HSI Committee Members

Melanie VillatoroMelanie Villatoro | Chair

Melanie Villatoro is Interim Chair and an Associate Professor in the Department of Construction Management and Civil Engineering Technology at City Tech. She earned her B.E. degree in Civil Engineering from the Cooper Union and an MS degree in Geotechnical Engineering from Columbia University. She is the Director of the Perkins Peer Advisement Program focused on increasing retention of female students in STEM majors. Her research focuses on developing programs that assist women, underrepresented minorities, and first-generation college students to retain and successfully graduate in STEM degrees.

Mery Diaz | Secretary

Dr. Mery Diaz is an Associate Professor in the Human Services Department at New York City College of Technology/CUNY (City Tech). She holds a doctorate in clinical social work from the School of Policy and Practice at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Diaz is a licensed clinical social worker and worked with children, adolescents, and families in a variety of mental health settings. She was a consultant in high-need, high-poverty, segregated New York City public schools where she supported the development of integrated mental health systems and trained school staff on child and adolescent development and mental health. At City Tech she teaches Introduction to Human Services, Health Issues of Children and Adolescents, Field Practicum courses, and Women’s Health. She is currently the faculty liaison for CREAR Futuros at City Tech, a peer-mentoring program grant funded by the Hispanic Federation to support first-year undergraduate Latinx students. She is a long-time faculty participant in City Tech’s First-Year Learning Communities Initiative, the “Our Stories” first-year experiences research project, and is a founding member of City Tech’s Hispanic Serving Institution steering committee. Dr. Diaz serves on the editorial board of Affilia: Feminist Inquiry in Social Work.

Pamela BrownPamela Brown

Pamela Brown, Ph.D., PE, is Interim Provost at New York City College of Technology of The City University of New York (City Tech/CUNY). Prior to this position, Dr. Brown served for eight years as associate provost and six years as dean of the School of Arts & Sciences. Dr. Brown has a track record of creating initiatives to improve the retention and recruitment of students interested in careers in STEM fields. As dean, she helped obtain and oversee five grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF). She was also co-PI of an NIH bridges to the baccalaureate grant, and is currently PI of an NSF IUSE HSI grant, in addition to overseeing an NYSED CSTEP grant. She founded the college’s Emerging Scholars Program, an undergraduate research program providing research opportunities and professional development skills to over 200 students each academic year.

Justin Vazquez-Poritz

Justin Vazquez-Poritz is the Dean of the School of Arts and Science at City Tech. He provides academic leadership in curriculum and instructional design, long-term academic and fiscal planning, enrollment and student success initiatives, and the development of a vibrant environment for teaching and learning. Prior to this position, he was the Director of Undergraduate Research and worked with faculty members across the campus to strengthen and expand student research activities. He became a faculty member of the Physics Department in 2009, and holds a BA from Cornell University and a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to joining City Tech, he held postdoctoral positions at Texas A&M University, the University of Cincinnati, the University of Kentucky and the Universite Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium. He has authored and co-authored 66 publications on string theory and black holes, and has taught courses on the subject at the CUNY Graduate Center.

Ruth GarciaRuth Garcia

Ruth G. Garcia is an Associate Professor in the English Department. She earned her Ph.D. in English from The Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Dr. Garcia is currently one of the campus PIs for Core Books at CUNY, a three-year, multi-campus humanities initiative funded by the Teagle Foundation. Her scholarship focuses on the representation of servants and service in eighteenth-century novels, especially those written by women. Most recently, her work has been published in Women’s Writing and Lit: Literature Interpretation Theory.

Benito MendozaBenito Mendoza

Ben Mendoza, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Computer Engineering Technology Department. Prof. Mendoza is the (2020-2021) Chair of the Middle Atlantic Section of the American Society for Engineering Education. He has helped in the development of P-TECH (Pathways in Technology Early College High School), a successful program in which high school students earn a college associate degree in technology. He has served as Co-Chair of the Assessment Committee of the School of Technology and Design, and Chair of the CET’s Assessment Committee. His leadership in these committees included Middle States and ABET accreditation efforts in assessment.


Maura SmaleMaura Smale

Maura A. Smale, Ph.D., is the Chief Librarian and a Professor at City Tech. Dr. Smale’s research interests include undergraduate academic culture, critical librarianship, open educational technologies, and game-based learning.