Hispanic Heritage Month Feature: UIW Athletic Director Richard Duran

October 12, 2020

UIW is proud to be a Hispanic-Serving Institution and the top faith-based institution in the nation for graduating Hispanic students with bachelor’s degrees. We couldn’t accomplish this without the many Hispanic voices of our community members who are committed to serving students of diverse backgrounds with the attention, care and thoughtfulness they deserve. We caught up with UIW Athletic Director Richard Duran, for his take on what it means to him to be one of only nine Hispanic athletic directors at a DI Hispanic-Serving Institution and what Hispanic heritage means to him personally.

  1. Family is important in many cultures, especially the Hispanic culture. Tell us about what it was like growing up with your family.
    Growing up on the eastside of Los Angeles (Montebello, CA), I always felt like I had so many people looking out for me. My father was the disciplinarian, and my mother was always the nurturer. My father was always educating me and teaching me right from wrong. I was lucky enough to have amazing grandparents and great-grandparents who were always supportive and loving. I had a younger brother who, though only 21 months apart in age, was the complete opposite of me and always kept me on my toes. My sister, who is eight years younger than me, helped bring some balance to the family, and protecting her was one of the few things my brother and I could agree on.
  2. In your opening press conference, you thanked three family members: your father, your grandpa Tony and your grandma Marty. What kind of values did they instill in you that you carry with you today?
    My great grandfather Tony instilled in me leadership qualities at a young age, but he also taught me the importance of knowing when to follow. My grandma Marty taught me how to love and respect all people. My father has taught me to work hard at everything I do, and he instilled in me the values and work ethic that I have today. Each of these qualities molded me into the person I am today, and I can’t thank my family enough for that.
  3. How has your close relationship with your family influenced the relationships you have made throughout your career and especially at UIW?
    I have learned the importance of building trust and always staying true to yourself from my family. Knowing the difference between right and wrong – while also trying to do the right thing for the right reasons – is something I have learned from my family, and that is something I try to instill in our staff and student-athletes each day. Even when mistakes happen, take ownership, learn and become better from them. These are the beliefs that I use in building relationships. Without meaningful relationships, reaching goals can be quite a challenge.
  4. You are a first-generation college graduate and the youngest DI athletic director in the nation. How have those two things impacted you as a leader?
    Being able to earn my college degree was one of the most transformational moments of my life. Walking across that stage was not only a moment of joy for me, but for my entire family. So many people poured into to me and helped provide me the opportunity, and that moment was in honor of all of those people. Being the youngest DI AD in the country is honestly a point of pride for me and my entire community back home. I wake up every day knowing how blessed I am to have this opportunity at this point in my career, and I know I have to give my absolute best to serve our student-athletes and community. 
  5. As a first-generation college graduate, how has your family reacted to the advancement of your career?
    If you ask my father, he would have asked what took me so long to become an AD! These positions are highly competitive, and many professionals never get the opportunity to serve in this capacity. I have shared this with my family, and their appreciation for this opportunity has grown even more. My story is unique, but it is not that different from many of our student-athletes. So being able to show young people back home, as well as our own student-athletes, that accomplishing your professional goals is possible, is something I will never take for granted. 
  6. What is your favorite part about working at UIW?
    The Mission of the institution and the people! This is the most mission-driven institution that I have ever been part of. Being able to serve in support of the amazing legacy of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word is a blessing. Working alongside so many amazing people in service of our students and institution still inspires me daily.
  7. In your opinion, what is the most important part of your job?
    Serving for the greater good. It is easy to get caught up in the wins and losses, but I remind the athletics department team that we are here to do more than just compete. I no doubt want to win in everything I do as we work to develop the whole student-athlete, but we must remember that sport is just one part of their lives. I also love that we are not only serving our student-athletes, but also our campus and community. Athletics intertwines with the entire campus and the greater community, and we must do our part in the big picture. I work daily to try to do the right things for the right reasons in service of all our communities. 
  8. You talk about the student-athletes being champions in the classroom, in the community and in competition. Can you talk about what you and the department do on a daily basis, and for the big picture, to help the student-athletes achieve that?
    Simply put, as I learned from my family, I ask our department team to do the right thing for the right reasons. I believe if we make decisions with the greater good in mind, then we will move toward achieving our goals. Athletics is only one part of the University, and we work to align our department with the direction of the University. If we fail to do this, then we will not be able to serve our student-athletes and campus community in the best manner possible.
  9. You are one of nine Hispanic ADs leading the athletics department at a DI Hispanic-Serving Institution. What does that mean to you?
    It is incredible to even be one of the 357 Division I athletic directors in the nation, let alone serving at one of the 34 Division I Hispanic-Serving Institutions. Working at UIW and living in the City of San Antonio is a complete honor and provides me an opportunity to serve both a diverse campus and community.