ALBANY -- Dr. Havidan Rodriguez from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley has been named the new president of the University at Albany.
Rodriguez was named by State University of New York trustees to replace Robert Jones and become the university's 20th president during a trustee's meeting Wednesday.
Rodriguez, 58, is founding provost of the Texas university system's Rio Grande Valley campus. He has 25 years in higher education administration, including time at the University of Delaware.
From the ages of 5 to 15, he lived in the Bronx, and on Wednesday, he sprinkled his introductory remarks to the trustees with Spanish phrases.
"The future is promising; the future is great. Yes, there are challenges, but it's exciting," he said.
Rodriguez, who will start in his new post on Sept. 14, will earn $525,000 annually, plus a $5,000-per-month housing allowance and either a vehicle or an $800-per-month vehicle allowance.
While growing up in the Bronx, Rodriguez' mother drove a Manhattan taxi. He said that, as a single mother, she emphasized the importance of education to her children.
He told university trustees he wants to raise UAlbany's statewide, national and global profile.
"We need to provide the best education, the best academic experience for our students," Rodriguez said. "The future is bright at the University at Albany. It is a university on the move."
Rodriguez was selected after a 10-month national search.
"I am very confident that Dr. Havidan Rodriguez is the person who will take the University and the Capital Region to new heights," said Michael J. Castellana, president of SEFCU and chairman of the search committee.
Jones left in September to become chancellor at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. In the interim, the university was led by James R. Stellar.
Stellar expressed interest in the permanent job after taking the interim post, but he was disqualified by university rules that prevent interim presidents from being considered for the permanent post, on the grounds that doing so might discourage others from applying.
"I am confident that Dr. Rodriguez will be a highly effective president for UAlbany, and I look forward to working closely with him in the transition," Stellar said in a prepared statement.
Most recently, Rodriguez has been provost and executive vice-president at Rio Grande Valley, which has about 27,500 students among 11 schools and colleges, including schools of medicine and engineering.The campus was formed in 2013 by combining the University of Texas Brownsville and the University of Texas Pan-American in Edinburg, Texas. Rodriguez was previously interim president and held other administrative titles at Texas Pan-American.
He is also a professor of sociology who has studied the impact of disasters on the iconic well-being of minority populations in the United States and Puerto Rico, and whose research has received funding from the National Science Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the National Institute of Mental Health, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Rodriguez, who is Latino, on Wednesday was named a National Top Latino Leader by the National Diversity Council.
"Excellence, diversity and inclusion will continue to be critical elements that guide us," he said.
Prior to going to Texas in 2011, Rodriguez spent seven years at the University of Delaware, where he was deputy provost, vice-provost for academic affairs and international programs, and a professor of sociology and criminal justice. He was the core faculty member and director of the university's Disaster Research Center.
Rodriguez holds a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Maryland, an master's degree in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and a doctorate in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He and his wife, Rosy Lopez, have been married for 33 years and have three grown children.
The University at Albany has about 17,000 undergraduate and graduate students.