Skip to main content

Dr. Eduardo M. Ochoa Is Guest Speaker at UHD’s 76th Commencement 

By Marie Jacinto


Dr. Eduardo Ochoa

Congratulations are in store for the more than 1,600 Gators planning on receiving their diplomas on Friday, May 10, at NRG Stadium. Beyond its significance for the graduates and their families, UHD’s 76th  Commencement is special for a number of reasons: It is the first of two graduation ceremonies during our 50th anniversary year; it will be conducted as a single ceremony recognizing the achievements of graduates from all four colleges; and its guest speaker will provide inspiration from a lifetime of experience from very different spheres of influence: economics, nuclear science, engineering, government, and higher education.  

The guest speaker for May’s commencement ceremony is Dr. Eduardo M. Ochoa, who was named Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education by President Barack Obama in 2010. In that office, he served as the Secretary of Education’s chief adviser on higher education issues, oversaw federal student aid policy, and administered more than 60 programs supporting students in the nation’s colleges and universities. 

Born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Mr. Ochoa moved with his family to Portland, Oregon, where he finished high school. He earned a B.A. in Physics with a minor in Philosophy from Reed College and an M.S. from Columbia University in Nuclear Science and Engineering. He worked for three years as an engineer in New York, then returned to graduate school and received a Ph.D. in economics from the New School for Social Research. He taught at Fresno State University and at California State University, Los Angeles, where he became a full professor and Chair of the Economics and Statistics Department.  In 1997, Dr. Ochoa was named Dean of Cal Poly Pomona’s College of Business Administration, where he served for six years. He then became Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Sonoma State University. 

Following his time in Washington, D.C., Dr. Ochoa served as President of California State University Monterey Bay for ten years before retiring in 2022. In that ten-year period, Dr. Ochoa launched Monterey County Bright Futures, a collective impact partnership; served on the Board of Directors of the Monterey Bay Economic Partnership; and helped to solidify CSU Monterey Bay as a regional asset, contributing to the sustainable growth and diversification of the region’s economic base. 

Esteemed, indeed, Dr. Ochoa and his words of wisdom will help launch 1,600-plus Gator graduates on their next journeys seeking advanced degrees or entering the workforce.  

About the University of Houston-Downtown

The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.

U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit