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Dr. Havidán Rodríguez - Photograph By PAUL CHOUY

Featured: Dr. Havidán Rodríguez, a former member of the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors, has been selected by the American Association for Access, Equity and Diversity (AAAED) to receive its distinguished 2016 Cesar Estrada Chavez Award, the Edinburg EDC and The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley have announced.

Photograph By PAUL CHOUY

Dr. Havidán Rodríguez, who served on the Edinburg EDC Board of Directors from 2013 to 2015, is founding Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs at UTRGV. Mayor Richard García said Rodríguez’ efforts on behalf of Edinburg and UTRGV have been impressive. From working with the Edinburg EDC and the Edinburg City Council on its joint efforts that have brought hundreds of millions of dollars in economic growth to the community, to helping the city’s leadership on its pro-business and high quality-of-life strategies that have resulted, for years, in one of the lowest unemployment rates in deep South Texas, Havidán Rodríguez has made his presence felt in these and many other ways.

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UTRGV Provost Havidán Rodríguez, a former member of the Edinburg EDC Board of Directors, receives 2016 César Estrada Chávez Award

By DAVID A. DÍAZ
legislativemedia@aol.com

Dr. Havidán Rodríguez, a former member of the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors, has been selected by the American Association for Access, Equity and Diversity (AAAED) to receive its distinguished 2016 Cesar Estrada Chavez Award, the Edinburg EDC and The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley have announced. Rodríguez, who served on the Edinburg EDC Board of Directors from 2013 to 2015, is founding Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs at UTRGV.

Rodríguez, who served on the Edinburg EDC Board of Directors from 2013 to 2015, is founding Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs at UTRGV.

The Edinburg EDC, of which Agustín García, Jr. is Executive Director, is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council.

The Edinburg EDC Board of Directors is comprised of Mark Iglesias as President, Harvey Rodríguez as Vice President, Ellie M. Torres as Secretary/Treasurer, and Mayor Richard García and Richard Ruppert as Members.

Agustín García, Jr. and Mayor Richard García are not related.

The Edinburg EDC and its Board of Directors, along with the Edinburg City Council, promote the best interests of UTRGV and the UTRGV School of Medicine through its extensive legislative lobbying efforts before the UT System Board of Regents, the Texas Legislature, and Congress.

The award will be presented Thursday, June 9, 2016 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., during AAAED’s 42nd National Conference and Annual Meeting, according to Gail Fagan, Senior Writer at UTRGV.

“Named for the famed Latino labor leader and civil rights activist, the Cesar Chavez Award is presented to an individual who has demonstrated leadership in support of workers’ rights and humanitarian issues,” Fagan explained.

His academic career reflects his passion about issues related to human and civil rights, social justice and increasing access and equity for under-represented populations, said Dr. Marie Mora, UTRGV Associate Vice Provost for Faculty Diversity and last year’s César Estrada Chávez Award winner, who nominated Rodríguez for the 2016 award.

“These issues are prevalent throughout his notable research in two main areas: disasters and their disproportionate impacts on vulnerable populations, and Hispanics in the U.S. and their social mobility outcomes,” Mora said.

Rodríguez’ international disaster-related research has been used to inform and shape public policy related to human rights and social justice for the betterment of society, such as improving warning systems for natural disasters.

At UTRGV, Rodríguez is principal investigator of a five-year, $3.1 million ADVANCE Institutional Transformation grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), aimed at increasing the representation and advancement of women faculty, especially Latinas, in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. Under his leadership, the grant has led to the initiation of an ADVANCE Leadership Institute, an ADVANCE Administrative Fellows and Associate-to-Full Professor programs and a Women’s Faculty Network at UTRGV, Fagan added.

HAVIDÁN RODRÍGUEZ HAS MADE HIS PRESENCE FELT

Rodríguez’ efforts on behalf of Edinburg and UTRGV have been impressive.

From working with the Edinburg EDC and the Edinburg City Council on its joint efforts that have brought hundreds of millions of dollars in economic growth to the community, to helping the city’s leadership on its pro-business and high quality-of-life strategies that have resulted, for years, in one of the lowest unemployment rates in deep South Texas, Rodríguez has made his presence felt in these and many other ways.

Among their many duties, members of the Edinburg EDC Board of Directors attend board meetings and vote on key issues regarding job creation and social, cultural and economic development of the community. They, along with the EEDC staff, also visit with potential business investors and consultants who work in collaboration with the city, as well as facilitate and attend joint meetings with the university and the city’s key officials.

Rodríguez, who came to UT Pan American in 2011 as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs and also served for a year as UTPA President Ad Interim, said he is both humbled by and appreciative of the recognition, said Fagan.

“The only way to do great work is to love what you do, which is the result of many hardworking, deeply committed and passionate colleagues who positively impact workers’ rights and humanitarian affairs,” Rodríguez said. “This award symbolizes a collective effort aimed at producing a significant and sustainable influence for the advancement of our communities.”

THE MEASURE OF A PERSON

Edinburg EDC Board President Mark Iglesias said Rodríguez is the latest symbol of the high-caliber individuals who call Edinburg their home.

“It is said that the measure of a person is what one does with the opportunities given us, and Dr. Rodríguez has used his gifts, skills and influence to help improve the lives of countless people,” said Iglesias. “These are the high standards we set for ourselves at the Edinburg EDC and the Edinburg City Council, and we congratulate him for bringing honor upon himself, his family, and all of Edinburg and UTRGV.”

Edinburg EDC Executive Director Agustín García, Jr. recalled when Rodríguez was appointed to the Board of Directors on June 13, 2013 for a two-year term, which ran through May 2015.

“Just like the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council, Dr. Rodríguez excelled in connecting the mission of UTRGV to the goals of the city leadership by helping create and develop students with the skills, knowledge and education that can benefit from opportunities,” the Edinburg EDC Executive Director said in an interview with Javier Espinoza, who wrote a profile about Rodríguez for UTRGV on July 26, 2013.

Rodríguez’ appointment to the Edinburg EDC Board of Directors followed the departure of a fellow university leader – Dr. Glenn Martínez – who was selected as Department Chair and Professor of Spanish, in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at The Ohio State University, located in Columbus, Ohio.

“It’s important for (UTRGV) to understand and interact with our local business community as Dr. Rodríguez’s position with Edinburg EDC was key to understanding the impact these changes will have on the region’s growth,” Agustín García, Jr. continued. “The Edinburg EDC is one more avenue for the university to embrace. The business communities across the region tout the university for the assets it brings to the table. Large employers and potential prospects want to see that an institute of higher learning exists. (UTRGV) meets that requirement and more.”

Also while serving as a member of the Edinburg EDC Board of Directors, Rodríguez had taken over for Dr. Robert S. Nelsen, now the President of California State University in Sacramento, who stepped down as the Edinburg university’s president on August 31, 2013.

Rodríguez served as UTPA President Ad Interim until prior to the Fall of 2015, when current UTRGV President Dr. Guy Bailey official took over the top spot at the university, which now includes a School of Medicine.

Rodríguez academic career also includes directing the American Sociological Association Minority Fellowship Program while a faculty member at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez and serving as deputy provost at the University of Delaware, where he headed the Disaster Research Center, one of the leading social science disaster research centers in the world.

Rodríguez has received numerous accolades, including recognition in the 2015 Bright Spots in Hispanic Education by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics and receiving the 2015 Alfredo G. de los Santos Jr. Distinguished Leadership Award from the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education. Last year, he was also featured on the cover of the national publication, The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education Magazine.

AAAED’s website states it is the oldest operating national association of professionals in the Equal Opportunity profession. AAAED provides professional training to its members and promotes understanding and advocacy of affirmative action and other equal opportunity and related compliance laws to enhance the tenets of access, inclusion and equality in employment, economic and educational opportunities.

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Gail Fagan and Javier Espinoza contributed to this article. For more information on the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation and the City of Edinburg, please log on to http://edinburgedc.com or to http://www.facebook.com/edinburgedc

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