AMHERST, Mass. – Eric Beal, an Amherst attorney and former chair of the Amherst Zoning Board of Appeals, has been appointed to the newly created position of neighborhood liaison at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, effective Aug. 3.
Beal, a UMass Amherst alumnus, will work with town and campus public safety officials, responding to incidents and complaints involving off-campus student behavior in neighborhoods near campus. He will serve as a liaison to off-campus students and neighbors during evening weekend patrols and will assist campus partners with proactive programs on student behavior, educational campaigns and community service activities.
“Eric’s deep knowledge of the neighborhoods around campus both as a resident and as a former zoning official makes him uniquely qualified for this new and important position,” said Nancy Buffone, associate vice chancellor for university relations. “This position is another step forward in our town-gown efforts and I am confident that Eric’s skills and experience are a great fit for the university and our campus neighbors as well.”
The creation of the neighborhood liaison position was a key recommendation in former Boston Police Chief Edward Davis’ September 2014 report to campus and community officials on how best to handle large off-campus disturbances. The neighborhood liaison’s role is to work directly with community members, hear everyday concerns and build relationships to deter disorderly student behavior. Similar positions have been successful at Boston College and Georgetown University.
Beal will be a nighttime mainstay in the neighborhoods that traditionally find students gathering during fall and spring semester weekends. He will collaborate with Amherst police and fire officials on proactive approaches to student-neighborhood issues and with the university’s Student Affairs and Campus Life office on its successful Walk This Way and Team Positive Presence programs.
“I fell in love with the Amherst area while a sociology major at UMass Amherst in the early ’90s, and it’s been a dream of mine to work for UMass,” said Beal. “In my eight years on the ZBA, I worked closely with town and public safety officials, residents and property owners. I learned first-hand about the issues affecting our neighborhoods and efforts of residents, the town and the university to improve quality of life. I look forward to joining UMass to continue that work.”
A graduate of UMass Amherst and the University of Connecticut School of Law, Beal has a background in human services, including a stint as a resident assistant in the Southwest Residential Area and work as a mental health counselor in the Holyoke area. In his law practice, Beal represents clients in appellate matters, including children and families in care and protection appeals.
Beal previously was an associate with Axinn, Veltrop & Harkrider in Hartford from 2001-07, representing Fortune 500 clients in litigation, government investigation and appeals, and was an associate with Bulkley, Richardson and Gelinas in Springfield from 2007-10.
An Amherst resident, Beal plays alto saxophone in the Amherst Community Band under the baton of UMass Marching Band director Timothy Anderson. He has served as a member of Amherst Town Meeting and is a supporter of the Friends of Puffer’s Pond. He is an avid cyclist and trail runner and serves as a lead coordinator for the 2015 Amherst Regional High School Cross Country Invitational.
Beal lives with his daughters, Lillian and Ella, and his long-time partner, Shelley, and her two sons, Peter and Eric.