Jonathan Pryor: Faculty Spotlight 

Toward the end of Jonathan Pryor’s high school experience, he envisioned pursuing work aligned with the Human Rights Campaign, a national LGBTQ+ advocacy organization. As a young person at the time, he had no idea what that would entail or look like, but he knew that he wanted to be able to advocate for the lives of LGBTQ+ people. He is now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership, teaching in the Higher Education Administration and Leadership Program (HEAL). He is also a core faculty member in the Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership. Higher education provided him with the experience to engage in LGBTQ+ activism at a college level and opened up his interest to work within a university setting, eventually working in Student Affairs for 10 years. Although he never worked toward LGBTQ+ rights in politics or non-profit organizations, his work on college campuses translated well to much of his career as a scholar of higher education and a former practitioner in LGBTQ+ Student Affairs.

Jonathan began his work at Fresno State in the Fall of 2018 after responding to a national search for an assistant professor position in the HEAL program. He was impressed with the Kremen’s commitment to supporting student success. He felt a genuine interest from colleagues and leadership toward support for LGBTQ+ advocacy and education on campus and in the community. Queer and trans communities in Fresno and the greater Central Valley continue to experience discrimination and harm. Jonathan believes that as educators, Fresno State and Kremen are well-positioned to advocate for equitable educational environments to improve the lives of LGBTQ+ students on our campus and in the region.  

His field of study is more broadly focused on higher education administration and higher education leadership. More specifically, Jonathan’s work has explored issues of equity for LGBTQ+ communities in higher education, LGBTQ+ campus climate and student experiences, and leadership strategies for advancing equity and social justice in colleges and universities. He has had two recent publications, one in the Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice and the other in the Innovative Higher Education journal. His research is greatly informed through his 10 years of student affairs professional practice, six of those years consisting of managing the university LGBTQ+ programs at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. As a former LGBTQ+ Student Affairs practitioner, it was important for him to get involved with the LGBTQ+ community at Fresno State. Upon arriving at Fresno State, he was recruited to support the development and implementation of the “Out At Fresno State” video series, and quickly became connected with numerous colleagues at CCGC and the LGBTQ+Allies Network. Jonathan eventually came to serve as Vice-President of LGBTQ+Allies before assuming the role of president this most recent academic year. 

As part of his work with LGBTQ+Allies, Jonathan helps coordinate Fresno State’s Rainbow Graduation Celebration program. Being able to celebrate and acknowledge the successes of our LGBTQ+ students is important to Jonathan personally, as rarely does the LGBTQ+ community experience such recognition from their institution, let alone society. Rainbow Graduation is a beautiful tradition that he hopes will only continue to grow as more students become aware of and comfortable participating in the program. Jonathan enjoys seeing the growth and success of his students—whether it’s witnessing their academic growth, their personal growth, or their professional growth. Being a part of a student’s journey and having an impact on their growth is incredibly fulfilling for him.  

For Jonathan, completing his doctorate was a point of personal pride. Having grown up in rural Kansas, where he felt academically unprepared to transition to a large state university, he had a lot of growth to accomplish to get to where he is today. He is grateful for the educators, scholars, and activists who have helped him get to where he is today. Kremen has provided an important platform for Jonathan to become engaged in the local Fresno State community, advocating for the continued support of LGBTQ+ groups on campus and in the community. 

Jonathan would love to see a stronger collaboration of LGBTQ+ scholars appearing on campus. Although he knows some colleagues on campus who engage in this work, he would love to establish a way to foster greater collaboration and connection across disciplines for other LGBTQ+ scholars. He also hopes to see more intersectional approaches to how scholars and practitioners support students in their work, ensuring that gender and sexual diversity are included when campus leaders are assessing measures of student success, persistence, support, and resources. 

(Written by Audra Burwell, a Creative Writing Student, Employed by The Kremen School of Education and Human Development)

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