A distinguished humanities scholar and widely respected leader in higher education, Biddy Martin holds a Ph.D. in German literature and is 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.
For more than two decades, Martin served on the faculty of German studies and women's studies at Cornell. She chaired the German studies department, and served as senior associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences prior to assuming the role of provost in 2000. After eight years as provost (making her the longest-serving provost on record at Cornell), Martin was appointed chancellor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 2011, she became president of Amherst College, a position she still holds today.
Across her leadership roles, Martin is known for her deep commitment t enhancing liberal arts education, supporting research and interdisciplinary collaboration, and expanding college access through generous programs of need-based aid. She has devoted her adult life to excellence, innovation, free expression, and inclusion in higher education.
Martin was raised outside of Lynchburg, Virginia, in rural Campbell County, and graduated as valedictorian from Brookville High School, where she set the school scoring record for girls' basketball. At the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, she majored in English literature and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. She earned an M.A. in German literature from Middlebury College's program in Mainz, Germany, and a Ph.D. in German literature, in 1985, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She holds honorary degrees from the College of William & Mary and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and in 2012 was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2018, Martin was elected to the Harvard Corporation, a governing board of Harvard University.