In selecting Matos Rodríguez for the job, the CUNY system is tapping an executive who has the rare combination of experience serving as president of both a baccalaureate college and a community college -- experience that could prove to be helpful in a system with senior colleges, community colleges and professional schools. It noted that it is also naming its first Latino chancellor and first minority chancellor.
Matos Rodríguez, 56, is credited with helping Queens College, which he has led since 2014, earn high social mobility rankings. In his former position, at CUNY’s Eugenio María de Hostos Community College, he is credited with boosting retention rates.
In addition, Matos Rodríguez is a scholar on the history of women in the Caribbean. In 2005, he worked for a year in Puerto Rico as head adviser on health and social welfare to the governor. The next year, he became secretary of the department of family services, holding the position for almost two years.
His selection at CUNY brings to a close a search process that began after former chancellor James B. Milliken announced in November 2017 plans to step down. Milliken would go on to be named University of Texas system chancellor. Meanwhile, the CUNY search proved to be the subject of much speculation, with multiple candidates reportedly dropping out of contention at various points.
“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 said in a statement. “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.”