Liz Agosto arrived at Amherst as dean of students in June 2019. Having served as interim chief student affairs officer since August 2021, she was named dean of students and chief student affairs officer in April 2022. She oversees all areas of Student Affairs, which includes Accessibility Services, Case Management, Class Deans, Community Standards, the Counseling Center, Health Education, Health Services, the Office of Identity and Cultural Resources, the Office of Immigration Services, Housing Operations, Residential Life and Student Activities. She has a high level of direct and visible involvement with students, works closely with faculty to support them in helping students achieve their academic goals, designs and implements student programs, and advocates for student interests.
Agosto came to Amherst from Dartmouth College, where she had been the senior associate dean for student affairs since 2013 and special assistant to the dean of the college from 2011 to 2013. Before that, she held roles at the Collis Center for Student Involvement from 2007 to 2011. Agosto earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Dartmouth and completed her master’s in the same discipline at Fordham University.
Tom Dwyer became interim chief financial officer in September 2021. Reporting to Amherst’s president, Dwyer is responsible for accounting, budget, financial systems, procurement, shared services and treasury functions and serves as the College’s liaison to the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. He collaborates closely with the chief investment officer on endowment planning. Prior to his current role, he served as the director of financial planning and assistant treasurer at Amherst.
Before arriving at Amherst, Dwyer served as the special assistant to the provost at Washington College and previously as the associate vice president of finance at Williams College. He graduated from Pomona College in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree in economics (cum laude) and earned his MBA from Harvard Business School in 2001.
Provost and Dean of the Faculty; Henry Steele Commager Professor of History
As dean of the faculty since 2014, and now provost, Catherine Epstein works to promote and maintain Amherst’s commitment to excellence in teaching and research. She oversees all academic departments and programs, hiring and retention of faculty, and broad curricular and pedagogical initiatives. Many administrative departments report to her, including the library, museums and academic support centers, as well as Athletics and the Loeb Center for Career Exploration and Planning.
Epstein’s disciplinary focus is modern German and Central European history. Since coming to Amherst in 2000, she has taught a wide range of European history classes, including courses on the Holocaust, Nazi Germany and World War II. Epstein is the author of four books, among which are Model Nazi: Arthur Greiser and the Occupation of Western Poland (2010), which won the Arthur Kronthal Prize, and Nazi Germany: Confronting the Myths (2015). She serves on the Academic Committee of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and as a member of the board of the American Friends of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Brown University, a master’s degree from the London School of Economics and a Ph.D. from Harvard.
Sandy Genelius is responsible for developing and implementing a strategic and comprehensive communications program for Amherst College. She oversees all aspects of that effort, including website, social media, media relations, event production, overall editorial content (including the award-winning Amherst magazine), photography, videography, graphic design, crisis communications, internal communications and strategic consulting.
Genelius’ career spans more than three decades. She served as vice president of corporate communications and public affairs at Sony Corp. of America and was vice president of communications for CBS News. During her 20 years at CBS, she also held positions within CBS Sports, including director of publicity for the 1992 and 1994 Winter Olympics. As a strategic communications consultant, she worked with clients in the corporate and nonprofit sectors. Genelius holds a B.A. in communications from New York University.
David Hamilton was appointed chief information officer in April 2015, having served as interim CIO since fall 2014. He has helped to reduce spending growth and increase efficiency. He has brought more attention to cybersecurity, fostering partnerships for risk mitigation and service licensing. He has focused on pivoting the department to a “cloud-first” service procurement philosophy, a College-wide business-process re-engineering effort, and staffing and organizational changes in service of these efforts.
Hamilton arrived at Amherst in 2006 as director of web services. In that position, he led the way in instituting of the College’s first content management system, increased the use of data in web communications strategy, and helped introduce and improve business processes. Before coming to Amherst, he held other positions in higher education, including at Bowdoin and Skidmore. He also helped to found one of the first web development service bureaus in New England and one of the first online classified advertising systems in the nation. Hamilton earned his B.A. in English from the College of Wooster in 1991.
Matthew L. McGann became dean of admission and financial aid in 2018. Reporting to Amherst’s president, McGann is responsible for all aspects of access and affordability at the College. In his more than two decades in college admission and access work, Matt has held a number of leadership roles, including current service for the State Department's Overseas Schools Project and previous service on both the board of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) for the Educational Testing Service (ETS) and the SAT Committee of the College Board.
Before arriving at Amherst, McGann served as director of admissions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology since 2012, having been a member of the admissions staff since 2001. He received his bachelor’s degree from MIT in management science. His master’s and doctoral degrees were completed at Northeastern University, where his research focused on the admission process for first-generation college students.
Kathleen Pertzborn became interim chief of staff at Amherst College in January 2022. Pertzborn is a thought partner and resource to the president and senior leadership team, and a liaison to other administrative leaders and the Amherst community. She manages presidential priorities and initiatives, works to advance the institution’s goals, contributes to strategic discussions and planning, and oversees presidential communications and the work of the Office of the President.
Before arriving at Amherst, Pertzborn served as chief of staff to the president and interim secretary of the college at Mount Holyoke College. She also served as assistant dean of faculty in academic affairs, managing financial, technological and administrative operations of the division. In more than 10 years of executive leadership in higher education, Pertzborn has led strategic planning and implementation processes; advanced presidential initiatives on diversity, equity and inclusion; and worked closely with trustees and board chairs. She has managed several IT projects, headed critical efforts on data stewardship, supported reaccreditation processes and led presidential transition teams.
She previously worked in public education, serving as a business manager and financial services consultant. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin, she received her bachelor’s degree in English literature and fine and studio arts, and her master’s degree in school business management.
Lisa Rutherford was named Amherst’s chief policy officer and general counsel in 2013. In those roles, she serves as the chief legal counsel for the College and oversees the Office of General Counsel, Office of the Title IX Coordinator and Office of Human Resources. She is also responsible for oversight of enterprise risk management, effective policy development and institutional compliance.
Before coming to Amherst, Rutherford served for 20 years as in-house counsel for the University of Wisconsin—Madison. She was named director of the legal office in 2008 and led the university’s litigation team for several years before that. During her time at the university, her primary practice areas included personnel and employment law (including faculty and staff governance), international studies and programs, medical malpractice/health law, open meetings/public records, Title IX, student affairs and constitutional issues. Rutherford earned a B.A. with distinction from Hamline University in 1989 and a J.D. from the University of Wisconsin in 1993.
Chief Strategy Officer
Catherine (Kate) Salop joined Amherst College in the newly created position of chief strategy officer in March 2020. Reporting to the president, Salop is charged with providing thoughtful and intentional leadership for presidential priorities and initiatives. In collaboration with key partners, Salop is responsible for providing facilitation and leadership to translate strategic vision into actionable initiatives and follow through.
Prior to joining Amherst, Salop held the position of senior administrative dean at the Brandeis International Business School for three years and chief of staff at Wellesley College for 14 years. She is a 1994 graduate of Wellesley College and has an M.A. ABD in political science from Boston University.
Betsy Cannon Smith ’84, P’15, was appointed chief advancement officer in May 2019. Cannon Smith, who has been alumni secretary since 1993, has served the College in a number of key leadership positions within the Advancement division since joining that group in 1986, including with Alumni and Parent Programs, the Annual Fund and the leadership gifts component of the College’s comprehensive campaigns.
In addition to leading the College’s Promise campaign, Cannon Smith advises the president and the Board of Trustees on advancement issues. She enhances and executes the strategic plan for advancement by capitalizing on Amherst’s existing philanthropic strengths, identifying new opportunities, and promoting and cultivating alumni and parent engagement with creative programming. Cannon Smith, who earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Amherst, has served as liaison with the Board of Trustees for areas including trusteeships, honorary degrees and Medals for Eminent Service. She was also a member of the 2003 search committee for the College’s president.
Reporting to the president, Angie Tissi-Gassoway (she/they) is responsible for ensuring the implementation and assessment of the strategic and critical work of diversity, equity, and inclusion at the College. Tissi-Gassoway leads a team of DEI scholars and practitioners that work collaboratively across the College to examine and address barriers and inequities faced by our collective community. She is responsible for providing strategic leadership and supporting initiatives that cultivate community and foster a culture of inclusive excellence for students, staff and faculty. Additionally, Tissi-Gassoway works directly with the president and senior staff to ensure the goals and actions of the College’s Anti-Racism Plan are being met.
Prior to Tissi-Gassoway’s interim appointment, they served as the associate dean of students for diversity and inclusion and have been an integral part of the College's implementation of various DEI policies and initiatives. Tissi-Gassoway earned a master of education degree in social justice education from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and bachelor of science and master of public health degrees from Oregon State University. She has worked in higher education, focusing on diversity, equity and inclusion, for almost 20 years.