The University at Albany formally inaugurated its new president this afternoon.
Havidán Rodríguez was appointed by the SUNY Board of Trustees as the 20th president of the University at Albany in June 2017. He took office in September 2017 after spending 25 years in higher education.
University officials say the 58-year-old's inauguration serves as a rite of passage that formally acknowledges a change in leadership within the context of continuity and tradition.
Senior Jerlisa "Juju" Fontaine is Student Association president: "President Rodríguez understands the university student experience. Like much of our student body, he himself is a first generation graduate within his family, and he has been raised in the Bronx by a working mom who simply wanted the best for her son."
A year ago when it was announced he would lead the university, Rodríguez credited his single mom, who was a taxi driver in Manhattan, with showing him the value of education.
The "investiture ceremony" featured a procession of faculty and delegates and comments by officials, with Rodríguez delivering closing remarks. "This is truly a humbling moment. As someone who primarily grew up in a single mother household, lived in poverty, spent part of his youth in the Bronx, and received a high school education in auto mechanics, a day like this would have seemed light years away if not impossible. However, thanks to the support of family, friends, teachers, mentors who believed in me, it became possible for me to pursue this path, I am truly fortunate to have a family that has supported me, has put their faith in me, trusted me and loved me."
Rodríguez, who had made it a point to mingle with students and faculty, has been a visible presence on campus. "The Great Danes never give up and we will confront every challenge."
He praised UAlbany for its academic and sports accomplishments, and pledged to lead the campus into the future. "And we will confront every challenge and make the difficult decisions with one ultimate purpose: to promote excellence in everything that we do and to ensure that our faculty, our staff and our students are successful and they are engaged global citizens, helping transform our community and our world."
Rodríguez has hit the ground running, releasing his Strategic Plan for the University at Albany, entitled "Authoring Our Success" focusing on excellence, integrity, diversity and much more. "While the details of the next chapter of UAlbany have yet to unfold, I know and you know that this is our time."
Rodríguez was previously the founding provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.