Cal Poly Announces New Vice President and Chief Officer for Diversity and Inclusion

Josephine De Leon will lead efforts to foster an inclusive campus climate

SAN LUIS OBISPO — Cal Poly has named Josephine (Jozi) De Leon as vice president and chief officer for diversity and inclusion.

De Leon will serve as the campus leader of inclusivity and diversity initiatives at Cal Poly. In her role, she will report directly to President Jeffrey D. Armstrong and will function as a leading voice on matters of equality, diversity and inclusion. De Leon will start at Cal Poly on July 10.

De Leon has focused her lengthy career on the education of traditionally underrepresented students. She currently serves as vice president for equity and inclusion, and is a professor in the Department of Educational Specialties, at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.

“I am delighted that Jozi will bring her wealth of experience and dedicated focus on diversity and inclusion initiatives to Cal Poly,” Armstrong said. “Her deep breadth of knowledge will complement and enhance the efforts of our talented faculty and staff as we continue to nurture a diverse, inclusive and welcoming campus.”

De Leon will lead the Office of Diversity and Inclusivity (OUD&I), which is responsible for promoting and implementing equity and diversity programs in support of an inclusive working and learning environment. In her role, De Leon will oversee efforts to develop, review and assess the effectiveness of a wide range of diversity and inclusion programs and activities relating to faculty, staff and students. She will serve as a collaborative partner working to engage and educate constituents across campus.

“I am excited to join the Cal Poly community and advance the university’s efforts to cultivate a welcoming, supportive environment where we integrate diversity as a key component in enhancing Cal Poly’s excellence,” De Leon said. “My first priority will be to connect with stakeholders across campus and listen to their assessment of our strengths and gain insight on areas where we can build collective effort.”

De Leon has led efforts throughout her career to address access and equity for traditionally underrepresented faculty, staff and students. As vice president of equity and inclusion and chief diversity officer at the University of New Mexico since July 1, 2008, she has led and coordinated diversity initiatives for a university that is considered one of four Hispanic Serving Institutions with a Carnegie Research Extensive designation in the country.

De Leon led the revision and implementation of a university diversity plan and established a University Diversity Council. She also oversaw the Office of Equal Opportunity, African American Student Services, El Centro de La Raza, and American Indian Student Services, and she created the LGBTQ Resource Center.

De Leon also served from 2011-15 as principal investigator of the Unidos Project, a collaborative effort designed to increase post-secondary attainment of Latino students. 

Prior to joining the University of New Mexico, De Leon served as the first deputy secretary for Academic Affairs, Planning and Research for the state of New Mexico when the New Mexico Higher Education Department was created in 2005. She oversaw the Educational Equity Division within the department. During her tenure, De Leon helped shape policy to create greater accessibility to higher education for all New Mexico students. 

De Leon also previously served in various administrative positions including as an associate dean in the College of Education and later as the associate provost for Academic Affairs and Community Colleges at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces.

She has received numerous awards, including the Women of Influence Award in 2015 presented by Albuquerque Business First, and the Dolores Huerta “Walking the Talk” Award by the New Mexico Hispanic Round Table in 2012, the latter of which recognized her commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice as central to her life and work.

De Leon earned her bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from Fayetteville State University in North Carolina; a master’s degree in educational psychology from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill; and a doctorate in bilingual education and special education, with a minor in counseling educational psychology, from New Mexico State University.

She was chosen through a rigorous recruitment process that included candidates from across the nation.

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