In dedicating the new Hillel Center on our Lincoln Park Campus this fall we are reminded that DePaul is not just a diverse community; it is a community of religious conviction.
There are places on campus for Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Christians and others to gather and pray. We provide numerous opportunities for religious observance and practice. Religion is important and is an important of the intellectual inquiry and dialogue at DePaul. This is not a state university where religion is not discussed. At DePaul, religion can be debated, embraced, studied, questioned and honored—all within an intellectual purpose that seeks to integrate all religious beliefs with the human search for truth and meaning.
It is a rare day that the front page of the Chicago Tribune or the New York Times does not report on some part of the world where religion is playing a deciding role. At DePaul, an institution that takes religion seriously, we are proud that we can speak about and study the intersection of religion and the great human and social questions. We have great respect for the ways that people search for meaning in their lives. Students in particular can find a home here for these formative conversations during the years when such questions are of such importance.
DePaul has long treasured its close and strong relationship with the Chicago-area Jewish community. DePaul was founded in the late 1800's, a time in which the city of Chicago was facing a significant wave of new immigrants that brought many poorer European populations—largely Catholic and Jewish—to the city. At that time the University of Chicago and Northwestern University only accepted a few Catholics and Jews into their student bodies each year, so DePaul was founded so that all students in Chicago—regardless of religion—could attend college.
Recently, the Princeton Review named DePaul as the most diverse university in the nation, not simply for the breadth of our religious, racial and ethnic diversity, but also because it determined that DePaul was the most intentional and successful in bringing diverse groups into one community. We're very proud of that.
Hillel has been a blessing to our campus and to our students for these past years. With a new physical home for DePaul Hillel, we are able to give our Jewish students a place to interact, to find one another among this large student body, to study their tradition, to come together in prayer and solidarity, and to strengthen them as a community.
The students themselves designed the space, working with their Hillel leadership. We asked them to tell us what they needed and desired, and thankfully, we were able to provide everything on their list. May the partnership that was begun by our forebears in 1898 continue and flourish for many, many years to come.