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Mount Holyoke College News and Events Vista The College Street Journal Archives

January 28, 2005

MHC Newsmakers

Admissions and the Times
Mount Holyoke was prominently featured in a January 16 New York Times article examining the policy of MHC and other colleges to waive tuition fees and offer special consideration in the admissions process for the children of campus employees. "The Other Legacies: Fac Brats," which appeared in the "Education Life" section, finds similarities among the policies of MHC, Harvard, Yale, and other selective colleges. The article, by writer Laura Randall, noted that the tuition waiver was one of the reasons Mark McMenamin, professor of geology, came to Mount Holyoke. (His daughter Amy is currently a sophomore, while her older sister, Sarah, graduated in May with a degree in biology.) Although the practice of preferential admission for the children of alumni, known as "legacies," has come under attack, little criticism has been leveled at the admission of employees' offspring. Rather, "Easing the way for employees' children (and sometimes their spouses, too) is explained by some institutions as a way to build loyalty among the faculty, and the children are presumed to come from backgrounds that place a premium on learning," Randall wrote. Jane Brown, vice president for enrollment and college relations at MHC, commented, "Typically, we find the daughters of faculty are well qualified." The article concluded, "For Sarah (McMenamin), who graduated in May with a 3.74 grade point average and is now a doctoral candidate in developmental biology at Stanford, the biggest adjustment in attending Mount Holyoke was 'going to a school where I have known most of the faculty for the better part of my life.' 'It sort of creates an interesting and odd dynamic,' she says, 'but I don't feel like it's made a huge impact on my college experience.' And, she insists, it didn't mean she was cut any slack at grading time: 'If anything, I got more closely watched.' "

The January Term seamanship course taught by Christopher Pyle, professor of politics, aboard the tall ship HMS Bounty drew coverage from the St. Petersburg Times. Staff writer Robert Samuels spoke with Pyle and several of the 11 students -- ten from MHC, and one from Amherst College -- as they were preparing to set sail on the trip that would take them to the Dry Tortugas, Key West, and back to St. Petersburg. Pyle told Samuels that the students would be learning "how to make the boat move, how to handle knots and ropes, and how to keep yourself safe. When you know how to do these things, other tasks come a lot easier." The January 9 article noted that the students were posting a running Web log, or blog, about their trip, using a satellite phone and a laptop computer. Samels quoted two passages from the blog, including this, from Nicole Brun-Cottan '06: "It happened sometime in the night, while I slept blissfully in spite of the constant motion above and below me. This morning I stumbled bleary onto the deck and scanned the horizon for land, but there was none. Sometime in the night we lost sight of terra firma. Somehow this magnifies the feeling of being at sea and the understanding that this small vessel of timber and steel is the only piece of solidity between us, and the murky deep." The blog can be read at

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