President Martin Appoints Two New Class Deans
Issue   |   Wed, 04/23/2014 - 02:39

Professors Rick López and Lyle McGeoch will assume positions as class deans starting July 1, President Martin announced last week.

López, an associate professor in the History Department, has been named Dean of New Students. McGeoch, the Brian E. Boyle ’69 Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science, has been appointed Dean of the Class of 2017.

During their three-year terms as class deans, both professors will advise students in their respective classes, take on administrative responsibilities in student affairs and teach one class per semester.

Dean of the Faculty Gregory Call and Chief Student Affairs Officer Suzanne Coffey recommended their colleagues for these positions.

“I’ve enjoyed working with Lyle McGeoch and Rick López in many contexts and grown to admire their dedication to their students,” Call said in an email. “As two recent chairs of the Committee of Educational Policy, Rick and Lyle were thoughtful and effective advocates for our students and faculty alike. As a former Dean of New Students myself, I know Lyle and Rick will be conscientious shepherds, and that they will thoroughly enjoy enabling our students to do their best work.”

López received his B.A. at Amherst and has an M.A. and Ph.D. from Yale.

“I’ve always given a lot of thought to what Amherst does well and what Amherst can do better, since the time that I was a student here,” he said. “I’ve always felt very committed to the institution, trying to think about the things that it can offer and the kinds of change that it can represent.”

López said that he is particularly excited to help the College in thinking more about its diverse identity and making sure that students from all kinds of backgrounds find support at Amherst.

“I see the position as an opportunity to be involved in what the College does and to make it do some of these things even more effectively,” López said. “I think we do a pretty good job, but I think we could refine what we do.”

López will replace Pat O’Hara, the Amanda and Lisa Cross Professor of Chemistry, who began her term as Dean of New Students in 2010.

McGeoch said that when he learned the class dean position was available, he was eager to apply.

“I think it’s an important role in the College,” McGeoch said. “It’s very much of an academic support role that can have a really positive effect on the lives of the students, and I thought it would be an interesting challenge.”

McGeoch has a bachelor’s degree from Princeton and a Ph.D. in computer science from Carnegie Mellon. He has been teaching at Amherst since 1987.

“I’ve always really enjoyed the people aspect of being a professor,” he said. “Obviously by the time you get to this stage, we all enjoy the classroom part of it. But it seems to me that advising is important, and supporting students in their work is really important, and this will be a good chance to do even more of that.”