On May 1, 2019, Félix V. Matos Rodríguez took office as the eighth Chancellor of the City University of New York (CUNY). With his appointment, Matos Rodríguez made history by becoming the first educator of color, and the first Latino, selected as CUNY’s Chancellor. CUNY is the nation’s largest urban university, comprising 25 campuses with an enrollment of over 275,000 degree-seeking students, over 225,000 adult and continuing education students, and an operating budget of over $3.6 billion.
Chancellor Matos Rodríguez’s distinguished career spans both academia and the public sector: He is a scholar, teacher, administrator and former Cabinet secretary for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
Dr. Matos Rodríguez, who had been the president of CUNY’s Queens College since 2014, is a dedicated champion of accessibility, inclusion and excellence in higher education. Immediately prior to his time at Queens College, Chancellor Matos Rodríguez spent five years as president of CUNY’s Eugenio María de Hostos Community College in the Bronx, making him one of a select few U.S. educators who have served as president of both baccalaureate and community colleges.
Through these leadership experiences, he developed the depth of perspective to address the multiple needs of a vast University system that includes community and senior colleges, as well as graduate and professional schools.
While at Queens College (2014-2019), Matos Rodríguez introduced “QC in 4,” an initiative that helps students complete their bachelor’s degrees within four years; he significantly increased the college’s endowment; and he created accelerated graduate programs that allow students to save time and money as they work toward master’s degrees.
During his five-year (2009-2014) tenure at Hostos, Matos Rodríguez and his leadership team were responsible for dramatically improving the college’s retention and graduation rates and doubling its fundraising. These accomplishments made Hostos one of the finalists for the prestigious Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence in 2014.
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. He oversaw a $2.3 billion budget and over 11,000 employees. Earlier, he had been Senior Social Welfare and Health Advisor to the Governor of Puerto Rico.
A cum laude graduate in Latin American Studies from Yale University, Matos Rodríguez received his Ph.D. in history from Columbia University. He has taught at Yale, Northeastern University, Boston College, the Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico, City College and Hunter College, and was affiliated with the History department at the CUNY Graduate Center. 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.
Dr. Matos Rodríguez has used his extensive regional and national networks and board memberships to advance the visibility and recognition of CUNY. A member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Chancellor is also an Aspen Institute Ascend Fellow. He is the current Board Chair of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, and serves on the Boards of Phipps Houses, the United Way of New York City, the TIAA Hispanic Advisory Council and the Research Alliance for New York City Schools. He also sits on Mayor de Blasio’s NYC Tech Talent Pipeline Academic Council.
Dr. 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 Change in San Juan, Puerto Rico, 1820-1868; co-author of Pioneros: Puerto Ricans in New York City, 1896-1948; 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; co-editor of Puerto Rican Women’s History: New Perspectives; co-editor of Blackwell Reader on the Americas; and co-editor of Boricuas in Gotham: Puerto Ricans in the Making of Modern New York City.
The Chancellor 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, Revista de 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.
He is married to Dr. Liliana M. Arabía, a dentist, and they have two sons.