The announcement concludes an in-depth search that has been underway for three months after Tuck’s former admissions director, Dawna Clarke, stepped down to start an admissions consulting firm in the fall of 2016.
Gina Clark de Cognets, who chaired the search, said that Peña stood out in the applicant pool as a “collaborative and strategic leader” whose “energy and enthusiasm is contagious.”
Meanwhile, Tuck dean Matthew Slaughter said that Peña’s “expertise in MBA admissions” as well as his “wonderful warmth and creativity” would help Tuck find those students “for whom our mission speaks the loudest.”
Peña holds a dual bachelor’s degree from USC and a dual MBA and MA in Education from Stanford. After completing his undergraduate education at USC, Peña joined the USC Annenberg School of Communications and Journalism as assistant director of admissions.
During his time at USC, Peña became increasingly interested in putting together his interest in education with an ability to manage people.
Talking to Poets & Quants, Peña says that at USC, many of his mentors “were extremely passionate about the mission of higher education and yet did not have the same depth of understanding of human resource management and financial planning that I hoped to have as an aspiring leader in the field.”
So Peña decided to pursue a management degree, enrolling at Stanford for a joint MBA/MA Education. Upon graduating, Peña joined the admissions team at Stanford GSB, where he moved up the ranks to become the school’s MBA admissions director.
At Stanford, Peña worked closely with Derrick Bolton, who was the school’s dean of admissions until last year. Peña explained to Poets & Quants: “I owe him a great deal in terms of not just my professional growth but also my own personal development.”
Now, Peña looks to take his enthusiasm for bringing people together to Tuck. Commenting on his new position, Peña described his role as that of a “community builder” and said he was drawn by the school’s emphasis on “cultivating a distinctly immersive, intimate, and collaborative environment.”
No doubt Peña has big shoes to fill. A 2016 survey found that Tuck ranked first in terms of its reputation for connecting with prospective students. But with his interest in nurturing a sense of community, Peña looks up for the challenge. His new position starts on July 18.