SUNY Albany Appoints its First Latino President - Higher Education
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SUNY Albany Appoints its First Latino President

by Gia Savage

The State University of New York at Albany has tapped Dr. Havidán Rodríguez to lead the institution. The prominent university administrator becomes the first Hispanic president of any SUNY four-year college.

Rodríguez, 58, currently is the founding provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at the University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley. He will begin his new post in mid-September.

Dr. Havidán Rodríguez

“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.”

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo made the announcement along with the SUNY Board of Trustees.

“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.

Michael J. Castellana, chairman of the presidential search committee, said that Rodriguez’s background and skills made him the preferred candidate.

“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,” Castellana said. “I am very confident that Dr. Havidán Rodríguez is the person who will take the university and the Capital Region to new heights.”

Rodriguez’s historic appointment follows the presidency of Dr. Robert J. Jones, an African American who left in 2016 to become the chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and vice president of the University of Illinois System.

Former Howard University President H. Patrick Swygert served as president of UAlbany from 1990-1995.

Rodriguez has been praised for his leadership skills within higher education. Prior to becoming provost and executive vice president at University of Texas at Rio Grande Valle, Rodriguez served in multiple positions at the University of Delaware including director of the institution’s Disaster Research Center, which is considered the oldest and one of the leading social science disaster research centers in the world.”

Rodriguez held positions at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez, the American Sociological Association, and the University of Michigan’s Population Fellows summer program.

The recipient of numerous awards, Rodriguez has most recently joined the list of National Top Latino Leaders, by the National Diversity Council. He will be one of 15 leaders honored at the National Latino Leadership Conference in San Antonio in September 2017.

“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 Dr. James R. Stellar, who has been the interim president since last year. “I am confident that Dr. Rodriguez will be a highly effective president for UAlbany, and I look forward to working closely with him in the transition.”

Gia Savage can be reached at gsavage@diverseeducation.com. You can follow her on Twitter @giaTHEsavage

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