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Past Presidents


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Utah Valley University 1941-Present

Utah Valley University was established in 1941 as Central Utah Vocational School (CUVS) with the primary function of providing war production training. Throughout its history, UVU has responded to its service region’s (Utah, Wasatch and Summit counties) population changes and business/industry needs. This responsiveness is evidenced in its integrated dual mission, program offerings, degree levels, and enrollment changes.

Portrait of Astrid S. Tuminez, painted by J. Kirk Richards.

Painted by J. Kirk Richards
Artist Statement | Artist Bio

Astrid S. Tuminez


Dr. Astrid S. Tuminez was appointed the seventh president of Utah Valley University in 2018; she is the first woman to serve as the institution’s full-time president. Tuminez brings to UVU a broad and rich experience in academia, philanthropy, technology, and business. Born in a farming village in the Philippine province of Iloilo (e-low e-low), Tuminez comes from humble beginnings. Her pursuit of education eventually took her to Brigham Young University in the United States, where she graduated summa cum laude in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in international relations and Russian literature. She earned a master’s degree from Harvard University in Soviet studies (1988) and a doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in political science (1996). Before assuming her current position, Tuminez was a world leader in the fields of technology and political science. Most recently, Tuminez served as an executive at Microsoft, where she led corporate, external, and legal affairs in Southeast Asia. Tuminez is also the former vice dean of research and assistant dean of executive education at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, the premier school of public policy in Asia. She and her husband, Jeffrey S. Tolk, have three children. 

Oil portrait of Matthew S. Holland painted by Glenda C. Gleave. In the portrait Holland is depicted as smiling, seated in front of a dark background.

Painted by Glenda C. Gleave
Artist Statement | Artist Bio

Matthew S. Holland


Soon after university status was granted, President Sederburg was named Utah’s Commissioner of Higher Education, and Matthew S. Holland became the president of the newly named Utah Valley University in 2009. During Holland’s time at UVU, many new buildings were added, including the expanded Wee Care Center and the new Facilities Building, Noorda Theatre, Business Resource Center, Student Life and Wellness Building, and Clarke Building. President Holland was instrumental in UVU's designation as an All-Steinway School. He helped in the development of a business engagement strategy, the Freshman Reading Program, the Presidential Lecture Series, a strategic enrollment management plan, and a strategic planning advisory council. Under his leadership, the Women's Success Center and the Center for Global and Intercultural Engagement were made to support the UVU's inclusive focus. As a lover of history, Holland commissioned and oversaw the development of the nationally and internationally recognized Roots of Knowledge stained-glass windows — a 200-foot-wide panorama of the world’s most important advances in human knowledge and understanding. Holland left the University in 2018 when he was called as a mission president for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Portrait of William A. Sederburg, painted by Justin Kunz. In the portain Sederburg is depicted as smiling while standing in front of the Fulton Library.

Painted by Justin Kunz
Artist Statement | Artist Bio

William A. Sederburg


In 2003, William A. Sederburg took the helm of UVSC. Sederburg wasted no time before working with local and state officials to create a plan for obtaining university status. To become a university, the school needed to build a new expansive library and start offering master’s degrees. After only a year and a half, the feat was accomplished. The Utah State Legislature unanimously granted UVSC university status, and on July 1, 2008, the school became Utah Valley University. In that same year, the school was given provisional status in the NCAA Division I athletic competition. UVSC started D-I play in the 2003-2004 school year. A new wrestling program was added and continues to be the only one of its kind in the state of Utah. Other intercollegiate programs include men's baseball, basketball, cross-country, golf, and track and field, as well as women's basketball, cross-country, golf, soccer, softball, track and field, and volleyball. A new baseball stadium was added in 2005.  

Portrait of Kerry D. Romesburg painted by Perry Stewart. In the portrait Romesburg is depicted as being seated in front of a muted background.

Painted by Perry Stewart
Artist Statement | Artist Bio

Kerry D. Romesburg


Kerry D. Romesburg was appointed president in 1988. He led the college into an era of incredible growth. With the students in mind, Romesburg initiated the conversion of the college to a semester calendar, the first state school to do so. He emphasized international education, arts and humanities, and instilling short-term training throughout curriculums. Due to his attention to international relations, UVCC became one of the first community colleges to sign an exchange agreement with Soviet Russia. Additional exchange agreements were created with China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Germany. Romesburg focused on small class sizes, academics, and valuable trades and vocational training. During Romesburg's tenure, student enrollment skyrocketed from some 8,700 students in 1991 to more than 23,000 enrolled in 2002. Romesburg jumped at an opportunity from the Utah System of Higher Education and the Board of Regents to introduce four-year bachelor’s degrees in 1992; business management, computer science and information systems, and technology management were the first three bachelor's degree programs offered. After noting the institution was growing and expanding its mission and focus, the name changed to Utah Valley State College (UVSC) in 1993. 

Portrait of J. Marvin Higbee, painted by Elspeth C. Young. In the portrait Higbee is depicted smiling in front of a yellow background.

Painted by Elspeth C. Young
Artist Statement | Artist Bio

J. Marvin Higbee 


In 1982, J. Marvin Higbee, former president of Snow College in Ephraim, Utah, was named the third president of the college. President Higbee took on the challenge of broadening the image and scope of the college by offering expanded educational opportunities to all facets of the community. In 1987, the Utah Legislature changed the school's name to Utah Valley Community College (UVCC) to reflect this expanded mission. The campus continued to expand under Higbee. Not only were major building projects initiated, but several education programs were also added to help the college keep pace with local demand. Higbee emphasized the need for community support by focusing on the involvement efforts of the Development Office and the Alumni Association.

Portrait of Wilson W. Sorenson, painted by Kent Christensen. In the portrait Sorensen is depicted as standing at a desk, with his hand on a telephone receiver, with a stylized landscape of Utah valley in the background.

Painted by Kent Christensen
Artist Statement | Artist Bio

Wilson W. Sorenson


Wilson W. Sorensen began his career at Central Utah Vocational School in 1941 as the purchasing agent and treasurer. After the war, in 1946, the Utah Legislature made the school a permanent state institution and named Wilson W. Sorensen as the director. During the two decades Sorenson was president, he moved the school to 1300 North University Avenue in Provo, changed the name to Utah Technical College at Provo, and began awarding associate degrees. The demand for more space prompted college officials to purchase and begin building on a large piece of farmland in southwest Orem adjacent to Interstate 15, the site UVU occupies today. Sorenson was responsible for purchasing 13 acres of land and expanding the college. 

Portrait of Hyrum E. Johnson, painted by Perry Stewart. In the portrait Johnson is depicated as being seated in front of a dark background. A side table with books on it is next to the chair that Johnson is in.

Painted by Perry Stewart
Artist Statement | Artist Bio

Hyrum E. Johnson


In 1941, the nation was slowly recovering from the Great Depression. The shadow of World War II was creeping closer, and the need for arms and ammunition demanded skilled craftsmen. Hyrum E. Johnson had a passion for teaching vocational skills — the technical and practical skills related to specific, traditionally non-academic, trades. Johnson was a highly respected craftsman and teacher in the industrial arts. His enthusiasm and dedication brought vocational classes offered around Utah to one central south Provo location, which was named the Central Utah Vocational School. After the war, the Utah Legislature made the school a permanent state institution.

Artist Statements

Artist Statement - Perry Stewart

It has been a privilege to paint the portraits of UVU presidents Kerry D. Romesburg and founder of then Central Utah Vocation School Hyrum E. Johnson. Each portrait brought challenges and frustrations that exist in most painting projects — limited reference photos to work from being the primary challenge. In both cases, I attempted contacting family members and friends, but I ultimately was left with one reasonably good photo from the UVU archives to work for each president. I gathered friends and family members to create and photograph poses and figures that worked well with the photos I had.

In all, the experience was rewarding, and I feel pride in the paintings I completed. Perhaps the most significant impact for me personally is knowing that after I retire and no one at UVU remembers me being here, the paintings I have completed will hang on the walls as an enduring legacy of my teaching and influence for many art students at UVU.

Perry Stewart

Perry Stewart has been illustrating and teaching at the university level for the past 32 years and working as a professional illustrator for 36 years. He has been teaching at Utah Valley University for the past 22 years. He has completed hundreds of illustrations for various clients throughout the United States. He has received professional recognition from the New York Society of Illustrators, the Society of Illustrators Los Angeles (SILA), and the “Illustrators of Utah” exhibits. In 2018, he received a gold award for one of his illustrations from SILA. 

He is passionate about the rich history of art, particularly the Renaissance, the 19th Century, and the comprehensive history of illustration. He began his career in the editorial magazine market and now spends most of his time painting caricatures, portraits, and landscapes. He teaches a variety of illustration courses including head and figure drawing and painting courses, and he recently joined a new area, teaching in the entertainment design degree in the Art and Design Department. Most of the work he completes is in traditional media and includes the human figure, but he does spend a fair amount of time painting digitally as well. 

“One of my earliest recollections was drawing and coloring pictures at my mother’s side and being fascinated with my father’s drawings of all things mechanical: trucks, tractors, and farm equipment. I began drawing at a very young age and realized early that I could draw better than average, likely owing to the fact that I spent more time doing it than most—in music they call it ‘practice.’ 

“Today I spend less time attempting to ‘get it right’ and more time interpreting shapes and forms and caring more about aesthetics and the appearance of brush strokes and edges. I find much that is beautiful, inspiring, and humorous in life that should be recorded and commented upon visually.” 

Kent Christensen

While I didn’t have the privilege of meeting President Wilson W. Sorensen, I know several people who did, and a few who knew him well. The university has an impressive trove of recorded interviews with President Sorensen and others who talk about his legacy. His long tenure of nearly four decades as president (1946-1982) and his devotion to this institution earned him the informal title of “The Visionary.”

While looking through photos in UVU’s Sorensen Collection I found an aerial view of the Orem campus under construction in 1979, clearly showing the intersection of Interstate 15 and University Parkway when it was a small, two-lane overpass over a four-lane highway. The photograph also shows a remarkable vista, including northern Utah County and Mount Timpanogos. The county was still mostly agricultural in the late 1970s, and it reminded me of some landscape paintings by Wayne Thiebaud, who I met and visited with in the 1990s while I lived in New York. Thiebaud and Sorensen were born within four years of each other.

While I was researching images in preparation for this portrait, Mr. Thiebaud passed away on Christmas Day, 2021, aged 101. I decided the inclusion of a Thiebaud-inspired landscape based on the aerial photo in the Sorenson Collection would be a way to add a subtle tribute to the artist in this portrait, depicting the valley the way President Sorensen knew it through most of his life.

In creating a portrait of this tall, visionary, humble leader, the inclusion of the landscape memorializes his contribution to Utah history and portrays him as he looked in his younger years, at a time when he was advocating for the preservation and expansion of this institution and personally searching for the property that would become Utah Valley University’s Orem campus.

The image of President Sorensen and details in the foreground of the painting (the desk and telephone) were taken from photographs shot in the mid-1960s in his office at Utah Technical College in Provo.

Artist Statement - Kent Christensen

Kent Christensen’s drawings, prints, and oil paintings investigate cultural and personal associations with food, place, art history, religion, and popular culture. They also embrace the traditions of still-life painting, religious iconography, surrealism, and pop art. 

Christensen’s images examine and re-contextualize personal, emotional, and psychological associations with the power of food imagery in art through the ages. His subjects have been arranged in specific ways that reference modern and classical art. Landscapes and cityscapes call up specific biographical references and add contextual layers of meaning that are at once specific and ambiguous. Personal and spiritual icons are sometimes included or hidden in the pictures, creating totems that evoke a sense of ritual and intimacy. Cultural and social satire also factor largely into his works. 

Christensen grew up in the orange groves of California, where he acquired a fondness for orange crate labels, popular culture, and local fast food. Raised in Latter-day Saint (Mormon) culture, with its strict prohibitions against vices such as smoking and drinking, he gained an appreciation for the substitute vice of sugar — an indulgence so zealous that the artist refers to sugar as “Mormon heroin.” His work functions as both celebration and satire of this “Mormon folly” for sweets. He is quick to point out that it also operates in the larger context of America’s corresponding insatiable appetite for “just about everything, with its greed, materialism, rising obesity levels, and contradictory obsessions with fast food, overindulgence, fitness, and body image.” 

Kent Christensen was born in Los Angeles in 1957. After graduating with honors from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena he gained prominence as a New York-based illustrator in the 1990s and the early 2000s and has been represented by London’s Eleven gallery since 2006. Known for his collaborations with London shoe designer Camilla Elphick for several years beginning in 2014, he currently lives and works in Salt Lake City and London. His work is included in many public and private collections internationally. 

June 2023 will see his pop art interpretation of the coronation portrait of Elizabeth I added to the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery in London to commemorate its re-opening after a multi-year renovation. This giant collaborative piece features depictions of over 100 of the women whose portraits hang in the gallery and will be the largest work in its vast collection. 


Artist Statement - Elspeth C. Young

During his tenure as president from 1982 to 1987, J. Marvin Higbee spent countless hours in the community and at the Utah Legislature, expanding the vision and laying the groundwork for UVU's current status as Utah's largest university. Fighting prevailing sentiments in the community, he pioneered Utah Technical College's transition from a vocational school to a community college as Utah Valley Community College (UVCC). Higbee said, “[From the beginning,] I made the decision that I would do all in my power to make this institution an institution which students could be proud of and which would be an institution of first choice ... an institution that serves the people."

The figure's attitude and stance in this portrait reflect Higbee's relatability. Keen to observe the needs of students and faculty and a fierce supporter of athletics and the arts, Higbee expanded campus facilities and programs. He was as likely to be seen at the back of a classroom observing students' needs, strolling the campus, or casually chatting with a faculty member, hoping to discover ways his administration could assist. His tie of turquoise and gold is a reminder of UVCC's colors at the time.

The title for this piece is taken from one of Higbee's favorite poems, “It Couldn’t Be Done” by Edgar Albert Guest, and is a tribute to Higbee's tireless efforts:

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done
But he with a chuckle replied
That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one
Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it!

Elspeth C. Young

"My oil paintings seek to celebrate lesser-known heroines and heroes of everyday life whose courage and devotion evince the deepest reverence for deity. I endeavor to create paintings that invite us to look heavenward in order to solve life’s challenges, to help others in need of help, and to appreciate the majesty of the individual in all races and cultures." 

Specializing in portraiture and historia (figure paintings recreating historical scenes), Elspeth has been a full-time artist of Al Young Studios since 2002. 

Working primarily in oils and watercolors, her original artworks and reproductions are permanently displayed in temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, museums, and private residences. Reproductions of her work also appear in numerous publications. Commissions range from portraiture and illustration to specialized consulting. Her research specialties include costuming, material culture, art history, and the chemistry and techniques of painting. 

Her training includes a lifetime of study and collaboration in the family studio of her father, Al R. Young, as well as a bachelor’s degree in visual art from Brigham Young University, from which she graduated magna cum laude in 2003. 

Many of Elspeth’s artworks are available in the following fine art collections: 

  • Heroes of the Book of Mormon Collection (since 2006) 
  • The High Valley Collection (since 2004) 
  • The Messiah Collection (since 2003) 
  • Pioneer Collection (since 2006) 
  • Temple Fine Art Collection (since 2012) 
  • The Women of the Bible Collection (since 2003) 

Elspeth is a regular columnist for The Storybook Home Journal (since 2001). She has illustrated children's books and The Papers of Seymore Wainscott. 

Artist Statement - Justin Kunz

William A. Sederburg was president of Utah Valley University from 2003 to 2008. When I was asked to paint his portrait, I knew I needed to meet him and get to know him. I wanted to sketch and photograph him in person instead of trying to work from secondary reference sources. So I reached out and, thankfully, I was able to catch up with him at home in Asheville, North Carolina.

President Sederburg and his wife, Joyce, were very kind and accommodating. They showed me around the house and their beautiful lakeside property. He shared stories from his time at UVU while I took photographs of him; he sat patiently while I painted a color study to capture the tones of his complexion. He even invited me to accompany him to a fund-raising banquet for the culinary arts program at a local technical college where he serves on the foundation board. As an artist, I really appreciated the opportunity to observe my subject in motion, interacting with the people he works with in the community. And, needless to say, the refreshments served that night were heavenly.

In my discussions with President Sederburg, I began to see how his work as a visionary leader, builder, and creator of institutions has helped people transform their lives through education. As president of UVU, he oversaw a period of significant progress throughout the institution’s transformational growth from a state college into a university. One of the key advancements that helped UVU achieve university status was the construction of a world-class library facility, the state-of-the-art Digital Learning Center that was later named the Ira A. and Mary Lou Fulton Library. As I visited UVU campus and reflected on this structure, it impressed me that the library represents a powerful, tangible, and highly visual symbol of President Sederburg’s legacy at UVU.

The colors last fall were spectacular, and I really wanted to incorporate some of those warm hues into my painting. Given the westward position of campus near Utah Lake, I also wanted to emphasize the beauty of the environment with the golden autumn light striking everything just before sundown. Last but not least, I wanted to include the lights on campus and those glowing inside the library; I think of them as symbols of the thousands of bright students who come to UVU campus to study in its halls each day in their quest to improve their lives and communities by acquiring knowledge.

Justin Kunz

Justin Kunz is an award-winning painter, illustrator, designer, and teacher. His work has been recognized in juried exhibitions, galleries, museums, and private collections; and published in books, magazines, calendars, websites, and annual reports. He has created key visual imagery for games, coins, medals, puzzles, figurines, and even the Sundance award-winning film “Nine Days.” As a senior artist at Blizzard Entertainment, he created concept artwork, 3D assets, textures, and effects for the environments in World of Warcraft, as well as early concept art for Overwatch. As a member of the Artistic Infusion Program, he has created dozens of numismatic designs, including at least 18 coins and medals selected and produced by the United States Mint in gold, platinum, silver, and bronze, including the Basketball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coin. He holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in painting from Laguna College of Art and Design, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in illustration from Brigham Young University (BYU). Currently associate professor and illustration area coordinator in the Department of Design at BYU, Kunz lives with his wife Heidi and their children in the foothills of Mt. Timpanogos, Utah.  

Artist Statement - Glenda C. Gleave

When I was first asked to paint the portrait of President Matthew Holland, I realized I would not have as much time as I had hoped. After all, he was retiring after nine years of leading UVU and was leaving the following week to serve an out-of-state commitment for his church for three years. Having been given the criteria for the painting, and knowing that President Holland simply would not have the time to “sit” for his portrait, I was given the number of the university photographer. Clearing the president’s calendar for an early-morning shoot was my best chance of getting the references I needed to complete this commission. I was awarded 20 minutes.

Meeting 30 minutes early with the photographer, August, I expressed the lighting, body angles, and expression I was looking for to create a timeless portrait. We were ready. As we began the shoot, President Holland easily fell into step with our requests. However, something was amiss. It was obvious that his mind was somewhere else because his usual cheerful and glowing demeanor was absent. Not wanting to be disrespectful, I simply said to him, “President Holland, could you please think of something more pleasant?” He immediately chuckled and gave us his best. The photography was top drawer, due to August’s vast experience and equipment.

A mere 20 minutes later, President Holland was out the door, and August and I poured over the images to select what would become the portrait you see hanging here today. After the initial composition, I did a charcoal and color study to capture the likeness and flesh tones. I wanted to change the color of the tie until I was informed that green was the color of the university — my bad. When the portrait was complete, I sent the image to President Holland. He and his wife decided on a few minor changes, which, when completed, made the portrait acceptable to hang in the Hall of the Presidents. It was an honor to be able to render the image of President Matthew Holland in oil. Even during our several short meetings, I was impressed by his ability to lead and especially his kindness. It was never in question that the university was in good hands.

Glenda C. Gleave

After raising six children, Glenda Gleave seized the opportunity to realign her priorities to pursue her passion for art. She soon found herself immersed in concentrated training from some of the greatest figurative and portrait artists of this era. The training and encouragement she received helped her discover the special gift she has for creating masterful portraits and beautiful works of fine art. Like those who helped train her, she has truly become one of the “living masters” of her day. 

Her college days as a science major required hours in the anatomy lab, which has proven to be one of her best career investments as a figurative artist. She also has an advanced musical background and played professionally with a string quartet. Her engaging personality has made it easy for her clients to convey their desires for both commissioned portraits and other works of fine art. Her life experience as a mother is quickly recognized when she works with families and small children. 

Her ongoing study of the “great masters” has given her valuable insights into the history of art and an unwavering commitment to demonstrating in her own work the skills and methods that will stand up to critical opinion and be timeless in beauty and composition. 

In the continual pursuit of excellence, she draws and paints from life regularly and strives to bring light and life to her paintings. As an award-winning artist, she works exclusively in oil and charcoal with the finest archival materials so that her finished works will endure time. She lives a very active lifestyle in the beautiful mountains of Utah and has a full life in the company of her husband, six adult children, and nine grandchildren. 

Glenda has been given numerous commissions for professional portraiture. The most notable are those of the C.R. England trucking company executives hanging in the C.R. England corporate headquarters boardroom and the recently completed portrait of outgoing Utah Valley University President Matthew Holland. 

Follow on Instagram: GlendaGleaveart or Facebook: Glenda Gleave Fine Art & Portraiture

Artist Statement - J. Kirk Richards

I’m continually impressed by President Tuminez — by her love and appreciation for people of diverse social, economic, geographic, political, and religious backgrounds. President Tuminez exemplifies gratitude, generosity, and spiritual responsibility toward the sisters who raised her in a hut in the Philippines, toward the Catholic nuns who brought her education, toward her Ivy League academic peers, toward wealthy corporate benefactors, and toward first-generation college students struggling to make it through one more day of class. This portrait, including carved Buddhist monks with their begging bowls in the background, speaks to President Tuminez’s philosophy: We are all beggars, and as such, our responsibility is to lift each other whenever and wherever possible. In the words of Martin Luther King Jr., "True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.” Utah Valley University and President Tuminez are hard at work, restructuring the edifices of education and opportunity for the rising generations.

J. Kirk Richards

J. Kirk Richards grew up in Provo’s Tree Streets. He studied visual arts at Provo High School and Brigham Young University, earning a bachelor’s degree in 2000. For over two decades, Kirk has maintained an active studio, creating artwork for gallery shows and private collections. He owns a community art gallery and an art academy in Provo. Kirk is an enthusiastic Wolverine fan. His wife Amy and daughter Maegan will soon be UVU alumni.