Updated: Jul 8, 2021
(CSU) – The California State University Board of Trustees has appointed Mary A. Papazian, Ph.D., as president of San José State University effective July 1. A seasoned higher education leader with more than 25 years of teaching and administrative experience, Papazian is currently serving as the president of Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU) in New Haven, Connecticut. She replaces Susan Martin, Ph.D., who was appointed as the interim president in August 2015. Papazian will be the university’s 29th president and the third female president in its 159-year history.
“I am honored that the CSU Trustees have chosen me as president and entrusted me to build upon the campus’ long legacy of innovation and excellence. I look forward to working alongside the many dedicated faculty and staff who guide students along their academic journey and prepare them for achievements beyond the classroom,” said Papazian.
“Interim President Susan Martin and former President Mohammad Qayoumi provided the transformative leadership that built the campus’ reputation as an academic powerhouse, providing highly qualified graduates for Silicon Valley companies. Dr. Papazian envisions partnering with faculty, the campus community and external stakeholders to expand this sound foundation and bolster educational opportunities for students,” said CSU Trustee Rebecca D. Eisen, who served as the chair of the Trustees’ Committee for the Selection of the President. “She has extensive academic leadership experience and a knack for connecting campus, organizational and political leaders to higher education. Best of all, she has a long history of always putting students first.”
Papazian has served as president of SCSU since 2012, leading a campus of 11,000 students and overseeing an operating budget of $210 million. While her career at SCSU is marked with many accomplishments, one of her significant contributions to the university has been her personal commitment to student success. As a result of her efforts, the campus expanded outreach to feeder community colleges, bolstered the campus’ advising staff, launched an online advising tool, and developed summer scholarships for undergraduate research to enhance student engagement. In response to workforce needs, she actively supported new undergraduate programs in sports management, respiration therapy and utilities management, graduate degrees in cyber security, materials science and applied physics, and an accelerated MBA program.
Papazian led the university through the final phase of a successful academic accreditation process and was instrumental in the university receiving full approval by the Connecticut Board of Education for its teacher preparation program. In addition, she stabilized the campus’ leadership team, implemented the Work/Life Balance Initiative for employees and established the first President’s Commission on Campus Climate and Inclusion aimed at enhancing conversations around the university’s core commitment to social justice, equity and inclusion. She is also responsible for transforming the learning environment for students by overseeing significant physical plant expansion projects ranging from the completion of the renovation of the School of Business complex and renovation and expansion on the library to the construction of a new Academic Science Lab Building and a new environmentally-sound parking structure.
In addition to reshaping the campus’ academic programs and physical environment to facilitate student success, Papazian expanded the university’s community engagement by cultivating stronger ties to SCSU’s feeder K-12 school districts, donors and other partners. Under her leadership, the campus began the planning phases, in partnership with New Haven Public Schools, to place a K-4 magnate school on campus. Furthermore, she worked to foster a spirit of civic responsibility and engagement among students, faculty and staff, which has enabled the campus to earn a place on the coveted President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.
Prior to her tenure at SCSU, Papazian was the provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs at Lehman College of The City University of New York. She also served as the dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Montclair State University in New Jersey, and associate dean of the College of Arts and Science at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. Papazian began her career in higher education at Oakland University, where she was an assistant, associate and tenured professor of English.
Born and raised in Southern California, Papazian holds a bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. in English from UCLA.