California State University, Stanislaus will dedicate its iconic Reflecting Pond to Dr. Marvalene Hughes, president emerita of Stanislaus State, at 6 p.m. September 29. The event will include remarks by University President Ellen Junn and a poem written for the event by American poet Nikki Giovanni.
Dr. Hughes was the University’s eighth and longest-serving president, the first female and only African-American to lead the campus. During her tenure, 1994-2005, enrollment doubled to more than 7,800, and the University’s Stockton Center moved to its permanent home at University Park. The Turlock campus added $135 million in new buildings and facilities, including the four scenic lakes that, with the Reflecting Pond, make up the 12 million-gallon landscape water management system.
The Dr. Marvalene Hughes University Reflecting Pond has welcomed visitors to the center of campus for more than half a century, offering a tranquil drink for migrating geese, providing flood control in rain, water recycling in drought and, more recently, climate control for campus buildings.
After leaving Stan State, Dr. Hughes went to Dillard University in New Orleans, arriving in 2005 only weeks before Hurricane Katrina devastated the campus. Through fundraising and advocacy efforts, she was able to rebuild and expand the campus.
She has served on the boards and panels of national organizations, including the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Accrediting Commission, the American Council on Education (ACE), and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU). She joined with President Bill Clinton and Vice President Gore to inaugurate the federal initiative High Hopes for College for America’s Youth. Hughes co-founded and led the Millennium Leadership Institute, now a part of the AASCU.
“The theme of this dedication, ‘Reflecting on Leadership,’ aptly describes what so many of us in higher education do when we think of Marvalene Hughes,” said Mildred García, president of California State University, Fullerton. “As a co-founder of AASCU’s Millennium Leadership Institute (MLI), she was instrumental in mentoring countless higher education leaders who were, and continue to be, underrepresented in these roles. I am one of those leaders, and every time I ‘reflect on leadership,’ I think of my time in Dr. Hughes inaugural MLI class and the incredible impact she had on me and so many others who aspired to follow in her footsteps.”
Dr. Hughes retired in 2011, but has remained active, including helping organize research conferences at her alma mater, Florida State University, where she received her Ph.D. in counseling and administration.