Rogelio Garcia Contreras Named Director of Social Innovation

Rogelio Garcia Contreras, founder of the Social Entrepreneurship Program at the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas, has been named director of social innovation at the University of Arkansas.

Garcia holds a doctorate in international politics and development from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. He starts his new position at the U of A on Jan. 4.

“We are pleased and excited to have Rogelio join the University of Arkansas as we continue to expand and strengthen our efforts in entrepreneurship,” said Carol Reeves, management professor in the Sam M. Walton College of Business and the university’s associate vice provost for entrepreneurship. Reeves holds the Cecil & Gwendolyn Cupp Applied Professorship in Entrepreneurship.

The new director plans to develop social innovation projects at the university by actively engaging students in concrete efforts to deliver creative entrepreneurial solutions to pressing social problems and by promoting multidisciplinary scholarly research and innovation in the field.

“The idea is to promote social entrepreneurship as a viable, sustainable and necessary way of conducting business across the state, the country and the world,” he said. “We want to foster innovation, creativity and solidarity through a network of specialists, entrepreneurs and activists in the field, while promoting the active participation of our students as agents of positive, effective and productive change, always using entrepreneurship as the vehicle and force of this change.”

In his position at St. Thomas, Garcia has collaborated with public and private institutions in Mexico, China, Spain and the United States, including the University of Denver, the University of Colorado at Boulder, the National University of Mexico, Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, the People’s University of China and the University of Houston.

After joining the Center for International Studies of the University of St. Thomas 10 years ago as an assistant professor, he was promoted to associate professor in 2011. While at St. Thomas, he founded and directed the Social Entrepreneurship Program, a co-curricular, service-learning program sponsoring and coordinating a variety of comprehensive development projects in marginalized communities around the world.

Garcia has extensive experience as a consultant, researcher and analyst in the private and public sectors in Mexico and in the United States. He has written academic and research papers and book chapters on microfinance, social entrepreneurship, poverty alleviation and impact investment. He has contributed in the past to the Fair Observer blog and Literal Magazine and is about to publish a book of essays.

He is moving to Fayetteville with his wife, Constanza, and 10-year-old son, Diego.