Queens College president named first Latino CUNY chancellor


Courtesy of CUNY

Sheik Floradewan

CUNY officials appointed the university system’s first Latino chancellor on Feb. 13, announcing that Queens College President Félix V. Matos Rodríguez will fill the role. Matos Rodríguez will officially fill the role of CUNY’s eighth chancellor on May 1, 2019, as the first minority educator to ever hold the office.

As president of Queens College, Matos Rodríguez has drawn national attention for elevating the school’s ranking in the college social-mobility category, among other achievements.

“This would be an extraordinary opportunity for anyone who is passionate about the role CUNY plays in the lifeblood of the world’s greatest and most important city,” Matos Rodríguez, who has served as Queens College’s president since 2014, said.

“For me, this appointment is particularly special because CUNY is home. I am immensely proud to have risen through the University’s ranks and am deeply honored to now have the opportunity to lead an institution I love and treasure. I will strive every day that I am Chancellor to fulfill the promise of our noble mission to afford academic excellence and economic opportunity to all. And I will endeavor to elevate to new heights CUNY’s legacy as the paradigm of a people’s University.”

Matos Rodríguez also pushed to increase diversity at Queens College, by way of his Presidential Hiring Initiative. Overall, 48 percent of faculty and half of the current members of the college’s cabinet are people of color from underrepresented groups.

From 2009 to 2014, Matos Rodríguez served as president of Hostos Community College.

Prior to that, as a professor, Rodríguez taught at Northeastern University, Boston College, Hunter College and at the Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico, Recinto Metropolitano.

As president of Hostos, Matos Rodríguez gained acclaim for engineering a double-digit increase in the school’s retention rate, leading the college to become a finalist for the prestigious Aspen Best Community College prize in 2015, according to CUNY.

“I can’t think of anyone better equipped than Félix V. Matos Rodríguez to head The City University of New York. Félix is one of the few higher-education leaders who has been a president of both a community college and a four-year university,” Ted Mitchell, president of the American Council on
Education, said.

A 14-member search committee of CUNY trustees, college presidents, faculty, students and civic leaders led the search for the chancellor. Chair of the CUNY Board of Trustees and leader of the Chancellor Search Committee William C. Thompson Jr., said Matos Rodríguez “embodies CUNY’s mission-driven spirit.”

Matos Rodríguez’s appointment comes just over a year after current CUNY Chancellor James B. Milliken announced that he would be stepping down from his position due to a battle with throat cancer.