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SUNY Names 20th UAlbany President

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Havidán Rodríguez, a Texas public higher education leader, will be the next University at Albany president.

SUNY Board officials announced on Wednesday that Rodríguez, 58, will assume the presidency on Sep. 14. He will follow Robert Jones who took an offer as chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign last fall.

Rodríguez, who will become the first Hispanic SUNY four-year institution president, is set to take the reigns of James Stellar, interim president and former provost.

“Havidan Rodríguez is an experienced and dynamic leader whose background aligns well with the University at Albany’s priorities, institutional values, and emerging momentum,”  Stellar said in a press release.

Rodríguez was the founding provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, a public university formed two years ago from a merger between the University of Texas at Brownsville and the University of Texas Pan-American.

Prior, Rodríguez served various administrative and academic roles at Pan-American, the University at Delaware, and the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez. He was also a visiting professor at the University of Michigan for three years.

“My background and experience has prepared to come to an institution that I think is well aligned with my ambitions as an academic leader, with my goals, with my idea of leadership and student focus,” Rodriguez told reporters.

Outside of the UAlbany presidential search, Rodriguez was recently a finalist for the chancellorship at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

According to Micheal Castellana, chair of the University Council, Rodríguez gained unanimous support from the 18-member presidential search committee.

Meanwhile, other members of the university community have expressed support for Stellar to take a permanent role as president. Under SUNY guidelines, interim leaders are barred from consideration during a presidential search unless granted a waiver by the chancellor.

Stellar requested a waiver from Chancellor Nancy Zimpher to apply for the seat earlier this year. His request was not granted.

As interim, Stellar received a $390,000 base salary. Jones’ starting salary was $385,000 in 2012; Rodríguez will receive $525,000.

UAlbany has gone through a run of seven leaders over the last 13 years. At a February public presidential search forum, university faculty and staff addressed concerns over the lack of consistent leadership.

Rodriguez said that consistency and stability are important to maintain among administration and faculty, but did not specify how long he hopes to remain president.

“I haven’t even started so why talk about when I’m leaving when I haven’t even started, right?” Rodriguez said. “I think the focus is to really become an integral part of this community, to provide the stability that it needs in terms of its leadership, to build a stronger leadership team that will work together to move the institution in the right direction.”




Tyler A. McNeil is the current managing editor for the Albany Student Press. The Capital Region native previously served as managing editor for The Hudsonian, and as an intern for the Times Union and Capital Tonight.

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