Mary McFarland

Dr. Mary McFarland is co-founder and past President/ International Director of Jesuit Worldwide Learning (JWL) Higher Education at the Margins (previously named Jesuit Commons: Higher Education at the Margins).

Photo of Mary McFarland

As President, she developed an organization with a global team and led the design and implementation of a sustainable scalable, and transferrable model for higher education at the margins. She has taught on site in refugee camps and with internally displaced people in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. In 2018 JWL was recognized as a major global work of the Jesuits.


Prior to JWL Dr. McFarland was Dean of the School of Professional Studies at Gonzaga University. With a vision for serving adult students, Dr. McFarland led the addition of five new programs to the School, including undergraduate through PhD programs. Policy design, implementation, and evaluation have been a cornerstone of her leadership and teaching career.  


Policy work has included serving as an evaluator for the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), and she has served as Team Leader and evaluator for the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). She has taught courses on policy to doctoral students and has presented globally on Jesuit higher education at the margins. 


She considers her own education a gift and is committed to the life-long learning that occurs when teaching and learning with students. Her education background includes a bachelor’s from the University of Iowa, Master’s from the University of Portland, and a PhD from Gonzaga University, Dr. McFarland has been a Robert Wood Johnson Fellow, and in 2018 received an honorary doctorate from Regis University, Denver Colorado.