Submitted on Tuesday, 7/1/2014, at 4:25 PM

June 17, 2014

Following extensive national searches, Amherst College has made two key appointments in the Division of Student Affairs.

Alex Vasquez, dean for advising and academic success at Wheaton College in Norton, Mass., will be Amherst’s new dean of students.

Jacqueline Alvarez, director of counseling and psychological services at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Ore., will be director of the Counseling Center and associate dean of students. Both will begin at the college on July 15.

Chief Student Affairs Officer Suzanne Coffey, who served as co-chair of the dean of students search committee and chair of the director of the Counseling Center search committee, said she and her colleagues were struck by the depth and breadth of experience that Vasquez and Alvarez bring.

“Alex has focused his career on supporting students, and he has done that work in a variety of offices—from residential life to multicultural affairs to academic advising. Viewing student life through those different lenses has afforded him a holistic perspective that we are thrilled he will bring to Amherst,” she said.

“Jackie is a talented mental health professional and a seasoned college administrator,” Coffey continued. “She has experience transforming counseling centers and nurturing trust. Her ‘whole person’ philosophy is very much like Alex’s, and is something we embrace.”


Alex Vasquez

Vasquez, a 17-year veteran of higher education, has held positions of increasing responsibility at Wheaton since 2001. Prior to that, he worked in student life at Colgate University.

At Wheaton, Vasquez is responsible for planning and coordinating academic advising and academic support services, including college tutoring, disability services and academic programming. Among other things, he also supervises assistant and associate deans and advises on academic policy, retention strategy and academic program planning. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University at Albany, State University of New York, and he is currently a doctoral candidate at Boston College.

“I’m thrilled to join the Amherst College community,” said Vasquez. “The opportunity to partner with Amherst students on the continued development of a deep and engaging student experience is incredible. College is an exciting time at the intersection of who our students are and who they want to become.  They entrust us with that moment, and I’m so fortunate to have the opportunity to share it with them.”


Jackie Alvarez

Alvarez spent the first 17 years of her career at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn., in a series of counseling positions, including as assistant dean of students and director of the counseling center. From there she went to Oregon State, where she oversees a 23-person team. She has developed relationships with staff in Oregon State’s student affairs, chaplain’s, residential life and academic advising offices. She provides regular counseling, offers trainings and workshops and teaches psychology courses. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame and master’s and doctoral degrees in counseling from the Ohio State University.

“I’m excited to join Amherst in their good work of educating the next generation of students who will be leading and serving our communities,” said Alvarez. “To be part of a college whose mission is to help our students lead lives of consequence is a privilege and honor, and I’m eager to start.”

 Praise from Campus
  • I am delighted to welcome Alex Vasquez and Jackie Alvarez, who will make significant contributions to Amherst. Alex’s accomplishments at Wheaton, which have affected all aspects of student life, illustrate his strengths as a leader in student affairs. All of us were impressed with his extensive research on inclusion and his work on multicultural initiatives. With 23 years of psychological counseling experience, all of them with college students, Jackie brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her position. I look forward to working with them and am confident that the entire community will benefit from their presence. Amherst President Biddy Martin
  • Alex is an impressive person as well as a seasoned and dedicated professional in student affairs. The faculty who met him found him appealing, smart and filled with excellent ideas about how to build up our upcoming program of residential education at Amherst. To reach that goal, he stressed how important it is to listen to students. He is sensitive to student needs, both academic and personal, and has a great deal of experience in different areas of student life and academics. We have great confidence in his future as dean of students. —Nicola Courtright, professor of art and the history of art and co-chair of the dean of students search committee
  • I was very excited to learn that Jackie will join the Amherst community. She’s had extensive experience as a Counseling Center director; she’s done impressive outreach and community engagement work with her previous centers; and she’s warm, she’s genuine, she’s got a wonderful sense of humor and she’ll really connect well with our students. From my perspective, Jackie’s hiring is a big win for our community. Andy Tew ’07, area coordinator and member of the director of counseling search committee