Select Page

Featured at the podium is Dr. Havidán Rodríguez, founding Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, on Saturday, July 23, 2016, welcoming the UTRGV School of Medicine’s Class of 2020 for the inaugural White Coat Ceremony at the Performing Arts Center in Edinburg. Among the dignitaries who also participated in the South Texas landmark event were, front row, from left: Dr. Leonel Vela, then-Senior Associate Dean for Education and Academic Affairs; Dr. Guy Bailey, President of UTRGV; and UT System Chancellor William H. McRaven. Rodríguez, a former member of the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors, caught the attention of statewide leaders in higher education and state politics on the East Coast which resulted in the Wednesday, June 21, 2017 announcement by New York Gov. Mario Cuomo that the longtime Edinburg resident has been selected as the 20th president of The University at Albany. The appointment will take effect in mid-September.

Photograph By DAVID PIKE

Dr. Havidán Rodríguez generously credits the people of South Texas – including his colleagues on the Board of Directors of the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation — for helping prepare him to serve as the 20th president of The University at Albany in upstate New York. Rodríguez believes one of the strengths of his successful candidacy for the presidency of The University at Albany was his work on the Edinburg EDC Board of Directors from June 2013 through May 2015, which allowed him to develop expertise in municipal government, economic development, and state legislative affairs. “I think it was critically important because it got me, and it got UTPA (The University of Texas-Pan American), and later UTRGV, to remain connected to the city, and continued to fortify and strengthen the university relationships with the city,” he said. “We established great partnerships that benefited both the city and UTRGV, and especially the students. This was a fabulous experience in my professional development.” The Edinburg EDC Board of Directors is comprised of Mayor Richard García as President, Harvey Rodríguez, Jr. as Vice President, Elías Longoria, Jr. as Secretary/Treasurer, and Richard Rupert and Dr. Peter Dabrowski as Members. The Edinburg EDC, of which Gus García is Executive Director, is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council. Mayor Richard García and Edinburg EDC Executive Director Gus García are not related. Gus García said Rodríguez’ efforts on behalf of the Edinburg EDC and UTRGV have been impressive and appreciated. “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, soon-to-be President Rodríguez has made his presence felt in these and many other ways,” Gus García said. 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 Edinburg EDC 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.

••••••

Edinburg EDC: Dr. Havidán Rodríguez, UTRGV Provost and former member of the Edinburg EDC Board of Directors, appointed by New York Gov. Cuomo as President of The University at Albany

By DAVID A. DÍAZ
Legislativemedia@aol.com

Dr. Havidán Rodríguez, founding Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, generously credits the people of South Texas – including his colleagues on the Board of Directors of the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation — for helping prepare him to serve as the 20th president of The University at Albany in upstate New York.

The Edinburg EDC Board of Directors is comprised of Mayor Richard García as President, Harvey Rodríguez, Jr. as Vice President, Elías Longoria, Jr. as Secretary/Treasurer, and Richard Rupert and Dr. Peter Dabrowski as Members.

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

Mayor Richard García and Edinburg EDC Executive Director Gus García are not related.

Havidán Rodríguez served on the Board of Directors of the Edinburg EDC from June 2013 through May 2015.

Gus García said Rodríguez’ efforts on behalf of the Edinburg EDC and UTRGV have been impressive and appreciated.

“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, soon-to-be President Rodríguez has made his presence felt in these and many other ways,” Gus García said.

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 Edinburg EDC 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, 58, in mid-September 2017 will begin leading The University at Albany (enrollment of 17,000+ students with a campus size of 1,421 acres) as the first Hispanic president of the 64 colleges that make up the State University of New York, known as SUNY, one of the systems of public institutions of higher education in that state.

Joining him in this latest, and certainly one of the most monumental chapters of his life, will be his wife, Rosy López.

NEW YORK GOV. CUOMO CALLS RODRÍGUEZ’ APPOINTMENT “HISTORY-MAKING”

So significant was Rodríguez’ selection as president that no less than the governor of New York announced on Wednesday, June 21, 2017 that the hiring was a landmark event for public education in the nation’s third-most populous state (19.6 million).

“Dr. Rodríguez is a proven leader with over 25 years in higher education and will bring the experience, talent and expertise we need to keep The University at Albany moving forward,” Gov. Mario Cuomo said. “The SUNY system is one of the crown jewels of New York, and by working with Dr. Rodríguez we will continue to bring it to new heights and ensure the best education possible for our students. I congratulate him on this history-making appointment, and look forward to working together in the future.”

It was his experiences and achievements in Edinburg, with the university, and with the Edinburg EDC Board of Directors that helped catch the positive attention in the corridors of power at the New York governor’s office and the SUNY leadership.

“Some (in New York State) were very familiar with what is happening at UTRGV. There were many questions about the creation of UTRGV and the managerial, administrative, and leadership experiences that were developed in such a complex, complicated, and convoluted initiative such as this, which has the potential for transforming an entire region,” he said. “In my view, this was one of the most important reasons that helped me get the presidency of the The University at Albany.”

Rodríguez believes another one of the strengths of his successful candidacy for the presidency of The University at Albany was his work on the Edinburg EDC Board of Directors, which allowed him to develop expertise in municipal government, economic development, and state legislative affairs.

“I think it was critically important because it got me, and it got UTPA, and later UTRGV, to remain connected to the city, and continued to fortify and strengthen the university relationships with the city,” he said. “We established great partnerships that benefited both the city and UTRGV, and especially the students. This was a fabulous experience in my professional development.”

For that, Rodríguez is very grateful, and notes that his historic rise in higher education and economic growth are strong reflections of the people of Edinburg, UTRGV, and the Valley.

“It feels great. But it’s not about me,” Rodríguez reflected on Friday, June 7, 2017, during a break at a legislative appreciation event sponsored by The Rio Grande Valley Partnership that was hosted at the $42.7 million Performing Arts Complex at UTRGV in Edinburg. “It is a recognition of the accomplishments that have happened here in the Valley. This is about all the work of the great people who I work with and the excellent things they have done at this great institution.”

RODRÍGUEZ WAS A KEY PLAYER IN THE CREATION OF UTRGV AND ITS SCHOOL OF MEDICINE

When he first came to Edinburg almost seven years ago, in December 2010, Rodríguez already had an impressive résumé when he began the job as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs for what was then known as The University of Texas-Pan American in Edinburg.

Before too long, Rodríguez would become involved in what would result in one of the most important advances in higher education in Texas, with negotiations within the UT System and proposals before the Texas Legislature that led to the landmark creation of UTRGV, along with the creation of its School of Medicine in Edinburg.

In 2013, UTRGV was created by the Texas Legislature under Senate Bill 24 by Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen/Rep. René Oliveira, D-Browsville, as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions. (http://www.utrgv.edu/en-us/about-utrgv/history/)

Rodríguez was a major player helping represent the university’s and Edinburg’s best interests before the Texas Legislature during those momentous times, even later serving as President Ad Interim during the final year of UTPA before it became the flagship campus for UTRGV.

In May 2014, Dr. Guy Bailey, former President of The University of Alabama and Texas Tech University, became UTRGV’s founding President, and Rodríguez resumed his position as second-in-command for the newly-created South Texas higher education system, which, with its School of Medicine, also has campuses or facilities in Rio Grande City, Harlingen, South Padre Island, McAllen, Weslaco, and Brownsville.

“I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this opportunity than Dr. Rodríguez, and we should all be excited and proud for this next chapter in his career,” said Bailey. “He played a crucial role in the formation of UTRGV, and at one point, served as interim president at UTPA and provost of UTRGV at the same time. That is a testament to his leadership, and we all owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude for his great service.”

With a proven track record of working with, and being part of, local and state government, Rodríguez will take those lessons learned in Edinburg and apply them on behalf of The University at Albany.

“We will spend a lot of time with the New York State Legislature, meeting with the mayor of Albany and Gov. Cuomo and their staffs, and meeting with a variety of other stakeholders who play key roles in higher education,” said the incoming president of The University at Albany. “It is about building communities, creating partnerships, and linking with the state government for the success of the university and our students.”

“THE GROWTH OF EDINBURG HAS BEEN AMAZING”

As for his soon-to-be former hometown, he is confident of a bright future for the city, region, and university.

“The growth in Edinburg has been amazing during these past seven years. It takes great leadership in our community and local government, organizations, and industry,” said Rodríguez. “It is great for the Valley, because what is good for Edinburg is good for the Valley as well. We need to pull together as the Rio Grande Valley to continue to build our local cities and make it a very strong region for our country.”

Rodríguez also saluted the leadership of UTRGV, UTPA and UT-Brownsville/Texas Southmost College for their successes and even sacrifices on behalf of the institution.

When Dr. Robert Nelsen was president of UTPA, Rodríguez was impressed by Nelsen’s willingness to risk losing the presidency when talk of creating UTRGV began in 2012.

Since UTB/TSC, then led by Dr. Juliet García for 22 years, and UTPA were going to become part of UTRGV, there would be the need to select a president once UTRGV was created. Both Nelsen and García were active champions for UTRGV, even though that would place their jobs in danger for doing the right thing.

“You have to think about the broader community, and first and foremost, our students,” Rodríguez said. “Everyone who was engaged in this initiative (creation of UTRGV) strongly supported our students, and we wanted to make sure that whatever we did, we ensured the success of our students so that they would become engaged, educated, global contributing citizens in the Valley and beyond.”

Nelson would apply for the presidency of UTRGV, becoming one of four finalists in an all-star line-up that included Luis Caldera, a former U.S. Secretary of the Army, and Bailey. The fourth finalist was never revealed by the UT System.

On April 28, 2014, Bailey was named the founding President of UTRGV.

But both Nelsen and Juliet García still would be rewarded for their efforts to improve higher education in deep South Texas.

The California State University (CSU) Board of Trustees on Wednesday, March 25, 2015, appointed Nelsen as President of California State University, Sacramento (officially known as “Sacramento State”).

Juliet García, who was the first Mexican American president of a college or university in Texas in 1986, was hired by the UT System, where she currently serves as Senior Advisory to the UT System chancellor for community, national and global engagement.

As for Bailey, Rodríguez was equally generous in his praise for him.

“Dr. Bailey is an amazing president. We have learned how to organize, how to pull together a university, understanding the different initiatives that we are going to be developing. He came with a strong background in developing and expanding research institutions, and we are building an emerging research university at UTRGV,” he said. “Putting all of this together, building the doctoral programs, these are all experiences that Dr. Bailey brought with him, and I certainly learned a lot from him.”

Rodríguez will remain in South Texas for several more weeks, helping Bailey in whatever roles he is needed to prepare UTRGV for the new academic year. When he does leave, it will be with the pride and knowledge of a job well-done for the people.

“The horizon for the Rio Grande Valley, the future for the Rio Grande Valley, and specifically for the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley is amazing. We have many initiatives and projects, research initiatives, new doctoral and undergraduate programs to continue to build, expand and strengthen UTRGV,” he said. “UTRGV will continue to serve as an economic engine and will continue to provide an excellent education to our citizens and beyond. The partnership between UTRGV and Edinburg will be particularly critical for the continued success for the Valley.”

Where destiny will continue to take Rodríguez remains to be seen.

But one thing is for sure – he won’t forget where his journey in life has brought him so far.

“The future is bright and amazing in the Valley,” he beamed with optimism. “And I can’t wait to look back five years from now and see the great things that are being accomplished here.”

••••••

What follows is the official announcement from New York regarding Rodríguez’ appointment as President of The University at Albany:

GOV. CUOMO ANNOUNCES APPOINTMENT OF DR. HAVIDÁN RODRÍGUEZ AS 20TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNIVERSITY AT ALBANY

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Wednesday, June 21, 2017 announced the appointment of Dr. Havidán Rodríguez as the first Hispanic president of any SUNY four-year college in New York State history. Rodríguez’ appointment as the 20th president of The University at Albany follows the launch of the Governor’s SUNY Hispanic Leadership Institute, charged with developing and supporting the next generation of executive-level Latino leaders across the SUNY system.

Rodríguez joins UAlbany following 25 years of experience as a leader in higher education, previously serving as the founding provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

“Dr. Rodríguez is a proven leader with over 25 years in higher education and will bring the experience, talent and expertise we need to keep the University at Albany moving forward,” Cuomo said. “The SUNY system is one of the crown jewels of New York, and by working with Dr. Rodríguez we will continue to bring it to new heights and ensure the best education possible for our students. I congratulate him on this history-making appointment, and look forward to working together in the future.”

“I am honored and privileged to have been chosen to serve as The University at Albany’s next president,” Dr. 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.”

The National Diversity Council on Wednesday, June 21, 2017 released their list of 2017 Top Latino Leaders composed of a cross section of industry experts, including business, education, policy and community leaders. Only two of the 15 recipients selected nationwide were in the field of higher education, and Rodríguez was the only academic administrator to make the list.

Rodríguez comes to the University at Albany with over 25 years of experience in higher education, most recently serving as the founding Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Rodríguez is the Founding Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, and a tenured professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the UTRGV.

Prior to that, Rodríguez served as President Ad Interim, and Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at The University of Texas – Pan American. Before arriving at UTPA, Rodríguez served as the Deputy Provost, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and International Programs, and Professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice at The University of Delaware, where he also directed the Disaster Research Center, the oldest and one of the leading social science disaster research centers in the world. Rodríguez held faculty and administrative positions at The University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez for over a decade, and served as Director of the Minority Affairs Program for the American Sociological Association. He also has been a visiting professor at The University of Michigan’s Population Fellow’s Program.

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.

SUNY Board of Trustees Chairman H. Carl McCall said, “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. 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.”

SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher said, “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. 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.”

Assemblyman N. Nick Perry, chair of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus and member of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Diversity and Inclusion, said, “Dr. Rodríguez is one of the most respected and highly-regarded leaders in higher education, and I know he will continue to build on The University at Albany’s legacy of excellence during his tenure. I congratulate Dr. Rodríguez on this well-deserved appointment, and I am proud to see more prominent Hispanic leaders take on leadership roles in SUNY and across state government. I look forward to working together with him to strengthen the SUNY system and ensure we equip generations of New York’s students with the skills they need to succeed.”

Assemblyman Marcos A. Crespo, chair of the Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force and member of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Diversity and Inclusion, said, “It is said good things come to those who wait. For 70 years New York’s Latino community has waited for executive level leadership in SUNY to mirror its growing strength. Today with the selection of an accomplished educator and administrator such as Dr. Havidán Rodríguez to head one of our flagship research colleges, history is made.”

About the SUNY Hispanic Leadership Institute

The SUNY Hispanic Leadership Institute, first announced by the governor in March, focuses on developing, retaining and promoting Hispanic leaders at SUNY for executive positions at the highest levels of the SUNY system. As the largest comprehensive public system of higher education in the United States, SUNY has boldly committed to become the most inclusive university system in the country. To meet that goal, SUNY’s Latino Leadership Advisory Council, led by Dr. Ricardo Azziz, SUNY’s Chief Officer of Academic and Hospital Affairs, works to recruit and train Hispanic leaders for the positions of university president, provost, chief financial officer, chief business officer, among others.

The Institute offers a year-long fellowship program through which mid- to senior-level Latino managers and executives will shadow presidents at three SUNY campuses, as well as executives at SUNY’s System Administration in Albany. The SUNY Hispanic Leadership Institute also offers shorter duration development opportunities for middle-level Hispanic leaders whose next career advancement would be to serve in a SUNY college president’s cabinet. The Institute will also host an annual two-day Latino Leadership Conference for faculty from across SUNY.

••••••

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

Share This

Share this post with your friends!