Graduate Dean Mary Stromberger announces departure from CSU

Mary Stromberger
Mary Stromberger

After 20 years at Colorado State University, Mary Stromberger has accepted a position as vice provost and dean for graduate education at Ohio State University.

Stromberger, who will depart CSU on July 1 and step into her new position on Aug. 1, joined CSU in 2001 and currently serves as the vice provost and dean of the CSU Graduate School. Throughout her time as a Ram, Stromberger held many leadership positions, advocated for graduate students and postdoctoral scholars, prioritized graduate student well-being, and enhanced graduate student professional development programming.

“This is a remarkable career achievement for Mary and speaks to her expertise and leadership in graduate student affairs,” said Provost and Executive Vice Provost Mary Pedersen. “We are sad to see her leave and know she will carry forward her work at Ohio State and do great things for students there just as she has done here.”

“It has been an extraordinary privilege to have educated and served CSU’s students for the past 20 years. Our graduate students are incredibly talented and hard-working. They ensure the success of CSU’s scholarly, teaching, and service missions, and I am so proud of them,” said Stromberger

Leaving a mentorship legacy

Stromberger pictured with founding members of Graduate Center of Inclusive Mentoring faculty.

Stromberger with the founding members of the Graduate Center of Inclusive Mentoring.

Stromberger supports the CSU community in all aspects of graduate and postdoctoral education, scholarship, research, teaching, well-being and professional development.

Upon accepting her first leadership position at the Graduate School, Stromberger immediately worked to further build a welcoming and supportive graduate community for students, staff and faculty. Drawing from her experiences as a first-generation graduate, Stromberger embodies and continues the land-grant mission of making higher education accessible to everyone. Her commitment to inclusive practices and student-centered approach permeates all aspects of her leadership.

During her time as dean, Stromberger prioritized the development of sustained mentoring efforts to build a robust mentoring community. She established CSU’s Graduate Center for Inclusive Mentoring with structured mentor training for CSU faculty through intensive initiatives such as the Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences certification program. GCIM centers inclusive excellence in mentor-mentee relationships with the future benefit of cultivating a lifelong dedication to mentoring excellence.

“Mentor-mentee relationships are a crucial and defining factor in graduate student success. GCIM imparts important mentoring benefits to future graduate students, postdoctorates and junior faculty,” said Stromberger. I know I am leaving GCIM in good hands and the leadership team will continue to build an exceptional mentoring community.”

Advocating for graduate student success and inspiring faculty and staff

Stromberger toasting graduate program coordinators for their efforts to support students in April.

In taking a collaborative approach to graduate student advocacy, Stromberger has garnered additional recognition for graduate student contributions and furthered advocacy efforts.

Stromberger’s mentors and colleagues recognize and appreciate her ability to build strong partnerships that spur purposeful action. With humor, kindness and transparency, she inspired the Graduate School to streamline processes, make policy updates and empowered her team as they support students to degree completion.

Stromberger relishes her work helping students of all identities solve problems and constantly works to remove barriers to success. As a mentor, she instills the values of lifelong learning and well-being.

“Mary has been an outstanding and innovative leader for graduate students at CSU and a dedicated educator. She has taken the Graduate School in new directions and increased collaborations across our campus to enhance teaching and research opportunities, mentorships, and programs for graduate education,” said Pedersen. “Mary has been tremendously impactful especially at a time of great disruption in higher education due to the pandemic. We have benefitted from her strategic leadership and passion for this institution, and I am deeply grateful for her service.”

Transformation with innovative approach to graduate student success

Colleen Webb, associate dean; Kristina Quynn, assistant dean; and Mary Stromberger, dean celebrating the Class of 2022 following the Graduate School Commencement ceremony on May 13.

Colleen Webb (left), associate dean, Kristina Quynn, assistant dean, and Dean Stromberger celebrating the Class of 2022 following the Graduate School Commencement ceremony on May 13.

Under Stromberger’s leadership, the Graduate School further invested in innovative personal and professional development opportunities.

Stromberger commissioned the most recent CSU Graduate Student Experience Survey and gathered input from the CSU Graduate Education Council, Graduate Student Council, GCIM and graduate faculty to enhance and expand initiatives for students in all disciplines.

As are result, she created a leadership structure at the Graduate School and partnerships to move forward initiatives, including CSU Writes programming, the spring and fall Graduate Professional Development Series, Inclusive Pedagogy Training, the Mentor Mondays series and the multi-university supported GradCO professional development series.

As part of her approach, the Graduate School also further engaged and encouraged student groups to lead peer professional development and advocacy.

“Dean Stromberger has been a tremendous advocate for graduate students at CSU. The Graduate Student Council is grateful for her leadership,” said Lindsay Winkenbach, Graduate Student Council co-president. The GSC plans to continue to grow offerings and advocacy efforts.

Graduate Student Council Co-president Juli Scamardo: “I feel immensely lucky that I have been able to work with and learn from Mary Stromberger via the Graduate Student Council over the past two years. She has been an incredible advocate for graduate students and graduate needs on campus, and her efforts will continue to have a positive impact on the graduate experience at CSU in the years to come.”

To build awareness of graduate student contributions and talent in the campus community and with external constituents, including business leaders and policy makers, Stromberger leveraged the annual Graduate Student Showcase.

2018 Graduate Student Showcase At Colorado State University

Stromberger at past Graduate Student Showcases.

The conference provides a high-energy interdisciplinary environment for students to build connections across the University and helps students further develop the ability to communicate their work with broad audiences.

“At each GradShow, I’ve been extremely impressed by the caliber of work demonstrated by our students and this event is a favorite way for me to celebrate the exceptional graduate community,” said Stromberger.

This showcase helps students excel in communicating their work, build conference experience, and gives top presenters the opportunity to move on to other competitions where they represent their programs.

During the pandemic, Stromberger pivoted quickly to support graduate assistants, developed a wide variety of innovative virtual offerings and worked tirelessly to reduce barriers for students.

Career and awards

Stromberger having fun at the May 13 Graduate School Commencement.

Stromberger joined CSU in 2001 as a faculty member of the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences. She served as Faculty Council chair from 2014-2017. She became dean of the Graduate School in 2019 after first coming to the Graduate School as the associate dean. She is currently a board member for the Western Association of Graduate Schools.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and microbiology at West Chester University, her master’s degree in soil science at the University of Delaware, and her Ph.D. in soil science at Oregon State University.

Stromberger’s research in soil health and soil ecosystem services is internationally recognized and she is the author of more than 40 peer-reviewed journal articles. She is a Fulbright Scholar and holds multiple teaching awards.

At Ohio State, Stromberger will lead the Graduate School, which supports more than 11,000 students enrolled in master’s and doctoral programs. She looks forward to the new challenge, the opportunity to further advance graduate education, and to the opportunities the move presents for her family.

“As I take this next step in my career, I am thankful for my Ramily at CSU and for the talented faculty and staff who make CSU so special, ” Stromberger said. “I am so proud of our amazing students and for the opportunity to be part of their journey.”

Graduate School dean search

A national search will be launched to attract top candidates for a dean and vice provost for the Graduate School. An interim dean will be announced in the coming days.