Historian Will Lead a Community College in the Bronx





When Felix V. Matos Rodriguez was growing up in Puerto Rico in an extended family of sea captains, garment workers, teachers, and storytellers, the seeds of a lifelong fascination with Latino history were being sown.

Next month he will take over as president of Hostos Community College of the City University of New York, which in 1970 opened in a converted tire factory in the South Bronx to educate members of a primarily Puerto Rican community.

Like Mr. Matos Rodriguez, who moved to the mainland United States at age 18, many of those students face cultural and linguistic challenges as they make the transition to college life.

Hostos is one of six community colleges in the 23-institution CUNY system. It now enrolls about 5,100 students; about 61 percent are Hispanic and 32 percent are black. Half of the college's students have a native language other than English.

Its new president, who grew up in a suburb of San Juan, has pursued a varied career as a history professor, academic administrator, and public servant in the United States and Puerto Rico....


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