“Rising Star” Is Amherst’s New Financial Aid Dean

Submitted on Wednesday, 2/6/2013, at 12:56 PM

February 6, 2013

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Gail Holt (photo courtesy of Beth Haller Photography)

AMHERST, Mass. -- Gail Holt, Mount Holyoke College’s Senior Associate Director of Student Financial Services, will be Amherst College’s new Dean of Financial Aid beginning March 1, following a national search to replace Joe Paul Case, who recently retired after 31 years of service.

“After reviewing a national pool of candidates,” said Katie Fretwell, Dean of Admission and chair of the search committee for the position, “we were especially impressed with the true passion Gail exuded about financial aid and her work with young people and their families as they plan for college.  She is exceptionally well regarded in the financial aid community, and is enthusiastic about the role she can play in supporting Amherst’s desire to keep access to higher education a priority topic in the public conversation about higher education.”

Holt will report to Thomas Parker, Dean of Admission and Financial Aid at Amherst, who called her a rising star in the financial aid field.

“I’ve been referring to her as a rising star in the profession, one who we expect will be highly visible within the field and nationally,” Parker said. “Ironically, if Joe had had to pick his successor, he told me he would have picked Gail. He’s always had an eye for the up-and-comers in the field.”

“What made her stand out in a highly qualified field of candidates,” Parker added, “was an unbending commitment to need blind admission and access, an ability to articulate that vision and a warmth that I think will make her very popular with students, families and colleagues who interact with her.”

For her part, Holt said she looks forward to moving from one highly regarded college in the Pioneer Valley to another one.

“I’m proud to be working in the Valley and supporting a college education that’s affordable,” Holt said. “I’m excited to be coming to Amherst College, which has a long tradition of creating affordable access  through the great financial support it offers to students.” (For more details about Amherst College’s generous financial aid policies, visit here.)

Holt has served at Mount Holyoke since 2005, and has also worked in the financial aid offices of Northeastern University and Boston University. She’s past president of the Massachusetts Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (MASFAA), from which she received the Charles Sheehan Distinguished Service Award in 2011, and has served as a faculty member for the College Board Financial Aid Institute. She and her husband John have two daughters, Rilee, 10, and Grace, 6.

Holt said one of the favorite parts of her job is helping to explain the financial aid application process to  students and their families, while spreading the message that a college education can be affordable for students of all economic backgrounds.

“I like talking about financial aid with families, and I like demystifying the process,” she said.  “It will be a true pleasure as a financial aid professional to be able to serve exceptionally qualified students through grant assistance that truly meets their financial needs.”

About Amherst College

Founded in 1821, Amherst is a highly selective, coeducational liberal arts college with 1,800 students from most of the 50 states and more than 30 other countries. Considered one of the nation’s best educational institutions, Amherst awards the B.A. degree in 37 fields of study. The majority of Amherst students—55 percent—received need-based financial aid in the 2011-12 academic year. Amherst provided $41 million in scholarships and grants or 91 percent of the total aid offered to students.

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