2019 President's Report

Leading the way

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Leading the way

Letter from the President

At DePaul University, we believe tomorrow is defined by the dreamers and the doers. The believers who start small, and go big. Over the past year, we’ve achieved our most important goals—and set our sights on an even brighter future.

The very first time I set foot on DePaul’s campus, I immediately wanted to be a member of this university community.

I remember my first visit clearly. DePaul students had recently voted in favor of a referendum to increase fees. They volunteered to raise the activity fee by $2 in order to establish a scholarship for undocumented students. I thought to myself: any university that has students who voluntarily increase the fees they pay in order to help their peers is where I want to be.

As I serve in my third year as DePaul’s president, I remain honored to work alongside a community that doesn’t just uphold its Catholic and Vincentian mission. DePaul’s alumni, faculty, staff and students live the mission – every single day.

Giving people of all ethnicities and backgrounds the opportunity to earn a college education has been at the core of DePaul’s mission since it first opened its doors nearly 125 years ago. The mission to serve the public good has always resonated deeply with my own beliefs.

As immigrants from the Philippines, my wife, Josephine, and I personally experienced the transformative power of higher education. We were blessed to have the opportunity to continue our graduate studies in the United States. Higher education opened new doors for us, and my greatest hope is to give DePaul students the same opportunity I received.

In the first year of my presidency at DePaul, I had the pleasure of collaborating with talented faculty, staff and administrators to create a new strategic plan, called Grounded in Mission. Last year, the period of time captured in this report, we began to implement it.

In these pages, I invite you to read about DePaul’s recent achievements. You will learn about new scholarship programs for high-achieving students in Chicago’s Catholic and public schools. You will discover how our Academic Growth and Innovation Fund has resulted in new interdisciplinary programs. You will understand our vision for the future. This publication not only highlights our progress, it also shares the stories of alumni and students who have experienced the transformative nature of a DePaul education.

In the 2019-20 academic year, our momentum continues. Guided by our strategic plan, we forge ahead on a path that ensures the success of a diverse community of learners. We take one step closer to a destination where DePaul is unequaled among U.S. urban universities. I hope you will join us on the journey.

A. Gabriel Esteban, Ph.D.
President

Practicing Our Purpose

Our Mission

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Throughout its history, DePaul University has provided a world-class education to a diverse body of talented students regardless of financial means. As S. Vincent de Paul’s mission once grew in scale and impact, DePaul’s growth into one of the most influential Catholic universities in America exemplifies how a mission-driven institution responds to pressing human problems and transforms communities through education, collective engagement, and innovation.

Guided by our Catholic, Vincentian, and urban mission, we continue to strengthen what makes DePaul unique: respected academics, real-world knowledge, and a commitment to social responsibility, all informed by the place we call home—the urban and multicultural city of Chicago. The university’s distinctive mission establishes a strong foundation of inclusive liberal-arts education, religious pluralism, and social justice—responsibilities that endure in the life of the university today. Each member of the DePaul community helps fulfill this educational and societal mission. Our distinguished faculty, both full-time and part-time, and dedicated staff contribute to students’ learning inside and outside the classroom. We share a primary and enduring commitment to the education of underserved populations, including students who are first-generation, low-income, immigrants or students of color, affording them the opportunity to make a difference in the trajectory of their lives and communities.

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At DePaul, our teaching, scholarship, creative work, and public service must have transformative impact beyond the academy. DePaul has been deeply engaged with Chicago for more than a century to the benefit of our city and our students. Students’ learning is shaped by a city that is a vital node in the global economic system and home to vibrant immigrant communities. Mastering curricula that blend theory with practice, our graduates are prepared to work, succeed, and contribute in the global community. Through classes, research, and service, students engage the complexities of today’s world—the effects of globalization, growing inequality, economic instability, and changing sociopolitical climates, all amplified by the digital revolution—and are empowered to develop solutions. DePaul students, faculty, and staff bridge divides through a collective vision of collaboration, building entrepreneurial and productive partnerships across disciplines, institutions, industries, and geographies. In all we do, we recognize that meaningful inclusion of diverse voices strengthens our teaching, research, service, and outreach.


Students’ ability to access and obtain a high-quality education is integral to our shared work of fostering an equitable society. We embrace the ideals of lifelong learning and a vibrant culture of intellectual and creative discovery that contribute to the university and the greater community. We live in a world defined by rapid technological change. We prepare our students to thrive in a digital economy, unleashing their creativity to meet the challenges of a dynamic society. What is true for our students and alumni is also true for us as educators; we, too, must continually evolve as scholars, makers, mentors, and teachers as technology and the science of learning transform our work.

Our Catholic and Vincentian tradition calls on us to be leaders who make a better world while stewarding our resources, so we continue these important efforts throughout DePaul’s second century.

Reshaping Chicago

Impact on the City

Since its founding, DePaul has flourished along with its city. DePaul has both shaped and been shaped by Chicago, responding to the needs of students and society at large by developing a professional workforce poised to address the social, economic, scientific and educational concerns of our city and beyond. DePaul’s urban, multicultural perspective drives innovative programs with deep ties to Chicago that reflect the university’s Vincentian values of service. It is DePaul’s mission to instill those values in its students and faculty as they make excellence a watchword for their future endeavors.

Distinguishing itself from all other film programs in the United States and formed in alliance with Cinespace Chicago Film Studios, DePaul’s School of Cinematic Arts (SCA) boasts a 35,000-square-foot facility on the city’s west side include three professional soundstages, green screen cycloramas, a 3-ton grip truck and high-end editing suites and mixing studios.

At DePaul Cinespace Studios, SCA students learn filmmaking crafts and techniques from highly accomplished faculty and staff on industry-standard equipment mere steps away from high-profile network productions filming on the Cinespace Studios lot. Both SCA students and alumni have found ample opportunities working on hit television shows, including Fox’s “Empire” and “Proven Innocent”; Showtime’s “Shameless” and “The Chi”; NBC’s “Chicago Fire,” “Chicago PD,” and :Chicago Med”; Comedy Central’s “South Side”; and HBO’s “Lovecraft Country.

“Usually, Chicago is used as a backdrop in film, and the ideas and money come from elsewhere. What’s changing now is that we have the opportunity to develop the ideas and scripts here, and we have the means to oversee post-production and distribute the final product. It’s very empowering for our city to be able to offer that,” said filmmaker Dan Klein, an assistant professor in the School of Cinematic Arts.

About a dozen DePaul alumni, students, faculty and staff were involved in making the first season of “South Side”—from producers to actors. Kevin McGrail was one of the first students to graduate from DePaul with a master’s degree in digital cinema. Now he’s producer of “The Shop” by HBO Sports. 

“When you are making a show so quickly like we were, it’s often hard to provide many of the needed amenities,” says McGrail. He connected with his classmate and DePaul Cinespace director John Corba to set up some filming days on DePaul’s sets. 

“I like the fact that I have alumni and faculty to work alongside with in Chicago. Ten years ago, there were very few working DePaul alumni in the industry. Jump to today and we are able to staff many different types of shows with new and seasoned alumni,” McGrail says. 

In addition, The Second City and DePaul University are collaborating to expand comedy education. Starting in fall 2018, DePaul’s School of Cinematic Arts began offering comprehensive new undergraduate and graduate degrees in comedy filmmaking:

  • Master of Fine Arts in screenwriting with a concentration in comedy
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts in film and television with a concentration in comedy filmmaking
  • Minor in comedy filmmaking

Students will attend classes at The Second City, as well as within DePaul’s expansive studio and classroom facilities at Cinespace Chicago Film Studios.

Classes offered to DePaul students will include:

  • DNA of The Second City
  • Evolution of Comedy
  • Comedy Improvisation for Filmmakers
  • The Comedy Director at Work

“Second City has been nurturing comedic talent in Chicago for nearly sixty years. Two years ago, in starting the Harold Ramis Film School, we successfully expanded our approach to attracting and developing nascent screenwriters and directors. By partnering with DePaul, we will now have the opportunity to teach an even broader range of students comedy in an accredited environment,” said Second City CEO Andrew Alexander.

“Together, DePaul and Second City will merge the crafts of comedy storytelling and filmmaking into the most comprehensive program of its kind. The curriculum will give students the opportunity to create, develop and showcase their comedic writing and directing from the script to the screen,” said Gary Novak, director of DePaul’s School of Cinematic Arts.

The Second City’s Harold Ramis Film Schoolwas named in honor of the late Second City and “SCTV alumnus Harold Ramis, creator of iconic comedies ranging from “Ghostbusters to “Groundhog Day.” The world’s only film school dedicated entirely to comedy, the institution’s faculty, master class guest lecturers and advisory board include some of the film industry’s top names.

“I’m happy to know that the partnership with DePaul will allow even more emerging comedic minds to learn and build under the legacy of Harold Ramis and The Second City. There’s a special skill to being a collaborative and innovative filmmaker with an eye for comedy. Harold did this exceptionally well, and I feel confident that with our colleagues at DePaul will continue to help foster the next generation of talent,” said Trevor Albert, Harold Ramis Film School chair.