Vice President of Student Services

Dr. Lilia Chavez is a Chicana/Latina, Social and Spiritual Activist/Educator who seizes each opportunity to work with underrepresented, underprepared, and underserved communities. She is currently serving as the Vice President of Student Services at Merritt College. In October 2022, Dr. Chavez secured a Hispanic Serving Institute grant from the Department of Education in the amount of $3 million for Merritt College. The grant will support the ASPIRA Project and will enable Merritt College to improve the culture of teaching and learning to ensure students persist in their academic goals. Prior to this role, she was the Dean of Special Programs & Grants where she managed various programs. She also served as the Director of Student Activities & Campus Life where she guided the Associated Students at Merritt College (ASMC).

During her leadership, the ASMC Student Government was selected by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) team as one of the top three programs at the college and she was credited for increasing student engagement. She has worked at various community colleges in different capacities and programs. Her experience extends to San Francisco State University (SFSU) where she served as the Director of the Office of Student Programs & Leadership Development, Coordinator of Pre-Collegiate Academic Program, Assistant to the Dean of K-12 Programs. She also served as a part-time faculty teaching in Ethnic Studies and Counseling.

Dr. Chavez was instrumental in writing grants and developing various programs at San Francisco State University. One such program was the Mandatory Academic Probation Program (MAPP) which focused on providing students with a second chance to increase their retention and academic success. She also developed and implemented the Pass the Torch Program, which encouraged collaborative learning from students for students in basic skills math.

Dr. Chavez is an advocate of student empowerment. She has presented at many conferences i.e., San Francisco State University, UC Davis, UC Irvine, Humboldt State University, and Harvard. She has published books through Patsons Media Group and Chusma House publishers. These works focused on elevating student voice and educational equity. She has written several community grants to reduce violence and increase educational access for underserved communities of color. Her work has included bilingual/bicultural group facilitation, extensive seminars and workshops. Moreover, she has been a selected commencement and award events keynote speaker for high schools, community colleges, universities and community events.

Dr. Chavez holds an associate degree from Berkeley City College, a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Behavior from the University of San Francisco, a master ‘s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from San Francisco State University, and a doctorate degree in International and Multicultural Education from the University of San Francisco. Her research is focused on the external and internal factors that support and/or impede the academic success of Chicano/Latino students in the Community College. Fundamentally through her research she provides students with options of how they can confront their internal conflicts and embrace their spirit that leads to their personal empowerment to be successful leaders.

Dr. Chavez’s brings over a decade of teaching experience where she has developed culturally sensitive and life relevant leadership academies for AB540 and immigrant students. She successfully increased the visibility and Civic Engagement of black and brown youth. She prides herself on her work of “social justice, human transformation, student empowerment, and championing student success” at all levels. She believes that confronting the inequities in education are her life purpose and realizes that the work she does stands strong in innovation, healing, change and transformation. She says that, “Success begins with your desire to change. Dare yourself to elevate your dreams and transform your life!”

Dr. Chavez’s personal interests include nature walks, performing with an all-female Mariachi Band and engaging in healing practices that incorporate the body, spirit and mind.