Britt Rios-Ellis

Britt Rios-Ellis, M.S., Ph.D., serves as the 13th president of California State University, Stanislaus. A bilingual and bicultural educational and community health leader with a focus on academic and inclusive excellence and an unwavering belief in the transformative power of higher education, in which she has more than 30 years of experience and a deep commitment to student success, diversity and community engagement. 

She most recently served as executive vice president of Academic Affairs and provost at Oakland University in Michigan from 2021 to 2024, where she focused her efforts on strengthening and restructuring academic affairs during the pandemic. During her tenure Rios-Ellis also raised much-needed funds, helped spearhead much needed 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 the 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 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 underrepresented minority 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, shepherded the Master of Public Health and led the Center for Community Health Engagement, a multipurpose, interprofessional space to optimize wellness for homeless populations. 

From 1994 to 2014, Rios-Ellis was a professor of health sciences at Cal State Long Beach 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 strengthened by community outreach and programming. In 2013, she was named Outstanding Professor. 

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, U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Institutes of Minority Health and Health Disparities and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), among others. 

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. 

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’s Institute for Management and Leadership in Education and the HERS (Higher Education Resource Services) 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. 

She is the recipient of the Henry Montes Presidential Award from the American Public Health Association’s Latino Caucus, two Woman of the Year accolades and the Sol Award from the Los Angeles County Office of AIDS Policy. Rios-Ellis was a commissioned member of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Health Resources and Services Administration Advisory Committee on HIV, Hepatitis and STD Prevention/Treatment, the SAMHSA Advisory Committee for Women’s Services and President Obama’s Advisory Commission for HIV/AIDS Disclosure Work Group. She has appeared on Spanish and English-language television for Telemundo, Univisión, CNN and ABC World News.  

Rios-Ellis is married to musician and music educator Dr. Enrique Rios-Ellis and is the proud mother of Xóchitl, Enrique and Itzél, three budding artists who inspire her every day.

Updated: July 01, 2024