The lack of letters
Having found “Letters to the Editor” to be one of the most interesting
portions of Amherst, I looked in vain for them in your spring edition. My initial
question to myself was misguided: had no alums written letters of any interest?
I finally did come upon the small announcement (p. 36) that letters to the editor
could be found on a Website. Although such a placement may save money, I hope
that future issues of Amherst will return to providing us with the texts of letters
we can immediately hold in our hands and read.
Lewis H. Miller, Jr. ’60
The letters in the spring issue were published on the Web
(www.amherst.edu/magazine) rather than the print magazine because of a scheduling
anomaly. Letters will
continue to appear
as usual in the print editions.–Ed.
The American Khrushchev
Regarding the review of Wiliam Taubman’s book, Khrushchev: The Man
and His Era, in the spring issue, it would have been of interest if the reviewer,
Kate Smith ’87, had mentioned that Khrushchev’s son, Sergei Khrushchev,
has been on the faculty
at Brown University for about 10 years in the Watson Institute for International
Studies. Sergei and his wife are naturalized U.S. citizens living in Cranston,
R.I. When our granddaughter Jessica graduated from Georgetown University in
1995 and took a job teaching English to Russian students at the Smith School
in Moscow, Sergei helped her prepare.
Ned Hastings ’38
The following responses to the volunteering article in the
spring issue are among those submitted to the online forum on this subject.
If you’d like
to read more or add your own comments, visit the Responding
Together Forum. –Ed.
A doctor on call
My career in volunteerism actually was initiated during my sophomore year at
Amherst. A classmate invited me to go on a work weekend with the members of
the Christian Association. We worked hard, along with young men and women from
other schools, to improve the physical conditions of an interfaith, interracial
camp near Winchester, N.H. I was very moved by speaking with the camp’s
chaplain, who represented the Harlem minister James Robinson, the founder and
of this ministry for boys and girls from Harlem. In fact, I was
so inspired by that experience that I returned to several work weekends over
the remaining years at Amherst and served as counselor there for three summers.
I continue to feel that I have been graced with a privileged status in the
overall society and that it is incumbent on me to share my talents with those
people less fortunate than I. Being semiretired from my last position as a
I find my volunteer work being directed toward homeless persons, medically
indigent persons and foster children who have been removed from abusive or
I do believe that my volunteer efforts make a difference in people’s
lives. While it does not really matter if I see results
of my efforts, frequently I am aware that I have had a positive impact on the
lives of those people I serve. I can sum up my feelings about my volunteer
activities as “compassion in action.”
I believe that opportunities for volunteering should be made available to students
at Amherst, perhaps at a student-to-student level, with faculty and/or administrative
support of the activities. A natural outgrowth of that service would be alumni
continuing to volunteer. Doing it corporately with other Amherst alumni (as
well as other people, of course) might be an effective witness to the larger
U.S. audience about the great importance of volunteerism in our society.
C. Washburn ’53
Paying rent in the world
I was delighted to read about the Responding Together project. Constructive
action is the best way to react to a tragedy such as the events of Sept. 11.
We defy violence! I can only hope that such enthusiastic volunteerism will
stick for the long term.
I have always volunteered in some form or another. I view it as paying my rent
in the world, a duty (what a quaint notion!) that comes automatically with
the privileges I have enjoyed: good health, a loving family, a rich and peaceful
country, good education, dumb luck. I don’t have the kind of money that
would make much difference to a struggling not-for-profit organization, but
I do give my time.
I was active with various scientific organizations for many years, but recently
have concentrated on my children’s schools. I choose causes based on
my familiarity with the organization and the issues; effort and passion can
be mis-invested as much as money. In part I work for the good of my profession
and my children, in part from self-interest, but, as my husband wryly points
out, a few lines in my résumé do not justify the hours
I put in.
For the past three years I have been the president of the board of directors
of the Amherst Montessori School. The all-volunteer board is charged with the
oversight and long-term direction of a school for young children from over
90 families. In this well-loved college town, there is a high demand for early
childhood education, but only one public preschool program, leaving the rest
to not-for-profit private schools such as ours. On two campuses, we have three
classrooms for 3- to-5-year-olds, an elementary classroom for grades one to
four and a
The Montessori families are a diverse lot, ethnically and economically; we
have large proportions of student parents, single parents and recipients of
various forms of financial aid. Every year the board must come up with a budget,
set tuition and try to provide as many scholarships as possible, while keeping
up with the bills. Fundraising is an increasingly important piece of the board’s
business as we attempt to plug the holes and, with luck, pull ahead to our
As the town of Amherst grows, the Montessori school is growing too. I hope
that my efforts with the board have at
least laid some groundwork for the next phase of expansion
or set into motion the next wave of action. We hope to see a new building someday,
with playing fields and facilities for new programs. Probably I will no longer
be with the organization when they break ground, but I hope I’m around
to celebrate. More than almost any other organization I have worked with,
I have found the AMS community of preschoolers and their families to be warm,
cohesive and friendly. But it is common that volunteers feel they get back
more than they give.
Anne Walton ’81E
More than one kind of risk
I do not want this to sound as though I’m bragging. Volunteerism is a
way of life, and has been to me since before my college days. However, I do
take some umbrage at the comments of Dick Hubert ’60, for I have risked
my life for many years as a volunteer. No, not in the military, but in technical
mountaineering search and rescue and, equally if not more importantly, as the
organizer, trainer and fire chief of two
volunteer fire departments, one in Colorado, the other in New Mexico.
I say to Dick, whom I remember but vaguely, there already is a “different
side to Amherst,” and I doubt that I am its only representative. It may
not be seen as a sudden desire to join the military, but may well have been
and continue to be expressed in other meaningful ways of helping those in need
of help. Firefighters and other emergency-response personnel are injured and
die in the line of duty, and many in this group
of people are graduates of colleges and universities.
John Liebson ’61
Santa Fe, N.M.
Volunteering, despite Amherst
Yes, I volunteer time in my community, and have for over 50 years. Yes, I feel
as though my efforts make a difference. I believe that results come sooner
and better if one does not
seek the credit for a project. I volunteer because I think I should, and I
hope what I give makes a constructive difference. The distinction does not
Being a graduate of Amherst does not/did not play into why I have done what
I have done and am doing. My time in the Navy and my graduate education were
much greater contributing factors. If anything, I am convinced that Amherst
and most private colleges have lost their way when it comes to serving our
society. It is not a privilege to attend Amherst; Amherst and all colleges
owe it to our society to serve by being open
to all, not merely the children of the wealthy. Please don’t give me
that stuff about [need-]blind admissions. $35,000 per year divides too much
of our society into those few who can afford it and those who can’t or
won’t. The higher educational future of our society lies with the public
colleges and universities. Our leaders come increasingly from the public ranks,
since the quality of teaching and the nature of curriculum are not essentially
different. Yes, the facilities may be greater in the privates, but that’s
all. I think that colleges like Amherst could do a real public service by reducing
their costs so that entrance is as open
as it was when I was an applicant in 1942. All this was so much healthier 60
Daniel Dick ’46
Another vote for the military
Bravo Zulu, Mr. Hubert, for your commentary on the “Responding Together” effort
in the spring issue of Amherst. As an Amherst graduate and a commander in the
active reserves of the United States Navy, I echo your sentiments. I have always
been disturbed by the neglect and not-infrequent outright contempt that individuals
at the “college of liberal thoughts” have shown for the men and
women in our military, who, at any time, in any place and in any circumstance
freely “respond together” to protect and defend this great country and human freedoms everywhere in the
world. Perhaps the college should review its lessons in history and pay a little
more attention to the fact that American slavery, Nazism, fascism and totalitarianism
have been defeated by the courage, fortitude and sacrifice of men and women
wearing the uniforms of the United States military.
Sept. 11th was not merely a terrible tragedy, but an act of war against our
country and all it stands for. As a consequence, we are at war again; this
time with fanatic terrorists, international terrorism and all the states and
institutions that support and promote them. We have again called upon our servicemen
and servicewomen to defend our country and our way of life.
Although I applaud the community-service efforts of Amherst graduates, I am,
as is Mr. Hubert, discouraged by the lack of enthusiasm in the support of our
troops. These are the brave men and women who are continually fighting to preserve
and protect our freedoms and those of others throughout the world. It should
be noted that the majority of these individuals earn meager incomes (with many
of their families qualifying for food-stamp programs), are separated for great
lengths of time from their loved ones and are working in unpleasant and frequently
hostile environments. It is time for the Amherst College community to acknowledge
our military men and women for their service and sacrifices, both past and
There are countless ways of showing support and providing assistance to our
troops and many organizations, such as the USO, to assist in these endeavors.
If nothing else, be sure to keep these individuals in your prayers and thank
them and their families for what they have done for this great country and
human liberty everywhere.
James Bates ’86
San Diego, Calif.