Fernie Rodriguez selected as associate vice chancellor for student affairs

Fernie Rodriguez, associate vice chancellor for student affairs at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. (Photo by Althea Dotzour / UW–Madison)

Fernie Rodriguez, Ph.D., will lead the Student Affairs identity and inclusion portfolio as the next associate vice chancellor for student affairs reporting directly to Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Lori Reesor. The associate vice chancellor serves as a member of the vice chancellor’s cabinet; is a key liaison between Student Affairs and the Division of Diversity, Equity & Educational Achievement (DDEEA); and is a member of UW–Madison’s group of unit-level chief diversity officers. Rodriguez, who uses they/them pronouns, began in the role Jan. 22.

“Dr. Rodriguez brings a strong background in student affairs, advocacy and programming for underrepresented students, and academic support,” Reesor said. “They have a keen understanding of the many intersectional identities that students bring to their college experience and how supporting and celebrating these attributes contribute to their holistic development. I am thrilled to welcome Fernie to our leadership team and look forward to working together in support of our students’ success.”

As associate vice chancellor for student affairs, Rodriguez leads a comprehensive range of programs and services designed to support student success with special interest in underrepresented student populations. This includes guiding the newly renamed and relocated Center for Interfaith Dialogue, which helps students explore faith identities, as well as campus collaborations aimed at improving support for first-generation students. Rodriguez will also be an integral part of Student Affairs’ ongoing efforts to review and provide direction for student cultural spaces and programming on campus.

“I am excited and humbled to serve in this role dedicated to our students and to serve as an advocate on their behalf,” Rodriguez shared. “I have already connected with many dynamic student leaders and professionals, and it is encouraging to feel such a strong sense of community around me. I know we will do transformative work together, and I am here for it!”

Rodriguez most recently served as director of the Circle of Indigenous Nations and the Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence at the University of Minnesota. They co-chaired the Minnesota Education Equity Partnership and previously served in advising, ombud, and instructor roles during 10 years with the university as well as in residence life at Carleton and Macalester colleges. Rodriguez is a first-generation college graduate originally from El Paso, Texas, which is located on the U.S. border with Mexico. They earned a bachelor’s in sociology from the University of Texas at Austin; master’s in higher education student personnel administration from New York University; and doctorate in higher education from the University of Minnesota.

Rodriguez was selected as part of a national executive search effort led by WittKiefer last fall. Representatives from Student Affairs, DDEEA, campus partner units, and the student body served on the search committee.