Cynthia Gerstl-Pepin Chosen as Dean of UMass Amherst’s College of Education

Cynthia Gerstl-Pepin
Cynthia Gerstl-Pepin

AMHERST, Mass. – The University of Massachusetts Amherst has appointed Cynthia I. Gerstl-Pepin of the University of Vermont (UVM) to be the new dean of its College of Education, effective July 1, 2017.

Gerstl-Pepin, who is currently associate dean of UVM’s College of Education and Social Services (CESS), will succeed Robert Feldman, the deputy chancellor who has served as interim dean of the college since last February, following the resignation of Christine McCormick, who served as dean for 11 years.

She brings extensive leadership experience at CESS, including an appointment as interim dean of the college in 2015-16. As associate dean for academic affairs and research since 2011, Gerstl-Pepin has provided leadership for curriculum, research, accreditation, communications and strategic initiatives while also serving as founding director of the Ph.D. program in educational leadership and policy studies.

Gerstl-Pepin previously chaired the department of education at UVM, overseeing one of the largest departments in the university with more than 70 full and part-time faculty serving more than 400 undergraduates and 300 graduate students. A member of UVM’s faculty since 2002, she is professor of educational leadership and policy studies and educational studies. She also taught at Georgia State University from 2000-02 and Western Carolina University from 1998 to 2000.

UMass Amherst Provost Katherine S. Newman says Gerstl-Pepin’s appointment comes at a key time for the College of Education, which offers an undergraduate program leading to a bachelor’s degree with a specialization in early childhood education, as well as graduate programs leading to M.Ed., Ph.D. and education specialist (Ed.S.) degrees.

 “We are so fortunate to have attracted a leader of this extraordinary caliber,” says Newman. “I join my colleagues in the College of Education in looking forward to the work Dean Gerstl-Pepin will do to amplify the research done by the faculty. I am particularly excited about her plans to deepen the college’s engagement in public schools in Holyoke, Springfield and other regions of the Commonwealth.” 

Gerstl-Pepin says she welcomes the opportunity to lead the College of Education and its talented faculty, staff and students.

“I am incredibly excited by the prospect of working with such accomplished faculty, staff and students in the college as we look to the future and think about the positive impact we want to make on the field of education scholarship, teaching and service to the community and state,” she says. “The role of colleges of education has never been more important.”

After earning a B.A. in art history and studio art at Bates College in 1989, Gerstl-Pepin received a Ph.D. in educational organizations and policy studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her training focused on qualitative methodology, with a minor in the anthropology of education. She was named a Fulbright Scholar in 2011 for study at Beijing Normal University. Gerstl-Pepin is internationally recognized as a leading academic authority on educational politics and ethical leadership. Poverty, with its connection to inequitable educational outcomes, has been a compelling theme in her work. 

Gerstl-Pepin is the co-author of “Re-Framing Educational Politics for Social Justice,” which is about to enter its second edition, and co-editor of “Survival of the Fittest: The Shifting Contours of Higher Education in China and the United States” and “Social Justice Leadership for a Global World,” and her most recent co-authored book “Reimagining the Public Intellectual in Education: Making Scholarship Matter,” explores the many ways that education scholars can work to ensure their research informs public dialogs on education policy and school improvement.

She also serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Educational Foundations and New Frontiers of Educational Research, Beijing and is the author of numerous journal articles, papers and presentations.