Office of Postsecondary Education: Who is Eduardo Ochoa?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Eduardo M. Ochoa, a top administrator at Sonoma State University in California, was selected on February 23, 2010, by President Barack Obama to run the Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education, which administers most of the federal government’s programs for colleges and college students.

Born on November 18, 1950, in Argentina, Ochoa moved with his family to Portland, Oregon, when he was 14 years old. He received his bachelor’s degree in physics and philosophy in 1973 from Reed College in Portland. He and his wife, Holly, made an extended visit to Argentina, but then returned to the United States and he earned a master’s degree in nuclear science and engineering from Columbia University in 1976.  
Although Ochoa had originally intended to go back to Argentina and work as an engineer, he did not want to work for the military dictatorship that had taken charge there, so he chose to stay in the U.S.
Ochoa worked from 1976-1977 as an assistant engineer in the Radiation Safety Group at Gibbs & Hill in New York, studying the thickness of walls at nuclear power plants. This was followed by work as an associate engineer in the Applied Physics Group for Ebasco Services from 1977 to 1979.
He returned to academia, but switched to the field of economics. His first teaching opportunity came in 1980 at the SUNY College at Old Westbury as an instructor in the politics, economics, and society program. The following year he relocated to California State University, Fresno, and served for three years as a lecturer in economics.
In the meantime, he earned master’s and doctoral degrees in economics from the New School for Social Research (1984). His dissertation was on “Labor Values and Prices of Production: An Inter-industry Study of the US Economy, 1947-1972.”
In 1984, Ochoa moved to California State University, Los Angeles, where he spent the next 13 years. From 1984 to 1997 he rose from assistant professor to associate professor to full professor of economics and statistics. During this time he also served as director of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research (1987-1990), chair of the Department of Economics and Statistics (1990-1994), Associate Dean for External Programs (1994-1996) and acting dean of the School of Business and Economics (1996-1997).
From 1997 to 2003, he served as professor of international business and dean of the College of Business Administration at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.
In 2003, Ochoa accepted the position of provost and vice president for academic affairs at Sonoma State, putting him in charge of the university’s academic programs, as well as overall strategic planning and diversity efforts.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Biography (Sonoma State University)
Eduardo M. Ochoa (California State University)


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