University Alumnus Named Administrator of the Panama Canal

Grace Kennard Staff Writer

Earlier this month, on Sept. 5, a very distinguished alum of Villanova University was sworn in as the new administrator of the Panama Canal. Ricaurte Vasquez Morales, Ph.D. will serve a seven-year term which includes the celebration of the Canal’s 20th anniversary under Panamanian administration in December of this year. 

“Just a few months short of the 20th anniversary of the transfer of the Canal to the Panamanian people, we face a distinctly different reality today,” Vasquez said. “Trade now travels along different routes. This new global reality, in which the Canal operates, requires us to redefine and adapt our business. We must face this challenge with intelligence, courage and imagination.”

Vasquez is a renowned economist with experience in both the private and public sectors for more than 30 years. The Panama Canal Board of Directors selected Vasquez as administrator on Feb. 15, after a long and rigorous process dictated by both the Organic Law of the Panama Canal and the Panamanian Constitution. Vasquez’s appointment is amidst a period of unprecedented growth for the Canal. He is also the fourth Panamanian administrator in history.

Dr. Vasquez graduated from Villanova University with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics. He went on to receive a Masters of Science in Operations Research and Statistics and a Ph.D. in Managerial Economics at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute as well as a Masters in Economics at North Carolina State University. He spent a period of time teaching economics as an Associate Professor at Florida State University-Panama Campus. 

Vasquez has worked in both the private and public sectors throughout his adult life. He spent time at General Electric,  where he held the titles of Executive Director, Vice President and CEO for Central America and the Caribbean. He has served the country of Panama and aided in the management of the Canal in a number of positions over the years. This has included serving as Minister for Canal Affairs and Chairman of Panama Canal Board of Directors, Deputy Administrator, and Finance Director of the Waterway. 

Much of his life has been devoted to ensuring the operations and administration of the Panama Canal runs efficiently and safely. Now, Vasquez will assume his role as Administrator of the Panama Canal, serving both Panamanian and international communities.