Thursday, January 13, 2011

US Catholic university breaks tradition, picks Fil-Am layman as president

A Filipino-American layman was appointed president of Seton Hall University (SHU), a leading Catholic university in the United States. 

In an article on The New York Times dated January 11, Dr. A. Gabriel Esteban was picked by the SHU’s Board of Regents to be the university’s 20th president, as it deviated from its recent tradition of appointing only Roman Catholic priests to the position.

Esteban, 49, had served as the school’s interim president since July prior to his appointment. 

“Dr. Esteban has distinguished himself as an academic leader and fiscal manager since joining Seton Hall in 2007 as its provost and then interim president," said Patrick Murray, chairman of the Board of Regents, in an announcement posted on the school’s website.

"His commitment to academic excellence and the University’s Catholic mission along with his strong Catholic faith make him the ideal choice to lead our great institution into the future," Murray added. 

According to the announcement, the school’s Board of Trustees made an exception to the university’s bylaws to allow the appointment of Esteban

The New York Times article said the bylaws date back to over 20 years, but SHU had named presidents who were not priests twice in the past, the first time in 1977 and again in the early 1980s. 

There were previously two finalists to the position who were priests, but both withdrew from the race. 

“I am honored to be at the helm of this University that has been a leader in Catholic higher education for more than a century and a half," Esteban said in the SHU announcement. 

“I remain committed to ensuring Seton Hall’s preeminent position and look forward to continuing to work with the campus community to provide the best possible academic and spiritual education for our students," he added.

The SHU said Esteban has been involved in initiating positive changes in the university, and he holds extensive senior level experience with several other institutions. 

Esteban attended Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education and completed the Japan Management Program at the Japan-America Institute for Management Science. 

He holds a Ph.D. from the Graduate School of Management at the University of California at Irvine, an M.S. in Japanese Business Studies from Chaminade University in Honolulu, and an M.B.A. and B.S. in mathematics from the University of the Philippines.

Newark Archbishop John J. Myers welcomed Esteban’s appointment. 

“I welcome heartily the Board of Regents’ selection of Dr. Esteban as the new president of Seton Hall University. At this time in her history, Seton Hall University deserves both a consistency in her leadership, and a consistent and dedicated leader who will serve Seton Hall with distinction," the Archbishop said in the same announcement.

“His successful track record as both provost and interim president, and his dedication and commitment to Seton Hall’s Catholic identity, are important qualities that will surely benefit this great Archdiocesan institution," he added. 

The 54-year-old SHU is New Jersey’s largest Catholic university, with some 10,000 students. According to its website, it is the oldest US diocesan university. 

The campus sits on a 58-acre area in South Orange town in New Jersey, with eight schools offering degrees in some 60 programs. - KBK, GMANews.TV

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