UMass Amherst Family Studies Pioneer Naomi Gerstel Appointed Distinguished Professor

AMHERST, Mass. - Naomi Gerstel, professor of sociology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, was recently named a Distinguished Professor following approval of the appointment by the university’s Board of Trustees.

Considered a pioneer in the study of unpaid work and gender equality and its relationship to race, class and other social issues, Gerstel was recommended for the honor by UMass Amherst Chancellor Robert Holub and Provost James Staros, who called Gerstel "an indispensible, irreplaceable scholar who has opened fundamentally new lines of inquiry."

Gerstel joined the UMass Amherst faculty in 1978 after earning a Ph.D. at Columbia. She received tenure and was promoted to associate professor in 1985, and became a full professor in 1990.

In addition to her co-authored book, "Commuter Marriage," she has edited three other books, has another currently under contract and has more than 80 other publications. Gerstel also received the Rosabeth Moss Kanter International Award for Research Excellence in Families in 2005, the American Sociological Association Race, Class and Gender Section Award for Distinguished Article in 2008.and the Robin Williams award for an outstanding research career. On campus, she received the two major faculty awards for research, the Samuel F. Conte Fellowship for Excellence in Research in 2007 and the Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Research in 2009.

Holub and Staros also cited Gerstel’s ongoing contributions to teaching and to her department. A longtime director of graduate studies, she also received the Distinguished Teaching Award in 2005.

"Dr. Gerstel has mentored numerous doctoral students in sociology who have gone on to prominent academic careers," they wrote. "She has included students as collaborators and co-authors on her publications and, as their letters warmly attest, she has proven to be an exceptionally caring and wise mentor, helping them not only complete their dissertations, but also to move in and through productive post-graduate careers of their own."

A member of the steering committee for UMass Amherst’s Center for Research on Families, Gerstel said recently that it important that the university boost its impact and visibility. "The center is a great place," Gerstel says, "not only for helping faculty obtain research grants but for bringing together interdisciplinary research that relates to family life and disseminating this information to the public."