President Robert L. Manuel > Notes from Rob > 2022-23 > Moving Forward, Together
By Rob Manuel /
January 30, 2023 /
Among my first promises as DePaul’s president, I committed to deeply engage the questions of bias and equity that exist in our community. This engagement is particularly complex as our community is so diverse, our world’s problems are so deep, and there are many areas that call for our care and focus.
If we want to unlock our full potential to become THE national model for higher education, we must directly confront bias in all its forms, including but not limited to, gender bias, religious intolerance, homophobia, racism, and ableism.
As a first step, we must acknowledge that in our university’s 125-year history, there have been times or practices that did not live up to our Catholic, Vincentian values. In the early 1930s, our university archives show there were times when DePaul changed its admissions standards to discourage and even prevent African American and Black students from enrolling. Further, there also was a tradition of supporting minstrel shows earlier in our history where performers were in blackface on the stage. While the timing of these instances are far removed from our current context, the vestiges of what they represent remain part of our daily lives. My sincerest hope is that we do not uncover any more of these abhorrent past practices; however, for what we have and may discover over the years to come, I offer my deep and profound apology, and my pledge to address the obstacles and practices that remain. We are actively working as a community to fully understand our university’s history and promise to be transparent as we do so.
I do find solace in the work and commitment demonstrated by many people in our community to actively address issues of bias and equity. I have witnessed their work and heartfelt dedication to defining specific needs and programming. Building on discussions that began with my predecessor, I pledge to match their expertise and energy with the university support (which I have outlined below) required to deliver measurable outcomes.
I realize that these initial actions do not address all the diversity, equity, and inclusion questions in our community. As we develop our understanding of how we will design our university for the future, I promise our work will evolve to comprehensively eradicate racism and bias from our community. I do hope that you see these actions as concrete commitments and a real vote of confidence in all the work that has been done to date.
We must be bold and brave to ensure that every person who entrusts their scholarship or their career to DePaul has the possibility to live life to its fullest potential. Thank you for your continued work and dedication to making DePaul a unified and equitable university.