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Governor Cuomo Announces Second Class of SUNY Hispanic Leadership Institute Fellows

February 6, 2019

SUNY Potsdam Professor Dr. Christopher Torres Named One of 14 SUNY Leaders from 10 SUNY Colleges & Universities

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has announced the second class of Fellows at SUNY’s Hispanic Leadership Institute, which is charged with developing and supporting the next generation of executive-level Hispanic/LatinX leaders across the SUNY System. The HLI offers six and 12-month fellowships to SUNY Hispanic/LatinX faculty and staff in leadership positions throughout SUNY, including provosts, chief academic officers, chief business officers, and others. Over the course of the program, fellows will participate in individualized mentoring and assessment and development programs to support their success.

 Dr. Christopher Torres, a professor in SUNY Potsdam’s Department of Public Health and Human Performance, has been selected as one of 14 leaders within the SUNY system to receive this honor. Torres joined SUNY Potsdam’s exercise science program in the Fall of 2016. He is a master athlete and sports performance coach for United States Weightlifting and both a strength and conditioning coach and the New York state director for the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

“New York is strongest when we celebrate our diversity and with programs like the Hispanic Leadership Institute, we can support some of the most dedicated leaders across the SUNY system,” Governor Cuomo said. “Congratulations to the incoming class of Fellows who will no doubt take the skills and knowledge they gain through this program to make a positive impact throughout the state.”

 “Our diversity is what makes us strong and we want to ensure that all New Yorkers have equal opportunities for growth,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “The Hispanic Leadership Institute allows SUNY faculty and staff to participate in fellowships to build skills and advance their careers. We are committed to ensuring that minorities and women in New York state have the experience and resources they need to succeed.” ‎

 In its second year, the 2019 class of HLI Fellows represents the breadth and diversity of SUNY, with over one-third consisting of faculty, one-third serving at community colleges, and more than 60 percent women in the class.

 The 2019 HLI Fellows are:

  • Christopher Torres, SUNY Potsdam
  • Lisa Gonzalez, University at Albany
  • Tibisay Hernandez, University at Albany
  • Oscar Gomez-Duarte, University at Buffalo
  • Justin Read, University at Buffalo
  • L. Sebastian Purcell, SUNY Cortland
  • Maria Boada, Dutchess Community College
  • Karen Ferrer-Muñiz, Hudson Valley Community College
  • Antonia Custodio, Monroe Community College
  • Denise Valdes, Onondaga Community College
  • Claudia Hernandez-Tarquino, SUNY Office of Global Affairs
  • Lizette Alvarado, SUNY Oswego
  • Meylin Andares, SUNY System Administration
  • Hector Graciano, Westchester Community College

 SUNY Chairman H. Carl McCall said, “The work achieved thus far by the Hispanic Leadership Institute has created a more inclusive landscape for our future Hispanic/LatinX leaders, and we are excited to welcome this year’s class of fellows. One of SUNY’s core values is to continue to build a diverse student body and have that population reflected in our faculty and staff. The Hispanic Leadership Institute, in addition to other system wide initiatives, directly serves this value by encouraging and equipping our Hispanic/LatinX leaders with the tools they need to thrive. Congratulations to all of this year’s fellows on this achievement.”

 SUNY Chancellor Dr. Kristina Johnson said, “It is of upmost importance that our students feel welcome and represented when they join our campuses, and ensuring that our faculty and staff are as diverse as our student body is a way to achieve that goal. The Hispanic Leadership Institute provides its fellows with the skills to achieve success in their own professional lives, but also how to be a role model to their peers and students. The groundwork laid through the institute is crucial and will have a positive effect on the lives of students and our campuses for generations to come.”

 About Dr. Christopher Torres

Torres received his bachelor’s degree from Portland State University as a McNair Scholar. He went on to receive his Master of Arts in Education, with a specialization in exercise science and his Doctor of Philosophy in Exercise and Physical Activity Behavior from The Ohio State University. He was also a Fellow of the Bell National Resource Center on the African American Male at The Ohio State University. Torres joined SUNY Potsdam’s exercise science program as an assistant professor in 2016. In addition to teaching, Torres currently serves the SUNY Potsdam community as faculty advisor for the Black Student Alliance student group and Omega Delta Phi sorority, is academic advisor for Men’s Lacrosse, sits on several committees of Faculty Senate and works extensively with the Center for Diversity as part of the leadership team of the Potsdam Diversity Ambassadors & Mentors (PDAM) program and Co-Chair of the Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT).

About HLI

The HLI serves as a resource for those requiring information regarding the challenges and opportunities for Latino leaders in Higher Education in New York State and nationally; and will undertake and sponsor research in the area of Hispanic leadership development, retention, and success.

 About the State University of New York

The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, with 64 college and university campuses located within 30 miles of every home, school, and business in the state. As of Fall 2017, more than 430,000 students were enrolled in a degree program at a SUNY campus. In total, SUNY served nearly 1.4 million students in credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs in the 2016-17 academic year. SUNY students and faculty across the state make significant contributions to research and discovery, resulting in $1 billion of externally sponsored activity each year. There are 3 million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunity, visit

 About SUNY Potsdam

Founded in 1816, The State University of New York at Potsdam is one of America’s first 50 colleges—and the oldest institution within SUNY. Now in its third century, SUNY Potsdam is distinguished by a legacy of pioneering programs and educational excellence. The College currently enrolls approximately 3,600 undergraduate and graduate students. Home to the world-renowned Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam is known for its challenging liberal arts and sciences core, distinction in teacher training and culture of creativity. To learn more, visit

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