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Haitian engineer Reginald DesRoches announced as president of Rice University

By Larisa Karr

Reginald DesRoches is pictured at a workshop with Rice University students. Photo from The Houston Chronicle.
Reginald DesRoches is pictured at a workshop with Rice University students. Photo from The Houston Chronicle.

NEW YORK — Reginald DesRoches, an engineer born in Haiti, has been promoted from provost to president of Rice University, the private research university in Houston, Texas. His promotion marks the first time an immigrant and person of color will hold the position since the school was founded in 1912.

DesRoches, 55, has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, a master’s degree in civil engineering, and a Ph.D. in structural engineering, all from the University of California, Berkeley. He has been awarded more than 10 honors throughout his decades-long career, including the Richard Carroll Distinguished Lecturer at Johns Hopkins University and the American Society of Civil Engineers Charles Martin Duke Lifeline Earthquake Engineering Award.

Following the earthquake in 2010, he flew there to offer his knowledge as an earthquake resilience expert.   

DesRoches left Haiti with his parents and three siblings in the 1960s when he was one year old to settle in Queens, New York. After attending St. Francis Preparatory School in Cambria Heights, he moved to California, where he began his postgraduate studies. 

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In an interview with The Miami Herald, DesRoches expressed his enthusiasm for his new role after serving as provost for two years.

“I am just so honored and thrilled to be the next president of Rice and just proud to come from where I come from,” he said. 

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