College Leadership

Our first goal is to enhance the value of the Alma student experience. We believe that in general this is achieved by strengthening the community of faculty and staff who support our students’ growth. While we will make difficult choices and take appropriate risks, in all cases we will act with integrity and deep respect for the college community.

  • Jeff Abernathy, 13th president of Alma College
    Reid-Knox Administration Building
    (989) 463-7146

    Jeff Abernathy is Alma College’s 13th president. An English professor by training, he has a long-term commitment to the core values of a liberal arts education. Recognizing the rapidly changing higher education landscape, he has championed the use of data analysis and strategic planning to engage the campus in preparing for a future. Prior to coming to Alma, Dr. Abernathy served as vice president and dean of Augustana College from 2004-2010, where he helped to found the Midwest Alliance for Learning in the Liberal Arts, a consortium of seven liberal arts colleges committed to collecting, sharing and analyzing data on student learning for the purpose of improving student outcomes. Dr. Abernathy’s primary area of study is African -American literature. He is author of To Hell and Back: Race and Betrayal in the Southern Novel. A native of Richmond, Virginia, Dr. Abernathy graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English from Longwood College. He earned a master’s degree in English from Virginia Commonwealth University and a Ph.D. in American literature from the University of Florida. 

  • Kathleen Dougherty
    Swanson Academic Center
    (989) 463-7176

    Kathleen Dougherty, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, serves as the chief academic administrator at Alma College with oversight of all academic programs. She leads efforts to ensure the quality of the faculty and student body by providing leadership in matters related to instruction, faculty support and recognition, library, academic support services, the registrar’s office and Presidential Honors Program. Dougherty has doctoral and master’s degrees in philosophy from the University of Oklahoma and a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from St. Olaf College. Her academic specialty focuses on contemporary virtue ethics and the development of moral character.

  • Alan Gatlin
    Reid-Knox Administration Building
    (989) 463-7143

    Alan Gatlin, senior vice president and chief operating officer (COO), works collaboratively across campus sectors to allocate resources and manage day-to-day operations. He is responsible for many aspects of the college’s business operations, including facilities, information technology, food service and non-traditional revenue generation. He also focuses on strategic matters of the college’s operation, including student recruitment and retention, financial analysis, debt structure and capital projects. He joined Alma’s leadership team in June 2017 after 30 years in finance and management positions, including 12 years as a corporate CEO and 18 years of accounting and finance experience in public accounting and private organizations. He has a bachelor of science degree in accounting from Murray State University.

  • Karl Rishe
    Tyler VanDusen Campus Center
    (989) 463-7333

    Karl Rishe serves as vice president for student affairs. He oversees a broad administrative portfolio that includes residence life, counseling and wellness, health services, chaplain’s office, student and Greek activities, student organizations, discipline, diversity and inclusion, intramural sports and the recreation center. He joined Alma’s leadership team in August 2017 after serving as dean of students at Notre Dame College and holding positions of increasing responsibility at Case Western University, Grand Valley State University and Ashland University. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication from Saginaw Valley State University, a Master of Arts in higher education administration from the University of Akron, a Master of Science in communication from Grand Valley State University, and a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Akron.

  • Amanda Slenski
    Reid-Knox Administration Building
    (989) 463-7465

    Amanda Slenski was appointed vice president for admissions in June 2018. She leads the college’s strategic recruiting initiatives and works closely with colleagues across the campus to meet enrollment goals. Slenski joined the admissions staff in 2010 as a recruiting rep, accepting positions of increasing responsibility and, ultimately, serving as director of admissions from 2013-15. From 2015-17 she held leadership positions in the advancement and career development sectors before moving back to admissions as interim associate vice president for admissions. Prior to Alma, Slenski was a resident director at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, leadership advisor for Alpha Gamma Delta International in Indianapolis, and a recruitment coordinator and graduate resident director at Miami University in Ohio. She has a bachelor’s degree in business administration and economics from Alma College and a master’s degree from Miami University with a focus in student affairs administration.

  • Jeffrey Swears
    Hamilton Commons, Lower Level
    (989) 463-7998

    Jeffrey Swears, Alma’s chief financial officer (CFO), is responsible for all aspects of the college’s finances with oversight of the operating and capital budgets. He joined Alma’s leadership team in 2018 after more than 25 years as a senior financial manager with Dow Corning Corp. He has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Alma College and an MSBA in finance from Boston University.

  • Matt vandenBerg
    Hood Building
    (989) 463-7081

    Matthew vandenBerg, vice president for advancement and external relations, heads a 17-member advancement staff charged with leading efforts to raise resources and increase constituent involvement for the continued enhancement of Alma College programs and facilities. A 2002 graduate of Alma College, he returned to his alma mater in June 2015 after acquiring more than a decade of fundraising and advancement managerial experience, including positions of responsibility in higher education, with a national consulting and management firm, and as a Congressional legislative assistant. Alma’s advancement function includes responsibility for alumni and parent engagement, the Annual Fund, foundation relations, major gifts and gift planning, endowment and campaign initiatives, donor stewardship, and prospect research. He has a master’s degree in public affairs from Indiana University and a doctorate in higher education management from the University of Pennsylvania.