Press Release

AAC&U Announces Appointment of Mary Ann Villarreal as Vice President Overseeing the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Student Success

Washington, DC—The American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) today announced the appointment of Mary Ann Villarreal as vice president overseeing the work of the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Student Success, effective August 28. In this role, she will focus on accelerating institutional transformation by advancing equity and student success efforts in service to undergraduate populations and academic excellence. Villarreal will succeed Tia Brown McNair, who will join the higher education consulting firm Sova as a partner and will also serve as senior consultant at AAC&U, focusing on aspects of the association’s Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation (TRHT) Campus Centers initiative and other projects.

“Mary Ann is a visionary leader who brings a wealth of experience to the role of vice president, overseeing diversity, equity, and student success initiatives at AAC&U,” said AAC&U President Lynn Pasquerella. “I am thrilled to welcome her to the leadership team and look forward to working alongside her to advance the association’s mission at this moment of enormity for higher education and our democracy.”

Villarreal comes to AAC&U from the University of Utah, where she was the inaugural vice president for equity, diversity, and inclusion, providing leadership and strategic oversight of equity and inclusion initiatives across the university’s academic and health sciences campuses. A member of the AAC&U Board of Directors from 2019 to 2024, she was board chair in 2023. Previously, Villarreal has served as associate vice president of strategic initiatives at California State University–Fullerton, as associate dean at Colorado Women’s College at the University of Denver, as assistant professor of history at the University of Colorado–Boulder, and as an instructor and assistant professor of history and ethnic studies at the University of Utah. She has authored multiple articles and book chapters, and her book Listening to Rosita: The Business of Tejana Music and Culture, 1930–1955, won the South Texas College Américo Paredes Book Award.

Building on the foundational work of McNair and the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Student Success, and in consultation with AAC&U institutional partners, Villarreal will focus on critical issues facing higher education today and cultivate opportunities across campuses to build organizational curiosity and practices for student success. Under her leadership, the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Student Success will advance continuous learning and understanding of how knowledge is created, communicated, and translated across different contexts; develop and support the use of the practical tools for making meaning and for moving individuals, groups, and organizations to address challenges and opportunities that surround them; and support the commitment of leaders to their own values.

“AAC&U won over my scholar and practitioner heart the first time I attended the annual meeting as a graduate student,” Villarreal said. “I am excited to be part of an incredible team committed to igniting and deepening the success of higher education institutions and their leaders in service to their diverse communities.”

About AAC&U

The American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) is a global membership organization dedicated to advancing the democratic purposes of higher education by promoting equity, innovation, and excellence in liberal education. Through our programs and events, publications and research, public advocacy, and campus-based projects, AAC&U serves as a catalyst and facilitator for innovations that improve educational quality and equity and that support the success of all students. In addition to accredited public and private, two-year and four-year colleges and universities, and state higher education systems and agencies throughout the United States, our membership includes degree-granting higher education institutions around the world as well as other organizations and individuals. To learn more, visit