Massachusetts Governor to Discuss the Need for and Benefits of Public Service with College President Michael A. Elliott

(AMHERST, Mass., Oct. 16, 2023) — Amherst College today announced that Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey will participate in a conversation titled “Democracy and the Greater Good: A Conversation with Governor Maura Healey” with Amherst President Michael A. Elliott on Wednesday, Nov. 1, at 6 p.m. at the College’s Johnson Chapel. While the event is primarily intended for members of the College community, a limited number of seats will be available to the general public.

“We are thrilled to host Governor Healey and hear her thoughts about civic involvement and the current political landscape,” said Elliott. “At a time when American democracy is under fire and mistrust of public institutions is high, Governor Healey’s experience reflects her commitment to contribute to the greater societal good and demonstrates the value–and enjoyment–of serving the public.”

Healey’s visit will take place almost 60 years to the day after President John F. Kennedy came to campus to deliver a historic address on power, politics and public service that coincided with the dedication of the College’s Frost Library. In the remarks he made on Oct. 26, 1963, Kennedy posed a question that is still relevant in modern times: “What good is a private college or university unless it’s serving a great national purpose? .... The library being constructed today–this College itself, all of this, of course, was not done merely to give this school’s graduates an advantage, an economic advantage, in the life struggle,” he said. “It does do that. But…in return for the great opportunity which society gives the graduates of this and related schools, it seems to me incumbent upon this and other schools’ graduates to recognize their responsibility to the public interest. Privilege is here, and with privilege goes responsibility.”

The anniversary of Kennedy’s visit serves as a fitting launch of one of Elliott’s strategic priorities for the College–encouraging members of the community to serve the greater good in some way. The initiative aims to rededicate the College to educating students for democracy, building and promoting a culture among them in which their experiences at Amherst will prepare them for a lifetime of contributing to the greater good in their professional and personal endeavors. It seeks to build a community that makes room for both disagreement and for connection– one that practices the kind of recognition and negotiation that the everyday life of democracy requires. 

The 73rd governor of Massachusetts, Healey is the first woman and first openly LGBTQ person elected governor in Massachusetts history. In her first year as Governor, Healey has focused her attention on helping Massachusetts become a leader in clean energy, a more affordable and equitable place to live, and a great place for businesses to operate.  She appointed the nation's first cabinet-level Climate Chief and created the Office of Climate Innovation & Resilience to coordinate policies across all of state government to address the climate crisis. She has also prioritized education and workforce development by making free school meals for K-12 students permanent, creating a free community college program for residents ages 25 and older, and making historic investments in apprenticeships and other career pathways. 

Healey previously served two terms as Massachusetts Attorney General, first elected in 2014 and re-elected in 2018. In this role, she took on difficult issues impacting Massachusetts residents, including the opioid epidemic, the climate crisis, escalating health care costs, and student loan debt. Earlier in her career, Healey was a prosecutor in Middlesex County and a litigation partner at WilmerHale.

Healey grew up the oldest of five siblings. She and her siblings were raised by their mother, Tracy, who worked as a nurse at the local elementary school. Her stepfather, Edward, who later joined the family, was a teacher and local union president. He coached her high school basketball team and instilled a lifelong love of the sport. Healey attended Harvard College, where she captained the basketball team, and then spent two years as a 5’4” starting point guard on a professional basketball team in Austria.

Amherst College prepares students to use ideas to make a difference in the world. Since its 1821 founding in Western Massachusetts, Amherst has demonstrated steadfast confidence in the value of the liberal arts and the importance of critical thinking. Today, its financial aid program is among the most substantial in the nation, and its student body is among the most diverse. Small classes, an open curriculum and a singular focus on undergraduate education ensure that leading scholars engage daily with talented, curious students, equipping them for leadership in an increasingly global and complex world.