Dr. Havidán Rodríguez receives leadership award from American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education

Havidan Rodriguez

EDINBURG, TEXAS-April 17, 2015-The American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education recently selected Dr. Havidán Rodríguez, president ad interim of The University of Texas-Pan American, to receive the prestigious Alfredo G. de los Santos Jr. Distinguished Leadership in Higher Education Award.

The award is given to an outstanding administrator in the field of higher education who has demonstrated excellence in the profession. It is named after Alfredo G. de los Santos Jr., a research professor at Arizona State University regarded as a national leader, mentor and champion in higher education. Rodríguez, who picked up the award at the annual AAHHE conference in March in Dallas, was nominated by several UTPA faculty members and other distinguished faculty nationwide. 

In her nomination, Dr. Marie Mora, economics professor and vice provost fellow for Faculty Affairs at UTPA, said Rodríguez inspired her to start pursuing an administrative career.

“Seeing how active Dr. Rodríguez continues to be in research and in his profession, and seeing how much of a positive difference he has made since coming here (to UTPA), has made me realize how much of a difference one person can make," she said. "We really do need more passionate and effective leaders like Dr. Rodriguez who can excite and inspire others." 

Nominator Dr. Fernando I. Rivera, associate professor of sociology at University of Central Florida, once worked under Rodríguez as an undergraduate research assistant at the Center for Applied Social Research, which Rodríguez headed at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez. In his nomination letter, Rivera cited Rodríguez's mentorship to him as a professor and director of the American Sociological Association Minority Fellowship Program. 

"My experience is not unique, he has touched countless lives with his leadership and care for others. The thing about Dr. Rodríguez is that everything he touches he makes it better, better students, programs and a better university experience," Rivera said.

Rodríguez became UTPA president ad interim in August 2014. Prior to that, he had been UTPA's provost and vice president for Academic Affairs since January 2011. He also was deputy provost at the University of Delaware, where he directed the Disaster Research Center, the oldest and one of the leading social science disaster research centers in the world. While at UTPA, he has started new programs and initiatives directed at sponsoring annual research conferences for undergraduates and providing more opportunities to enhance faculty development, scholarship and teaching.

Rodríguez is the principal investigator of a five-year, $3.1 million ADVANCE institutional transformation grant from the National Science Foundation, aimed at increasing the representation and advancement of women faculty, especially Latinas, in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. Under his leadership, the grant led to the establishment of the ADVANCE Leadership Institute, ADVANCE Administrative Fellows Program and the Women's Faculty Network at UTPA. 

In September 2015, Rodríguez will become the founding provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.
Rodríguez said he was honored and humbled to receive the award and expressed the need to continue to work with others to increase the voice, visibility and impact of Latinos and Latinas in higher education institutions across the country.

"Much progress has been made, but we have a long road before us. The AAHHE and other similar organizations play a critical role in helping us diversify our colleges and universities. It is also critical for us, as Latino and Latina leaders, to promote and pursue excellence in everything we do," he said. 

In its ninth year, AAHHE is a national, nonprofit and cross-disciplinary higher education organization primarily focused on the need to develop Latino/a faculty and senior administrators, as well as serving as a leading research and advocacy group for Hispanic higher education issues. AAHHE upholds the beliefs that higher education should address the needs of Hispanics and can be more effective in meeting the needs of a changing U.S. demography.

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UTRGV Director of Public Relations


Marci Caltabiano Ponce
UTRGV Director of News and Internal Communications