President Havidan Rodriguez inaugurated seven months into term
Following months of lobbying the legislature and working to develop a new strategic plan, Havidán Rodríguez was officially inaugurated as the University at Albany’s 20th president in a ceremony held on Friday.
University spokesman Jordan Carleo-Evangelist said the delay between the president’s first day in September and the formal ceremony was intentional, citing Rodríguez’s busy schedule since beginning in the fall.
“The president came and he was just extraordinarily busy,” said Carleo-Evangelist. “He also wanted to take some time to tour the campus to meet as many people as he could from the academic and administrative units. Plus, we had to get everyone’s schedules to line up.”
A key part of the president’s work since taking office has been lobbying the state legislature to allocate more funds for SUNY — and in turn, for UAlbany.
New York State’s budget season begins in the fall, when the governor plans his proposed budget for the state and typically unveils it in January. The assembly and senate then draft versions, working with the governor to finally enact a budget in the spring.
Rodríguez met with state lawmakers in the runup to the budget enactment on March 31. He pushed the university’s key requests, including critical maintenance funding and additional funds for the Center of Excellence in Atmospheric and Environmental Predication and Innovation.
The university had asked the legislature for $20 million to renovate the Schuyler building, a former high school slated to hold departments in the emerging College of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
The state’s final enacted budget includes $22 million of allocated funds for all of UAlbany’s critical maintenance projects — $2 million more than the university requested for the Schuyler project alone.
Rodríguez said he was not worried about choosing which parts of UAlbany’s aging infrastructure to replace with the funds.
“We’re going to make these decisions as a team. We’re going to use the funding that we have, then we’re going to continue to build and to see what the priority projects are and move forward,” said Rodríguez. “Obviously, I spoke about Schuyler; it’s a priority.”
At the ceremony in the Performing Arts Center theater Friday, Rodríguez stepped towards the podium after receiving the sterling silver presidential medallion.
“I now have bling,” he said.
Rodríguez said he believes the leadership change can bring about positive change for UAlbany, pointing to the recently released strategic plan as evidence of the university’s capabilities.
The planning committee, whose listed members number more than 100, released a 27 page booklet on April 3. The plan includes the university’s mission, vision, values and priorities.
“Throughout this process we were strategic, we were selective, and organized but we also developed a sense of urgency,” said Rodríguez.