DePaul University announces A. Gabriel Esteban as new, first lay president

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A. Gabriel Esteban was named the 12th president of DePaul on Feb. 16. He is the first lay person to hold the office. (Jesus Montero/The DePaulia)

A. Gabriel Esteban was named the 12th president of DePaul on Feb. 16. He is the first lay person to hold the office. (Jesus Montero/The DePaulia)

The board of trustees voted unanimously for Esteban to be the new president. There was a feeling that he, though not firmly connected to the Vincentian mission, will be able to advance DePaul’s mission and values while he is president. Esteban, who is currently the president of Seton Hall, will begin his tenure here July 1.

“It is truly a privilege to serve as the university’s first lay leader,” Esteban said. “I look forward to continuing to advance DePaul’s reputation and mission.”

Esteban spoke of renewing DePaul’s mission and leadership. He will be in charge of a new strategic plan, which means the future of DePaul will be (partly) his to reshape. At Seton Hall, Esteban led the the University’s strategic planning and campus master plan initiatives and worked on reshaping programs for undergraduate and graduate students.

Esteban was met by protesters as well. Four people held up signs asking him to uphold Vincentian values, protect undocumented students and how he will deal with sexual assault and violence. How he will address these issues was not stated.

For the most part the morning was focused on welcoming Esteban and getting to know his relation to the mission and values. Though Esteban is not a Vincentian, Rev. Bob Lucas, C.M. said that he was not worried about the lack of a collar.

“I thought he made a good first impression,” Lucas said. “Coming from Seton Hall as president shows he has experience in a Catholic institution. Having a lay person who will be imbued with the Vincentian spirit is a good thing. It doesn’t bother me in the least.”

As the first lay president, Esteban may face questions about his connection to the mission, but those who voted for him do not see a problem with his background. They cite his time at Seton as an example of what he may be capable of.

“He has clearly studied our mission and is very comfortable with it,” William Bennett, chair of the board of trustees, said. “I would say that while he may not be Vincentian, the mission he was pursuing at Seton Hall was quite similar to the mission that we have here at DePaul. The number one question the board asked when trying to find a new president was ‘how do we assure the mission’ and he fit the bill.”

After the presidential announcement, Esteban, his wife, and more members of the DePaul community were invited to a reception followed by meet and greets in Lincoln Park and the Loop.