Faculty Discusses Increased Endowment, New Science Center and Marx’s Replacement
By Elaine Teng '12, Editor-in-Chief
In their second meeting of the year on Tuesday, Oct. 19, the faculty discussed the newly formed presidential search committee, reviewed the plans for the new science center and approved 18 new courses for the spring semester.

After welcoming new and returning faculty, Fellows and members of the administration, College President Tony Marx thanked the faculty for all that they have accomplished together during his tenure, and apologized for the recent news leak regarding his departure from the College.

“Eight years ago, Amherst College took a risk on me,” he said. “It gave me a great gift and great opportunity. I want to apologize, as I have to the community, for how the news of my transition reached you… Given my investment in this community, my part in this community, it was important to me to speak to you first.”

To find his replacement, the College has assembled a 14-member search committee chaired by the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Jide Zeitlin, and consisting of other Trustees, alumni, faculty, students and an administrative representative.

The faculty then discussed the capital campaign and the College’s financial situation. Though only in the second year of its five-year fundraising trajectory, the capital campaign has already raised 90 percent of its target sum. The good news continued with College Treasurer Peter Shea’s report, which stated that the endowment had increased by $80 million in the fiscal year to $1.385 billion due to the larger student body, lower than budgeted interest rates on the College debt and the budget cuts made in response to the economic downturn last year. The endowment investment return was 8.4 percent, much higher than projected, but also below the average return of peer institutions.

Much of the meeting was dominated by discussions of the proposed new science center, whose design will soon be unveiled. In previous conversations about the building, the planning committee has focused on keeping the building, and the sciences as a whole, in the heart of the campus.

“We want to lower the science, non-science divide,” said Marx. “We needed the facility to be in the core of the campus… [but also] needed to make sure the facility would not dwarf the rest of the campus.”

Though the plans for the science center are by no means finalized, it will be located north and east of Merrill Science Center, taking the place of Davis Hall and eventually connecting to where Merrill currently stands. McGuire Life Sciences Building will either become a dormitory or office and classroom space. The new science center would thus become a central home for the sciences while also saving space for non-science courses in order to keep the disciplines and campus life integrated and mixed.

Issue 06, Submitted 2010-10-20 02:46:15