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Barbara Palmer, News Service (650) 724-6184; e-mail:

Vice Provost Jim Montoya to take College Board post

After a decade of service to Stanford, James Montoya, vice provost for student affairs, is leaving June 30 to take a newly created position as vice president of the College Board.

"There is never a good time to leave Stanford, but it does feel like the right time, and not just because the last class I admitted to the university is graduating this June," Montoya said. "I have been here 10 years. We have a new president and provost who are committed deeply to student affairs and we are blessed with an extraordinary student affairs staff," he added.

"Jim is my idea of a vice provost for student affairs," said Provost John Etchemendy. "His shoes will be hard to fill. We are lucky to have had the benefit of his talents for 10 years and wish him well in his exciting new endeavor."

In his new post, Montoya, 47, will be based in San Jose and will oversee activities and programs of the College Board in the western half of the United States.

The College Board is a national nonprofit membership association with major programs in college admission, guidance, financial aid and enrollment, including the SAT and PSAT/NMSQT testing programs. Montoya served as a College Board trustee from 1993 to 1995 and as faculty in the College Board Summer Admission Institute.

"I know firsthand how deeply rooted the values of access, equity and excellence are to the board's work in connecting students to education opportunities. This is where I want to be in the next phase of my career; I want to help lead the national discussion on the use of standardized tests in the admission process and participate in the development of public policy related to education," Montoya said. "The only major drawback is that I have to leave Stanford to do so," Montoya said.

"We are honored that James Montoya will be joining the College Board as vice president for the West, Southwest, and Midwest regions," Gaston Caperton, College Board president said Monday. "Jim is widely regarded as a real student champion. At Stanford and elsewhere, he has been both honored and beloved by students.

"Because of his experience in college admissions, he has worked very closely with high schools in every part of the country. I can't think of anyone better prepared than he is to advance the College Board's important mission of preparing, inspiring and connecting students to college and opportunity."

Montoya, a native of San Jose, earned a bachelor's degree in Spanish studies from Stanford in 1975 and a master's degree in administration and policy analysis from the School of Education in 1978. He returned to Stanford in 1991 as dean of undergraduate admission, after serving as director of admissions and dean at Occidental College in Los Angeles and Vassar College in New York. At Occidental College, he was the youngest director of admissions at a leading liberal arts school.

In 1994, he was promoted to dean of admission and financial aid. As admissions chief, Montoya designed the Early Decision program, developed the "Life of the Mind" program for high school students and introduced an "intellectual vitality" rating scale designed to assess applicants' love of learning and deep-seated intellectual curiosity. In 1997, Montoya was appointed vice provost for student affairs.

Senior Mike Levin, a political science major and last year's Associated Students president, also said it would be difficult to replace Montoya. "He understands the dynamics of the university so well. He's so well known, and not just by the students he admitted. I've gotten to know him as a person and an administrator and he's just a phenomenal person. I'm personally really, really sad to see him go."

Senior Camellia Rodriguez-SackByrne, who has worked with Montoya planning an upcoming diversity conference and is a staff member in his office, said she's pleased that Montoya is moving into a larger arena.

"It will be an amazing opportunity. I know from what he's done at Stanford, he can connect with so many student groups," she said. Montoya once passed out stuffed animals and read Goodnight Moon to students at a residence hall, she recalled. "Whether he's talking to large groups, or on a one-to-one basis, he connects." It's hard to imagine Stanford without his "cool-cat personality" and bow tie, she said.

"There are few people at Stanford who have been as committed to all of our students as has Jim Montoya," said Luis Fraga, a resident fellow and associate professor of political science, who worked with Montoya on a variety of campus issues. "He will be sorely missed. The university will truly be lucky if it can find anyone who can match his love for Stanford."

As vice provost, Montoya helped create the Freshman-Sophomore College and Toyon Hall as a sophomore-focus residence, secured funding for community centers and chaired a campus task force on improving quality of service to students and parents.

He also reorganized the student affairs division to create the Graduate Student Life Office.

"Jim has paid attention to graduate students in a way that hasn't happened at Stanford since the decentralization of graduate studies in the early 1990s. I credit him and his staff for really attempting to upgrade the quality of life for graduate students," said George Dekker, associate dean for graduate policy. "He's been wonderful in that regard."

For his part, Montoya said he is "planning on having a terrific spring quarter. As a Stanford alumnus, the campus will always feel like home."


By Barbara Palmer

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