On her first day in office as Utah Valley University’s new president, Astrid Tuminez was already discussing how she plans to address the Orem campus’ biggest challenge: growth.
The school has ballooned in recent years to a student population of more than 37,000 — making it the largest in Utah — beating the state’s flagship institution, the University of Utah, by about 4,000. Handling that explosive enrollment, Tuminez said, will define the success and future of UVU. And she intends to welcome it.
“It’s really an opportunity and a challenge,” she said Monday with a laugh. “Nobody sits comfortably because growth pushes you to think more creatively.”
At least one thing her approach to the ever-expanding student body won’t include, though, is any change to the university’s popular open admissions policy. Tuminez said she’s appreciates the “nonprejudicial approach to education” that encourages students to “come as you are.”
UVU’s website describes it as accepting “all applicants whose qualifications indicate they may benefit from the instructional programs offered.” There are no GPA or test score requirements.
“Potential is not always obvious,” Tuminez said, “so open enrollment is a wonderful thing. We expect our students to be motivated. We expect them to be committed.”
Tuminez, the university’s first female president, instead plans to address the boom by embracing it. Her mentality is to grow bigger because you’re growing bigger.
She wants to expand online class offerings and introduce more hybrid courses (which meet both in person and include online work). She wants to potentially create more graduate programs (there are currently eight). She wants to grow the campus into space UVU has set aside in Vineyard, across Interstate 15 from its main campus. And she wants to, in particular, construct a new building for the university’s business school — the program, she noted, has “tremendous student interest.”
“We probably need a bigger building and more modern classrooms,” she said.
But, Tuminez acknowledged, “with growth, you need resources.”
She intends to talk with the governor and Utah Legislature to secure funding down the road. And she will meet with stakeholders and parents and faculty, too. Every student, Tuminez said, should be able to graduate and feel ready to “face the world of work and life.” She believes to help in those trajectories, UVU has to embrace its growth.
“It’s about real success and output.”
Before stepping into the new post Monday, Tuminez was Microsoft’s regional director for corporate, external and legal affairs in Southeast Asia. Born and raised in the Philippines, she has a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University, a master’s degree from Harvard University and a doctorate from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
She replaces Matthew S. Holland, who announced he would retire in June. Her inauguration date has not yet been set.
Tuminez will serve as UVU’s president while four other universities in the state are also run by women — a historic roster.