Q and A with Regis University President Salvador D. Aceves

Q: The first president of Regis was Salvatore Personé, S.J.,. How do you, Salvador D. Aceves, Regis’ next president, view the impact Regis has had and what the future holds for the university?

Regis as Jesuit, Catholic, and a University, has impacted our community by delivering a whole-person, student-centered, transformative education that empowers its graduates with the skills and perspectives required to harness their passions and spur change locally and globally.

Regis has a bright future if it continues to harness the power of Jesuit education and builds upon a nearly 500-year Ignatian tradition.  

Regis will continue its long history of impacting our community if it creates a human-centered strategic plan that is bold and distinctive in preparing students to help build a more just, humane, and sustainable world. 

Q: As a first-generation college graduate and a Latino, how will your lived experience influence decisions ahead as the University welcomes increasing numbers of first gen and Hispanic students and their families?

My personal journey has helped me recognize the importance of creating an environment that is adaptive and responsive to the needs and realities of our diverse students. As I have said on several occasions, when you admit Hispanic students, you also admit their families.

Regis is blessed by a dedicated community of faculty and staff that is welcoming of diverse perspectives.  In support of our culture of inclusion, I am eager to explore innovative ideas and community-based solutions that strengthen programs, curricula, and faculty and staff hiring practices, to better reflect the diverse community we serve.

Q: What are your thoughts about being the first lay (non-Jesuit) permanent president in Regis history?

I value the importance of our Jesuit Catholic identity and am honored to serve as the first lay and Latino President for Regis. I have been given an incredibly important task by the Jesuit Provincial to continue carrying on our mission. I've spent 37 years in Jesuit Catholic higher education and am a graduate of a Jesuit Catholic institution. I’ve also participated in the Ignatian Colleagues Program, which is a national program of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) designed to educate and form administrators and faculty more deeply in the Jesuit and Catholic tradition of higher education. I know what a considerable responsibility it is to uphold this long-standing tradition and I look forward to taking on this leadership role.

Q: Looking back, what's one piece of advice you would give your college-aged self?

Dream Big. This is perhaps best explained through a story.  

A man happened to walk by three bricklayers busy at work. He asked the first bricklayer, “What are you doing?” “I'm laying bricks,” the first bricklayer said. The man asked the second bricklayer the same question. “I'm putting up a wall,” was the reply. The passerby then posed the question to the third bricklayer. “What are you doing?” he asked.  “I'm building a great cathedral,” the third bricklayer replied.

Dream big and trust God’s plan for you.

Q: One year from now, how do you hope to sum up your first year as President?

Looking back a year from now, I would like Regis University to have strengthened its culture of academic excellence through the pursuit of liberal arts, expansive critical thinking, and creative expression. I would like to have strengthened the student experience as transformative and student-centered, elevating each student's moral and ethical development.

I would like to have made significant progress towards making Regis University an employer of choice for faculty and staff. May working at Regis be more than just a job, but rather an opportunity to live the mission. Finally, I would like Regis University to have improved its standing as a trusted community leader and partner.

Q: Are there specific challenges or opportunities at Regis that you are most excited to work on?

In January, I plan to hold a series of campus conversations to better understand the challenges and opportunities we face. In anticipation of this, I am eager to implement a governance structure that will engage internal and external stakeholders in institutional planning and decision-making. While I am pleased with the progress made to date in developing the framework for the strategic plan, my focus will be to help craft a human-centered strategic plan that is bold and distinctive. 

I want us to embrace a commitment to continuous improvement and innovation. I am eager to develop a culture that helps us celebrate successes and learn from failures. I would like us to adopt a systems-thinking mindset built with the understanding that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and that reinforces the interconnectedness of people and issues.

We must lead inclusively. Inclusion requires active, intentional, and ongoing efforts to promote the full participation and sense of belonging of every student, alum, faculty and staff, and partners.


Photo: President Salvador Aceves, left, smiles for a photo with Regis faculty and staff at the Regis Welcome Center, which offered temporary shelter to asylum seekers from Venezuela during the first week of January.