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​Queens College President Félix V. Matos Rodríguez Named an Aspen Institute Ascend Fellow; Joins a Diverse Group of Leaders Working to Advance Opportunities for Low-Income Families

 -- Recognized for Developing a Program that Enables Low-Income Parents to Accelerate Their Pursuit of a College Degree by Providing Quality, Affordable Summer Care for Their Children --

FLUSHING, NY, March 9, 2015—The Aspen Institute announced today that Queens College President Félix V. Matos Rodríguez has been selected to join the 2015 class of Aspen Institute Ascend Fellows. The Ascend Fellowship invests in leaders from a range of sectors who have breakthrough ideas to build economic security, educational success, and health and well-being for low-income families.

“Poverty and inequality are the central economic, political, and moral issues of our time,” said Walter Isaacson, CEO of the Aspen Institute. “The Ascend Fellowship is part of the Aspen Institute’s commitment to advancing opportunity and equality in the America.”

Matos Rodríguez, who was named president of Queens College in August 2014, developed the Two Generation Student Retention and Degree Acceleration Pilot Program while in his previous post as president of Hostos Community College (both colleges are part of the City University of New York system). The program addressed the disconnections and subsequent academic losses that low-income college students typically experience due to “summer slide.” The program paid one summer course for low-income college students and also provided their school-aged children with an academically based, full-day summer enrichment program at the college. With their children in quality and affordable summer care, parents would be able to graduate sooner by pursuing their studies during the summer.

“One of the most effective ways to empower low-income parents is to be sure they have equal access to higher education. I am grateful to the Aspen Institute for making it possible to implement a program that provided much needed support to parents working toward a college degree,” said Matos Rodríguez. “I look forward to using my experience as an Ascend Fellow to explore ways to improve the educational outcomes of college students who are parents both at Queens College and throughout the City University of New York system.”

The Aspen leaders fuel their work with a two-generation approach that invests in children and their parents. The leaders reflect the diversity and talent of America across gender, race and ethnicity, geography, and sector: 
• 13 women; 8 men
• 52% people of color
• Represent 18 states
• Serve 348,000 community college and four-year institution  students
• Are in public service in 4 states, stewarding $4.2 billion in public resources
• Provide direct services to more than 78,000 families
• Steward $521 million in philanthropic resources

Félix V. Matos Rodríguez is a scholar, teacher, administrator, and former cabinet secretary of the Department of Family Services for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Immediately prior to his appointment at QC, he spent five years as president of Hostos Community College/CUNY, where he significantly increased its student retention and graduation rates. He has taught at Northeastern University and Hunter College/CUNY, where he directed the Center for Puerto Rican Studies. An expert on the history of women in the Caribbean, Matos Rodríguez is the author of Women and Urban Life in Nineteenth-Century San Juan, Puerto Rico, 1820–1862 and editor of A Nation of Women: An Early Feminist Speaks Out. He holds a BA from Yale University and two MAs and a doctorate from Columbia University. For a more extensive biography, visit

Located on a beautiful, 80-acre campus in Flushing, Queens College enjoys a national reputation for its liberal arts and sciences and pre-professional programs. With its graduate and undergraduate degrees, honors programs, and research and internship opportunities, the college helps its students realize their potential in countless ways, assisted by an accessible, award-winning faculty. Learn more at

Ascend at the Aspen Institute is the national hub for breakthrough ideas and collaborations that move vulnerable children and their parents toward educational success and economic security. It takes a two-generation approach to its work—focusing on children and parents together. It brings a gender and a racial equity lens to its analysis. For more information, visit

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization whose mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland's eastern shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit


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