A. Gabriel Esteban, PhD, is the 12th president of DePaul University, the nation’s largest Catholic university. He assumed the presidency on July 1, 2017 as the first lay leader in DePaul’s history.
Dr. Esteban oversees a $599 million budget and 22,769 students on two major Chicago campuses at DePaul, which employs more than 2,400 full-time faculty and staff, and 1,150 part-time faculty and staff.
Among his first initiatives was to launch a strategic planning process to drive the university’s activities to 2024. The new plan will take effect at the conclusion of DePaul’s existing plan, Vision 2018: Dedication to Excellence, Commitment to Community.
Dr. Esteban and his wife, Josephine, have acclimated quickly to their new city, becoming acquainted with business, civic, education, religious and political leaders. To that end, he has joined several of Chicago’s most influential organizations, including the Economic Club, Chicago Club, Commercial Club and University Club.
Augmenting his national leadership in higher education, Dr. Esteban has accepted an invitation to join the board of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. Since 2012, he has been a member of the Commission on Inclusion for the American Council of Education, and currently serves on the board of Asian Pacific Americans in Higher Education.
One of Dr. Esteban’s priorities is university-wide communication. He began a new tradition—giving a State of the University address—to faculty and staff to share DePaul’s economic health on an annual basis, and began hosting small gatherings called Coffee & Conversation with faculty and staff to ensure he is hearing directly from members of the university community. He also is embarking on a national tour to meet and learn from many of DePaul’s 180,000 living alumni.
Dr. Esteban had extensive experience in higher education and strategic planning prior to arriving at DePaul. He most recently served as the president of Seton Hall University, a Catholic institution in South Orange, New Jersey. After serving as interim president for six months, he became president in January 2011. He was Seton Hall’s first lay president in more than 25 years.
As Seton Hall’s president, Dr. Esteban led the university’s strategic planning and campus master plan initiatives. He collaborated with faculty and academic leaders to enhance and create undergraduate and graduate programs, as well as to establish academic priorities for the university. He also led strategic changes in enrollment management and financial aid strategies that enhanced the university’s reputation. As a result, undergraduate enrollment grew 15 percent while significantly increasing the academic profile and enhancing student diversity.
Under Dr. Esteban’s leadership, Seton Hall announced the establishment of the only private medical school in New Jersey in partnership with Hackensack Meridian Health, a new College of Communication and the Arts, and a department of Catholic Studies. The university also initiated major campus improvements, totaling close to $150 million over a five-year period, including residence hall renovations, a new recreation center, upgrades to athletic facilities, a parking deck and the construction of a three-story classroom building.
Previously, Dr. Esteban served as provost and chief academic officer of Seton Hall. In that office, he oversaw eight colleges and schools, university libraries and enrollment services. Prior to Seton Hall, he served in senior-level leadership positions and on the faculty of higher education institutions in Arkansas, Texas and the Philippines.
Dr. Esteban holds a doctorate in business administration from the Graduate School of Management of the University of California, Irvine, and a master’s in Japanese business studies from Chaminade University in Honolulu. He earned his MBA and bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City.
Dr. Esteban has served American higher education in a number of national roles, including past membership on the Accreditation Review Council of the Higher Learning Commission and chairing numerous accreditation visits. He is a founding board member and former vice chairman of the Asian Pacific Islander American Association of Colleges and Universities, a national organization established to advocate on behalf of minority-serving institutions that have significant numbers of Asian American and Pacific Islander American students.
A celebrated leader and advocate for minorities, Dr. Esteban has received multiple honors throughout his career. His alma mater, the University of California, Irvine, named him one of its top 50 graduate and postdoctoral alumni as part of the 50-year anniversary of its founding. The Carnegie Corporation of New York recognized him as a “Great Immigrant” in 2015, and New Jersey’s leading business journal, NJBIZ, included him in its list of the 100 most powerful state leaders in 2016 for the second year in a row. In 2014, the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem knighted him; and St. Paul’s Outreach—an organization inviting college students back to their Catholic faith—presented him with its Servant Leader Award. The Embassy of the Philippines awarded him a certificate of achievement in 2013.
Dr. Esteban met his wife, Jo, at the University of the Philippines, where she earned a master’s in economics and a bachelor’s in business economics. She holds an MBA from the University of California, Riverside. Both their daughter, Ysabella, and their son-in-law, Matthew, are medical residents.