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DelVal inaugurates its first female president, Dr. Maria Gallo

Dr. Maria Gallo, the new president of Delaware Valley University, delivers her inauguration speech.

Apr 07, 2017

Dr. Maria Gallo officially became the first female president in Delaware Valley University's 121-year history on Thursday, April 6. 

"Sometimes you know when the right person for a situation has walked through the door and we knew," said Betsy Gemmill, a DelVal trustee and chair of the search committee. "Maria's energy and enthusiasm and her spirit just captivated us. Her scholarly achievements and her vision as an educator inspired us, her personal approach and character resonated with us in the context of the University's core values. We found the right person and today we celebrate her and the University." 

"This is a special day in the life of Delaware Valley University and a special day in my life," said Dr. Gallo. "It's an honor and a privilege to be inaugurated as DelVal's  thirteenth president as well as to be the first woman to hold this office in its 121-year history."

Dr. Maria Gallo with the platform party on stage

Credit: Delaware Valley University. Past presidents, staff, faculty, trustees, donors, mentors, alumni and delegates from other institutions watch Dr. Gallo speak at Inauguration. 

She said she was drawn to DelVal because it is a school with "a proud past and a promising future."

"DelVal is a school where the number one priority is teaching and learning, a school where students never feel like a number because DelVal's faculty is personally invested in the success of each student," said Dr. Gallo. "Experiential learning has been part of DelVal from the beginning and today, this great school is a leader in combining academic excellence with career preparation."

She said that higher education is preparing students to take on challenges that will shape the future such as: climate change, sustainable food and energy production, environmental stewardship, economic equity and peaceful resolution of conflict.

"Higher education can and will save the world not in a blinding flash, but one student at a time," said Dr. Gallo. "At this moment, DelVal graduates are doing their part to save the world by working as scientists at agencies like NASA and the NIH, as teachers, mental health counselors, business executives and so much more. More importantly, we are producing young people capable of independent and critical thought who are ready to be civically engaged and determined to close the ever widening economic and social gaps that divide our society. That is how DelVal graduates will contribute to making our world a much better place and I am humbled to play a role in that effort as the president of Delaware Valley University." 

Dr. Gallo brings a wealth of higher education leadership experience to the position. Her career has included more than 20 years in higher education. As dean of the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, she served close to 1,000 students in nine bachelor’s, nine master’s and six doctoral programs. Dr. Gallo headed the College’s faculty, administration and staff and managed fiscal operations, facilities, enrollment, fundraising, technology, communications, marketing, international programs, and alumni and community relations. As dean, she led the development and implementation of the College’s strategic plan. The implementation of the plan resulted in: student enrollment being maintained at 50 percent above 2009 levels, a nearly 25 percent increase in the number of degrees awarded, a record-breaking number of graduates in spring 2015, and an all-time high for fundraising in 2014. During Dr. Gallo’s tenure, there were also significant increases in student and faculty diversity.

Prior to joining CTAHR, Dr. Gallo chaired the University of Florida’s agronomy department. During her career, she also taught and conducted research at the University of Florida and was on the faculty at the University of Minnesota. She has extensive experience in teaching and research, authoring 80 journal publications. She also is a Fulbright Scholar who conducted teaching and research at Utrecht University in the Netherlands.

Dr. Gallo earned her bachelor’s degree in agronomy from Cornell University; and her master’s degree in crop science and Ph.D. in genetics from North Carolina State University. Her wife, Elizabeth A. Creary, and their dog Remy joined Dr. Gallo on campus in July 2016. During her time on campus so far, she has been conducting listening sessions with different groups on campus to get their ideas. Issues that will be personally important to her as president include: access to higher education for first generation college students, supporting women in STEM and empowering all students to pursue their dreams in an inclusive, welcoming environment. 

"In my role, I work very closely with Dr. Gallo and I find myself very lucky to do that," said Ryan Owens '17, DelVal Student Government Board president. "As a mentor, she inspires me to never stop achieving both personal and institutional goals and as a friend she provides an ear to listen, constant support and of course, a good sense of humor. She's a woman that I one day hope to become."

Watch Inauguration Videos:

Meet Dr. Gallo 
Dr. Gallo Shares What Being the First Female President Means to Her

To learn more about Dr. Gallo and watch the Inauguration, please visit: delval.edu/inauguration