“I am lucky to be giving my time and expertise to the academic institution that opened my horizons and made me a creative and analytical thinker,” says Diane Rodriguez, Ph.D., on her appointment as associate dean for the Fordham Graduate School of Education. “In my new role, I want to be supportive of GSE colleagues, students, and administration, while working with the faculty to develop academic programs and experiences that foster student success and recognition. I want to be a connecting bridge among the GSE dean, faculty, students, and the Fordham community.”
According to José Luis Alvarado, Dean of the Graduate School of Education, “Dr. Rodriguez is a consummate professional who is well-respected within the institution and brings a depth of knowledge about higher education and professional preparation programs. She cares deeply about our students, programs, and faculty and will surely make her mark as someone who values teamwork and collaboration. In short, Dr. Rodriguez lives the mission of the GSE and Fordham University. I look forward to the many contributions she will make in supporting the strategic direction of the Graduate School of Education.”
With her extensive work experience in higher education in the areas of research, teaching, and service, Rodriguez has gained deep insight into effective strategies for supporting teamwork and collaboration. She hopes to implement incentives to increase student enrollment, and notes that the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion is a key consideration. Rodriguez’s comprehensive educational background includes experience in teacher preparation as part of the New York City Department of Education, plus work in the GSE’s special education, bilingual education, and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages programs, as well as the Innovation in Curriculum and Instruction doctoral program. She has also served on Fordham’s faculty senate for several years, where she has gained a solid foundation in the University’s mission and administrative system procedures. This summer, Rodriguez will officially transition from teaching to her new administrative responsibilities.
The associate dean provides leadership and support for all GSE programs, including academic affairs, student services, enrollment management, and faculty development and support. “I believe that listening to both faculty and student points of view will be essential in my role as associate dean,” said Rodriguez. “We need to follow established regulations and continually refine them in order to provide a healthy and exciting educational environment for students and a favorable work environment for faculty and staff. We are still navigating our way to a ‘new normal’ in this time of Covid subvariants and a shifting educational landscape, while making significant progress along the way.”
Personally, Rodriguez recalls that her interest in being an educator began early, as an eight-year-old child. She started by teaching her siblings and other kids in the neighborhood how to read and write in a “classroom” on her home’s balcony in Puerto Rico. Years later, after she began teaching in her hometown, she read in the local newspaper that the NYC Department of Education (NYCDOE) was recruiting bilingual teachers to work with bilingual learners and was offering a scholarship to enroll in a master’s degree program.
The opportunity was all the incentive Rodriguez needed to decide to pursue the bilingual teacher position. She passed the NYCDOE exam, went for an interview, and moved to New York City. Then, Rodriguez applied for admission to Fordham University and was accepted, earning her Ph.D. in language, learning and literacy from the Graduate School of Education. She credits wonderful professors for her continued academic and professional success, including mentors Angela Reyes-Carrasquillo, Ph.D. and Barbara Jackson, Ed.D.
Rodriguez emphasized, “I look forward to starting this challenging position. There is much to accomplish and the associate dean position plays a critical role in the GSE’s successes. I am eagerly anticipating working collaboratively with my faculty colleagues and Dean Alvarado to foster student success, conduct innovative research, and increase student enrollment, all while continuing to maintain high academic standards in all of our programs.”