Enriquez: ‘No learning curve’ if she’s selected UOG president
By Frank Whitman
If Anita Borja Enriquez is selected to be the next president of the University of Guam, there will be no learning curve, she said, since she has spent the past 29 years in a variety of positions at the school from assistant professor to one of its top administrators. She is currently UOG’s senior vice president and provost, and as such, oversees all the academic schools and colleges at the university.
She is also one of three finalists still under consideration for the position.
Enriquez said she understands the value of education not only to students but also to their families and the community as a whole. She also understands the barrier tuition and other education-related expenses can pose to many students.
“Students are still struggling,” she said. “We know that most students come from low-income families and they’re the first ones in their families to go to college. As such, if we’re truly intent on achieving student success that represents high student achievement, persistence and completion of the degree, and giving them something meaningful so they can transform the trajectory of their lives, then we really need to make sure that we remove all barriers that are going to impede their ability to compete - and raising tuition would be a barrier.”
Her vision, she said, is to minimize the economic impact of higher education by providing a scholarship for every student and keeping tuition at its current level. In order to keep expenses low, “(we should) look for waste internally where we can address cost efficiencies, even further consolidating the core, pulling other levers that are important to this business model, including diversifying our program portfolio to increase markets and increase revenues.”
Her diverse work background will serve her well in facing the challenges of the university, she said. She began her work life in the private sector, has worked in marketing, has been an entrepreneur, training manager and human resources consultant.
Enriquez graduated from what was Guam Community College’s vocational high school and went on to earn an associate degree in management and computer studies and a Bachelor of Science in management, both from the University of Maryland Global Campus; a Master of Business Administration from UOG; and a Doctor of Business Administration in international business with a marketing emphasis from Alliant International University.
After her stint in the private sector, she took a position teaching management and international business at UOG. “I felt that there was an opportunity for me to be able to make some kind of impact in the classroom, bridging the theories and concepts with practical applications,” she said. “That is why I joined higher education.”
She secured tenure and was promoted in her faculty position, and then moved into administrative positions, including the dean of the College of Public Administration.
As an administrator, she has found it helpful to utilize her business acumen by bringing in external stakeholders - industry leaders who, among other functions, serve “as the pulse of relevancy,” she said. They provide a current well-informed view of what is going on in the community “that would bring that relevancy back to us in the areas of curriculum changes and also in terms of the workforce expectations.”
UOG is now recognized within the top 32% of U.S. universities in research, and has an average of $26 million in federal grants and contracts annually, “through the phenomenal efforts of faculty, administrators, staff and also students,” she said.
“Decades ago, the University of Guam was not the top choice of a lot of our Guam students,” Enriquez said. “Now we are an attractive destination for a college degree. It’s something that we take great pride in.”