José Luis Santos
Vice President of Higher Education Policy and Practice
As Ed Trust’s vice president of higher education policy and practice, José Luis oversees all aspects of the organization’s higher education work, which is focused on improving access, affordability, completion, and post-enrollment success for low-income students and students of color.
Before joining The Education Trust, José Luis 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 and organizational change division at UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, where he was an affiliated scholar of the Higher Education Research Institute and an affiliated faculty member of the Chicano Studies Research Center. Prior to joining the faculty at UCLA, José Luis served as the assistant director of the Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Office, senior institutional researcher, and the founding executive director of the Latina/o Policy Research Initiative in the college of humanities at the University of Arizona. He also was an associate of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, a leading state and national policy center, and a fellow of The Sudikoff Family Institute for Education and New Media, which seeks to bring scholarship to the public forum.
The driving force behind José Luis’ work is his belief that federal, state, and institutional policies may not adequately support increased educational and economic outcomes for traditionally underrepresented students (low-income, people of color, first-generation, and veterans) but rather, perpetuate inequitable outcomes leading to further stratification.
His work and op-ed pieces have been featured in such top circulation publications as The New York Times, USA Today, The Huffington Post, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and Diverse Issues in Higher Education. In addition, his scholarly work has been published in top-tiered education journals such as Educational Policy, The Journal of Higher Education, and The Review of Higher Education, Research in Comparative and International Education. His work on college access and affirmative action was filed in the brief of the Law School Admission Council as amicus curiae in support of the University of Austin, et. al., in the US Supreme Court case, Abigail Noel Fisher v. University of Austin, et. al.
José Luis earned his B.A. in Mexican American Studies, M.A. In Educational Psychology: Measurement & Research Methodology at the University of Arizona, and Ph.D. in Higher Education Economics and Finance Policy: Econometrics and Measurement & Research Methodology from the University of Arizona’s Center for the Study of Higher Education.
I play the trumpet — from my days in my high school jazz band. I still own my first trumpet that my late mom purchased for me on a layaway plan. To me, playing the trumpet triggered my superpower ability that momentarily transported me to a world vastly different from the “barrio.”
Why are you passionate about working at Ed Trust?
My personal story from Stockton, California, through the Marine Corps, and college through the halls of academia leads me to Ed Trust. I believe that I am called to serve and lead a higher education team at a reputable and impactful organization. I am passionate to work for Ed Trust, whose core mission aligns fittingly with my lived experience, personal and professional mission. I am proud to join the Ed Trust family, past and present, which has had a long history of demonstrated success in closing the gaps in opportunity and achievement for low-income families and families of color. I am excited about the opportunity to bridge the gaps between research and policy in the higher education arena. In short, I believe that this work that I am passionate about and engaging in at Ed trust is not really about schools and colleges — it’s really about people’s lives.