‘They’re Very, Very Long Days’

It’s clear how a Microsoft regional director based in Singapore would be seen as a great catch for a university in a booming high-tech corridor, but that may not be the most important strength Astrid S. Tuminez brought to Utah Valley University when she became its president this past fall.

Based in Orem, Utah, near the locally dubbed “Silicon Slopes,” the university serves nearly 40,000 students, of whom some 80 percent work and almost 40 percent are the first in their families to go to college. With degrees from Brigham Young University, Harvard, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tuminez thinks her story of making it out of a Philippine slum will resonate with her working students. She also sees technology as key to disrupting higher education and eroding the differences between “the haves and the have-nots.”

“Being gritty,” she says, counts for a lot more than being privileged. We spent a day on Utah Valley’s campus to get to know this new president.

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