OLLU President talks about new role as Hispanic Heritage Month kicks off

OLLU President talks about new role as Hispanic Heritage Month kicks off

Dr. Chavez grew up in Colorado as a son of immigrant parents. He said his parents instilled the importance of education in their home.

SAN ANTONIO — Our Lady of the Lake University is marking its 127th year as an educational institution in west San Antonio with new leadership at its helm.

In July, the university welcomed Dr. Abel Chavez as its new university president proceeding Diane Melby, who announced her plans to retire in 2022 last year.

Dr. Chavez is also making history as the university’s first Latino president.

‘It’s that obligation, that sense of responsibility to create pathways for Latinos and Latinas who aspire to be university presidents. It’s also for those who aspire to be in front of the classroom, to be teachers, to be instructors, to be researchers,” said Dr. Chavez.

Dr. Chavez grew up in Colorado as a son of immigrant parents. He said his parents instilled the importance of education in their home.

“My mom never made it out of middle school and my dad never made it out of high school. However, they knew that education was the pathway to transformation, and although, they weren’t able to show us the precise steps to pursue higher education they showed us what hard work looked like,” he said.

Dr. Chavez became the first in his family to graduate college. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Colorado Denver and a master’s of business administration from the University of Houston.

Chávez later received his doctorate degree in civil and environmental engineering from Denver.

Before entering education, he worked for Dow Chemical Company and Anheuser-Busch. Then he dove into entrepreneurship, and that’s where Dr. Chavez said he got into teaching.

His most recent position was at Western Colorado University, where he held multiple positions before his final role as Vice President for Enrollment and Student Success.

Dr. Chavez said the role at OLLU attracted him for two main reasons: faith and community.

“Our Lady of the Lake University has a long tradition of serving minority, first-generation, low income students and communities. It’s the mother of Hispanic serving institutions, and it’s these institutions who have been absolutely great to me, provided me mentorship and opportunities to thrive as a professional,” said Dr. Chavez.

He said his new position represents giving back to his faith, the community and country. During his tenure, he’s aiming to build upon the university’s endowment and offer more scholarships to students.

“While we will help our students make sure they are completing their FAFSAs for free financial aid, we still have work to do. This community can absolutely guarantee that I will be out in the community answering questions and speaking in their language.”

Outside of work, Dr. Chaves described himself as a family man who enjoys reading a new book weekly.

This News is Published from Google Alert – Hispanic Heritage Month.

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