Welcoming you on
this rainy afternoon. Amherst is beautiful,
regardless of the weather. But it’s a pity that it has to
be regardless of the weather today. My name is Paula Roush,
and I’m one of the members of the Board of Trustees. I am just about to rotate off
of the board after 12 years. And I want to spend a
couple of minutes talking about what the board does. It’s as important what we
don’t do as what we do do. But we are really the
stewards of the institution that each of us loves. I would say this is the best
unpaid job I’ve ever had. And our board is
an unusual board. For the people that serve on
many boards, the Amherst board, and others, very
often they will say this is by far the best board
that they have ever served on. There is a shared passion
about the college. I don’t believe any of you
would be back here if you didn’t share that passion with us. And it’s a diverse
group of people with very different skills. And we are called
upon to undertake a variety of special
projects, as well as the work of the board. And it’s, kind of, the basics. We need to engage fully in
the mission of the college, to support the values
of the college. Part of it is to show
up and be prepared. When I spoke with [? Giday, ?]
who was the second chair of the board during the time
that I’ve been on the board– he had been on the board, before
he rotated off, for 18 years. And let me know that he had
only missed one board meeting. So I feel compelled
now to say to you, after 12 years on
the board I have only missed one board meeting. And part of what we
need to do is really to understand the
difference between oversight and management, to be sure that
what we’re doing is oversight, but not getting
lost in the weeds, and actually
damaging the college by trying to micromanage it. The board is engaged
in oversight. The administration is
involved in management. Hopefully you will share
your thoughts with us, at the end of what I hope
will be an interesting hour. And what I am going to ask my
fellow board members to do– we have one board member
who headed back to Boston, because he was on
call for the weekend and was worried
about the traffic, and another who was caught
in traffic on her way here. So we may get joined by
another board member. But I’m going to ask my
colleagues, to my left, to introduce themselves
to tell us, I hope, a little bit about what
their day jobs are, a couple of things
about what they did when they were Amherst students. We’re all here for our reunion. So I guess you have to
declare your reunion year. I’m a ’77. When they joined the board,
some of the committees that each of us
serve on, and why anyone would choose to
make this commitment. So Dwight, your first up. Good. I’m Dwight Polar. Class of ’87. I am in my second
year in the board. When I left Amherst,
as a history of international
relations major, I immediately went into
almost 30 years of finance, as a good liberal arts
grad does, shifting gears. Went off to New
York, Tokyo, Boston, and then have been
based in London the last eight years in my 24th
year with Bain Capital doing private equity. So that’s my day job,
and where I live. I’ve got three children. One is a sophomore here. My second is a sophomore here. So I get a bit of exposure
to student life right now. My activities at Amherst. I did JV soccer, glee club. I was in the– ’87, as those of you who
were here would know, that was the last year
of the fraternities. So I got to experience
the shift from having to not having
fraternities, which is a bit akin to what’s
going on with the change in the social dorms now. And my roles on the board,
I’m on the finance budget committee, the development
committee, and the instruction committee. And I guess, for
just a minute on why I wanted to join the board. Obviously, the place
has always been incredibly important to me. But it was actually at one
of these sessions exactly– it must have been
five years ago. I don’t think it was 10 years
ago, when someone started asking the question of, how does
the math work with how tuition is rising, endowment returns,
and a tough market are falling? I guess it really was
10 years ago, because it was right after the crisis. How scholarship’s
rising, and such. How does all that math
work in this college? And that question
intrigued me a whole lot. And has been something that
I was interested in before joining the board. And it’s been a
fascinating education to be involved with
it now, and to work with an extraordinary
finance team at the college in place now
that works through that issue to great effect. So that’s been my real focus
on coming on the board. I’m John Middleton. I’m the class of
’77, with Paula. I’ve been on the
board eight years. I chairman of the buildings
and grounds committee. I’m on the budget and finance. I’m on the
advancement committee. I’m on prestigeship committee. I’m missing one. I shouldn’t miss it, but I am. So when I was here
I was a wrestler. People, kind of, think
sometimes that they’re the admission mistake. Well, turns out that boards
make admissions mistakes too. So I have the distinction of
being both an admission mistake to get here, and an admission
mistake to be on the board. But they haven’t
caught on quite yet. So I’m hoping to escape
after another four years. I think the reason why
I joined the board is I was a businessman. I went from here to
Harvard Business School. And then I spent nearly 30
years building up a company before I sold it. So I’m semi-retired. In my semi-retirement I am
also the managing partner of the Philadelphia
Phillies, which is sometimes fun,
but right now, not. So there are no
reporters here, I hope. Don’t repeat that. The reason I joined is I’m
fascinated by organizations and I’m fascinated by
world class organizations. I had the privilege of being
on the board of Penn Medicine, which oversees everything
medical about the University of Pennsylvania, which is
another great institution. And Amherst is a
great institution. And it’s been great,
and wants to stay great. And that’s a tough challenge. Staying great over
time is very difficult. It takes enormous
commitment, enormous effort. And it takes resources,
money, as well as people. And the leadership
that’s required to lead an organization like
this is really something. And I joined the board when
Tony Marx was the president. I really liked Tony. I loved the direction he
was taking the college. And I had the privilege– and
really, it was a privilege. I was on the search
committee that hired Biddy. And I was part of
a small group– there were about four or five of
us who went down to Washington for the first time we met Biddy. And I remember walking out of
that meeting with the others, and I looked at them as we
were getting in the elevator. And I said, does
anybody else think we just talked to the next
President of the Amherst College? And they all shook their
heads, nodded their heads. Biddy’s great. And I think the chance to
work with leaders like Biddy is a rare opportunity in life. And I love working with her. I love supporting her. I love the way
she challenges us. And I love the way she
allows us to challenge her. It’s been a great learning
experience for me, intellectually. And it’s a privilege to be here. I’m very grateful. Hi. I’m Pat Fitzgerald,
from the class of 1982. And I’ve been on the
board four years. I chair the Human
Resources Committee. It’s a little bit
like going to college again when you’re on the
board, except you’re not allowed to cut class
at all, which is tough. It’s pretty exhausting to be
on the board, to be honest. People are very,
very deep thinkers. And those of us who are not can
get very, very tired quickly. I feel your pain. And I look out, I see
Michelle Deitsch, my classmate who was on the board. And she and I didn’t
know each other, but we visited, and
stayed in Morrow, when we were high school seniors. There was three of us. My good friend John Goggins. And Michelle’s on the board. And if someone had told
me that night Michelle would be on the board,
I would believe it. If they told me I’d be
on the board I’d say, oh god, they’re in trouble. The reason I joined the
board, very sincerely, is I found Amherst was a life
changing experience. And I thought it
more life changing, I realized, afterward,
than when I was here. My high school was a
life changing experience. And my parents were immigrants. They went to sixth grade
in Ireland, both of them, and then came here. And then to come to Amherst and
have this opportunity– which was a gift, because I didn’t pay
anything to go here, basically. To get that gift, and then
just to realize how much you learned outside the classroom. And when I was here
people always kept saying, you’ll learn more
outside the classroom than you’ll learn
in the classroom. I always thought that was
the stupidest thing ever. I’m thinking, wait a minute. You’ve got these really smart
PhDs, and then the other people who are your age. So how would you ever learn
more from them than the PhDs? And maybe about 20 years
later, it, sort of, sunk in. And I realized
you learned a lot. And I think you learned
a lot from the fact that people were very
different and they were very different backgrounds. And you got to mix
with them a bit. And you learn to think
and debate, and do it in a very constructive way. And so it changed my life. After here I went to law school. I practiced law briefly
in the private sector. I spent 24 years as
a federal prosecutor in New York and Chicago. Now I’m back in
the private sector for four years in Chicago. And so when it came
a time to figure out what I wanted to do, sort
of, the pro bono side, I thought the thing
that most impacted me, life wise, was education. And gave me a chance
that I wouldn’t have had. And I thought any way
I could contribute would be a great thing to do. I echo John’s
comments about Biddy. The one thing I’d
also say besides Biddy being a remarkable
leader in the room is our chair is Cullen Murphy. It’s, sort of,
remarkable to have a board chaired by someone
who writes for a living. He’s a very careful thinker. And he could put pen to
paper like nobody else. But it’s not just how he
writes, but how he thinks. And so it’s a very,
very good board. Probably shouldn’t roll
grenades out there, but some of the issues
we’ve dealt with. Of all the issues
we dealt with, we didn’t spend the greatest amount
of time on the mascot issue. But I hope people
paid attention to it. And I thought when you
looked at how Cullen wrote the letter afterwards
it was really thoughtful, because on the
one hand he said, look, everyone writes that there
are bigger issues than this, but, then you realize
that people really got engaged in the issue. And we had a really thorough
discussion behind closed doors. It was not unanimous. It was vigorous. But then people, sort
of, closed ranks, and sort of said, at
the end of the day, well, if the majority
of the alumni want to change the mascot,
and the overwhelming majority of the students want
to change the mascot, and the overwhelming
majority of the faculty want to change the
mascot, and we don’t even have an official
mascot, then maybe we should change the mascot. And that logic made sense to me. But I also thought there were
a substantial number of people who believed in the mascot. And we wanted to do it in
a way that wasn’t, sort of, a condemnation of
people saying, hey, if you rally around that mascot. That’s fine. And we weren’t going
to retry someone from the 18th century
in modern jurisprudence, and figure out what
exactly did he say? Did he cause? Did he do? It was sort of like, we’re
going to just move on from this. But we’re not going
to chastise people who have loyalty to the mascot. So if you hear people singing
Lord Jeff this weekend, they’re not going to get
arrested and thrown off campus. Have at it. And so just thought that issues
big and small, as a group, I think we wrestle with them,
and we do our best to move on. John, can you say something,
as buildings and grounds, about the amazing amount
of construction that’s been going on and is
going on, on the campus? How far back do
you want me to go? So for those of you who
haven’t been here for a while, the campus looks
quite different. I was talking at one
o’clock presentation with Tom Davies, from the
buildings and grounds office, on this Greenway projects. And somebody came
up to me afterwards. And he said, I hadn’t been
on this campus in 15 years. He said, I can’t believe
how different it is. I mean, this is, when I
talked about a commitment to excellence, and being great,
you need great facilities. And this is a college that
has been committed to, and has done a remarkably
good job of maintaining its facilities. The dorms is going through– well, almost entirely complete. Not entirely. But they’ve gone
through their dorms. They’re going through
their academic buildings. Obviously, the single
largest project in history of the college
is the science center, and because it’s in the
middle of construction, it probably deserves the
most focus of my comments. But along with what we
call the Greenway Projects, it’s the science center. It’s the Greenway itself. And then it’s the four dorms. It’s a $330 million project. We started working on it really
hard in the summer of ’13. And we’re going to
open up the science center in September of ’18. And it was amazing to
see the group of people, because it was senior staff,
it was senior administration, senior faculty,
pulling together, and students, to, kind
of, pull this off. So let me try to think
of a couple of things, I guess, I should say about it. Obviously, world class science
is important in liberal arts education. I think one of the most
interesting comments to that effect was made
to me by Shirley Tillman. Shirley’s the retired president
of Princeton University. And I had the great
pleasure, I bring Shirley up and back from
Princeton to these meetings every quarter. And so I get to spend a lot of
time with Shirley one on one. And a number of
years ago, when we were working on the beginning
of this project, she said to me, John, she said, the dividing
line between great liberal arts colleges in the
future is going to be their science, their science
departments, and their science center. And she said the
reason for that is it’s cause it’s so expensive
to build a science center and to maintain the science
faculty at a world class level. And she said the schools
that don’t have the money, or don’t have the commitment,
and therefore don’t make the effort, and build
these new facilities, are going to fall by
the wayside, over time. So she said, for
Amherst, if it wants to be great in 25, 50 years,
it has to do this project. So I think that’s an
important place to start. And the other thing
I would say is, we’ve all, basically, gone to
a school that’s a great school. I mean, the university’s
been a world class school for a long, long time. But too many people don’t
remember that it wasn’t always the Amherst today. If you go back in time, it
was a lot less than that. It was a New England
regional college. And it was really
starting in the 30s with Stanley King, who kind of
created a vision for Amherst, actually went out and retained
Charlie Cole, who’s a graduate, to chair a long term
strategic planning committee that set the
course for Amherst to become what it is. World war two intervened. They shelved the strategic plan. After World War II
Stanley called it off. He looked at the
trustees and said, guys, it’s like a 10 year plan. I’m not going to be
here to implement it from beginning to the end. I think you need to go out
and hire a new president. And they all turned
to Charlie Coleman. And Charlie implemented
the plan that he wrote under Stanley’s direction. And that really
was the transition from Amherst in the 30s, and the
40s, and the 50s, and the 60s, and continuing into a
spectacularly great school. What the importance of that
is, as Shirley’s comment reinforces, you don’t stay
there without commitment, and dedication, and effort. And so I think this is such
a great, great project. In I don’t know what else
I could say about it. I think it reflects the
integration of sciences, for those of you
who are scientists, you understand how different
science is practiced today than it was 20, 30 years ago. The departments are
all, kind of, scrambled. They’re on different floors,
they’re on different wings. They have different
adjacencies to each other than they did 50 years ago. I think when we’re
finished we’re going to have the
greatest, the best, science center of any liberal arts
college in the country. So I think it’s something you
all can be very, very proud of. Paul, could I add
something to that? I sit on a different educational
board, a public board. And it’s great. But at the end of it there’s
a procurement package that people voice vote on. It has all of this,
revise this lab, fix this lab, which
is building up. A lot of money gets spent
with, like, a voice vote. I don’t think people
appreciate when John says he’s involved
in these projects. Like, before they built the
science project, the people from campus, the administrative
people who were really on top of this, faculty,
students, and John, visited half a dozen other
campuses to walk through, tour, get feedback, figure
out what’s going on. The amount of time and
effort, particularly John, puts in for the
board, is remarkable. So when he says he’s, sort
of, in semi-retirement, and runs the Philadelphia
Phillies, like, he has two jobs. But it does show you the level
of commitment people have, which it’s, sort of,
like it’s not just, OK, we should have
a science center. Let us know what
happens in a few years. It’s briefed every
meeting and usually ends with, on time and on budget. So it’s quite the effort. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] Dwight, do you want to take us
on a tour of Amherst finances? Sure. I think those of you that are
involved in Education today, in any way, know
education is expensive. Whether you’re a parent
paying for it or on the board and trying to manage it. And I think much of what the
administration does here, and we try to support
on the board side, is managing three sides
of a triangle, which are budget management,
making sure that spend is managed
in a way that we get the best possible
education, and truly the best in the United
States internationally. Two, is that we invest
our endowment, which we’re fortunate. I’ll come back to that
in the third piece of it, to have a really
strong endowment. But we need to manage it in
ever more complex markets, and how to make money
from the endowment, because that’s a key part
of our income stream. And then third is
in development. And we are blessed with an
extraordinarily generous alumni base that has contributed
over time to build a really powerful endowment. And we rank up there in
endowment per student, right at the very top decile of
schools, whether universities or colleges. But the challenge is managing
those points of the triangle. And I think where
Amherst has gone and done something very different
from many schools is to go forward and be
the school of the future, not just in academic rigor and
strength, but in diversity. And not just diversity
of ethnicity, but socioeconomic diversity,
regional diversity, situational diversity. And that has been a journey that
we are all very excited about. And John mentioned
Tony and [? Giday ?] really getting us off on
a fantastic path here, which I was extremely
supportive of. And the beginning of this
raised the challenge, and it puts pressure
on all three points of those triangles,
because people come from different backgrounds. And it costs a bit
more to get everybody into the same place
on the learning side. We’ve been able to embrace with
the generational transition of our faculty, a
fascinating new faculty base. And attracting faculty
against the top colleges and universities around
the country is expensive. So that has cost to it. And as those of you in the
financial markets know, it’s been a pretty complicated
financial markets to navigate. As I said, this was what
drew me onto the board, because I saw it as a
really interesting challenge to get at. And to arrive, and find
Kevin Wymenar, our CFO here who is just extraordinary. The finance team is as good here
as in any of our private equity portfolio companies, which
gives me fantastic comfort. Our investment committee is
led by an extraordinary talent, with Amos Hostetter, Peter
Nadosi, both 80 or above, with experience that
is extraordinary, and puts us at the top
ranks of investing. And as I said, the endowment
has gone very well. But keeping those in
place is a real challenge. And so the tension between
ever better programs to make sure that the
schools at the top, while balancing the finances,
is something that we really try to work with
the administration to support on all three fronts. I’m sure people have
questions on that. But it’s been absolutely
fascinating to be on the inside. And if it was worrying to
watch from the outside, being on the inside and seeing
the debate that actually happens, the talent
that comes to bear here, has been incredibly
gratifying to be part of. So I want to tell
you a little bit also about myself,
and my day job, and then talk a little bit about
our Amherst students, which are an amazing group
of young people. So my day job is I’m a child
psychiatrist at Mass General. I transferred into Amherst
with the first group of women. I see some others
in the audience who were in those
early days, because of when I came to Amherst. I’m Amherst’s first
female physician, which is kind of fun. I run a program at the Mass
General helping parents who have life
threatening illness to think about the
well-being of their children, in the context of what is
usually a shortened life. During my Amherst days
I was not an athlete. I am still not an athlete. So I feel like this
is my varsity team sport, being a member of
the board of trustees. It is a varsity
level team, indeed. I was dorm adviser. And I met, at that time, with
many alumni groups that were very opposed to coeducation. I can remember meeting with
members of the beta society and having one of them stand
up and say, how does it feel to have ruined Amherst College? With the confidence
of being 19 I assured him that I didn’t
think that our group of women, and all the women now
who have come after us, were ruining the college. And a member of the class of ’78
said, each of you in this room, referring to then the alumni
who were substantially older than us. I realized, probably
younger than me now. But they seemed really
old at the time. As far as I can
tell, each one of you relies on Amherst as
a place of excellence. And if you are not
willing to draw from 50% of the population
in who you choose you can guarantee
that 25 years from now you would have allowed Amherst
to fall farther and farther behind. And it wouldn’t be the place
that you wanted it to be. That was the beginning
of his illustrious career in advertising. Truly. And I felt, at that
time, supported by my fellow classmates, by the
then president of the college. And for me, coming back,
in all seriousness, though I too joke about,
how did I end up here? And in fact, at our last
reunion someone said to me, boy, aren’t you surprised,
out of all of us, you’re the one that’s on
the board of trustees? And I said no nobody’s
more surprised than me. And then the child
psychiatrist in me thought, but do you have a frontal lobe? Because you might have
kept that one to yourself. Not really. My greatest joy being
at Amherst on the board is really the students. Every time we have a chance
to meet with the students they’re just extraordinary. They are excited. They are interested. They are interesting. I have had the enormous pleasure
of having two of our sons attend Amherst. And each of them grew
in wonderful ways. Scott Turow, who was on
the board when I joined, described Amherst as the place
where you become yourself. And whilst I had
little perspective when I was a student that
I was becoming myself I had the great
privilege to watch my children become themselves. And that is really
an amazing thing. For me, there are many
aspects of student life that are interesting and
important, because Amherst is as selective and continues
to be more and more selective. I think many of us
think all the time we would never have gotten into
Amherst if we had to apply now, because it’s probably true. But when you choose from
such extraordinary kids from so many
different places, it makes one take pause
about what will and won’t allow them to succeed in the
way that we would wish for them. And when you think
about what gets in the way of success emotional
well-being, time management, substance use. There are a number of mental
health and emotional well-being issues that actually interfere
with people becoming the selves that they might best become. And again, I would
echo my colleagues here in saying that when you are
sitting here and talking with the administration, with
the faculty, with the students, the extraordinary care that
goes into this stewardship for every child that comes,
in every young adult who comes in to Amherst College,
the care that goes into hoping to help them to become
the best young adult, and ultimately, citizen of
the world, is extraordinary. And if I could, with my magic
wand, offer something to you, it would be to allow everyone
to be a fly on the wall, to actually hear
these discussions, and to actually get an up
close view of how much care goes into this. And I think before
I was on the board, and as I’ve listened
to some of the comments from the alumni body, I think
it may not always be apparent, the deep thought that
goes into the process, so that people tend
to get the headlines, because that’s what’s available. But I would really wish
that you could hear how deeply and carefully
around, literally, every student the
conversations unfold. And anyone have another
comment, other thoughts? You want to talk? Nope. [LAUGHING] I have no thought. All right. OK. So then we’re going to
stop about 5 to 10 minutes before 5:00, so that
people that want to go to the powerhouse
for the reception there can make their
way in the rain. Maybe the rain has stopped. And so we open it up
to your questions. I wasn’t going to
ask this department. Jeff, because he’s class
of ’52, why don’t you open up your meetings if you
want us to know [INAUDIBLE]. That’s [INAUDIBLE]
it’s a good question. I’ve wrote in to the
board several times. Didn’t get the response. It’s a good question I
have about the board. I’m not [INAUDIBLE] But I ask, but how
many here disagree [INAUDIBLE], with Cullen
Muprhy’s statement? An you can change the
characterization, if you want, that it’s clear what Lord
Jeff thought, conceptually. But as to what he
did, it’s not clear. Did Eddy disagree with that? And I’ll tell you why I ask him. It is clear. It’s not [INAUDIBLE]
clear what he didn’t do. He didn’t know it. If there’s evidence
why the change? We have the science. Do you folks agree with that? That they just forgot. I’ll take a crack at it. OK. I don’t remember exactly
what he said about that. And I won’t want to talk about
what other people on the board said, but I’ll tell
you what I think. It was pretty clear
that he made statement indicating that
it would generally be a good thing if someone
were to give blankets infected with smallpox, or
measles, whatever it was, to Native Americans. And we can debate the
context in which it happened. I know people said this
in a lot of e-mails, talking about the savagery
that was going on, on both sides of that war. [INAUDIBLE] Right. But whether people acted
upon it, or not, people can disagree, because
there’s a historical debate. And we have enough
trouble trying to figure out what happened
in situations in 2017, what happened a week ago. To go back a couple
hundred years and figure out whether or
not people were actually killed as a result. But if he said that, we could
have a very significant debate about how much you have
to forgive what people did when things change over time. But our whole point was,
if 85% of the student body feel like having that person
as an unofficial mascot was dividing us. And most of the
faculty felt that. And 52% of the
alumni felt that– And when I say, that’s
not a 52, 48 issue. It was a 52% were against the
mascot, 38% were in favor. And there was a gap of people
who said, I really don’t care. It just seemed like, why
do we associate ourselves with something
that’s dividing us? If we separate ourselves
from that mascot, and let people who support
the mascot have their views, that made sense. So I don’t think we thought
we could solve exactly what happened 200 years ago. So nobody disagreed with
that statement that– I don’t think
that’s what he said. What? I don’t think
that’s what he said. Yeah. It sounds like that
this is something that you want to
talk with one of us– No, I– Let’s also say– I think one
of the interesting questions a person has to
ask him or herself when you join a
group like this board is, what exactly
do you represent? And what does your
vote represent. I think one of the most
courageous political acts in this country was
with Sam Houston, who was a Southerner, voted against
secession, in US Senate. And he said, if you
read his biography. At the time he said,
I know who elected me. I know what the citizens
of my state want. But he said, when I joined
the US senate I’m not just a senator from a certain state. I’m representing, in a sense,
the entire United States. So whatever I thought
about Lord Jeff, or whatever I thought about
the claims, the issues that I came to when I had
to think about this was, what’s in the best interest
of Amherst College? And that’s a different
question to answer than, what do I think, personally? And I voted for what I
thought was in the best interest of Amherst College. And that’s– One is what happened
to the others? Your question. Right. And I think,
ultimately, to be honest with you, I don’t think the
first question, hundreds of years later, really matters. The problem is,
that said, is you have 85% of your
students feeling one way. You have your faculty
feeling another way– the same way, rather. At some point you
just have to, kind of, say, what am I doing
up here as a trustee? I’m charged with the
institution’s care. And that’s, ultimately,
I think the standard, and the benchmark, that
you have to make yours. [INAUDIBLE] A vocal student
body out of Saxton, Missouri. Maybe. We can agree to disagree. Are there other questions? Andy? So I wanted to talk about
something that I [INAUDIBLE] is– so by accident
[INAUDIBLE] fairly involved students at Amherst. So my wife and I both, and
our daughters went to Amherst. My youngest daughter
[INAUDIBLE] says that. I’m just kidding, I know you
don’t want to go to Africa. [LAUGHING] You know that it was
funny, fight everybody. So what happened with my
oldest daughter who was here– So ninth? Yes. Yeah. Captain took over. So anyway, I was
walking around– so I ended up being a medical
researcher, provisioned by [INAUDIBLE]. So I got know him as a friend. And one guy asked,
what do you do? [INAUDIBLE] be a technician
for a couple years. Because what happens
now, unlike when we went to college, [INAUDIBLE]
many kids a couple years off. So I ended up hiring him
to work in my [INAUDIBLE]. And I’m now on my sixth
consecutive Amherst student. So I come back. [INAUDIBLE] most of
the science people. I wasn’t a very good
basketball player, but I knew how to coach. So I know a lot of the terms. But one of the things–
it’s very true. [LAUGHING] [INAUDIBLE] Jeff [INAUDIBLE]. Anyway, the thing
that I did notice was when I came
back a couple weeks ago to interview students. So the kind of research I do
is so different than what’s at Amherst. The reality is Amherst can only
do more basic level research. It’s a college,
not a university. And so they work
on microorganisms. There’s a lot of what’s
called [INAUDIBLE] So as interviewed him, and I
told him I do all these things, and I do the [INAUDIBLE]. He said, that’s really cool. I have no idea that’s that
what they do at Missouri. And so the thing that
I’m thinking about is, it’s quite a challenge to
be a liberal arts college. And I have a friend at MIT
who’s a trustee candidate. And he is [INAUDIBLE]. At Amherst, and all these
schools, very exceptional. But the question is, how
do you bridge the gap? I think, is one
of the questions, because what you get
exposed to is partly what drives your future. And how do you increase that? So I have a simple thought to
think about, and I [INAUDIBLE]. What I would suggest
that you consider, because obviously we don’t
want to be a vocational school. What makes a great liberal arts. But of all these fields,
whether it be law, whatever, business,
is that maybe there could be a
senior level seminar series where you pair a
professor and an alumnus. And then each week they bring
in an alumnus in a certain area, and you have a seminar,
you have dinner, and you hang out, and talk. Because I was just so
struck by these people. Gee that’s really
cool, chemistry I would never think
that we could actually do that and this. And so I think that’s
the real challenge. But I think one of
the big challenges for Amherst, and for
people in the future, is how do you link it? So this might be a way to
link alumni, in whatever area. But also to gain some insight
into the potentialities, how you go about doing? I mean, I spent a lot of
time with these [INAUDIBLE] the better [INAUDIBLE]. And that no you can’t
expect everyone to be smart, and all that kind of stuff. But anyway, I think that’s
just a thought to think about. Thank you for sharing it. And we will connect
it with the faculty. Thanks. Yes? Hi. I’m Jeffrey Arch, ’82. Quick question. General question. Do you use guiding
principals to ensure that you’re a
board of oversight, versus a board of management? Because oftentimes,
just in general, there is that tension sometimes,
between board and management. So are there guiding
principals that you use, and how do you do
a sort of board where you can eliminate that,
kind of, potential tension? I’ll take that. Just in our [INAUDIBLE] role,
that’s in a lot of boards. And I think the
guiding principal that we use, which is a
very, very simple one here, is noses in, fingers out. It’s a very simple
way to say, it’s our responsibility
to know what’s going, to understand who’s
responsible for what, how are they doing, et cetera. But keep our hands
off the wheel. And it’s very simple,
but it guides all boards. And I think this board
does it incredibly well. And the challenge would be,
and essentially all of us said it, from
different perspectives, we have extremely capable
administration here. So when you get
in and see that, I don’t have to say it’s
an easy job, because deal with very complex
topics, and not everyone agrees all the time. And so the second
fundamental thing I’d say, in mention
of the board, is having very healthy, open
debate in the boardroom, and speak as one voice when
you leave the boardroom. And so topics like
we just touched on, it’s a very healthy debate. And I would say to
alums, the one thing that people should not think
is that when someone mentions, have you thought about x? Or I can’t believe you
don’t think about y. I’ll promise you, it
gets thought about. It gets talked about. And it gets aired very actively. And the dialogue is very open. So people are comfortable with
healthy doses of conflict, and confrontation,
and contention. But we do come,
as John summarized well, we speak as one voice
when we leave the room. And that, I think, fits our
roles of being stewards, know what needs to get done. Make sure we have the
best people in place. The board has, really,
one main one employee, which is the president
of the college. And the president of the college
needs to hire their team. And we’re always
just making sure we have the best president there. We get a lot of visibility
to the rest of the team, and be supportive
sounding boards for them. And I say the
structure of the board works incredibly well with
our chair, our president, our board, and all the
faculty that we get to see. I would also say
that, because really, essentially everybody comes
to every board meeting, having read a three
ring binder that’s full, and many things that
occur in between. And so I think the
board is small enough, the terms are long enough , that
there’s a culture of the board. And I believe that every
person that comes in is affected by that intense
culture of the nose in and hands out. I like that. Yes? [INAUDIBLE] ask
each of you, when you came onto the
board, what did you consider to be the
biggest challenge for Amherst. And what do you consider
today to be the biggest challenge of Amherst? Yeah. I’m going to start at the
other end of the table. [LAUGHING] Go ahead, Pat. I’ll tell you what I think
is the biggest challenge that remains and reflects
larger society, is how we deal with people
who disagree vehemently. And I just think we live
in a world in which people turn on one set of
cable news channels to hear what they think
repeated back to them, and hear people who think like
they do, and go out and say, I’m right. And they don’t look at the
other cable news channel, on both sides of the debate. And I think it’s very unhealthy. If you look at any
of the old crossfire. And you watch,
people don’t debate, they just yell at each other,
and sort of live in that world. I think Amherst is
especially important, and to try to make sure that
in our diversity we help have a diversity of thought. And not diversity of thought,
having polarizing views, yell at each other. But try to make sure
that we bring in people that have healthy discussions. I think one of the things
we were reflecting on in the last board
meeting, there’s been a lot of that
going on quietly. But Jeb Bush came to campus, I
think it went very, very well. Rich Lowry from the National
Review came to campus and went very well. So I think we want Amherst to
be a place where there is not a monopoly of views. But it’s not just to
bring in one person to yell or be yelled
at, but to have a broader diversity of thought. I think that sums it up
pretty well, don’t you? [LAUGHING] So let me take two
of Pat’s comments and knit them together. When I was on the search
committee that found Biddy, we spent a lot of
time talking to all the various constituents. And I was up here, probably,
8 to 10 times meeting with student groups. And it was astonishing how
consistently the students said to three or four of us
on the search committee that were at these sessions that
what they really wanted was to have the school help
them, have the college help them, kind of, learn
from each other. How to help them to, kind of– and Pat said– it wasn’t 20
years that he realized this. But he said how much he
learned outside the classroom. These kids today are
very cognizant of that. They’re cognizant. They like the diversity. It’s what attracts them here. And they’re trying
to figure out how they can use that diversity to
their intellectual and personal advantage, their
personal growth. And so I think that’s the
biggest challenge we face, is helping them. And to the extent that
we do that we will also touch on Pat’s more
recent point, which is, I think Amherst can
be a place where people from very
different backgrounds, very different
beliefs, can learn to exist together in harmony
and to express themselves appropriately. And I think if they
do that here they’ll do that in their
future adult lives, and influence their communities. And Lord knows we
need adults out there who can talk with each
other not at each other. So I see that challenge
is to help these kids. And we need to be
intentional about how we can help them to get to
that point in their lives. I couldn’t say it better. I’ve only been on two years. So I mentioned the
financial dynamic, which was the thing
that I thought was the biggest challenge. It is still something that I’d
say is in the top few issues we will continue to
manage, going forward. My first board meaning
was the Jeff mascot, and the post Amherst uprising. So I thought, wow, there’s
a lot going on here. And I thought, those
are big challenges. But not that far
into it I totally agree with what
Pat and John said, which is, what I think everyone
can see from the outside looks like tumult going on,
and is a challenge. I view it as very different. It’s a crucible of change going
on in society, and for all these various forms. And I really do the broadest
definition of diversity that we’re going through. The most exciting thing is,
I think, as a recruiter, these are the people
I want to recruit. And whether it’s into business,
or government, or academia, or anywhere, you want people
that can deal with difference, and embrace it, and find
the opportunities in it. And there’s just not many
of those places around today with the little
micro-bubbles that exist in internet communication. And so I think, as
challenging as it may be, and I watched my
daughter go through this. And there’s times I said, boy,
you’re here at a tough time. Then I say, but it must have
been really tough to be here during Vietnam, during
co-education, when the fraternities were removed. There’s always something. So we can look and say, god,
it’s so tough right now. This is just one
more form of tough. And that’s the way the world is. So I think it’s fantastic, the
crucible they’re going through. And I think they’re going
to be all the better for it. I think when I started on
the board number one, for me, was how do we make sure that a
liberal arts education, which I deeply, deeply
believe in, continues to be seen as valuable as I
believe it is, as many of us believe it is, and
in a changing world? Even more so, I
think the integration of science and
humanities has never been more important than it is now. And I think I am rotating
off the board, first feeling that the college is in
extraordinarily good hands, but continuing to have the
sense that young people coming of age, at this time, in
the life of the world, have a lot of challenges
in front of them. And I continue to feel
for them, in terms of their emotional
health and well-being. And that is not particularly
about those at Amherst. But those who are
18 to 22 and older. So that’s where my mind goes. I want to welcome Kim Leary, who
was caught in traffic instead of being up here. I invite you up, if you
want to come sit with us. Come on up. Can I not only put
you on the spot and ask you for some
perspective on your first year on the board? Sure. Well, I’m delighted to be here. And I apologize for being
caught in that traffic. You know, in joining the
board, and in getting to know Amherst
in this new way, I would say that what stood out
the most for me is that we each have our own Amherst. We know the classes
just ahead, just behind. But when you are a
member of the board, you have a chance
to, kind of, see the arc of Amherst over many,
many years and generations. And the first year, at
least for my first year, I’ve spent it, sort of,
trying to listen and learn across those generations. And as my colleagues
have said, I think the most exciting
part of being on the board is also being able
to see the college through the eyes of the
students who are here now. The questions, the
concerns, the challenges that they’re facing now. We map those, I
think, inevitably onto our own experience. But just as we were
talking about, being able to tolerate
difference, and being able to hold different
points of view, also involves having a whole
different Amherst in mind, as we sit on the board. And to think about where
Amherst, in the future, will be, and looking at
the young ones in the room, and thinking about what
college they will inherit. And that
responsibility, I think, means that you come
onto the board in a very humble position, and trying to
take the position of a learner. Last question. It’s more of a comment,
than a question. I’ve [INAUDIBLE] college
president for 22 years. Worked with a lot of
trustees over that time. First of all, I
want to thank you. Thank you. Amherst trustees,
meeting as often as you do, everyone showing
up, it’s extraordinary, it’s unusual. Believe in me, in a few thousand
plus colleges and universities of America, it’s
extraordinary, it’s unusual. Second, you mentioned that
the most important job, and it really is the
most important jobs, board of trustees, you just
picked a new president. And one should
never forget that. Everything goes
through the president. And that gets me to my other
comment, which is, Amherst is– and knows, it’s a
wonderful place now. In many ways it’s a much
more wonderful place than it was 50 years ago,
when I was an undergrad. I loved it then. But presidents are sitting
at the intersection of all these changes. And oftentimes they involve
visits to emergency rooms. They involve suicides. They involve
horrible challenges. People have no sense of
all the kinds of pressures that can come after presidents. So last comment is, the
board is very, very important to have the president’s back,
and insulate the president, and to be a place
that a president can talk to everybody about it. And say, hey I talked
to faculty about things. They can’t talk to
students about something. And you need a board
that needs to be a place that the president
can talk with 100% confidence. So I thank you for what
you’re for Amherst. Thanks a lot. Thank you. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] And now to the powerhouse. And you can thank the
president herself.