Amherst has a new president…and she’s a biddy.


It was a nail biter for a while after former President Tony Marx announced that he would be leaving to become President of the New York Public Library, but Amherst College pulled it together in the end, and is proud to announce Carolyn A. Martin, who also goes by “Biddy,” (I bet our President is cooler than yours, Williams) as the college’s 19th President.

Not actually a biddy...but the name is still cool

Biddy Martin is the college’s first female president (awwww yeah). Here’s a bit about her from the Amherst College press release:

Carolyn Arthur “Biddy” Martin, the chancellor of the University of Wisconsin’s renowned flagship university in Madison and a former longtime professor and  provost at Cornell University, has been selected to be Amherst College’s 19th president, the school’s Board of Trustees announced today.

Chancellor of UW-Madison since 2008, Martin led initiatives to increase need-based financial aid, improve undergraduate education and enhance research. She created the Madison Initiative for Undergraduates to promote student advising, innovations in undergraduate programs and faculty diversity. She also spearheaded an effort to gain greater operating flexibility and increased autonomy for Wisconsin’s flagship campus. In addition, Martin has served on numerous high-profile committees, including the National Academies Commission on the Future of the Humanities and Social Sciences, and on the board of the American Council of Education, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation and the Wisconsin Hospital Authority.

Martin was raised outside of Lynchburg, Va., in rural Campbell County, and graduated as valedictorian from Brookville High School. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa from the College of William & Mary with a degree in English, in 1973, Martin received a master’s degree in German literature from Middlebury College. She continued her studies at Johannes Gutenberg-Universität, in Mainz, Germany, and then returned to the U.S. to earn a Ph.D. in German literature from UW-Madison, in 1985. That same year, she joined Cornell University’s faculty. A distinguished scholar of German studies and the author of numerous articles and two books—one on a literary and cultural figure in the Freud circle, Lou Andreas-Salomé, and a second on gender theory—Martin served on the faculty of Cornell University for more than two decades and was the recipient of one of Cornell’s most distinguished teaching awards. She began as an assistant professor of German studies and women’s studies, eventually serving as chair of the German studies department, senior associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences and provost from 2000 to 2008. In the latter position, Martin was the president’s first deputy officer and reported to the president as Cornell’s chief educational officer and chief operating officer.

Martin was Cornell’s longest-serving provost, and accomplishments during her term included overseeing the construction of a $150 million life sciences building, increasing the stature of humanities research and education, implementing a sweeping financial aid initiative that replaced need-based loans with grants for all undergraduate students from families with incomes under $75,000 and developing the university’s fundraising priorities for the $4 billion capital campaign.

“In Biddy Martin, Amherst College has selected as its 19th president an outstanding educator and wonderful human being,” said Harold Tanner, who chaired Cornell’s Board of Trustees during part of Martin’s tenure as provost. At the university, Tanner said, Martin “dealt with difficult issues that affected the many constituencies of any university and excelled in every assignment. She provided leadership in financial as well as academic matters, and, in the process, earned the respect of the board, faculty, students, staff and alumni.”

“Her leadership in university-wide issues at Cornell and at Wisconsin will prove most valuable in her new role as president of Amherst,” he added. “Biddy is a passionate believer in the role that liberal arts education plays in the future of American society and is a good spokesperson for that message.” 

“I’m delighted to be joining this wonderful liberal arts college,” she said. “What attracts me to Amherst are attributes such as intelligence, thoughtfulness, creativity, fun, natural beauty, and the opportunity to provide talented young people with opportunities to flourish. Amherst has all of these qualities in abundance, and these qualities are the continuity in my career. As a humanist who majored in English and then decided to move to German cultural studies and literature, I have taught and conducted research in the humanities my entire career. I welcome the opportunity to lead a liberal arts college with Amherst’s reputation, its long history of excellence, its extraordinary students, and its great faculty.”

Just for future reference, there are two definitions of biddy.

From Urban Dictionary:

2. Biddy
hot girls
lets go out tonite and get with some biddies
5. biddy
In Britain it means an old lady, completely opposite to other such definitions.
Get out of the way, you old biddy.

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