Peter Pouncey

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Peter R. Pouncey
16th President of Amherst College
In office
Preceded by Julian Gibbs
Succeeded by Tom Gerety
Personal details
Born (1937-10-01) October 1, 1937 (age 79)
Nationality American

Peter R. Pouncey (born October 1, 1937) is an author, classicist, and university administrator.


The son of a British father and a French-British mother, he was born in Tsingtao (now Qingdao), China.[1] At the end of World War II, after several dislocations and separations, his family reassembled in England, and Pouncey was educated there in boarding schools and at Oxford. For a time, he studied for the Jesuit priesthood but ultimately experienced a loss of faith.[2]

Shortly after obtaining a Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1969,[3] he was appointed assistant professor of Greek and Latin in the Classics Department. In 1972, he took up the post of Dean at Columbia College. As Dean, he was a forceful proponent of admitting women to the college, going so far as to hold a faculty vote on the matter without the knowledge of the university's president, William McGill. Concerns about the future of Barnard College led to McGill's rejection of the proposal. In 1976, Pouncey resigned as Dean.[4] As a member of the Classics Department, he produced a number of notable works of scholarship, including the book The necessities of war: a study of Thucydides' pessimism which won the university's Lionel Trilling Award.

In 1984, he became President of Amherst College. Upon his retirement in 1994, he returned to Columbia. His novel Rules for Old Men Waiting won the McKitterick Prize and was nominated for the Commonwealth Writers Prize in 2006. Pouncey currently divides his time between New York City and northern Connecticut.



  1. ^ Salamon, Julie (17 May 2005). "For a Writer and His Subject, Time Flies". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 January 2011. 
  2. ^ Nelson, Stephen James (2000), Leaders in the crucible: the moral voice of college presidents, Greenwood Publishing Group, ISBN 978-0-89789-742-6 , pages 29–30.
  3. ^ "Society of Senior Scholars : Columbia University : The Scholars : Peter Pouncey". Society of Senior Scholars, Columbia University,. Retrieved 28 January 2011. 
  4. ^ McCaughey, Robert A. (2003), Stand, Columbia : a history of Columbia University in the city of New York, 1754-2004, Columbia University Press, ISBN 978-0-231-13008-0 , pages 527–528.
Academic offices
Preceded by
Carl Hovde
Dean of Columbia College
1972 – 1976
Succeeded by
Arnold Collery
Preceded by
Julian Gibbs
President of Amherst College
Succeeded by
Tom Gerety