Biography

As the first woman president in CSU’s long history, Joyce McConnell is proud to lead one of our nation’s best land-grant universities, with exceeded $400M in funded research in 2021, in partnership with one of the most diverse leadership teams in the nation. She is also proud to lead the faculty, staff, and students of CSU who have worked tirelessly together to sustain the university’s successful in-person operations beginning with the 2020-2021 academic year and continuing today.

When COVID hit in March 2020, McConnell led CSU through a rapid, successful transition to virtual learning and operations and through a proactive budget response to the pandemic that saw strategic cuts to university operations but no layoffs or furloughs for any faculty or staff.

McConnell is currently leading the Courageous, Strategic Transformation of CSU, which envisions a “Green and Gold” future in which the green represents a thriving planet and the gold a flourishing humanity. The collaboratively created plan is grounded in CSU’s commitment to equity, sustainability, student success, and our land-grant dedication to our state.

Colorado State is consistently recognized by the Princeton Review, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, Sierra magazine, and others as one of the most sustainable universities in the country. Embodying this commitment, McConnell currently co-chairs the External Advisory Board of the Salazar Center for North American Conservation and was an invited speaker representing higher education at the launch of the US Department of Energy’s Better Climate Challenge, of which CSU is an inaugural partner entity.

McConnell also embodies her commitment to international, immigrant, DACA, and undocumented students as a member of the steering committee of the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration. She is a member of the Presidents’ Advisory Council for EAB and has been a keynote speaker for national organizations and conferences including the Association of Governing Boards, the American Association of University Women, the International Council of Small Businesses, the Academic Management Institute of Colorado, and the Colorado Ag Leadership Program.

A longtime advocate for gender equity in education and the workplace, McConnell has also written about the need to address COVID-related workplace issues for women. She established Human Resources as a vice presidential unit at Colorado State in 2021 and empowered that team to prioritize employee wellness and work-life balance post-COVID.

Prior to stepping into the presidency at CSU, McConnell spent more than 20 years at another flagship, R1 land grant institution, West Virginia University. She joined the faculty of the WVU College of Law in 1995 and held progressive leadership positions thereafter. She was appointed dean of the College in 2008 and fundraised for a $36 million renovation and expansion of the College building. She also expanded the College’s interdisciplinary opportunities and implemented state-of-the-art experiential and clinical programs and facilities.

McConnell was named provost of West Virginia University by President Gordon Gee in 2014. In this role, she galvanized innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship with the creation of the university wide WVU Idea Hub, the WVU Humanities Center, and the West Virginia Public Education Collaborative. She promoted interdisciplinary and collaborative research and teaching by fostering the expansion of WVU’s Energy Institute, ADVANCE Center, and Center for Excellence in STEM Education. And she created the university’s LGBTQ+ Center and focused the campus on the success of all students.

During a period of significant transition for West Virginia University, economic crisis in the state of West Virginia, soul-searching across higher education and political and cultural upheaval for our nation, McConnell publicly committed to the principles that guide her leadership. She led WVU to completely rethink their approach to Title IX, with the result that the university is now a national leader in proactive Title IX initiatives on campus. And she consistently spoke to and for the faculty of WVU on such thorny and critical topics as free speech and diversity.

McConnell is a past President of three sections of the Associations of American Law Schools: the sections on the Dean, on natural resources and energy law, and on women in legal education. She has served on the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I Committee on Infractions and as a member of the Board of Governors for Antero Resources. From 2016-2019, McConnell also chaired the Board of Trustees for the Nature Conservancy in West Virginia, embodying her long-standing commitment to the TNC mission of creating a world where people and nature can thrive.

McConnell earned an undergraduate degree from Evergreen State College, a law degree from Antioch School of Law, and a Master of Laws from Georgetown University Law Center.

Married for more than four decades to fellow lawyer Vince Trivelli, her best friend and “partner in adventure,” McConnell savors a variety of adventures in her down time, from visiting daughter Alexandra in New York City to reading, cooking, hiking, and listening to music. She finds both inspiration and relaxation in natural beauty and loves “exploring all of this beautiful mountain state. I consider all of Colorado CSU’s campus and I want to learn it by heart.”

Biografía en español

President Joyce McConnell in her office on the Colorado State University campus
Joyce McConnell is the 15th President at Colorado State University and the first woman to serve in this role.
Joyce McConnell block party with students
Students gather to meet President McConnell at a block party on the night of her inauguration November 2019. Photo credit: Joe A. Mendoza / CSU Photography
Inauguration block party
Students and President McConnell celebrate her inauguration at a block party, held at the Corbett Hall courtyard, lobby and The Foundry Dining Center. (November 2019)

Getting to know President Joyce McConnell