ASU alumna elected next president of the University of Sonora

María Rita Plancarte Martínez was congratulated for being appointed by the University Board.

Photo courtesy of the University of Sonora


On March 16, Arizona State University alumna María Rita Plancarte Martínez was elected by the University of Sonora (UNISON) University Board to serve as the next president, or rector, of the university, making history as the first woman to hold the position since its foundation. 

She will occupy the office from June 2021 through 2025, replacing the outgoing Enrique Fernando Velázquez Contreras.

Plancarte Martínez’s career began at the university in 1998 where she has served as the head of Hispanic literatures and the Department of Fine Arts, the academic secretary of the humanities division, director of the humanities and fine arts division, director of the Postgraduate Research Directorate of the institution and most recently the vice-rector at UNISON since 2017.

Plancarte Martínez has a bachelor's degree in Hispanic literature from the University of Sonora, a master's degree in Mexican letters from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and earned her doctorate in Spanish literature from Arizona State University in 2004.

After her experience attending ASU, Plancarte Martínez fully believes exchange programs between Mexican and American universities are very important.

MORE: Accomplished alumna from Mexico reflects on ASU experience

Plancarte Martínez chose to attend ASU to earn her PhD because of an inspiring professor.

“While completing my master’s degree at Universidad Autónoma de México, I found certain specialized articles and books, which proved very useful for my research,” she said in a 2018 ASU News article. “The author was Professor Emil Volek, who happens to be a well-known scholar in the fields of Spanish-American literature and literary theory and, after doing some more research on his work, I was pleasantly surprised to find that he was a professor at ASU. Since his areas of expertise were the same as mine, in terms of academic interests, I decided to contact him and, through our academic exchange, Professor Volek proved to be not just an expert on his field, but also a mentor of sorts.” 

Plancarte Martínez will assume the position on June 16 and will begin working on her agenda of addressing the problem of gender violence at the university, increasing undergraduate and graduate enrollment and achieving permanence and graduation of students.

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