Pardis Mahdavi is the President of the University of La Verne. Prior to joining the University of La Verne, she was Provost and Executive Vice President at the University of Montana. She was also the Dean of the social sciences division in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University, and a professor in ASU’s School of Social Transformation. Mahdavi's approach to higher education has been informed by her personal journey as an Iranian-American woman growing up in the U.S., as well as her training as an anthropologist where she learned to be reflexive about complex power dynamics. She has focused her academic career on diversity, inclusion, human trafficking, migration, sexuality, human rights, feminism, and public health.

Prior to joining ASU, she was the acting dean of the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. Before coming to Denver, she was at Pomona College from 2006 to 2017, where she most recently served as professor and chair of anthropology, director of the Pacific Basin Institute at Pomona College, as well as dean of women.

She has published six single-authored books and one edited volume in addition to numerous journal and news articles. She has been a fellow at the Social Sciences Research Council, the American Council on Learned Societies, Google Ideas, and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. She has consulted for a wide array of organizations including the U.S. government, Google Inc., and the United Nations.