Esteban speaks about path to presidency

After spending nearly four years as the provost of Seton Hall University, Dr. Gabriel Esteban received a simple phone call from the chair of the board of regents, offering him the position as interim president in June 2010.

“I feel blessed and honored to have been asked,” Esteban said.

As provost of the University, Dr. Esteban initially oversaw all academics. Each of the colleges and schools reported directly to him. In June 2009 the Department of Enrollment Services was added to his responsibilities.

The Class of 2014 was the first class to be recruited by the provost and stands the largest in over 30 years, Esteban said.

According to Esteban he believes the reason he was chosen had in part to do with continuity. He is familiar with the institution after having worked here for several years and has an understanding that academics are the reason we are all here.

“The position of provost was concerned more on an operational basis. However, it’s different with presidency; it takes a broader look,” Esteban said.

During his term as president, Esteban intends on making minor changes as the year goes on. For example, he has been working with Enrollment Management on how the University reaches out to students.

One day while walking across campus, Dr. Esteban bumped into members of the Student Activities Board (SAB) and was surprised about how slim their budget was. He is looking into their budget, with hopes that if SAB can create more activities to do on campus, maybe more students will stay.

Additionally, Esteban played a large role in keeping the Service on Saturdays program on campus, which was almost omitted due to budget issues.

Esteban finds the most enjoyable aspect of Seton Hall to be the sense of community.

“I like the fact that faculty and staff tend to be very accessible.” he said.

Dr. Esteban did not always envision himself in the world of academia.

“When I was younger I wanted to be a doctor,” he said.

Esteban is a native of the Philippines, but spent his early years in Seattle while his father studied at the University of Washington during the sixties. Following his father’s completion at the University of Washington, Esteban moved back to the Philippines where he earned his M.B.A. and B.S. in mathematics at the University of Philippines.

At Chaminade University in Honolulu, Esteban received his M.S. in Japanese business studies. While pursuing this degree he noted, he was given the opportunity to live, work and study in Japan. He then earned his Ph.D. from the Graduate School of Management at the University of California at Irvine.

Prior to his provost position at Seton Hall, Esteban taught in Texas and was the Business Dean at the University of Arkansas. He said that he and his wife seemed to be moving steadily east, but wasn’t sure how much further they could go.

Outside of Seton Hall life, Esteban enjoys reading, watching movies, hitting golf balls and most enjoyably, traveling.

“I’m the type of person who will pick up a bag at the drop of a hat if there’s somewhere to go,” he said.

Esteban is always willing to explore and try different things.

“People are people wherever you go,” he said.

“Every place you go to you try to make it better than what you started,” Esteban said. “If you leave feeling it was better than when you arrived, it was worth your time.”

At the completion of the one year interim presidency, Esteban joked that he will retire, but officially he is supposed to return as provost.

Nicole Bitette can be reached at

Author: Staff Writer

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