Additional Donations, Including to Public Schools and Fire Department, are Planned

Aerial view of the town of Amherst.

(AMHERST, Mass., Oct. 31, 2023) — Amherst College has committed an initial $1.325 million to the local community, it was announced today by Amherst College President Michael A. Elliott. The donation includes a $1 million gift to the Jones Library for its renovation and expansion project, as well as donations of $250,000 to the Cooley Dickinson Hospital for its emergency department renovation and $75,000 to the Drake arts and cultural performance venue for sustained programming.

These donations to the Jones Library and the Drake follow a $100,000 gift to each as part of the institution’s Bicentennial celebrations in 2021. The College also expects to increase its support of the Amherst schools and Amherst Fire Department as part of a strategic partnership agreement currently being discussed with the town.

“The Town of Amherst is our home and a vital part of the fabric of the College,” said Elliott. “The town’s vibrant culture is an important part of the package that attracts talented people to our campus—and we are committed to continuing to invest in our shared future as neighbors.”

Under Elliott’s leadership, the College is actively working to make the campus more welcoming for local residents and to support activities that connect students with the place they call home while they are studying in Amherst. To that end, support will also be directed to specific partnership projects in the areas of public education, sustainability, economic development, housing, and equity and inclusion in the coming years.

Long considered a major community landmark, Jones Library has had a deep connection with the College since the library’s founding in 1919. The bequest establishing the library named then-College President George Harris and a faculty member as two of the original trustees of the organization. Since then, many faculty and staff members have volunteered their time and expertise in various capacities, and the College’s Emily Dickinson Museum and Mead Art Museums remain frequent collaborators.

“In addition to providing free access to information and resources to the public, libraries, like institutions of higher education, are the engines of democracy and social justice,” Elliott said. “The Jones Library has long been a shining example of this role in our community and an anchor for the town. We are thrilled to support the renovation and expansion of such an important part of Amherst.”

“This gift comes at a crucial time in our efforts to renovate and expand the Jones Library and affirms the efforts of everyone working to make this project happen,” remarked Sharon Sharry, director of the Jones Library. Sharry explained that because the donation also counts toward a $1 million National Endowment for the Humanities challenge grant the library received in May, it unlocks additional funds for the renovation and expansion. “This gift is a wonderful demonstration of the College’s commitment to the town and helps ensure the Jones Library will continue to serve as the heart and hub of Amherst for decades to come.”

Lynn Griesemer, president and District 2 councilor of the Amherst Town Council, seconded Sharry’s comment that the donations will contribute to the library’s staying power. “The College’s significant gift to the Jones Library–one of the centerpieces of our downtown–recognizes the importance to the entire community of making this historic structure available and sustainable for many years in the future,” she said.  “The ongoing support for our schools is also greatly appreciated,” Griesemer added. “We look forward to the completion of a strategic agreement identifying the full partnership of Amherst College with the Town of Amherst.”

Lynnette Watkins, president and chief operating officer of Cooley Dickinson Hospital, offered her appreciation as well. “We are so grateful to Amherst College for this incredibly generous gift that will help strengthen emergency care–care that is provided to local students, patients and our shared community every day,” she said. “Amherst College’s support of Transforming Emergency Care: Campaign for the Cooley Dickinson Hospital Emergency Department will ensure that every patient receives high quality, compassionate care in a newly renovated, expanded space. Together, we are making the Pioneer Valley a healthier place to learn, work and live.”

Amherst College prepares students to use ideas to make a difference in the world. Since its founding, in 1821, 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.