President Mary B. Marcy's Biography

Throughout her 27-year career in higher education leadership, Mary B. Marcy has developed major education reform and diversification initiatives, supported the advancement of faculty and students, introduced innovative programming, and enhanced the reputation and reach of the institutions she has served.

Marcy began her tenure in 2011 as the ninth president of Dominican University of California. Guided by her leadership, Dominican has gained national attention for a transformation that is rooted in creative programs, innovative partnerships, and a commitment to supporting students through a comprehensive framework for student learning and success.

As an early initiative of her presidency, Marcy began developing The Dominican Experience, a research-based and market-driven engaged learning framework for the success of every Dominican student. Throughout their undergraduate careers, students work with an integrative coach and a network of mentors; engage with the community through service-learning, internships, fieldwork, and community based research; complete a signature work; and draft a digital portfolio that assists in the transition to career or graduate school.

The Dominican Experience has led to dramatic increases in both graduation and retention rates at a time when the percentage of Dominican students identifying as ethnically diverse has increased by nearly 30 percent.

Another key area of focus has been advancing partnerships that will develop new opportunities and programs while maintaining fidelity to mission and strategic vision. Dominican is leading a first-of-its kind incubation partnership with San Francisco-based computer science academy Make School. This is a new national model for collaboration between nonprofit higher education and the private sector to position students for success in the 21st century.  

Recently, Marcy was invited by the State of California’s Chief Service Officer to lead an effort to develop an innovative statewide program designed to help students pay for college through public service. The pilot California AmeriCorps Service Fellowship is due to launch in fall 2020 with a coalition of public and independent universities led by Dominican.

Marcy has presented and published extensively on the ways in which small private colleges are adapting to the rapidly changing higher education landscape. She is regularly quoted in the media related to her research and initiatives, including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Times Higher EducationThe San Francisco ChronicleNPR, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and Inside Higher Education.

In 2018, Marcy was invited to serve as a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education. At Harvard, Marcy shared Dominican’s transformation with both faculty and students, expanded her research on the future of small colleges, and further developed a book manuscript based on her 2017 Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning article. President Marcy’s book, The Small College Imperative, will be released by Stylus Publishing in early 2020.

Marcy was an Arthur Vining Davis Fellow at the Aspen Ideas Festival. She has served on the Council of Independent Colleges Board of Directors and Executive Committee, and on the Steering Committee of CIC’s Project on the Future of Independent Higher Education. She also is a member of the Board of Governors of the Commonwealth Club of California, the Presidents’ Trust of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, and the Executive Committee of the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities.

Prior to joining Dominican, Marcy served as Provost of Bard College at Simon’s Rock and Vice President at Bard College from 2004 until 2011. Previous to her leadership at Bard, she worked in both public and private institutions of higher education. Her experience includes leading a national grant-funded Project on the Future of Higher Education through Antioch University, and serving as the lead researcher and policy advisor to the President of Western Washington University. Marcy was appointed by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick to serve as a commissioner on the Commonwealth’s Public Education Nominating Council.

Born and raised in western Nebraska, Marcy received her Bachelor of Arts with honors from the University of Nebraska. She earned her doctorate and master's degrees in politics from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. View selected speeches and writings.