Message from the Dean


Message from the Dean

Spring 2020

Dear Honors Alumni,

I hope you are safe and well, whether at home or in a designated safe place. This hope is especially extended to the many alumni who are serving on the front lines of this global crisis. We are grateful for your skill, strength, and dedication in this time when we are at our most vulnerable.

It has been truly inspiring to witness how quickly and effectively our community galvanized in the face of uncertainty. We are proud of the resilience of our students, who have made extraordinary adjustments during the disruption of their spring semester. I also commend the wonderful work that our faculty, staff, and advising team have done to make this transition as smooth as possible. We at Commonwealth Honors College are also appreciative of and bolstered by the support we have received from you, our alumni, and others across the Honors community. Thank you.

Before shifting to remote learning for all students, we were able to bring many members of the Honors community together on a few occasions in observance of our 20th anniversary as Commonwealth Honors College. Together, we reflected on how we have grown into a college that fosters academic excellence rooted in research committed to building upon ideas and seeking solutions to daily challenges. We also began transitioning to the next stage of our college’s legacy with the appointment of Professor Mari Castañeda as dean of the Honors College, beginning in September 2020.

As the academic year draws to a close, and we look ahead to the next twenty years, we remain committed to honoring the achievements of our current graduating class as they join a long tradition of Honors alumni at UMass Amherst.

University commencement weekend activities have been postponed, but we will be using this time to virtually celebrate our graduating seniors. On May 7, the planned date for the in-person Celebration of Excellence ceremony, we will be revealing a commemorative video to mark the conferring of Honors for the class of 2020. There will be additional activities showcasing the talent, skills, and ideas the class of 2020 has contributed to our community. We invite you and your family to join us in this celebration, which leads into the UMass Amherst senior celebration, scheduled to take place throughout the weekend beginning May 8.

With your help, we can bring our community together, demonstrating to our graduating seniors that they are part of a strong and enduring Honors family. Together, we will also usher in a renewed focus on those moments that define us as individuals and as a community.

As I come to the conclusion of my leadership role in Commonwealth Honors College, I reflect with great pride upon the many accomplishments we have achieved together. I am grateful to have had the chance to be a part of each student’s academic journey and to be part of our vast Honors alumni network. It has been a privilege and tremendous pleasure to lead the Honors College for the past five years.

On behalf of the faculty, staff, and volunteers at Commonwealth Honors College, I wish you and your families strength to weather this storm, and we hope that we will soon have a chance to celebrate the Honors experience in person.


Gretchen H. Gerzina

Dean, Commonwealth Honors College