Q&A: Meet Pablo G. Reguerín

Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Pablo G. Reguerín
(Jezer Serafica/UC Davis)

For Pablo Reguerín, his July 20 start as vice chancellor for Student Affairs marked a return to campus. Pablo completed his doctorate in Education at UC Davis in 2017, but his professional interest in supporting student success and equity dates to his days as a work-study student employee in the EOP center at UC Santa Cruz.

Completing his Bachelor of Arts in Latino and Latin American Studies at Santa Cruz, Pablo went on to earn a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership from Columbia University. Progressive leadership roles over an almost 20-year affiliation with UC Santa Cruz led up to his serving as associate vice chancellor of student achievement and equity innovation, a position he held from 2017 until the May 2020 announcement of his selection as vice chancellor for Student Affairs at UC Davis.

Pablo’s family immigrated to the Bay Area from Bolivia when he was two. As he tells it, education has had a transformative influence in his life; and as a leader in higher education, he has emphasized equity, inclusion and access to the opportunity it promises. As vice chancellor, Pablo oversees the nearly 30 units that make up the Division of Student Affairs. Here, he discusses his personal vision of student affairs, influences that have shaped his outlook, and his message for students and staff.

Q: ‘Student Affairs’ is a broad field that can sometimes be difficult to define. How would you define it, especially to someone who doesn’t understand its value?

A: I consider student affairs to be a functional area of human and intellectual development outside the classroom and working in partnership with the broader campus to support student success and equity. I consider student affairs to be a co-curricular champion with many opportunities for students to develop community and grow as our future leaders. Learning happens outside the classroom too, and the connection between how you feel as a person and your sense of belonging is integrally connected to how you perform in the classroom. This is why it is important to understand the whole student and serve them holistically—it produces better outcomes for creating knowledge and a healthy society within our campus and globally.

Q: You’ve been working in higher education and the UC System for much of your career. Why is higher education important to you?

A: My life has been transformed through the power of education, both from my family and my experiences in higher education. The transformative impact resulted in building opportunities I could have never imagined when I first arrived to the UC system as an undergrad at UC Santa Cruz, growing as both a scholar and engaged community member. This growth continued as I attended graduate school across the country in New York City, where I earned a master’s degree studying educational leadership.

Later in life, I came back to school for a doctorate in Education here at UC Davis. This too was transformative. It is also where I developed as a scholar-practitioner, and where I began to contribute and engage further in academia while continuing to grow as a leader-practitioner. All of my experiences in higher education come together to form a strong foundation and desire to pay forward the many opportunities I received. This sentiment informs my outlook on my role as an educator and student affairs professional and my sense of service in building opportunities and contributing with my colleagues to make a broader impact in our society within and outside the walls of higher education.

On a lighter note, I have enjoyed my work in the UC system—I find it gratifying to partner with students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members and be in a space of development and growth.

Q: What are some highlights or accomplishments that you are most proud of throughout your career so far?

A: I have had the opportunity to work on projects focused on racial equity in higher education, which aligns with my research interests and that has resulted in a number of projects that I would consider highlights:

  • HSI Initiatives, including:
    • Math, writing, advising, sense of belonging, family engagement, transfer pathways, STEM pathways, Racial Equity Inquiry and Data Dashboards, Multicultural Humility Professional Development
  • EOP Textbook Lending Library
  • EOP Financial Literacy Program
  • Pathways to Research
  • Black Men’s Initiative
  • Professional Career Development Program—Undocumented Students
  • Facility Retrofits
    • Student Activities, Lionel Cantú Queer Center, Kresge College
  • Convener and Lead for Academic Accommodations Work Group
  • AB-21 Response Team and UCSC Point of Contact
  • Rosa Parks African American Theme House (RPAATH)
  • Crossing the Finish Line (near finishers and stop-out student cases)
  • Undocumented Entrepreneur Pilot Program

Q: What drew you to UC Davis and the role of Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs?

A: I was drawn to UC Davis for multiple reasons. As I mentioned before, I had a transformative and positive experience as a graduate student here, and I knew this opportunity would allow me to make a broader impact and pay forward the wonderful experience I had. I was also ready to take the next step in my career to continue to grow both personally and professionally. The strong reputation of the campus, our chancellor and the opportunity to serve as vice chancellor and lead the division of student affairs was also very exciting.

Q: You received your EdD. from UC Davis. How do you think your time spent here might influence your approach for this role?

A: In the School of Education, I studied leadership and racial equity in higher education, and I began to seek opportunities where I could have an impact in these areas, particularly at a public research university. I also saw the opportunity to contribute and learn from the existing team, which I knew would make for a productive and exciting experience.

Q: As Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, what is your vision for the division?

A: There are three pillars that I am bringing to UC Davis that will serve as the foundation for building a collective vision for the division:

  • serving the whole student
  • forming meaningful and long-lasting partnerships
  • developing well-rounded student affairs professionals.

In addition, I would add two key areas which include COVID-19 safety and recovery along with racial and social equity initiatives designed to increase educational outcomes. These are foundational concepts and ideas which will require more learning on my end and a lot of listening to better understand the campus community.

Q: What would you want to say to students?

A: I want students to know that I look forward to working in partnership and that I come to this position with a service-oriented approach. I also want them to get to know me as a person, and that I am a human being who is approachable and will listen and engage as often as I am able to do so. While I come with some ideas, I am open to learning from all. I enjoy my work, and I see student affairs as a labor of love and seek to find joy in the work.

On a personal level, I come from a family that immigrated to the United States from Bolivia when I was two years old. I grew up in the Bay Area and have many intersecting identities as a Latino male, father, partner and scholar-practitioner. I come from a family of teachers and activists who have always promoted education and service. In my personal life, I enjoy soccer, swimming, basketball and spending time with my family and friends, and I look forward to getting to know students and community members.

It is a priority of mine to cultivate a thoughtful, sustained and meaningful relationship with you and your fellow students, and I welcome your input on the best ways to facilitate this. Please email any ideas to vcstudentaffairs@ucdavis.edu.

Q: What would you want to say to Student Affairs staff?

A: In addition to my answer above, I strongly believe that we as student affairs practitioners should live out our values as much as possible—that by living our guidance, we are better equipped to serve and partner with students. I value varying opinions, healthy debate and respectful disagreement to draw out our best thinking as a collective. I look forward to learning from the Student Affairs team and working alongside them. You may find that I ask a lot of questions and that is part of my learning process and I appreciate your patience as I come up to speed.