They met “almost by accident at a school dance.” He had been in the United States for less than a year.

“I thought he was very exotic, coming from Argentina,” said Holly Byers Ochoa, remembering meeting her future husband more than 46 years ago. “We hit it off so well. We had such great conversations.”

The relationship that began at Woodrow Wilson High School in Portland, Ore., has now wound its way to California’s Central Coast, where Eduardo M. Ochoa is taking over leadership of Cal State Monterey Bay with his wife Holly by his side.

They married while both were at Reed College and since then they have lived and worked at a number of locations around the country.

“Living in New York City was great fun as a young married couple, but for raising a family, California has been great. While living in Claremont we were able to go to the beach, the big city, the mountains, or the desert, all within an hour’s drive,” Ms. Ochoa said. “As empty-nesters, we enjoyed the Sonoma wine country, so I guess it depends on where you are in your life journey.”

For a time during the Ochoas stay in Washington, D.C., the family, including sons Michael and Eric, all lived together in an old Victorian home. For now, Michael, an insurance adjuster with Travelers, and Eric, a graduate student at George Washington University, remain in Washington, D.C.

Ms. Ochoa, who has a bachelor’s degree from Reed and a master’s from City University of New York, has worked as a historian, writer and editor. At Claremont Colleges, she was the editor of a five-volume work of collected papers of Civil War figures Thaddeus Stevens, Salmon P. Chase and Lucretia Mott.

She said that, while she will miss the museums in Washington, she is looking forward to getting involved in the arts and history community on the Central Coast. And she has begun to take advantage of the natural resources that are just outside the front door of the president’s home on East Campus.

“I’ve enjoyed bike riding since childhood, including trail riding. I also like to hike whenever and wherever possible. Eduardo and I plan to ride the local beach trails next,” she said.

She said she has been gratified by the positive reception the Ochoas have received upon their arrival on campus.

She traces the roots of her husband’s preparation for this position back to his undergraduate liberal arts studies at Reed, “which ranged from physics to philosophy, with quite a lot in between.”

“To be a good college president, it helps to have a grasp of the big picture and to be able to research and analyze problems, which Reed equipped him to do,” she said.

–James Tinney