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Vives to Receive Citizen Of The University Award

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Vives to Receive Citizen Of The University Award

List of 2014 Excellence Award Recipients

ALBANY, N.Y. – The University at Albany has announced its 2014 Excellence Award Recipients and Director of Track & Field and Cross Country Roberto Vives has been selected to receive the Citizen of the University award.  The award recognizes outstanding contributions to the University by a non-alumnus or alumna through leadership, service, or a special gift.  Recipients are chosen by University leadership.

By the time he began the 2013-14 season – his 29th with the University at Albany –Vives had led his teams to 46 conference championships, three IC4A championships, four New York State titles, and three top-three team finishes at the NCAA championships. As director of track & field/cross-country, he had guided the men’s team to 21 America East Conference championships and the women’s squad to 11 titles. Under his direction, six UAlbany athletes had gone on to earn a total of 13 All-America certificates at the NCAA Track & Field Division I Championships. Vives had coached 144 All-America athletes and 14 individual NCAA champions, and seen 10 of his athletes inducted into UAlbany’s Hall of Fame. 

While the record of victories is both astonishing and enviable, the most important lesson Vives has imparted to his student athletes is the notion that it is possible to “do the incredible.” Since joining UAlbany in 1985, Vives has urged the students competing on his teams to believe in themselves and their abilities. As a result, they are competitive in the classroom, as well as on the track: His athletes have received more academic awards than those at any other school in the America East Conference.

Vives began his coaching career at age 14, when he founded the Bronx International Athletic Club. He was head track & field coach at his alma mater, Cardinal Hayes High School, for three years, then went on to coach boys’ track & field at Bronx High School of Science. He coached one season at Lehman College and was an assistant men’s track & field coach at City College of New York, where he earned a master’s degree in health education. Vives’ other experience includes serving as an administrator and coach at the U.S. Olympic Festival in 1993, 1994 and 1995, and as a member of the Division I Executive Committee for the USTFCCCA from 2003-06.

UAlbany Associate Director of Corporate & Foundation Relations Winsome Foderingham, ’89, ’92, has known Vives since 1984. “Roberto epitomizes the fact that successful coaching comes from an inner calling. He has a personal approach to coaching … a way of casually assessing your potential and then casting a vision for you, which often seems totally impossible! But almost three decades later, the biggest lesson I have learned from him is to work hard and the impossible can be realized,” Foderingham noted.

The recipient of 19 America East Coaching Staff of the Year awards, Vives received the Irv Mondschein Coaching Award last February. “As the longtime coach of UAlbany’s track & field/cross-country program, Roberto Vives has always exemplified fair play, respect and determination while encouraging his student athletes to ‘do the incredible,’ ” said University President Robert J. Jones. “By following his example, the young men and women who look up to Coach Vives have succeeded in making ‘the incredible’ a hallmark of UAlbany athletics.” 

Vives has served the University on several diversity committees, serves as chair of Alianza Latina and is the Officer of Contingents for UUP. He was honored at UAlbany in 1994 with the Chancellor’s Award and the President’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service. He is a trustee and chorus member of First Israel A.M.E. Church in Albany. Vives and his wife, Valrene, are the parents of UAlbany alumni Andres ’06 and Ashley ’10.

“As I reflect on this award,” Vives said, “I am thankful for our administrators, coaches, support staff, alumni, family and especially all of you.  I am blessed to work with you all on a daily basis and thank you for your commitment and dedication to our program.  I know that it is only because of your belief in my vision that any recognition is possible.  This award belongs to you all.  Thank you for your trust.  It is certainly something that I never take for granted.”

Vives will receive his award at the UAlbany Alumni Awards Gala Saturday evening, before meeting up with his athletes at the University of Vermont for the second day of the America East Outdoor Championships.


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