UVU welcomes its first female president in inauguration ceremony

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UVU’s newest President Astrid S. Tuminez laughs as her daughter speaks on her character. (Utah Valley University)

UVU held an inauguration at the Noorda Center for the Performing Arts March 27 to welcome Astrid S. Tuminez as the university’s seventh president and first woman to hold the position.

Of the 10 universities in the state, Tuminez is the only person of color currently serving as president.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert spoke about his experience watching the school grow from a technical college to a university and said he is proud to welcome Tuminez.

Herbert said he recognizes Tuminez’s degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard as just one qualification, and that he wants to focus on her experiences living in poverty in the Philippines along with her previous work at Microsoft.

Herbert said UVU reaches out to underserved populations, which he called the future of Utah. Two out of five UVU students are the first to attend college in their family, according to Herbert.

Many students are stretched between the demands of their employers and their family lives, Herbert said, and even a small situation could change the course of their lives. He said Tuminez can relate to these real-life situations because of her childhood in the Philippines.

Utah State University President Noelle Cockett said a new era of greatness is coming to UVU and Utah Valley with Tuminez as UVU president. Cockett added Tuminez has made it a mission of hers to emphasize the individual, and that Cockett has seen Tuminez focus on individual success in a post-secondary education setting.

“This message of support and confidence across the campus is absolutely critical for the students and their families who pursue, enroll and complete the certificates and degrees that are offered at UVU,” Cockett said.

Tuminez thanked the crowd for attending her inauguration and said she recognizes the hard work that went into planning the event. She thanked her mother for dreaming to give her children a better life and moving them to the city of Gomez in the Philippines.

Tuminez said she didn’t always have access to books, TV or other forms of information as a child, which changed when a young nun invited her and her siblings to attend school for free.

“They were the magicians and alchemists who turned the natural metal, the ordinary metal in my brain into gold,” Tuminez said.

Tuminez said to this day she holds a deep appreciation for teachers, emphasizing it took a village of mentors to help her become who she is today.

“I started life as a statistic, and I would have been a statistic had people not helped me,” Tuminez said.

UVU leaders will continue to focus on their students’ success, which Tuminez said helps students live a productive life.

“You and I, and all the supporters of UVU, are in the business of people and their dreams,” Tuminez said. “It is a sacred business and it takes a village to get it done.”

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