AMHERST, Ma. – Amherst College professor Austin Sarat announced the completion of the second stage of his $1.7 million office renovation Wednesday, lauding the progress of his effort to develop a complex sufficient for his intellectual and directorial endeavors within and around the Clark House political science building.
“I’m proud to report final installation of the limestone facade that will mark the entrance to the Austin D. Sarat Center for Academic and Managerial Valor,” said Sarat, the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science, during a small department-funded champagne reception outside the worksite. “I trust you are as well.”
The office, which will serve as the hub of the preeminent department chair’s research, grading, and advocacy, represents the culmination of Sarat’s efforts to establish an environment suited for the breadth of his academic achievements and general intelligence.
Clad in rich mahogany paneling, the 4800-square-foot office will include a minibar; a shoe-shine; an artisanal desk, currently en route from Trieste; rotating, three-dimension holograms of each of his diplomas, projected in random locations throughout the room; a bike; 5600 copies of the journal Law, Culture, and the Humanities, edited by Austin D. Sarat; a marble statue of Austin Sarat; a coffee table featuring several dozen volumes of When the State Kills, by Austin D. Sarat, available for $30.95; a “B-” stamp kit; a walk-in closet holding 341 Amherst College hooded sweatshirts; a stack of autographed portraits of Austin Sarat; Edward N. Ney Professor of Political Science Hadley Arkes’s missing car keys; and Lawrence Douglas.
The office will also include a “hall of shame” featuring every execution in history.
“The redevelopment of my office constitutes both an important advancement for legal, jurisprudential, and social thought and a representation of my value to this college,” said Sarat, who noted that he “makes no bones” of privileging a small liberal-arts school with his teaching despite his position as the Justice Hugo L. Black Visiting Senior Scholar at the University of Alabama School of Law. “I almost enjoy assisting this little institution.”
The renovation of the office has brought some physical disruption to the campus, requiring the removal of the front third of Clark House to allow for the attachment of the beige-limestone center, which has been constructed primarily on an adjacent lot following the demolition of Cooper House.
“The excavation work on the lawn was certainly impressive,” said Amherst President Carolyn “Biddy” Martin. “But Austin says it was permitted by his contract, and he’s got to be a lawyer, so he should know.”
Members of the Amherst faculty welcomed the renovation. “I think it’s great,” said James J. Grosfeld Professor of Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought Lawrence Douglas. “Austin really deserves a bigger – an appropriate – place for his stature. He’s so great.”
Despite initial concerns that the renovation would displace other Clark House faculty, the potential workplace shortage was resolved when Arkes offered to relocate his Converse Hall office to Brigham Young University.