(Vallejo, California – June 11, 2020) – Dr. Kathleen McMahon has been appointed vice president for student affairs and cadet development. The announcement was made today by Cal Maritime president Tom Cropper following an extensive national search.

Dr. McMahon currently serves as the senior associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. She will assume her new role at Cal Maritime on August 8, 2020.

“In addition to her extensive student affairs background, Dr. McMahon also brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in student leadership development,” said President Cropper. “These combined skillsets make her the ideal campus leader to further advance the unique Cal Maritime cadet development experience.”

Dr. Kathleen N. McMahon joined Cal Poly in 2016. As senior associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students, she was responsible for leading programs and services that directly support the success and wellbeing of Cal Poly students. This included promoting student development and leadership; enhancing student success and retention; strategic plan development; and facilitating a respectful, diverse and inclusive campus. Prior to joining Cal Poly, she served as the associate vice president for student life and Title IX coordinator at Roger Williams University. She also served as associate dean of students at UCLA for seven years and was one of two founding leaders of the Bruin Leaders Project, based on the Social Change Model of Leadership Development.

As vice president for student affairs and cadet development, Dr. McMahon will lead a solid team of student affairs and healthcare professionals for a program which is continually ranked as one of the best public colleges in the western region and in the top third among all regional colleges by U.S. News and World Report. The U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard ranks Cal Maritime first among public California universities for graduate earnings 10 years after enrollment. The Academy is also one of only 15 four-year colleges in the U.S. that received a perfect score for “value added” to student outcomes in a recent study by the Brookings Institute.

Dr. McMahon earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of New Hampshire, master’s in clinical social work from Boston College, and doctorate in Educational Leadership from UCLA.



Established in 1929, California State University Maritime Academy is the only degree-granting maritime academy on the West Coast. Located in Vallejo, California, the campus serves nearly 1,000 students and offers undergraduate degrees preparing students for careers in engineering, transportation, international relations, business, and global logistics. The new oceanography degree program launched in the fall of 2020. Cal Maritime also offers a master’s degree in Transportation and Engineering Management, as well as a number of extended learning programs and courses.