Remarks by the Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M., at the dedication of the Richard H. Driehaus College of Business
September 19, 2012
Good evening. It is my great honor today to be with all of you — our faculty, the many members of the professional staff, our students, all of those who are friends, alumni, supporters of this wonderful college, our trustees of the university who have worked so hard on our school’s behalf for so long, and my many colleagues from across DePaul University.
There’s a story I love to recall of President Garfield. While at a dinner of fellow Williams College alumni in 1871, he was asked for his view of the ideal education. Garfield had long thought highly of his former professor, then the long-serving president of Williams, and responded, "The ideal college is Mark Hopkins on one end of a log and a student on the other."
What he was saying, of course, is that an education best happens in that spark of a moment between a professor and a student. It’s that moment when students’ faces twist, because a new idea doesn’t line up with what they thought they knew of the world. It’s that "a-ha" moment when a student’s eyes shine. Or when their voices rise about something in the world that they hadn’t even known existed. Or the subtle self-confidence that emerges when they successfully demonstrate their learning.
It is wonderful to watch young people grow, and that’s exactly what President Garfield was thinking. He thought of what happens in that sacred space between extraordinary professors and their students. That moment happens every day in this building and in the many buildings that comprise DePaul University.
Today, we celebrate all those moments in a particular way — as a gift.
Several months ago, a few of us had a quiet dinner with Richard Driehaus to thank him for this gift, and he became somewhat reminiscent of his days as a student. He talked about Professor Muldoon, Professor Hayes and Professor Miller. He talked about what those men had been for him, and he spoke in very particular ways about each of them.
Memories of certain professors linger with all of us through a lifetime. That’s what Richard wants for the next generation at DePaul. That’s what his gift is. His gift is professors — excellent professors who can be there with students for the next generation just as they’ve been there in the past for him and for our students today. It is an extraordinary vision of what DePaul could be for them as it was for him.
But he’s given us something more. He’s given us his name — no small gift. Frankly, that’s an act of trust on his part and a great responsibility on ours.
People think of this ceremony at the beginning of the College’s 100th year as an honor for Richard perhaps, but, in fact, the honor is DePaul’s. You may know that Richard did not come to DePaul with a trust fund to pay for his education. Richard had to figure out how to finance his education. DePaul helped him to a degree, and yet there was never a day when he could let his guard down. There were no easy paths in his life. He had to scramble to land a first job. He had to scramble to build a business and to see that business through all kinds of different waves and cycles as the world shifted quickly. This is a man who has had to figure out each next step of his life and to build it — and to continue learning all the way.
It’s been a lifetime of learning that he’s always celebrated, that he embodies and that he regularly recommends to others. Keeping one’s eyes vigilantly open to what is current, while learning constantly from the wisdom of the past.
It is a lifetime, too, of sharing the fruits of his labors with many people around him. Many, many people in this world are blessed because of his big heart.
All of that comes with the name: the scramble to make a life; working hard every step of the way to educate himself and to do what it takes; making a difference in return to the world that has been good to him.
And Richard’s story aligns with many others in the DePaul community. Many, many of our students don’t start here with easy opportunities. They have to find their way, and they look to this university to help. It makes us incredibly proud to put Richard’s story as a name on our school, because of the hope and template it offers them.
The Driehaus name is held in respect precisely because it has earned that respect, and because we know the story and the life behind it. His name is held in respect because many within our community know the challenge behind that success all too well and personally, for it is their challenge, too.
It’s a name that has graced DePaul for many years, whether it was the professorship that already bears his name, the programs he has supported, his work as a trustee or his continued work as a life trustee. (For Richard has never truly left the university where he started). And it is a name we embrace for this beloved College of Business knowing the responsibility we now bear for all time.
And so, in the name of the Board of Trustees, in the name of the faculty and the community that comprise this wonderful college, in the name of all who have come through DePaul as students or will one day, it is with gratitude and with pride that I hereby rededicate the DePaul College of Commerce as the Richard H. Driehaus College of Business. Long may it flourish.