Dr. Ricardo Rodriguez wants to reach out – to other universities, to high school students, even to middle schoolers.
Rodriguez, who was named the new dean of the School of Natural and Social Sciences in April, says his main goal is to bring more students to Wesleyan.
He plans to expand outreach programs specializing in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) to provide resources and opportunities for faculty members, and recruit members in the community to assist with future endeavors.
“I saw that I had an opportunity to contribute to the university and the surrounding community and was very happy,” said Rodriguez, who has been at Wesleyan for 25 years and was previously an assistant professor of chemistry, interim dean, associate director of the nurse anesthesia program and faculty chair in the chemistry department.
Rodriguez plans to focus on strengthening and implementing the pre-health science program.
“Texas Wesleyan has a role in providing the educational background to those interested in dental school, medical school and pharmaceutical school and we have the faculty to do that,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said he was always interested in science, “but never had the opportunity. As I have evolved through my schooling, I have seen a lot of things that people do to strive in the science world. When I think of ideas, I think of ideas that will interest children and young people and get their attention to stay in education and science engineering.”
He also hopes to create a pre-engineering program for students interested in one day receiving their master’s degrees. Rodriguez hopes to boost student engagement by enhancing opportunities in professional development.
“Sometimes I like to sit and think about ideas that will enhance student learning but I also ideas that will enhance the faculty development,” Rodriguez said. “What is it that I can do or that we can do as a university to enhance opportunities in terms of professional development. Also, I think about ideas for enhancing student engagement by sending students to conferences and those kinds of things.”
He currently teaches chemistry in the nurse anesthesia program, and loves the challenge of balancing teaching and being the dean.
“I enjoy teaching and I don’t ever want to forget what it is to be a faculty member and the challenges faculty have when teaching,” said Rodriguez. “I need to be in the forefront, so I can fully understand the needs of the students and the faculty members.”
Rodriguez has become a well-respected leader among his fellow staff members and has been a constant leader in all of our department, said Yukong Zhang, associate professor of computer science.
“I am excited with him becoming the new dean and look forward in growing our computer science program with his help,” Zhang said.
Rodriguez started his education at Baylor University, where he received his bachelor’s in science. He received his doctorate in science at Texas Christian University, according to txwes.edu.
Rodriguez joined the Wesleyan faculty in 1990 as an undergraduate chemistry professor. He moved to the GPNA program in 2007 as the associate director of the Doctorate of Nurse Anesthesia Program. In May of 2015, he was asked to step in as the interim dean of the School of Natural and Social Sciences, according to txwes.edu.
In October 2015, he was inducted into McLennan Community College’s Hall of Fame as part of the college’s 50th anniversary. Rodriguez, who attended MCC as a pre-engineering student before transferring to Baylor University, was “floored by this prestigious award,” according to txwes.edu.
In his free time, Rodriguez finds comfort in restoring old vehicles, spending time with his grandchildren and pets, and playing guitar. He and his wife, Maria Elena, have been married for 33 years. He has three children, Roberto, Jessica, and Dania. Jessica and Dania are Wesleyan alumni.
Rodriguez has definitely made an impact among students by getting involved with their education and improving their interest in the programs, said Ivann Grande, computer science senior.
“I like his passion for not only the university but the community around us. I think what he is doing will lead to a lot of great doors opening up and improvement in the university’s and surrounding committee’s futures,” Grande said.
Rodriguez hopes to enhance opportunities for students in science and math programs and teacher education.
“I would like to see Wesleyan become a premiere program and university,” Rodriguez said. “Most importantly, I will work to provide resources and opportunities for staff and students so they can achieve goals as professionals.”