Press Release

WASHINGTON (August 7, 2014) — The Education Trust is pleased to welcome Dr. José Luis Santos as its Vice President for Higher Education Policy and Practice.

Starting with his work as founding executive director of the Latina/o Policy Research Initiative at the University of Arizona, José Luis has a long track record of research, teaching, and advocacy around issues affecting students of color and low-income students in higher education. A native Californian, José Luis entered the U.S. Marine Corps directly after high school, then attended the University of Arizona with help from a competitive Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps scholarship and the GI Bill. A first-generation college graduate himself, he brings not just highly developed analytical and research skills, but also a deep personal understanding of nontraditional students and the importance of creating pathways to and through higher education, especially for low-income students and students of color.

José Luis has held leadership and faculty positions in higher education policy and research. As a scholar, he wrote extensively on the economics and finance of higher education, including access and affordability for college students, especially Latinos and veterans. Most recently, he served as Associate Professor of Higher Education Economics and Finance Policy at Pepperdine University. Before that, he was an assistant professor in the Higher Education & Organizational Change division at UCLA’s Graduate School of Education & Information Studies, an affiliated scholar of the Higher Education Research Institute, and an affiliated faculty member at the Chicano Studies Research Center.

As Ed Trust’s vice president of higher education, José Luis will oversee all aspects of the organization’s higher education work, which is focused on improving access, completion, affordability, and post-enrollment success for low-income students and students of color. His initial priorities will include pushing equity to the forefront of national higher education discussions, developing and advocating for stronger policies, creating useful tools for benchmarking institutional service to low-income students and students of color, and supporting partner organizations and practitioners.

“Student debt has spiraled out of control, college completion rates are devastatingly low, and there are still huge gaps in opportunity and postsecondary attainment for different groups of young Americans,” said Kati Haycock, president of The Education Trust. “While these issues seem daunting, change is within our reach — and José Luis is the right person to lead us in pushing for that change. His research experience, policy background, passion, and personal investment in higher education for underserved students make him uniquely qualified to lead our higher education team.”

He earned a Ph.D. in Higher Education Economics and Finance Policy: Econometrics and Measurement & Research Methodology; an M.A. in Educational Psychology: Measurement & Research Methodology; and a B.A. in Mexican American Studies from the University of Arizona.