Office of the President
President Vanya Quiñones, PhD
Vanya Quiñones, PhD, was appointed by the California State University Board of Trustees to serve as the fourth president of California State University, Monterey Bay. She began her term on Aug. 15, 2022, and is focusing on student success in graduation and beyond, making the campus a cultural hub for the region, championing diversity and inclusion, and positioning CSUMB to be a model in public higher education.
She is also a neurobiologist, biopsychologist and noted researcher who has published more than 70 peer-reviewed papers. She’s accumulated a 30-plus-year career working in scientific research, academic administration, program- and research-focused fundraising, student success, and diversity in the arts and sciences.
Vanya Quiñones was born in the small beach town of Arecibo in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, and grew up in the country’s capital city of San Juan.
She went on to earn a bachelor of science degree in biology and a master of science degree in cell biology from the University of Puerto Rico, and a doctorate in neurobiology and physiology from Rutgers University.
She went to work at New York's Rockefeller University as an postdoctoral associate and later a research associate, and in 1997 became an adjunct research faculty member and guest scientist in its Laboratory of the Biology of Addictive Diseases. From 2005 to 2008 she served as the program head of the Graduate Center’s Biopsychology and Neuroscience Doctoral Graduate sub-Program in New York.
She was one of a handful of research pioneers that described gender differences in the brain, and helped change the course of future research in that area.
She worked for 21 years at the City University of New York (CUNY) - Hunter College, where she served as an assistant, associate, and full professor in the Department of Psychology before being appointed to serve as the chair of the department. She was later promoted to the role of associate provost for Student Success and Retention.
At CUNY she brought in more than $25 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health, private foundations, and the Department of Education, much of which was dedicated to supporting the work of underrepresented minorities.
She served as provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs at Pace University in New York, starting in July 2018. She had oversight of all academic and student-related academic offices and personnel as well as Information Technology. She also held the rank of full professor in the Department of Psychology.
President Quiñones is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, New York Academy of Sciences, Sigma Xi, and the Society for Neuroscience. Her academic and professional honors include Outstanding Undergraduate Mentors in the Sciences at Hunter College and multiple CUNY Faculty Scholar Awards, and she has directed research and student training programs including the Mellon Art Program and the PI McNair Program at Hunter College.
She enjoys hiking, running, and lifting weights, describes herself as a soccer fan, and devotes time to volunteering with homeless populations and serves on the board of a homeless shelter.
She tries to lead with gratitude, and subscribes to a South African proverb that approximately translates to: "I am because we are."