Director of Media Relations
AMHERST, Mass.—Suzanne R. Coffey, director of athletics and associate professor of physical education at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, has been named athletic director at Amherst College. Her appointment is effective August 1.
As Amherst’s athletic director, Coffey will lead the nation’s oldest intercollegiate athletic program and oversee a broad program of instructional, competitive and recreational opportunities for the entire Amherst College community. Amherst’s 27 sport teams compete in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) and in the NCAA Division III.
"Known for her commitment to the integration of scholar-athletes into the wider academic community at Bates, Suzanne Coffey brings a distinguished record of achievement to Amherst,” remarked Gregory S. Call, Amherst’s dean of the faculty. "Her leadership within NESCAC and on the NCAA Division III Management Council has demonstrated not only a keen knowledge of the fundamental issues facing collegiate athletics at highly selective institutions, but also a willingness to seek innovative solutions. Through its particular ability to build community, and to extend lessons in discipline and imagination beyond the classroom, athletics plays a central role for many in an Amherst education. I look forward to the work Suzanne and I will do in collaboration with our faculty, coaches and students to ensure that our physical education and athletics program further enhances the intellectual and social experience for all of our students.”
“For a new athletics director, Amherst’s preeminence creates great opportunity and responsibility,” said Coffey. “The opportunity is to work with talented coaches and administrators as their strongest advocate and collaborator, one who ensures that we have the best environment of mutual support, teamwork and partnership. The responsibility is to make certain that Amherst athletics remains the ideal, a program where athletes seek excellence on the field, embrace a campus culture of intellectual inquiry off the field, and lead by example in being aware of the world beyond.”
Dale Peterson, the Eliza J. Clark Folger Professor of English and Russian at Amherst chair of the AD search committee, said, “All the members of the search committee are well pleased with the outcome of this search. We interviewed a select group of highly qualified candidates, none more so than Suzanne Coffey. We are confident that she will experience great success in leading Amherst’s highly respected athletic program. Her proven leadership within NESCAC and the NCAA, and her open and responsive dialogue with the campus community, bode well for the harmonious integration of athletics and academic excellence at Amherst College.”
Coffey has taught and been a member of the Athletics Department at Bates since 1985, when she was named associate director of athletics, assistant professor of physical education and head coach of the women’s lacrosse team. She was promoted to associate professor in 1995, and was named athletic director in 1991, after serving as interim AD the year before. In her 15 years as athletic director at Bates, she successfully administered 30 intercollegiate teams and 12 competitive club sports programs that annually involved more than 60 percent of the Bates student population. She oversaw expansion of Bates’ athletic facilities and served on campus committees related to diversity and the campus master plan.
Coffey is also a national leader in collegiate athletics. currently a member of the NCAA’s association-wide Diversity Leadership Task Force, Coffey held the top Division III post as chair of the management Council in 2004-05. In 2003-04, she was vice chair of the council and a member of key working groups that formulated NCAA reforms designed to align practices at member institutions more closely with Division III philosophy. She has also served on the association-wide Executive Committee, as well as the Championships and Budget committees. She is active in enhancing educational development opportunities for student-athletes at the regional and national level, and since March has served as interim vice president of the Institute for International Sport, in Kingston, R.I., where she is commissioner of the 2006 World Scholar-Athlete Games. In 2005, the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics selected Coffey as its Northeast Region Athletics Director of the Year.
The parent of Brad Coffey ’04, a computer science major who played varsity soccer for the Lord Jeffs, Coffey earned a B.A. degree in studio art from the University of New Hampshire, and received a master’s in public policy from the Edmund Muskie School of Public Service at the University of Southern Maine, where she currently is a doctoral candidate.
Before she began work at Bates, Coffey coached for two years at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, and for two years at the University of New Hampshire.
Dean of the Faculty Greg Call noted, “Women’s volleyball coach Sue Everden and men’s basketball coach David Hixon ’75 deserve the community’s special thanks for their excellent work as acting co-directors of athletics over the past year. I would also like to acknowledge once again the remarkable contributions of Peter Gooding, who stepped down as director of athletics last June after 27 years, and who continues to serve as head coach of men’s soccer. Peter and his talented coaching colleagues have established a tradition of excellence in Amherst’s athletic program on which we will build.”
Amherst’s athletics program is the oldest in the nation and has consistently served as a model for integrating successful athletics with outstanding academics. One third of Amherst’s students participate in varsity sports, and 80 percent are active in club and intramural sports. Amherst’s 27 varsity teams compete in the New England Small Athletic Conference and NCAA Division III, and regularly finish among the top schools in competition for the U.S. Sports Academy’s Director’s Cup.
Founded in 1821 for “the education of indigent young men of piety and talents,” Amherst College is now widely regarded as the premier liberal arts college in the nation, enrolling a diverse group of approximately 1,600 young men and women. Well known for its academic excellence, Amherst is also consistently ranked among the very best schools in the country in terms of accessibility: The college’s financial aid packages are consistently the most generous in the U.S., and among its peer universities and colleges Amherst has the greatest economic diversity. Diversity, in its broadest sense, is fundamental to Amherst’s mission. The college enrolls students from every state and more than 40 countries, and for the past several years more than 35 percent of Amherst’s students have been students of color. Amherst offers the B.A. degree in 33 fields of study.