By Deedee M. Siytangco
“Churches are not museums that display perfect people. They are more like hospitals where the wounded, hurt, injured and broken find healing and the Divine Physician and Healer”
Here is good news for this Easter Sunday to be thankful for!
DePaul’s Board of Trustees in Chicago city has appointed A. Gabriel Esteban, Ph.D., as the university’s 12th president. Esteban will assume the presidency of the nation’s largest Catholic university on July 1, becoming the first lay leader in its 119-year history.
He has roots in Paniqui, Tarlac and Manila and is the son of the late Dean Jose N. Esteban of De La Salle Medical School in Dasmarinas, Cavite and the UP College of Medicine and Manila-born Isabelita Intengan Munson who taught in Paco Catholic School.
“Dr. Esteban brings both extensive experience in higher education and strategic planning to DePaul University,” said William E. Bennett, chair of the Board of Trustees. “I am confident he will preserve and continue to enhance DePaul’s reputation for academic excellence, as well as the university’s Catholic and Vincentian mission.”
Breaking ground as a lay leader at a Catholic university will not be a new experience for DePaul’s 12th president. Esteban is currently the president and first lay leader in more than 25 years at Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey.
After serving as provost and interim president, Esteban became president of Seton Hall, a Catholic university, home to nearly 10,000 students, in 2011. During his tenure, he implemented strategic initiatives to increase enrollment and transformed the academic profile of the university’s student population. In addition to strengthening retention and graduation rates, Esteban’s leadership helped increase the diversity of Seton Hall’s students and maintained the percentage of freshmen who are the first in their families to attend college.
As president, Esteban collaborated with Seton Hall leadership to create a new School of Medicine in partnership with Hackensack Meridian Health, one of the largest hospital systems in New Jersey. The school, which is currently seeking national accreditation, will welcome its first class in 2018. Esteban oversaw the development of a new health and medical sciences campus that will house the School of Medicine, the College of Nursing and the School of Health and Medical Sciences. He led the creation of a new College of Communication and the Arts in 2015 and established the first department of Catholic Studies in the northeast. He also partnered with university presidents to reestablish the BIG EAST athletics conference in 2013.
Esteban also established partnerships with various Catholic schools and universities in the Philippines and expanded Seton’s exchange student programs under his watch.
Esteban will succeed the Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M., who has served as DePaul’s president since 2004. Fr. Holtschneider announced his decision to step down in June 2016. The search for DePaul’s 12th president started in September 2016, and the Board of Trustees unanimously approved Esteban’s appointment on Feb. 6.
Before joining Seton Hall, Esteban held multiple positions at University of Central Arkansas, including provost and dean of the College of Business. He also served as associate vice president for Academic Affairs at Arkansas Tech University. As a professor of marketing, Esteban has taught in many classrooms across the country, as well as the Philippines. His dedication to students and learning has been a driving force throughout his career.
“DePaul University has an excellent academic reputation, and I am honored to have the opportunity to shape its future in partnership with the university community,” Esteban said. “In my conversations with DePaul’s students, faculty and staff, the distinct commitment to the university’s mission and values strongly resonated with my own personal beliefs. My family and I look forward to joining the DePaul community.”
A celebrated leader and advocate for minorities, Esteban has received multiple honors. The Carnegie Corporation of New York recognized him as a “Great Immigrant” in 2015, and New Jersey’s leading business journal, NJBIZ, included him in its list of the 100 most powerful state leaders in 2016 for the second year in a row. The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem knighted him in 2014. Esteban is a board member and former vice chairman of the Asian Pacific Americans in Higher Education, a national organization established to address issues affecting Asian American students, faculty and staff. He also serves as a commissioner on the Commission on Inclusion of the American Council on Education.
He is married to Josephine King and they have an only daughter Ysabella or Sasa, a medical resident in University of Illinois. He was the first Philippine recipient of the Fujitsu Scholarship, taking him to Chaminade University in Hawaii, where he earned a master’s in Japanese business studies. He holds a doctorate in business administration from University of California, Irvine. His wife holds an MBA from the University of California, Riverside, a master’s in economics and a bachelor’s in business economics from the University of the Philippines.
Esteban will be 56 in November. Proud of him, my nephew! His mother Lita is my elder sister.