A California native whose parents immigrated from Mexico and whose father worked in the fields of the San Joaquin Valley, Dr. Juan Sánchez Muñoz has deep roots in the UC System and the Central Valley region. He earned his B.A. in psychology from UC Santa Barbara. Prior to earning his M.A. in Mexican American studies from California State University, Los Angeles, Muñoz served in the U.S. Marine Corps during the 1990-91 Gulf Crisis and was discharged as a sergeant. He was a secondary school teacher, an instructor in the California Community College system, and an adjunct faculty member at Pacific Oakes and Whittier Colleges prior to earning his Ph.D. in education at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he studied curriculum & instruction in the Division of Urban Schooling.
As a faculty member in the Department of Secondary Education at California State University Fullerton, Muñoz served as course custodian, advisor to the Master Program in Secondary Education, and director of educational programs for the Grand Central Art Complex CFUS in Santa Ana. Muñoz has taught courses in classroom management, instructional methods and curriculum development, multicultural education, bilingual education, and critical social theory.
During his time in LA, Muñoz also served on the board of directors of several nonprofit agencies, was appointed to the Los Angeles Workforce Investment Board-Youth Council, served on both the Parks & Recreation and Substance Abuse Commissions in San Bernardino County, and was chair of the 2001 City of Los Angeles Crossroad Symposium for at-risk youth.
Muñoz presently joins UC Merced from the University of Houston Downtown (UHD), where he served as president and, within his first year, launched the university’s largest capital campaign and led the institution’s recovery efforts after Hurricane Harvey. He also presided over UHD’s increases in enrollment, retention and graduation, and new degree programs including a B.S. in nursing and data science. Prior to UHD, Muñoz served as senior vice president for institutional diversity, equity and community engagement and vice provost for undergraduate education and student affairs at Texas Tech University.
He is the author of book chapters, academic articles, essays, refereed and invited conference presentations. In 2010, Muñoz was among the contributing editors of the seminal compilation Handbook of Latinos and Education. The book earned the coveted American Association of Educational Studies' prestigious Critic's Choice Book Award. His recent text, Perspectives in Interdisciplinary and Integrative Studies, explores disciplinary responses and emerging academic offerings that foster interdisciplinary learning.
Muñoz has also served on the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities’ Commission on Access, Diversity and Excellence, and is currently on the board of directors of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities and the American Council on Education. He was appointed to the California Strategic Growth Council in December 2020 and serves as a council member for the Yosemite Conservancy.
He is a graduate of the Academy for Innovative Higher Education Leadership offered jointly by Arizona State and Georgetown Universities, ACE’s Spectrum Executive Leadership Program, Harvard University’s Institute for Management and Leadership, UC Berkeley’s Executive Leadership Academy and the University of Texas Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Policy’s Governor’s Executive Development Program.
He is married to Zenaida Aguirre-Muñoz, Ph.D., an accomplished scholar and professor of cognitive science at UC Merced. The couple has three sons: Joaquin Diego Muñoz, who attends the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy; Cruz Santos Muñoz, a freshman at Texas State University San Marcos; and Juan Amado Muñoz, who attends high school in Merced.