2019 President's Report

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Leading the way

Letter from the President

At DePaul University, our faith in the transformative power of education inspires an ambitious path forward. Over the past year we’ve achieved important goals, strengthening our urban, Catholic, Vincentian roots while setting our sights on an even brighter future.

Introduction & Welcome

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 power 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, PhD

Bringing Our Mission to Life

From increasing access to scholarships to engaging in global efforts to eradicate homelessness, DePaul took action on several fronts in the 2018-19 academic year to sustain and strengthen our Catholic, Vincentian identity.

Service Hours

Every year, DePaul students complete hundreds of thousands of service hours. More than 3,400 students take service-learning courses on an annual basis. When they graduate from DePaul, our alumni carry forward this commitment to serving communities around the world.

In 2018-19 DePaul alumni who enrolled in the peace corps volunteered in 15 countries around the world,
including China, Mongolia, Madagascar, Senegal, Botswana and Ukraine.


For the second year in a row, the Peace Corps named DePaul to its list of
Top Volunteer-producing Colleges and Universities

Chicago Promise Scholarship & Catholic Heritage Scholarship

In November 2018, DePaul strengthened its commitment to students in Illinois.

The Chicago Promise Scholarship and Catholic Heritage Scholarship will each provide $20,000 to any Chicago Public School or Illinois Catholic high school graduate who has a grade point average of 3.7 or higher and is admitted to DePaul as a full-time freshman. DePaul awarded these scholarships to more than 250 incoming freshmen who started their studies in fall 2019.

“DePaul’s faith in the transformative power of education is longstanding and undiminished. These scholarships effectively bring the tuition of a high-quality private university to a level that is close to the published tuition and fees of the state’s flagship public university, allowing these students to live, study and work in the world-class city of Chicago while benefiting from all the opportunities that DePaul students enjoy.

– A. Gabriel Esteban, PhD

Institute Of Global Homelessness

DePaul’s Institute of Global Homelessness supports advocates worldwide who are addressing the issue of street homelessness. IGH and its partners have been advocating for the United Nations to address the issue in a more prominent way. On February 22, IGH achieved a huge victory when the U.N.’s Commission for Social Development announced that “affordable housing and social protection for all to address homelessness” will be a priority theme at its meetings in 2020.

“There’s a unique role that we can play, with our data and research, as well as the wealth of knowledge from our community of partners,” says Lydia Stazen, executive director of IGH. “We will bring all of that to bear to make this year as meaningful as possible.”

DePaul is home to nearly 24,000 students, but not all our students have a home.
Every quarter, approximately 50 currently enrolled students are housing-insecure.

Dax House

Closer to home, DePaul USA’s Dax Program has worked to provide housing-insecure DePaul students with a place to call home. The Dax Program, named after the town in France where St. Vincent de Paul attended school, collaborates with DePaul to assist housing-insecure students. Located in Chicago’s Ukranian Village and near Midway Airport, the two Dax Houses offer housing-insecure students a place where they can study, cook and hang out in a home designated specifically for them. These homes provide more than just shelter. Dax House is a place where DePaul students can feel welcomed–a place that’s truly their own.

So far, the Dax Program has assisted more than 40 students. Fourteen have graduated from DePaul and more than 30 remain enrolled in school. Several of those enrolled students no longer require housing assistance.

“In the short amount of time we’ve provided a home for these students, we’ve already seen a huge improvement in their grades simply because they have a space to study, relax, read and sleep.”

– Abe Morris
Director of the Dax Program

Wicked Problems, DePaul Solutions

More than 86,000 Chicagoans were homeless in 2017, according to an estimate from the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. One DePaul course, held during the 2019 spring quarter, evoked the university’s namesake—St. Vincent de Paul—in asking “what must be done” to help the university community play a greater role in addressing this issue.

The brainchild of Guillermo Vásquez de Velasco, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, “Multidisciplinary Strategic Thinking for Wicked Problems: The Homelessness Case Study,” examined how critical, systems and design thinking might be used to take a second look at complex societal problems like homelessness.

Several student class project ideas focused on a “housing first” model. The main concept: provide permanent housing to those experiencing homelessness as a springboard to then begin addressing other issues such as joblessness and substance abuse.

To help shape the multidisciplinary approach to the homelessness discussion, Vásquez de Velasco recruited all of his fellow DePaul deans to lead a class discussion. Each dean led a class during the 11-week course, bringing his or her own areas of expertise to the classroom discussion.

Growing with Chicago

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 ethos of service.

DePaul Harold Washington Academy Partnership

In 2018, DePaul and City Colleges of Chicago announced the establishment of the DePaul Harold Washington Academy, a first-of-its-kind partnership to provide Chicago students with an affordable pathway to a bachelor’s degree.

The DePaul Harold Washington Academy is located on the university’s Loop Campus, and Harold Washington College faculty teach the classes. The combination of the two gives students the opportunity to take advantage of DePaul’s campus resources, while earning an associate degree from Harold Washington College.

Students who complete an associate degree will be offered admission to DePaul at the end of the program, providing a seamless transfer between the two institutions.

“This initiative continues our longstanding commitment to Chicago Public Schools students and the city of Chicago.”

– A. Gabriel Esteban, PhD

DePaul’s Soundstage at Cinespace Chicago Film Studios

Distinguishing itself from all other film programs in the United States through an alliance with Cinespace Chicago Film Studios, DePaul’s School of Cinematic Arts boasts a 35,000-square-foot facility on the city’s west side.

At DePaul Cinespace Studios, students learn filmmaking techniques from highly accomplished faculty and staff, on industry-standard equipment, steps away from high-profile network productions filming on site.

DePaul students and alumni have had opportunities to work 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.” Film and television was the top major declared by incoming freshmen in 2018.

The Art of Comedy

In fall 2018, The Second City and DePaul began collaborating to expand comedy education. DePaul’s School of Cinematic Arts now offers comprehensive new undergraduate and graduate programs 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 attend classes at The Second City, as well as within DePaul’s expansive studio and classroom facilities at DePaul Cinespace Studios. Classes include the evolution of comedy, improvisation and directing.

“Together, DePaul and Second City will merge the crafts of comedy storytelling and filmmaking into the most comprehensive program of its kind.”

– Gary Novak
Director, DePaul School of Cinematic Arts

Variety included DePaul on its list of
Top 50 film schools in the nation.

Doing Good, Going Global

Informed by the Vincentian ethic and a rigorous curriculum that blends theory with real-world practice, DePaul students and alumni are global citizens prepared to work, succeed and engage with the complexities of today’s world.

Global Learning Experience

Bringing students from around the world together using technology is the idea behind DePaul’s Global Learning Experience. The initiative, known as GLE, enables faculty and students to collaborate on joint projects and interact with classrooms in other countries without the time and expense of travel. To date, faculty have taught 100 GLE courses, giving 1,800 DePaul students the opportunity to connect with international classrooms in 26 different countries.

Faculty have taught 100 gle courses, giving 1,800 depaul students the opportunity to connect with international classrooms in 26 different countries.


2,730 international Students from 117 Countries enrolled at Depaul during the 2018-19 Academic year.


1,200 DePaul students participated in a study abroad program in 39 different countries during the 2018-19 academic year.

Fulbright Scholarships

The Fulbright Program, which gives young scholars the opportunity to study and conduct research in more than 140 countries worldwide, awarded five DePaul students grants during the 2018-19 academic year. A Fulbright scholarship provides a full year of academic funding for recipients to live and conduct research overseas.

Over the past three academic years, DePaul has produced 19 Fulbright recipients. That growing number is in part due to the faculty support every student receives throughout the application process.

“DePaul has bright, hardworking students who are competitive applicants,” says Phillip Stalley, DePaul’s Fulbright program advisor and associate professor of political science in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. “As a teaching-oriented university, DePaul also has many faculty who are willing to serve on the Fulbright Campus Committee and work with our students on their applications. All of these efforts result in DePaul continuously producing several award recipients.”

Ten depaul students
won the highly competitive fulbright, boren or critical language scholarships
in 2018-19.

Students Gather Human Rights Testimonies in Kenya

Eleven DePaul Law students, from the International Human Rights Law Practicum (IHRLP), visited Kakuma, Kenya to collect testimonies from Anuak refugees who were victims of a 2003 massacre, suffered at the hands of the Ethiopian state military and the Highlanders ethnic group.

“Since the massacre, the Ethiopian state has failed to acknowledge its occurrence and the international community has done little to address the atrocities committed,” says Elisabeth Ward, executive director of the International Human Rights Law Institute and professor of the IHRLP.

Ward and her students helped ensure that the testimonies collected from 18 Anuak women who were victims of sexual violence, were gathered according to international best practice and prevented re-traumatization.

This documentation was used to prepare an individual complaint for submission to the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, a quasi-judicial body that works to promote and protect human and collective peoples’ rights throughout the continent.

“These experiences are not only beneficial for our students, but also serve communities of people that feel completely ignored by the international community,”

– Elisabeth Ward
Executive Director, International Human Rights Law Institute & Professor, International Human Rights Law Practicum

For the second year in a row,
The Peace Corps named DePaul to its list of 
Top volunteer-producing college colleges and universities

Excelling, Creating, Discovering

DePaul has grown in stature and reputation thanks to its talented, dedicated faculty, state-of-the-art learning facilities, experiential and innovative educational opportunities and, above all, an engaged and enthusiastic community. Through our responsive, innovative approach to addressing emerging challenges faced by both students and society, DePaul has become a leader in educating the problem-solvers of tomorrow.

Presidential Fellows Program

The new Presidential Fellows program, launched in fall 2018, seeks to move the university closer to its vision as a place where all faculty, staff and students are affirmed, feel included and have equal access to opportunities to achieve their goals.

The appointment of Christina Rivers, associate professor of political science, and Alyssa Westring, associate professor of management and entrepreneurship, as the inaugural Presidential Fellows will help bring that vision to life. Rivers will launch an intense effort for diverse faculty and students to form strong bonds through research and a post-prison higher education initiative. Westring will evaluate DePaul’s culture to identify opportunities to enhance the engagement, retention and career advancement for women and faculty of color.

Academic Growth and Innovation Fund

The spark that lights the flame of innovation starts from within.

In order to encourage and support faculty ideas, the Academic Growth and Innovation Fund awarded $2.1 million to 15 projects in 2018-19. These projects range from an Urban Studies Cluster to a game design studio to a cybersecurity competition. Due to positive response from across the university, from faculty and staff, endowed funds have been designated to support the Academic Growth and Innovation Fund in future years.

“We created the Academic Growth and Innovation Fund to find, encourage and support creative ideas that will have a positive revenue impact within the next three years.”


– A. Gabriel Esteban, PhD

Holtschneider Performance Center Unveiled in Lincoln Park

For decades, DePaul University has been a staple in Chicago’s performing and fine arts community. In 2018 the university solidified its presence as one of the world’s foremost conservatories with the completion of the new home for DePaul’s School of Music-the Holtschneider Performance Center.

This state-of-the-art facility accommodates the technical and aesthetic requirements of the world’s best teachers and students.

The School of Music at DePaul is an international center for artistic and technical training in the musical arts and a vibrant element of Chicago’s cultural life. On any given night, DePaul faculty, students and alumni play in ensembles that showcase their talents in a wide variety of musical genres. This world-class training and performance facility is the new home of the School of Music, and hosts nearly 300 public performances throughout the year.

“The Holtschneider Performance Center is a finely-honed, world-class home for educating the next generation of musicians and music professionals.”

– Ronald Caltabiano, DMA
Dean, School of Music

In celebration of the new building, Itzhak Perlman, the reigning virtuoso of the violin, performed with the DePaul Symphony Orchestra.

Applying Skills to The Real World

At DePaul, our graduates are ready to contribute immediately, succeed professionally and are undaunted by scale or complexity.

DePaul students and graduates face a constantly evolving job market. Globalization, consolidation and rapidly changing technology are but a few of the forces influencing the marketplace, disrupting entire industries and redefining career paths in ways not many would have predicted even just a few years ago.

Approximately 60 percent of reporting students from the Class of 2018 completed at least one internship during their time at DePaul. By 2025, our goal is to have 85 percent of our students complete an internship.Preparing students to navigate and thrive in this environment requires an integrated and comprehensive effort. Led by the Career Center, in partnership with academic departments and other campus units, DePaul has embarked on a series of bold strategies to ensure students are poised to take on the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century workforce.

2025 goal: 85% of DePaul students complete an internship.

DePaul has embarked on a series of bold strategies to ensure students are poised to take on the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century workforce.

Student Success Coaching

This year, 21 upper-level undergraduate and graduate student served as mentors for first-year students invited to take part in the new Student Success Coaching program.

Meant to augment the various existing advising and mentoring programs and services at DePaul, the Student Success Coaching program is rooted in the university’s strategic plan and goals related to student retention. The program is one way DePaul is increasing resources and services related to retention in order to bring the institution’s already higher-than-average first year retention rate to 90 percent.

About 200 students met with their success coaches at more than 300 appointments in the fall quarter alone.

The Student Success Coaching program is funded through a generous gift made by an anonymous donor, as well as an allocation from the Grounded in Mission fund.

“New students hear a lot during orientation and the Chicago Quarter about the many resources available to them at DePaul, and it can be overwhelming. Our job is to listen to their challenges or goals, and to remind them of and direct them to appropriate resources at DePaul.”

– Jack G., Student Coach
College of Science and Health

Investing in Our Future

A sustainable financial foundation is necessary for the realization of DePaul’s mission and educational aspirations. The university is poised to employ bold approaches to ensure DePaul’s continued fiscal strength for future generations.

Endowment Performance

At DePaul, endowment support primarily provides funding for financial aid and academic programs, two critical areas of ongoing need. One of the major financial goals or our Grounded in Mission strategic plan is to grow our endowment to a market value that is consistent with the university’s size and credit rating—$1 billion by the end of fiscal 2024.

The performance of our endowment for fiscal year 2019 (July 1, 2018—June 30, 2019) helps us get closer to that goal. The endowment produced approximately a 4.7 percent rate of return. Thanks to the foresight of a growing number of endowment donors, strong investment performance, and the board-approved transfer of $70 million of operating cash and other reserves, the fund ended the fiscal year at an all-time high of $697 million, up from $592 million the prior year.

This market value reflects steady progress toward the university’s goal of achieving a $1 billion endowment that will meet both the current income and the long-term capital growth needs of a school of our size. Building and maintaining the endowment’s market value will ensure financial stability and, ultimately, increase the funds available to carry out DePaul’s mission.

Ended the fiscal year at an all-time high of $697 million

The Power of Philanthropy

Since its founding, DePaul has grown in stature and reputation through its dedicated, talented faculty; state-of-the-art learning facilities; experiential and innovative educational opportunities; and above all, an engaged, enthusiastic community. At DePaul, we are called to do good, and to do it well. Year after year, support from students, alumni, faculty, staff, parents, friends, corporations and foundations helps DePaul provide an outstanding educational experience and meaningful financial aid for our students, recruit and retain the finest faculty, and expand and enhance programs and facilities. In fiscal year 2019, our generous community of donors contributed $26.5 million toward helping DePaul provide a world-class education for all students.

Our generous community
of donors contributed

$26.5 million

The Work Ahead

DePaul must achieve its enrollment and revenue goals in a competitive environment where affordability and value for students are paramount. However, no university has ever become great by depending on tuition alone. It also requires a sharpened focus on the profitability of our portfolio of programs and the prioritization of our purposes. We will continue to work diligently in the coming years to employ sound fiscal, and operational strategies to reduce costs, improve efficiencies, remain an employer of choice, reallocate resources in light of strategic priorities, and reduce tuition dependence by building our endowment and increasing philanthropic support.

Paving a Bold Path

Inspired by the commitment of our extended DePaul family—including our students, alumni and beneficiaries—the university is prepared to lead a new way forward, ensuring a diverse community of students dedicated to answering the call of “What must be done?”

Looking Forward

In the year ahead, we will continue to elevate DePaul’s academic profile.

We are in the midst of developing a comprehensive portfolio of academic programs in health-related professions: a bachelor’s in nursing, graduate certificates in nursing practice, as well as graduate programs in occupational therapy and speech language pathology. We are also exploring physical therapy and physician assistant graduate programs. These new offerings will not only meet student demands, they also will fulfill workforce and societal needs, as articulated in our strategic plan—Grounded in Mission: The Plan for DePaul 2024.

Our hope is to cultivate a new generation of civic-minded, well-rounded leaders who will address some of our most pressing global issues–from migration and displacement to commerce and environmental sustainability.

These new programs pave a path forward to achieve our vision: one where DePaul will be unequaled among urban universities in ensuring the success of a diverse community of learners.

Within the next ten years, we aim for DePaul to be recognized among private urban universities as one of the:

Top 50
National universities

Top 10
National universities for pell-aid awarded

Top 5
Catholic universities

Our strategic plan maps the journey ahead. It charts an ambitious course. Yet it remains true to who we are and what we stand for at DePaul.

Every day, I feel grateful for the dedication and support of our extended DePaul family. Thank you for all that you do for our university. I look forward to continuing our work together.



A. Gabriel Esteban, PhD