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Disaster and Recovery 

UAlbany president shares expertise on climate justice at Arizona summit 

President Havidán Rodríguez, right, takes a question during a January panel on the emergency response to Hurricane Maria, sponsored by the NYS Writers Institute. Other panelists, L-R, are Irwin Redlener, director of Columbia University's National Center for Disaster Preparedness; Michelle Centeno, president of the National Conference of Puerto Rican Women; Robert Griffin, dean of the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity; and Professor Shao Lin of the School of Public Health. (Photo by Patrick Dodson)

President Rodríguez meets with CEHC students doing volunteer recovery work in Puerto Rico in May, 2018. (Photo by Brian Busher)

ALBANY, N.Y. (Feb. 21, 2019) — President Havidán Rodríguez was a featured panelist at the 2019 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit, held last week in Tempe, Arizona. Rodríguez shared his expertise in disaster research as part of a discussion on “Resilience, the Disaster Economy and Climate Justice.”

The panel, with five experts including three university presidents, explored how campuses can become more resilient to climate impacts, and examined some of the social justice implications that come with greater vulnerability of marginalized communities and less-wealthy institutions. Discussions centered on the impact of devastating storms, opportunities to rebuild in more sustainable ways, and how universities can aid in post-disaster recovery.

Rodríguez, a sociologist who studies the socioeconomic impacts of disasters and the economic well-being of minority populations in the United States and Puerto Rico, formerly directed the University of Delaware’s acclaimed Disaster Research Center — the world’s first research center devoted to the studying the complex social problems that result from natural and technological disasters and other community-scale crises.

As co-chair of SUNY’s Puerto Rico Taskforce, he has made multiple trips Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria with state and SUNY officials, including a service mission as part of Gov. Cuomo’s Puerto Rico Recovery and Rebuilding Initiative. UAlbany students also volunteered in rebuilding efforts in Puerto Rico; some 45 students from myriad majors did cleanup work in January, and 30 from the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity (CEHC) visited last May.

Last month Rodríguez led a New York State Writers Institute panel on “Puerto Rico: The Hurricane, the Response and Preparing for Future Disasters.”

The Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit is sponsored by Second Nature, a Boston-based organization committed to climate action through higher education, and the Intentional Endowments Network, which advocates for sustainable investment for colleges, universities and other institutions. More than 350 leaders in higher education attended this year’s summit.

UAlbany has a longstanding institutional commitment to climate action and has been a member of Second Nature since signing a commitment in 2008 to reduce carbon emissions. The University was one of the first campuses to use U.N. Global Goals to identify sustainability-related course work and research and is currently updating its campus Climate Action Plan.

University faculty from CEHC, the Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, and the School of Public Health are all addressing the impacts of a changing climate through their research and scholarship.

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About the University at Albany
A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.