Dr. Mary A. Papazian Resigns as 30th President of SJSU

President Mary A. Papazian.

Photo: Josie Lepe, ’03 BFA Photography.

Editor’s Note: The following is an official statement from San José State University released on October 7, 2021. President Papazian’s letter to the campus community and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) are available online. 

Dr. Mary A. Papazian announced today that she will resign as the president of San José State University (SJSU) at the conclusion of the fall semester, effective December 21, 2021. During President Papazian’s transition period, California State University (CSU) Chancellor Joseph I. Castro will meet with campus stakeholders prior to naming an interim president. The CSU Board of Trustees will thereafter begin a national search for the 31st president of SJSU.

“The best interest of the campus continues to be at the forefront of every decision I make. After thoughtful consideration, I have made the decision to step away as president,” stated President Papazian. “I truly love this university and believe this choice will allow the focus to be positively and solely on our talented, diverse, and outstanding campus. It has been my great honor and privilege to work with the exceptional SJSU students, faculty, staff, alumni and community partners. I am incredibly grateful to the entire SJSU and San José communities for the opportunity to serve at what I consider to be one of the best and most transformational universities in the country. Thank you.”

Dr. Papazian became the 30th president and third woman to lead the university on July 1, 2016. During her tenure, SJSU was named the #1 Most Transformative University by Money magazine. She maximized partnerships with industry and technology giants such as IBM, LinkedIn, PayPal, and Adobe to elevate campus technology and provide SJSU students access to innovative enterprise grade student-focused resources. In 2019, President Papazian established the Division of Research and Innovation, which is leading the growth of the university’s intellectual property portfolio of patents, copyrights, trademarks, licensing agreements, and supporting the entrepreneurial activity of students, faculty, and staff. In 2016, President Papazian launched the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Since the office’s inception, SJSU has been striving to be a diversified workplace that is reflective of its student population. In September 2020, President Papazian appointed a task force to study community safety and policing, mandated all managers to participate in training on racial justice and workplace inclusion, and charged her leadership council involving nearly 50 campus leaders to develop and implement action plans targeting systemic racism.

“President Papazian’s decision to resign from the presidency reflects her compassionate leadership,” stated Chancellor Castro. “While professionally and personally difficult, this step demonstrates her commitment to the university moving forward. We are grateful for the innovative educational services and cutting-edge resources that she and her team have put into place, which have positioned San José State University as a transformational higher learning institution.”

“I, along with our Board of Trustees, am grateful for Dr. Papazian’s dedication to San José State University,” stated Lillian Kimbell, Chair of the Board. “President Papazian’s commitment to providing equitable student-educational services is illustrated by SJSU’s graduation rates climbing during her tenure, and the average debt remaining far below the national average. During her tenure, SJSU has amplified its research and technology partnerships in Silicon Valley and nationwide to offer its students unique resources at the university.”

The health and safety of the SJSU campus community remains a priority for President Papazian and SJSU. President Papazian will continue to cooperate with the ongoing external Title IX Procedural Investigation and investigations surrounding former SJSU Director of Sports Medicine Scott Shaw.

“This transition does not impact our intention and obligation to understand what occurred and how the university responded at the time,” stated President Papazian. “I made a promise to our community and to the affected student-athletes and their families, and I plan to honor it. My heart, apologies and prayers continue to be with those student-athletes who suffered a breach of trust during their time at the university.”

Based on the SJSU external 2019-20 investigation findings and the DOJ findings, President Papazian took the following action steps.

  • SJSU restructured and expanded its Title IX office, including the addition of new Title IX experts.
    • The team, among others, will include the just announced experienced Title IX and Gender Equity Officer (“Title IX coordinator”), responsible for overseeing compliance with, and implementation of, all Title IX-related policies, grievance procedures, and training at SJSU. The Title IX coordinator will oversee the deputy Title IX coordinator and other Title IX personnel and liaisons.
    • The Title IX Office has received a significant increase in funding to: recruit and hire a new Title IX coordinator, deputy Title IX coordinator, a minimum of two qualified Title IX investigators and an administrative assistant; enhance response to reports of sex discrimination; develop informational materials; and conduct outreach to the SJSU community.
  • SJSU has launched a new Wellbeing Attendant (chaperone) Policy to ensure both student-athletes and sports medicine staff have a right to request that a Wellbeing Attendant be present for any type of sports medicine treatment.
  • SJSU is enhancing education and orientation programs focused on sexual assault prevention, reporting options, and resources for survivors, witnesses, and bystanders.

For more information, visit the FAQs on the SJSU FYI website.