Filipina raised in slums named president of American university

Astrid S. Tuminez, who was raised in poverty in the Philippines and went on to earn graduate degrees at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has been selected president of Utah Valley University.

The Utah State Board of Regents voted unanimously in selecting Tuminez, regional director for corporate, external and legal affairs in Southeast Asia for Microsoft, as the university’s seventh president. She is the first woman to hold the position.

“I’m dazed and amazed, and I thank all of you,” Tuminez said following the vote.

First-generation college grad

Tuminez was a first-generation college student, who along with her six siblings, was raised by their 15-year-old older sister after their mother left when she was 5. She migrated to the United States in 1982 and later became a U.S. citizen.

“My life was completely transformed by education,” she exclaimed.
She was raised in the slums of the Philippines and was only 5 years old when Catholic nuns offered her and her siblings a chance to go to school. That changed her entire life.

Previously vice dean

Tuminez was previously vice dean of research and assistant dean of executive education at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore.

Her previous positions include senior consultant to the U.S. Institute of Peace, director of research at AIG Global Investment, and program officer at Carnegie Corp. of New York. She previously ran the Moscow office of the Harvard Project on Strengthening Democratic Institutions.

Largest Utah public university

Utah Valley University serves more than 37,200 students and is the largest public university in Utah. It is one of the few in the nation that offers a dual-mission model that combines the rigor of a teaching university with the accessible vocational programs of a community college.

“I think that speaks volumes about how far we’ve come. We’ve worked very hard. We’ve prepared ourselves and the preparation is very important. I think the opportunities are there. We have to be prepared. We have to be inspired and fearless and then step up when the opportunity comes. It’s really, really important. It’s not the work of one or two or three or four women. It’s the work of all of us,” she said.

A linguist

Tuminez is married and has three children. She speaks English, Filipino/Tagalog, Ilonggo, Russian and French fluently and has a working knowledge of Spanish, according to her curriculum vitae.


Holland is stepping down because he has been called as a mission president by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to serve in the North Carolina Raleigh Mission starting in July.

Tuminez noted that Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the LDS Church, was president of BYU when she earned her bachelor’s degree in 1986, graduating as valedictorian, according to her vitae.

“I think I saw you (Matthew Holland) as a young man on campus,” she said.
Tuminez vowed to honor what Holland has built at UVU “and build on it to help that legacy moved forward.”

Republished with permission from Deseret News.

Updated: 2018-05-28 — 07:35:37