Joyce E. McConnell named as finalist in search for next president of CSU

Editor’s note: On March 29, the Board of Governors formally hired Joyce McConnell as the 15th president for Colorado State University. Read more here.

photo of Joyce McConnell
Joyce E. McConnell, photo courtesy West Virginia University

Joyce McConnell, provost and vice president for academic affairs at West Virginia University, has been named as the finalist to become the 15th president of Colorado State University.

The Board of Governors of the CSU System made the announcement March 15 following a highly competitive five-month nationwide search. The search was guided by a Search Advisory Committee representing key stakeholder groups, including tenured and non-tenure-track faculty, students, alumni, administrative professional and state classified staff, the Board of Governors, community leaders, and more.

“Joyce McConnell has an extraordinary track record in higher education leadership and a deep appreciation for Colorado State University’s mission and character,” said Rico Munn, chair of the CSU System Board of Governors. “She has shown a unique ability to lead with vision while bringing diverse groups alongside in a common drive for excellence. We are grateful to the Search Advisory Committee for its work and for the input from our CSU community that played a critical role in identifying Provost McConnell as finalist for consideration as the next president of CSU.”

In her role as provost and chief academic officer, McConnell also was charged to oversee university budgets; build partnerships with political, governmental, business and nonprofit leaders at the state, national, and international levels; and play a lead role in fundraising. She led efforts to improve gender equity and Title IX education and compliance, engaged in higher-education policy work with the Board and state leaders, focused on raising faculty salaries, promoted excellence in research and graduate education, and played a key role in promoting diversity and inclusion at all levels of the university. McConnell’s track record also includes tenure as dean of the College of Law at WVU, during which she spearheaded major fundraising and academic initiatives.

She is a graduate of Evergreen State College and Antioch School of Law and was a graduate teaching fellow at Georgetown University Law School. She earlier served as a faculty member and associate dean at WVU, faculty member at City University of New York School of Law, and visiting professor at University of Maryland School of Law. Her curriculum vitae is available here.

“I am extremely grateful to be considered for the opportunity to lead Colorado State University and look forward to being a part of one of this nation’s premier flagship, land-grant, research universities,” McConnell said. “At a time when some are questioning the value of higher education, Colorado State provides the perfect response to those who would diminish that value. Grounded in the land-grant missions of education, research and outreach, Colorado State is helping to improve people’s lives in the state, nation and world. For almost 150 years, Colorado State has led the way toward creating the talent and research essential to Colorado’s prosperity. I am excited to bring my passion for these missions to Fort Collins and help continue the thriving spirit that created this university and is still evident today.”

In accordance with Colorado law, there is a mandatory 14-day notice and waiting period following the announcement of a finalist before the Board of Governors can enter into an employment agreement.

CSU’s next president will assume leadership on July 1 when current president Tony Frank begins serving exclusively as chancellor of the CSU System. President Frank is in his 11th year as CSU president and will have served five years in the dual role of both president and chancellor.

The new president will step in as CSU approaches its 150th anniversary and at a time when the university has seen a decade of record levels of enrollment, donor and alumni support, and research funding, along with the dramatic transformation of campus, physically and in terms of state and national reputation.

The 16-member Presidential Search Advisory Committee began the nationwide search in October 2018. The Board of Governors also enlisted Parker Executive Search to assist with the effort, drawing on the firm’s experience conducting more than 2,000 national and international senior-level searches over the past 30 years for leading organizations in a variety of industries including higher education. The university also created a robust informational website in support of the presidential search.

The search advisory committee was chaired by Nancy Tuor, BOG vice chair and former President – Federal Client Group, CH2M HILL. After gathering input from the campus and community in a variety of ways, including nine public input forums, the committee worked with the search firm to develop a candidate profile and job description. Following recruitment of a deep and diverse pool of potential candidates, the committee considered and interviewed applicants, and then recommended qualified candidates for consideration by the Board of Governors, which is the hiring authority.

“My heartfelt thanks to the members of our search committee who brought their extraordinary passion for CSU to the process of finding our university’s next president,” said Tuor. “This group represented the vast variety of interests in the CSU and broader communities, and we were astounded by the quality of candidates who were attracted by CSU’s national leadership in education and research and the powerful momentum and trajectory the next president will have the opportunity to build upon. We were thrilled to be able to give the Board outstanding leaders to consider.”