OREM, Utah — Utah Valley University’s new President Astrid Tuminez knows she has a difficult job ahead of her.
“Alam ko na mahirap ang trabaho na ito” she said. “Hindi ito simple.”
The Iloilo native inherited the state’s largest university this fall.
“On the one hand, we have very, very successful and highly prepared students who have done very well in high school and this is their school of choice,” Tuminez said. “We also have students who are less prepared or people who have finished careers or people who work full-time.”
She describes it as a place with grit.
“That’s sort of the sweet spot for me,” she said. “I like where people are hungry. I like where people don’t take things for granted. Because it resonates with my own life experience.”
That’s why Tuminez, who grew up in a squatter settlement near the sea in Ortiz, Iloilo, has made interacting with students and monitoring student success her main focus as she takes the helm at UVU.
“If you define student success, it entails many things,” she said. “Not just finishing your degree but really having the students have a very positive university experience, in that they feel that they’ve been cared for but also that a lot of responsibility and accountability has been expected of them, but that we help them.”
Her hope is for each student to succeed, including those traditionally marginalized in higher education.
“In Asia, I’ve become a voice for diversity and inclusion,” Tuminez said. “Our world is a world where we have to get used to differences, navigate them and leverage them for good. You can do that with difference because talents come in many shapes, colors and sizes.”
According to a report published in March by the Utah Women & Leadership Project, which is based out of UVU, “national organizations consistently rank Utah at or near the bottom in evaluations of women’s educational attainment and economic equality relative to other states.”
That being the case, Tuminez, the school’s first female president, may also be looked upon to be a role model for women across the state throughout her time on campus.