Mary Cullinan's Biography

Our President


Picture: Mary Cullinan leaning against a pillar

Since 2014, Dr. Mary Cullinan has served as the 26th president, and the first female president, of Eastern Washington University. Prior to coming to Washington, she served for eight years as president of Southern Oregon University and for three years as provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas. From 1981 until 2003, Dr. Cullinan served in faculty and administrative positions at California State University, Hayward (now CSU East Bay) and California State University, Stanislaus.

Throughout her career in public higher education, Dr. Cullinan has focused on increasing access for diverse students and helping them be successful during and after college. She has facilitated collaboration with K-12 schools and community colleges as well as with local businesses and organizations, and she has developed and led campus teams to strengthen academic advising, implement mentoring and design innovative curricula.

Committed to ensuring that EWU truly meets the changing needs of students and the communities served by the university, Dr. Cullinan is guiding EWU through planning processes that highlight academic excellence, equity and social justice, and environmental and economic sustainability.

Dr. Cullinan currently serves on the Board of Directors of Washington Campus Compact, the University District, Greater Spokane Incorporated, and the Washington State Institute for Public Policy. She has chaired the Big Sky Conference presidents’ group as well as the Council of Presidents for Washington’s public universities.

Dr. Cullinan received her BA magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania and her MA and PhD in English literature from the University of Wisconsin. She is the author of books on business communication and a biography of Scottish author Susan Ferrier. She co-edited an anthology, American Women Writers: Diverse Voices in Prose Since 1845.

Professional Activities


  • American Association of State Colleges and Universities, Board of Directors (2013-2015, 2016-2017); member (2003-present )
  • Washington State Council of Presidents, chair (2015-16), member (2014-present)
  • Washington State Institute for Public Policy, Board of Directors (2017-present)
  • Big Sky Conference Council of Presidents, chair (2016-17), member (2014-present)
  • Greater Spokane Incorporated, Board of Directors (2014-present )
  • Spokane Area Workforce Development Council
  • Spokane STEM, co-chair (2015-2016 )
  • Spokane Rotary 21, member (2014-present )
  • National Society of Collegiate Scholars, University of Pennsylvania (2010-present)
  • Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society (1999-present)
  • University District Board
  • Washington Campus Compact
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges and Middle States Commission on Higher Education, chair of visiting accreditation teams (2010, 2012)
  • Vision 2030 Executive Committee (2017-present)
Picture: Mary Cullinan giving a speech