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Announcing OLLU's 10th President

Dr. Abel Antonio ChávezOLLU names Dr. Abel Antonio Chávez as 10th President 

Distinguished educator, global researcher, businessman to succeed Diane E. Melby in July 

Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU) named a higher education leader, former businessman and engineer as its 10th president. Abel A. Chávez, PhD, Vice President for Enrollment and Student Success at Western Colorado University, will assume office in July upon the retirement of President Diane E. Melby, EdD. 

Dr. Chávez possesses a wealth of experience in higher education and business. An Associate Professor in the School of Environment and Sustainability, he has served Western Colorado as Dean of Graduate Studies and Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs. Before entering academia, Dr. Chávez founded a consulting company in Denver and worked as an engineer in a Denver suburb.  

He is no stranger to Texas. In the early 2000s, Dr. Chávez served as a project manager for Anheuser-Busch in Houston and Dow Chemical in Freeport. He also served an international business residency in Beijing and Singapore.   

“Dr. Chávez brings a record of outstanding leadership in higher education to Our Lady of the Lake University,” said Paul Olivier, Chair of the Board of Trustees. “He also brings strong business skills and global experience. He is the right person to move OLLU forward.” 

The son of immigrants, Dr. Chávez grew up in Denver, collecting discarded items to repair and sell at flea markets. Though he had an affinity for mechanics, his father wanted him to get an education. Dr. Chávez obliged, becoming a first-generation student who earned three degrees, including an MBA and a doctorate in Civil and Environmental Engineering.  

At Western Colorado, Dr. Chávez has mentored students of Mexican origin and connected them to a scholarship program funded by the Mexican government. He has received the Ohtli Award, a prestigious honor given by the Mexican government to those who have provided assistance to Mexican citizens. 

“Dr. Chávez cares deeply about students, especially the underserved,” said Steve O’Donnell, OLLU trustee and co-chair of the search committee. “He is an agent of transformation, a leader who has provided life-changing experiences for students. I believe he will be an outstanding president.” 

A world traveler and global researcher, Dr. Chávez served as a research fellow in Potsdam, Germany. During an international business residency, he met with global firms across Asia. He’s led students to meet with officials at the United Nations headquarters in Rome.  

“Our Lady of the Lake University is poised for growth with great potential to attract and serve students beyond Texas and around the world. We will provide our students a unique blend of skills and values to prepare them for a lifetime as change agents and service,” Dr. Chávez said. “I look forward to building on the foundation set by the Sisters of Divine Providence and expand our university’s mission and reach.”