Suzanne Coffey Announces Retirement | The Amherst Student
After 35 years in higher education, 12 of which she spent at Amherst College, Chief Student Affairs Officer Suzanne Coffey will retire at the end of this year. President Biddy Martin announced her retirement and the start of the search for a replacement in an email to the college community on Oct. 17. The college aims to secure a new chief student affairs officer by July 1, 2018, according to Dean of the Faculty Catherine Epstein.
According to Martin, Coffey first came to Amherst as the athletic director, a position she held from 2006 to 2014. In 2012, she became the campus Title IX leader, and transitioned into the role of chief student affairs officer — the first person in this position — in 2014.
Martin promoted Coffey to her current position, intending for it to be a two-year commitment. Working to improve student life, Coffey went “far above and beyond what I hoped she might achieve in the two-year stint I asked her to accept,” Martin wrote.
Coffey focused on residential life and helped develop the new Greenway dormitories, designed to encourage social interaction and enhance students’ shared sense of responsibility for living spaces, well-being and campus experience, Martin said. Coffey’s work with the residential halls is one of the many ways she sought to improve the sense of community on campus.
The search for a replacement is co-chaired by Dean of Faculty Catherine Epstein and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Norm Jones. The college has hired recruiting firm Isaacson, Miller to assist in the process, and the firm will work alongside the search committee once the college has finalized its members, which will include three senior staff members, two professors, three staff members and three students.
The search committee and Isaacson, Miller will meet independently with different constituencies, according to Epstein. The two groups will meet to discuss what the community is looking for in a replacement, and the search firm will assemble potential candidates.
Epstein said the search will be consolidated to three candidates sometime around February or March. The candidates will each visit the campus before undergoing reviews for a final decision.
Coffey’s term as the first chief student affairs officer solidified the importance of the position, and Epstein said in an interview that she hopes the replacement will help “bridge divides on campus.”
In 2013, Coffey defended the college’s athletes in response Professor of Political Science Thomas Dumm’s opinion article in The Student suggesting the college investigate “the connection between male athletics and rape culture.” Her response praising student-athletes’ other accomplishments and denying Dumm’s claims made her a controversial figure on campus.
Many students perceived her 2014 appointment as lacking transparency, as the news was made public on the same day former Dean of Students Jim Larimore announced his unexpected departure. Some students staged a protest in response to the announcement, and the Association of Amherst Students (AAS) passed a resolution expressing “grave concern” over the decision and requesting consultation with the student body.
Students looking to get involved in the search for the new chief student affairs officer can attend a meeting with Isaacson, Miller on Thursday, Oct. 26 at 7 p.m. The meeting is limited to 50 students, but students are welcome to write to the committee with their opinions.
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the search committee for Chief Student Affairs Officer Suzanne Coffey’s replacement will include seven faculty members, one professor and three students. The committee will be comprised of three senior staff members, two professors, three staff members and three students. This story was updated at 7:20 p.m. on Oct. 25 to reflect this change.
Athletic Director Suzanne Coffey resigns to take AD post at Amherst | News
After 21 years with the Bates College Athletic Department, Director of Athletics Suzanne Coffey has announced her resignation to become athletic director at Amherst College in Amherst, Mass.
“This was a difficult decision,” Coffey said. “It will not be easy leaving many talented and excellent colleagues and friends. But I do find this move energizing at this point in my career, and I am eager to start at Amherst.”
Coffey has been on leave since March to implement the 2006 World Scholar-Athlete Games with the Institute for International Sport in Providence, R.I. She will begin her duties at Amherst on Aug. 1.
Bates Associate Director of Athletics Dana Mulholland will serve as interim athletic director while a national search is conducted for Coffey’s replacement.
Bates President Elaine Tuttle Hansen lauded Coffey for her accomplishments. “Suzanne has worked so very ably for three different Bates presidents, and I know my predecessors join me expressing our gratitude for her longstanding dedication to this College and its student-athletes,” said Hansen. “We are sorry to lose her leadership, but wish her all the best at Amherst.”
Bates Vice President for Academic Administration Jill N. Reich said Coffey built an outstanding athletic department that advances students as athletes and scholars. “Suzanne has developed a coaching staff with the talent to build Bates’ standing in the Directors’ Cup and our place in NESCAC. At the same time our coaches work with faculty to support our students’ intellectual pursuits and civic engagement. Her thoughtful leadership and collegial management leave a strong department ready to take on the challenge of her departure. Our colleagues at Amherst will appreciate her consistently high standards of professionalism and creative problem-solving.”
Reich noted that during the last 10 years of Coffey’s tenure, Bates has consistently finished in the top 20 percent of all Division III sports programs, as measured by national Director’s Cup standings. Bates is a member of the New England Small College Athletic Conference, along with Amherst, Bowdoin, Colby, Connecticut, Hamilton, Middlebury, Trinity, Tufts, Williams and Wesleyan. NESCAC members are reliably found in the U.S. News & World Report‘s list of the top 25 best American liberal arts colleges and in the Directors’ Cup top 25 percent of Division III athletic programs.
Coffey was appointed director of athletics and chair of the department of physical education at Bates in 1991. During this time, Coffey rose to several positions of national leadership in collegiate athletics for which she received numerous awards and honors. 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.