Mike Leto Announces Retirement as Vice Chancellor for Development, Alumni Relations; Search Committee Selected to Identify Successor

Michael A. Leto
Michael A. Leto

Michael A. Leto, vice chancellor for development and alumni relations and executive director of the UMass Amherst Foundation, who led the university to historic, record-setting levels of philanthropic support during his tenure, has announced his retirement, effective in June 2019. A search committee has been established to help select a successor.

Leto said he was announcing his plans now to allow the university time to plan for its next major fundraising campaign, which will be directed by his successor. “The real story is that we have a smart succession plan in place,” he said.

Leto has been the university’s chief development officer since 2009. During Leto’s tenure, the university conducted the largest philanthropic campaign in the history of Massachusetts public higher education, the UMass Rising Campaign, raising $379 million for the flagship campus and significantly surpassing the campaign’s $300 million goal. More than 103,000 donors contributed to the campaign, and the five largest gifts in university history were received.

“I am deeply grateful for Mike Leto’s dedication and extraordinary work in creating a new era of philanthropic support here at UMass Amherst,” Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy said. “The vitality of our flagship campus, and in turn the Commonwealth, are advanced in great measure by the private giving that assists our students and faculty. Mike’s leadership has established a new standard and outstanding foundation that will ensure even greater success.”

“The UMass Rising Campaign has fortified the university’s fundamental commitment to providing access to an excellent education in the commonwealth,” Leto said at the campaign’s closing. “There is much more we can and will do to fuel the work of the flagship campus as a leader in public higher education. For the benefit of our students and everyone we serve, we look forward to keeping the momentum going in the years ahead.”

Before coming to UMass Amherst, Leto was vice president for development and alumni relations at Central Michigan University, an institution of 27,000 students, from 1998-2009.

Leto said his retirement plans revolve around family, especially spending more time with his seven grandchildren.

A 15-member search committee chaired by John McCarthy, acting provost and senior vice chancellor for academic affairs, has been selected to recommend three or four candidates to the chancellor by the end of May.

McCarthy announced the other members of the committee, which is made up of three UMass Amherst Foundation board members, three faculty members, four staff members, two students, two alumni board members, and a member of the President’s Office.

The search advisory committee members are:

UMass Amherst Foundation Board:

  • Rick Kelleher, chair
  • Pat Parcellin, board chair-elect
  • Karen Peters


  • Marjorie Aelion, dean, College of Public Health and Health Sciences
  • Willie Hill, director, Fine Arts Center
  • Om Parkash Dhankher, chair, Faculty Senate Advancement Committee


  • John Kennedy, vice chancellor for University Relations
  • Chelsea Gwyther, director of development, College of Natural Sciences
  • Ryan Bamford, director of athletics


  • Sarah Nordberg, Student Government Association, director of external operations
  • Canan Çevik, Graduate Student Senate president


  • Bonnie Barber
  • J. Nady Pierre

President’s Office:

  • Charlie Pagnam, vice president for development