Office of the President

photo of Lisa Vollendorf

Lisa Vollendorf, Ph.D.

The sixth president of SUNY Empire

Lisa Vollendorf, Ph.D., became the sixth president of SUNY Empire on July 1, 2022. A tireless advocate for public higher education, she is deeply committed to access, equity, and inclusion.

President Vollendorf believes in the power of education to drive social mobility and transform lives. Prior to SUNY Empire, she worked for 16 years in the California State University system in academic roles that included professor, department chair, senate chair, dean, and provost. She has held faculty appointments at Miami University of Ohio; Wayne State University; California State University, Long Beach; San José State University; and Sonoma State University. She also directed the Hispanic Institute at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and served as interim provost at the University of Northern Colorado.

Vollendorf has published two monographs, six edited collections, and three dozen scholarly articles. Her research is on women’s cultural history in early modern Spain and colonial Latin America, with a special focus on literature, Inquisition studies, and convent history. She has numerous recognitions and awards, including the Josephine Roberts Award for Scholarly Edition and the Collaborative Research Award from the Society of the Study of Early Modern Women; the Florence Howe Award for Feminist Scholarship from the MLA Women’s Caucus; the Andrew W. Mellon Short-Term Fellowship from The Huntington Society; the Board of Governors Faculty Recognition Award and the Career Development Chair Research Award from Wayne State University; the Ahmanson-Getty Postdoctoral Fellowship from the UCLA Clark Memorial Library; and the Monticello College Foundation Fellowship from The Newberry Library.

In her quest to elevate student, faculty, and staff success, Vollendorf has received grants from various organizations, including the Koret Foundation, the Johnson Foundation, the Knight Foundation, the city of San José, and the DeVos Institute. These grants have supported first-generation student success, STEM initiatives for underrepresented students, and the integration of arts and technology for the public good.

President Vollendorf earned her B.A. in English and Spanish at Colorado State University, an M.A. in Spanish and Latin American Literatures, and a Ph.D. in Romance Languages at the University of Pennsylvania.

A fluent Spanish speaker, she has lived in Costa Rica and Spain. She is committed to serving the Hispanic community in her work and her personal life, and she has served as a volunteer interpreter and translator for the Sonoma County Medical Corps and the Venice Family Clinic. She is also an avid supporter of the arts and loves attending concerts, performances, and exhibits wherever she goes.

President Vollendorf enjoys public speaking, and has given dozens of talks on leadership, inclusive pedagogy, crisis management, and education and workforce alignment.

She grew up in Summit County, Colorado, where she developed a deep love and respect for the planet. She is a hiker, backpacker, and traveler who is always looking forward to the next adventure. You can follow her on Twitter @lisavol or write to her — in Spanish or English — at

Contact the Office of the President

Office of the President
518-587-2100, ext. 2260