One Mother’s Day Adrie Kusserow ’88 knocked on a door unannounced. That knock has changed lives from Vermont to South Sudan.
ALSO Great Fakes PAGE 16 Your Generation PAGE 22 U.S. Rep. Tom Davis ’71 PAGE 26 A Model Who Codes PAGE 38
From left, Adieu Dau Thiong, Atem Deng and Adrie Kusserow ’88
IN THIS ISSUE
Ì SPRING 2014 | VOLUME 66
16 GREAT FAKES INTERVIEW BY ALEXANDER GEORGE
Jonathon Keats ’94, an artist and author, makes the case that forgeries are the great art of our time. 22 YOUR GENERATION
2 VOICES 4 COLLEGE ROW SERVING IN IRAQ, then going to Amherst A MAGNET like no other you’ve seen HAPPINESS: Do’s and don’ts based on research AND MORE
Amherst has 22,000 living alumni. A new survey reveals who you are and what you think of your alma mater. 26 THE PRINCE OF BIPARTISAN POLITICS BY ROGER M. WILLIAMS ’56
Despite running in a solidly purple area of Virginia, U.S. Rep. Tom Davis ’71 never came close to losing a race for re-election. “I retired,” he says, “undefeated and unindicted.”
SWIMMER Sarah Conklin ’16 had a lot to prove at nationals HOCKEY’s Christopher Finch ’14 researched concussions
14 POINT OF VIEW In Aunt Helen’s class, there was no room for false drama, false conclusions, falseness of any kind
37 BEYOND CAMPUS CODING Runway model Lyndsey Scott ’06 is also a computer programmer PEDIATRICS Urgent care, just for kids FARMING Helen Whybrow ’90 raises Icelandic sheep ENERGY Can solar power thrive in Somaliland? SOCIAL ACTION Helping girls navigate the pressures of growing up
43 AMHERST CREATES 32 FINDING REFUGE BY MARY JO CURTIS
One Mother’s Day Adrie Kusserow ’88 knocked on a door in Vermont, hoping to meet some of Sudan’s “lost boys.” That knock continues to echo. Ì
ON THE COVER
Photograph by Joshi Radin
FILM Sarah Bird ’87 produced and co-wrote HairBrained TV Writers for Parenthood and New Girl NONFICTION Christine Bader ’93’s The Evolution of a Corporate Idealist POETRY New work by poetphysician Rafael Campo ’87 MUSIC George Mathew ’91 conducted Shostakovich for the Children of Syria
50 CLASSES 114 IN MEMORY 120 REMEMBER WHEN Going to the president’s house was like entering a Currier and Ives print
“I lived in a broom closet on base. I think I can handle living in a dorm.” PAGE 4
MORE NEWS l In a jungle-like enclosure on one of the Carribean’s most ecologically diverse islands, Biology Professor Ethan Temeles is studying HUMMINGBIRDS and flowers in an eff ffort to answer one of evolution’s most vexing questions.
l With lectures, books
and 48 samovars (urns traditionally used to heat water for tea), Amherst’s CENTER FOR RUSSIAN CULTURE promotes understanding and informed relations between the United States and Russia.
l When do we conform?
PHOTOS BY SAMUEL MASINTER ’04, ROB MATTSON AND JANNA JOASSAINTE ’17
What do we need to learn? This semester students, faculty and staff ff took part in small-group discussions around these issues as part of ASK BIG QUESTIONS, an initiative brought to campus by Provost Peter Uvin. AUDIO AND VIDEO l Professor AMELIE HASTIE, chair of film fi and media studies, gave a virtual lecture that combines the central themes of two of her courses at Amherst, “Cinephilia” and “Cinema and Everyday Life.” PHOTO SETS l The Amherst College CHORAL SOCIETY and Jazz Ensemble joined forces in Buckley Recital Hall. Students talked about their research projects at Frost Library. Students showed their appreciation during Love My Alumni Week.
“Thank you for keeping me better informed about Amherst’s impressive admissions policy and the plans to make the college experience even better.”
THE BIG TE ST
’94 became a morni ng cable news host, he knew he had to boost ratings, beat CNN and get home in time to take the kids to
Nelson Mandela’s legacy at Amherst A call one police officer will never forget Facing cancer with joy— and music Winter 2014 Amherst
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Counselor training, Center for Community Engagement training and Student Health Educator training. Also, Amherst LEADS held three spring-semester events that were open to all students, as well as an event for club sport athletes.—Editor
Update: Last year we reported that Forbes had named four Amherst alumni to its 30 Under 30 list. This year Amherst has three names on the list, all from the Class of 2007: Eric Glustrom and Boris Bulayev, repeat winners from last year, in the social entrepreneurs category, and Adam Rodman, who founded Segra Capital Management, in the finance category. Glustrom and Bulayev cofounded a nonprofit, Educate!, that teaches leadership skills to young people in Uganda.
CALLING ALL SONGWRITERS THE GLEE CLUB INVITES ALUMNI AND students to enter a song competition with cash prizes in honor of the singing group’s 150th anniversary in 2014–15. The winning composition will be premiered at the Glee Club’s Senior Concert on Saturday, April 18, 2015. The deadline for submissions is Oct. 15, 2014. Here are the rules and regulations: Songs may be
Learning to Lead
David Kalema ’14 Æ FINDING COMMON GROUND
Leaders are often made on the playing field. At Amherst, an athletics department program formalizes this idea by treating varsity sports as a training ground for leaders. Headed by Gregg DiNardo ’01, Amherst LEADS offers the First Year Initiative Program, which teaches new studentathletes about their role on the team and how to lead themselves; the Futures Program, in which sophomores and juniors assess their strengths and weaknesses, study leadership styles and learn communication skills; and the Captains Program, for the student leaders of all 27 varsity teams.
TEAM: BASKETBALL POSITION: GUARD MAJOR: SOCIOLOGY
Megan Robertson ’15 Æ MAKING THE BEST DECISIONS
Robertson burst onto the scene as the league’s Rookie of the Year in 2011. She’s now one of the leading low-post players in the NESCAC. “Playing college basketball is a very different ff atmosphere from high school,” she says. “It is important for the leaders on the team to help the newcomers acclimate.” Being on a sports team has helped her learn to collaborate to reach a common goal. A co-captain, she hopes to work in athletics after graduation, perhaps in statistical analysis. “I am currently working with the Amherst LEADS Analytics group to learn more about Division III athletics through statistics. A job in this field would allow me to combine my interests in athletics and math.”
TEAM: FOOTBALL POSITION: OFFENSIVE LINEMAN MAJOR: POLITICAL SCIENCE
Chloe McKenzie ’14 Æ APPLYING YOUR MOST VALUABLE ASSETS
Landrus Lewis ’14E Æ RESPONDING TO ADVERSITY
through sports. Through their experiences I’ve learned that anyone can be a leader. Leadership isn’t just about what you say; it’s also about what you do to motivate and push your team, and how you do it.” He hopes to go to business school someday. “I am having a great time writing my thesis on the business of college sports and how it aff ffects student-athletes,” Kalema says, “so I can see myself getting involved in sports on the business side.”
TEAM: FOOTBALL POSITION: DEFENSIVE BACK MAJOR: PSYCHOLOGY
Rob Wasielewski ’14 Æ LEADERSHIP IS ALL ABOUT INFLUENCE
On the football field, Wasielewski learned “that leadership is all about influence,” says the tri-captain and three-time member of the All-NESCAC First Team. “Every action, every spoken word, carries with it the power to positively or negatively influence an individual teammate or the team as a whole. Leadership is recognizing this power and using it to better the team.” Also a leader off ff the field, he was one of two students chosen to serve on the college’s Special Oversight Committee on Sexual Misconduct. From LEADS, Wasielewski has learned to “look inward” and evaluate himself. “I am not sure where I will be next year, but I do know I want to be in a team setting, working alongside others for a common goal. This is the environment I enjoy most and one, I think, that I thrive in.”’
TEAM: BASKETBALL POSITION: FORWARD MAJORS: HISTORY AND MATH
“When you have a team full of guys from diff fferent backgrounds, it’s important to work together to find a common ground,” says Kalema, who was part of last year’s NCAA championship-winning team. “When everyone buys
in, practices are better, road trips are more enjoyable, chemistry is built and we find success as a team.” During his freshman year, Kalema’s captains “were so competitive in practice that everyone got better as the team got better.” Playing college sports, he’s discovered there’s no single definition of leadership. “Through Amherst LEADS, I’ve had the opportunity to listen to diff fferent speakers from around the country, many of them involved
TEAM: SOCCER POSITION: FORWARD MAJORS: GERMAN AND LAW, JURISPRUDENCE AND SOCIAL THOUGHT
A converted goalie, McKenzie didn’t see the field in her first season at Amherst, yet she realized she could still be a leader, by pumping up her team. “College athletics forces students to recognize how often they must refine themselves in order to improve,” she says. “LEADS helps you investigate what your most valuable assets are as a leader and then encourages you to apply them.” She’s come out of LEADS workshops “knowing myself better. And that is the key to being a good player, to being good at anything.” McKenzie is writing an LJST thesis on rape in the military. In June she’ll join J.P. Morgan as a trader. Longer-term, she wants to be a Constitutional lawyer.
Playing football, says Lewis, one of the NESCAC’s premier defensive backs, “I learned how to lead in diff fficult situations, how to respond to adversity” and how to take into account the goals of the team, not just his personal goals. As a tri-captain, he learned how to “keep a group of people on the same task” and to set a good example on and off ff the field. Amherst LEADS has helped him understand that he needs to know his teammates as individuals in order to bring them together as a group. “My goal is to become a very successful chiropractor and help people on their journey to better health,” he says. “I would also like to stay involved with football.”
Annika Nygren ’16 Æ PLAYING HARDER FOR HER CAPTAINS TEAM: FIELD HOCKEY POSITION: FORWARD/MIDFIELDER MAJOR: EUROPEAN STUDIES
“Observing my captains, watching their desire to win and willingness to push themselves to exhaustion to get there, makes me want to play harder for them,” says Nygren. Amherst LEADS has given her the opportunity to hear from guest speakers such as Julius Achon, a former child soldier
18 Amherst Winter 2014
NIAHLAH HOPE ’15
2 Amherst Spring 2014
Frost gets 32 boxes of Native American books
soccer. Would that be enough?
MEGAN ROBERTSON ’15
Clarification: The article about Amherst LEADS did not cover other leadership development opportunities open to Amherst students, including, to name three, Resident
for any combination of voices, but not more than four parts. Songs may be a cappella or with piano accompaniment. Songs may be no more than four minutes in length. Entries will be judged in a blind competition by a panel of judges. Cash prizes will be awarded for the top three winning entries in amounts of $500, $300 and $200. Texts may be chosen by the composer, but usage rights must be obtained from the text owner. Winning songs become the property of Amherst College. For more information, write to firstname.lastname@example.org. Mallorie Chernin Director of Choral Music CAMPUS
When Brian Shactman
RISALAT KHAN ’13
LEARNING TO LEAD RE. “LEARNING TO LEAD” (SPORTS, Winter 2014): While I think that promoting leadership skills and training is a very laudable goal, I am concerned that this program is only available to athletes. As a non-athlete alumna and the parent of a non-athlete current student, I know that there is interest in this sort of program for a variety of students who hope to become leaders in their future careers. I think many of the lessons taught and learned earn are relevant to anyone who wantss to d develop these skills. Additionally, this sort ort of exclusive e program for athletes promotess a split between b the athletes and other students on campus. I think it would improve the social atmosphere if there were more ways to integrate students of all interests and backgrounds and to reduce polarization between diff fferent sectors at Amherst. Karen Wood ’81 NEWTON, MASS.
A DELIGHT TO READ MY COMPLIMENTS TO THE ENTIRE editorial staff ff of Amherstt for the Winter 2014 issue. I always look forward to receiving the magazine and have enjoyed it for the 57 years since leaving the college. But with this Winter 2014 issue, you have surpassed previous issues. The new (to me) format is a delight and catches the reader’s attention. The articles are well crafted and the subjects especially interesting, particularly “Mandela’s Legacy at Amherst,” “Honored and Proud,” “Busy January” and “The Return of the College Republicans.” Thank you for keeping me better informed about Amherst’s impressive admissions policy and the plans to make the college experience even better. Well done! Jonathan “Jack” Barrington ’57 CHADDS FORD, PA.
who went on to represent Uganda in the Olympics. LEADS has also taught her more about herself: “While I have a vocal leadership style on the field, I often find myself in a reserved role in the academic setting. This leaves me room to experiment with participating more often in the classroom and taking the time to listen to quieter teammates on the field.” Nygren hopes to pursue a career as a counselor for children and teens. “Prior to that, I plan to travel the world documenting discoveries in positive psychology and social experiments.” Winter 2014 Amherst 19
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fice an unlimited budget to fly fl in prospective lowincome students for campus visits.” BLOOMBERG NEWS “AMHERST … IS making four new commitments: recruit and graduate larger numbers of Native American students; help create a pipeline to college for low-income students in the communities around Amherst; encourage more of its low-income
Katharine Fretwell ’81’s promotion to dean of admission and financial aid (“Passing the Torch,” Winter 2014) won raves on Facebook, while Deb Cohan ’90, the ob/gyn who danced before her double mastectomy (“Facing Cancer with Joy— and Music,” Winter 2014) received support and wellwishes.
SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS
students to major in science, technology, engineering and math fields; and help low-income students take part in experiences such as study abroad and internships.” THE WASHINGTON POST “MOST OF THE nation’s elite colleges and universities fall short of a benchmark that Amherst College surpassed five fi years ago: More than one-fi fifth of
its students come from families poor enough to qualify for federal Pell grants. … ‘You have to have topto-bottom support and enthusiasm for access and opportunity,’ Amherst President Carolyn “Biddy” Martin told The Post in a recent visit to Washington. ‘It has to be faculty and students as well as administration, trustees and alumni—and obviously donors.’ ”
HILLARY GOIDELL ’90
THE ATLANTIC “AMHERST’S experience shows that recruiting students from all walks of life is, in and of itself, expensive. To meet its diversity commitments, Amherst has expanded its admissions staff ff, introduced a scholarship fund for veterans, set money aside to support community-college transfers, and essentially given the admissions of-
AMHERST VOLUME 66, NUMBER 3 EDITOR
Emily Gold Boutilier (413) 542-8275 email@example.com ALUMNI EDITOR
Betsy Cannon Smith ’84 (413) 542-2031 DESIGN DIRECTOR
Ronn Campisi ASSISTANT EDITOR
Katherine Duke ’05 MAGAZINE ADVISORY COMMITTEE
Lawrence Douglas Mark Edington Ron Lieber ’93 Elizabeth Minkel ’07 Megan Morey Meredith Rollins ’93 Peter Rooney WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU Ì WE Amherstt welcomes letters from
its readers. Please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or Amherstt Magazine, PO Box 5000, Amherst, MA 01002. Letters must be 300 words or fewer and should address the content in the magazine.
“Congratulations, Katie—so well deserved. And a huge win for Amherst.” MARY
ELIZABETH CISNEROS ’89
“Katie Fretwell is simply one of the best.” MICHAEL A. JOHNSON ’93 “Applause here, great for Amherst, great for you, very well-earned, and very nicely done, Katie.” JOHN LACEY ’73
“WHAT IF MORE COLLEGES WERE LIKE AMHERST?” The National Journal asked this question in a January article that highlighted Amherst’s success in increasing access to a college education. The article was about a White House summit on higher education access and affordability—an event in which President Biddy Martin took part (“Biddy Martin Goes to Washington,” Winter 2014). Here’s what other news outlets had to say about Amherst after the summit.
“Deb, you still have the moves you showed 25 years ago at Tuesday Night TAP in Pond. Wishing you a speedy recovery.” EDWARD NAUGHTON ’89
Amherstt (USPS 024-280) is published quarterly by Amherst College at Amherst, Massachusetts 01002-5000, and is sent free to all alumni. Periodicals postage paid at Amherst, Massachusetts 01002-5000 and additional mailing offices. ffi Postmaster: Please send Form 3579 to Amherst, AC # 2220, PO Box 5000, Amherst College, Amherst, MA 010025000.
Spring 2014 Amherst 3
news and views from campus
From Military Life to Dorm Life
Amherst is actively recruiting veterans. What’s it like to go to college after serving in uniform? 4 Amherst Spring 2014
From left: David Smisson ’15, who served in the Air Force; former Marine Joseph Prive ’15; and Air Force vets Jeremy Jordan ’15 and Jason Premo ’16
Jared Price ’14 (right) and Michael Zeigbo Chioke ’15. At left, Craig Velozo ’16, who hopes to return to active duty as a doctor
STUDENTS U Craig g
Velozo ’16 was serving in Baghdad on March 18, 2010, when his forward operating base came under rocket fire. fi As the attack unfolded, he raced to help an injured soldier. That man survived, but Velozo could do little for another soldier, who died as the result of his wounds.
Velozo pauses when asked to describe his career as a U.S. Army medic. The ability to treat the wounded made the job worthwhile, says the softspoken 29-year-old, whose hair is sprinkled with gray at the temples. “I like the instant reward of helping people. There’s nothing like it.” These days Velozo is an Amherst English major and a member of the active reserve. He hopes to graduate with the grades and pre-med coursework necessary for admission to the U.S. Army Medical Department Center and School. He wants to return to active duty as a doctor. “I’ll admit that it was a little hard going from ‘Sgt. Velozo’ to just ‘Craig,’” he says. “But I look at my being at Amherst as a way to get more training.” Velozo is the only active Photographs by Rob Mattson
soldier on campus this year, but he’s not the only veteran. Thanks to eff fforts of the Office of Admission, there are seven others now enrolled— the most in recent memory. While it is relatively common to find veterans at community colleges and large public universities, it’s unusual to find so many at a liberal arts school like Amherst. (Wesleyan and Vassar are exceptions; they recently pledged to admit 10 vets per year.) These eight men (no female vets have yet enrolled) represent the Army, Marine Corps and Air Force. Several served in intelligence and learned foreign languages— such as Dari. One served in the Army infantry. Though each enlisted for different ff reasons, their stories have common themes. A few mention poor grades in high school, which left them feeling the military was their only option. Some describe a desire to better themselves through service. Asked what it’s like to be a fully formed adult living in a dorm room, Jason Premo ’16 answered, with a laugh: “I lived in a broom closet with another guy on base. I think I can handle living in a dorm.” Finding students like Premo
is part of Amherst’s effort ff to boost diversity in all its forms. “With a growing veteran population in the country, we’re eager to welcome their voices and perspectives,” says Dean of Admission Katharine Fretwell ’81. “Their experiences and worldviews add a unique dimension to the community’s diversity, especially at a time when issues regarding global politics and economies dominate the news.” Her offi ffice has recruited veterans through, among other measures, direct-mailing former soldiers with high GPAs, sending a college admission representative to a Marine Corps air station and participating in a virtual military college fair. Professor Ronald Tiersky had three vets in his “Culture and Politics in 20th-Century Europe” course last fall. “The vets sometimes will speak out of their experience, even if only indirectly,” he says. “What they have to say about the battlefi field, danger of death, fear, courage and comradeship is irreplaceable.”
Peter Jody ’14, a nonveteran, recalls a dinner at which another nonveteran, sitting between two former soldiers, outlined “this grand theory of what America should do in Afghanistan and Pakistan. They demolished this kid— which was hilarious to watch, but also super educational for me, because I don’t know much about Afghanistan and Pakistan either.” The G.I. Bill covers much of the students’ tuition and fees; the remainder is split by the government and Amherst under the Yellow Ribbon Program. About a third of the college’s portion comes from endowed funds for veterans. “Initially, I was extremely nervous about my ability to fit in and excel academically, as I was coming from a notso-stellar high school background,” says Joe Prive ’15, a former Marine. “But everyone from the faculty on down has been truly helpful.” His future goals include advocating for improved access to top colleges for other enlisted vets. CAROLINE J. HANNA Spring 2014 Amherst 5
Boosting Student Life
ADMINISTRATION U At the request of President Biddy Martin, Suzanne Coff ffey has left her position as athletics director to step into the new role of chief student aff ffairs officer. Coff ffey—who began the student aff ffairs position in February—has assumed many of the responsibilities of Dean of Students Jim Larimore, who, citing personal reasons, recently announced his decision to resign. “It has become obvious over the past two years that we have unique opportunities for positive change, but also serious challenges that need to be addressed in student life,” Martin wrote in a letter announcing the change. “We cannot afford ff the time it would
Historian Catherine Epstein will be the new dean of the faculty.
take to conduct a lengthy search, nor can we afford ff a brief interim solution.” Coff ffey “will lead the implementation of organizational, personnel and management changes that have been recommended by reviews of student affairs,” ff Martin wrote. She described Coffey ff as “one of the most talented and eff ffective administrators I have known over the course of my career.” “Suzanne’s leadership will allow us to make progress toward our ultimate goal of being a model of how students’ co-curricular learning and their social lives can be a more integral and enjoyable part of their educational experience at Amherst,” Martin wrote. Don Faulstick, associate athletics director, was named interim director of athletics. E.G.B. 6 Amherst Spring 2014
FACULTY U The next dean of the governance,” she says. “I see the faculty teaches modern European dean of the faculty’s office ffi as a linchhistory and is the author of a forthpin in that system. I will work hard coming textbook on Nazi Germany. to ensure that the faculty’s voice is Catherine Epstein, the William R. heard on all educational issues.” Kenan Jr. Professor of History, will Epstein holds a Ph.D. from Harbegin as dean on July 1, replacing vard and has taught at Amherst Gregory Call, who has served since since 2000. Her most recent book 2003. is Model Nazi: Arthur Greiser and the “In addition to her distinction as Occupation of Western Poland. She is a scholar, her outstanding teachfinishing a textbook, Nazi Germany: ing and her service to the college, Confronting the Myths. She serves as Catherine also brings to the posiassociate editor of Central European tion a broad view History—the premier of the deanship, a journal in her field— fi passionate belief in and on the American l ONLINE A 2012 Amherst magazine profile of Call and the importance of Historical Associaa 2010 audio interview with the liberal arts and a tion’s governing board. Epstein about Model Nazi | www. commitment to AmThe search was amherst.edu/magazine herst that will make conducted by a faculty her an outstanding committee chaired by leader of our faculty,” says President John Servos, the Anson D. Morse Biddy Martin. Professor of History, who says EpCall, the Peter R. Pouncey Professtein is “known for her good humor, sor of Mathematics, joined the facher imagination in the classroom, ulty in 1988. He will return to teachher thoughtful mentoring of junior ing. “Greg has been responsible for colleagues and her extraordinary strengthening the academic quality productivity as a scholar.” of the college in every conceivable The committee’s charge was to way,” Martin says, “ensuring that conduct an internal search that inAmherst faculty members flourish fl cluded current faculty members as during all stages of their careers.” well as scholars who are no longer Epstein’s immediate goals include at Amherst but who’d spent confurther strengthening support for siderable time on its faculty. The faculty research and teaching inicommittee sought input and nomitiatives, responding to faculty and nations from faculty and adminstaff ff needs and working with faculty istrators and ultimately presented to enhance work-life balance. “AmMartin with three unranked names. herst has a strong tradition of faculty PETER ROONEY
COURTESY CATHERINE EPSTEIN
Athletics Director Suzanne Coffeyy is now the chief student affairs officer.
A Magnet Like No Other You’ve Seen In an unprecedented achievement, Amherst physicists have created a synthetic magnet with a single pole. Professor David Hall (left) and Postdoctoral Research Associate Michael Ray
PHYSICS U Like other magnets large and small, a refrigerator magnet has a north and south pole. Break it in half and you get two magnets, each with its own north and south pole. While scientists have long searched for a magnetic monopole—a magnet with a single pole—no one’s ever found such a particle in nature. Now, more than 80 years after physicist Paul Dirac predicted its existence, scientists at Amherst have created, identified fi and photographed a synthetic analogue of the magnetic monopole for the first time ever. This paves the way for the detection of the elusive particles in nature, which would be a revolutionary development comparable to the discovery of the electron. The lab finding is the result of a collaboration led by Professor of Physics David Hall ’91 and Aalto University (Finland) Academy Research Fellow Mikko Möttönen. The experiments took place in an atomic refrigerator built by Hall and his students in his basement lab in the Merrill Science Center. “The creation of a synthetic magnetic monopole should provide us with unprecedented insight into aspects of the natural magnetic monopole—if indeed it exists,” says Hall. In January Nature published a paper about the work, coauthored by Hall, Möttönen, Amherst Postdoctoral Research Associate Michael Ray, Saugat Kandel ’12 and Finnish graduate student Emmi Ruokokoski. “To be able to
confi firm the work of one of the most famous physicists,” says Ray, the paper’s lead author, “is probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” As the name suggests, a magnetic monopole is a magnetic particle possessing a north pole without a south pole, or vice versa. In 1931 Dirac published a paper that explored the nature of monopoles in the context of quantum mechanics. But despite extensive experimental searches since then, in everything from lunar samples (moon rocks) to ancient fossilized minerals, no observation of a naturally occurring magnetic monopole has been confi firmed. Hall’s team created synthetic monopoles in an artififi cial magnetic field generated by a Bose-Einstein condensate—a gas only tens of billionths of a degree warmer than absolute zero. The team relied upon theoretical work published by Möttönen and his student Ville Pietilä that
In the Lab These diagrams show the synthesis of a monopole in time, starting with panel A and ending with panel C. The arrows mark the direction of the magnetic field produced in the Hall lab. The magnetic field directs the spin of Bose–Einstein condensate in the direction of the arrows. The condensate begins to move as if it were electrically charged and aff ffected by a magnetic monopole in the position marked by the black circles.
suggested a particular sequence of changing external magnetic fi fields could lead to the creation of the synthetic monopole. Ultimately, the Merrill experiments yielded photographs confi firming the monopoles’ presence at the ends of tiny quantum whirlpools within the ultra-cold gas. This proves experimentally that Dirac’s envisioned structures can exist in nature. Hall says the project arose out of interest from Amherst student researchers in 2011, well after Pietilä and Möttönen’s 2009 paper appeared in Physical Review Letters. “It felt as though Pietilä and Möttönen had written their letter with our apparatus in mind, so it was natural to write them with our questions,” says Hall. “Were it not for the initial curiosity on the part of the students, we would never have embarked on this project.” CAROLINE J. HANNA Spring 2014 Amherst 7
Chem Lab Cuisine A tome on modernist cooking inspires chemistry students to treat liquid nitrogen as fondue. COURSES U In Patricia O’Hara’s new introductory chemistry course, the periodic table of elements includes nitrogen, mozzarella and prosciutto. “Molecular Gastronomy and Food Science: From Test Tubes to Taste Buds” seems like a cross between a cooking class and a science lab—and that’s the point, says O’Hara, the Amanda and Lisa Cross Professor of Chemistry: “I love science, and I really want my students to love it too, but so often they don’t see the relevance of the topics I’m teaching to their lives.” She sought inspiration from a subject that gets practically everyone’s attention. “I felt there could not be a better vehicle than food. Essentially the act of eating, physically, is a combustion reaction,” says O’Hara, who leads workshops in Turkey on the science of olive oil and whose upcoming sabbatical will include a visit to South Africa to observe the spring olive harvest. During the lab, she and her students cook and taste. For much of the semester they explored modernist cuisine, the science-based reconstruction of fi fine cooking advanced by physicist, inventor and amateur chef Nathan Myhrvold. Students read a chapter each week from Myhrvold’s Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking. One winter morning they tried a high-tech version of an old New England favorite: “sugar on snow,” observing the qualities of hot maple syrup as it was poured on ordinary ice, dry ice (solid carbon dioxide) and liquid ni8 Amherst Spring 2014
Students in Patricia O’Hara’s new introductory chemistry course have done experiments both chemical and culinary, including dipping fruit, herbs, mozzarella and proscuitto in liquid nitrogen. “Students come to me,” O’Hara says, “with a passionate interest in learning more about food.”
trogen. While the ordinary ice produced the sweet treat familiar to generations of northerners, the syrup descended into a congealed puddle beneath the dry ice. The liquid nitrogen put on a spectacular show of bubbling fog, leaving an amber-clear cluster of frozen sap crystals that melted in the mouth. Reviews varied among students, several of whom had never tried maple syrup, let alone sugar on snow. “I’m a fan of goo, so I like the dry ice,” said Elena Villafana ’14. The cryocuisine lessons f culminated in an Iron Cheflike cooking competition. Given ingredients including prosciutto, mozzarella, tomatoes and pineapple, lab partners were challenged to create an appetizer in 20 minutes. They donned safety gloves and set to work grinding, slicing, arranging. In a new twist on fondue, they tried dipping ingredients in liquid nitrogen. As students nibbled at their work, O’Hara polled each team about their next experiment: “Do you want seafood or steak?” WILLIAM SWEET Photographs by Rob Mattson
Spring 2014 Amherst 9
What Makes Us Happy? Hint: the answer is not kids, and it’s not money. WHAT WE THINK MAKES US HAPPY (BUT REALLY DOESN’T)
HAPPINESS U Remember your fi first cell phone? It was great. But when a friend got an iPhone your old flip fl phone lost its charm. You bought a new phone, and the cycle repeated. This is one example Catherine Sanderson, the James E. Ostendarp Professor of Psychology, uses to explain why belongings don’t make us happy. To be happier, it’s better to spend money on experiences: take a vacation, see a play, go to a game. Here’s what else improves happiness: find ways to do what you’re good at. If this holds true, Sanderson is feeling uncommonly happy right now. That’s because a lecture she gives on the science of happiness is one of the most popular off ffered by the adult education program One Day University. “Out of more than 200 different ff lectures from renowned professors
from around the country, hers is in the top five,” says company founder Steven Schragis. “In fact, it may be number one.” In the past year alone, nearly 2,000 people nationwide have attended her One Day U lecture. She’s also given the talk at Amherst, and she’ll give it again at reunion this year. “The power of the human spirit suggests we can regain happiness,” Sanderson says—through effort, ff mindset and behaviors. She draws on research in many fi fields, but not directly on her own studies, which focus on relationship satisfaction and health behavior. Her lecture resonates, she says, because we all live our lives in an effort to be happier or to ensure that our children are happy. “It’s the kind of talk,” she says, “that feels very meaningful for me to give.” E.G.B.
Education Money Good weather Marriage Parenthood
WHAT ACTUALLY MAKES US HAPPY Exercise Giving to others Nature High self-esteem Meaningful conversations
TO INCREASE HAPPINESS Keep a gratitude journal Read a book you love Figure out your strengths and fi find ways to use them Spend time outside Donate to charity Spend money on experiences, not belongings Don’t compare yourself to others Build and maintain close relationships
SARA J. BRENNEIS SPANISH Her research concerns the blending of history and fiction fi in contemporary Spanish literature and film. fi Her courses include “Violence, Art and Memory of the Spanish Civil War” and “Strange Girls: Spanish Women’s Voices.” 10 Amherst Spring 2014
JEFFERS ENGELHARDT MUSIC He’s developed such courses as “Pioneer Valley Soundscapes” and “Writing Through Popular Music,” as well as seminars on the anthropology of music. His research deals broadly with music, religion, European identity and new media.
LEAH SCHMALZBAUER ANTHROPOLOGY & SOCIOLOGY AND AMERICAN STUDIES She completed a sixyear ethnographic study of gender and family formation among Mexican migrants in the rural mountain West. She’ll begin teaching at Amherst in the fall.
ADAM SITZE LAW, JURISPRUDENCE & SOCIAL THOUGHT Last year he published a book on South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. His courses have included “The Crisis of Neoliberal Legal Theory” and “Law Between Plato and the Poets.”
BORIS WOLFSON, RUSSIAN His monograph Self and Theater in Stalinist Society is forthcoming from Northwestern University Press. He is a series editor for Academic Studies Press and teaches courses on Russian/Soviet language, culture, literature, theater and fi film.
ROB MATTSON (4); SITZE: SAMUEL MASINTER ’04
Moving Up On the recommendation of the Committee of Six, the Board of Trustees voted in January to promote five faculty members to the position of associate professor with tenure.
Following the Trials
STUDENT VIEW | CRYSTAL YAN ’14
A professor is writing about prosecutions of Nazi-era criminals, and about the case against the accused architect of the USS Cole bombing.
SAMUEL MASINTER ’04
RESEARCH U Thanks to fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Lawrence Douglas, the James J. Grosfeld Professor of Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought, has spent this academic year researching and writing a book on the trials of Nazi collaborator John Demjanjuk, as well as writing about the Guantanamo military commission case against Abd alRahim al-Nashiri, accused architect of the bombing of the USS Cole Lawrence Douglas in 2000. The ACLS senior fellowship—awarded to 60 scholars per year—allowed Douglas to spend the fall traveling to Germany to research a book. The book, to be published by Princeton University Press, will build upon a Harper’s article by Douglas about the 2011 trial of Demjanjuk, who was convicted on charges of participating in the murders of 27,900 Jews while serving as a guard at the Sobibor death camp. “This trial was called the last great Nazi-era atrocity trial,” says Douglas, who will use the facts of the Demjanjuk trial to examine, in his forthcoming book, the history of Germany’s postwar prosecutions of Nazis and their collaborators. Demjanjuk died in 2012 while appealing his conviction. This spring Douglas headed to Washington, D.C., to spend the semester as the Ina Levine Invitational Scholar at the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum—one of two invitational fellowships that the museum awards to scholars each year. There, he’s been writing his book and continuing his work on the Nashiri case. His article on the pre-trial phase of the Cole bombing case was the October 2013 cover story for Harper’s. William Sweet
“Sula nexee,” I pleaded, as I reached for the broom. “No, no, no, no, no, teranga,” she replied. Teranga is Wolof for “hospitality,” so I sat down, defeated. Academic theory did not prepare me for this moment. I had been sitting on the bed doing my reading for class, an ethnography on the rural poor in Senegal, as my host mother was busy cleaning outside, living the very life that the anthropologist who authored my reading sought to analyze. I offered ff to help sweep, but she wouldn’t let me. Should I insist and help clean, or give up and let her treat me as a guest? My reading assignment had no answer to that question. I was sitting idle with my academic theories and being utterly useless in the context of a village. During my junior year abroad in China, India, Senegal and Argentina, I had to adjust to culture shock. I also wanted to prove to myself that I could be independent. That desire had led me to Amherst in the first place, 3,000 miles from my hometown in California. As we wrote for class about migrant workers being displaced to make way for luxury developments, I felt like we were reformatting injustices we saw into MLA format. My study-abroad classmates and I talked to our professor about the guilt that accompanies academic work in fields that study marginalization. She told us it was important to try to critically understand our experiences through academic analysis and have the humility to acknowledge that we know next to nothing from only one experience in only one village of many. My professor’s words stay with me. I’ve thought back to them since my return to Amherst this year. In my psychology class, when we dis-
AMHERST CHINA SENEGAL
cuss helping strangers, I remember the people who gave me directions in China, and how I never questioned whether they were helping me because I was a woman, or because we were in a small town. In my architecture class, when we study theorists on low-income housing or read the U.N. definition fi of a slum or look at photos of urban housing in the developing world, I remember the informal housing settlements I saw in India—places I sometimes forgot to study when they were right in front of me. In my economics class, when we discuss conventions and culture, I remember a lecturer explaining hand gestures and body language in Argentina—gestures I didn’t notice when I spoke to my host family. In my fieldwork and studies away from Amherst, I learned to listen to people. From my coursework at Amherst, I learned the theories that allow me to analyze more critically what I see in the world. From both experiences, I learned that one of the smartest things we can do is let ourselves feel ignorant. That’s often hard and uncomfortable to do as an Amherst student. Knowledge is a balance of theories and experiences, and perhaps the knowledge we should seek is acknowledging that we know very little, and knowing that we still have so many more questions to ask. Spring 2014 Amherst 11
“I Had a Lot to Prove” Sarah Conklin ’16 didn’t want to embarrass herself at nationals, but she’d missed 12 workouts—for a very good reason. All she could do was get in the pool.
SWIMMING U For Sarah Conklin
’16 the journey to becoming a bone marrow donor began with a cheek swab at Keefe Campus Center. It was April 2013, and she was there to support pp her roommate, who’d worked to organize a Delete Blood Cancer drive. A year later, that swab helped save a life.
Conklin helped the swimming and diving team capture its first-ever fi NESCAC championship in 2013, and that season she garnered five fi All-Conference cita-
Scientific Backing By leaning on research, Christopher Finch ’14 helped his hockey teammates reduce the risk of concussion. Next, he’ll study plant genetics. 12 Amherst Spring 2014
tions en route to Rookie of the Year honors. So when she got the call—three days before the start of the 2014 season—saying her bone marrow was a match for a sick patient, Conklin’s main concern was the timing. In an ideal world, she would have waited until the end of the season to undergo the procedure to harvest her stem cells. But her match didn’t have time to wait. So Conklin scheduled the two-day procedure for Feb. 26–27, in between the NESCAC and NCAA championships. “Swimming is pretty mental,” says
HOCKEY U Ice hockey
and plant genetics may seem a disparate pair of interests, but p Christopher Finch ’14 delves into both with a passion for scientific fi problem-solving. Already known for his eff fforts to lessen injuries among his hockeyy teammates, he’s recently netted a prestigious scholarship to do research in bioengineering. In 2012, Finch, a forward, set out to help his fellow players after he saw some of them suff ffer head injuries on the ice and endure months of recovery. He started working
Conklin. “The timing wasn’t ideal, but it’s not something I could control. I just tried to shut it out.” The eff ffort paid off ff. At the NESCACs she was part of the 200-medley relay team that set both a meet and a Williams pool record with a time of 1:44.49. She also helped the 400-medley relay to a first-place showing (3:47.99) and repeated as the conference’s 100-yard butterfl fly champion (56.12). Setting a pool record in the 50 fly, she touched in at 25.11. A week later Conklin went home to Newton, Mass., to prepare for the
with them on measures to force from a collision and reduce the risk of concussion, lessen the severity of a head drawing on research he’d con- injury. ducted the previous summer Finch’s role has been to at the University of Vermont push his teammates to focus College of Medicine. on these exercises and not Like several other Amherst rush through or skip them. teams, men’s hockey—2012 “All the work in the weight NCAA Final While the British are hardly Four and NESCAC chamknown for ice hockey, Finch pions—incor“cannot wait to help Cambridge porates neck beat Oxford next year.” strengthening into training, under the super- room will be worthless if you vision of strength and condiare sidelined with an injury,” tioning coach Chris Boyko. he tells them. His summer The exercises amount to a few research, which included unminutes of head rotation and dergoing an hour-long brain neck flexing, in repetition. As scan, gives scientifi fic backing Boyko explains, a stronger to the neck-strengthening neck can help dissipate the program.
NIAHLAH HOPE ’16E
IIn n bet etw weeen en tth he NESC NE N ESC S A AC Cs aan nd N nd NC CA AA As, s Coon nk klilin don dona do naaate ted boon ted te nee m rrrow ma ow.
swimming, a lot of yardage,” she says. “I was aware that I probably wouldn’t be hitting my pace right away, but I wanted to get to work so that I didn’t make a fool of myself at nationals.” She didn’t. During the first fi day of the NCAA meet she helped the 200-medley relay team post the fi fifth-fastest time in Division III (1:44.18). The following evening she recorded her best time of the season in the 100 fly (55.72), finishing sixth overall while also swimming a leg ffs’ eighth-place 400-medley on the Jeff relay team (3:51.45). Conklin closed out
marrow donation, a process that first fi required a series of injections to boost her marrow production. “A ton of white blood cells were also being produced,” Conklin says. “It made me feel like I had this horrible cold and cough, similar to the flu. My bones felt like they were about to explode.” Next she went to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, where she spent much of two days with a needle in her arm, and then the better part of the following three days sleeping. “I missed 12 workouts. That’s a lot of
Christopher Finch ’14
her showing at nationals by breaking the school record in the 200 fly, clocking in at 2:03.06—good for fourth place. “I felt like I had a lot to prove after NESCACs,” she says. “I just wanted to continue to swim well.” Spirits were so high at nationals that Conklin completely forgot about the bone marrow donation until her coach, Ned Nichols, reminded her: “You saved a life and you’re an All-American.” Conklin has since learned that the patient— whom she hopes to meet someday—is doing well. BEN BADUA
Finch’s talent for applying scientific fi data to real-world issues has culminated in a Churchill Scholarship, through which he’ll conduct research at the University of Cambridge in England next year. He plans to explore the genetic structure of green algae, with the ultimate goal of using plant engineering to increase world food supplies. Finch intends to be not just a bioengineer but also an entrepreneur: “I aspire to bring my scientific fi innovations in plant bioengineering to market in order to help bolster global food security.” At Amherst, Finch says, it’s sometimes been hard to balance hockey and his stud-
ies. Still, he says, “I could not fathom being at Amherst without playing hockey. I love the time I spend doing speed and agility exercises, lifting weights and conditioning; I love the time skating alone on the rink; I love the speed of the game, the intensity and the physicality. But beyond all else, I love the guys I have been lucky enough to call my teammates.” After Cambridge he plans to earn a Ph.D. in bioengineering. In the meantime he’ll remain on the rink: “I cannot say the British are known for their ice hockey, but I cannot wait to help Cambridge beat Oxford next year.” WILLIAM SWEET Spring 2014 Amherst 13
POINT OF VIEW
Finding the BY NALINI JONES ’93 THURSDAY NIGHTS MEANT TAP TO MOST OF MY AMHERST friends. But on those evenings I set out, a laundry bag slung over my shoulder, to visit my aunt, Helen von Schmidt ’78, a professor in Amherst’s English department. We sat together in her red kitchen: a fire in the woodstove, a mystery on TV, sometimes a plate of brownies and, beside her mug on the checked tablecloth, several inches of student papers. She worked through them slowly. Every day, more seemed to sweep in, as if through her window. By the end of the term, she could hide behind them. I admired her hard work in the vague way of one who also questioned it. Did other professors read so carefully? Could she hurry things along, give herself a break, cut back on assignments? Then, in my senior year, I became her student. I had taken writing workshops before, pleasant experiences of other students musing about what had “worked.” We were so reassuring, so appreciative of each other’s inffuse or dubious. But “Composition” tentions, however diff with Professor von Schmidt required new rigor. We wrote brief autobiographical essays addressing assigned topics. When invited, we read our essays aloud and discussed the ideas, not the prose. Week after week, I sat in her classroom and felt astonished by what other students—people sitting quietly next to me—had written about their own lives. We didn’t linger on images, but 20 years later, I can clearly picture the car accident a classmate faced on one of his first runs as an EMT. While the course was not a forum for fi raptures about language, I’ve never forgotten another classmate’s description of his intense interest in the Titanic. My own work? Less impressive. Yet I’ve kept every one of my essays, simply for Aunt Helen’s notes in the margins. Really? appears frequently in those margins, a quiet challenge in tidy blue script. She knew how much the Red Sox mattered to my father. Yet: Your father has never been “rabid” about anything, she pointed out on my “fan” assignment. Hyperbole about a silly skirmish with my mother brought the reminder that I was not an easy child. She had no use for false drama, false conclusions, falseness of any kind. She noticed whenever I lapsed into language that was bloated, self-serving, extravagant or vague. Such scrutiny seemed exacting, a kind of constraint. I struggled against the idea that writing could demand so much: the sacrifi fice of a swift downhill run of words, even if they took me astray. “Rabid” was close enough, as long as I decided my sentence meant more than how my father actually felt. But in that class, no phrase mattered more than what we knew to be true. If “rabid” did not quite describe my 14 Amherst Spring 2014
Words father, what did? What words could approach the silent, solemn intensity with which he watched a game? What did it mean that during desperate innings, he paced like an expectant father in another part of the house, afraid to throw off ff the game by watching it? How did such devotion begin? Down the rabbit hole of a single inept description, I began to wonder about my father as a boy; my grandfather, who died before I was born; my grandmother; even Aunt Helen. “Oh, she was an ice hockey fan,” Dad reported. Eventually I realized Aunt Helen was teaching me a new way to write. “What is above all needed is to let the meaning choose the word, and not the other way around,” wrote George Orwell. “In prose, the worst thing one can do with words is surrender to them.” Good writing is not a trick, a hedge, a soft drift of description to hide a half-considered idea. It is a search for truth, however small or nuanced, however unexpected. Finding the right word is just the beginning. Aunt Helen might also have been teaching me a way to live, to pay attention in all
the dash and rush. I’ve now fi written stories and essays, finished a collection, embarked on a novel. But there are also days when I have not written at all, rich, full days when I sat by a parent’s bedside and followed the progress of every breath, or watched one of my daughters learn to read and the other—in a retaliatory strike—teach herself to whistle. These days I have stacks of papers to read, from tentative undergraduates and graduate students impatient to publish. I think of Aunt Helen and of the author John Banville, who speaks of what “a string of black marks on a white page” can miraculously become. One word and the next, I tell myself and my students. Every single one contributing, tipping the piece one way or another, creating or disturbing a rhythm, and guiding us to whatever we might be lucky enough to discover next. k Nalini Jones ’93 is the author of a story collection, What You Call Winter, r and other short fiction and essays. A recent fi recipient of an NEA fellowship, Pushcart Prize and O. Henry Prize, she is at work on a novel.
IN AUNT HELENâ€™S CLASS, there was no room for false drama, false conclusions, falseness of any kind. Illustration by Juliette Borda
Spring 2014 Amherst 15
g INTERVIEW BY ALEXANDER GEORGE
Jonathon Keats ’94 is a conceptual artist whose work has included opening a restaurant for plants (it served gourmet sunlight) and trying to genetically engineer God. Now he’s making the case that forgeries are the great art of our time.
AMHERST Spring 2014 PHOTOGRAPH OF KEATS COURTESY CROCKER ART MUSEUM. ABOVE: SUPPER AT EMMAUS (1937), BY HAN VAN MEEGEREN, COLLECTION OF MUSEUM BOIJMANS VAN BEUNINGEN
Spring 2014 Amherst 17
ONATHON KEATS ’94 developed his own major at Amherst, in aesthetics. “I also smuggled in a philosophy degree as my double major,” says the conceptual artist and author, “but created an aesthetics department as a way to write a novel, or something resembling a novel, as my senior thesis.” Keats counts as his favorite Amherst courses William Kennick’s “Aesthetics” and Alexander George’s “Philosophy of Science,” saying, “I probably draw on one or the other—or both—in all that I create.” George is the Rachel and Michael Deutch Professor of Philosophy and the founder of AskPhilosophers.org. In an interview for the Amherst Reads book club about Keats’ book Forged, George asked his former student to explain why “fakes are the great art of our age.”
Keats’ Forged: Why Fakes are the Great Art of Our Age (Oxford University Press, 2013) won coverage in The Daily Beast, The Guardian and The New York Review of Books, among other publications.
18 Amherst Spring 2014
The chief thesis in your book is that “forgers are the foremost artists of our age.” Would you say more about that? The book is a polemic or manifesto more than a work of history. I was trying to diagnose what’s wrong in the art world and to explain how a parallel universe—the world of forgery—might provide a corrective. Art is fundamentally in the business of provoking our anxieties. From Edvard Munch’s The Scream, which does that in an existential sense, to the Surrealists, who subvert our ideas about logic, most every movement tries to provoke anxiety about ourselves and our world. But they tend to do so in ways that are illustrationall of provocation rather than provocative in their own right. That’s especially the case when we see art in a gallery or museum—a safe, culturally staged context. Forgers inadvertently do what legitimate artists set out to do, and they do so in a way
that is more profoundly disturbing and universal. You say the art of our time is anxious, questioning, provoking, agitating. You make no mention of beauty. Why not? Beauty is an attribute that a painting or sculpture or performance may have. It’s a way of refl flecting the world, potentially in ways that are utopian (as the Pre-Raphaelites achieved), or it can be used ironically (as in the case of David Maisel, whose aerial photographs of toxic waste sites look like abstract paintings). So beauty is a tool, but it is not essential to art. What gives art its value in our society is that it can make us look at ourselves and consider the world in ways other than we ordinarily would. Your argument seems to run: All great art is in the business of provoking anxiety. Forgers excel at provoking anxiety. Therefore, there are good
grounds for taking forgers to be great artists. The syllogism doesn’t seem valid. It seems to be of the form: all Fs are Gs; all Hs are Gs; therefore all Fs are Hs, which, as you recall from your logic class at Amherst, is not a valid syllogism. That’s probably an unsympathetic reconstruction of your argument. How do you get to the conclusion that forgers deserve to be called great artists? quality of greatness, which is not a strict question of categorization. My position on forgers is that they are inadvertently great artists. The forgeries in their own right— the physical objects—are not necessarily very interesting or very good in aesthetic terms. What’s interesting is the scandal that ensues when a forger is caught. The scandal is the artwork that the forger inadvertently perpetrates. Forgers effectively ff mine society for our blind spots, for our inconsistencies, and
Forgers inadvertently do what real artists set out to do, and they do so in a way that is more profoundly disturbing and universal."
exploit them to commit their crimes. If the forgery is revealed, a mirror is held up to us. The ways in which we were blindsided reveal qualities about us that we were oblivious to before. It’s an anxiety-producing phenomenon. You read about it in newspapers, see it on television; it breaks through the cultural barriers of the museum or gallery. Even for the people who were not bamboozled, Photograph by Elena Dorfman
there’s always the feeling that they could have been. That makes people reexamine the social structures and common sense they rely on. The second part of your book is a riveting retelling of the stories of six great modern master forgers. Han van Meegeren’s story is probably the most provocative, because it involved so many historical figures.
Abraham Bredius, a very old, eminent art historian in the Netherlands, had nursed a thesis that Vermeer had gone through a phase of religious painting. The problem was that no evidence of this thesis had come up. His position was well known, and one man who knew about it was van Meegeren, a frustrated artist who saw an opportunity. He created one of the worst art objects I have ever seen in
Keats is now “developing a camera that makes a unique centurylong exposure. One hundred of my cameras will be distributed throughout Berlin, to be retrieved in a hundred years. The city will be watched over by those not yet born.”
Spring 2014 Amherst 19
COLLECTION OF MARK FORGY, AUTHOR OF THE FORGER’S APPRENTICE
Elmyr de Hory’s 1974 Odalisque is in the style of Matisse. ”A master of disguise,” Keats says, de Hory managed to sell more than 1,000 fakes to art galleries.
my life: a rendering of Christ at Emmaus. Not only did Bredius say it was a Vermeer, he said it was “the masterpiece of Johannes Vermeer of Delft.” That gave license to van Meegeren to make more paintings in the same style. This was in the late 1930s and early 1940s, when the Netherlands did not want any work by Vermeer to get into the hands of the Nazis. (Hitler was one of the great collectors—or plunderers—of Vermeer.) As a result, there were many people willing to buy these paintings to keep them from getting into German hands. Ultimately one picture got away, into the hands of Hermann Goering, who was perhaps the greatest enemy of the Netherlands, because he had ordered the leveling of Rotterdam and brought about the surrender of the Netherlands to the Germans. That painting became one of Hermann Goering’s treasured possessions. What happened to it after the war? When the Nazi regime fell, Goering took the painting with him as he tried to get away, and it was found in his possession. It was traced to van Meegeren, who was accused of the war crime of selling the cultural patrimony of the Netherlands to the Germans. Van Meegeren’s re-
20 Amherst Spring 2014
sponse was: No, I bamboozled the Germans; I forged that painting and sold Goering a fake. That put van Meegeren in the odd position of proving his innocence by proving his guilt. He succeeded, and he was sentenced to one year in prison. He managed to die of a heart attack two days before his sentence was to begin. Didn’t van Meegeren paint his way to freedom? Yes, he painted another “Vermeer” while in custody. He became the second most popular person in the Netherlands—second to the new prime minister. There were plans to erect a statue in his honor, despite the fact that he was collaborating with the Nazis all along; this was well known by many in the resistance. The corruptible authority of one man—Bredius—gave credibility to a painting that gave credibility to other paintings. Maybe giving some consideration to Bredius’ motives would have made the later paintings more suspect. The context of war gave urgency to the process of acquiring these works, and therefore a lack of reflecfl tion. While the Nazi era was unique, we can still get a little anxious, I hope, by reading that story. The act of forging often takes over the life of a forger, who comes to forge an entire identity, or many identities. Another manifestation of this is the meta-forgery that takes place when the fakery extends to documents testifying to the authenticity of a fake. How did this take place with Elmyr de Hory, who managed to sell more than 1,000 forgeries to art galleries? De Hory was a master of disguise. He’d create a painting on a theme that was relatively common for Matisse, for
example. He would buy an old catalog of Matisse’s work from an exhibition—a catalog so rare there was probably only one copy extant—and have his own painting photographed in black and white. Because those old catalogs had plates that were glued in, he could simply take out the original and glue in a photograph of his forgery, which gave instant provenance. We tend to look to documents and rely on context to tell us what we’re looking at. This is true not only when looking at art but also when assessing the statement of a politician, for instance, and even when looking at scientifi fic evidence. Our gaze tends to be much more peripheral than we are prone to believe or understand. You compare Andy Warhol’s appropriations to forgeries. Yet, as you point out, Warhol’s appropriation only works if you are aware of the absent original, where forgery only works if you aren’t. Forgery only operates as art once the fakery is known. Warhol illustrates that point. Thirty Are Better Than One, his silkscreen of the Mona Lisa 30 times, creates a tension between the original object—this venerated Mona Lisa—and the apparatus of celebrity that eff ffectively makes the Mona Lisa what it is to us in our society. As a result, his work refl flects on the mechanism of celebrity more generally. To me, Warhol achieved within the realm of legitimate art what I credit forgers with doing inadvertently. When the forgery is revealed and when the scandal ensues, the fallout becomes the material that becomes the artwork. The question for artists is how to achieve that without having to go into hiding, without having to take on the limitations
Forgery only operates as art once the fakery is known."
You write about Kant’s idea of “purposefulness without purpose” and deem it “a perfect description of art.” But you say that this idea does not characterize forgery. Doesn’t that suggest that forgery is not the great art of our time—indeed, that it might not even qualify as art? Forgers are the great artists of our time simply because artists are not bothering to be. Artists are not doing their job, and forgers, who do a very poor imitation of it, end up doing the closest approximation. Of course, most art also operates as a commodity. So to me all art, or most of it, is contaminated by a sense of purpose. You’ve had a busy career as a conceptual artist. How has your own work been animated by what you take to be this characteristic feature of art at its finest: purposefulness without purpose? It’s problematic to talk about my own art after having set up what art can be, and then to pose one of my projects as having achieved that. By no means do I make that claim. But, to give an example of the work I’ve done: One of my projects was an attempt to figure out where on the phylogenetic tree—amongst all the species—you might fi find God. Within the scientific fi realm there is a sense that anything
can be subjected to scientific fi processes and be known through those processes. In the religious realm, there is a literal God. I wanted to reconcile these two points of view. Initially I attempted to obtain some divine DNA, which would be the easiest way to find out where God belongs on the phylogenetic tree, but I ended up having to genetically engineer God in a laboratory. According to the religious evidence we have, God came first. So I looked for the first species still extant: cyanobacteria. On the other hand, we’re told that God created man in his image. Well, humans are diffi fficult to work with in a laboratory, especially over weeks or months, so I decided to work with a species that’s more or less the same: fruit flies. Next I needed a method of comparison, to find fi out which species is more godlike. I used continuous in vitro evolution, a method of genetic engineering that essentially involves sustained artifi ficial selection: You create environmental conditions that can be exploited by the right set of mutations. I figured that maybe there’s some way in which God metabolizes worship. I took leading prayers for the major monotheistic religions and played them for seven days and nights, with my control group getting only talk radio. Biblical sources state that God is omnipresent; essentially, you’re talking about rampant population growth, so I did population growth studies to analyze the results of my
artifi ficial selection process. Whichever species more closely approached omnipresence following continuous in vitro evolution was presumably more genetically similar to God in the first place. Did the NSF fund this project? It did not. I published my research in a book that put COURTESY MUSEUM BOIJMANS VAN BEUNINGEN; PHOTO BY FREQUIN
inherent in operating outside of the law. I think there are few artists who go beyond Warhol in terms of activating art as a mechanism of anxiety within our society.
forward evidence, very tentatively, that God is more closely related to cyanobacteria than to fruit flies (or to us). I hope it provokes anxiety within the religious about the literalism that religion has taken on, and within the scientifi fic community about the arrogance of the scientific fi process. The collision of science and religion that took place at my lab bench is something that can reverberate in any number of ways. k
In this 1938 photo, Dirk Hannema (right), director of what was then Museum Boymans in the Netherlands, and restorer Hendrik Luitwieler view The Supper at Emmaus, by Han van Meegeren, who passed off ff the painting as a Vermeer.
The article is adapted from an interview for Amherst Reads, the college’s online book club.
5 LISTEN to the Amherst Reads interview at www.amherst.edu/alumni/learn/bookclub.
Spring 2014 Amherst 21
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Graduate Education PAGE 24 Evaluating Amherst PAGE 25
22 Amherst Spring 2014
How many Amherst alumni have started a business? How many have started a family? How satisfied are alumni with their lives? How satisfied are they with their college? Last spring 42 percent of all living alumni through the Class of 2008 took part in a survey. The results reveal much about Amherst graduates as a whole, and also about the Amherst experience and the value of a liberal arts education. The college has analyzed the survey responses across six generations. (The youngest alumni received a different, ff shorter survey.) The information on these pages is but a small sampling of 22 pages of survey results, all of which are available at www. amherst.edu/alumni/survey.
WHAT YOU’RE DOING AND HOW MUCH YOU LIKE IT
WORK LIFE PERCENT WHO ARE
TOP CAREERS Alumni are most likely to work in these fields: g h j k
BUSINESS LAW EDUCATION HEALTH
JOB TITLES FOR STUDENTS JOINING THE WORKFORCE DURING THE
Past 10 Years THE CAREER CENTER’S OWN research shows that “Amherst students are drawn to opportunities in sectors where they are challenged daily, able to apply their analytical skills, stimulated intellectually and expected to make an impact,” says Career Center Director URSULA OLENDER . “Many of our new graduates choose to begin their careers in fields or industries where they can put their values and skills to work, like education.” Examples of popular first jobs for new Amherst graduates include teacher/teaching assistant, analyst, legal assistant/paralegal and research technician. “I have seen some growth in developer jobs,” Olender says, “but otherwise job titles chosen by new graduates have remained fairly consistent over the past 10 years.” ← Illustration by Melinda Beck
ȉಌ ɧ ᔶ Ʌ WORLD WAR II
POST-WORLD WAR II
ඳ ɂ ఎɀ ɋ EARLY COED
THE GREATEST CAREER SATISFACTION COMES WITH AGE.
Among World War II respondents,
are satisfied fi with their careers thus far. That number is
for the Post-World War II generation,
for Baby Boomers and Early Coed alumni,
for Gen Xers and
for Millennials. The oldest alumni are most likely to report being “very” satisfied. fi
MILLENNIAL W HAT EL SE
V 89 percent are “very” or “generally” satisfied fi with their careers
STARTING UP Not content to work for someone else, many alumni have started companies. Notably, 5 percent of Post-World War II respondents are currently developing start-ups. PERCENT WHO HAVE STARTED A COMPANY
PERCENT CURRENTLY DEVELOPING A START-UP COMPANY
World War II
Post-World War II
You’re Doing Among those not employed, alumni from the older three generations are most often RETIRED . Early Coed and Gen X alumni are most often CARING FOR CHILDREN . Millennials are most often IN SCHOOL . Society of the Alumni President Kirsten Poler ’88 is among those who stepped away from a career to raise children. She wishes people would focus not on “What have you done since Amherst?” but on “Who have you become since Amherst?” Spring 2014 Amherst 23
MARRIAGE, KIDS AND OLD FRIENDS â†’ MA
are â€œveryâ€? or â€œgenerallyâ€? satisfied with their lives right now
â€œS â€œSome of the key predictors of happiness pr are engaging in ar meaningful work m and having close an relationships,â€? says re Professor of Psychology Pr Catherine Sanderson. Ca A liberal arts education prepares students for pr careers and volunteer ca activities that are ac personally meaningful, pe she says, and the sh Amherst environment Am â€œfosters close personal â€œf re relationships.â€? THE GREATEST LIFE SATISFACTION COMES WITH AGE.
In each of the older five generations,
92 or 93 percent
are satisfied fi with their lives, compared to
of Millennials. World War II and Post-World War II alumni are those most likely to be â€œveryâ€? satisfied. fi
24 Amherst Spring 2014
HOME LIFE FRIENDSHIPS
PE R C E N T WHO HAVE A
Spouse or Partner World War II
Post-World War II
Even 70 years out of college, alumni maintain connections with Amherst, most often through their friendships. Here are the percent who are regularly in touch with classmates or college friends.
Č&#x; Ő”ÉŽ ŕ¸šÉ‹ ŕśł
Čźŕ˛É‚ŕ°ŽČ•ÎŒČšŕŠ„ Gen X
WORLD WAR II
POST-WORLD WAR II
have at least one child
The most common number of children is two. Among the younger generations, 68 percent of Gen Xers and 12 percent of Millennials have at least one child.
GRADUATE EDUCATION PERCENT WHO HAVE ENROLLED IN A DEGREE PROGRAM SINCE GRADUATING FROM AMHERST
OF THOSE, PERCENT WHO ENROLLED IN A DEGREE PROGRAM IMMEDIATELY AFTER COLLEGE
World War II
Post-World War II
TOP DEGREES Most common graduate/professional degree by generation: g DOCTORATE | POST-WORLD WAR II AND GEN X h LAW | BABY BOOMER, EARLY COED, MILLENNIAL j MASTER OF ARTS | WORLD WAR II V The â€œdoctorateâ€? result excludes law and medicine. Among those earning doctorates, the most popular fields fi are in the humanitiesâ€”except among Millennials, who most often earn doctorates in the social sciences.
LOOKING BACK ON YOUR COLLEGE YEARS
HOW WELL DID AMHERST PREPARE YOU TOâ€Ś
ARE â€œVERYâ€? OR â€œGENERALLYâ€? SATISFIED WITH THEIR AMHERST EDUCATION
FEEL AMHERST PREPARED THEM â€œVERY WELLâ€? OR â€œMORE THAN ADEQUATELYâ€? FOR GRADUATE OR PROFESSIONAL SCHOOL
SAY AMHERST PREPARED THEM â€œVERY WELLâ€? OR â€œMORE THAN ADEQUATELYâ€? FOR THEIR CURRENT CAREER
(Percent selecting â€œmore than adequatelyâ€? or â€œvery wellâ€?) WORLD WAR II
POST-WORLD WAR II
Write clearly and eff ffectively?
Acquire new skills and knowledge on your own?
Think analytically and logically?
Understand social problems?
Use quantitative tools?
Read or speak a foreign language?
2 25 5
HOW AMHERST WILL USE THE DATA THE SURVEY will help the college make plans for its future. â€œWe are gratified fi that Amherst prepared alumni across generations to write; acquire new skills and knowledge; and think analytically, logically and critically,â€? says PROVOST PETER UVIN. â€œThese are crucial skills for their careers and their lives.â€? Regarding quantitative tools, he points out that the newly
renamed Department of Mathematics and Statistics has one of the highest growth rates on campus. â€œWe have aggressively invested in faculty and student support resources in this area,â€? he says. â€œThe language situation is more disconcerting: while there is a three-decade growth in the proportion of students who judge themselves well prepared in terms
of foreign language skills, the number is still too low in our globalizing (but also increasingly English-speaking) world. This is one of the reasons that one of the four core committees in the strategic planning process deals with internationalization of the liberal arts, and questions of language education are being discussed there.â€? Spring 2014 Amherst 25
26 Amherst Spring 2014
The PRINCE of
BY ROGER M. WILLIAMS ’56
“I am the product of two influences:
my father’s problems with alcohol, and my education at Amherst.” So says former and longtime Congressman Tom Davis ’71 in a glowing tribute to the college and a powerful damnation of drink. Davis overlooks an equally strong factor: his superb instincts for the understanding and practice of politics, American style. At the age of 2, when he left Minot, N.D. (“where many are cold but few are frozen”), Davis probably was not plotting a political career. But
← Portrait byy Brooks Kraft. This page: AP Photo/Alex Brandon
During his seven terms as a Republican congressman from Virginia, Tom Davis ’71 (above right, with Democratic Rep. Barney Frank) often worked across the aisle. “To Tom,” says one college friend, “compromise was a craft, not a sin.”
Spring 2014 Amherst 27
it does seem that way. Until he quit the electoral game a few years ago—for a normal workday and a big-time salary as a Washington “rainmaker”—Davis, a Virginian since preschool, was as close to a political lifer as one is likely to find. fi More signifi ficantly, in this age of strident political partisanship, the Virginia Republican remained and still remains a near-model of bipartisanship and determination to deal with constituencies his party had been shunning, if not scorning. Exhibit A: the District of Columbia, the orphan, unrepresented entity dependent on Congress for funding and much else. As chairman of a subcommittee of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and then of the full committee, ffort to straighten out the District’s Davis led a much-needed eff finances and redevelop part of its downtown, even though its fi heavily African-American population votes solidly Democratic in local and national elections. Davis’ careers as a candidate and a consultant exhibit two series of unbroken successes. Despite running for three levels of offi ffice in a solidly purple area of suburban Virginia, he never came close to losing a race. (“I retired,” he says, with typical dry humor, “undefeated and unindicted.”) In his Congressional re-election campaigns of 1998 and 2002, the Democrats did not even put up a candidate against him. As a consultant, he has long been recognized as one of the sharpest political minds in either party. “Tom Davis is the best candidate I’ve worked for in 20 years of politics,” says John Hishta, who managed several of his campaigns. “He has an enormous capacity for political work. And as a Republican in Northern Virginia, he had great ability to practice the ‘politics of addition’—gaining a normally Democratic vote for himself while subtracting one from his opponent.” Others praise, sometimes eff ffusively, Davis’ empathy for constituents of all or no political stripes and his willingness to go to bat for them, his almost daunting memory and grasp of details (including the trivial) and his bipartisan collegiality that not only made him an unusually eff ffective Congressman but also gained him lasting friends of other persuasions. Says Larry Sidman ’70, a college pal who later lobbied Rep. Davis in behalf of public broadcasting, “To Tom, compromise was a craft, not a sin.” His style, adds Sidman, a liberal Democrat, was essentially the same in Congress as it had been at Amherst—even in the face of hostility over Davis’ support of the Vietnam War: “engaged, ready for discourse, always civil. He’s never changed, although his party has.” Not all Democrats, to be sure, have been favorably impressed by Davis. Leslie L. Byrne, the incumbent whom he challenged in his first race for Congress, in 1994, says Davis very carefully calibrated his stances on issues, changing them as needed to fferent groups. “He would say or do anything to get appeal to diff you to like him. Running against him was like shadowboxing— very diffi fficult to pin him down on anything.” It’s a mark of Davis’ personal appeal that Byrne delivered her critique with repeated laughs and referred to him as “Tom.” Stripped to its essentials, Davis’ ascent of the political ladder looks like this: Served as a U.S. Senate page as a teenager. During that time, attended the United States Capitol Page School, where political chitchat was part of the daily fare. Was deeply embroiled in Vietnam-era controversy as a student at Amherst, where he organized the then-small number 28 Amherst Spring 2014
of Republicans on campus while also soaking up lots of nonideological political wisdom. At the University of Virginia School of Law, ran numerous mock elections in behalf of candidate Richard Nixon and also presided over the school’s Young Republicans chapter. Thanks to an introduction from David Eisenhower ’70, scored a one-on-one session with President Nixon that resulted in highly instructive—and paid—White House internships. Worked briefl fly for the notorious Nixon-era CREEP (Committee for the Re-Election of the President) while in law school. Was elected to the board of supervisors in Fairfax County, Va., a relentlessly growing and politically divided suburb of Washington. Served as a regular member of the board for 11 years and for three more as its chairman. Defeated favored incumbent Byrne in Virginia’s 11th Congressional district, then the wealthiest in the nation. Won reelection six times, by large margins. Chaired the National Republican Congressional Committee, raising, during the 2000 and 2002 election cycles, a booming $170 million and heading a campaign that resulted in a very rare pickup of seats for the party holding the presidency. Davis has strongly supported Amherst in unusual ways. He and his wife hold receptions for D.C.-area members of the incoming class and their parents. He periodically speaks at the college about national politics, including in 2009, when Amherst awarded him an honorary degree. And he and longtime House parliamentarian Charles Johnson ’60 have concocted a sort of intellectual tag-team on politics, batting around ideas on reapportionment, fundraising and other Congress-related subjects in front of Amherst audiences. Although the two frequently disagree, Johnson calls Davis “the most articulate person I’ve ever heard speak on those matters.” The Davis-Johnson show has had two performances for alumni in Washington and is scheduled for a third this May in New York City. A few years ago Davis ran for a seat on Amherst’s board of trustees. He didn’t win, a result he attributes to heavy online voting, which tends to favor younger candidates. That remains the one defeat of his electoral career.
Tom Davis was one of five children born to a
college teacher and his wife in Minot. Father Davis had graduated from Amherst (Class of ’38), after entering at age 16. (He went on to get a Ph.D. at 23.) One of Tom’s grandfathers had made his way from a small school to Harvard Law and gone on to become attorney general of Nebraska and, briefl fly during World War II, acting secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior. Tom’s family left Minot in pursuit of steady employment for his father, an alcoholic whose problem with drink plagued him—and the family—wherever he went. He served a number of jail sentences for drunkenness-related offenses. ff As a result, the family lived in near-poverty. When the senior Davis failed to hold a teaching job in Texas, Tom’s mother took the children to suburban Virginia in hopes of creating a stable life. Her relationship with Tom’s father was so unsettled that she ended up divorcing and remarrying him a stunning total of four times. Achieving a stable life proved difficult ffi for mother and children. “We had no money,” says Davis. “When I went to Amherst, our total family contribution was $50. We couldn’t afford ff
sought out off-campus ff political experiences: “One day I went to Springfield, fi alone, just to observe a minor, nonpartisan special election.” “Tom was defi finitely conservative,” Sidman recalls, “socially as well as politically.” For one thing, awash in bad memories of his father, he didn’t drink alcohol (and still doesn’t). “He was very, very straight,” Sidman adds, “a guy navigating the mid-20th century with 19th-century standards. But he was also very civil and polite. People tended to respect him, and despite our sharp political differences, ff I liked him a lot.” It might have been different ff for Davis had anti-war sentiment at Amherst been nasty and explosive. Instead, Sidman observes, “the debate over the war, while vigorous, was not ugly or excessively aggressive.” Davis recalls the closest he came to a physical confrontation. Military recruiters—who then were pariahs on many campuses— came to Amherst, and Davis volunteered to escort them into the building where they would set up for their meetDavis recalls his first race: ings: “I rang door“A line of my fellow students, big bells every guys, was blocking the steps. I said to night and on weekends.” them, ‘Gentlemen, these are my guests. Please move.’” With a small smile that is one of his trademarks, Davis adds, “They didn’t move.” A political science major, Davis gravitated toward Hadley Arkes, then in the early stage of his long Amherst professorship. Davis’ goal: to learn the building blocks of political success. “Hadley instructed me on two very important subjects: voting patterns and how you build coalitions—the practical side of politics.” His senior thesis dealt with Congressional reapportionment (the redistribution of seats on the basis of census data) and realignment (the emergence of new political coalitions, issues and pluralities) in Virginia, and he went on to become a recognized expert on the subjects. On the night he won election to Congress, one of his calls went to Arkes. Despite his Republicanism and stance on the war, Davis characterizes his relationships on that fractious Amherst campus as harmonious. “My feeling was that all opinions should be heard, that I’d meet with, talk with, anybody at any time. That’s been my conviction, and my political stance, ever since. After all, Jesus ate with the Pharisees.” In all, at Amherst, “the education I got lifted my vision as to what was possible and desirable,” he says. If that sounds high-flown fl and hackneyed, Davis also learned more practical lessons: “In negotiating anything, think, ‘What does the guy on the other side need out of this?’ Not, ‘What does he want?’— ‘What does he need?’” In personal style, it’s easy to imagine Davis the undergrad looking pretty much as he does today: a bit shambling, à la Am-
more. We got so much fi financial aid that it was cheaper for me to go to private-school Amherst than as an in-state student to the public-school University of Virginia.” During one period, Mrs. Davis was simply unable to accommodate Tom in her home; he was obliged to live with neighbors, sleeping on their couch. (Later in life, her children grown, she became a prosperous businesswoman.) Hindrances be damned, Tom Davis already had his sights set on a political career. He became a Senate page, serving Virginia’s two senators and attending the pages’ school. Despite having to show up for 6:30 a.m. classes, he calls the school “a great experience” that prepared him at least adequately for Amherst. He applied to Amherst for early admission. “I’d never been to the campus,” he says. Three weeks later, he got a letter of acceptance. At Amherst, Davis was pretty much consumed by politics: the politics of the war but other kinds as well. He plunged into the turbulent waters surrounding Vietnam as an unabashed pro-war Republican in a sea of anti-war Democrats. Says Larry Sidman, “I’d be surprised if there were 10 students who’d have owned up to being Republicans.” Right, says Davis, “and a lot of them were afraid of being outed.” Not Davis. Already an elected member of the freshman council, he started a campus Republican Club—not exactly the best time for that sort of venture, but the club persevered. He also
Spring 2014 Amherst 29
herst of decades ago, with white button-down shirt and conservative tie, no friend of dark three-piece suits or tassel loafers. A GQ Q type he never was, friends say; he was more likely to be walking down a Congressional corridor with his shirttail half out of his trousers.
After Universityy of Virginia law
school and marriage to a UVA medical school graduate, Davis returned to Fairfax County. He paid little attention to offers ff from “a few” New York law firms. He was intent on running for offi ffice as soon as feasible and figured his adopted area was the place to do it. Needing an income to undergird his political ambitions, he took a job with a small law firm, fi did low-level work (“I wasn’t very good and spent little time at it”) and methodically prepared to launch himself into the electoral world. He started halfway up the ladder—declaring in 1979 for a seat on the county board of supervisors. Breaks came his way: he had no opposition for the Republican nomination, and the popular incumbent, a Democrat, pulled out of the race. Still, the 100,000-strong electorate, heavily Democratic at the time, seemed sure to support the incumbent’s replacement on the Democratic ticket. Older political heads advised him to move elsewhere and run there. Davis persevered, with almost maniacal energy. “I rang doorbells every night and on weekends. I read up thoroughly on all the issues; so many candidates know only their own talking points. And I got people incentivized to vote.” Although he put “Republican” on his campaign literature, he made certain not to emphasize it. And when he met voters, which seemed to happen every five fi minutes, he wrote down key information gleaned from them. So if he met them again, he would mention one of those factoids, right down to the name of their dog. People, he learned early, love to be remembered, even by politicians. “Nobody thought I could win,” Davis a recalls of that long-ago race. “I had no endorsements—none—and I got outspent heavily. But this was my shot. If I lost, I figured, I might have to do something other than politics. “I made my share of mistakes. In my first campaign brochure”—he laughs—“I talked up limiting the federal government—when my constituency was loaded with federal employees! But my own phone banking was showing positive results. So I worked even harder, and so did my family. My wife and mother walked our precinct for me.” Davis wound up winning 63 percent of the vote. He was 30 years old, and instinct, hard work and his favorite part of his Amherst education were already paying off. ff The post of supervisor was principally a route to the next rung on his ladder: chairman of the board of supervisors, the county’s top position. That in turn positioned him for Congress. “All through the supervisor years,” says John Hishta, his former campaign manager, “Tom stuck to some basic Republican principles. He continued to see the world through the prism of opportunity and a strong economy. But he was a very practical guy. He dealt with issues in a way that took them out of an ideological context. And he loved doing that. For him, nothing compared to a good zoning or school-boundary issue.” Nothing, that is, other than campaigning. “He never saw a crowd—even a voter—he didn’t like,” says Hishta. “He’d stand for hours outside a Giant [supermarket], working the crowds 30 Amherst Spring 2014
like he was the president on a ‘rope line.’ He’d even help shoppers carry groceries to their cars. That wasn’t just in the local races—in the Congressional ones, too.” Stepping up to a Congressional candidacy was no big deal for Davis. Except for a small chunk of adjoining Prince William County, the district largely overlapped with the one that had elected him chairman of the supervisors. Leslie Byrne, the incumbent, in offi ffice only two years, was a relatively soft target. Davis leavened his usual intense campaigning with a humorous slogan. “If you like me,” he told crowds, “send me to Congress. If you don’t, just send me to Washington.” A thorny problem: Oliver North, a much-publicized figure in the Iran-Contra scandal several years earlier, was running for U.S. Senate from Virginia. North was a fiercely fi conservative Republican, and under a party oath, Davis was obliged to support him. “I did not speak out against him. But when he was campaigning in my district, you couldn’t fi find me with a search warrant. And when reporters pressed me on the issue, I said only, ‘I support the Republican candidates,’ never mentioning his name.” North lost a tight race; Davis won comfortably. In Congress, with its 435 members and constant flow fl of new issues, it’s easy for a newcomer to get lost. But Davis quickly separated himself from the herd. He began sponsoring bills and never stopped; during his career, he sponsored more than 100 that became law. Davis became one of the first freshmen in a half century to be given a subcommittee chairmanship—the one dealing with the District of Columbia. Almost immediately and throughout his Congressional career, he showed extraordinary concern for the problems off the beleaguered District. “People said I was stupid to take that position, and as a white guy from the suburbs, I did have to be careful”—about retribution from his district’s voters, for one, and about being ignored by D.C. leaders. But with D.C.-Congress struggles often in the headlines, Davis knew the exposure would be good. More important, he realized that if D.C. prospered, so would suburban Virginia. In 2003, with the GOP controlling Congress, he moved up to chairman of the entire committee. Of several signifi ficant pieces of pro-D.C. legislation introduced during his tenure, Davis lost on only one: a creative effort ff to secure for the District a voting representative in Congress (sure to be a Democrat) by adding one to Utah’s delegation (sure to be a Republican). Davis marshalled plausible arguments for the measure and lined up support among balky conservatives. The first year, the legislation passed in the House; the second, it passed in the Senate but died in the House because, Davis says, conservatives attached amendments that would have abolished most of the D.C.’s tough anti-gun laws. His greatest achievement with regard to Washington, D.C., was the creation of a financial control board that rescued the city from a fi fiscal morass. In fiscal years 1995 and 1996, the District racked up a defi ficit of $700 million, and with the disgraced Marion Barry newly reinstalled as mayor, the prospects for reducing that were next to nil. Davis’ legislation gave the board’s five members, all distant from city politics, the power to oversee D.C. finances and override decisions by the mayor and city council. The city’s established power brokers were predictably angry, and, says Davis, “there was pressure to replace me [at the controls of the rescue].” But Democrat Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District’s veteran nonvoting delegate to the House, lent Davis
her support, and in a move that showed élan as well self-assurance, the young Virginian called Barry, the weakened mayor, to smooth their relations. Under the control board, D.C. achieved a balanced budget in 1998, and three more before ending its oversight in 2001. Davis shepherded through or supported a series of other measures that addressed festering problems in the District: the lack of a four-year public college or university, with D.C. now subsidizing residents’ tuitions at institutions anywhere in the country, and much-needed capital investment for the Metro system and for an aging bridge that serves as a major commuter link. He also gave a push to a local issue dear to conservative hearts—the expansion of charter schools. On the matter of statehood, a perennial though hopeless cause with D.C. activists, he has been resolutely opposed, though he’s in favor of the House voting on the issue. Davis’ work on the committee illustrates his commitment to working with, rather than shutting out, opponents. When he took over the chairmanship, he succeeded Democrat Henry Waxman, a strong-minded liberal. Davis went out of his way to establish good relations with Waxman, soliciting his input on legislation before the committee. Davis did that, he says, partly because of convictions bred at Amherst and partly because Waxman’s own predecessor as committee chairman, an Indiana Republican, had kept Waxman at arm’s length. As the 2008 elections approached, Davis explored a race for U.S. Senate. He concluded that too many factors were stacked against him: Northern Virginians almost never win statewide races; former Gov. Jim Gilmore looked to be a formidable opponent; and the nomination would be by convention, rather than primary, favoring Gilmore’s conservative forces. Says Hishta, “Tom knew he couldn’t win.” The 11th District seat again beckoned, but Davis decided not to run. “I was termed out as committee chair and didn’t want to go back to being a backbencher. Also, the place [the House] had become dysfunctional. There were better uses of my time.” In addition, the prospect of earning multiples of his House salary outside government was tempting.
Five years y before he quit Congress, Davis
and his wife divorced, and he soon married another Virginia Republican officeholder, ffi Jeannemarie Devolites. She had won two terms in the state House of Delegates and one in the state Senate—in the process establishing “firsts” fi for women in Virginia politics—before losing her bid for re-election in 2007; Davis managed her initial campaign. In 2013 she made an unsuccessful try for the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor. The couple disagrees on a few issues. On the death penalty, he’s what she calls “a big supporter”; she has reservations. She categorically opposes abortion; he simply opposes government funding for the procedure, and he favors stem-cell research. On gun control, Davis espouses what he calls “nuanced views.” He favors background checks of gun purchasers. But otherwise, he pretty much lines up with the National Rifle fl Association, whose headquarters is in his old Congressional district. He opposes gay marriage but says “discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation should be illegal.” On labor matters, Davis comes across as flat-out conservative. He favors “rightto-work” legislation and opposes the so-called living wage.
“I’m not even a minimum wage guy. Government ought not tell private companies what they should and shouldn’t pay people. And raising the minimum doesn’t help workers much.” Asked about race relations, Davis comments in terms not of equity or inherent rights but of “respect” and winning votes. The Democrats, he says, “have developed a construct of identity politics. It’s worked for them. The Republicans haven’t caught on.” Is Davis uneasy with Tea Party Republicans? Yes and no. “I was somebody who wanted to govern, get the job done, and too many of them are ideologically rigid. But I do think the Tea Party’s calling attention to the national defi ficit is a good thing.” He entertains what, for an elected offi fficial, are deep thoughts: for example, how to keep big money from completely overrunning the politicians who receive it, and how, given partisan ascendancy, to keep Congress from imitating Britain’s parliamentary system, “with our minority party becoming an opposition party.”
In Washington, smart, likeable and well-
connected pols are always in demand when they signal their intentions to switch to “the private sector,” and Davis was in more demand than most. “If I’d been at an earlier point in my life,” he says, “I might have tried something entrepreneurial, a start-up of some kind.” As it was, picking the consulting fi firm Deloitte was an easy choice. He could have gone there for the seven-fi figure salary alone. But Deloitte had other pluses: a relatively relaxed schedule (he often works from home); a number of employees who were acquaintances; and, most important, a job that suits his talents and experience. Although the company is not overtly political, its Federal Government Service manages operations for many U.S. departments and agencies. Davis’ job is, in essence, to use his own abundant contacts, name recognition and political savoir faire to pave the way for Deloitte’s heavy hitters to talk with top government and corporate offi fficials. His title: director of government relations. Davis’ offi ffice at Deloitte is surprisingly small—probably fewer square feet per $100,000 of income than anybody’s in Washington. “Everybody’s office ffi here is like that,” he says dismissively. Dominating almost an entire wall is an ancient artifact—a whiteboard with names and numbers incompletely rubbed out. There seems to have been little letup in Davis’ passion for chatting on the phone with politicians. Members of both parties come calling. Thanks to appointments from the last Republican governor, he serves on the boards of Virginia’s George Mason University—an up-and-coming public institution a modest distance from his home in the D.C. suburb of Vienna—and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. Late-night and weekend grinds at the Capitol have given way to season tickets for the Washington Capitals and Nationals games. The prince of bipartisan politics seems to be relishing his scaled-back, senior status, poring over nuts-and-bolts political publications, pondering this or that arcane statistic from campaigns past, waiting for another campaigner to call: “Tom, remember me? I’m in a tough race out here, and I’d really appreciate your advice….” k Roger M. Williams ’56 is a Washington, D.C.-based journalist. Spring 2014 Amherst 31
One Mother’s Day Adrie Kusserow ’88 knocked on a door in Vermont, hoping to meet some of Sudan’s “lost boys.” That knock has changed many lives—including those of girls who’d been more likely to die in childbirth than to finish high school.
Atem Deng, center, met Kusserow, far right, after he came to Vermont. He married Adieu Dau Thiong, who joined him in the Green Mountain State.
BY MARY JO CURTIS
N A SUNNY AFTERNOON IN FEBRUARY, ADRIE Kusserow ’88 returned from skiing through the woods near her Vermont home and settled into her family room with a cup of tea. On three sides of the room, large windows look out on acres of pristine fields of snow, tall pines and snow-covered mountains. This is the land where Kusserow grew up. Her mother lives close by along the drive off ff the mountain road, and Kusserow’s childhood home is a stone’s throw away in the opposite direction. She and her husband, Robert Lair, built their sun-fi filled house 10 years ago, and it is here they are raising yet another generation, their daughter, Ana, 14, and son, Will, 11. This land is home. When Kusserow began to speak, the topics were joltingly at odds with the peaceful setting. She talked of Sudan’s “lost boys,” of her time in refugee camps,
32 Amherst Spring 2014
Photographs by Joshi Radin
Spring 2014 Amherst 33
of the need to build a Sudanese school close to a safe border in case of enemy attack. A professor of cultural anthropology since 1996 at St. Michael’s, a small, Catholic liberal arts college outside Burlington, Kusserow teaches courses on refugees, modern-day slavery, social inequality, medical anthropology and the anthropology of religion. She has conducted fieldwork in Uganda, India and Nepal, and she’s taken her students to Sudan, Uganda and Bhutan. She’s a staunch advocate for studying abroad, doing community service work and conducting fieldwork. fi A clear theme runs through her life and career: She wants her students—and Americans as a whole—to more deeply understand how many of the world’s citizens live: in poverty, fear, danger and bondage. This work began while she was an Amherst student. In her sophomore year, Kusserow enrolled in a semester-abroad program with a School for International Training in Nepal. “When I went to Amherst, I kind of panicked. I needed to do something radically different ff and get away from the upper-middle-class, privileged life I’d been living,” she says. “I lived in a Tibetan refugee area near Kathmandu, and it changed my life forever.” She returned to Amherst to major in religion, study English and anthropology, and graduate Phi Beta Kappa. She left the Pioneer Valley for Harvard Divinity School, where she earned a master’s degree in comparative religion. The curriculum included anthropology, and she became deeply interested in psychiatric and medical anthropology, y fascinated by the varied ways different ff cultures interpret and respond to illnesses of the mind and body. Since Harvard off ffered a doctoral program in social anthropology, she stayed to earn a Ph.D. “Religion and anthropology are so close in many ways,” Kusserow says. “Much of the world doesn’t put religion in a box for Sundays; so many cultures are bathed in religion.” After finishing her studies, Kusserow returned to Vermont and began teaching at St. Michael’s. In 1998 she traveled to Kathmandu to observe how Tibetan monks and nuns were adapting Tibetan Buddhism for Western audiences. Three years later, on Mother’s Day, she met the lost boys.
URING THE 22 YEARS OF SUdan’s Second Civil War, 20,000 children fled their homes in southern Sudan as Muslim aggressors from the north attacked Christians in the south. Many of the parents of these children were killed; many of the girls were sold into slavery. The surviving “lost boys”— largely between the ages of 5 and 11—set out on foot for refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya; during that 1,000-mile journey, half of them died. In 2001 the U.S. State Department organized one of the largest resettlement projects in its history, airlifting some 3,800 lost boys—by then in their late teens and early 20s—from refugee camps to various locations in the United States. On May 13, 2001, Kusserow and her husband learned that a group of 30 lost boys from the Bor area and Bahr el Ghazal had ended up in the Burlington-Winooski area. Kusserow, who’d been following the news on the Sudanese war, wanted to meet them.
34 Amherst Spring 2014
“We knocked on the door unannounced at this pretty abysmal apartment,” she says. “We walked in and found five guys there, and the heat cranked up to 90. I was struck immediately by their sense of isolation.” The U.S. media has devoted substantial coverage to the lost boys who came to the United States, but Kusserow feels the public has seen an incomplete story. “The media portraits have been fairly shallow,” she says. Vermont reporters seem to turn to the same four or five boys over and over again, she says, “quoting the ones who speak good English, have gone to college and are not struggling.” But Kusserow has seen some other local refugees—men now in their 20s and 30s—struggle with depression, alcoholism, their identity as immigrants. And among many other challenges, she says, “they’re under incredible pressure” to send money back to their families. These men expected more from life in America. “The greatest disappointment for them is probably that they can’t afford ff an education,” she says. “The boys who are often highlighted are the ones who graduate.” And college doesn’t always lead to a better life. Some of the college-educated lost boys find fi they can’t get professional jobs while competing in a tough economy with American-born applicants. “For many,” Kusserow says, “life is a real struggle here in the U.S.” After befriending some of the Vermont lost boys, Kusserow made them a part of her own students’ lives. She brought them into classes she taught on refugees, where her students learned about their experiences. Her students also helped the lost boys adjust to life in America by, among other things, teaching them to drive. Atem Deng, a member of the Dinka tribe from Bor, is one of the Sudanese young men Kusserow met that day in 2001. Now 33, he’s had a relationship with Kusserow and her family for so long, she says, that “he’s part of the family.” Deng remembers life with another family, too—one he was part of until war intruded upon their lives in 1987. At age 7, he and other children fled his village, at first hiding in trees nearby during the day and trying to return home at night, “but troops were following us and killing everybody they encountered,” he says. That threat continued as Deng set out barefoot on a two-month journey to a refugee camp in Ethiopia. The soldiers weren’t the only danger along the way: wild animals preyed on the children, and hundreds were killed by crocodiles or drowned as they tried to cross the Nile River. Deng says he survived simply because he “was lucky.” He remained in the Ethiopian camp for four years, until fighting also broke out in that country, and a new regime decided the refugees were no longer welcome. The Ethiopian militia forced the boys to cross the Gilo River back into Sudan; again, many children did not survive the river—or the soldiers waiting on the other side. “It was the same situation, and they were waiting for us,” says Deng, who went back to hiding during the day and traveling at night. “We hid in the trees and ate leaves.” It was another two months before 11-year-old Deng and other boys reached a refugee camp in Kenya. They remained there for 10 years, until the U.S. airlift began in 2001. Again, Deng says he was “lucky”: He was among the lost boys sent to America before the program was discontinued following 9/11. As he and his countrymen settled into their new lives in Vermont, Deng says, “everyone was wonderful and so helpful to us.” He forged a relationship with Kusserow and her husband, who became “my second parents.” Not knowing whether his
first parents had lived or died in the war, he made inquiries, networking by email with people he knew back in Africa. In 2005 Deng discovered his parents were alive and living in a refugee camp in Kampala, Uganda. He asked Kusserow to accompany him to see his family. She decided to bring her students.
DON’T KNOW HOW TO DEscribe that moment,” says Deng of the reunion with his parents. “Our lives had changed. I thought they were dead, and they thought I was dead.” He later found two brothers and two sisters who’d also survived. As Deng and his parents celebrated, five of Kusserow’s students conducted interviews and gathered life histories from others in the camp. From there, Kusserow and nine students traveled to the massive Imvepi Settlement Camp for the Sudanese in Arua, Uganda. “It stretched for miles, with thousands and thousands of people,” she says. In conducting life histories with the residents of Imvepi, Kusserow was surprised to learn the extent to which the Sudanese believe in the power of education: “Never before have I encountered refugees who were so obsessed with education. We heard the slogan, ‘Education is my mother and my father.’” But while children were eager to go to school, parents—of daughters specifically—were fi not always eager to send them. Their reluctance was tied to cows. When Deng met his future wife, Adieu Dau Thiong, in the refugee camp, Kusserow discovered that Deng would need to pay Adieu’s family 300 cows before the couple could marry. Kusserow and husband Lair off ffered to help, allowing Deng to buy the required livestock and bring his wife home to Vermont. “People don’t want their daughters to go to school, because that will delay marriage—and they know they can get cows when their daughters marry,” Kusserow says. That and other factors inspired Kusserow and Lair’s next move. Illiteracy rates are high in South Sudan. According to UNICEF, only 27 percent of the population can read, and only 30 percent of children between the ages of 6 and 17 have ever even been inside a classroom. The completion rate in primary schools is one of the lowest in the world; fewer than 1 percent of girls complete primary Kusserow is family now, school. According to an April 2014 and Vermont New York Times editorial, roughly is home, says one-third of South Sudan’s populaDeng, with tion is facing starvation. Thiong.
“We’d never encountered a country with such an abysmal rate for everything, from literacy to childbirth,” says Kusserow. “The statistics are so brutal: South Sudan has proportionately fewer girls going to school than any other country in the world. A girl has a greater chance of dying in childbirth than graduating from high school. We found the greatest need was to provide support for the education off girls, so we came back home and started to raise money for a school.” Lair and Deng applied to the World Bank for funding and received $200,000 to build a boarding school. The second part of the project involved establishing a nonprofit fi NGO, Africa Education & Leadership Initiative (www.africaeli.org), which Kusserow, Lair and Deng created in conjunction with an advocacy group—the Lost Boys of Sudan of Vermont—to support secondary education for girls. The school is located in Yei in South Sudan. “We hoped once it was built, it would eventually be self-sustaining,” Kusserow says. It’s now run by Wani Kenneth Evans, a Sudanese man. “We chose Yei because it’s close to the Ugandan and Congo borders.” While the area is currently considered relatively stable, if rebel fighting comes “too close for comfort,” the students will be able to flee across a border to safety, she says. They chose to build the school as a boarding school to not only educate the girls but also to keep them fed and safe. “At home they’re often put to work, and boys are given educational preference,” Kusserow says. “The girls are in danger from early pregnancy and marriage, and the school is a wonderful way of keeping them from those risks.”
Africa ELI has helped to build additional schools, and it’s now working to build more. While the nonprofit fi was organized to support girls—admission priority goes to girls and refugees ages 14 to 26—boys receive about one-third of its scholarships. “In educating boys, we hope to make them more accepting of education for girls,” Kusserow says. The organization operates on the philosophy that educating the young women of the country will build gender equality and result in healthier families, better economic conditions, improved social interaction and stronger leadership. Prior to 2005, no coordinated education system existed in southern Sudan, according to Anita Henderlight, director of Africa ELI. There are now more than 200 graduates of the Yei school—including a young woman named Betty. One of Africa ELI’s sponsored students, Betty graduated in 2011, worked her way through teacher training college and is now head teacher at one of the organization’s primary schools. Henderlight has no shortage of praise for Kusserow and her role in establishing the NGO and bringing education to the region: “Adrie is such a superstar for all of us in South Sudan. She is committed to girls’ education and such a force for good around the world.”
IOLENCE ALONG THE BORDER between South Sudan and its northern neighbor, the Republic of Sudan, has risen since South Sudan became an independent country in 2011. With coveted oil fields lying within South Sudan, the border remains contested. Aerial bombings from the north continually threaten the border provinces, killing adults and children and destroying villages and schools. As a result, says Kusserow, there is now a second wave of lost boys (and girls) fleeing the bombings in the Nuba Mountains along that border. On her last trip to South Sudan, in 2012, she interviewed boys and girls who’d fled the Nuba region. Among them was Sadig Babur, who describes a harrowing journey “running from bombardments and ground attacks” with a group of friends. Traveling for “many days,” he says, he saw “thousands of women, children and elders die on the roads” before he reached a refugee camp that did not have adequate food or water for the barrage of arrivals. Like Deng, Babur was lucky; he hailed a passing convoy driver who gave him $40 and a ride partway to Yei. Soon he enrolled in the school at Yei, working in exchange for tuition credit. He says “Madam Adrie” also helped cover his school costs. He’s now a student at Emmanuel Christian College in Yei, hoping to raise the money to complete his education there. Only about half of the boys who try to leave Nuba survive the two-week trek to find refuge in Yei, and girls are even more vulnerable. Some of the children Kusserow interviewed talked about finding a refugee camp after fleeing the mountains. “But many were raped or sold for marriage,” she says. “Everyone wants money. It’s not appropriate for girls to travel, and we see fewer and fewer.” In her days as a divinity student, Kusserow also studied poetry, although she “kept it under wraps” at the time, she says.
36 Amherst Spring 2014
Once she was immersed in anthropology, she found a place for verse in her work, and in 2013 she published her second volume of ethnographic poetry, Refuge (BOA Editions). Dedicated to her family and “all refugees everywhere,” it focuses on her observations and experiences in South Sudan and Uganda. One poem describes an injured sex worker lying in a gutter, struggling after having been beaten for asking a customer to use a condom. In another, Kusserow observes a crow pecking for food and celebrating its feast: And suddenly I knew how war must feel on the earth’s beleaguered back, the constant pecking, the restless itching armies, the wince and smart, gush and heave of old arguments dug up…
One poem, dedicated to Deng, describes him hiding in the branches of a tree: … he shinnied down, scooping out a mud pit with his hands sliding into it like a snake, his whole body covered except his mouth. Perhaps others were near him, lying in gloves of mud, sucking bits of air through the swamp holes, mosquitoes biting their lips, but he dared not look.
Kusserow says her poetry moves people in a way that her academic articles do not. Then she makes an unexpected observation: “Some of what I write about in Refuge is that Americans seem to need these refugees. They’re the bouillon cube of horror that spices up suburban life. They give our lives perspective.” She concedes that she’s among these Americans, “in the sense that I can’t survive on consumerism, hyper-individualism, materialism and competitive capitalism. Work with refugees gives a sense of meaning and purpose to many lives and puts the ‘white whine worries’ of the upper middle class in perspective.” Deng continues to provide that perspective. Still living in the Burlington area and working as a machinist, he’s about to face another major change, this time a happy one: he and his wife are expecting their first child in August. But he worries about his parents. In recent months, as fighting resumed in South Sudan, he once again feared they were dead. Using his email networks in that country, he was relieved to find they were in Yei, once again adjusting to refugee life. He was able to wire money to them. “These soldiers just kill people randomly, even in hospitals. My parents were very lucky,” says Deng. In his childhood village “there’s nothing left from the bombings and lootings. Why would I ever go back there? For what?” Deng and his wife, even though they live in the city, have a view of the mountains from their home in Vermont. There are no mountains near Deng’s village in Sudan, only desert. Nor is there any snow. “It is so cold here,” he says with a laugh, “that at first I thought I wasn’t going to make it.” He’s thought of moving somewhere warmer, he says, but that would mean no more weekly visits to Kusserow’s mountain home. “I want to be with Adrie and her family for life,” he says. “They are my family now. This is my home now.” k Mary Jo Curtis is a media relations specialist at Mount Holyoke College and a freelance writer. Adrie Kusserow ’88 can be reached at email@example.com.
alumni in the world
LYNDSEY SCOTT â€™06 started coding in middle school and went on to become a fashion model.
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The Beauty of Coding Smartphone apps of her own design, plus a wave of media attention, have turned a runway model into a role model.
Lyndsey Scott ’06 MAJORS: THEATER & DANCE AND COMPUTER SCIENCE
BY KATHERINE DUKE ’05
y y Scott ’06 has g graced the CODING U Lyndsey runwayy for Victoria’s Secret, Louis Vuitton and Fendi. She’s appeared in Essence and British Vogue. But smartphone apps of her own design, plus a recent wave of media attention, have turned her into a different ff kind of model: a role model for young women and minorities in computer science. To news outlets that have reported her story, y she’s proof that tech geeks can be gorgeous.
Jezebel and CNN praised her as a defier of stereotypes. She calls those stereotypes “rather restrictive.”
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LYNDSEY SCOTT SELF-PORTRAIT
It started in December 2013, when Scott was in front of her computer at 3 a.m., “drunk on code,” and decided to post an answer to a question on Quora. com: “What does it feel like to go from physically unattractive to physically attractive?” She wrote of her years as a skinny, bespectacled teen in West Orange,
N.J., bullied by classmates, and of her later physical and professional development into a fashion model— a role that has undeniable perks, but in which “many people are shocked to find out that I’m anything other than an airhead,” she wrote—“that I was a comp. sci. major and that I program iOS apps, for example.” Her answer went viral. “The story transformed,” she says, “and even reversed to some extent, from an ‘ugly duckling to beautiful swan’ story to a ‘model has a secret life as a computer programmer’ story.” When Slate ran Scott’s Quora essay, the top comment came from “Rad Bro,” who marveled, “A Victoria’s Secret model who’s also a bona fide computer nerd? This is like walking into your backyard and finding Santa Claus jousting Bigfoot atop unicorns.” Jezebell and CNN praised Scott as a defi fier of stereotypes. She calls those stereotypes “rather restrictive”—and she avoids reading online comments on the stories, preferring not to allow strangers to infl fluence her self-image. Scott began coding in middle school, without realizing it; she simply enjoyed programming games into her calculator. When she tried her first computer science course in college, she took to it easily. “Luckily, at Amherst, I had the opportunity to see that good female programmers are not an impossibility,” she says. She moved to New York to pursue acting and eventually signed on with a modeling agency. In 2009 she became the first African-American model to land an exclusive contract with Calvin Klein (“I pinched myself for months after”), and then came offers ff from other big names—Gucci, Prada, Vera Wang. In between, she’s continued to code (mainly in the languages Python and Objective-C). She founded an app-development business, Standable Inc. Her first fi publicly released app facilitated donations to Educate! (founded by Eric Glustrom ’07 and Boris Bulayev ’07). Next came iPort, which allows models and other artists to display customized portfolios. Scott’s latest app, The Matchmaker, promotes “real-life social networking”: l ONLINE www. whenever a match—“compatible amherst.edu/magazine: in love, friendship or business”—is The YouTube ad for physically nearby, the user’s phone Scott’s Matchmaker app, starring Scott and will buzz or chime. Matt Jones ’05 She also advises other coders. She’s earned more than 2,000 “reputation” points for answering programming questions on Stack Overflow, a score that places her near the top 1 percent of all users on the site. A visit to a Harlem middle school, where “several kids wanted to get involved with computers and technology, but not a single one had any experience,” inspired her to become a representative for Code.org and its Hour of Code learning initiative. “I’m defi finitely taking this opportunity I’ve been given to promote computer science education, especially among women and people of color,” she says. Katherine Duke ’05 is the assistant editor off Amherst.
Like an ER, but Just for Kids
COURTESY PM PEDIATRICS
Best friends since they were freshman roommates, two alumni founded a chain of urgentcare centers that see children—and children only.
Katz (left) and Schor in one of their kids-only urgent-care centers
BY CATHERINE NEWMAN ’90 PEDIATRICS U If you’ve
ever spent an interminable evening in an ER waiting room with your feverish kid while adults staggered in psychedelically from the local Grateful Dead festival, yyou’ll wish Jeffrey ff y Schor ’86 and Steven Katz ’86 would open a branch of PM Pediatrics in your town. (I live in Amherst, guys, just FYI.) Schor and Katz, best friends since they were freshman roommates in Valentine, co-founded the chain of urgent-care centers in 2005. These centers see kids— and kids only—after hours and on weekends, in a friendly environment with pediatric specialists, onsite labs and imaging, and (sigh) wait times in single-digit minutes. PM Pediatrics is not an alternative to primary care, and the centers handle no life-threatening emergencies, but for the routine injuries and illnesses that seem always to happen when doctors are off ff-duty—those weekend ear infections and broken ankles, the nighttime fevers and asthma—they off ffer a service-oriented alternative to miserable, terrifying ER visits. The two friends conceived the idea in 2003, when Schor was directing the pediatric emergency department at New York Hospital
Queens. “Even though I thought we gave good care, the delivery of it was terrible,” he says. “People had been waiting too long; they were in a stressful environment.” It’s not in the PM press materials, but it turns out that Schor, with four young kids of his own, was also mildly weary of being the de facto ER doc for his entire neighborhood: “‘Can’t you take this bead out of his nose?’ I did so much of this stuff ff at home!” Katz describes the same phenomenon from a diff fferent angle: “I had an 8-year-old, a 6-year-old and a 3-year-old. When you have kids that age, they’re always getting hurt and sick. And if anything happened to them at night, I would ff. I’d go to his house, or he’d call Jeff come to mine. But it turns out his goal was not to go house-to-house with his little doctor’s bag!” Katz, who was enjoying a successful business career at the Topps trading-card company, served as a sounding board for Schor’s entrepreneurial ideas about care delivery. Schor got an MBA, the partners hatched a plan, and in 2005 they opened their doors. “When we first started, Jeff ff was seeing the patients, and I was doing everything else,” is how Katz remembers it. “I even held kids down while Jeff ff stitched them up. We were there for something like 136 of the first 140 days.”
Jeffrey Schor ’86 MAJOR: PSYCHOLOGY
“We see or talk to each other every day. It’s like being in business with my brother.” Steven Katz ’86 MAJOR: ECONOMICS
“I love that we’ve created something that really fills a need.”
It’s diff fferent now. PM Pediatrics has six locations in New York, two in New Jersey, more on the way and plenty to be proud of: they’ve seen 450,000 patients; they’ve won business and workplace awards; and, most importantly, they have happy patients. “From a practitioner standpoint, it’s incredibly gratifying,” Schor told me. I could practically hear Katz beaming over the phone: “I love the company, the people on our team. I love that we’ve created something that really fills fi a need. Our goal—and it might sound ambitious—is to revolutionize the way health care is delivered. And we think we’re doing that in our little corner of the medical world.” They’ve come a long way since freshman orientation. “I remember seeing this guy with a big blond afro,” is how Schor describes meeting Katz. “It almost seems like it was kismet. We were roommates, best friends. We took Lisa Raskin’s developmental psychobiology class together.” Now they live three miles apart. “We see or talk to each other every day,” Schor says. “It’s like being in business with my brother.” It’s a classic Amherst fairy tale. As Schor mused, “It’s been a nice ride, and it really all started there.” Catherine Newman ’90 blogs at benandbirdy.blogspot.com. Spring 2014 Amherst 39
The Modern Farmer Deep in the Green Mountains, one alumna shares her life with 90 Icelandic sheep. Fortunately, they’ll eat anything. BY SUE DICKMAN ’89 FARMING U As a child
Given this history, it is unsurprising that Whybrow now shares her life not just with her husband, Peter Forbes, and daughters Willow and Wren, but also with 90 purebred Icelandic sheep that graze in the pastures of Knoll Farm, deep in the Green Mountains of Vermont. Whybrow and Forbes are also the founders of a leadership development organization, the Center for Whole Communities, based at the farm. Whybrow’s path from teenage dairy farmer to breeder of sheep has not been entirely straightforward. She worked in book publishing for many years and also edited Dead Reckoning: Tales of the fi Great Explorers 1800–1900, first published in 2003 by W.W. Norton. But her interest in farming never waned, and in 2001, Whybrow and 40 Amherst Spring 2014
Whybrow’s path from teenage dairy farmer to breeder of sheep has not been entirely straightforward.
Helen Whybrow ’90 longed for a cow. Growing up in Plainfi field, N.H., she was surrounded by farmers. So she and her sister asked their doctor p parents for cows. “They laughed at us for the first two conversations,” Whybrow y recalls, “but by the 10th conversation, theyy sort of gave in.” Whybrow’s parents told their daughters they could get any animals they wanted as long as the parents never had to go to the barn. And so the sisters got their cows, eventually tending a herd of 10. Throughout their teenage years, they sold milk and butter and kept up with the daily barn chores.
Helen Whybrow ’90 MAJOR ENGLISH
She and her family also grow eight varieties of blueberries.
Forbes learned about Knoll Farm, which had been donated to the Vermont Land Trust by its longtime owner. The VLT was looking for new owners who would not only farm but also run educational programs there. Though Knoll Farm had a long agricultural history, it hadn’t been actively farmed since the 1930s. The land got a tremendous amount of sun but was too steep and rocky for row crops or vegetables. Thus the arrival of Icelandic sheep, which will eat anything, including weeds and brambles. The sheep, through their grazing, allow the farmers to reclaim worn-out pastures. Whybrow and Forbes now sell breeding stock, lamb, wool and fleeces. They also grow eight varieties of organic blueberries. The Center for Whole Communities, also founded in 2001,
brings together leaders from the environmental and social justice movements to discuss issues of politics, race, class and privilege in American society, with the hope of learning to solve problems more collaboratively. Whybrow describes the center as “creating the container” that allows such difficult conversations to occur. More than 1,500 people have participated in the center’s programs, all on fellowship. Having “no barrier to entry” was crucial for Whybrow and Forbes, and they believe the no-fee model is part of the center’s success. In recent years Whybrow and Forbes have stepped back from active leadership of the center, whose work now continues across the country. This has allowed Whybrow to spend more time on the farm, which she sees “as a place to model what we believe in, in terms of land stewardship and land restoration.” One of her recent projects is a short film, fi Organic Matters, which features Vermont farmers talking about the importance of organic food and agriculture to the health of people and the environment. During the deep winter months, Whybrow returns to a quieter writing life. She and Forbes are collaborating on a biography of their mentor and friend Bill Coperthwaite, the homesteader and yurt builder who died last year, which will be published by Chelsea Green in the fall. In mid-winter, Whybrow was working hard to finish the draft before her favorite time of year, lambing season in April, when her capable hands would be otherwise occupied by many small Icelandic sheep and their mothers. Sue Dickman ’89 is a writer whose essays have appeared in such publications as the Washington Post and San Francisco Chronicle.
Getting There First
Civil war ravaged Somaliland’s infrastructure, and much of it was never repaired.
BY NICHOLAS MANCUSI ’10 ENERGY U Around the world, an estimated 1.5 billion people live unconnected to a serviceable power grid. g Christian Nicolas Desrosiers ’10 and Nigel Carr ’10 want to get to them fi first. In 2012 the pair, who met as freshmen on the men’s lacrosse team, founded Qorax Energy, which is, to date, the only renewable-energy research firm fi operating in Somaliland, an autonomous region of Somalia. If it can reach underserved citizens and provide them with renewable power, Qorax will not only stem the proliferation of ecologically unsound and finite fi energy sources but also give self-reliance and economic independence a chance to flourish fl in Somaliland. Twenty years ago, the Somali Civil War ravaged Somaliland’s infrastructure, and much of it was never repaired. Today, Somalilanders get most of their power from factories that run massive diesel generators, which rely on a huge amount of fuel trucked in from abroad. Something as simple as a damaged road can cause massive outages. Despite the fact that the power companies operate on razor-thin margins, Somaliland electricity is some of the most expensive in the world: energy costs represent around 30 percent of average household expenditures. Desrosiers learned about this insufficient ffi infrastructure firsthand. After teaching English in Indonesia on a Fulbright Scholarship (to “get as far from my personal experience as possible,” he says) he got a job at Gollis University in Somaliliand’s capital city of Hargeisa, where many of his students were government offi fficials or industry leaders. Back in the United States, he and Carr formed their idea over lunch. Carr had gained experience in the energy industry while working for Brightfields fi Development, an environmental consulting company founded
Christian Nicolas Desrosiers ’10 MAJOR: ENGLISH
“The power system in Somaliland is going to change very soon.”
Nigel Carr ’10 MAJOR: PSYCHOLOGY
Their company’s first project is a solar unit on the roof of a maternity hospital.
Most people in Somaliland get their power from massive diesel generators. Two alumni hope to make solar units a better option.
by Pete Pedersen ’80. With a third partner on board— Abdishakur Mohamoud, a Somali man who is fluent fl in English, Chinese and Arabic—Qorax was formed in December 2012. Qorax (the name is the Somali word for “sun”; X) is really two separate entities, don’t pronounce the X which together represent the founders’ full-spectrum approach to the power problem. Qorax Energy is the functional arm; it conducts feasibility studies and will eventually be responsible for the installation of self-contained solar units in households and businesses. Qorax Gollis Renewables is a complementary program the partners established at Gollis University with a $112,000 grant from the World Bank. It aims to educate a local workforce on how to create and maintain a renewable energy network. Desrosiers is now studying urban planning at MIT, while Carr continues to work at Brightfields, fi but they hope to devote more time to Qorax soon. Their first fi project, a solar unit composed of 2,500 square feet of paneling on the roof of a Hargeisa maternity hospital, should be under construction by June. When it’s up and running, it will be the fi first private-investorbacked solar installation in the history of Somalia. “Everyone understands that the power system in Somaliland is going to change very soon,” says Desrosiers. Ethiopia, a literal powerhouse in the region, has extended its transmission lines right up the border and would love for its neighbors to become dependent on them for power. Qorax aims to offer ff a better option. When the fi first Somalilander reads a book under a lamp powered by his own solar unit instead of by foreign fuel, these young alums will have literally fulfi filled the motto of Amherst College and brought light to the world. Nicholas Mancusi ’10 has a Daily Beast column and blogs at Galleyist.com. His writing has appeared in Newsday, American Arts Quarterlyy and elsewhere. Spring 2014 Amherst 41
Empowering Girls—and Women
BY JENNY MORGAN SOCIAL ACTION U When Amanda Villarreal ’12 tells women about the Girls Empowerment Network of Austin, the reaction she gets is almost universal. “People say to me, ‘I really wish I had something like that when I was younger.’” The Austin, Texas, native knows where they’re coming from. Villarreal became a mentor with the organization—which helps 6,000 girls each year “navigate the unique pressures of girlhood”— while in high school, because she wanted to be the role model she never had. Growing up, Villarreal saw some
In Texas, one alumna is helping girls navigate the pressures that come with growing up. On the side, she founded a network for Amherst women. of her closest friends and relatives struggle with school, teenage pregnancy and substance abuse. She was determined to find fi a career in which she could help girls in similar situations. “I thought if I could help people individually, and make them feel better about themselves, they wouldn’t get into [those situations],” she says. “I had never heard of the term ‘feminism’ before I came to Amherst. I had sociology classes that touched on gender, and I started to see that the problems my friends and family faced were much bigger than personal decision-making.” Through Amherst’s Center for Community Engagement, she tutored kids at Girls Inc. of Holyoke
The Amherst Women’s Network Villareal founded the Amherst Women’s Network in 2013 to provide structured opportunities for networking, mentoring and conversation among female students and alumnae. Its blog—awnword.org—is an online forum for female students and alumnae. Conny Morrison ’12, Andrea Park ’12, Jess Hendel ’12 and Kristin Ouellette ’12 spearheaded the blog as members of the Boston AWN. The network’s on-campus organization is run by Hannah Greenwald ’14, Meghan McCafferty ff ’14, Leilani Webb ’14 and Shruthi Badri ’16. Under their leadership, the network has matched 28 first-year women with upperclass female mentors, organized a mixer to help first-year women meet women from other classes and held a “meet and greet” for students and young alumnae. Future plans include, among other initiatives, a campaign to encourage women to run for student senate. Amherst women who’d like to be featured in the blog should email Park at firstname.lastname@example.org. 42 Amherst Spring 2014
“Around 60 percent of the girls we work with are Latina. I see myself in a lot of them,” Villarreal says.
Amanda Villarreal ’12 MAJOR: PSYCHOLOGY
“I had never heard of the term ‘feminism’ before I came to Amherst.”
and became manager for all of the college’s Girls Inc. volunteers. After graduation she moved to Washington, D.C., where she worked for Girls Inc. at the national level and then for the American Association of University Women and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. “In D.C., I felt a connectedness to the women’s community that I didn’t feel at Amherst,” she says. Among other things, this network meant she could afford ff to work for nonprofi fits in an expensive city: one woman invited Villarreal to live rent-free in her basement. Inspired, Villarreal founded the Amherst Women’s Network last year. She also helped establish an on-campus mentorship program to connect older and younger female students. Villarreal is now the outreach specialist for the Girls Empowerment Network of Austin. She’s planning its annual conference, where she’ll lead a body-image workshop in Spanish. “There are usually less Latinas represented in mainstream girls’ and women’s empowerment initiatives,” she says. “Around 60 percent of the girls we work with are Latina. I see myself in a lot of them.” k Jenny Morgan is the staff ff writer at Amherst’s Center for Community Engagement.
arts news and reviews
New Girl’s Kim Rosenstock ’02 (left), and Julia Brownell ’04, a Parenthood writer
Two Accomplished Playwrights, Now Writing for TV Photograph by Amanda Friedman
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Rejected and Seeking Revenge As payback, a 14-year-old college freshman tries to defeat Harvard in a quiz bowl-like championship. | BY JOSH BELL ’02
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HAIRBRAINED Produced and co-written by Sarah Bird ’87 Vertical Entertainment
44 Amherst Spring 2014
focus equally on character development, so that even though Eli’s journey from loser to champion is mostly predictable, it’s still enjoyable to watch him get there. Wolff ff gives a subdued but very funny performance, making all of Eli’s quirks into believable (and sometimes tragic) character traits. Fraser, who often gets saddled with buff ffoonish roles, brings an COURTESY SARAH BIRD
FILM U Amherst may not be “the 37th-best liberal arts college on the East Coast,” but Amherst alumni will find plenty to relate to at the fictional Whittman College. HairBrained, produced and cowritten by Sarah Bird ’87, is set at Whittman, where 14-year-old child prodigy Eli Pettifog (Alex Wolff ff ) is a misunderstood freshman. Indiff fferently parented by his unstable mom (Parker Posey), Eli has spent his life dreaming of attending Harvard, but he ends up at Whittman when Harvard rejects his application. With his giant mess of curly hair and scrawny frame, Eli is initially an outcast; his only friend is middle-aged gambling addict Leo Searly (Brendan Fraser), who’s decided to start over as a college freshman. Eli soon finds his calling in the quiz bowl-like Collegiate Mastermind, turning the school’s losing team into a powerhouse. He starts dating cute townie teenager Shauna (Julia Garner), becomes a campus celebrity and sets his sights on revenge, aiming to defeat Harvard in the Collegiate Mastermind national championships. What follows draws heavily from underdog sports movies and slobs-vs.-snobs comedies such as Animal House, but Bird and co-writers Adam Wierzbianski and Billy Kent (who also directed)
Bird’s other film projects include co-writing Love is for Lovers and The Oh in Ohio.
21 Minutes to Tell the Story
impressive degree of pathos to Leo, who never ends up as a stereotypical man-child, even when he’s hitting on college students half his age. And Garner, whose role is more limited, imbues Shauna with a soulful independence. Familiar faces Posey, Fred Melamed and Toby Huss make memorable impressions in small roles. Although Whittman isn’t Amherst (and its Collegiate Mastermind team actually defeats Amherst at one point), it does have a similar feel, with its small-town New England setting, offbeat ffb student clubs and misguided Ivy League envy. Whittman is strangely underpopulated (none of the characters is ever shown attending class, and not a single professor appears onscreen), but the filmmakers give the students a scrappy, offb ffbeat fighting spirit that invests the inevitable climactic showdown against Harvard with some effective ff emotional stakes. That showdown proves underwhelming, but it fits with the low-key tone that Bird and her collaborators have created. Eli and Leo come through the experience having learned and grown a bit, but not so much that the movie comes off ff as heavyhanded or overly sentimental. Its life lessons are as subdued as its comedy, making for a perfectly unassuming capper to this charming, ramshackle movie. Josh Bell ’02 is the Las Vegas Weeklyy film editor.
TELEVISION U With a single Amherst production, the college lost one future MBA and another would-be lawyer. But it gained two formidable playwrights now writing for TV. Kim Rosenstock ’02 (far right) is a writer on Fox’s hit comedy New Girl. Julia Brownell ’04 writes for NBC’s d having critically adored Parenthood, previously worked on NBC’s Smash and HBO’s Hung. Rosenstock and Brownell are friends, neighbors and fellow book club members in L.A.’s hipster capital, Silver Lake. And yes, they still write plays. So it all started at Amherst? BROWNELL: Sophomore year there was a 10-minute Festival of Plays. I auditioned for one directed by Kim and Kat Vondy ’02. Kim said, “You should take a class with [Playwrightin-Residence] Connie Congdon.” ROSENSTOCK: I didn’t realize it led to her theater career! She owes me! Julia was the funniest actress who auditioned. I cast her. It was the first and last thing I ever directed. But out of it Julia and I became friends. How does being a TV writer differ from being a playwright? BROWNELL: TV helped me be less precious. The time constraints are so severe. Your work is going to be on the air in months or even weeks; if you write a scene in two hours, it’s possibly going to shoot tomorrow. That’s pretty cool—and scary. In playwriting there’s more romanticizing the process. I had a play at Lincoln Center. I started writing it d I three years before. On Parenthood, started working in May . We’ve written 22 episodes. ROSENSTOCK: Thinking of the most concise way to convey a thought literally neverr entered my mind before I worked in television. Every episode of New Girll is 21 minutes and 35 seconds. Working within that time limit you learn to discipline your penchant for monologues. Since I’ve written for a network sitcom the past few years, my joke
Two Amherst playwrights are now writing for network TV. | BY SOO YOUN ’96
“muscle” has been built up. Before, I would know a joke wasn’t working but resign myself to it being a clunker. Now I have more confidence in my ability to fix a joke. Writing a play [involves] going stir-crazy. Then, at the end of the tunnel there’s the light of a community to embrace the final product and put it up in production. You emerge from this writing cocoon and there’s this party in the rehearsal room, and you’re talking too loud and hugging your collaborators too tight because you’re so glad you’re not alone with the play anymore. With television, every day I work with 15 of the smartest and funniest people I’ve ever met. It’s highly social and collaborative. It’s such a comfort and relief to know that if you can’t figure something out in the script, one of your brilliant co-workers most likely can and will. Do you have a dream job? BROWNELL: I can’t make a living as a playwright, but I can make a really good living as a TV writer. Hopefully I’ll continue to do both. It was a dream year when I got to write on Hung and have a play up in New York. ROSENSTOCK: I might be doing my dream job. I never thought I would be able to make a living as a writer. I t up now have a musical, Fly By Night, at Playwrights Horizons in New York, the theater where I interned while taking my LSAT course because I was sure I needed another career option. Youn is a New York- and Los Angelesbased journalist. Spring 2014 Amherst 45
Making Business Better THE EVOLUTION OF A CORPORATE IDEALIST: WHEN GIRL MEETS OIL Christine Bader ’93 Bibliomotion
I was at first pleasantly surprised, then seduced by what I found: a group of clean-cut, well-dressed men (and a few women) who oozed that lovely dry British wit, and who had worked all over the world in diff fferent jobs, from hands-on operational roles to finance to government aff ffairs. Most importantly to me, they seemed to be in constant conversation about the company’s role in society, whether fighting climate change or supporting the communities where it had operations. I cared about social justice but had no idea people in the private sector did too.
NONFICTION U CSR is an acronym for “corporate social responsibility.” It’s the way a business entity regulates itself in areas such as health, environment, human rights and other externals to its primary mission. BP is a big oil company, and not an acronym for anything. Founded in 1909 as the AngloPersian Oil Co., it changed its name to the Anglo-Iranian Oil Co. in 1935, to British Petroleum in 1954 and to BP in 2001. In 1999 Christine Bader ’93 went to work for this nonagenarian corporation, and by her own admission, she fell in love. The Evolution of a Corporate Idealist is the story of that romance, and it’s not exactly happily-ever-after. The honeymoon was sweet. Bader went to Indonesia, where BP was overseeing extraction of natural gas from the Tangguh gas field, one of those risky energy sources that high prices have made potentially profitable. fi BP knew the risks included environmental damage, political unrest and local economic disruption. By most accounts, including her own, Bader and BP did well with their social responsibility in Tangguh. She moved on to China, where BP was collaborating with a Chinese company; that work seemed more frustrating. Back at corporate headquarters in London, BP paid Bader to work part-time as an adviser to the United Nations special representative for business and human rights. Bader is justifiably fi proud of the results of this work, the “Ruggie Principles,” which protect and respect human rights in business. She started full-time at the UN in 2008, yet her heart belonged to BP.
AMHERST READS featured book: www.amherst.edu/magazine
COURTESY CHRISTINE BADER
A former BP employee says companies can—and must—help solve the greatest problems facing the world. | BY PAUL STATT ’78
If this is a love story, then in 2010 Bader found her lover in bed with the babysitter. In the Gulf of Mexico, BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig explodes. Workers die. Crude oil leaks. BP backpedals. At a 2010 hearing Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) summed up how bad BP looked: “There is a complete contradiction between BP’s words and deeds.” Bader can’t disagree and suffers a crisis of confidence. fi After a chat with a friend—also a Corporate Idealist, one of the sad ones “so marginalized that they don’t even know” they have no power in the corporation, Bader asks a probing self-critical question: “Am I that deluded as well? Do I sound just as ridiculous, talking about the great things BP has done on human rights on a few projects in far-fl flung corners of the world, when the company’s behavior much closer to home appears to have been the opposite of exemplary? ... Perhaps.” This is brave writing, because this reader can only reply, “Well, yes. You sound like a lover betrayed, but trying to believe.” Now a visiting scholar and lecturer at Columbia, Bader believes Corporate Idealists can “nudge our companies toward a
vision of a better future.” Nudge is also the title of an important 2008 book that argued for a “libertarian paternalism” to offset ff the false assumption that most people make choices that are in their best interests. Perhaps this is also true for corporations— which are, after all, our fellow citizens, for better or worse. Bader extends her metaphor this way: “The honeymoon is over. … It is time to settle in for the long haul, recognizing that my partner isn’t perfect and loving him all the more for it. Despite the failings of big business, I find myself still optimistic about its ability to make a positive diff fference in the world.” It’s cause for some optimism that Bader and others like her are working to maintain the conscience of companies like BP. It’s not enough to make me trust the company, but it helps. Corporate Idealist is no chronicle of natural selection. Bader was not a young person passionate about oil drilling who evolved an ideal view of the industry; she went in as an idealist to make business more responsible. That’s the paradox of the Corporate Idealist. Milton Friedman wrote that, within the law, the only social responsibility of business is “to use its resources and engage in activities designed to fits.” The Corpoincrease its profi rate Idealist is no more engaged in those activities than the army chaplain is in fighting the war. What’s the difference ff between a Corporate Idealist and a Military Chaplain? In the daily battles of business, there are no believers in the foxholes. Paul Statt ’78 is a Philadelphiabased writer.
Ambivalent Spaces A poet-physician explores the strange, fumbling ways we attempt to heal others and ourselves. | BY TESS TAYLOR ’00
Campo-thepoet addresses patients in a way that would never be possible as Campo-thedoctor.”
POETRY U Seventeen years ago, Rafael Campo ’87 was my professor. He’d recently published his first book, What the Body Told, and was well on his way to his second, Diva. Amherst had invited him to teach one class to the aspiring writers of the late 1990s. Campo was then, as he is now, a full-time doctor. Amid his work at Beth Israel Medical Center he found time once a week to drive west to Johnson Chapel and talk about poetry—usually over pizza, which he ordered, because by the time he arrived, he was hungry. He was often called away suddenly. We were in awe of him. I remember his generous presence. I admired Campo then and admire him now. I have also been skeptical of some of his poems. Campo is agile with form and rhyme, but some of his cadences have seemed too agile, too prone to easy resolution. Yet when Campo hits ambivalent notes, he plays them with enormous skill. Many of his best poems use formal (and therefore finite) fi shapes to house longings and distances that cannot be resolved. Robert Pinsky once noted that one point of a lyric poem is to talk toward someone who can never answer—to someone lost in the past or the future, to the dead, to the world to come. In his newest collecAn Amherst tion, Alternative Medicine trustee, (Duke University Press), Campo won the 2013 InterCampo speaks into and national Hipabout ambivalent spaces— pocrates Prize his father’s lost Cuba, confor Poetry and Medicine. temporary border crossings, the AIDS crisis. Indeed, many of the strongest lyrics in Alternative Medicine occur when Campo-the-poet addresses his patients in ways that would never be possible as Campo-the-doctor. In the poem “Alternative Medicine,” 10-line iambic stanzas detail encounters with people in an HIV clinic. Campo’s patients are vulnerable strangers, like the father who “refuses to acknowledge” Campo outside the hospital, despite the fact “I know his … T-cell COURTESY RAFAEL CAMPO
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE Rafael Campo ’87 Duke University Press
count, his medication list/ as if these data somehow pinpoint him.” Campo-the-doctor tallies viral load. Campo-the-poet wonders how the lyric heart survives the accumulation off proximate losses. Campo-the-doctor-poet plays both roles at once without trying to resolve them. In another meditation, “Recent Past Events,” Campo captures the uneasiness of a married gay couple who feels a nagging post-traumatic stress at having survived the AIDS epidemic only to encounter a more suburban existence. The speaker remembers the early days of AIDS: We prayed for it to end. We feared their blood. We were afraid to call our parents who We knew would think the worst. We learned to speak in acronyms. We watched two women kiss on television late at night.
The poem moves toward the present with a wry unease: We watched two women kiss outside the door of our favorite Chinese restaurant. We talked about adopting kids. We feared What people thought of us. We bought a house. We painted the back bedroom red like blood. We gave less money to the charities. We found a nice church that accepted us.
So what does it mean to heal? To medicate? Survival is bittersweet. It is a tribute to Campo’s skill that such questions remain delicately open. Indeed, in the poem “Reforming Health Care,” Campo writes: I grasp at last what I’m still thankful for: Not the disease that lets me comfort her, Or my unexceptional abilities, However insuffi fficient they might be, But in the final absence of a cure, The need in all of us for someone’s care.
In search of what it means to cure, and out of his own need to care, Campo explores the strange, fumbling ways we attempt to heal others and ourselves. Between Thom Gunn—gay, formal, experimental and roving—and William Carlos Williams—daily, bound to New Jersey and his patients—Campo leaves his mark. Tess Taylor ’00 is the author of a book of poems, The Forage House. She is a visiting assistant professor of English at Whittier College and reviews poetry for National Public Radio’s All Things Considered. Spring 2014 Amherst 47
S C S AMHERST CREATES
Listening to War How a 1941 symphony tells the story of today’s conflict in Syria. | BY NAOMI SHULMAN SHOSTAKOVICH FOR THE CHILDREN OF SYRIA Conducted by George Mathew ’91
→ Mathew is founder and conductor of Music for Life International, a series of fundraising concerts.
48 Amherst Spring 2014
MUSIC U Carnegie Hall, January 2006. George Mathew ’91, conducting Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, glanced into the string section. His undergraduate adviser, Jenny Kallick, the teacher who’d first suggested he consider becoming a conductor, was playing the cello. Her presence was a reminder that they were doing something unusual. Kallick, along with every other musician on stage, was a volunteer. The concert was being put on by Mathew’s nascent organization, Music for Life International—and it turned out to be the first of many.
Mathew was a student at Hampshire College when he first met Kallick. In addition to plowing through all the course off fferings for orchestra at Hampshire, he took several courses at Amherst. “Professor Kallick packed me off ff to a summer program at Tanglewood,” he says. Exposed to all the workings of the orchestra (and, crucially, to the great Leonard Bernstein, who took a shine to the young student), Mathew returned ready to delve seriously into conducting—and to transfer to Amherst. “Mr. Bernstein never hesitated to remind us that music is best when understood outside itself,” Mathew says. “That’s the fantastic thing about the liberal arts approach—it’s always exploring from another perspective.” Fifteen years later Mathew—by then a staff ff conductor at the Manhattan School of Music—was watching the world around him crumble. First there was the tsunami in Southeast Asia, then Hurricane Katrina. “And there was an earthquake in Pakistan, in the region right on the Indian border,” he says. Gripped with the impulse to do something, he did what he does. “I’d been studying the Ninth Symphony of Beethoven,” he says. “Beethoven
© JENNIFER TAYLOR (2)
At Carnegie Hall, Mathew conducted Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony.
uses Turkish music to push the point that even though external identities may look different, ff they’re profoundly connected.” Mathew began flirting with the idea of putting on a concert for earthquake victims in Pakistan, as a way to underscore our connected humanity. “And the thing snowballed. A number of my younger colleagues volunteered, but principal players from the New York Philharmonic and other orchestras from Boston and Philadelphia also surged forward. Suddenly there we were, doing the Ninth Symphony for South Asia at Carnegie Hall.” You can see Thus Music for Life it on the International, a series of fundraising concerts put page, lines of music running on by volunteer musicians of the highest caliber, was across like born. After South Asia came tank tracks.” a Verdi requiem for Darfur, then Mahler’s Third Symphony for children with AIDS. In each case, Mathew sees the cause and the concert as linked. “Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony was written in 1941, when the Nazis laid siege to Leningrad, and Shostakovich was trapped inside the city,” he says off the most recent concert, January’s Shostakovich for the Children of Syria. “He wrote this piece in response to what he described as the twin catastrophes of oppression from the state and the horrors of war. Those twin shadows resonated powerfully with the situation in Syria.” Themes of war course through the symphony: “You can see it on the page, lines of music running across like tank tracks.” When Mathew opened the Shostakovich concert by explaining how the conflict fl in Syria can be seen refl flected in a symphony written decades prior—and how thatt piece was itself infl fluenced by music created centuries earlier—New — York Times reviewer James Oestreich was floored. “I have never been quite so moved by that first movement, skillfully placed in a context of contemporary war and suffering,” he wrote. “The performance will live in the memory for having been being part of its time as well as part of Shostakovich’s.” Mathew is determined that his concerts be not fluence for good within simply off our time but an infl it. “We can claim to do good through music,” he says. “We are called to listen to the music, to listen to each other, to listen from the other’s perspective. If you listen to each other and adjust, you’ll both be in tune.” k Shulman has written for The New York Times, Real Simple and other publications.
Delve into new books on teaching, history, health care and the art of negotiation. | BY KATHERINE DUKE ’05 Seeking “novel” experiences this spring? Wade into the Sea of Troubles, by Dixon Long ’55 (CreateSpace), and search for The Parts Left Out, t by Thomas H. Ogden ’68 (Karnac Books). When you’re in the mood for poetry, there’s Tomorrow Too: The Brenda Monologues, by Don Colburn ’69 (Finishing Line Press), and Relocations: Three Contemporary Russian Women Poets, edited by Professor of Russian Catherine Ciepiela ’83 (Zephyr Press). In nonfiction, Ben Stoltzfus ’49 brings together art and letters with Magritte and Literature: Elective Affinities (Leuven University Press), and Dr. John Liebert ’59 and William J. Birnes explore Wounded Minds: Understanding and Solving the Growing Menace of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (Skyhorse). Education is the focus of Timothy Quinn ’00’s On Grades and Grading: Supporting Student Learning through a More Transparent and Purposeful Use of Grades (Rowman & Littlefield); Contemplative Practices in Higher Education: Powerful Methods to Transform Teaching and Learning (JosseyBass), by Economics Professor Daniel P. Barbezat and Mirabai Bush; and Leading Dynamic Seminars: A Practical Handbook for University Educators (Palgrave Macmillan), by James H. Anderson ’85 and Andrew H. Bellenkes. Andrew S. Erickson ’01 presents Chinese Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile (ASBM) Development: Drivers, Trajectories, and Strategic Implications (The Jamestown Foundation) and No Substitute for Experience: Chinese Antipiracy Operations in the Gulf of Aden (U.S. Naval War College). History buffs ff can learn about Western Union and the Creation of the 3 by Joshua D. Wolff ff ’98 (Cambridge American Corporate Order, 1845–1893, University Press); Emil du Bois-Reymond: Neuroscience, Self, and Society in y by Gabriel Finkelstein ’85 (MIT Press); and Nineteenth-Century Germany, the Battle of Big Bethel: Crucial Clash in Early Civil War Virginia by J. Michael Cobb, Edward B. Hicks and Wythe Holt ’63 (Savas Beatie). And for those looking to the future, Rohit Bhargava and Fard Johnmar ’97 introduce ePatient 2015: 15 Surprising Trends Changing Health Care (IdeaPress).
Spring 2014 Amherst 49
mherst prepared me well for each of my three careers. Through this planned gift, we can help future students access a distinguished education that also provides flexible career skills.” — Mark Perry ’65
In 1990, Mark Perry ‘65 and his wife, Mauree Jane, created a scholarship fund to assist students demonstrating outstanding leadership qualities and requiring ﬁnancial need. Recently, Mark and Mauree made a gift of appreciated stock to create a trust that will increase the scholarship fund through their estate. “We earmarked this money for Amherst, but we also were interested in keeping it as an earning asset during retirement,” said Perry. “Rather than holding it as an invested asset and donating it as part of my will, I approached the College about other possibilities. The Development staff helped me understand the options and that led to establishing a charitable remainder trust.” Giving through a charitable remainder trust allows donors to transfer cash, securities, real estate, or other assets for the future beneﬁt of Amherst College. In turn, the donor or other beneﬁciaries receive an annual income stream—usually for life. By doing the math, a charitable remainder trust became the obvious choice. Though the stock was highly appreciated, the donation created no immediate capital gains taxes. That meant the full value of the stock could be reinvested in Amherst College endowment units. “Amherst gets a larger gift and we beneﬁt from the strong performance of the endowment,” said Perry. He has high praise for Amherst’s planned giving team. “This had to move quickly, and they did an outstanding job,” said Perry. “I think we turned it around in less than a week—from an introductory phone call to a signed contract to having the stock delivered to and sold by Amherst.”
Perry, who graduated cum laude with a major in economics and then earned an MBA with distinction from Harvard Business School, has long been a dedicated Amherst volunteer. He was a member of the West Coast Region Campaign Committee during the Lives of Consequence campaign and had served on the Executive Committee for The Amherst College Campaign. Perry has been both president and vice president of the Class of 1965. “I want Amherst to have the funding necessary to maintain its excellence. Properly funded, it can maintain its reputation as the most outstanding liberal arts college and reach out to all qualiﬁed students, regardless of their ability to pay. It’s gratifying to play a part in that through this gift.” At Amherst College most charitable trusts provide a 5-6 percent return for life. Payments ﬂuctuate annually, based on the performance of the endowment. To learn more about charitable remainder trusts, please contact Melody Lynn Twigg, Director of Gift Planning; phone: 413-542-5193; fax: 413-542-8242; email: email@example.com.
PROFILES IN PHILANTHROPY G I F T P L A N N I NG FO R A M H E R S T C O L L E G E
The Halls of the Past
We “men” who entered Amherst in 1954 were, to q quote Frost’s “The Oven Bird,” a “mid-summer” generation, suspended between the values of the 19th and 21st centuries. I felt the presence of the 19th century through Amherst’s architecture, landscaping and view of the Holyoke Range. There were, first, the edifi fices of the Emersonian period: South College, Johnson Chapel, College Hall, the president’s house, the Octagon. Then there were the structures of the Victorian period: Morgan Library, Williston Hall, Barrett Gymnasium. I recall the exhilaration of walking down the hill behind Johnson Chapel and crossing 120 Amherst Spring 2014
South Pleasant Street to attend a welcoming reception at the president’s house. It was as if I were entering a Currier and Ives print. Sophomore year, I took Professor Sterling P. Lamprecht’s postCartesian course in modern philosophy. I treasured visiting his offi ffice in Walker Hall, where the turns of the staircases seemed an emblem of consciousness itself. In his light-filled fi offi ffice, I felt connected to a past far removed from the postwar Atomic Age. I have a vivid memory of Professor of Classics Francis Howard Fobes, although I chatted with him only on a few spring evenings in 1957 when he was out strolling. He told me, with some pride, that he was the last bachelor professor to live in a dormitory (Pratt). Knowing little about the lives
The president’s house was a Currier and Ives print. And the staircases in Walker Hall were an emblem of consciousness itself.
of Oxford-educated professors, I asked if he had interests outside of Ancient Greek and Latin. “Well,” he said, “I used to fly large box kites on long wires, but one evening the police came and told me I had knocked out the telephones in Hadley when one crossed a power line. They said they would have to confi fiscate them. Too much development, they said.” It was hard not to think of Mr. Chips. The post-idyllic present also made itself known on campus. Stearns Church had been razed in 1949 to make room for the Mead Art Museum. Its steeple remained, but other spires of the 19th century—for better and worse—were being dismantled. Missionary zeal had faded, and the classics were being called into question by the Beats.
Still, I left Amherst with the sense that a seemingly coherent past was in place, so I was shocked when Walker Hall, “the Temple of Science,” was demolished in 1963, leaving only a statue of Noah Webster at its entrance. Amherst positioned me to live in more than one century, and I take comfort in the fact that enough of its 19thcentury architecture and ambience remains. So long as Webster stays where he is, I know that Amherst will stand for—among other evolving commitments— literacy, literature, humanistic inquiry and a model of a humane society. k Wolf, a professor emeritus of English at the University at Buffalo, ff is the author of, most recently, FarAway Places: Lessons in Exile.
AMHERST COLLEGE ARCHIVES
BY HOWARD R. WOLF ’58
Some things work better once they meet their match. Two challengers in ’64 & ’84
Y O U R G IF T H E RE
Inspired by their reunion this May, two alumni—one in ’64 and one in ’84—will match your reunion gift to the Alumni Fund dollar-for-dollar up to $500,000, beginning Wednesday, May 28! Their challenge means every ﬁrst or repeat gift during reunion works twice as hard for Amherst.
Together, let’s make their $500,000 Reunion Challenge a $1 million gift for Amherst!
AMHERST PO Box 5000 Amherst, MA 01002
THEN & NOW
Covered in Paint
There’s more than one way to ruin your clothes in a painting class. Decades ago, one student’s tool of choice was a paintbrush. This spring students experimented with a more contemporary device, a paintball marker, as they helped Visiting Artist in Residence Markus Wirthmann create a new installation, titled mural.
Undated Art classroom
2014 Eli Marsh Gallery
ARCHIVAL PHOTO BY HANSON CARROLL; NEW PHOTO BY ROB MATTSON