The Chancellor of the Peralta Community College District, Jowel C. Laguerre, Ph.D., has appointed Luis G. Pedraja, Ph.D., as Peralta Colleges’ Interim Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs. Dr. Pedraja, who most recently was Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at Antioch University in Los Angeles, started in his new position this week.
As a child, Dr. Pedraja immigrated to the U.S., where he grew up in a low-income neighborhood. He became the first in his family to attend college and later earned a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. Focusing on Latino perspectives, Dr. Pedraja published books and articles exploring how understanding language and culture can promote intercultural dialogue and tolerance. In addition, he has published on higher education issues and best practices, including governance, assessment, strategic planning, and faculty and program development. He taught philosophy, ethics, and religious studies at the University of Puget Sound and Southern Methodist University. At SMU he served as Division Chair and was elected to the faculty senate. After becoming a Dean and Provost, Dr. Pedraja continued to mentor Latino doctoral candidates and served as President of La Comunidad of Hispanic American Scholars in his discipline. Dr. Pedraja advocates to increase higher education access for minority and marginalized populations who have been underserved historically by the American higher education system, and he has been quoted on this topic by the Associated Press, Huffington Post, International Business Times, and Univision.
From 2011-2016 Dr. Pedraja served as Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at Antioch University Los Angeles, a non-profit institution serving adult students through degree completion and professional graduate programs in psychology, education, nonprofit management, sustainability, and creative writing. At Antioch, Dr. Pedraja developed a partnership with the Los Angeles Community College District, and led the creation of competency-based, hybrid, online graduate programs, and undergraduate degree programs in applied studies, business, technology and criminal justice that enable students to apply all of their community college or workforce development credits toward their bachelor degrees. In addition, he worked with the faculty to establish on-site degree completion programs at community colleges and an early college program providing courses at local high schools. These innovative programs provide clear pathways to college for K-12 students in underserved communities, and help adult students to achieve new professional goals or advance their current careers.
Previously, Dr. Pedraja served as Vice President for the Middle States Commission on Higher Education from 2004-2011, where he oversaw the accreditation of many universities and community colleges in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. In that position, Dr. Pedraja championed intercultural dialogue by leading the first program to grant American accreditation to foreign universities. Since then, universities in South America, Asia, and Europe have retained Dr. Pedraja to guide them on conforming to American higher education standards. At Middle States, Dr. Pedraja also developed higher education policy and advocated with political leaders and other external constituencies about strategic solutions to a range of challenges including financial, governance, and political crises. For instance, Dr. Pedraja was instrumental in resolving student protests at the University of Puerto Rico that had debilitated the entire university system for months. In 2014, he lead a successful, comprehensive evaluation of Arizona’s complex Pima Community College District, which was under probation for publicized violations of integrity, governance, mission, and other criteria.
Outside his academic life, Dr. Pedraja has volunteered extensively with the American Red Cross Disaster Services and local emergency management. He has also served on non-profit boards and co-founded two organizations, one focused on animal rescue and the other on supporting cancer patients’ families.