About the President

Dr. Pardis Mahdavi, an internationally recognized and highly accomplished higher education leader, academic, and author, is the 19th president of the University of La Verne.

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. Colleagues and industry leaders have characterized Dr. Mahdavi as an inclusive, forward-thinking, and experienced leader. She has a significant track record of success in developing relationships, strategic planning, identifying new resources, and advancing organizational efficiency.

These accomplishments include:

  • Support for the creation of new interdisciplinary schools at the University of Montana, such as the School of Emerging and Applied Technologies, which brought together visual arts, media, computer science, engineering, technology, and policy.
  • Initiation of an internationalization strategy in the Josef Korbel School of International Studies to foster partnerships in six countries, resulting in student and faculty exchange, co-created curricula, and short-term and inter-term programs.
  • Cluster and constellation hiring practices to diversify the faculty and bring interdisciplinary degree programs together at ASU. Engaging a framework of JEDI: Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion to set a new standard for diversity excellence in the region.

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. She is a notable thought leader and scholar, whose research interests include sexuality, gendered labor, human trafficking, migration, human rights, and public health in the context of changing global and political structures. She is a dedicated educator and mentor, whose courses focused on gender, politics, and cultural and medical anthropology.

In 2020, she founded the J.E.D.I Academy, a justice-oriented, mission-driven academy to assist corporations and organizations in diversity, equity and inclusion work.

She is a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations; noted as one of Arizona’s Most Intriguing Women of the Decade; a former Colorado Commission on Higher Education Commissioner; 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. She has also consulted for US government agencies, Google, and the United Nations.

Mahdavi holds a philosophy doctorate and master’s degree in sociomedical sciences and anthropology, along with a master’s degree in international affairs 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.