By Peter Rooney

Historian Catherine Epstein will be the new dean of the faculty.

[Faculty] The next dean of the faculty teaches modern European history and is the author of a forthcoming textbook on Nazi Germany. Catherine Epstein, the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of History, will begin as dean on July 1, replacing Gregory Call, who has served since 2003.

“In addition to her distinction as a scholar, her outstanding teaching and her service to the college, Catherine also brings to the position a broad view of the deanship, a passionate belief in the importance of the liberal arts and a commitment to Amherst that will make her an outstanding leader of our faculty,” says President Biddy Martin.

Catherine Epstein

Call, the Peter R. Pouncey Professor of Mathematics, joined the faculty in 1988. He will return to teaching. “Greg has been responsible for strengthening the academic quality of the college in every conceivable way,” Martin says, “ensuring that Amherst faculty members flourish during all stages of their careers.”  

Epstein’s immediate goals include further strengthening support for faculty research and teaching initiatives, responding to faculty and staff needs and working with faculty to enhance work-life balance. “Amherst has a strong tradition of faculty governance,” she says. “I see the dean of the faculty’s office as a linchpin in that system. I will work hard to ensure that the faculty’s voice is heard on all educational issues.”

Epstein (above) holds a Ph.D. from Harvard and has taught at Amherst since 2000. Her most recent book is Model Nazi: Arthur Greiser and the Occupation of Western Poland. She is finishing a textbook, Nazi Germany: Confronting the Myths. She serves as associate editor of Central European History—the premier journal in her field—and on the American Historical Association’s governing board.  

The search was conducted by a faculty committee chaired by John Servos, the Anson D. Morse Professor of History, who says Epstein is “known for her good humor, her imagination in the classroom, her thoughtful mentoring of junior colleagues and her extraordinary productivity as a scholar.”

The committee’s charge was to conduct an internal search that included current faculty members as well as scholars who are no longer at Amherst but who’d spent considerable time on its faculty. The committee sought input and nominations from faculty and administrators and ultimately presented Martin with three unranked names. 

Photo by Rob Mattson