DePaul University Newsline > Sections > Campus and Community > DePaul looks to the future with announcement of bold design plans, key initiatives

DePaul looks to the future with announcement of bold design plans, key initiatives

Designing DePaul stained glass graphic
(DePaul University)

President Robert L. Manuel launched the 2023-24 academic year during Academic Convocation on Thursday, Aug. 31, and shared ambitious plans emerging from the Designing DePaul process that took place in winter and spring of 2023. 

“We must use this moment to embrace our broad and talented Vincentian family members and together design our future that extends our mission to where it is needed, continues to provide life-changing educational experiences for our students, promotes the creative work being done around the university, connects us to our community, and creates a national model for quality in higher education,” Manuel said in his remarks.

Provost Salma Ghanem also spoke about a sense of renewal with the goal of building on the past with an eye on the future.

“Yes, DePaul is complex but the creativity, resilience and intellect evident in the ways in which each member of the community rises to meet the challenges before us—and to give our all for our students—makes DePaul an awe-inspiring place to work,” Ghanem shared in her remarks

Ghanem also took a moment to reflect on the past academic year noting that while it was hard, there was a great spirit of collaboration around addressing issues, and that the community should endeavor to carry that spirit into the coming academic year and beyond. “Don’t forget the moments of joy and celebration and the accomplishments we experienced,” Ghanem reminded the audience.

Designing DePaul Results

The draft Designing DePaul document is now available for review and open for university comment​ during September. 

“As you read the Designing DePaul document, please keep in mind a few things,” Manuel said at Academic Convocation. “First, it is not a strategic plan. I do not think it is a good idea for a university as complex as we are to have a single plan that is created from one central office.”

Instead, Manuel explained, the document is meant to detail the ideas from our community members and identify initiatives that the university can begin immediately. Those initiatives include eliminating the achievement gap within 10 years, providing an affordable health insurance plan to students next fall, and moving forward with the next steps to establish a new digital presence for the university.  

Manuel also announced the creation of three interdisciplinary institutes focused on poverty, environmental sustainability and artificial intelligence. All three institutes will use a new data visualization theater that will bring together researchers, business leaders, civil servants and community members to collaborate and identify solutions to pressing issues facing society. The institutes and theater will be up and running this academic year. 

Supporting DePaul’s many initiatives will require the immediate expansion of the university’s philanthropic efforts, Manuel explained. The first wave of expansion is launching with two targeted campaigns focused on academics and athletics that will directly benefit our students and the long-term financial health for the university. 

More details about DePaul’s new approach to philanthropy, as well as all the other initiatives, can be found in the Designing DePaul document​.

Faculty and Staff Awards and Recognition

In addition to speeches delivered by Manuel and Ghanem, a number of faculty and staff received recognition for their exceptional contributions to the university. 

This year, 24 faculty and staff received the Via Sapientiae award, the university’s highest honor for community members who have retired with at least 10 years of service. 

The university recognized seven faculty members with two Provost’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion awards, one individual and a group of six. Established in 2020 the award recognizes individuals or groups of faculty members who demonstrate excellence in the pursuit of diversity, equity and inclusion through scholarship, curricula, programming and outreach, community building and advocacy. Laura Kina, professor in The Art School and Kim Amer, Young-Me Lee, Shannon Simonovich, Cheryl Soco, Roxanne Spurlark and Kashica Webber-Ritchey of the School of Nursing were the 2022-23 recipients of the award. 

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul professors inducted two faculty members: Jacqueline Lazú, associate professor and associate dean in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, department of modern languages and Mark Potosnak, professor of environmental science and studies, College of Science and Health. The society is an organization of professors who have distinguished themselves within a faculty of distinguished teachers and scholars.

Twenty-eight faculty members were also recognized during the event for receiving promotion or tenure.