Eduardo M. Ochoa grew up in Buenos Aires, Argentina, before moving to Portland, Ore., with his family while in high school. He has earned degrees in physics, nuclear science and economics from Reed College, Columbia University and the New School for Social Research, respectively. In mid-career, his plans to return to work in his Argentinian homeland were sidetracked by a military coup. He has worked as an engineer, as an academic faculty member and administrator, and, most recently, as assistant secretary for postsecondary education in the Obama Administration.
Now, he brings that wide range of academic, professional and personal experience to a new opportunity, as interim president of California State University, Monterey Bay.
"I am honored and excited to return to the California State University, and to have been selected to lead the Monterey Bay campus," said Dr. Ochoa. "The campus ideals of diversity, sustainability and community embody the values of Monterey Bay, and its focus on innovation reflect the spirit of California. I look forward to working together with faculty, students and staff as we build on the university's excellent accomplishments and reputation."
He attended bilingual schools in the Buenos Aires through his sophomore year in high school before immigrating with his family to Portland, Ore., where his father, a biochemist, had been hired to run the clinical lab at Portland's Good Samaritan Hospital.
Dr. Ochoa earned his bachelor's degree in physics, with a minor in philosophy, from Reed College in 1973. Three years later, he finished his master's at Columbia University in New York in nuclear science and engineering just after Isabel Perón's government had been overthrown by a military coup. His original plan to return to Argentina and work for the National Atomic Energy Commission had to be put aside.
After working for three years as an assistant and associate engineer in New York, Dr. Ochoa began his Ph.D. in economics at the New School for Social Research, where his thesis on labor values and the prices of production during the postwar period won the Edith Hansen award for an outstanding dissertation in economics and political science.
Dr. Ochoa taught at Fresno State University and at California State University, Los Angeles, where he was a full professor and chair of the economics and statistics department. He also led the university’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research, and served as acting dean of its School of Business and Economics.
In 1997, he was hired as the dean of Cal Poly Pomona's College of Business Administration, where he served for six years.
He then became provost and vice president for academic affairs at Sonoma State University. During his tenure—in addition to overall responsibility for the university’s academic programs—he oversaw campus-wide strategic planning and diversity efforts. The Academic Affairs Division has five schools, 600 faculty members, and 8,900 students, with an annual budget of $50 million.
President Barack Obama named Dr. Ochoa assistant secretary for postsecondary education in February, 2010. In that post, he served as the secretary's chief advisor on higher-education issues and administered more than 60 programs totaling nearly $3 billion annually that are designed to provide financial assistance to eligible students enrolled in postsecondary institutions. Among the notable programs overseen by the ED's Office of Postsecondary Education are the eight TRIO programs, institutional development programs for minority institutions, teacher development programs, and the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education. OPE runs the well-known Byrd, Fulbright, Javits and McNair programs and certifies all regional and national accreditation agencies, so they, in turn, may qualify institutions to receive federal financial aid and Pell grants.
President Ochoa’s wife Holly is a historian, writer and editor. They have two sons who live in Washington, DC: Michael, who is an insurance adjuster with Travelers, and Eric, who will be a graduate student at George Washington University in the Fall of 2012.