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Expanding the Possible: Korbel Celebrates First Full-Time Rice Family Professor of Practice

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Meghan Franklin

Advancement Writer

News  •
Sie Complex

Professors at the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies aren’t just writing the book(s) on important topics like international security and international political economy; they are training future leaders to meaningfully engage the world outside of academia. 

One of those professors is Venezuelan economist Francisco Rodríguez, who joined the Korbel faculty in fall 2023 as the first full-time occupant of the Rice Family Endowed Professor of Practice.

Former United States secretary of state Condoleezza Rice (BA ’74, PhD ’81, Hon. PhD ’96) established the Rice Family Endowed Professor of Practice in 2015 to honor her parents, Rev. John Wesely Rice Jr. and Angelena Rice. The endowment supports a non-tenured faculty position at Korbel for an eminently qualified academic, government, non-governmental organization or business leader who has made a major impact on fields significant to Korbel School programs. 

As the Rice Family professor, Rodríguez brings a wealth of experience in politics and economics, including time as head of the Economic and Financial Advisory of the Venezuelan National Assembly (2000-2004), head of the research team of the United Nations’ Human Development Report Office (2008-2011) and chief Andean economist of Bank of America (2011-2016). He has also been a visiting researcher at the International Monetary Fund and a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, as well as a professor at many prominent universities.

Francisco Rodriguez
Francisco Rodríguez

Rodríguez says that being at Korbel affords him an invaluable opportunity to think about Venezuela’s political and economic crisis from an academic perspective and explore how instruments that the U.S. and other developed countries have used, like sanctions, impact vulnerable populations in target countries. 

“Venezuela has experienced the largest documented economic collapse outside of wartime in history. There have been attempts to address it, but there hasn’t been a satisfactory solution. There is a time for action, and there is a time for thinking, reflection and reframing ideas. In terms of being able to reframe ideas and work on solutions, I can’t think of a better community to be a part of than Korbel,” Rodríguez says. 

He says he appreciates the interdisciplinary nature of Korbel and the diversity of its faculty and students. “I haven’t had a boring conversation yet. I am always walking away from my classroom full of new ideas.” 

Korbel School dean Fritz Mayer says, “Engaged scholarship, where our scholars are engaging with stakeholders in society around issues that confront Colorado, the United States and the world, has become an important part of Korbel’s identity. Rodríguez is the perfect first Rice Family professor. He not only has high level government and private sector experience, but he’s also a PhD economist. He bridges the gap between our academic faculty and the world of practice.” 

When our students meet professors like Rodríguez, they realize they are just people, too. It really enlarges their vision of the possible,” he says.

While Korbel has several endowed academic professorships, the Rice Family professorship is the first endowed professor of practice at Korbel.

If you’d like to honor the Rice family by contributing to the Rice Family Endowed Professor of Practice or learn more about how endowed professorships enrich the student experience, please contact Julie DeWoody, executive director of development at Korbel, at