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(© 2017 Journal GlobaLinks

CHICAGO (JGL) – When this reporter asked Amado Gabriel M. Esteban in 2011, where he would be in five years, he said, “it is hard to tell, “maybe I can be president of

another university.”

At that time, Dr. Esteban, a doctor in philosophy, was just warming up in his seat as the 20th president of Seton Hall University in New Jersey in January of that year, heading 900 faculty and 1,800 employees and nearly 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students to aspire to excellence in scholarship and service and was committed to the institution’s 160-year Catholic mission. See this reporter’s interview.

Six years later or last Thursday (Feb. 16), the 55-year-old Dr. Esteban, a native of Manila, Philippines, was introduced to the faculty and students of De Paul University, the largest Catholic university in the United States and private institution in Chicago, serving 24,000 students.


DR. AMADO GABRIEL M. Esteban with wife, Josephine King Esteban. (De Paul University website) 

Ruben Salazar, a fellow alumnus of Dr. Esteban at the University of the Philippines and among a handful of Filipino Americans to welcome him at the “meet-and-greet” event at the student center at the Lincoln Park Campus, said, “We did not really get a chance to talk to him much since there were so many people in line waiting to meet him. We did request with him sometime after he has settled here in Chicago. He does not officially start at De Paul as president until July.” 

When this reporter reached out to Carol Hughes, Executive Director, News and Integrated Content of De Paul’s Office of Public Relations and Communications, seeking to interview Dr. Esteban, she said, “Dr. Esteban is not available. He is returning to New Jersey, where he is the president through the end of June.” 

Last Thursday, DePaul’s Board of Trustees named A. Gabriel Esteban, Ph.D., as the university’s 12th president. Esteban will assume the presidency of the nation’s largest Catholic university on July 1, becoming the first lay leader in its 119-year history.

“Dr. Esteban brings both extensive experience in higher education and strategic planning to DePaul University,” said William E. Bennett, chair of the Board of Trustees. “I am confident he will preserve and continue to enhance DePaul’s reputation for academic excellence, as well as the university’s Catholic and Vincentian mission.” 


Breaking ground as a lay leader at a Catholic university will not be a new experience for DePaul’s 12th president. Esteban is the first lay leader in more than 25 years at Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey.


DR. AMADO GABRIEL M. Esteban receives well-wishers Thursday (Feb. 16) at the Lincoln Campus of De Paul University in Chicago, Illinois. (JGL Photograb from videoclip of Ruben Salazar. Used with permission) 

After serving as provost and interim president, Esteban became president of Seton Hall, a Catholic university, home to nearly 10,000 students, in 2011. During his tenure, he implemented strategic initiatives to increase enrollment and transformed the academic profile of the university’s student population. In addition to strengthening retention and graduation rates, Esteban’s leadership helped increase the diversity of Seton Hall’s students and maintained the percentage of freshmen who are the first in their families to attend college. 

As president, Esteban collaborated with Seton Hall leadership to create a new School of Medicine in partnership with Hackensack Meridian Health, one of the largest hospital systems in New Jersey. The school, which is currently seeking national accreditation, anticipates welcoming its first class in 2018. Esteban oversaw the development of a new health and medical sciences campus that will house the School of Medicine, the College of Nursing and the School of Health and Medical Sciences.

In addition, he led the creation of a new College of Communication and the Arts in 2015 and established the first department of Catholic Studies in the northeast. He also partnered with university presidents to reestablish the BIG EAST athletics conference in 2013. 

Under his leadership, Seton Hall invested close to $150 million on their campus infrastructure in the last five years. In addition, fundraising reached all-time highs with more than $40 million raised in the last year and a half alone. 


Esteban will succeed the Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M., who has served as DePaul’s president since 2004. Fr. Holtschneider announced his decision to step down in June 2016. The search for DePaul’s 12th president started in September 2016, and the Board of Trustees unanimously approved Esteban’s appointment on Feb. 6.


DR. AMADO GABRIEL M. Esteban (right) thanks several Filipino Americans, who were his fellow recipients of Via Times Hall of Fame Awards, namely from right, Jan Paul Ferrer and Ruben Salazar. (JGL Photograb from videoclip of Ruben Salazar. Used with permission) 

“In the search for DePaul’s next president, our committee sought a proven academic leader and strategic thinker with a deep personal commitment to DePaul’s Vincentian and Catholic identity,” said James T. Ryan, chair of the search committee and vice-chair of the board. “Dr. Esteban not only shares the values that reside at the heart of our community, he also has the vision and compassion to champion DePaul’s distinct educational mission.” 

Prior to joining Seton Hall, Esteban held multiple positions at University of Central Arkansas, including provost and dean of the College of Business. He also served as associate vice president for Academic Affairs at Arkansas Tech University. As a professor of marketing, Esteban has taught in many classrooms across the country, as well as the Philippines. His dedication to students and learning has been a driving force throughout his career.

“DePaul University has an excellent academic reputation, and I am honored to have the opportunity to shape its future in partnership with the university community,” Esteban said. “In my conversations with DePaul’s students, faculty and staff, the distinct commitment to the university’s mission and values strongly resonated with my own personal beliefs. My family and I look forward to joining the DePaul community.” 

Esteban took up Ph. D. in Administration (emphasis on Marketing) from the University of California-Irvine on a scholarship. This was after he obtained his bachelors and masters degrees from the University of the Philippines. Dr. Esteban’s wife, Josephine, earned an MBA from the University of California at Riverside while he was at the UC-Irvine. 

But before Dr. Esteban could return to the Philippines, he was offered a teaching job at the University of Texas-Victoria which petitioned him to be a U.S. immigrant in 1990s, putting him on course to become the first Filipino-American president of a four-year university in the United States.  

“I have a job waiting for me in the Philippines but when the economic crises hit Asia, we decided that we have better opportunities in the United States,” Dr. Esteban told this reporter in a phone interview. 

When asked how he got the job as president of Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey, Esteban said, “There is no substitute for hard work, discipline and prayer. And the Archbishop (of Newark, Most Rev. John J. Myers) and the board of trustees knew that I am familiar with the culture of the university.” 

Knowing him, this reporter feels that when he applied for the De Paul job, he would be reuniting with her daughter, Ysabella, who graduated from Creighton University School of Medicine in 2016 and will begin her residency at the University of Chicago this fall. (Contact reporter: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

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