Dr. Mary Jo Gonzales
Vice President for Student Affairs
Gonzales, who holds both a master’s degree in communication and a doctoral degree in education from WSU, joined the University of Rhode Island as assistant vice president and dean of students in April 2013, following six years of service in a senior student affairs role at Iowa State University. Since earning her doctoral degree at WSU in 2001, she has held numerous education-related posts in higher education and with national education organizations.
”Mary Jo has a proven track record as a dynamic and innovative student affairs leader,” said WSU President Kirk Schulz. “She will provide superb leadership as we strive to ensure a transformative educational experience for our undergraduate and graduate students, one of our key institutional goals. And I’m delighted that because she’s an alumna, Mary Jo is already familiar with the university.”
“I am thrilled to come back home to my Cougar family and lead a team of dedicated, committed Student Affairs professionals. I know I would not be where I am today without the two degrees I earned from Washington State University,” said Gonzales. “I look forward to supporting my fellow Cougs as they learn, as they prepare to walk across the stage at graduation and go on to become amazing alumni all over the world. I’m excited about the vision and goals that President Schulz has for who we can be and who we will be for the state of Washington.”
At Rhode Island’s land grant university, Gonzales currently manages a portfolio of student success efforts in community standards, outreach and intervention, substance abuse prevention and education, commuter affairs, food security, Greek affairs, and disability services. During her time there, she also served as interim vice president of Student Affairs, where she supervised a comprehensive student services portfolio including housing, dining, campus stores, health, counseling, recreation services, student leadership/involvement, and special programs.
Prior to taking her current post, Gonzales served as associate dean of students and director of the Academic Success Center at Iowa State University and as director of the Academic Success Center and director of TRiO Student Success Program at Dickinson State University in North Dakota, where she was recognized for developing innovative programs, leading organizational change, and collaborating across institutional boundaries to achieve divisional, institutional, system, and state student success goals.
She is the former chair of the NASPA National Excellence Awards, leading national efforts to recognize model programs and effective practices in student affairs. Gonzales was also co-chair of College Board’s Prepárate: Educating Latinos for the Future of America national conference, where she facilitated Latino k-20 educational administrators from across the country in implementing one of the largest conferences on Latino educational pipelines, opportunity, access, and success.
As a low-income, first generation college student herself, Gonzales has dedicated her life to leading efforts which help individuals achieve their academic, personal, and professional goals. In March 2015, she was named Outstanding Senior Student Affairs Officer by NASPA’s Latino Knowledge Community.
She was also honored as a 2013 Women Impacting ISU for her role in mentoring and “cultivating a community focused on student success.” She previously received a Martin Luther King Distinguished Graduate Student Service Award from Washington State University for her efforts to advance diversity, inclusion, and equity.