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DePaul names architect, urban planner as dean for College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences

LAS Dean
DePaul University names Guillermo Vásquez de Velasco, an international scholar and designer, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. He will assume his new role July 1. (Photo by Christopher Helms)

CHICAGO — DePaul University has selected an architect and urban planner with three decades of experience in higher education as its next dean for the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. Guillermo Vásquez de Velasco, an international scholar and designer, will assume his new role July 1.

Born and raised in Peru, Vásquez de Velasco currently is vice provost and professor of architecture at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. He previously served as dean for the College of Architecture and Planning at Ball State from 2007 to 2015.

“DePaul is gaining an innovative leader with extensive experience in university administration and teaching,” said DePaul Provost Marten denBoer. “His passion for design combined with his breadth of knowledge of and appreciation for the liberal arts will strengthen our mission of academic excellence and service.”

As a university administrator, Vásquez de Velasco has dedicated much of his career in higher education to developing experiential learning opportunities for students across multiple disciplines. His training as an architect continues to inspire his work.

“Architects are natural collaborators,” Vásquez de Velasco said. “We build strong bridges between different areas of expertise without depreciating their individual distinctiveness. We celebrate our differences as a perennial source of creative richness. That is the key to multidisciplinary collaboration.”

At Ball State, Vásquez de Velasco led the only state-assisted college of architecture in Indiana. He set high academic standards by enrolling a freshman class with 94 percent of its students holding high school honors diplomas. As a result, the College of Architecture and Planning had the highest four-year graduation rate and the lowest attrition rate at the university. A strong supporter of experiential and service learning, he promoted high levels of engagement in the urban core of Indianapolis and a wide variety of study abroad programs.

Prior to joining Ball State, he was executive associate dean and director of outreach for the College of Architecture at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. He also has held teaching and research positions at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, the University of Toronto in Canada, as well as the University of Sagrado Corazon in Peru. He has been an independent practitioner of architecture with work in Peru, Belgium, and Texas.

Vásquez de Velasco earned his doctorate in architecture from Delft University of Technology and a master’s degree in architecture from the University of Toronto. He has a bachelor’s degree in architecture and urban planning from Ricardo Palma University.

From the development of cities to the creation of academic programs, he approaches all projects as a designer.

“Everything can be a subject of design, and in some measure everyone is a designer. We design all the time,” Vásquez de Velasco said. “At DePaul, we have an opportunity to design a 21st century college of liberal arts and social sciences that can serve as a global model. I am captivated by the many strengths of the college, and I am eager to start working in such an exciting environment.”

DePaul’s College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences currently enrolls 2,441 undergraduate students majoring in 28 degree programs and 811 graduate students in 19 degree programs. From design to archaeology to public health, the college offers a diverse range of opportunities for students in the humanities, social sciences, interdisciplinary studies and professional programs. Home to 10 centers and institutes, the college recently created the Center for Community Health Equity, a collaboration with Rush University Medical Center.

With more than 23,500 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 was founded in Chicago in 1898 by the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentians), a Roman Catholic religious community dedicated to following the ideals of St. Vincent de Paul, the 17th century priest for whom the university is named. 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 available at


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Kristin Claes Mathews