President Robert L. Manuel > Notes from Rob > 2023-24 > kicking-off-new-academic-year

Kicking off a new academic year

​Welcome to the 2023-24 academic year! Today marks the first day of fall classes, and I'm thrilled to kick off my second year with DePaul University. I know many of you share my excitement as our community reassembles, and to those joining our community for the first time, we hope you already feel at home. I encourage you to pause and take it all in - the learnings to embrace, the opportunities to define a path forward, and the connections you will undoubtedly make and take from the classroom to the world.​

To ensure everyone can succeed on that journey, we just announced an initiative to develop a new retention strategy that will help every DePaul student cross the finish line and earn their degree within four years. Throughout this academic year, I will share regular updates about how we're working to optimally support our students.

Last fall, I shared a bold vision to transform DePaul into a national leader in higher education. Over the past year, we enjoyed the opportunity to partner with members of the DePaul community to kick off Designing DePaul, our collaborative approach to build a meaningful roadmap to guide our future visions.

All the initiatives described in the Designing DePaul report will visibly move forward this academic year. Throughout the year, you can expect to receive regular progress reports from both me and leaders across the university. In September, we will launch a new initiatives website that will provide a visual timeline – a digital version of the paper copy distributed at last week's convocation ceremony. This website will also serve as a hub for all related communications, and I will share it with you as soon as it is available.

We hosted interactive Designing DePaul sessions for more than 3,000 students, parents, faculty, staff, trustees, alumni, and retirees, to ensure the many voices that make up our community were heard. We learned a great deal from these sessions and uncovered three things that need to be present in everything we do - which forms the foundation we will use to demonstrate we are a Catholic, Vincentian institution.

  1. A devotion to understanding and including mission in all we do
  2. Intentionally demonstrating our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion
  3. Continuing practices that keep us financially stable
These principles will serve as our bedrock for all our initiatives moving forward as we work to:
  • Launch three interdisciplinary institutes focused on poverty, environmental sustainability, and artificial intelligence
  • Create and deploy a new digital presence to help students, faculty, and staff share the DePaul story with the world and connect with one another
  • Better support wellbeing, offering health insurance for all degree-seeking students starting fall 2024
  • Address campus safety, which includes a Safet​y Summit​ on Sept. 14
  • Eliminate the retention and graduation achievement gaps between our Black, Hispanic, Asian and White students within 10 years

Transforming DePaul into the national leader in higher education requires expanding our philanthropic efforts. We will begin this year by launching two targeted campaigns focused on academics and athletics. Successful athletic accomplishments will raise DePaul's profile and reputation, while elevating our academic enterprise will expand elite educational opportunities for all students and support the aspirations of our faculty. Next year, we will launch a highly ambitious comprehensive campaign that will further increase funding for student scholarships and the academic work of our university.

We're designing our future together, and I hope you will lend your unique voice to our ongoing work. Review the Designing DePaul results and provide feedback by Sept. 30. We will review and incorporate comments and finalize the report in October.

I welcome your thoughts and questions at any time. I can be reached at, and I look forward to hearing from you throughout the academic year. You also can follow me on Instagram @prezdepaul

I feel incredibly blessed to walk alongside you as we build a better future for DePaul and create a national model for quality in higher education - one we can all be part of and proud of. 

I wish each of you a successful and joyful year ahead!​