Donald Opitz named interim dean of the School for New Learning

Donald Opitz
Donald L. Opitz greets School for New Learning students at a DePaul commencement ceremony. He will serve as the interim dean of the School for New Learning, effective July 1. (DePaul University/Jeff Carrion)
DePaul Provost Marten denBoer announced today, April 5, Dr. Donald L. Opitz will serve as interim dean of the School for New Learning, effective July 1.

Opitz currently serves as associate professor and associate dean of Academic Affairs and Enrollment Management in the School for New Learning. He joined DePaul's faculty in 2006 as a member of the school's science faculty, contributing his expertise in studies of science, technology and society. He has also taught in DePaul's Master of Science in Science Education program, LGBTQ studies program, and the Department of History.

"A proud DePaul alumnus, Don demonstrated his talent for teaching at a young age. While working on his degree in math and physics in the late 1980s, he tutored adult students in math at night and on the weekends," denBoer says. "Today he is a leader and scholar in adult education, and I am grateful he will continue to contribute his expertise to the School for New Learning."  

After graduating from DePaul in 1991, Opitz went on to earn a doctorate in the history of science at the University of Minnesota. He also held appointments as interim director of the Women's Center and director of the Math Center in the general college, the University of Minnesota's former gateway for working adult, non-traditional and first-generation college students.

Since returning to DePaul as a faculty member, Opitz has been committed to advancing the university's priorities in the area of teaching and learning.

"I am both honored and excited to lead the School for New Learning at a time when DePaul must become more agile, innovative and coordinated in its response to a growing and yet intensely competitive adult student market," Opitz says. "I look forward to sustaining and extending the school's entrepreneurial spirit. I find nothing more inspiring and rewarding than being a part of a learning project with truly motivated, diverse students who seek to advance themselves at the same time they are maintaining incredibly full lives."

Opitz has served as chair of Faculty Council's Committee on Learning and Teaching and as a presenter in the grant-funded Project PLuS program, created to develop faculty and staff in strategies to expand access for students with learning disabilities. In the School for New Learning, he also served as coordinator of quantitative reasoning and director of mentoring and student services.

"As an internationally recognized leader, particularly in the areas of competency-based education, prior learning assessment, and innovative program delivery, the School for New Learning is now pivoting to grow new, market-responsive professional programs and credentials, precisely at the moment when DePaul is highlighting professional education as a strategic priority," Opitz says.

Opitz's ongoing scholarly and professional works in the history of science focus on women and gender in science, LGBTQ themes and science in Victorian culture. He is co-editor of two books and author of more than 40 essays, including refereed journal articles, book chapters, and encyclopedia entries. He serves as secretary of the Commission on Women and Gender Studies of the International Union for History and Philosophy of Science and Technology. He is a 2016 Public Voices Fellow of the DePaul/OpEd Project and an incoming fellow of the DePaul Humanities Center for its 2018-20 program on the theme of "Scale."

"As interim dean, I look forward to intensifying my work with the school's faculty and staff, as well as our many internal and external partners, to make DePaul the destination of choice for adult students in our market," Opitz says.

Dr. Corinne Benedetto currently serves as SNL's interim dean. In January, Benedetto's alma mater, Trinity High School, announced her appointment as its next president. She will step down as dean on June 30.