ALBANY – Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the State University of New York announced today, June 21, that the SUNY Board of Trustees have appointed Dr. Havidán Rodríguez to be the 20th president of the University at Albany. The appointment will take effect in mid-September.
Rodríguez, 58, has 25 years of experience as a leader in higher education. He is the founding provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) and a respected scholar who studies the socio-economic impacts of disasters and the economic well-being of minority populations in the United States and Puerto Rico. He is also a strong advocate for involving undergraduates in research.
“Dr. Rodríguez comes to SUNY and to UAlbany with outstanding credentials, a proven record of academic as well as research excellence, and a portfolio that suits him to the job ideally,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. “I have every confidence that Dr. Rodríguez will foster an inclusive campus environment where students, faculty and staff are inspired to the highest levels of success.”
According to UAlbany, Rodríguez was instrumental in creating UTRGV, a new public research university, and building the university’s new medical school from the ground up. UTRGV, which opened in 2015, was formed by combining The University of Texas at Brownsville and The University of Texas Pan-American, where Rodríguez was interim president, provost and vice president for academic affairs. UTRGV serves some 27,500 students in 11 schools and colleges, including the School of Medicine, the College of Engineering and Computer Science and colleges of Sciences, Health Affairs, Education, Business and Entrepreneurship, Fine Arts and Liberal Arts.
“With experience and expertise in areas that directly parallel the University at Albany’s own strengths and focus, it seems as though Dr. Rodríguez’s esteemed career has been pointing him in SUNY’s direction all along,” said SUNY Board of Trustees Chairman H. Carl McCall. “On behalf of the Board of Trustees and the entire SUNY family, I am honored to welcome him to the Capital District, and I look forward to our work together.”
Prior to his leadership positions in Texas, Rodríguez spent seven years at the University of Delaware — as deputy provost, vice provost for academic affairs and international programs, and professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice. He also was a core faculty member and director of the university’s Disaster Research Center, the first social science research center in the world devoted to the study of disasters.
“Havidán Rodríguez is an experienced and dynamic leader whose background aligns well with the University at Albany’s priorities, institutional values and emerging momentum,” said UAlbany Interim President James R. Stellar. “I am confident that Dr. Rodríguez will be a highly effective president for UAlbany, and I look forward to working closely with him in the transition.”
“Naming the next president of the University at Albany is critical to ensuring the continued advancement of this great institution, but it is also one of the most important hires for our entire region,” said Michael J. Castellana, chairman of the Presidential Search Committee and SEFCU president and CEO. “I am very confident that Dr. Havidán Rodríguez is the person who will take the University and the Capital Region to new heights.”
Rodríguez said he and his wife, Rosy Lopez, are excited about moving to Albany. “We look forward to getting to know the university and its many internal and external stakeholders,” he said. The couple has three grown children.
“I am honored and privileged to have been chosen to serve as the University at Albany’s next president,” Rodríguez said. “UAlbany has an outstanding reputation among the nation’s research universities. I thank Governor Cuomo, Chairman McCall, Chancellor Zimpher and the Board of Trustees for their confidence in me. I am also very grateful to Michael Castellana and the search committee, and I am looking forward to working with our new Chancellor, Dr. Kristina Johnson.”
Rodríguez has received numerous recognitions and awards, including the Frey Foundation Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (Spring, 2002) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) Outstanding Achievement Award (2004); He was recognized as one of the Hispanics of the Year in the State of Delaware for which he received the Professional Achievement Award (2007); received the Alfredo G. de los Santos, Jr. Distinguished Leadership Award by the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education (2015); was the featured cover story of the national publication, The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education Magazine (July 2015); was highlighted in the Bright Spots in Hispanic Education by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics (September 2015); and received the American Association for Access, Equity and Diversity Cesar Estrada Chavez Award (2016).
Just today, the National Diversity Council announced that it has named Rodríguez to its annual list of National Top Latino Leaders, one of 15 who will be honored at the National Latino Leadership Conference in San Antonio in late September.
Rodríguez has served on a number of committees for the National Academy of Sciences; on review panels for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Ford Foundation; and chaired the Latina/Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association.
He has received funding from NSF, the Ford Foundation, the National Institute of Mental Health, FEMA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the UPRM Sea Grant Program, among others, for research projects focusing on the social science aspects of disasters and for projects aimed at providing hands-on research training and mentoring to undergraduate and graduate students. He was also the principal investigator for the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Program: Training the Next Generation of Disaster Researchers, funded by NSF. Currently, he serves as the principal investigator for an NSF ADVANCE Institutional Transformation grant aimed at increasing the representation, participation and leadership of women faculty in STEM fields.
Rodríguez received his Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from the University of Maryland, his M.A. in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and his Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
A copy of Dr. Rodríguez’s curriculum vitae is available online.