Dr. Lester Edgardo Sandres Rápalo, EdD, MBA, MA, joined Rockland Community College as the Institution’s eighth President in July 2023. RCC is one of 30 community colleges within the State University of New York (SUNY) system, located about 25 miles outside of New York City. The College offers a safe, supportive learning environment for thousands of students from diverse backgrounds. Affordable tuition, an array of degree, certificate and workforce development programs, and a commitment to career readiness and upward economic mobility makes RCC the “first choice” for students of all ages.
With over two decades of experience in higher education, Dr. Rápalo believes in the transformative power of education. He brings his passion for and commitment to creating affordable educational opportunities for all to Rockland Community College and the larger community.
Dr. Rápalo’s experience has focused on bringing together multiple stakeholders to provide and make quality education accessible to all members of the community. As a college administrator, Dr. Rápalo has experience in academic affairs, student affairs, enrollment management, strategic and fiscal planning, fundraising, business partnerships and coalition building, study abroad, on-line learning and assessment, and faculty and student conflict resolution. In addition, Dr. Rápalo has demonstrated a strong commitment to celebrating diversity and fostering an inclusive environment conducive to faculty, student, and staff success.
Prior to joining RCC, Dr. Rápalo was the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Bronx Community College, City University of New York (CUNY). In this role, Dr. Rápalo was responsible for the total College budget, approximately $140 million, and supervised 5 deans, 15 academic departments, 260 full-time faculty, and 440 adjuncts. Dr. Rápalo also oversaw the Associate Dean for Success Programs, the Associate Dean for Curriculum Matters and Academic Programs, the Director of Institutional Research, the Assistant Dean for First Year Program, the Scheduling Office, and the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Technology. He helped lead the Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) and worked closely with Admissions to increase the automation of the enrollment process for CUNY Start and Math Start programs. He was also involved in CUNY-wide (25 colleges and universities in total) governance, including serving as the Co-Chair of the Recognizing and Rewarding Excellence in Teaching Task Force Committee and membership in the CUNY Academic Council, the Committee on Academic Policy (CAP) and the Reimagining Strategic Finance Committee.
At Bronx Community College, Dr. Rápalo facilitated the College’s win of the prestigious Innovations in American Government Award from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He also oversaw the accreditation renewal process with the Council for Education in Nursing (ACEN) for the College’s Nursing Program. In addition, Dr. Rápalo’s leadership efforts secured various grants for the College, including a $3,000,000 Title V Grant awarded by the Developing Hispanic-Servicing Institutions (DHSI) Program to assist Hispanic-Servicing Institutions build academic programs and improve program quality to help Hispanic student retention. Dr. Rápalo has also worked to strengthen the Workforce Development initiatives at Bronx Community College, partnering with organizations such as JPMorgan Chase, Ernst and Young and Blackstone.
Dr. Rápalo is a National Community College Hispanic Council (NCCHC) fellow and board member. He is the author of several textbooks and has made multiple appearances in media outlets including Telemundo, ABC Channel 7, and Azteca TV (México). Dr. Rápalo was born in Honduras and speaks Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese.
Victor Anaya, EdD joined Rockland Community College as the Vice President of Finance and Administration in January 2024. He has over thirty-five years of experience working in the finance and accounting fields, fifteen of which have been in education. Dr. Anaya has served in executive-level financial roles for several organizations within higher education and elementary education, including CUNY, Bergen Community College, and Tenafly Public School district, to name a few. In addition, Dr. Anaya has held senior financial positions for New Jersey Judiciary, Hertz, Pan Am, and ABC.
Dr. Anaya has a Doctorate in Community College Leadership from National American University, a Master of Science Degree in Managerial and Operational Auditing from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, and two Bachelor of Arts Degrees in Business Administration and Accounting from William Paterson University.
In his role at RCC, Dr. Anaya reports directly to the President as a member of the Executive Cabinet, advising in financial planning and developing policies to achieve the College’s goals. His role responsibilities include financial analysis, planning, policy development, financial reporting, operating and capital budget preparation and control, auditing, accounting services and record keeping, payroll, grant accounting services and reporting, inventory control, and risk management.
Dr. Anaya also oversees Facilities, Public Safety, Information Technology, Administrative Services, the Field House and Cultural Arts Theater administration, Hospitality and Culinary Arts Center, Bursar, as well as other administrative departments that support the needs and priorities of the College.
For almost seven years Dr. Irene R. Delgado served as the Vice President for Student Success at CUNY/Bronx Community College. She led efforts for over 12 different units; all with the overarching mission of ensuring that BCC students successfully graduated. Dr. Delgado worked closely with administration and faculty to remove obstacles that hindered BCC students’ educational success.
Dr. Delgado graduated from Mercy College, with a BA in paralegal studies. She pursued further studies at Long Island University, earning an MBA in Marketing and an MS in Counseling. In 2011, she completed her PhD. in Educational Psychology from the CUNY/Graduate Center. Her dissertation, entitled “Closing the Gap: Relational Aggression in the College Environment,” focused on addressing relational aggression within the college setting.
A sci-fi fan, bibliophile and traveler, you can typically find her supporting independent booksellers everywhere.
Dr. Virginia Meléndez is RCC’s Executive Director of Strategic Initiatives. In this role, she chairs a campus Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) working group that focuses on what it means for RCC to be an HSI. Statewide, Dr. Meléndez represents RCC at SUNY-wide initiatives to support HSIs to coordinate and amplify HSI efforts across the university. At the national level, Dr. Meléndez serves as the campus liaison to the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) and Excelencia in Education, and actively explore opportunities to partner and collaborate. She also leads organizational development and planning efforts, while amplifying RCCs message.
Prior to joining RCC, Dr. Meléndez served in various roles in the public and private sectors in Higher Education. She has over twenty years of experience in Higher Education Administration and as a Board Professional. Her worked included Diversity Taskforce, Student Success Initiatives, and Middle States accreditation. Dr. Meléndez is also active in her local community serving on the Board of Directors of her Condominium Association.
Dr. Meléndez holds an Ed.D. in Higher Education Administration from Saint Peter’s University. Most recently, Dr. Meléndez was selected to participate in the second cohort of HACU’s Leadership Academy, La Academia de Liderazgo, and served as part of the inaugural class of the Emerging Leaders Program of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU).
Aida E. Rosario joined Rockland Community College as the Vice President of Institutional Advancement, Communications, and External Affairs in October 2023. Aida’s exceptional credentials, student-facing experience, and dedication to RCC’s mission make her an invaluable addition to the leadership team.
Her extensive professional experience spans over 18 years, including management roles at Univision Communications, Inc. and NBCUniversal’s Telemundo stations in the Philadelphia and New York markets. Notably, her background also encompasses significant experience in student-facing roles at Temple University and MCPHahnemann/Drexel University, demonstrating her understanding of the unique needs and aspirations of student communities.
With a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Human Resources and Business Law from Temple University’s esteemed Fox School of Business, and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Berkeley College, Aida’s academic achievements reflect her dedication to academic excellence and professional growth. In her free time, Ms. Rosario enjoys spending time with her family and traveling.
Melissa L. Roy, JD is the inaugural Chief Diversity Officer at SUNY Rockland Community College in Suffern, New York. In that capacity, she works to ensure that the College’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion is reflected in all its policies, work, and practices. She previously served in various roles at the College where she was the Equal Employment Opportunity officer, the Title IX coordinator, and the Middle States accreditation liaison officer.
Prior to joining Rockland Community College, Ms. Roy practiced corporate and securities law at the law firms of Hogan Lovells (previously Hogan & Hartson LLP) in both its Washington, DC and New York offices; Eversheds Sutherland (previously Sutherland, Asbill & Brennan) in its Washington, DC office; and Goodwin (previously Goodwin, Procter & Hoar LLP) in its Boston, Massachusetts office.
Ms. Roy is active in the local community. She serves on the Board of Trustees of the Valley Cottage Library and the Mount Moor Cemetery Association. She is also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Westchester Alumnae Chapter, and the American Association of University Women, Rockland Chapter, and a Lifetime Member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Nyack Branch. She previously served on the Board of Directors of the African American Historical Society of Rockland (2009-2018), the Board of Directors of the Rockland Negro Scholarship Fund, Inc. (2001-2014), and the Board of Directors of the American Heart Association, Founders Affiliate ~ Tri-County NY Region (2010-2013).
Ms. Roy earned a Juris Doctor from Boston University School of Law and Bachelor of Arts degree from Tufts University. She holds a certification in Collective Bargaining from Cornell University’s ILR School. She was selected as a member of the Leadership Rockland Class of 2007 and Rockland County’s Forty under 40 in 2005.
Dr. Victoria Ukachukwu is a distinguished research scientist and educator with over 20 years of experience as a seasoned academic leader in higher education. Holding a PhD in Organic Chemistry from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Dr. Ukachukwu has a wealth of experience developed from her various roles as a research scholar, chemistry faculty member, and academic administrator. A published author of an organic chemistry book and several scientific research papers, she brings a depth of technical expertise in her new role as the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Rockland Community College.
Dr. Ukachukwu joins Rockland Community College from her previous position as Dean and Provost of the Plainfield Campus at Union College, in New Jersey, where she adeptly oversaw all campus operations and provided visionary leadership for faculty and staff in teaching, curriculum development, technology, and assessment. She developed innovative partnerships with community and local organizations and provided leadership for social justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in the community.
Purysabel Uregar, born in the Dominican Republic, is a dynamic individual with a zest for life. Her passions encompass the thrill of traveling, embracing outdoor adventures, fostering strong family bonds, and a deep love for the field of Human Resources.
Purysabel’s educational journey led her to earn a Master’s Degree in Human Resources Management from Lehman College/CUNY, where she had previously completed her Bachelor’s Degree. She also holds an Associates Degree from LaGuardia Community College. Her dedication to education laid the foundation for her impressive career in Human Resources, spanning an impressive 19 years.
Beyond her professional pursuits, Purysabel finds fulfillment in volunteering at her children’s school, actively participating in PTO activities, and making a positive impact in her local educational community. She is equally committed to enhancing RCC’s employee community, working tirelessly to provide unwavering support and assistance to every employee.
Purysabel Uregar’s journey is an inspiring testament to her dedication to family, education, and the betterment of her community.