Like the opening chapter of the latest bestseller, the first year of a new strategic plan introduces the characters and plotlines that will motivate readers through the story. As the university began to embrace Grounded in Mission, DePaul’s new strategic plan, investments were made and initiatives launched to generate the results envisioned in its
by the plan’s end in 2024.
Students are gaining access to DePaul through new points of entry. About 15 percent of the fall 2019 freshman class benefitted from new scholarships worth $80,000 over four years that targeted high-achieving Chicago Public Schools and Illinois Catholic high school
graduates, lowering financial access barriers. Other students are attracted to programs that will prepare them to thrive as global citizen leaders. Last year, the faculty approved nearly 50 new programs, combined degrees, minors, concentrations and certificates. Of them, about a dozen launched in fall 2019.
A new role in DePaul’s story is being played by Matthieu Brejon de Lavergnée, the inaugural Holtschneider Endowed Chair in Vincentian Studies
. Brejon de Lavergnée arrived at DePaul from the Sorbonne Université in Paris and has already begun sharing his take on the Vincentian world, derived from his vast knowledge of the Daughters of Charity and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.
The university’s future builds on its foundational backstory of diversity and inclusion. Today, the challenge is to create an environment where DePaul’s record 8,900 students of color feel comfortable and welcome. The same is true for the university’s 800 faculty and staff of color. DePaul took three major actions in that direction last year:
- Joining the Illinois Equity in Attainment initiative to advocate for and implement practices that support low-income students and students of color to complete their college degrees.
- Selecting two faculty members as the first Presidential Fellows to produce data-driven strategies DePaul can implement to move closer to inclusion.
- Implementing a Women and Minority-Owned Vendor Program to create more opportunity for small business partners.
Academic excellence is a driving theme in DePaul’s story. In 2018-19 a new $2 million endowed Academic Growth and Innovation Fund solicited faculty and staff ideas, 16 of which were funded. Additionally, the number of internally-funded awards granted to faculty in the past five years has increased by about half, while the dollars committed have risen by about 40 percent. Unceasing enhancements to quality across the university have led to impressive recent rankings for the School of Cinematic Arts and The Theatre School, along with special nods to programs including game design, animation, MBA and entrepreneurship, among others.
Student success is the natural outcome of DePaul’s ongoing quality elevation storyline. New student success coaches
were trained and deployed in 2018-19 to move forward Discover Chicago exercises that encourage students to explore their purpose. These coaches now work with freshmen and transfer students to create specific action plans to help them achieve their individual visions of success. Increasingly, those visions include preparations for succeeding in a multicultural world. Students who infuse their college careers with transformative global learning activities can now earn a Global Fluency
designation that appears on their official transcripts. Students are also fortifying their international fluency by applying for and winning awards from distinguished scholarship programs, such as Fulbright, Boren
Higher education’s financial story has been a challenging one in recent years, and DePaul is resolute in building its fiscal strength for the future. DePaul hired new regional recruiters and dispatched them to areas producing more high school graduates than Illinois. The “Here, We Do” brand campaign
communicated the many ways DePaul capitalizes on the city, as well as how graduates are contributing to Chicago. Finally, an aggressive strategy to grow the endowment to $1 billion has been inching forward through fundraising, investment strategies and a return-to-principle practice.
There will be many plot twists yet to come in DePaul’s story, and as it always has been, faculty, staff and students will determine how it unfolds.