found everyone to be incredibly gracious.