The Inland Empire, as well as all of Southern California, are welcoming a new leader to one of the
nation’s best colleges. The University of La Verne is opening its next chapter under the leadership of Dr.
Pardis Mahdavi, an internationally recognized and highly accomplished academic, author, and higher
education leader. Last month Mahdavi became the 19th president of the university, a private nonprofit
liberal arts institution with a reach from the Inland area to Los Angeles and beyond with online offerings.
Mahdavi looks forward to leading the historic Southern California university with five colleges, several
regional campuses, robust online offerings, and more than 89,000 alumni worldwide. She said the
university’s core values—lifelong learning, ethical reasoning, civic and community engagement, and
diversity and inclusivity, along with its transformation over the years—are closely aligned with her own.
“When I look at the trajectory of the University of La Verne, how it has adapted to all kinds of learners
and how it really embodies the best tradition of access and excellence, and in preparing learners to
really uphold democracy and engage in social transformation in the way that we would want a 21st
century higher education institution to do, I am honored to join the community and excited about the
work and collaborations ahead to serve our students,” Mahdavi said.
Mahdavi has spent more than 20 years in higher education, most recently serving as the provost and
executive vice president at the University of Montana, a public flagship research university in Missoula.
She previously held deanships at Arizona State University and the University of Denver, as well as
several leadership positions at Pomona College.
Her career has focused on strengthening education, institutions, and opportunities for students through
the lens of democracy, diversity, and service. She is excited to lead an institution that focuses on
building communities often less served and the importance of working at a university with Hispanic
Serving Institution (HSI) and a Minority Serving Institution (MSI) designations.
“We have found an extraordinary leader,” said Anthony Revier, ‘93, chair of the University of La Verne
Board of Trustees. “Dr. Mahdavi exceeds the community’s criteria for the executive position as an
inclusive, forward-thinking, and experienced leader with a track record of success in developing
relationships, innovative planning, identifying new resources, and advancing organizational efficiency.
She has the vision, energy, and strategic leadership experience necessary to move the University of La
Mahdavi is also a distinguished author, public speaker, and anthropologist. She has published six single-
authored books, two edited volumes, and numerous journal and news articles in popular media. Her
research interests include gendered labor, human trafficking, migration, human rights, and public health
in the context of changing global and political structures. She is a lifetime member of the Council on
Foreign Relations, noted as one of Arizona’s Most Intriguing Women of the Decade and a former fellow
of the Social Sciences Research Council, the American Council on Learned Societies, Google Ideas, and
the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
Mahdavi holds a philosophy doctorate and master’s degree in sociomedical sciences and anthropology,
along with a Master of International Affairs in human rights from Columbia University. She has a
bachelor’s degree in diplomacy and world affairs from Occidental College.
Mahdavi grew up in Southern California and has three children.