Loren J. Blanchard joined the University of Houston-Downtown as its seventh president on March 15, 2021.
President Blanchard previously served as Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic & Student Affairs at California State University (CSU), the largest and most diverse system of higher education in the United States. At CSU, he developed and administered academic and student affairs policies for the 23-campus system. He guided and supported CSU campus administrators on curricula, program design and student services matters. President Blanchard additionally led CSU's Graduation Initiative 2025, an ambitious effort to increase graduation rates for all students while eliminating equity gaps and preparing more students to meet California's projected workforce needs by 2030. Since the start of the initiative in 2015, CSU has achieved the highest graduation rates with the largest number of diverse students attaining degrees in the system's history.
Before arriving at CSU, he served as Provost & Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs at Xavier University in New Orleans, Louisiana. As the chief academic officer for the only historically Black and Catholic university in the United States, he led the campus in achieving a number of strategic milestones, including successful accreditation re-affirmations by SACS-COC, the Accreditation Council for Pharmaceutical Education and the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education.
At Xavier, Blanchard helped launch new academic baccalaureate programs in Public Health Sciences and Communication Studies as well as new graduate degree programs in Clinical Psychology and Educational Leadership. An annual faculty excellence awards program in teaching, service and scholarship also was led by President Blanchard.
He played a key role in Xavier receiving a $6 million infusion of private and federal grants to strengthen high school pipeline programs and student retention programs. Additionally, President Blanchard assisted Xavier in obtaining a $7 million federal grant to strengthen the research infrastructure for faculty conducting critical work in cancer, diabetes, heart disease and asthma. He also helped steer $1.5 million in both federal and private funding to increase Xavier's capacity to prepare undergraduate minority students to complete medical school programs.
Thanks to Blanchard's leadership at Xavier University, the institution became the first Louisiana university and the nation's first Historically Black University to establish a Confucius Institute supported by the Chinese Ministry of Education.
Other leadership roles held by President Blanchard have included Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic and Multicultural Affairs at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center – New Orleans and the Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Vice President for Accreditation, Leadership & Accountability within the University of Louisiana System.
A first-generation college graduate, Blanchard holds a bachelor's degree in Speech Pathology Education from Xavier University, a master's degree in Education from McNeese State University, and a Ph.D. in Education Psychology from the University of Georgia.