As the University’s 13th President, Rios-Ellis Begins Tenure with a Commitment to Inclusive Excellence and Community Engagement
July 01, 2024

California State University, Stanislaus is pleased to welcome Britt Rios-Ellis, M.S., Ph.D., as the University’s 13th president, whose appointment begins today, July 1.  

A bilingual and bicultural education and community health leader with a focus on inclusive excellence and an unwavering belief in the transformative power of higher education, President Rios-Ellis brings more than 30 years of experience in higher education and a deep commitment to student success, diversity and community engagement. 

“I simply cannot express how excited and honored I am to be serving as Stanislaus State’s 13th president,” Rios-Ellis said. “I am thrilled about Stan State’s future and can’t wait to meet our phenomenal Warrior community.  We have been living in Modesto and exploring the Central Valley for just over a week now, and what has impressed me the most has been the consistent kindness of the Central Valley communities.  

“I look forward to engaging in English y en español with folks at our Turlock and Stockton campuses and across our six-county region. I can’t wait to hear more about the aspirations and dreams folks have for our great University and their respective communities. Building strong relationships and bolstering an inclusive, collaborative environment will be at the heart of my leadership.  I am looking forward to rolling up my sleeves and working hard for the betterment of Stan State and the region.” 

“Building strong relationships and bolstering an inclusive, collaborative environment will be at the heart of my leadership.  I am looking forward to rolling up my sleeves and working hard for the betterment of Stan State and the region.” 

- President Britt Rios-Ellis

President Rios-Ellis succeeds Interim President Susan Borrego and is excited to continue building on the strong foundation of academic excellence, innovation, community engagement and public service that defines Stanislaus State. Rios-Ellis’ work has consistently focused on advancing educational opportunities and support for underserved communities. 

In the upcoming year, Rios-Ellis will collaborate with alumni, faculty, staff, University leadership, community and industry partners to develop essential pipeline programs to strengthen the economy and serve the needs of the Central Valley. She envisions creating opportunities to enhance the University’s contributions to its surrounding communities, forge partnerships and educate and prepare the region’s workforce.  

“At Stan State, we transform futures, one student and one family at a time,” Rios-Ellis said. “With a focus on equity, my goal is to ensure that everyone who wants an education knows that they belong at Stan State.” 

Prior to her joining Stan State, Rios-Ellis served as the executive vice president of Academic Affairs and provost at Oakland University in Michigan. During her tenure, she focused her efforts on strengthening and restructuring academic affairs during the pandemic. She raised much-needed funds, helped spearhead essential programs, collaborated on innovative interprofessional initiatives and shepherded the purchase of a new building adjacent to a highly underserved community. She also led the effort that garnered Oakland a Carnegie classification as a community engaged campus. 

Her appointment at Stanislaus State marks her return to the California State University system where she previously held leadership roles at Cal State Monterey Bay and Cal State Long Beach. 

As the founding dean of Cal State Monterey Bay’s College of Health Sciences and Human Services, where she served from 2014 to 2020, she doubled and diversified the college’s tenure-track faculty and co-founded its Master of Science Physician Assistant program, the first of its kind within the 23-campus CSU system.  

Additionally, she launched two academic departments and spearheaded the Center for Community Health Engagement, a multipurpose, interprofessional space to optimize wellness for homeless populations. 

During her 20 years at Cal State Long Beach, where she served from 1994 to 2014, Rios-Ellis was a professor of health sciences and the founding director of the Center for Latino Community Health, Evaluation and Leadership Training and the community-based Centro Salud es Cultura, an applied research center. 

Rios-Ellis has led more than $59 million in student- and community-strengthening health- and education-related efforts funded by the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Education, the Office of Minority Health, USDA, National Institutes of Minority Health and Health Disparities and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, among others. 

She holds bachelor’s degrees in Spanish and political science, a Master of Science in Health and Fitness Management, a certificate in women’s studies and a doctorate in community health from the University of Oregon. Rios-Ellis completed Harvard University’s Institute for Management and Leadership in Education and the HERS Program for Women’s Leadership in Higher Education at Bryn Mawr. She also completed the Provost and Student Success Academies and the Millennial Leadership Academy of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. 

Her areas of funded research include Latinx HIV/AIDS, nutrition, maternal/child health, chronic disease and mental health, often incorporating and pairing promotores de salud models with student training in community-based participatory research and evaluation. 

President Rios-Ellis and her husband, musician and music educator Enrique Rios-Ellis, DMA, are the proud parents of three young adults: Xóchitl, Enrique and Itzél. 

Rios-Ellis and the University’s senior leadership team will kick off the fall semester and 2024-2025 academic year during Stan State’s annual Fall Welcome Address on Monday, Aug. 19, in Snider Recital Hall at the Turlock campus.