President Mary A. Papazian

president mary papazianMary A. Papazian (right), president of Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven, Conn., has enjoyed a notable career as an educator, administrator and scholar of English literature.

Appointed as the university's 11th president in December 2011, Papazian oversees an institution of 11,100 students, 434 full-time faculty, 1,100 staff and an operating budget of $190 million. Her first day at Southern was Feb. 1, 2012, and since then, she has led a period of institutional enhancement.

A major construction program is changing the face of campus. In September 2012, a new School of Business opened its doors, and in spring 2013, construction was scheduled to commence on a new Academic Laboratory Science Building and a major renovation of Buley Library.  A new parking garage with 1,200 spaces was also slated to open in the spring.

Addressing pressing issues of retention and graduation rates that are currently facing many public institutions of higher education, Papazian instituted a Student Success Taskforce to examine and improve key areas of enrollment management and create a clear path to a college degree. Similarly, a Graduate School prioritization program is reviewing all aspects of access and delivery for students seeking advanced degrees.

Curricular changes have also been introduced to meet workforce needs. In the sciences, for example, there are new graduate-level offerings in applied physics, nanotechnology and chemistry -- the latter featuring a professional science track for students seeking advanced training in both chemistry and business. Recognizing the business community's need for broadly educated, articulate college graduates in the liberal arts and science disciplines, Southern is also proposing a Business and Liberal Arts Program designed to promote critical thinking, problem solving, effective writing and other business skills necessary to succeed in today's fast-paced global economy.

Papazian has taken an active role in the community as a member of the New Haven Regional Leadership Council and a director of  New Haven Promise, a scholarship and support program created to promote college education as an aspiration for all New Haven Public School students. At the state level, she was selected as a member of a delegation to Complete College America, a national conference that assists states to increase the numbers of students earning college degrees and to close attainment gaps between traditional and under-represented populations.

Papazian and her husband, Dr. Dennis Papazian, were recently awarded honorary doctorates by the Armenian State Pedagogical University (ASPU) in Yerevan, Armenia. ASPU  was observing the 90th anniversary of its founding, and it marked the occasion by recognizing leaders from a number of universities with which it has international agreements.

Prior to coming to Southern, Papazian most recently served as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Lehman College in The Bronx, which is part of the City University of New York (CUNY) system.

During her tenure at Lehman, she was responsible for a $60 million budget and more than 750 full- and part-time faculty members and 200 staff members. She also oversaw the management, planning, development and quality control of all academic programs at the college.

Lehman is a senior liberal arts college, founded in 1968 and offering 76 undergraduate majors and programs and 46 graduate degree programs. Similar in size to Southern, it enrolled 12,115 students in fall 2010 (9,841 undergraduates and 2,274 graduate students).

At Lehman, Papazian helped articulate a strategic vision and long-term goals for the college and played a leading role in its implementation. She also supported efforts to build strong community relationships with the college and was a key member of Lehman's leadership team as it launched the college's first capital campaign.

Since becoming provost in July 2007, Papazian launched many initiatives, including creating the Office of Undergraduate Studies and Online Education, and developing increased admissions standards for freshmen and transfer students. In addition, under her leadership, Lehman created an annual Scholarship Day to showcase student research and scholarship, a faculty-led Assessment Council to guide the college's initiatives in student learning, and an annual Faculty Recognition Day to highlight accomplishments in the areas of teaching, scholarship and service.

Before joining Lehman's senior administrative team, Papazian was dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and professor of English at Montclair State University in Montclair, N.J., a position she held since August 2004. For the previous five years, she was associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Oakland University in Rochester, Mich., where she had been on the faculty of the English Department since 1988.

As dean at Montclair State, a comprehensive public university with 17,000 students and 500 full-time faculty members, Papazian oversaw many initiatives, including creating the Center for Writing Excellence, strengthening the partnership between the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and the College of Education and developing degree programs in child advocacy and Asian studies.

Her book, John Donne and the Protestant Reformation: New Perspectives, was published by Wayne State University Press in August 2003. A second book, The Sacred and Profane in English Renaissance Literature, was published by the University of Delaware Press in June 2008. Papazian served the John Donne Society as secretary/treasurer from 1990-2005 and as president in 2006-2007. A native Californian, Papazian completed her graduate and undergraduate education at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where she received her B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in English literature.

Upon graduating summa cum laude with her B.A. in English, she was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa. She currently lives in Woodbridge with her husband, Dennis R. Papazian, a long-time professor of history and founding director of the Armenian Research Center at the University of Michigan, Dearborn, and their two daughters, Ani and Marie.