St. Edward’s welcomes new university president Dr. Montserrat Fuentes


Courtesy of St. Edward's University

Montserrat Fuentes received her Ph.D. in statistics from the University of Chicago. Along with many other students at St. Edward’s, she too is a first generation student.

In an email sent to the St. Edward’s community on Dec. 4, 2020, the Board of Trustees announced and welcomed Montserrat Fuentes, Ph.D as the next university president.

Prior to the announcement of Fuentes’ appointment as president, President George Martin announced his retirement on Dec. 10, 2019. His last day as acting president will be June 30.

The Presidential Search Committee was set up with Steven Shadowen as chair of the committee. Other members of the presidential search committee include Student Government Association President Athina Castanon, Vice President for Student Affairs Lisa Kirkpatrick and Chair of the Department of Literature, Writing and Rhetoric Mary Rist. The university also hired a search consulting team from Isaacson, Miller, “A national executive search firm specializing in recruiting transformative leadership for mission-driven organizations. The search team included Julie Filizetti and Leslie C. McCarthy.

On the St. Edward’s University website, a timeline shows how and when the search for a new president began. In Sept. 2019, the Board of Trustees, led by Judy McLaughlin, educational chair of the Harvard Seminar for New Presidents, held a meeting in order to think of qualities for potential candidates that reflected the goals and visions of the university. 

In Feb. 2020, the board of trustees approved the position profile the search committee proposed and began to advertise the position. 

From May 2020 to July 2020, applications continued to be reviewed by the committee while the second consulting team conducted interviews with certain candidates. Months later, in the fall of 2020, the search committee conducted interviews and made recommendations to the Board of Trustees. 

In Dec. 2020, a meeting was held with the board of trustees that selected the new president. Steve Shadowen, board chair of St. Edward’s University Board of Trustees, said why Fuentes was chosen in an email sent to the St. Edward’s community.. 

“[Dr. Fuentes] shares the university’s devotion to social justice and the Holy Cross mission of educating the heart and mind,” Shadowen said. “The Board is convinced that Dr. Fuentes is the right leader to move the university forward in the growing and evolving State of Texas and in the dynamic, global city of Austin.” 

In a message by Fuentes, she discussed educating students and shared her experience as a first generation student. 

“Preparing our students to become our future world leaders, problem solvers and global, responsible contributing citizens that create a more just world,” Fuentes said. “I am a first generation college student with a dual degree in math and music. A transformative, liberal arts higher education experience offered me all the wonderful opportunities I have had in my life since. I want to offer that transformative education to others.”

Fuentes graduated from the University of Valladolid with a degree in mathematics,  music and piano. She completed a Ph.D. in statistics from the University of Chicago. In 1998, Fuentes joined the North Carolina State University faculty and became chair of the statistics department. In 2016, Fuentes became dean of the College of Humanities and Sciences at Virginia Commonwealth University.  

Prior to Fuentes’s selection as the new university president, she was named Executive Vice President and Provost at the University of Iowa in 2019.  

July 1 will be her first official day as president of St. Edward’s University.