Meet the Dean of Students

Joy Pedersen

Dr. Joy Pedersen has worked at Cal Poly since 2003 and currently serves as Dean of Students. In this role, she serves as the point of contact for student crisis intervention and is responsible for directly supporting the success and well-being of Cal Poly students. She is passionate about social justice and helping all students reach their full potential.

Originally from the Central Coast, Dr. Pedersen returned to San Luis Obispo to work in the nonprofit sector before transitioning to higher education. At Cal Poly, she oversaw the Center for Service in Action, the Multicultural Center, and the Center for Military Connected Students. Prior to serving as dean, she was Associate Dean of Students for Student Success, Support and Retention. In each of her roles, Dr. Pedersen has worked collaboratively with campus and community partners to create equity, access and opportunity for students.

In addition to her leadership experience in student affairs, Dr. Pedersen has held positions in academic affairs and the community. She has taught undergraduate and graduate courses at Cal Poly and Brandman University. She has served as a member of the United Way board of directors. And currently, she serves as a board member of the Transitions-Mental Health Association

Throughout her tenure, Dr. Pedersen has been intimately involved in concerns about campus climate and student safety. She is a founding member of the Asian Pacific Islander Faculty and Staff Association (APIFSA), the Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT), and the Peace Ambassador program at Cal Poly.

Dr. Pedersen earned a bachelor's degree in psychology from Claremont McKenna College, a master's degree in higher education counseling from Cal Poly, and a doctorate in educational leadership from UCSB. Dr. Pedersen enjoys paddle boarding and spending time with her family. She enjoys hearing from students about their experiences at Cal Poly and students can meet with her by appointment by emailing

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