The STAR Scholars Leadership Series is designed for scholars who are interested in potentially transitioning into leadership roles within the academy. Oftentimes, academics and practitioners take on leadership positions (i.e., department chair, dean, provost, president, etc.) and there is always something they wish they knew to better prepare them for the transition. Dr. Mary J. McConner interviews institutional leaders at different academic organizations – both nationally and internationally – to gain insight on their professional journeys so that they can be used as a resource for those wanting to transition into leadership positions. 

Meet the Host

Mary J. McConner, Ph.D., CDE, Director/Host, STAR Scholars Leadership Series

Dr. Mary J. McConner is a higher education scholar-practitioner; 2021-2022 American Council on Education (ACE) Fellow; diversity, equity, and inclusion strategist; and founder of Inclusive Excellence Consulting, LLC. She has dedicated much of her professional career to understanding the evolving challenges impacting different organizational cultures and how to best foster environments committed to inclusive excellence. It is servant leadership and her commitment to transforming community through education, collaboration, and inclusion that motivates Mary most.

Dr. McConner is an administrator and scholar who has worked at public research universities, land grant universities, and a private religious-affiliated postsecondary institution. Her previous roles include serving as vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion (chief diversity officer), chief of staff to the president, multicultural student services director, social justice committee leader, student affairs practitioner, international education advisor, and instructor. Furthermore, Mary is an executive board fundraising chair and board member for multiple professional and nonprofit organizations.

Mary’s professional affiliations include active memberships with the Society for Diversity, National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education (NADOHE), Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), and Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA). Additionally, she serves on the Board of Directors for the  NASPA Center for Women and Grand Valley State University Alumni Association.

She can be reached at

Program Support Scholar: Dr. Arundhati Bhattacharya