A native of Argentina, Dr. Ochoa attended bilingual schools in Buenos Aires through his sophomore year in high school before immigrating with his family to Portland, OR. He 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.
He worked for three years as an engineer in New York, then returned to graduate school and received his Ph.D. in economics at the New School for Social Research.
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. I
n 1997, Dr. Ochoa was appointed 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.
In February 2010, President Barack Obama named Dr. Ochoa assistant secretary for postsecondary education. In that post, he led the Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE), served as the Secretary of Education’s chief adviser on higher education issues, and administered more than 60 programs with a budget in excess of $6 billion. Among the notable programs overseen by OPE are the GearUp and TRIO programs, institutional development programs for minority institutions, teacher development programs, and the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education. OPE also manages the Department’s recognition of accreditation agencies and develops policy for the Department’s federal student aid programs.
Since arriving on campus at CSUMB in July 2012, Dr. Ochoa has advanced three broad goals for the University: establishing excellence in selected fields in response to regional needs; developing the University’s catalytic role in social, cultural, and economic progress for California’s Central Coast region; and making national contributions to the development of new sustainable models of higher education.
Dr. Ochoa’s wife Holly is a historian, writer, and editor. The Ochoas have two adult sons, Michael and Eric.