President Esteban to step down next summer


Ryan Gilroy | The DePaulia

President Esteban speaking at 2019’s State of the University address.

On Monday, DePaul President A. Gabriel Esteban announced he is stepping down, effective June 30, 2022.

The news broke in an email sent to the DePaul community on Monday.

“After much prayer and reflection, I have discerned this is the time for me to shift my focus and energy to my personal and familial journey, and away from our shared institutional endeavors,” Esteban said in the email.

“Now may be the best time for my wife, Jo, and me to pursue some of our other dreams, which includes discovering different ways to serve others,” he said.

In the email, Esteban cited his accomplishments during his time at DePaul, including raising the university’s endowment by more than 80 percent over four years — from $492 million to more than $900 million — and maintaining a large freshman enrollment through the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The board is grateful for Dr. Esteban’s many contributions to DePaul and looks forward to celebrating his accomplishments during this next academic year,” said Gerald A. Beeson, chair of the DePaul Board of Trustees. “The board also has deep appreciation for Dr. Esteban’s careful consideration of his transition in order to minimize the disruption to the university.”

Esteban’s contract was extended last summer through June 30, 2027, a university spokesperson told The DePaulia.

Following his last year as president, Esteban plans on taking a one-year sabbatical, during which he reportedly plans on visiting members of the global DePaul community.

“Dr. Esteban informed Board of Trustees leadership a few months ago about his decision,” DePaul spokesperson Russell Dorn told The DePaulia via a statement. “At the Board of Trustees’ regular meeting in early May, Dr. Esteban shared with the full board that he wished to shift the focus of his life to his personal and familial journey. The board accepted his decision. He waited to share his news with the DePaul community to avoid disrupting the university during a difficult quarter and to keep attention focused on celebrating our graduates.”

Esteban assumed his position as DePaul’s 12th president four years ago, on July 1, 2017. He is DePaul’s first lay president.

The search for a new president is expected to begin before Esteban leaves next summer.

“We will conduct a comprehensive national search to find the best candidate to lead the university in meeting the challenges of the future,” Beeson said.

Although Esteban has faced pushback over his term, there have been no public calls for resignation. DePaul political science Professor Valerie Johnson sent an open letter to Esteban detailing struggles faced by the Black community and calling for change.

In the past year, two other professors from the College of Communication, Sydney Dillard and Lisa Calvente, sued the university for discrimination.

Last year, Esteban was in charge of hiring a new athletic director after Jean Lenti Ponsetto announced she was going to retire. After a two-month search, DePaul hired DeWayne Peevy to take over the position.

Esteban also helped lead the search for a new men’s basketball head coach in March and April after DePaul fired Dave Leitao. DePaul’s men’s program has not made the NCAA Tournament since 2004. DePaul eventually hired Oregon assistant coach Tony Stubblefield.

The Board of Trustees will form a search committee from representatives from across the university. According to Beeson, “the board will formally commence the search for DePaul’s next president this fall.”

Update (6/15/2021): This story has been updated to include a statement and more information from DePaul spokesperson Russell Dorn.