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San Francisco State Selects First Female President

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Dr. Lynn Mahoney— a trained historian known for her scholarship on race and gender— has been tapped to be the next president of San Francisco State University.

On Wednesday, university officials announced that Mahoney, who is currently the provost and vice president of academic affairs at Cal State Los Angeles will take the helm of the 120-year old institution.  She will replace Dr. Les Wong who announced last year that he was retiring at the end of the academic school

Dr. Lynn MahoneyDr. Lynn Mahoney


Mahoney will become the first permanent female president in the school’s history.

“If my mother was here, she would be shocked and proud,” said Mahoney, 55, in a conference call with reporters. “It’s a deep honor to have that designation placed on me and hopefully, I’m one of many more.”

Prior to becoming provost at Cal State Los Angeles, Mahoney served for seven years at Cal State Long Beach where she oversaw institutional research and enrollment planning. She also held faculty and administrative roles at Purchase College in New York.

“San Francisco State is the city’s vibrant and diverse nexus for academic, culture and advocacy,” she said. “I look forward to working with faculty, staff, students, community members and campus administrators to ensure a welcome and inclusive environment for our students as is befitting of one of the most socially conscious cities in the country.”

Even still, there are challenges, she said—including the steep cost of housing in the Bay area—that makes housing insecurities very real for many SFSU students. And she said that she wants to make sure SFSU students graduate with a diploma in hand.

“One of my overriding passion is to see that college students graduate,” she said.

In this regard, Mahoney said that she plans to invest in wrap-around services and support advising efforts that not only help students graduate but that also enrich their college experience during the time that they’re on campus.

“Everything we do has to have equity, diversity, inclusion embedded in it,” she said. “It’s the DNA of everything we do.”

Mahoney has been widely praised for her work in enhancing student learning and improving retention and graduation rates.

A graduate of Stanford University, she earned a Ph.D. in history from Rutgers University.

“Throughout her career, Dr. Mahoney has been dedicated to student success and has made a profoundly positive impact on the lives of tens of thousands of students across the CSU,” said Rebecca Eisen, a CSU trustee and chair of the search committee. “She is the type of bold thinking leader who will continue to elevate SFSU.”

Jamal Watson can be reached at [email protected]. You can follow him on Twitter @jamalericwatson

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