The board of trustees entrusted A. Gabriel Esteban, Ph.D., with DePaul University's mission statement and presidential Chain of Office during a formal ceremony Nov. 19. Several hundred religious leaders, city officials, and civic and community leaders joined members of the university community in celebration at the official inauguration of DePaul's 12th president in Chicago's Navy Pier Grand Ballroom.
Dr. Esteban, who has been at DePaul since July 1, is the first lay president at the nation's largest Catholic university. DePaul was founded in Chicago in 1898 by the Congregation of the Mission, also known as the Vincentians, a Roman Catholic religious community dedicated to following the ideals of St. Vincent de Paul, the 17th century priest for whom the university is named.
Since the moment of his appointment, Dr. Esteban has affirmed his strong commitment to DePaul's Catholic and Vincentian mission to provide a superior education to all, especially segments of society that previously have not had access to it, including the poor, first-generation college students and immigrants.
In his inaugural address
, Dr. Esteban emphasized DePaul will continue to flourish as an institution of higher learning that prepares students of all ethnicities and backgrounds to serve a changing world.
"We serve students who want and need access to nationally ranked academic programs taught by distinguished faculty who bring real-world experience to the classroom," he said. "While I am well aware of the challenges that lie ahead, I know DePaul will continue to thrive and prevail for the next 120 years and beyond."
Dr. Esteban cited strong partnerships with Chicago businesses and nonprofit organizations as one reason why he is confident in DePaul's continued success for its students. He also credited DePaul's faculty and staff for their dedication to the university.
"DePaul's faculty and staff are the bedrock of our institution," he said. "Today's ceremony may center on the president, but a university does not. I am but one of the many asked to serve; and I am honored and humbled by your faith in me."
The university's board of trustees selected Dr. Esteban as DePaul's president after conducting a nationwide search to find the ideal candidate who was not only experienced, but also understood DePaul's fundamental Vincentian mission to make higher education accessible to all.
"From among the many strong candidates, Dr. Esteban clearly rose to the top," said James T. Ryan, chair of the university's board of trustees. "A proven collaborative leader, his outstanding academic administrative and strategic planning experience gave the trustees confidence that DePaul's future would be secure in his hands. Dr. Esteban clearly demonstrates a depth of understanding of, and sincere dedication to, DePaul's mission."
Dr. Esteban was previously president of Seton Hall University in New Jersey. He also served as provost, dean, and held faculty positions at higher education institutions across the country. He holds a doctorate in business administration, a master's in Japanese business studies and an MBA.
Inauguration and investiture ceremony
At the ceremony, just before the presentation of the presidential Chain of Office, Ryan recognized the 11 presidents who previously guided DePaul and the extraordinary responsibility of leading a mission-driven university.
"The person in this role bears responsibility for making both pragmatic and visionary decisions that keep our doors open, and keep us focused on serving our students according to the mission we consider to be a sacred trust," he said. "Each president, in his own way and in his own times, led DePaul in fidelity to the noble mission of Saint Vincent de Paul."
The presidential Chain of Office symbolizes the authority conferred upon Dr. Esteban by the board of trustees as DePaul's chief executive officer. A medallion features DePaul's seal and motto, "Viam Sapientiae Monstrabo Tibi" or "I will show you the way of wisdom." The links on the chain contain the symbols of each of DePaul's 10 colleges and schools. Dr. Esteban received the Chain of Office from the Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M., DePaul's chancellor and immediate past president; Bamshad Mobasher, professor and president of DePaul's Faculty Council; and Nicole Guiffra-McQuaid, a member of the Alumni Board.
The inauguration included performances by DePaul students, faculty and alumni, including a special musical medley arranged by Clifford Colnot, School of Music, and performed by the DePaul Symphony Orchestra.
Cardinal Blase Cupich, archbishop of Chicago, delivered the invocation. The Very Rev. Raymond A. Van Dorpe, C.M., provided the benediction.