DePaul University appoints Jeffrey Bethke as executive vice president

Jeff Bethke, an accomplished and longtime member of the university’s financial team, has been selected by DePaul University’s board of trustees as the next executive vice president. Bethke, the current treasurer of DePaul, will begin his new role, effective Jan. 1. (Photo by Jeff Carrion)
CHICAGO — Jeff Bethke, an accomplished and longtime member of the university’s financial team, has been selected by DePaul University’s board of trustees as the next executive vice president.

Bethke, the current treasurer of DePaul, will begin his new role, effective Jan. 1, when Executive Vice President Bob Kozoman will retire after serving the university in a variety of business and technology capacities since 1983.

“Throughout his years at DePaul, Jeff has made a significant impact on the university,” said the Rev. Dennis Holtschneider, C.M., president of DePaul University. “His extensive experience and deep knowledge of our university make him poised to lead the financial and daily operations in support of DePaul’s academic and Vincentian mission.”

Bethke has served the DePaul community in multiple financial roles for more than 13 years. He began at the university in 2002 as director of procurement, where he and his colleagues established a centralized purchasing office and implemented significant cost-saving measures. In 2006, Bethke went on to serve as associate vice president for university budgeting and later as associate treasurer in 2007. Working in close collaboration with the executive vice president throughout his time at the university, Bethke also has gained ample experience with the university’s budgeting process.

“Jeff has demonstrated a consistent commitment to supporting the long-term strength of DePaul University,” said Board Chair William E. Bennett. “The board of trustees has the utmost confidence in his ability to keep the university on an upward trajectory.”

Bethke is credited with directing multiple important real estate transactions that support the growth of university’s various colleges, including the purchase of the building for the College of Education, the purchase of the Daley Building, acquisition of the 5th floor of the DePaul Center and the sale of the former Theatre School property on Kenmore Avenue.

Most recently, Bethke led the successful negotiation with the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority for the new event center and has worked closely with the Investment Committee of the board of trustees to diversify the university’s investments, an effort which has had favorable results for the endowment.

In addition to his many roles at DePaul, he has concurrently participated in other organizational leadership positions in the Chicago community. Since 2005, he has held various roles — most recently as president — of the Educational Advancement Fund, a partnership between DePaul and other downtown universities that own and operate the University Center residential housing facility. In this role, he oversees the operations of the 1,700-bed facility, supervises the project management company and manages budgeting, financial reporting and retail leasing. Bethke also has served as a volunteer board member at DePaul Prep High School, working with colleagues to improve and secure the financial well-being of the school.

Prior to his time at DePaul, Bethke was partner and senior consultant at Jeslen Corporation where he provided strategic planning, organizational development, and performance management services for Fortune 100 companies. Previously, he was director of acquisitions at the Chicago Public Library – the third largest public library system in the United States – where he oversaw the division responsible for all book, subscriptions and media purchases for the central library and all 77 branches.

Bethke’s personal and professional commitment to furthering DePaul’s mission and Vincentian values has been evident during his career, and like many DePaul students, he got his start as a first-generation graduate in his family.

“As a first-generation college graduate, my university experience changed my life. I have great empathy and respect for all of the first-generation families at DePaul who have overcome far greater challenges than I did,” Bethke said. “What we do at DePaul is special. I am proud to continue supporting its student-centered mission and look forward to contributing to its ongoing growth.”

Bethke earned his MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and a bachelor’s degree in history and English from the University of Missouri at Kansas City.

The executive vice president search was led by board of trustees member Peter Argianas who directed the committee in a thorough, nationwide search.

DePaul University, which was recently ranked as one the “Most Innovative Schools” by U.S. News & World Report, was founded in Chicago in 1898 by the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentians). As a Roman Catholic religious community, the Vincentians are dedicated to following the ideals of St. Vincent de Paul, the 17th century priest for whom the university is named. With nearly 24,000 students and about 300 academic programs, DePaul is the largest Catholic university in the United States and the largest private, nonprofit university in the Midwest. It is nationally recognized for incorporating service learning throughout its curriculum and preparing its graduates for a global economy.

DePaul’s tradition of providing a quality education to students from a broad range of backgrounds, with particular attention to first-generation students, has resulted in one of the nation’s most diverse student bodies. More information is online at


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Wendy Zamaripa Smit