Amherst College’s Martin named to Harvard Corporation

  • Amherst College President Carolyn “Biddy” Martin walks to the stage at the start of commencement May 20, 2018. Gazette Staff/Jerrey Roberts

For the Gazette
Published: 5/24/2018 1:50:12 PM

AMHERST — A fixture of Amherst higher education will now also advise an Ivy League school.

Carolyn “Biddy” Martin, current president of Amherst College, was named one of two new members of the Harvard Corporation, along with former U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker.

Martin was elected Wednesday by the current members of the Harvard Corporation and will begin her work as a member, or fellow, in July. The vacancies which Martin and Pritzker will occupy are a result of fellow Joseph O’Donnell completing his corporation service, and fellow Lawrence Bacow replacing corporation president Drew Faust.

The Harvard Corporation is the smaller of the two governing bodies of Harvard University, the other being the Board of Overseers. The corporation, which was chartered in 1650, making it the oldest corporation in the western hemisphere, exercises responsibility with regard to the university’s overall well-being, as well the schools academic and financial resources.

Martin said Thursday that she wasn’t sure how her name ended up on the list of candidates and that she must have been nominated. She said becoming a member of the Harvard Corporation will not affect her responsibilities at Amherst College. 

“I think I will learn a lot from this experience and it will help me with my responsibilities at Amherst College,” she said. 

Martin, a scholar of German studies and women’s studies, has worked in academia since 1985, when she became a faculty member at Cornell University. Martin worked for Cornell for over two decades, holding positions such as associate professor and senior associate dean in the school’s college of arts and sciences. Between 2000 and 2008, Martin served as Cornell’s provost, making her the longest-serving provost in Cornell history.

Martin became the chancellor of the University of Wisconsin Madison in 2008 and served until 2011 before being named chancellor of Amherst College. Martin has received distinguished teaching awards at UW-Madison and Cornell and holds honorary degrees from the College of William and Mary and the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.

William F. Lee, the Harvard Corporation’s senior fellow and chairman of its governance committee, said Martin was “an exceptionally powerful exponent of liberal arts education as well as college access and inclusion, and she had remarkable leadership experience at three of the county’s finest institutions of higher education.”

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