Announcing VP for DEI Emelyn A. dela Peña

Dear LMU Community:

I am pleased to announce that Emelyn A. dela Peña, Ed.D., will be our next vice president for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, effective Jan. 10, 2022. I am confident that VP dela Peña, a visionary DEI leader and trailblazer with 26 years of experience in higher education and a focus in justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion scholarship and practice, will uplift the legacies that her predecessors, Jennifer Abe, Ph.D. and Abbie Robinson-Armstrong, Ph.D., established.

VP dela Peña joins us from Stanford University, where she served as the inaugural associate vice provost for Inclusion, Community and Integrative Learning since 2019. At Stanford, she embedded ethical leadership and equity principles in student engagement, fraternity and sorority life, campus community centers and career education. She transformed key policies and practices in student affairs, including salary planning, bonus structures, and succession planning, and advised the vice provost on fundamental changes in these areas to achieve Stanford’s equity and inclusion goals. VP dela Peña also oversaw the reorganization of departments and programs within the Inclusion, Community and Integrative Learning cluster for mission alignment, efficiency, and resource management. She led divisional and campus-wide efforts to support DEI programs and initiatives that build awareness, capacity, response, and healing, such as Stanford’s Presidential IDEAL Initiative Engagement Subsystem, which is focused on diversity education and access for students. VP dela Peña aligned DEI and anti-racist principles into practices throughout Student Affairs units and drove committee work that addressed campus climate, promotion, and recruitment of diverse staff.

Before joining Stanford, VP dela Peña was the inaugural associate vice chancellor for Student Affairs and dean of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion at Washington University in St. Louis. While leading the university’s diversity and inclusion strategic goals, she partnered with faculty and staff colleagues to embed DEI practices throughout the university, and she collaborated with academic leaders to develop coursework that supports the university’s mission around diversity and inclusion. She also provided leadership and strategic direction for the Office for International Students and Scholars; Office for Religious, Spiritual and Ethical Life; and the Center for Diversity and Inclusion.

Prior to that, VP dela Peña served as the inaugural assistant dean for equity, diversity and inclusion and assistant dean of Student Life at Harvard College, of Harvard University, where she advised the dean of the college and dean of students on issues concerning equity and inclusion. She was responsible for creating the strategic vision and assessment plan for diversity and inclusion at the college and led initiatives focused on gender, sexuality and diversity, including the Harvard College Women’s Center, the Office of BGLTQ Student Life, Intergroup Dialogue program, First Generation Student Working Group, and Undocumented Student Programs.

VP dela Peña earned her Doctor of Education in educational leadership from a joint program offered by the University of California, San Diego, San Diego State University, and California State University, San Marcos. She earned a master’s degree in postsecondary educational leadership from San Diego State University and a bachelor’s degree in ethnic studies from UC San Diego. She was honored with the Harvard University Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Distinction Award, and she was thrice recognized by UC San Diego—in 2001, 2006 and 2010—with its Diversity Champion Award. VP dela Peña’s personal interests include a love of gospel music (she sang for President Clinton at the UC San Diego commencement in 1996), and a love of animals. VP dela Peña attended Los Angeles’ first girls’ Catholic High School (now named Bishop Conaty-Our Lady of Loretto). She is also a longtime women’s self-defense instructor and an ardent Lakers fan.

I thank our search committee, led by Rev. José Badenes, S.J., Ph.D., associate provost for Undergraduate Education, for conducting a rigorous and comprehensive search that yielded a competitive and outstanding candidate pool.

I am grateful to have worked with VP Jennifer Abe, including during the early and crucial stages of LMU’s journey to becoming proactively anti-racist. We are fortunate to continue to be elevated by VP Abe’s trademark care, authenticity, and commitment to our community’s progress through action.

VP dela Peña’s dedication to building trusting relationships; her advocacy for the needs of underrepresented and minoritized students, staff, faculty, and communities; her commitment to fostering student learning; and her command of the current scholarship on equity and inclusion will enable LMU to continue to advance our DEI efforts. Our mission and values demand equity for all of God’s creations, with Catholic Social Teaching attesting that each of us is born in the image of God; and our future demands that we respond to challenges in ways that are inclusive, bringing the full of human talent and potential to our lives and our Earth.

Please join me in welcoming the newest member of our executive leadership team, Emelyn dela Peña—
and her Maltese-Yorkie, Jimmy Choo—to the LMU family.

With sincere appreciation and thanks,

Timothy Law Snyder, Ph.D.