Meet the Dean of Students

Kathleen McMahon

Dr. Kathleen N. McMahon joined Cal Poly in February 2016 and currently serves as Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students. As dean of students, she serves as the point of contact for student crisis intervention and is responsible for leading programs and services that directly support the success and wellbeing of Cal Poly students. 

Dr. McMahon oversees all programs and services within the Office of the Dean of Students, which promotes student development and leadership; enhances student success and retention; and facilitates a respectful, diverse and inclusive campus. These programs and services include the Center for Leadership; Center for Service in Action; Clubs and Organizations; Commencement; Fraternity and Sorority Life; Gender Equity Center; Men and Masculinity Program; MultiCultural Center; Parent and Family Programs; Pride Center; Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities; Office of Student Support, Success and Retention; and Veterans Success Center.

In her role as dean of students, Dr. McMahon is intimately involved in campus climate concerns and student safety. She oversees the Students of Concern Team and co-chairs both the Bias Incident Response Team and Substance Use and Abuse Advisory Council.

Throughout her tenure, Dr. McMahon has strived to center the student experience into all areas of her work. These efforts helped facilitate the creation of the 2018-2021 Dean of Students Strategic Plan, which focuses on promoting student success through engagement and inclusion and integrating social justice work into each functional area within the Office of the Dean of Students.

Dr. McMahon’s career has included a wide range of administrative and academic experience. 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.

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. She lives in Arroyo Grande with her husband, Thom, and two children, Grayson and Bayley. Dr. McMahon can regularly be seen on campus during weekends, attending student events, or hiking Poly Canyon with her German Shephard Oliver.  She has open office hours Wednesdays from 4-5 p.m. at her office in Hillcrest (Bldg. 81) and enjoys hearing from students about their experiences at Cal Poly.

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