EXCLUSIVE: Queens College president Félix V. Matos Rodríguez appointed CUNY chancellor

Queens College president Felix V. Matos RodriguezPhoto by Bruce Adler
Photo by Bruce Adler

The City University of New York ended a yearlong search and named Queens College president Félix V. Matos Rodríguez as its new chancellor.

The CUNY board of trustees voted Wednesday to appoint Matos Rodríguez, an accomplished scholar, teacher, administrator and public servant who has been president of Queens College since 2014, as the eighth chancellor of CUNY. He will be both the first Latino and minority educator to head the university. He will assume the post on May 1.

“I am deeply grateful and tremendously excited to lead the nation’s foremost urban public university, particularly at this time when our mission and commitment to excellent public higher education has never been more vital,” Matos Rodríguez said. “This is an extraordinary opportunity for anyone who is passionate about the role CUNY plays in the lifeblood of the city, anyone who is deeply committed to opening the doors of educational excellence and economic and social mobility to all the people of New York.”

Matos Rodríguez, 56, has drawn national recognition as a trailblazer in higher education. He enhanced Queens College’s reputation for excellence and propelled the school to the highest echelon in college social-mobility rankings.

“It is not easy for me to share this news with the QC community who has so generously embraced me and my family during the past five years,” Matos Rodríguez said. “I thank each and every one of you for your friendship and collegiality. I’m proud of the collective work we have been able to accomplish despite tight fiscal times. Our success has been propelled by a unique kinship of students, faculty, staff, alumni and community partners who together carry on QC’s legacy of academic excellence, service and access.”

Since Matos Rodríguez took office as the 10th president of Queens College, in August 2014, the school has been recognized for its success at propelling students into the middle class. A 2016 study by the Equality of Opportunity Project ranked Queens College in the top 1 percent of all colleges in moving students from the bottom fifth to the top fifth of the country’s income distribution, and The Chronicle of Higher Education in August 2018 ranked the school 11th of all U.S. colleges for upward social and economic mobility.

“The appointment of Félix Matos Rodríguez as chancellor marks the onset of a historic chapter in the narrative of this vital institution, one in which every member of the CUNY community should rejoice,” William C. Thompson Jr., chair of the CUNY board of trustees and leader of the Chancellor Search Committee. “In word and deed, Matos Rodríguez embodies CUNY’s mission-driven spirit. Since Matos Rodríguez took office as the 10th president of Queens College, in August 2014, the school has been recognized for its success at propelling students into the middle class.”

Matos Rodríguez holds a B.A. from Yale University, where he was a cum laude graduate, and a doctorate in history from Columbia University. Matos Rodríguez has been an aggressive fundraiser; during his tenure, the Queens College Foundation has nearly doubled in value.

“We will share news about the leadership transition in the college in the weeks ahead after appropriate consultation and reflection,” Matos Rodríguez said. “I know I will miss you and our beautiful campus, but I’m comforted by the thought that we will be working together still as I transition to my new role as chancellor of this great university. I look forward to continue working with you to build a stronger QC and a stronger CUNY for decades to come.”