UAlbany president recalls unusual path from Puerto Rico to current job

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University at Albany President Havidán Rodríguez says no one should have gotten to the presidency the way he did.

Rodríguez grew up in Puerto Rico. Raised by a single mother, the oldest of three, he has fond memories of his childhood there.

When he was 5, they moved to New York City. His mom worked in manufacturing, and as a taxi driver to support the family.

High school teachers told him he wasn’t college material. He instead pursued a trade as an auto mechanic.

He then joined the Air Force as an EMT, and was on track to becoming an officer with the Air Force. Then a professor steered him in another direction.

That’s when he got his doctorate and eventually became the 20th president of UAlbany in June 2017.

Rodríguez is proud to say UAlbany is one of the most diverse in the nation. The freshman class this year is 21% Latino or Latina.

Rodríguez is also a leading expert in disaster science. He co-led the SUNY system’s post-Hurricane Maria relief efforts in Puerto Rico. The Category 4 storm devastated the island five years ago.

Now he’s keeping a close eye on how they’re recovering from Hurricane Fiona.

Hear his thoughts on how its impacted the island by watching the video of Subrina Dhammis story.