RISE 2019 Conference - Welcome

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

WELCOME FROM THE UALBANY PRESIDENT

 

havidan rodriguez photo

Dear Friends,

I am delighted to welcome you to RISE 2019: Transforming University Engagement in Pre- and Post-Disaster Environments: Lessons from Puerto Rico.

As you know, Hurricane María was one of the worst and most deadly disasters in Puerto Rico’s history. In the months following María, more than 30 universities traveled to Puerto Rico, including a number of SUNY and CUNY institutions, with the purpose of pursuing quick response research, service-learning, student exchange, and humanitarian relief. Most of these efforts were related to disaster response, recovery and resiliency endeavors. They were very well-intentioned and necessary to both help communities in need, as well as to advance critical research.

However, in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, critical questions emerged about how universities and colleges can play a more impactful role in resiliency planning, preparation and recovery.

RISE 2019 will provide a platform for a national conversation to explore ways in which institutions of higher education can strengthen preparedness, response and recovery efforts using Puerto Rico as a case study, and in so doing, improve the well-being of communities vulnerable to climate change and extreme weather – arguably the most serious challenge our global society is facing today.

We look forward to you joining us for RISE 2019 this November for a series of critical conversations that will deepen university-community engagement, and strengthen the resiliency of communities in the years ahead!

Sincerely,

Havidán Rodríguez
President
University at Albany
State University of New York
 

 

WELCOME FROM THE CUNY CHANCELLOR

 

Félix V. Matos Rodríguez

Dear Friends,

We are all aware of the accelerating pace and severity of climate-driven natural disasters. The destruction and havoc caused by extreme events – from ferocious hurricanes in the Caribbean and East Coast to deadly floods and typhoons in the Midwest to wildfires in California – is an inescapable threat no matter where we live. Out of this Category 4 reality has come the realization that universities and colleges can and should play a crucial role in how their communities – and the nation as a whole – prepare for and recover from extreme weather disasters.

Our recent experiences are a starting point for the important discussions we will have at the RISE 2019 conference. CUNY is proud of its continuing participation in Gov. Cuomo’s NY Stands with Puerto Rico Recovery and Rebuilding Initiative, which has sent more than 1,000 CUNY and SUNY students to the island over the past two years. We are proud of the response we had to Superstorm Sandy, when our faculty’s efforts ranged from pioneering research that used our supercomputers to make storm surge flooding on Staten Island less unpredictable, to carving out a new area of study in the psychological effects of disaster survival.

And now we are honored to participate in this ambitious and much-needed conference to explore ways that anchor institutions can marshal resources, partner with government and conduct research to strengthen disaster preparation and response. Communities and regions must become more resilient at a time when the effects of the global climate crisis are becoming an ever-present part of our lives. As the leader of an institution whose mission is driven by education and research for the public good, I cannot imagine a more important meeting of the minds.

Sincerely,

Félix V. Matos Rodríguez
Chancellor
The City University of New York

 

WELCOME FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF PUERTO RICO

 

Jorge Haddock Acevedo

Dear Friends,

Greetings from the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) Community. I am pleased to welcome you to RISE 2019: Transforming University Engagement in Pre- and Post-Disaster Environments: Lessons from Puerto Rico.

Hurricane Maria arrived on our island on September 20, 2017 and was one of the worst disasters in Puerto Rico’s history. It was the strongest hurricane to hit PR in more than 80 years. Hurricane Maria destroyed homes, roads and bridges; it knocked out power across the entire island and triggered heavy flooding. More than two years since Hurricane Maria have passed, but in some areas we are still in the recovery mode.

The UPR community is very thankful for all the assistance we received, including help from more that 50 university alliances. Many universities were quick to respond in support of our academic endeavors including student transfer and exchange programs, humanitarian relief, disaster case management and numerous other ways. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!!!

For everyone who supported us from the distance, it would be difficult to have a sense of the enormous impact that of you had in the recovery and well-being of all of us, directly and indirectly. You were all part of one of the most life transforming events in our island’s history.

We take great pride in and embrace our responsibility in the important and central role that our university played in the recovery of our island. We brought hope and support to our students, families and communities. That is why being part of RISE 2019 is so important for us.

To this end, our universities and colleges are extraordinarily well-positioned to leverage our research, discovery, teaching, workforce development, and community and public engagement mission to make a lasting impact in protecting our communities and our planet from the effects of climate change.

This Conference, RISE 2019, will serve as a catalyst in the global dialogue to bring increasing awareness, effective action, and informed and responsible decision making related to disaster preparedness, as well as the role of universities in all of them. These conversations will result in advances in response and recovery efforts through more sustainable and resilient universities and communities.

We look forward to our continued partnership and collaboration.

Sincerely,

Jorge Haddock Acevedo
President
University of Puerto Rico

 

WELCOME FROM THE NCSE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

 

havidan rodriguez photo

Dear Friends,

The past five years have seen an unprecedented pace and intensity in extreme weather events ranging from hurricanes and wildfires to extended heat and drought cycles. The impacts are far reaching and touch all parts of a community and region.

The research, education and work that universities provide in pre- and post-disaster environments at the community level, and extensively across universities spanning the United States and beyond, is increasingly recognized and valued.

RISE 2019 will bring together scholars, decision-makers and experts from across sectors to share tools, lessons and learning on resilience. RISE 2019 will mark the launch of the RISE platform, a formal effort to connect and engage all universities working on resilience education, research and action.

Under the leadership of RISE 2019 Program Chairs Marla Lugo Perez and Cecilio Ortiz Garcia, and in partnership with the University of Albany and a number of key universities, this technical conference will focus on exchanging knowledge, connecting and building collaborations.

Please join us and become a part of RISE.

Sincerely,

Michelle Wyman
Executive Director
National Council for Science and the Environment