Monday, November 28, 2011

The Select Board Welcomes the Amherst College President, Anno 1994

As I noted in my last post, I would, on the occasion of the inauguration of the Amherst College president, have preferred to offer just some pithy and witty remarks.

Problem was, a predecessor, Brian Harvey, beat me to the punch in this pitch-perfect greeting to President Tom Gerety more than a decade and a half ago:

Town Greetings

From Brian C. Harvey
Chair, Amherst Select Board

On behalf of all the people of Amherst, I congratulate Tom Gerety and welcome him—officially—into our community. In preparing for today's festivities I tried to think of an appropriate presentation I could make on behalf of the Town. I wanted something that would capture, at a stroke, the special place of higher education in our community, and that would symbolize the role of the President of the College as a leader both of the campus and of the intellectual life of the community.

So I am happy to present to you, Tom, in token of your high calling and in recognition of the awesome responsibilities that you now undertake, the following touchstones of academic leadership:
  • the Town's keg-licensing by-law;
  • its noise ordinance
  • the caution that no person shall play at ball or any similar amusement in any street of the town;
  • our local regulations regarding the application of Recombinant DNA Technology; and perhaps most important,
  • our requirements concerning the control of cattle and other animals in the public way
So welcome, Tom. Please accept our congratulations and best wishes, and remember: there is no overnight parking on the public streets between December 1 and April 1.

It's what I wish I could have said. Damn, Brian. You scooped me.

Then again, any mention of kegs and noise ordinances would have brought up the ultra-sensitive current topic of "students" and their antisocial behavior (alleged or real), and then I would have been in what former President Bush called "deep doo-doo": rowdiness and party houses, as well as the ongoing debate about "student housing."

Not exactly the thing for a festive occasion. Might as well just lick the third rail of the IRT.

Or, as I decided: talk about history and education and that sort of thing. In the past. Much safer.

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