María Pabón Gautier has served as vice president for equity and inclusion since 2021. She leads the college’s efforts to continue to expand the rich diversity of its community, and to ensure that students, faculty, and staff of all identities belong, thrive, and know that they matter. She develops and implements strategic initiatives to strengthen individual and community capacity for equity, inclusion, and anti-racism; chairs the college’s Bias Response Team and the Council on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; and works to inform, educate, inspire, and engage the St. Olaf community.
María joined the college in 2019 as the inaugural director of the Glenn and Myretta Taylor Center for Equity and Inclusion, having served previously on the faculties of St. Catherine University and the University of Minnesota, where her teaching and scholarship focused on ethnic identity, microaggressions, anti-bias education, and social justice. She also brought more than 15 years of experience in research, evaluation, and assessment in nonprofit, higher education, government and K-12 settings.
During her initial appointment as Taylor Center Director, María developed a variety of programs exploring identity and intersectionality and cultivating student leadership, and strengthened collaboration with campus partners to support the enrollment and persistence of underrepresented students. She also redesigned the Center’s physical space to provide increased support for student engagement, organization, and programming. Since her appointment as vice president for equity and inclusion, María has partnered with two other members of the President’s Leadership Team to lead the 18-month Co-Creating an Inclusive Community Initiative, bringing students, faculty, staff, and leadership together to make St. Olaf a place where everyone, regardless of identity, experiences a sense of belonging, connection, and agency.
María completed a B.S. at the University of Puerto Rico and a Ph.D. in educational psychology at the University of Minnesota.