Dr. Angel Cabrera, the first president of an American university who was born in Spain, is one step closer to leaving the presidency of George Mason University to lead Georgia Tech.
The University System of Georgia board of regents announced Thursday that Cabrera is the sole finalist for the presidency of the Atlanta school, formally known as Georgia Institute of Technology.
Chancellor Dr. Steve Wrigley said in a statement that Cabrera, an alumnus of Georgia Tech, “has the academic background, leadership skills and community ties necessary to lead a premier research institution like Georgia Tech. His strong record of improving student outcomes, increasing enrollment, strengthening research and enhancing stakeholder partnerships will enable him to successfully advance the priorities and meet the needs of the Georgia Tech campus community.”
Cabrera’s comments were cautiously optimistic, and he said he is continuing to focus on his work at GMU as the process unfolds.
“I am honored to be considered for this position,” he said. “Georgia Tech is very special to me. My wife and I met there and our son is a recent graduate. It would be a privilege to lead such a great institution.”
The USG board’s next scheduled meeting is Aug. 8, although it could take action before then.
GMU rector Tom Davis said Cabrera – who sits on the Georgia Tech advisory board and chaired it in 2011 – has taken Virginia’s largest public university to new heights with his leadership and vision since arriving in 2012.
“In his time here,” said Davis, “we’ve been named a top-tier research university, been praised for being the most diverse university in the commonwealth and have created important partnerships that have helped our community thrive. Georgia Tech would be fortunate to have him.”
Under Cabrera’s leadership, GMU established the Schar School of Policy & Government, the Point of View Center for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, the Institute for Biohealth Innovation, a U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security Center of Excellence, the Potomac Center of Environmental Studies and a campus in South Korea.
Also during his tenure, according to the university, it has accounted for the majority of enrollment growth in Virginia, joined the top tier of research schools in the Carnegie classification, established partnerships to expand online programs and international recruitment, built several new facilities, more than doubled philanthropic contributions and in December exceeded a $500-million campaign goal by $190 million.
USG regents chair Don Waters said he looks forward to “the next step in this process and to ensuring Georgia Tech’s next president will continue moving this top-10 public institution forward.”
The search committee “spent several months reviewing and interviewing a deep pool of highly-talented individuals from across the country,” said its chair, Ben Tarbutton III.
Cabrera, 51, earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer and electrical engineering at Universidad Politécnica of Madrid, where he later was awarded an honorary doctorate. He earned a master’s degree and Ph.D. in cognitive psychology at Georgia Tech, where he attended as a Fulbright Scholar.
Before becoming GMU’s sixth president, he served as dean of IE Business School in Madrid and president of the Thunderbird School of Global Management, which is now part of Arizona State University. He has been recognized as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, a Henry Crown Fellow by the Aspen Institute and a Great Immigrant by Carnegie Corporation.
Cabrera has served on numerous boards, including the National Geographic Society, the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, the Bankinter Foundation for Innovation, the Northern Virginia Technology Council and Inovio Pharmaceuticals, a publicly traded biotech company.
He also sits on the Council for the International Exchange of Scholars – the Fulbright program – is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and has served as chairman of International Initiatives of the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU).
Dr. George P. “Bud” Peterson, Georgia Tech’s current president, is retiring this summer after a decade in the position. Earning an annual compensation package of more than $1.1 million, he is the highest-paid president in the USG system.
LaMont Jones can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow him on Twitter @DrLaMontJones