PULLMAN, Wash.—Washington State University Vice President of Student Affairs Mary Jo Gonzales has received one of the profession’s highest honors.

The Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA) Foundation selected Gonzales for a “Pillar of the Profession” Award based on her outstanding contributions to the field of student affairs. The award was presented at the organization’s national conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, March 3-7.

The NASPA Foundation is a national group dedicated to the advancement, health, and sustainability of the student affairs profession.

To be considered for the Pillar of the Profession Award, individuals must be nominated by colleagues, students, friends, or others for their extraordinary service in student affairs. They must have a sustained professional distinction in higher education and have served in leadership roles in NASPA, either regionally or nationally.

WSU President Kirk Schulz said one year into her duties at WSU, Gonzales has proven herself to be exactly the kind of change agent for student affairs that he envisioned when she was hired.

“Her superb leadership is transforming our approach system-wide to issues ranging from campus climate and student conduct to mental health awareness and student retention,” Schulz said.  “I’m delighted that Mary Jo is receiving this award. Her efforts are critical in our work to provide students with a transformational educational experience.”

As part of the award, her nominators will partner with a Foundation board member to raise $2,500 in Gonzales’ name to further research and scholarship in student affairs.

Gonzales, who received both her master’s and doctoral degrees from WSU, served as a senior administrator with the University of Rhode Island before returning to Pullman last year to assume her new role. At WSU, she oversees 22 departments whose services encompass four major areas pertaining to campus health and safety; academic support; student leadership and engagement; and community equity and inclusive excellence.

Gonzales previously served as the inaugural director of NASPA’s Escaleras Institute and from 2013-2016 chaired the NASPA National Excellence Awards Committee. In March, Gonzales began serving a two-year term on the NASPA Board as the director of the Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice Division.


For more information:

  • Contact Sharae Randall, executive director, marketing and communications, WSU Division of Student Affairs, 509-335-0046, sharae@wsu.edu.