Catherine Epstein Named New Dean of the Faculty
Issue   |   Wed, 02/05/2014 - 03:07

Catherine Epstein, the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of History, will become the College’s next Dean of the Faculty on July 1. President Biddy Martin announced Epstein’s appointment in an e-mail to the campus community dated Jan. 27.

Epstein will replace Gregory R. Call, the Peter R. Pouncey Professor of Mathematics, who has decided to return to teaching full-time after an eleven-year term as Dean of the Faculty. President Martin announced Dean Call’s decision to step down in an e-mail in October.

“I came to Amherst with the desire to teach,” said Dean Call in an interview. “After eleven years I feel it is time to pass the role onto another colleague.”

In the intervening months, a search committee chaired by John Servos and comprised of Professors Amrita Basu, Sandi Burkett, Michael Hood and David Schneider identified three finalists for the Dean of the Faculty job. They presented their choices to Martin, who elected to offer the position to Professor Epstein.

“I was pretty surprised, but it was very exciting,” said Epstein of her reaction to the offer. “I didn’t think that I’d be chosen necessarily, but it’s a great honor to be chosen, and I’m delighted to be working with President Martin and Provost Uvin.”

Epstein “will be leading the faculty during a period of renewal, occasioned in part by retirements and in part by a modest expansion recommended by the 2006 report of the Committee on Academic Priorities,” said History Professor John Servos, who chaired the search committee.

Epstein has previously chaired the Committee on Priorities and Resources, and the Fellowships Committee. She is also the current chair of the History Department. Epstein comes from a family of historians who study Germany.

“I was always really interested in German history,” Epstein said. “You could say that it was a failure of imagination to become a historian, because it was almost the family business.”

She has published three books related to twentieth-century German history.

As Dean of the Faculty, Epstein wants to place more emphasis on professional development for professors at the College. She also wants to help faculty members achieve greater work-life balance.

Epstein has previously worked in this field to ensure that faculty giving birth receive a full semester of leave from teaching.

Epstein said she looks forward to her new role.

“Amherst College is in good shape,” she said. “What I’m looking to do is improve things in little ways that should make it a better place for faculty.”