21:18 PM

Appointment of Dr. Paul Tontz as Director of Veteran Services

Sent on behalf of Dr. Gail Cole-Avent, associate vice president, Student Life

It is with great pleasure that I announce the appointment of Dr. Paul Tontz as the director of Veteran Services.

Tontz has served in various administrative positions within student affairs, enrollment management and student services in private and public educational settings for more than 20 years. As a lifelong athlete from a family of 10 children, Tontz learned the values of sacrifice, teamwork and selflessness. His route to becoming a military officer was an unusual one. After initially joining the Navy upon completing his biology degree, he left the service early to pursue a career in helping support college students. As a newly minted student affairs professional, Tontz supported the needs of Division I college athletes, quickly recognizing the importance of supporting diversity and acceptance. With an opportunity to understand his own silencing under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, he completed a dissertation supporting the “coming out” experiences of Division I gay athletes. His work sponsored by the NCAA was instrumental in updating policy for college athletics.

Upon completion of his Ph.D., with renewed determination to serve his country. Tontz joined the Navy Reserve as an officer, supporting the meteorology and oceanography communities. During his tour, he found himself more meaningfully supporting the enlisted and officer needs related to pursuing college. As a student affairs specialist and faculty member, he now conducts research related to supporting the access and retention of military-connected students. During his military career, he was impacted by the suicides of two members of his units, inspiring him to continue his degree in counseling to support the mental health needs of our wounded warriors. His latest research helps support the success of military nursing students, and he hopes to complete his master’s in counseling psychology.

Tontz earned a bachelor's in biology from the University of San Diego, a Master of Education in college student affairs from the University of South Florida and a Ph.D. in higher education administration from the University of Denver. He is a native of San Diego and enjoys CrossFit, traveling and playing tennis and volleyball with his family and friends.

Tontz will join the CSUSM community on July 1.

A Message from Dr. Tontz

"I am looking forward to joining the Veteran Services team at CSUSM. I am a lifelong learner drawing on my life and work experiences in both the civilian and military worlds. I look forward to guiding and supporting our military-connected and veteran students as they follow their learning pathways."

Thank you to Sara Quinn (chair) and search committee members, as well as those in the campus community who participated in the interviews and provided feedback. Each of you played an important role in this process. 

And a special thank you to Dr. Scott Gross for his interim leadership of the department during this vacancy.