NJCU’s Virginia Meléndez Selected as a HACU Leadership Academy Fellow

September 25, 2020
Virginia Melendez News

JERSEY CITY, N.J. | The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) has announced that Virginia Meléndez, Ed.D., has been selected as an HACU Fellow for the second cohort of its Leadership Academy/La Academia de Liderazgo.

Meléndez, in her 13th year of service to the University, is the Executive Coordinator to the President and Secretary to the NJCU Board of Trustees. She earned her M.A. in Urban Education and Leadership from NJCU in 2006.

Meléndez is one of just 26 fellows selected nationally and the only fellow from an institution in New Jersey or the tri-state area. The one-year fellowship program includes three seminars, with the first taking place in October 2020, in conjunction with HACU’s 34th Annual Conference, "Fostering Excellence and Social Justice." The second seminar will lead to HACU’s 26th Annual Capitol Forum on Hispanic Higher Education in April 2021. The third seminar will be held in late spring or early summer of 2021, focusing on international collaborations.

As the only national association representing existing and emerging Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), more than a dozen nationally recognized current and emeriti presidents and senior-level administrators will be a part of the faculty. The Fellow from each of the selected universities will also have mentorship with a university president and will develop a special project designed to have an impact at the Fellow’s current institution.

“It is an honor to have been selected as part of the second cohort of HACU’s La Academia de Liderazgo,” said Meléndez. “Having just completed my doctorate degree in May 2020, I look forward to working with leaders in higher education who can provide mentorship and inspiration to be able to confront the challenges currently facing higher education today and how we can bring our experience to continue to grow future leaders. NJCU is a Hispanic-Serving Institution and I am proud to represent our university.”        

Founded in 1986, HACU’s La Academia is a program designed to diversify and increase the number of talented individuals who aspire to leadership positions of Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) and Emerging HSIs.

"The Presidential Leadership Academy, La Academia de Liderazgo, meets HACU's mission to champion Hispanic success in Hispanic higher education,'” said HACU President and CEO Antonio R. Flores. "By preparing more Latinos/Latinas for leadership roles with a special focus on Hispanic-Serving Institutions, HACU and the Fellows who participate will have a profound impact on the students they serve and the institutions they lead.”

Representing more than 500 colleges and universities in the United States, the Fellows selected for the program will participate in an array of leadership development activities that will prepare them for leadership roles for higher education, as well as HSIs.

Meléndez’s selection marks the second consecutive year that an NJCU leader has been selected for the program. In 2019, José Balda, Director of University Admissions, was selected as part of the inaugural cohort.

“I want to congratulate Virginia on her selection!," said Balda. "It was an honor to be selected for the HACU’s Inaugural Presidential Leadership Academy/La Academia de Liderazgo. The program allowed me to step outside of my institution to take an elevated look at issues in higher education and engage in dialogue from a variety of viewpoints. I made contacts with college presidents, provosts, faculty members and directors from around the country who shared their knowledge and life experiences. The presenters were high-caliber professionals who brought different leadership styles to the forefront for examination and professional reflection. It was a wonderful learning experience!”

The 2020-21 Fellows selected and their home institutions are:

  • Cynthia Aguilar, Dallas College Mountain View Campus
  • Mindy Suzanne Andino, Ed.D., Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania
  • Gerardo N. Arellano, Ph.D., University of California, San Diego
  • Gabriela Castañeda, Ed.D., Chapman University
  • Antonio Delgado, Ed.D., West Chester University of Pennsylvania
  • Viridiana Diaz, Ed.D., California State University, Sacramento
  • Dolores Durán-Cerda, Ph.D., Pima Community College
  • Maria C. Escobar-Lemmon, Ph.D., Texas A&M University
  • Lydia Falbo, DNP, Morton College
  • Michelle Ferrez, Ed.D., University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • Rhonda M. Gonzales, Ph.D., The University of Texas at San Antonio
  • John Morán González, Ph.D., The University of Texas at Austin
  • Blanca Jara, Morton College
  • Araceli Lepe Moreno, Indiana University South Bend
  • Dania Matos, J.D., University of California, Merced
  • Virginia Meléndez, Ed.D., New Jersey City University
  • Edwin Murillo, Ph.D., The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
  • Lorena Oropeza, Ph.D., University of California, Davis 
  • Amalia V. Pallares, Ph.D., University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Rubén D. Parra, Ph.D., DePaul University
  • Marisa E. Pierce, Ed.D., Dallas College North Lake Campus
  • Pamela Anne Quiroz, Ph.D., University of Houston
  • Cynthia Ramos, Phoenix College
  • Steven M. Salcido, California State University, Sacramento
  • José L. Santos, Ph.D., 2U, Inc.
  • Mario S. Torres, Jr., Ph.D., Texas A&M University