Astrid Tuminez used to tell her close friends and family that she envisioned herself leading a small college or foundation one day. Sept. 17 marked her first day as president at Utah Valley University, a school with over 37,000 students.
“This is anything but a small college,” Tuminez said. “I am going to step into it with my heart and soul.”
Tuminez is honored to be part of the UVU legacy and described the decades of preparation to get where she is today. The increase in women leadership overall and in the sphere of higher education inspires her.
“In my career in the last 30 years, I often find myself in settings where a lot of senior leadership is male,” Tuminez said. “I have learned a lot from all of my male colleagues, and I am honored and humbled at the same time.”
Tuminez is UVU’s first permanent female president and its first who is a racial minority.
“I hope this [is a message] to our young women with aspirations that it does take time, but hold on to your dreams… keep calm and carry on and amazing opportunities happen,” she said.
Tuminez was born in the Philippines and recently moved from Singapore to Utah County. She served as the regional director for corporate, external and legal affairs in Southeast Asia for Microsoft and was also a leader at the National University of Singapore.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in Russian and international relations from Brigham Young University, a master’s degree in Soviet Studies from Harvard University, and a Ph.D. in political science and government from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“The first day has been a marathon; I can barely catch my breath,” Tunimez said.
She said she feels the positive energy on campus and is excited to help the students along their journeys through higher education.
“What I look forward to the most is my interactions with students and monitoring our student success,” Tuminez said. “The meaning of this job, and how I measure the worth of my own time and leadership, is whether or not our students succeed.”
Tuminez defines success as students completing their education, having a positive experience, feeling understood, included, safe and challenged.
“Hopefully you leave UVU and all of the students leave UVU finding themselves in a better place with greater strengths, greater confidence, knowing that they can navigate the world and be productive and useful and joyful in the life they lead,” she said.
“I could not believe my luck, having my first semester at UVU also being the first semester that we got a female president,” said Amalia Salmon, a freshman studying English literature. “And then when I found out she was a racial minority, I was even more thrilled. It’s such a cool time to be a student at UVU.”
Tuminez plans to begin her leadership role by listening with an “attitude of openness and humility.” She said that she will go forward with confidence because she knows her strengths but also knows that there will be much to learn.
“The most important item of business is to listen, learn and observe.”