Mary Papazian should have known she would some day be a college president. A quarter of a century ago, her college adviser at the University of California, Los Angeles predicted it.
She was completing her graduate studies in 1987 when dissertation adviser Paul Sellin, now a professor emeritus, finished up a recommendation letter for her with the line, "By the way, in 25 years she is going to be university president."
At the time, that wasn't in the game plan. Papazian had an academic career to establish. She taught English literature, then began the climb up the administration ladder. Most recently she was senior vice president for academic affairs at Lehman College, part of the City University of New York. Five weeks ago, the California native became president at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven.
Papazian, 52, comes at a time when the state's higher education system is in transition. Southern, with its 11,500 students -- about 35 percent from Fairfield County, Milford and the Valley -- is now part of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities, a system run by the new Connecticut Board of Regents for Higher Education. The reorganization is designed to save money and make it easier for community college students to transfer into Southern, as well as Western, Central and Eastern.