UTRGV provost receives national award for advocacy of workers’ rights, humanitarian issues

Dr. Havidán Rodríguez, founding provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, has been awarded the American Association for Access, Equity and Diversity’s prestigious 2016 Cesar Estrada Chavez Award, for his leadership in support of workers’ rights and humanitarian issues. (UTRGV Photo)

By Gail Fagan

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – JUNE 3, 2016 – The American Association for Access, Equity and Diversity (AAAED) has selected Dr. Havidán Rodríguez, founding provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, to receive its prestigious 2016 Cesar Estrada Chavez Award.

The award will be presented June 9 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., during AAAED’s 42nd National Conference and Annual Meeting. Named for the famed Latino labor leader and civil rights activist, the Cesar Chavez award is presented to an individual who has demonstrated leadership in support of workers’ rights and humanitarian issues.

Rodríguez, who came to UT Pan American in 2011 as provost and vice president for Academic Affairs and also served for a year as UTPA president ad interim, said he is both humbled by and appreciative of the recognition.

“The only way to do great work is to love what you do, which is the result of many hardworking, deeply committed and passionate colleagues who positively impact workers’ rights and humanitarian affairs,” he said. “This award symbolizes a collective effort aimed at producing a significant and sustainable influence for the advancement of our communities.”

At UTRGV, Rodríguez is principal investigator of a five-year, $3.1 million ADVANCE Institutional Transformation grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), 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 has led to the initiation of an ADVANCE Leadership Institute, an ADVANCE Administrative Fellows and Associate-to-Full Professor programs and a Women’s Faculty Network at UTRGV.

His academic career reflects his passion about issues related to human and civil rights, social justice and increasing access and equity for under-represented populations, said Dr. Marie Mora, UTRGV associate vice provost for Faculty Diversity and last year’s Cesar Estrada Chavez Award winner, who nominated Rodríguez for the 2016 award.

“These issues are prevalent throughout his notable research in two main areas: disasters and their disproportionate impacts on vulnerable populations, and Hispanics in the U.S. and their social mobility outcomes,” Mora said.

Rodríguez’s international disaster-related research has been used to inform and shape public policy related to human rights and social justice for the betterment of society, such as improving warning systems for natural disasters.

His academic career also includes directing the American Sociological Association Minority Fellowship Program while a faculty member at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez and serving as deputy provost at the University of Delaware, where he headed the Disaster Research Center, one of the leading social science disaster research centers in the world.

Rodríguez has received numerous accolades, including recognition in the 2015 Bright Spots in Hispanic Education by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics and receiving the 2015 Alfredo G. de los Santos Jr. Distinguished Leadership Award from the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education. Last year, he was also featured on the cover of the national publication, The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education Magazine.

AAAED’s website states it is the oldest operating national association of professionals in the Equal Opportunity profession. AAAED provides professional training to its members and promotes understanding and advocacy of affirmative action and other equal opportunity and related compliance laws to enhance the tenets of access, inclusion and equality in employment, economic and educational opportunities.

Marci.Caltabiano@UTRGV.edu UTRGV Director of News and Internal Communications

Jennifer.McGehee@UTRGV.edu UTRGV Director of Public Relations