A. Gabriel Esteban, PhD, is the 12th president of DePaul University. He assumed the presidency on July 1, 2017, as the first lay leader in DePaul’s history.
Dr. Esteban oversees a $568 million budget, more than 22,000 students on two major Chicago campuses, and about 3,450 full-time and part-time faculty and staff.
Under his leadership DePaul developed its current strategic plan, “Grounded in Mission: The Plan for DePaul 2024.” It calls for deepening the university’s commitment to its Catholic, Vincentian, and urban mission; ensuring an inclusive campus environment; preparing all students for global citizenship and success; expanding access to high-quality, affordable academic programs; elevating academic excellence and embracing a culture of creativity and discovery; and employing bold approaches to ensure DePaul’s continued fiscal strength for future generations.
During Dr. Esteban’s early years as president, DePaul was a top producer of award recipients in the prestigious national Fulbright U.S. Student Program. For the first time, the Peace Corps ranked DePaul among its top volunteer-producing colleges and universities. Meanwhile, more than 90 percent of 2018 graduates found jobs or were continuing their education within six months of graduation.
Many academic programs received Top 25 national rankings, including the School of Cinematic Arts, which the Hollywood Reporter and Variety both ranked on their lists of best film schools; as well as the College of Communication, which in 2019 was listed as a Top 5 graduate program for Public Relations and Advertising in PRWeek. Other highly ranked programs include DePaul’s digital marketing, MBA, acting, game design, animation, and entrepreneurship programs. These points of distinction led to the largest, most diverse and among the most academically prepared freshman classes in DePaul history in fall 2019.
One of Dr. Esteban’s priorities is accessibility and transparency. He began a new fall tradition by giving a State of the University address to faculty and staff to share progress on strategic goals and top priorities for the coming year. He also meets monthly with Faculty Council leadership, several times annually with the Staff Council and hears from students through Student Government Association officeholders. Furthermore, he began hosting small gatherings called Coffee & Conversation with faculty and staff, and frequent receptions for faculty to ensure he is hearing directly from members of the university community.
Enhancing the student experience is another of Dr. Esteban’s priorities, which has resulted in the introduction of new campus traditions, such as a new student convocation to launch the academic year, midnight pancake breakfast before finals and a Christmas tree lighting ceremony prior to students leaving for their holiday break.
Dr. Esteban and his wife, Josephine, acclimated quickly to Chicago and prioritized meeting a broad cross-section of the DePaul family, including faculty, staff, students and many of DePaul’s nearly 200,000 living alumni.
Dr. Esteban is a member of the Economic Club, Chicago Club and Commercial Club of Chicago. Locally, he serves on the Chicago History Museum board. Nationally, he serves on the board of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities and the Big East Conference.
Before arriving at DePaul, Dr. Esteban had extensive experience in higher education. Most recently, he served as president of Seton Hall University, a Catholic institution in New Jersey, where he led strategic planning and campus master plan initiatives, strategic changes in enrollment management, and financial aid strategies that enhanced the university’s reputation. During his tenure, Seton Hall announced the establishment of the only private medical school in New Jersey in partnership with Hackensack Meridian Health. Prior to Seton Hall, he served in senior-level leadership positions and on the faculty of higher education institutions in Arkansas, Texas and the Philippines.
Dr. Esteban holds a doctorate in business administration from the Graduate School of Management of the University of California, Irvine, and a master’s in Japanese business studies from Chaminade University in Honolulu. He earned his MBA and bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City.
Dr. Esteban has served American higher education in a number of national roles, including past membership on the Accreditation Review Council of the Higher Learning Commission and chairing numerous accreditation visits. He is an emeritus board member of Asian Pacific Americans in Higher Education.
A celebrated leader and advocate for minorities, Dr. Esteban has received multiple honors throughout his career. His alma mater, the University of California, Irvine, named him one of its Top 50 graduate and postdoctoral alumni. The Carnegie Corporation of New York recognized him as a “Great Immigrant” in 2015, and New Jersey’s leading business journal, NJBIZ, included him on its list of the 100 most powerful state leaders in 2016 for a second time. In 2014, the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem knighted him; and St. Paul’s Outreach—an organization inviting college students back to their Catholic faith—presented him with its Servant Leader Award. The Embassy of the Philippines awarded him a certificate of achievement in 2013.
Dr. Esteban met Josephine at the University of the Philippines, where she earned a master’s in economics and a bachelor’s in business economics. She holds an MBA from the University of California, Riverside. Both their daughter, Ysabella, and their son-in-law, Matthew, are medical doctors.