Raising the Bar

Raising the Bar

UTEP Alumnus Returns to Take UTEP Funding Into the 21st Century

From a young age, Ben Gonzalez was in a New York state of mind, with dreams of living in the Big Apple. The newly appointed vice president for asset management and development for The University of Texas at El Paso was born and raised in El Paso.

He is a UTEP alumnus who has never shied away from lofty goals or the tenacity needed to achieve them.

As a UTEP student, Gonzalez was an active member of the Student Government Association and excelled academically, but was uncertain what he wanted to do after graduation. He met with a UTEP adviser and took an aptitude test that led him to pursuea career in finance. When he graduated from the University in 1984 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, he had not one, but four job offers from local financial institutions.

“UTEP is what got me interested in my career,” Gonzalez said. “It is where it all got started.”

After graduating, he joined InterFirst Bank as a credit analyst. After three years with the bank, he took a chance and went to work for a client, helping to launch a business that stonewashed apparel — one of the first of its kind in the U.S. At East-West Apparel, as it was called, Gonzalez served as a chief financial officer. The business, whose biggest client was Levi Strauss, grew rapidly to 1,500 employees in six months.

Later, East-West Apparel was sold to a firm with operations in New York. Gonzalez moved to New York City along with the business.

After years of corporate experience, in pursuit of a competitive edge in a highly competitive industry, Gonzalez decided to go back to school. He earned his MBA from Harvard Business School in 1999. He went 

on to work on financial restructurings, representing companies in transactions involving Brazilian media conglomerate TV Globo, CBS, Viacom, U.S. Airways, Fruit of the Loom, Barneys New York, and Bank of America.

In the new position for the University, Gonzalez will oversee innovative strategies for generating value and revenue from the University’s many assets, from educational programs to intellectual property and real estate holdings. It is a role he is eager to take on. “I am anxious to get a couple of projects launched and develop a team that can deliver a return executing the strategy, and help us stand out as a university,” Gonzalez shared. “There are tremendous opportunities and a lot of things we can do here with both intellectual property and real estate. UTEP is a first-class university, and the possibilities for us are almost limitless.” - Christina Rodriguez