Purchase College President Thomas J. Schwarz announced the appointment of Dr. Damian J. Fernandez as the new Provost and Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs beginning August 1, 2008.
“He is as inspiring teacher and a prolific researcher,” said President Schwarz. “We welcome his leadership. He brings a history of collegial and entrepreneurial accomplishments to Purchase that will help our institution strengthen academic and artistic programs, and expand research initiatives as we prepare to undertake new challenges to deliver on the promise of Purchase College,” said President Schwarz.
“I am honored to join such a vibrant community and look forward to working with faculty, staff, and students to advance the educational mission at Purchase,” said Dr. Fernandez.
Dr. Fernandez is currently Vice Provost and Head of the Biscayne Bay campus of Florida International University, the largest branch of Florida’s State University system. His accomplishments there have included crafting a new vision for the campus, maximizing opportunities for undergraduate research and performance, and creating interdisciplinary integration—including initiatives that have fused the creative and liberal arts with social and natural sciences. Charged with re-energizing academic programs and campus life, he enhanced core curriculum, developed a plan which deployed new start-to-finish programs, expanded the Honors College, and restructured the development and community relations unit.
He also serves as Director of the Cuban Research Institute at Florida International University, the nation’s leading institute for research and academic programs on Cuba and Cuban-American issues. In this role he highlighted culture and the arts as a strategic component of the Institute’s mission by creating joint programs with Florida International University’s Frost Art Museum, the International Dance and Music Institute, and the College of Architecture and the Arts.
Dr. Fernandez previously served as Director of University Long Range Planning and Chair of the department of International Relations, in which he is a full professor.
He was the recipient of two awards for excellence in teaching, and is the author of Cuba and the Politics of Passion, among many other publications.
Dr. Fernandez received his bachelor’s degree from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, a master’s degree in Latin American Graduate Studies from the University of Florida, and a doctorate from the University of Miami’s Graduate School of International Studies.
His appointment is the culmination of a national search led by Professor Suzanne Kessler, Dean of the School of Natural and Social Sciences, with broad representation of faculty, administrators, staff, and students.