Former President Marx Backs Into Trouble
Issue   |   Wed, 11/09/2011 - 02:59
New York Public Library
Former President Marx at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building

Tony Marx, who left the presidency of the College at the end of last year to become president of the New York Public Library, was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated in New York City on Sunday afternoon. According to The Wall Street Journal’s Metropolis blog, which first reported the story, Marx was driving a Library-owned vehicle around 5 p.m. Sunday afternoon when the 2009 Audi he was driving glanced off a parked car on 138th East Street.

With a blood alcohol level of 0.19 percent — twice New York’s legal limit of 0.08 — Marx reportedly also had bloodshot, watery eyes and breath that smelled of alcohol at the time of his arrest.

On Monday, Marx pleaded not guilty to the charges filed against him during his arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court. He was charged with driving while intoxicated, driving under the influence and operating a motor vehicle while impaired.

Shiriui Chen, a senior at the College, cautioned others against prematurely passing judgment. “I think everyone makes mistakes, but we should let the legal system judge him,” said Chen. “He’s a great person, but great people make mistakes too.”

“Tony served Amherst with distinction,” said Jide Zeitlin ’85, the chair of the College’s Board of Trustees. “Having spoken with him, I know that he is deeply embarrassed and is being harder on himself than any of us might be. Tony has publicly apologized. As a member of our extended community, I suspect that Tony will take this as a teachable moment, influencing his relationship with his family and his work at the Library.”

The news of Marx’s arrest quickly spread on campus on Monday night, with students weighing in via social media networks. But for some, it seemed Marx’s distance from the College community robbed the news of his arrest of its relevance. “It probably would have more of an effect on me if he was president now,” said Shayonna Cato ’13. “I think there are more important things for the College to worry about. I don’t condone drunk driving, but it’s unfortunate this happened to a past president.”

Still, others were not as dismissive of his connection to the College. “Tony Marx served the College well for eight years and remains a member of the Amherst community,” said Director of Public Affairs Peter Rooney. “Mr. Marx has publicly apologized and taken responsibility. Out of respect for him and his family it is not appropriate for the College to comment further.”

Having served as President of the College for eight years, Marx was the youngest to hold this position. Well-loved by students for his friendly and open personality, he is best known however for his efforts to improve the socioeconomic diversity of the student body. As a result of his commitment to financial aid, the number of students from low-income families has nearly doubled in the past eight years. Under his leadership, the College established a no-loan policy and a need-blind philosophy, while also partnering with the QuestBridge program. Marx also established the Lives of Consequence campaign, encouraging alumni to support the College during the recession. All of these efforts supported his initiatives to make the College both the most selective and the most diverse institution in the nation.

Continuing in the spirit of inclusiveness, Marx’s current goals at the New York Public Library include maintaining the library as an essential resource to citizens in today’s digital age.

“My thoughts are with Tony at this trying time,” said current President Biddy Martin. “His contributions to [the] College are immeasurable, and we enjoy their benefits every day.”

Marx is next scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 9.

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