President Félix V. Matos Rodríguez
On August 28, 2014, Félix V. Matos Rodríguez took office as the tenth president of Queens College of the City University of New York. His distinguished career spans both academia and the public sector: he is a scholar, teacher, administrator, and former cabinet secretary of the Department of Family Services for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
President Matos Rodríguez comes to the college from Eugenio María de Hostos Community College/CUNY. During his five-year tenure there, he and his leadership team were responsible for dramatically improving the college’s retention and graduation rates and doubling its fundraising. They also put in place the innovative Student Success Coach program, in which all freshmen are assigned a student service professional who remains with them until they graduate or transfer.
From 2006 to 2008, Matos Rodríguez served as Puerto Rico’s cabinet secretary of the Department of Family Services. In this position, he formulated public policy and administered service delivery in such programs as Child Support Enforcement, Adoption and Foster Care, and Child and Elderly Protection. Managing an annual budget of $2.2 billion, he oversaw nearly 11,000 employees. Earlier, he had been senior social welfare and health advisor to the Governor of Puerto Rico.
Matos Rodríguez is a graduate of Colegio San Ignacio High School in San Juan, Puerto Rico. A cum laude graduate in Latin American Studies from Yale University, he received his PhD in history from Columbia University, and has taught at Yale, Northeastern University, Boston College, the Universidad Interamericana–Recinto Metro, City College, and Hunter College. At Hunter, he also directed the Center for Puerto Rican Studies, one of the largest and most important Latino research centers in the United States. He also worked as a Program Officer at the Social Science Research Council.
A member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Matos Rodríguez is a board member of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), Phipps Houses, and FedCap. He previously served on the boards of the American Council on Education, ASPIRA of New York, Inc., the Bronx Chamber of Commerce, and Phipps Community Development Corporation, as well as the community advisory board of El Diario/La Prensa.
Honored in 2012 as grand marshal of the Puerto Rican Day Parade, Matos Rodríguez has received numerous awards for community service and educational leadership. Among these, he was recognized by the New York State Senate and Assembly’s Puerto Rican/Latino Caucus in 2002; selected Man of the Year by the New York City League of Puerto Rican Women in 2009; hailed as the Academic Leader of the Year by the Association of Hispanic Healthcare Executives and the National Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on Health in 2011; received the Aspira of New York Circle of Achievers Award in 2012; honored with the 2013 Hispanic Heritage Achievement Award from the New York Police Department; and received the Community Leadership Award from Citizens Union in 2014.
Matos Rodríguez has an extensive publication record in the fields of Women’s, Puerto Rican, Caribbean, and Latino Studies and Migration. He is the author of Women and Urban Life in Nineteenth-Century San Juan, Puerto Rico, 1820-1862 (University Presses of Florida, 1999; Marcus Weiner, 2001); co-author of “Pioneros”: Puerto Ricans in New York City, 1896-1948 (Arcadia, 2001); editor of A Nation of Women: An Early Feminist Speaks Out / Mi opinión sobre las libertades, derechos y deberes de la mujer by Luisa Capetillo (Arte Público Press, 2005); co-editor of Puerto Rican Women’s History: New Perspectives (M.E. Sharpe, 1998); co-editor of Blackwell Reader on the Americas (Blackwell, 2003); and co-editor of Boricuas in Gotham: Puerto Ricans in the Making of Modern New York City (Marcus Weiner, 2004).
The recipient of the Albert J. Beveridge Award of the American Historical Association, Matos Rodríguez has had his work appear in such peer-reviewed journals as the Journal of Urban History, the Public Historian, Latin American Research Review, Centro Journal, Revista de Ciencias Sociales, and the, in addition to having chapters in several anthologies. He was the founding editor of the series New Directions in Puerto Rican Studies for the University Press of Florida. He has been a member of the advisory boards of the Latino Studies Journal, Liberal Education, and New York Archives.
Matos Rodríguez’s expert commentary has appeared in many periodicals, including the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Chronicle of Higher Education, the Hartford Courant, the Chicago Tribune, the Miami Herald, the Congressional Quarterly, the Daily News, Newsday, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, El Diario/La Prensa, Hoy, the Orlando Sentinel, El Nuevo Día, El Vocero, and the Hispanic Outlook of Higher Education.
Matos Rodríguez is married to Dr. Liliana M. Arabía, a dentist, and they have two sons: Lucas and Juan Carlos.