CUNY Trustees Appoint Felix Matos Rodriguez Queens College President

June 30, 2014 | The University

The Board of Trustees of The City University of New York has appointed Dr. Felix V. Matos Rodriguez, an Ivy League educated scholar, administrator, teacher and former cabinet secretary of the Department of Family Services for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, as president of Queens College.

Chancellor James B. Milliken recommended Dr. Matos Rodriguez’s appointment after a national search. Dr. Matos Rodriguez has been president of Hostos Community College/CUNY since 2009. The Search Committee was chaired by the Hon. Philip A. Berry, vice chair of the CUNY Board of Trustees, and included trustees, a CUNY college president, faculty, student and alumni representatives.

President Matos Rodríguez is a cum laude graduate in Latin American Studies from Yale University. He received his Ph.D. in history from Columbia University and has taught at Yale, Northeastern University, Boston College and the Universidad Interamericana-Recinto Metro, Puerto Rico. He was also affiliated with the history department at the CUNY Graduate Center. From 2005-06, Dr. Matos Rodriguez was head adviser on Health and Social Welfare to the Governor of Puerto Rico.

Chancellor Milliken stated: “Felix V. Matos Rodriguez has served as a college president and held senior leadership positions in higher education and government, as well as serving as a faculty member and institute director at Hunter College. He brings to Queens College an impressive blend of scholarly accomplishment, public service, a strong commitment to student success and a deep belief in the University’s educational mission.”

Dr. Felix Matos-Rodriquez

President Felix Matos-Rodriquez

President Matos Rodriguez said: “My heartfelt gratitude to the Board of Trustees, Chancellor Milliken, and the Queens Presidential Search Committee for honoring me with this appointment. I look forward to joining the vibrant community of students, faculty, staff and alumni that have made Queens College a beacon of excellence, opportunity and innovation through the years. In the spirit of Queens College’s motto — “We learn so that we may serve” — I pledge to put all the experience and learning of my scholarly, administrative and public service career at the service of an institution that has, and will continue to serve, Queens, New York City, and the nation with the highest standards of excellence and dedication. Thank you for the opportunity to serve, and I look forward to becoming a member of the Queens campus community for many years.

A senior college within CUNY, Queens College was founded in 1937 and is located on an 80-acre, tree-lined campus in a residential area of Flushing, Queens. The college’s enrollment of approximately 20,000 students reflects the diversity of the borough of Queens and New York City, with students who come from more than 130 nations. Queens College offers more than 130 different degree programs across four academic divisions, including Arts and Humanities, Mathematics and the Natural Sciences, the Social Sciences and Education.

Queens College boasts state-of-the-art computer and science laboratories, an acclaimed music building, the six-story Rosenthal Library and its first residence hall, The Summit, which opened in 2009. The Queens College faculty have received national recognition and funding from prestigious organizations to further their research, teaching and service activities. This year, U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges named Queens one of the 10 best Public Regional Universities in the north because of the quality of its many undergraduate and graduate programs. The college also placed second on Washington Monthly’s “Best Bang for the Buck” rankings (2013) and first among all American Public Universities.

President Matos Rodriguez is a scholar and authority on the status of women in Puerto Rico. He is the author of Women and Urban Life in Nineteenth-century San Juan, Puerto Rico, 1820-1862 (University Presses of Florida, 1999); editor of A Nation of Women, An Early Feminist Speaks Out (Arte Público Press, 2005); and co-editor of Puerto Rican Women’s History: New Perspectives (M.E. Sharpe Publishers, 1998). Dr. Matos Rodriguez is also co-author of Pioneros: Puerto Ricans in New York City, 1896-1948 (Arcadia Publishers, 2001); co-editor, with Gabriel Haslip Viera et al., of Boricuas in Gotham: Puerto Ricans in the Making of Modern New York City (Marcus Weiner, 2004); and co-editor with Matthew C. Gutmann, Lynn Stephen, and Patricia Zavella of Blackwell Reader on The Americas (Blackwell Publishers, 2003).

President Matos Rodriguez received the Albert J. Beveridge Award of the American Historical Association and his work has been published in such peer-reviewed journals as the Journal of Urban History, the Public Historian, Latin American Research Review, Centro Journal, Revistade Ciencias Sociales, and the Boletín de la Asociación de Demografía Histórica, in addition to having chapters in several anthologies. He was the founding editor of the series New Directions in Puerto Rican Studies, published by the University Press of Florida. While serving as President of Hostos Community College, Dr. Matos Rodríguez was on leave from his tenured position as a professor of Black and Puerto Rican/Latino Studies at Hunter College, where he taught courses on Caribbean, Latin American and Latino history.

As Secretary of the Department of Family Services for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico from 2006-08, he managed an annual budget of $2.2 billion and nearly 11,000 employees. From 2000-05, President Matos Rodriguez was Director of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College, one of the largest and most important Latino research and archival centers in the United States. He was Interim Director of the Latino Cultural Center at Northeastern University from 1996-97.

President Matos Rodríguez was a Program Officer at the Social Science Research Council in New York City. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and is currently serving as a Board Member of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), the Bronx Chamber of Commerce, New York Association of Community College Presidents, Phipps Houses, and FedCap.

President Matos Rodríguez is also part of the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AACU) Liberal Education Editorial Advisory Board, and HACU’s International Education Commission. He previously served as a board member of the American Council on Education, ASPIRA of New York Inc., and Phipps Community Development Corporation, as well as the community advisory board of El Diario/La Prensa.

The Board of Trustees has appointed 13 faculty at Queens College as Distinguished Professors for their exceptional records of scholarly and creative accomplishment. In recognition of their scholarly excellence, faculty members received over $28 million last year in external grants. These include eight prestigious Early Career Development Awards from the National Science Foundation and funding from such agencies as the National Institutes of Health, the Mellon Foundation, and the U.S. Departments of Defense and Education.

Queens College’s research centers and institutes reflect the college’s strong commitment to research and public service. These include the Asian/American Center, the Center for the Biology of Natural Systems, the Center for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, the Center for Ethnic, Racial & Religious Understanding, the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute, the Michael Harrington Center for Democratic Values and Social Change, the Queens College Center for the Improvement of Education, the Center for Jewish Studies, the Neuroscience Research Center, the Research Center for Korean Community, the Schutzman Center for entrepreneurship, and the Taft Institute.

The College’s community outreach is extensive in education, research, the arts and youth activities. The Division of Education collaborates closely with I.S. 227 in East Elmhurst and with the Townsend Harris High School at Queens College, a school for academically gifted students in Queens that is located on campus. The Asian/American Center conducts community-based research on the experience of Asians in North, Central, and South America and the Caribbean; the Michael Harrington Center for Democratic Values and Social Change is dedicated to research and fostering dialogue and change among inner city, central city, and suburban areas.

Queens College’s Kupferberg Center for the Visual and Performing Arts is the largest performing arts center in the Borough of Queens, serving two million people with its classical and multicultural programming for children, students, and adults. The Louis Armstrong House and Archives, administered by the college, holds one of the most important jazz archives in the world and offers musical programs in local public schools. In addition, the college’s ethnic and area studies programs engage in extensive outreach, and the Center for Jewish Studies offers lecture, music, film and theater series.

About The City University of New York:
The City University of New York is the nation’s leading urban public university. Founded in New York City in 1847, the University comprises 24 institutions: 11 senior colleges, seven community colleges, the William E. Macaulay Honors College at CUNY, the CUNY Graduate School and University Center, the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, the CUNY School of Law, the CUNY School of Professional Studies and the CUNY School of Public Health.   The University serves more than 270,000 degree-credit students and 218,083 adult, continuing and professional education students. College Now, the University’s academic enrichment program, is offered at CUNY campuses and more than 300 high schools throughout the five boroughs of New York City. The University offers online baccalaureate degrees through the School of Professional Studies and an individualized baccalaureate through the CUNY Baccalaureate Degree. Nearly 3 million unique visitors and 10 million page views are served each month via www.cuny.edu, the University’s website.