Dr. Mary Papazian, a seasoned leader with more than 25 years of teaching and academic administrative experience, joined San Jose State University (SJSU) as its 29th president on July 1, 2016. Papazian is firmly committed to student success; open, transparent and inclusive leadership; fostering a culture of curiosity and discovery; and building enduring campus and community partnerships.
Papazian most recently served as president of Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU) in New Haven, Conn. There, she demonstrated a singular focus on student success, establishing a task force in her first year as president to review practices and develop recommendations for change. Under her leadership, SCSU launched a predictive analytics advising tool and hired additional advisors in key areas to support first-year experience, sophomore, transition programs and degree programs. She developed partnerships with local community colleges to expand advising resources for prospective transfer students and established a summer scholarship program for undergraduate research.
Papazian also served as an exceptional steward, providing a vision for a fundraising initiative that, when launched, will be SCSU's first-ever comprehensive campaign. She secured the campus’ first $3 million gift along with a $1.2 million bequest to establish its first endowed chair, in Autism and Special Education. Her fundraising efforts supported a new Academic Laboratory and Science Building that opened in fall 2015; expanded international education and study abroad programs; increased research opportunities for undergraduate students, and expanded scholarships to support student recruitment, retention and completion.
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 (CUNY), managing a $70 million budget that supported 450 full-time faculty members and 200 staff members. At Lehman College, she strengthened the research infrastructure by creating a research advisory board, hiring a new director of the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, and developing a research handbook for faculty.
In addition to her high-level administrative experience, Papazian previously 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 the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She and husband Dennis R. Papazian, founding director of the Armenian Research Center at the University of Michigan, Dearborn, have two adult daughters.
Her academic experience includes:
Southern Connecticut University
Lehman College of The City University of New York
Provost and Senior Vice President: 2007-2012
Montclair State University
Dean, College of Humanities and Social Sciences: 2004-2007
Associate Dean, College of Arts and Sciences: 1999-2004
Executive Director, Department of Music, Theater and Dance: 2003-2004
Assistant, Associate (tenured), and Professor of English: 1988-2004