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About the Interim Provost and the
Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs

Mary Pederson

Mary Pedersen


Dr. Mary Pedersen began serving as Interim Provost in July 2019. Pedersen brings a wealth of experience at both the academic and administrative levels, including serving as the university’s senior vice provost from 2016-2019.

In her role as Interim Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, Pedersen is focused on continuing to develop and fulfill the Cal Poly and Academic Affairs strategic plans, improving Cal Poly’s graduation rates in accordance with the CSU Graduation Initiative 2025, providing leadership for the revision of General Education, expanding the Cal Poly Scholars program to serve a greater number of students and creating a more diverse and inclusive campus through updated academic curriculum and programs.

Pedersen began her career with Cal Poly as an associate professor teaching primarily medical nutrition therapy with a research focus in lipoprotein metabolism, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. During her time as a professor, Pedersen became the first campus recipient of a National Institutes of Health research grant and received the Cal Poly Distinguished Teaching Award, the highest award for teaching on campus.

After becoming department chair for the Food Science and Nutrition program, Pedersen led the department through strategic planning and development efforts, created and led the department's first industry/professional advisory council, developed a new budget planning process and successfully planned for new tenure-track recruitments.

Pedersen also led the effort to develop a new major in Wine and Viticulture and proceeded to lead the new program for its first four years, while she also served in the role of associate dean for the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences. In this role, she continued to focus on strategic planning initiatives, developed a new faculty mentoring program for the college, supported program review and assessment of student learning, and oversaw the USDA Multicultural Scholarship program to support scholarships for underrepresented students.

In 2011, Pedersen had the opportunity to step into a campus-level leadership role as associate vice provost for Academic Programs and Planning. In 2016, Pedersen was named the senior vice provost for Academic Affairs. In this capacity, she has built upon her previous experience in program review and assessment of student learning to develop, expand and improve on the campus processes for the review of all programs in Academic Affairs.

Pedersen earned her B.A. in Biology from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and both her M.S. and Ph.D. in Public Health Nutrition with a minor in lipid biochemistry from the University of California, Los Angeles. Her primary research focused on lipid metabolism and nutrition.

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