Amherst College receives $50M gift

  • Amherst College

Staff Writer
Published: 9/11/2018 11:14:50 PM

AMHERST — A $50 million anonymous gift to Amherst College announced this week is the second major donation to a five-year, $625 million fundraising campaign the college launched in April.

The large donation to “Promise: The Campaign for Amherst’s Third Century” comes on the heels of a $100 million donation from an anonymous alumnus in the spring.

“The extraordinary generosity of our donors makes it possible for this gem of a college to provide students with the best possible education, one that has close colloquy between faculty with students at its heart,” Amherst College President Biddy Martin said in a statement.

The campaign, which began three years before the college’s 200th birthday in 2021, is aimed at focusing on priorities that will enhance education at the college.

“This generous gift will ensure that we can continue to develop independent, versatile and creative thinkers,” Martin said.

The campaign’s priorities are attracting and supporting outstanding students and faculty; meeting student need in the sciences and math; promoting innovation in teaching and learning; and providing critical facilities. It is also focused on creating a strong sense of community and belonging and supporting the Annual Fund.

“These are priorities for the college now and into the future,” Sandy Genelius, a college spokeswoman, said.

Specifically, the campaign will help support the recently opened $240 interdisciplinary science center, the largest capital project in the college’s history, financial aid necessary to remove all barriers for access to the college, and ways to promote equity in the opportunities for students once enrolled.

There will also be endowed funding to name professorships in the humanities and humanistic social sciences and money for improvements to residence halls, the construction of new athletic and social spaces on campus, and a new building to house the Center for Teaching and Learning and the Center for Writing and Public Speaking. 

“The priorities of our Promise campaign are straightforward and focused on the fundamentals of great education—a faculty of distinguished scholars who treat teaching as a calling, financial aid that allows us to enroll promising students regardless of means, curricular and pedagogical experimentation, new approaches to career exploration, and more creative ways of building and enjoying community,” Martin said.

College officials said these priorities are demonstrated by the recently arrived class of 2022, which was selected from 9,724 applicants, the most ever, 47 percent of whom are self-identified as students of color, with about 60 percent set to receive financial aid.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at


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