Contact Us

Office of News and Media Relations

University of Massachusetts Amherst
109 Munson Hall
Amherst, MA 01003
Telephone: 413/545-0444
Fax: 413/545-3082

The Office of News and Media Relations works closely with journalists and the campus community to provide the latest information about faculty and student achievements, the university's programs and policies, research accomplishments and community outreach efforts. Emergency management communications are directed by our office. 

If you are a journalist in need of an expert to comment on breaking news or to provide insight for a feature or opinion piece, contact our office. We'll draw upon our knowledge of the university's nearly 1,300 full-time faculty to match you with recognized authorities in their fields.

We're always on call. If you need information for a story after business hours call 413/545-0444, and a recorded message will provide contact information for the staff.


Edward F. Blaguszewski, Executive Director of Strategic Communications and Special Assistant to the Vice Chancellor

Ed Blaguszewski has more than three decades of professional communications experience and since 2004 has directed the Office of News and Media Relations at UMass Amherst, one of the nation’s leading research institutions and the Commonwealth’s flagship public university. His portfolio includes promotion of groundbreaking discoveries and major events, emergency management and crisis communications, and video storytelling. A native of Cambridge, Mass., and a graduate of Boston University, he worked for 13 years as a journalist, including stints as weekend news editor of the Sunday Republican in Springfield, Mass., and editor-in-chief of a New Hampshire weekly, The Monadnock Ledger. He has done award-winning work in feature writing and page design, and staff under his direction have earned honors for spot news and investigative coverage. His career in higher education began as a national media relations consultant, representing leading public and private colleges including The College of William and Mary, Texas A&M University, Bucknell University, and the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University. Subsequently, he worked in Pennsylvania at Allegheny College as director of public information and at Penn State Erie as director of university relations. He is a past president of the College and University Public Relations Association of Pennsylvania.

Donna Blackney, Video Manager/Producer

Donna Blackney is a producer, director and editor of network television, web video and educational video.  Before joining the Office of News and Media Relations in 2013, Donna lived in the UK for many years where she worked for the BBC, independent broadcasters and public sector clients. She is a UMass Amherst graduate with a B.A. in communications studies (cum laude).

Wesley Blixt, Associate News Editor

Wesley Blixt spent 12 years as a daily newspaper reporter,including as an investigative reporter for The Republican in Springfield, Mass. He taught writing and journalism at UMass Amherst, both on campus and in the state prison system, and worked as a public policy advocate. He was hired by UMass Extension communications in 1999, went on to work in Outreach communications and joined News and Media Relations in 2010. He earned a B.A. in political science at Drew University, and a Master of Fine Arts in fiction as part of the UMass Amherst MFA Program for Poets and Writers.

Patrick J. Callahan, Associate News Editor

Patrick Callahan joined the news office in November 1996, where he has reported and written on a wide variety of subjects, with a special interest in business, public policy and public health. He previously spent 11 years as political reporter and analyst for the Daily Hampshire Gazette, where he covered state and congressional politics. He is a 1976 UMass Amherst graduate with a B.A. in political science.

Daniel J. Fitzgibbons, Associate Director

Daniel Fitzgibbons served on the staff of The Campus Chronicle, UMass Amherst's award-winning faculty-staff newspaper, from 1986 to 2004, including 13 years as editor until the weekly ceased publication in favor of the online publication In the Loop. In 2010, he was named associate director of News and Media Relations. He graduated from UMass Amherst in 1978 with a B.A. in political science.

Janet Lathrop, Associate News Editor/Science Writer

Before joining UMass Amherst, Janet Lathrop was a science writer and managing editor for two environmental communication firms reporting on international health effects research, and a staff writer for the University of New Hampshire News Bureau. Her newsroom experience includes general assignment reporting for newspapers in Arizona and Michigan. She has a B.A. in journalism and an M.S. in agricultural journalism (now life sciences communication) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Larry Rivais, Associate News Editor

Larry Rivais joined the news office in January 2014 after more than 35 years working for daily newspapers, most recently as assistant managing editor of news for The Republican in Springfield. He graduated from UMass Amherst in 1976 with a B.A. in English.

Jared Sharpe, Associate News Editor

Jared Sharpe joined the news office in November 2012.  Previously, he spent nearly a decade as a literary publicist for Media Connect (formerly Planned Television Arts), a division of The Ruder Finn Group, securing national media interviews for best-selling authors, Hall of Fame athletes and coaches, and corporate executives.  He graduated from Boston University in 2000 with a B.S. In communication.

Nina Sossen, Associate News Editor for Digital Communications

Nina Sossen coordinates online communication and social media for the Office of News and Media Relations, which she joined in 2014 after 11 years managing the UMass Amherst homepage and other campus websites. She previously worked as an interactive media producer at the Hiebing Group in Madison, Wisconsin and held a post at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and at Wisconsin Public Television where she developed the network’s award-winning online presence. Early in her career she worked as a reporter for a weekly newspaper in the Boston area.  She holds a B.A. in history from Reed College and an M.B.A. from UMass Amherst.

Elizabeth Wilda, Video Producer/Director

Elizabeth Wilda has produced educational videos and television documentaries for the University of Massachusetts Amherst since 1998. She was honored in 1999 by being named one of the “Top 100 Media Producers” and featured in Video Multimedia Producer magazine. She was also Emmy nominated three times for her work as a documentary producer, writer, editor and videographer. Her work airs nationally on American Public Television and often features UMass Amherst faculty. She joined the News & Media Relations staff in 2009 and currently produces promotional and news videos for the university. She is a 1993 graduate of UMass Amherst with a B.A. in educational media.

Tom Zimnowski, Coordinator of Media Productions

Tom Zimnowski began working at UMass Amherst in 1983 in Housing Services and then transferred to the Audio Visual Department, which grew to meet emerging video needs in the classroom. He oversaw design and construction of the first digital TV studio in the state in Herter Hall, a facility used for many purposes including distance learning classes. He has received national awards for his videography and editing and is the recipient of two Chancellor Citation awards for his contributions to the campus.