Every Friday, we choose an alum who has been making headlines—for better or for worse.
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5/27/11: Anthony Marx ’81

“With privilege comes responsibility,” Anthony Marx ’81 told Amherst College’s new grads at commencement this Sunday. Marx was quoting JFK and invoking Amherst’s “explicit commitment to an elite based not on inheritance but on merit.”

In his eight years as president of the small Massachusetts college, Marx—who will leave this summer to run the New York Public Library—has walked the walk, making Amherst a leader in the drive to enroll low-income students while remaining highly selective. More than 22 percent of Amherst students receive federal Pell Grants, a jump of nearly 70 percent in the past five years. (Yale’s current figure is about 12 percent.)

“We claim to be part of the American dream and of a system based on merit and opportunity and talent,” Marx tells the New York Times’s David Leonhardt ’85. “Yet if at the top places, two-thirds of the students come from the top [income] quartile and only 5 percent come from the bottom quartile, then we are actually part of the problem of the growing economic divide rather than part of the solution.”

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