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Javaune Adams-Gaston, Ph.D.Javaune Adams-Gaston, Ph.D.

Dr. Javaune Adams-Gaston is the seventh President of Norfolk State University. She began her tenure on June 24, 2019. As President, she is committed to ensuring that Norfolk State University fulfills its mission as an HBCU for the modern world, a university grounded by its heritage, focused on the future, and deeply committed to student success. Her vision is student success, opportunity access and affordability, and growth and sustainability. A strong advocate for collaboration and developing strategic partnerships with local, regional, and state stakeholders, Dr. Adams-Gaston is committed to cultivating strong connections with alumni and the community.

During her first year at Norfolk State University, the COVID-19 pandemic created multiple challenges for the nation and the world. President Adams-Gaston worked together with her team to continue to move the institution forward despite the issues created as a result of the pandemic. This led to the university achieving multiple successes. The goals of access, opportunity, and success for NSU students remained her focus even during these unprecedented times. Under President Adams-Gaston’s management, Norfolk State University has successfully achieved the status of a U.S. News and World Report 2021, Top 20 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) designation.

Since President Adams-Gaston’s arrival Norfolk State University has also expanded its online academic program curriculums to include a Master’s degree in Cybersecurity and has been recognized nationally and been designated as a Department of Defense Center of Excellence in Cybersecurity and Department of Energy Cybersecurity Consortium Leader. Under her leadership, Norfolk State launched the online Master’s degree in Cyber Psychology, the first of its kind in the nation. Norfolk State University has developed the Center for African American Public Policy, a first of its kind in Virginia which “serves to educate the public at large, empower minority communities and assist lawmakers on alternative ideas of how to solve issues that communities of color face”. Norfolk State University has received national recognition and visibility for the International Cyber Psychology Conference, the Voice of America’s 1619 Commemoration radio broadcast, the US Senatorial Debate and recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding as part of the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Tech Talent Pipeline initiative and students are participants in the Virginia College Affordability Network. Dr. Adams-Gaston has been successful in acquiring multiple donations including a transformational gift of over $40 million from Mackenzie Scott, the largest single donor gift in the history of NSU. In addition, this year, the University has secured grants in excess of over $7.8 million for scholarships and financial support to enhance student success. Some of the partnerships include Sentara Healthcare- Public Health Program, Appalachian School of Law 3+3, Academic Partnerships, Netflix, Apple, Amazon, USAA, and the Black Ambition Prize and many others.

Upon taking the helm as President in 2019, she successfully continued the work already in progress towards achieving the 10-year reaffirmation of accreditation by its major accrediting body, The Southern Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). This reaffirmation underscores the University’s strength, stability, and forward momentum. That same year, the continued efforts of student recruitment increased enrollment to a six-year high in fall 2019, to 5,600 students. This included the largest freshman class in many years, 1,200 freshmen (FY20). In a passing of the leadership torch, the university was also able to complete the construction of and opening of two new residence halls to accommodate the growing enrollment. Fiscal year 2020 also saw the University realize record high operating revenues (104% above projection), the highest in the history of Norfolk State.

President Adams-Gaston is a higher education professional and scholar with more than 30 years of experience at nationally known research universities. Prior to joining Norfolk State University, Dr. Adams-Gaston served as senior vice president at The Ohio State University and led 40 departments in the Office of Student Life annually impacting over 60,000 students. With her selection in 2009, Dr. Adams-Gaston became The Ohio State’s first female African American Vice President for Student Life. She came to The Ohio University State from the University of Maryland, where she served in a variety of administrative and faculty positions. Her experience included serving at University of Maryland, College Park as associate dean in academic affairs, faculty member, executive director of the Career Center, equity administrator, psychologist and first UMCP African American female assistant athletic director (Division 1) and as an Athletic Certification Peer Reviewer for the NCAA. Trained as a psychologist, Dr. Adams-Gaston spent more than 25 years in private practice. She also served as a member of the graduate faculty at the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University. She was an affiliate assistant professor at The Ohio State University.

Dr. Adams-Gaston earned a bachelor's degree in biology, psychology, and general science, at the University of Dubuque; a master's degree in psychology at Loras College; and a Ph.D. in psychology at Iowa State University. She considers her greatest achievement to be her family. She is married to Dmitri Gaston, MCRP, who served as a planner and management analyst in Washington, D.C. for over 25 years and as a planner, including creating a program for diversity and inclusion education at The Ohio State University. They have three adult children, and they are extremely proud of them.