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 wellbeing of Cal Poly students. She is passionate about social justice and helping all students achieve their full potential.

Originally from the Central Coast, Dr. Pedersen returned to San Luis Obispo to work in the non-profit sector before transitioning to higher education. At Cal Poly, she has overseen the Center for Service in Action, Multicultural Center, and Center for Military-Connected Students. Prior to serving as dean, 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 opportunities for students.

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

Throughout her tenure, Dr. Pedersen has been intimately involved in campus climate concerns 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 in psychology from Claremont McKenna College, master’s in higher education counseling and guidance from Cal Poly, and 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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