Dr. Sumun L. Pendakur


Dr. Sumun L. Pendakur (Sumi) believes that we have infinite capability to imagine and enact a more just, equitable, and compassionate world.  The body of her work focuses on helping campuses, non-profits, and other organizations build capacity for social justice and racial equity byempowering students, faculty, staff, and administrators to be transformational agents of change in their spheres of influence.  She serves as the Chief Learning Officer and Director of the USC Equity Institutes at the USC Race and Equity Center, dedicated to advancing racial justice in higher education and other sectors.  Prior to this position, Sumi held roles as the Assistant Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion at Harvey MuddCollege and as the Director for USC Asian Pacific American Student Services.

Sumi is a scholar-practitioner, whose research interests and publications focus on Critical Race Theory, Asian American and Pacific Islander students, change agents, and institutional transformation.  She has held leadership positions in the professional associations for her field and presented her original research at NASPA, ACPA, NADOHE, NCORE, and ASHE.  Sumi was recently re-appointed to the Board of Directors for NADOHE, the national chief diversity officers' organization.  She has served as Faculty Coach for the AAC&U’s TIDES (Teaching to Increase Diversity and Equity in STEM) Institute.  She is also the co-editor, with Dr. Shaun Harper and Dr. Stephen Quaye, of Student Engagement in Higher Education: Theoretical Perspectives and Practical Approaches for Diverse Populations (3rd edition) (2019).  Pendakur is a graduate of Northwestern University with a double major in Women’s Studies and History and a Minor in Spanish.  She holds an M.A. in Higher Education Administration from the University of Michigan.  She received her doctorate in Higher Education Leadership from the USC Rossier School of Education.  In 2019, she was named one of the top 35 women in higher education by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education magazine.

Sumi is the multilingual daughter of immigrants, was raised in the Midwest, and currently calls Los Angeles, CA, home.  She is the wife of actor Sunil Malhotra, and proud mommy to Shashi Veer and Shama Shakti.