Utah Valley University has its first female president.
Astrid Tuminez was chosen Friday by the Utah System of Higher Education Board of Regents to be UVU’s seventh president. She will replace Matthew Holland, who will leave the university this summer to be a mission president in North Carolina for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“I will promise to work very hard, and I hope that I can count on all of you for your support, because this is a very big job indeed,” Tuminez said.
The regents announced last week that Bradley Cook, along with John Rosenberg, Tuminez and Matthew Wilson were finalists for the position. The four were at UVU on Thursday to meet with university groups and participate in a question-and-answer session with the community.
Tuminez is currently the regional director for corporate, external and legal affairs in Southeast Asia for Microsoft. She has previously led marketing, fundraising and grants administration at the National University of Singapore.
“We are very excited to work with you and we look forward to a long association,” David Buhler, the commissioner of higher education for the Utah System of Higher Education, told Tuminez following the vote.
Tuminez’s immediate reaction to being announced Friday as the next president was humor as she joked that — at 4 foot, 11 and 4/5 inches — she would need to take the microphone off the stand.
Tuminez was chosen from a pool of international applicants for the position.
“She has proven to be a dynamic and effective leader across academic, nonprofit, policy and corporate sectors,” said David Campbell, the chair of the Board of Regents.
Tuminez currently lives in Singapore and bowed as she thanked the regents for their unanimous vote for her.
She sported a UVU scarf as Holland presented her with a bouquet of flowers to welcome her to the UVU family.
“I will never be able to fill your shoes, ever,” Tuminez told Holland and his wife, Paige.
She said she will try to honor what Holland as built as the university moves forward.
She was told to apply for the job by a member of UVU’s faculty, who she joked she owed at least dinner.
Tuminez said Friday she has talked about her love for the university’s Women’s Success Center and Wee Care Center during candidate interviews.
“I have lived that reality and what women go through resonates with me,” Tuminez said.
Tuminez has also been the senior consultant to the U.S. Institute of Peace, director of research at AIG Global Investment and the program officer at Carnegie Corporation of New York. She has written a book on women’s leadership in Asia.
She has degrees from Brigham Young University, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
She was born in the Philippines and came to Utah at age 18 to study at Brigham Young University.
During her public interview Thursday with the UVU community, Tuminez said she wasn’t looking for any job and was interested in the president position because she has an attachment to Utah, she likes UVU’s vision and could take on meaningful challenges at the university.
In technology, she said people are also asked to do more with fewer resources. She said UVU will need to clarify its core priorities and raise additional funds.
“Once we define the things that absolutely must be done and focus on those, and see what else can be done with the resources the university has,” Tuminez said.
She wants to improve completion rates, increase teaching quality and bring in additional funding.
In her own career, she said she’s tried to be aware of her own prejudices and look at how talent can be developed. She wants to continue UVU’s existing diversity programs.
Tuminez said UVU should find a common language to problem-solve with its neighbors and show the value UVU has to the community.
“When the community thrives, the university thrives,” Tuminez said. “Everybody wins at the end of the day.”