Transforming University Engagement In Pre- and Post-Disaster Environments: Lessons from Puerto Rico

Kristina M. Johnson
State University of New York


Chancellor Johnson

Dr. Kristina M. Johnson joined The State University of New York as its 13th Chancellor in September 2017. With 64 college and university campuses located within 30 miles of every home, school, and business in the state, SUNY is the nation’s largest comprehensive system of public higher education. It serves more than 1.3 million students annually, employs more than 90,000 faculty and staff, and connects more than three million alumni around the world.

Immediately prior to joining SUNY, Dr. Johnson was co-founder and CEO of Cube Hydro Partners, LLC, a clean-energy infrastructure company focused on building and operating hydropower plants in North America. Dr. Johnson grew the company from one plant to 19 plants on 10 rivers in five eastern states—enough to power 150,000 homes with clean energy. Prior to Cube Hydro, Dr. Johnson served as Under Secretary of Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy. As Under Secretary, she was responsible for unifying and managing a broad $10.5 billion energy and environment portfolio, including an additional $37 billion in energy and environment investments from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009.

As Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at Johns Hopkins University from 2007 to 2009, Dr. Johnson was second-in-charge of the university with direct oversight of the academic operations and budget of nine schools that included leading interdisciplinary programs, academic centers, and institutes. During her term, she led a university-wide strategic planning process, "Framework for the Future," and bolstered leadership in research, new initiatives, and graduate programs. This planning process also included creating the Mosaic Initiative to recruit outstanding under-represented faculty, launching the Discovery Grant Program for faculty-led initiatives, and successfully managing the university’s ten-year accreditation review.

As Dean of the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University from 1999 to 2007, Dr. Johnson created intensive student/faculty research partnerships and led a strategic planning process as part of Duke’s "Building on Excellence" university plan, which established four new cross-disciplinary research programs while also increasing undergraduate enrollment by 20 percent, doubling the number of graduate students, tripling research expenditures, and tripling the university’s physical infrastructure through the design and construction of the world-class Fitzpatrick Center for Interdisciplinary Engineering, Medicine, and Applied Sciences.

Dr. Johnson received her B.S. with distinction, M.S. and Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Stanford University. After a NATO post-doctoral fellowship at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, she joined the University of Colorado-Boulder’s faculty in 1985 as an Assistant Professor and, later, Full Professor. In 1987, Dr. Johnson co-founded the National Science Foundation’s Engineering Research Center (NSF/ERC) for Optoelectronics Computing Systems Center at the University of Colorado and Colorado State University, and went on to serve as its director from 1994 to 1998.

She serves on the board of directors of Cisco Systems, Inc.

Dr. Johnson is married to Ms. Veronica Meinhard, the senior executive director of principal gifts and senior associate athletic director at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP). Previously, Ms. Meinhard worked for 21 years at the University of Florida in various capacities in university development and alumni affairs.

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Félix Matos Rodríguez
City University of New York


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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. 

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: Lucas and Juan Carlos.

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Havidán Rodríguez
University at Albany
State University of New York

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Dr. Havidán Rodríguez was appointed by the SUNY Board of Trustees as the 20th president of the University at Albany in June 2017. He took office in September 2017 after more than 25 years as a leader in higher education.

Before coming to UAlbany, Dr. Rodríguez was the founding provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV). Rodríguez was instrumental in creating UTRGV, a new public research university, and building the university’s new medical school from the ground up. Rodríguez had previously served as interim president and provost and vice president for academic affairs at The University of Texas Pan- American, which merged with The University of Texas at Brownsville to become UTRGV.

Prior to his leadership positions in Texas, Rodríguez spent seven years at the University of Delaware as deputy provost, vice provost for academic affairs and international programs, and professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice. He also directed UD’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.

Rodríguez has also held faculty and administrative positions at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez, and served as Director of the Minority Affairs Program for the American Sociological Association (1995-1998). A respected scholar, he studies the socioeconomic impacts of disasters and the economic well-being of minority populations in the United States and Puerto Rico.

Rodríguez received a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Maryland, an M.A. in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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Jorge Haddock Acevedo
University of Puerto Rico


Jorge Haddock Acevedo

Jorge Haddock Acevedo is the twentieth President of University of Puerto Rico.

Dr. Haddock started his academic life at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute where he moved through the ranks by attaining tenure, becoming a full professor in engineering and later serving as the associate dean of the Lally School of Management and Technology. It was at Rensselaer that he discovered a passion for academic leadership and building partnerships across disciplines, also bringing an entrepreneurial spirit to his work.

After Rensselaer he worked as dean of the Robins School of Business at the University of Richmond. As dean, he led the Robins School to unprecedented heights. He was successful in cultivating alumni and parent support, completing an $18 million campaign (for which he raised $12 million in 2 years).

He has authored and co-authored more than a hundred publications over a wide spectrum of topics ranging from basic and applied technical research to pedagogy and leadership. One of his most recognized works is the book Creating Global Business Leaders: Business Education at the Intersection of Innovation, Technology and Globalization.

The U.S. and New York State governments, as well as many corporations, have given funding for his research. He has been awarded more than five million dollars in research funding. His primary research involves the design and implementation of effective information technology, production and service systems, as well as their effect on corporate culture. He has also been a consultant to many companies including Baxter, Citybank and Michelin.

Dr. Haddock is from Caguas, Puerto Rico, earned a B.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez Campus, M.S. in Management Engineering from Rensselaer and Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering from Purdue University. He has been married to his wife, María, for 37 years and together they have two children, Angelique and Alex, and two grandsons, Desmond and Cameron.

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David C. Amberg
Interim President
College of Environmental Science & Forestry
State University of New York

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Dr. David C. Amberg has been appointed interim president of the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) by the State University of New York Board of Trustees. His appointment is effective July 1, 2018.

Amberg has served as vice president for research at Upstate Medical University since December 2014, overseeing the clinical, translational and basic research portfolios of the campus. During his tenure, Upstate Medical has seen three consecutive years of near double-digit growth in research expenditures and a five-fold increase in clinical trial expenditures.

He has also held academic appointments in Upstate Medical's Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology since 1996 and was named full professor in 2008. He was awarded the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2004, was named a SUNY UMU Jacobson Scholar in 2009, received the President's Award for Excellence and Leadership in Research in 2011, and was awarded the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities in 2012.

Dr. Amberg earned his doctorate in biochemistry from Dartmouth Medical School in 1992. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University School of Medicine in the Department of Genetics, and earned a bachelor of arts in biology/chemistry from Whitman College in 1983.


Michael A. Alfultis
SUNY Martime College

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Dr. Michael A. Alfultis was named the 11th President of Maritime College by the SUNY Board of Trustees in June 2014 and appointed a Rear Admiral U. S. Maritime Service by the U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration.

A retired U.S. Coast Guard captain with 28 years of service, Dr. Alfultis taught at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, and subsequently served as the director and chief administrative officer of the University of Connecticut’s Avery Point campus.

Dr. Alfultis has more than 20 years of undergraduate teaching experience and 13 years of academic administrative responsibility at military and civilian institutions of higher education. His background includes service as an operations officer and navigator on a Coast Guard cutter; maritime safety and security; Coast Guard Academy faculty member and academic department chair; and senior administrator at a flagship university.

Dr. Alfultis graduated from the Coast Guard Academy in 1982 with a degree in Marine Science. He has a Master of Science degree from the University of Washington and a doctorate from the University of Rhode Island, both in Oceanography.  


Jorge Iván Vélez Arocho
Pontifical Catholic
University of Puerto Rico

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Dr. Jorge Ivan Velez­Arocho is President of Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico. Previously he served as Chancellor of the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez (UPRM). Since 1972 he is a professor of Decision Sciences in the School of Business Administration of UPRM.

He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida in Management Science. From 1986 to 1990 he was the Dean of the School of Business Administration at UPRM. From 1992 to 2002 he was the Co­Director of the Center for Hemispherical Cooperation in Research and Education in Engineering and Applied Science.

Dr. Vélez­Arocho is a Member of the Education Advisory Committee of the USA General Comptroller; Vice President of the Puerto Rico Intercollegiate Sports League; President of the Latin American and Caribbean Consortium of Engineering Institutions; State Representative to the American Association of State Colleges and Universities; President of the International Education Committee of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and member of the Governing Board of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities. As Chancellor of the UPRM he is the President of the Administrative Board and the Academic Senate of the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez (UPRM).

He presides the Budget Committee of the University Board of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) and is member of the Board of Permanent Constructions of the UPR.

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Michael A. Bernstein
Interim President
Stony Brook University

Samuel L. Stanley

Professor Bernstein's teaching and research interests focus on the economic and political history of the United States, macroeconomic theory, industrial organization economics, and the history of economic theory.

His publications explore the connections between political and economic processes in modern industrial societies, as well as the interaction of economic knowledge and professional expertise with those processes as a whole. Along with numerous articles and anthology chapters, Bernstein has published four volumes: The Great Depression: Delayed Recovery and Economic Change in America, 1929-1939 (Cambridge University Press, 1987); Understanding American Economic Decline [co-edited with David Adler] (Cambridge University Press, 1994); The Cold War and Expert Knowledge: New Essays on the History of the National Security State [co-edited with Allen Hunter] (a special issue of the Radical History Review 63 (Fall, 1995); and A Perilous Progress: Economists and Public Purpose in Twentieth Century America (Princeton University Press, 2001).

A former Fulbright Scholar at Christ’s College (Cambridge University), Professor Bernstein has held research grants from the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library Association, and the Economic History Association. In addition, he has been an Andrew Mellon Fellow at the National Humanities Center and has held a Residency Fellowship at Sophia University (Tokyo, Japan) under the joint auspices of the Organization of American Historians and the Japanese Association for American Studies. More recently, Bernstein received the Academic Senate Distinguished Teaching Award of the University of California, San Diego.

Professor Bernstein has also been active in broader professional activities as exemplified by his service as Program Chair for the Annual Meeting of the American Historical Association, Co-Convenor of the Economic History Association Dissertation Prize Competition, Chair of the Committee on Research in Economic History of the Economic History Association, Member of the Academic Advisory Committee of the American Studies Program of the American Council of Learned Societies, and as Member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Economic History.

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Joan T.A. Gabel
University of Minnesota

Joan Gabel

Joan T.A. Gabel is the 17th president of the University of Minnesota. She leads the University’s mission by honoring its legacy as a place of discovery and opportunity, while emphasizing solutions inspired by Minnesotans that serve our state and change the world.

Gabel most recently served as executive vice president and the provost at the University of South Carolina (UofSC), where she revitalized scholarly enterprise and launched dynamic programs, increasing enrollment and alternative revenue streams. Under her leadership, UofSC emerged as a national leader through the creation of “arenas of excellence,” which promote opportunities for students to experience interdisciplinary study, research, and pathways to career opportunities in information technology and the health sciences. She expanded the university’s global footprint and impact; championed experiential learning, entrepreneurialism and service learning; and worked to incentivize and support faculty. She also expanded campus diversity and inclusion efforts, which included the recruitment and support of underrepresented students, faculty and staff, as well as the creation of inclusive programs and forums to measurably improve the campus climate.

Previously, Gabel held faculty appointments at Georgia State University and served as the DeSantis Professor and chair of the Department of Risk Management/Insurance, Real Estate and Legal Studies at Florida State University. She also served as dean of the University of Missouri’s Robert J. Trulaske, Sr. College of Business, where she established nationally recognized distributed learning opportunities and was recognized as a shining star in business school administration by the Wall Street Journal.

Gabel’s early academic interests include legal and ethical issues in business, including governance. In recent years, she has turned her scholarly focus to the public higher education mission, ethical governance, and women’s leadership. Gabel has also served as editor in chief of the American Business Law Journal and the Journal of Legal Studies in Business, and as a board member of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. She has been recognized with numerous research, service, and teaching awards, including a Fulbright Scholarship.

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Harvey G. Stenger
Binghamton University

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Harvey G. Stenger became the seventh president of the State University of New York at Binghamton.

The campus encompasses nearly 900 acres of rolling hills in Vestal, NY, as well as the University Downtown Center located in nearby Binghamton. Home to more than 15,000 undergraduate and graduate students, Binghamton University offers more than 30 doctoral programs and annually awards more than 100 doctorates. The university is highly regarded for its internationalism, its research and scholarship, and its quality undergraduate education. Its four-year graduation rate is among the highest in the country among peer public research universities. The university recently completed its second comprehensive gifts campaign, exceeding its $100 million goal, with Dr. Stenger overseeing the campaign’s successful conclusion.

In recent years, Binghamton University has enhanced its sponsored research activity and strengthened its economic development partnerships. The university has been named the New York State Center of Excellence in Small Scale Systems Integration and Packaging (S3IP), and, under Dr. Stenger, is developing a Smart Energy Research and Development Facility targeting alternative energy production, storage and transmission.

The university also will be the lead partner in the Southern Tier High Technology Incubator to be built in downtown Binghamton, which will focus on developing new businesses out of faculty research in fields including healthcare, alternative energy and advanced microelectronics. These efforts have had a significant impact on the regional and state economy, with the University’s overall economic impact statewide currently estimated at more than $1 billion per year.

In support of this mission, Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently appointed Dr. Stenger as the co-chair of the Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council (STREDC), one of 10 regional councils established to develop long-term strategic plans for regional economic growth and job creation. In 2013, the STREDC was named a top-performing region, and was awarded more than $91 million in state support for 62 projects, including the high technology incubator.

Prior to joining Binghamton University, Dr. Stenger served as interim provost at the University at Buffalo (UB), where he also served as dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. He is a chemical engineer by training, having earned his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Cornell University in 1979, and his doctorate in the same discipline from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1983.

Before joining the administration at UB, Dr. Stenger was a professor at Lehigh University’s College of Engineering and Applied Science, where he also served as dean for six years and served terms as co-chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering and director of the Environmental Studies Center.

Dr. Stenger’s research focuses on aspects of energy and the environment, including hydrogen production, selective catalytic reduction of nitrogen oxides, mercury reaction pathways, catalytic destruction of chlorinated hydrocarbons, and fuel cell modeling and optimization. As an administrator, his emphasis has been on improving student quality, strengthening academic programs, and increasing international research and academic partnerships.

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Satish K. Tripathi
University at Buffalo
State University of New York

The first international-born president in UB’s history, Dr. Tripathi graduated at the top of his class from Banaras Hindu University in India. In addition to a doctorate in computer science from the University of Toronto, he holds three master's degrees—one in computer science from the University of Toronto and two in statistics from the University of Alberta and Banaras Hindu University.

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Dr. Tripathi joined the University at Buffalo in 2004, serving as UB’s provost and executive vice president for academic affairs until his appointment as president in 2011. As Provost, Dr. Tripathi led the recruitment of many prominent faculty to the university and oversaw a significant increase in the number of faculty hired to develop and enhance strengths in key areas of research and scholarly activity. As a result, the university achieved substantial increases in research expenditures and federally awarded research grants, putting UB in league with the top national research universities in the United States. Under Dr. Tripathi’s leadership, the academic profile of UB’s undergraduate and graduate students also has improved significantly. He led a number of efforts to enrich the educational experiences of UB undergraduate students by introducing programs designed to provide them with opportunities to engage in learning and research with UB’s top faculty. He also oversaw the development of innovative “living-learning environments” constructed as part of “Building UB,” the university’s comprehensive physical plan.

The University at Buffalo continues to experience a remarkable era of growth, progress, and innovation under Dr. Tripathi’s leadership as president. Within his first year as president, the university celebrated a number of major milestones, including the passage of the NYSUNY 2020 legislation that has led to historic reforms for UB and the SUNY system of public higher education as a whole. Since Dr. Tripathi assumed the presidency in 2011, the university has also opened five major building projects on its three campuses, celebrated a $40 million bequest that is the largest gift in university history, and is moving forward with a long-anticipated plan to relocate its medical school downtown into a world-class new facility that will be the hub of a thriving life sciences community in Buffalo.

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Michelle Wyman 
Executive Director
National Council for Science & the Environment 

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Michelle Wyman has worked on energy and environmental policy with states and local governments for over 15 years. In close consultation with regional and local governments and their constituencies, she developed strategic and tactical solutions to their energy planning, climate mitigation, and adaptation challenges.

She previously served as the Director of Intergovernmental Affairs at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). In that role, Michelle led the Department’s engagement activities with state, regional, and local governments on issues across the DOE complex, including renewable energy, science, fossil energy, and environmental cleanup.

Michelle’s extensive experience prior to joining the Department of Energy includes founding Applied Solutions- Local Governments Building a Clean Economy, and leading ICLEI USA, both of which are nonprofits engaging directly with cities, counties, and states on clean energy, environmental, and sustainability issues.

Michelle has served in a wide variety of leadership capacities including work with the World Bank, United Nations, and other multilateral institutions. Michelle has served as the Natural Resources Director for the City of Fort Collins, Colorado, and established a public sector practice focused on the environment and sustainable development working with states, local governments, and related national nonprofits, based in Washington DC.