DePaul University Newsline > Sections > Campus and Community > COVID-19 update May 6
By A. Gabriel Esteban, Ph.D. /
May 6, 2020 /
Posted in: CAMPUS AND COMMUNITY /
It is disruption on an order we have not experienced in well over a generation.
Such disruption makes change inevitable. Change can be unwelcome and rapid transition brought on by the drastic change can be unnerving. We have barely settled into new routines as we face the questions: What happens next? What must be done?
Much is still unknown – to paraphrase Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, 'the virus has much to tell us'. As a result, planning a way forward means identifying a number of possible scenarios and developing plans appropriate for responding to each. We are doing our best thinking to face new challenges and a number of teams are currently developing plans to address fall quarter and beyond. As Vincent de Paul, no stranger to turbulent times, said, we need to do all this with 'a heart filled with compassion.'
Our planning principles are straightforward. This work, informed by our Vincentian mission and a commitment to transparency, shared responsibility, and trust building in difficult times, will:
Some steps we have taken to date have come with a cost. The university refunded approximately $14 million for on-campus housing, meal plans and student activity fees. Student employees were guaranteed income from their campus jobs, even though many of them were not able to work in a remote capacity. With the support of the Board of Trustees, the university also canceled a planned tuition rate increase. The canceled tuition increase means a $13 million savings for students and their families along with a commensurate decline in previously planned tuition revenues.
To prepare for a range of possible scenarios, university leadership is seeking ways to give DePaul more fiscal flexibility to address what the future may hold. For example, we have slowed down discretionary spending and instituted a hiring freeze on faculty and staff positions for the foreseeable future. A committee comprised of DePaul's president, interim provost and executive vice president will consider exceptions on a case-by-case basis.
While uncertainties abound, regarding the weeks ahead, what we do know is:
As I think about the future of the university, I am more motivated and encouraged than I am concerned. This is not to suggest that I am unaware of the difficulties we are facing, and the challenging decisions we will need to make as a community as we progress through this global health pandemic. Indeed, our most challenging days may very well still be ahead of us.
And, yet, as I contemplate the actions we will need to take, and the path we will set for the future of our university, I remain hopeful for one important reason—you. You—individually. You—collectively. What makes our university so special, and, in fact more important than ever before, is you. You have shown initiative, resilience, flexibility, and most importantly compassion.
As we work to preserve our commitment to offering a high-quality academic experience for our students, the difficult decisions we will confront in the days and weeks ahead will require courage, sacrifice and compassion.
I ask that you join me in acknowledging that we will not be able to return to a DePaul University as we once knew it. Many of you are familiar with St. Vincent's thought of the inventiveness of love even to infinity. We will be called on to be inventive, creative, and innovative to respond to changes in the world as a result of COVID-19. Join me in committing to building on our strengths —Catholic, Vincentian, urban, service-oriented, diverse— to plan not just for the fall quarter of next academic year, but to help lay the cornerstone of what will be the nation's model for urban higher education. We will strengthen our focus on delivering top-ranked academic programs to a diverse community of learners while continuing to serve our marginalized communities and providing access to higher education for populations traditionally under-represented in American postsecondary education.
As normal fades, we face the task of redefining and rebuilding DePaul. The moment will test our resolve, and we will meet the test, together. We are up to this challenge, I know that for certain. Our community is strong because of you, each of you, and because of our strongly felt shared values.
We are DePaul.