Dr. John D. Fernandez Retires, Leaves Legacy of Program Development, STEM Opportunities at the Island University

June 12, 2014

John Fernandez

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – After 12 years of service at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, Dr. John D. Fernandez, Associate Director of the School of Engineering and Computing Sciences, has made the Island University an even better place for students interested in pursuing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) degrees. Fernandez retired on May 30.

Since his arrival in 2002, Fernandez has had a tremendous impact on the Island University for which he helped secure approximately $10 million in federal, state, and private funds to develop programs and research on campus and across the country. 

He led the certification effort for Texas A&M-Corpus Christi to be designated as a National Center for Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education by the National Security Agency. Fernandez has also been instrumental in the development of many important programs such as the Mechanical Engineering program, the South Texas Engineering Alliance, the Geospatial Computing Sciences doctoral program, and the Cyber Security Defense Program.

“While at the University, I found my calling to create new and exciting opportunities that will greatly enhance the lives of our students and the entire community,” said Fernandez. “I have been privileged to develop new programs and state-of-the-art research that have established Texas A&M-Corpus Christi as a leader in computing sciences technology.”

Not only has Fernandez shaped many programs during his tenure, but he has also served as a pioneer for Hispanics in STEM and focused on improving student opportunities. His contributions to the Hispanic community earned him the 2008 Outstanding MAEStro Award presented by the Society of Mexican American Engineers and Scientists (MAES). Fernandez received this award for his proactive and supporting efforts in increasing the number of Hispanic students who complete undergraduate and graduate degrees. He also served as a Founding Member of the Computing Alliance of Hispanic Serving Institutions.

A strong supporter of mentoring, he secured several National Science Foundation grants focusing on undergraduate research and student scholarship. Most recently in 2013, Fernandez coordinated the STEM Partnership Agreement on behalf of the University to help increase the number of Moody High School’s Innovation Academy graduates who apply to and are accepted into Texas A&M-Corpus Christi’s School of Engineering and Computing Sciences. Fernandez has increased student success in the sciences by launching summer STEM bridge programs, STEM-related competitions, and increasing the number of faculty and graduate student mentors and research program outreach efforts.

“Dr. Fernandez has played a key role in strengthening the pipeline of students who transition into college to pursue STEM fields, and eventually, highly-skilled careers,” said Dr. Frank Pezold, Dean of the College of Science and Engineering. “His dedication toward these numerous projects will not be forgotten. He will continue to make a difference in the lives of both university students and high school students for years to come.”

While at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Fernandez created the John D. Fernandez Endowed Scholarship in Computer Sciences to encourage local first-generation college students to pursue a degree in Computer Science or Informatics. In 2007, he was named the Rogelio “Roger” Benavides Chair in Computer Sciences and Chair of the Department of Computing Sciences for his strong computing background.

Before coming to the Island University, Fernandez served in the U.S Air Force for 20 years and achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He has received many honors for his outstanding service including, the Venezuelan Commendation Medal awarded to him by the Venezuelan Air Force; the Meritorious Service Medal, which he received three times; and the Air Force Graduate Scholarship. He has also worked as a Mathematician, Communications Officer, Air Force Institute of Technology Masters Scholar at West Virginia University, Air Force Institute of Technology Liaison Officer, and the Director and Chief Executive Officer for Operational Technologies Corporation in San Antonio, Texas.