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Villanova University’s College of Engineering Announces Dr. Ricaurte Vásquez Morales ’73 CLAS as 2022 Ward Lecturer

headshot of Ricaurte Vasquez Morales

VILLANOVA, Pa.—Villanova University’s College of Engineering will welcome Dr. Ricaurte Vásquez Morales ’73 CLAS, Administrator of the Panama Canal Authority, to campus on February 18 to deliver the 2022 Ward lecture. This lecture is part of the College’s annual Patrick J. Cunningham, Jr. and Susan Ward '80 Endowed Lecture Series in Engineering. Dr. Vásquez’s presentation to the Villanova community will be on the topic of “Global Change and The Panama Canal.” The Ward Lecture is the start of Engineers’ Week 2022 on Villanova’s campus.

The 2022 Ward Lecture will take place on Friday, Feb. 18 at 2:30 p.m. in the Villanova Room of Connelly Center. The event is free and open to the public. All visitors to campus, regardless of vaccination status, are required to wear masks inside campus buildings (except when eating and drinking) to help protect our community.

The massive expansion of the Panama Canal, which was completed in 2016, intensified water scarcity in the region. Increased municipal demands are causing major challenges for the Canal Authority to assure reliable and sustainable water volumes—both for human consumption and dependable transit operations through the canal. Dr. Vasquez’ presentation will address the complexities of managing the water resource needs of various constituencies with considerations of rainfall patterns and impacts and the economics of water availability and water valuation methods. Working at the intersection of economics and engineering, he will explore long term solutions for how the Authority is meeting the water resource needs of the region.

Dr. Vásquez is a Panamanian economist with an extensive and successful professional career of 40 years in the government sector and in private companies, with roles in finance, economics and administrative management. He was appointed Administrator of the Panama Canal Authority for a seven-year period starting September 2019.

In the field of public administration, he has held prominent positions, including as Minister of Finance and Treasury, Minister of Planning and Economic Policy, as well as Minister of Economy and Finance in 2004. He was the first non-US Chief Financial Officer for the Panama Canal and later Deputy Administrator and President of the Board of Directors. In the private sector, his experience covers banking at Chase Manhattan Bank and mining with Rio Tinto Zinc in the development of the Cerro Colorado copper project. More recently at General Electric, Dr. Vásquez had regional responsibilities and oversaw Gas-to-Power initiatives in Latin America, retiring in 2015, to carry out his professional practice with SIGMA Management Advisors Corp.

Dr. Vásquez holds a PhD and MS from Rensselaer Polytechnic, a ME from North Carolina State University and a BS in Mathematics from Villanova. He has been a professor of Economics and Finance in Panama and abroad. His professional experience is complemented as a university professor of Economics at Florida State University, at its headquarters in Panama.

The Patrick J. Cunningham, Jr. and Susan Ward '80 Endowed Lecture Series in Engineering was established in 2009 by Villanova Engineering alumnus Susan Ward ’80 ChE and her husband Patrick Cunningham, Jr. to offer students exposure to experts from various engineering fields and educational opportunities outside the classroom. The lecture is also part of the College’s Career Compass professional development program.

About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's six colleges—the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing, the College of Professional Studies and the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law. Ranked among the nation’s top universities, Villanova supports its students’ intellectual growth and prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them. For more, visit