The Universidad de Guadalajara (UdG) General Council this week elected Ricardo Villanueva Lomelí to serve as its rector for the period 2019-2025.
Villanueva, the current rector of the UdG’s Tonala campus, received 106 of the 186 votes cast by council delegates. Three other candidates also ran for the position.
Villanueva will assume the leadership of the nation’s second largest pubic university in April. Around 280,000 students attend the university’s assorted graduate and undergraduate campuses, as well as more than 50 high schools and vocational schools in both the Guadalajara metropolitan area and the rest of the state.
A law graduate, Villanueva served as president of the Federation de Estudiantes de Guadalajara (FEU), the UdG’s student union, from 2001 to 2004. At the end of his term, he received an evaluation as the best leader in the union’s history by the newspaper Mural. His greatest achievement was fighting for and obtaining a 50-percent transportation discount for all students in the state. He was also key in pioneering the development of free concerts and cultural events within the university.
After a period working at the UdG in various capacities, Villanueva ran the successful 2012 gubernatorial campaign of Aristoteles Sandoval. He headed his transition team and was named Jalisco’s finance and administration secretary in 2013.
Villanueva ran as the candidate for Guadalajara mayor in 2015 for the Partido Revolucionaro Institutional (PRI) and Green Party coalition. He lost to Enrique Alfaro, the current Jalisco governor, but assumed a seat on the city council. He left this position to 2016 to take up the rectorship of the UdG’s Centro Universitario in Tonala.
Although once a political rival, Alfaro congratulated Villanueva on his election, saying that the state government and the public university should be “allies in the defense of Jalisco.”
Villanueva has stated that he would like to present a united front with the state and municipal governments to lobby the federal administration for increasing the university’s funding.
Alfaro stressed, however, that the university’s budget – often a bone of contention – should not become the overbearing issue of discussion with state authorities.