UVU President Astrid Tuminez weighs in on Utah, the Legislature, patriarchy, LDS faith and her future

“There’s a culture of politeness and niceness that I’ve felt, frankly, needs changing. It is all good to be nice and polite, but we need more honest conversations with one another.”

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Valley University President Astrid Tuminez listens to student cheers as she becomes the Orem school's president.

In an extended interview with The Salt Lake Tribune, Utah Valley University President Astrid Tuminez responded to a range of questions on the Beehive State, its politics and its culture.

Here are excerpts from her answers:

Living in Utah • “I’m a runner and sometimes I can’t breathe. Second, there’s a culture of politeness and niceness that I’ve felt, frankly, needs changing. It is all good to be nice and polite, but we need more honest conversations with one another. We waste time when we are not direct. [On being] clear and transparent and honest in giving feedback, we need to move faster.”

Utah politics • “I certainly had a little bit of nervousness about fitting in. I’m very global. My politics are probably also more centrist, maybe even more centered left. But it is easy in Utah to find a common language when you define service as your goal… I found a lot of friends that way.”

Utah Legislature • “I get along pretty well with the Legislature. It is so important to listen to their concerns, to take every question as a valid question, and to bring data and tell the story of what the university is really contributing to a healthy society and a dynamic economy in Utah. When you see this data, you have to acknowledge the progress that we’ve made as a state and why we’re doing so well. That’s in large part a result of a very strong education system.”

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Astrid Tuminez, president of Utah Valley University, speaks at the launch of the Wasatch Innovation Network in 2021.

Male dominance • “When you talk about patriarchy, or a male-dominated world, I think it is a world in transition. That goes hand in hand with gains that women have made. Today, UVU is at parity between men and women in enrollment, and, throughout the country, there are more women now going to college than men, more women in the medical field and more women doing Ph.D.s. We don’t win when one or the other is lacking; you don’t correct one injustice by another.

Role of faith • “Two years ago, I gave the Richard L. Evans Interfaith Lecture at Brigham Young University. It was an amazing experience for me….I could talk about the spirituality of Bali, where my family has been going for 17 years. I could also talk about rediscovering my Mormon faith. I have certainly gone through a phase of anger about so much in my religion, because it was so formative for me and gave me so much grounding. Still, it is at the core of me, I cannot rip that out. And I have no desire to rip it out. I teach 10-year-old children in my congregation, and I find it very meaningful. They ask harder questions than in adult classes. … UVU has all faiths, everything from the Wiccan club, the atheist club, and the interfaith center…whatever place you’re in. Who’s got all the answers?”

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) President Russell M. Nelson, leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his wife, Wendy, attended the inauguration of Utah Valley University President Astrid Tuminez in 2019.

Will she stay? • “My approach to my career has always been — Is it interesting? Am I making a difference? Do I find happiness in doing this job? I’m a really good fit for UVU, but nobody does this job forever. There’s still some really critical goals that I have in mind with my team that we hope to reach…so we’ll see in a few years down the road.”

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