Remarks by the Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M., at the dedication of newly acquired 14 East Jackson Boulevard building
June 9, 2008
Good morning. I'm Father Dennis Holtschneider, president of DePaul University. I appreciate all of you joining us this morning for this very special celebration.
Ninety-five years ago, in 1913, Fr. Francis McCabe, DePaul’s third president brought DePaul’s commerce and law programs to the Loop to make classes easily available for those who were working in the city’s center. For many of the ensuing years, those classes were established in leased space on Lake Street.
In 1946, however, at the very first meeting of the newly established lay board of trustees, the trustees raised concerns about this location, and decided to establish a stronger and more permanent Loop presence. It took them 11 years, but in 1957, the university took a strong step of moving to Jackson Boulevard into what we now know as the Lewis Center. Additional buildings were added in time.
Today we make DePaul history again, as we expand our Loop presence with the purchase of the 18-story building across the street at 14 East Jackson Boulevard. Once home of the famous Lytton clothing store, the building is DePaul’s fifth acquisition along East Jackson, and one of eight major buildings that we now call home in the South Loop of this wonderful city.
Chicago is a spectacular city, and DePaul is deeply committed to supporting this city in every way possible. I am deeply grateful that my predecessors had the foresight to hold their ground when many businesses and organizations fled Chicago's urban core as it fell on hard times in the '60s, '70s and '80s. The South Loop was especially hard hit.
Nineteen years ago, DePaul saved the Blackstone Theatre from the wrecking ball, renamed it for Merle Reskin, and made it a centerpiece for our nationally known theatre school.
Fifteen years ago, we dedicated the DePaul Center, which had been an abandoned Goldblatt's department store. The $70 million restoration of the DePaul Center—the centerpiece of our Loop Campus—is a shining example of the kind of creative partnership with the city of Chicago that has breathed new life into the South Loop.
Four years ago, DePaul, Columbia and Roosevelt universities came together to build a 1,700-bed dormitory in the South Loop, giving the South Loop a 24-hour residential population, and successfully attracting, in turn, new businesses to locate in this area.
Today we commit to renovating and preserving another landmark of Chicago history. We are eager to continue investing in the Loop. We plan to invest millions to enhance the building's terra cotta exterior and prepare its interior spaces for the highest-quality educational uses.
I am proud that DePaul continues to play a leading role in the extraordinary revitalization of the South Loop, which has become the largest "college town" in Illinois, according to a 2005 study convened by DePaul and sponsored by the Greater State Street Council—now the Chicago Loop Alliance—and the Central Michigan Avenue Association. The South Loop Education Corridor teems with more than 50,000 college students from a variety of academic institutions.
It's critical that DePaul be at the heart of this great city because central to our identity and mission is our commitment to educate its young people and provide its businesses, community and arts organizations with well-prepared and high-achieving employees. We strive to be engaged with our community, a legacy and preeminent value of our patron, Vincent de Paul.
DePaul's first occupant of the 14 East Jackson Boulevard building will be the graduate program of our newly launched College of Communication, the third-largest provider of communication degrees in Illinois. Dean Jacqueline Taylor is with us today representing our newest college.
This college prepares students to craft and deliver messages across a variety of platforms, including face-to-face, print, audio, video, Web and the rapidly evolving world of social media.
Later, we anticipate that School for New Learning, which for 36 years has been Chicago's most innovative provider of adult education, will move into this new facility. SNL is continuing its track record of success the recent introduction of several new bachelor's and master's degree tracks. Dean Marisa Alicea is here today representing SNL.
These two academic units will be located in a lively neighborhood of prospering DePaul schools and colleges here in the South Loop. For example, our newly renamed College of Computing and Digital Media—which has seized on the rapid growth in digital cinema, animation and gaming—is now the largest graduate computing program in the nation.
The part-time MBA program in our Kellstadt Graduate School of Business is ranked in the top 10 by U.S. News & World Report and is among the largest MBA programs in the country. Our College of Law is ranked among the nation's 100 top law schools by U.S. News and is nationally renowned for its intellectual property and health law programs.
Dean Glen Weissenberger is here today representing the College of Law, which recently underwent a highly successful accreditation visitation. The preliminary results are very positive, but we’ve known for a long that it’s most pressing issue is acquiring more space to devote to its distinguished efforts.
This new building is our solution. It enables us to devote high-quality, high-visibility space SNL so richly deserves and allows the law school to expand further in the Lewis Center, SNL’s former home. A true win-win.
In the end, this is about more than simply making history. Today’s purchase of this historic property will enable DePaul to meet the growing needs of our students and help us better reach our strategic goal of becoming one of the nation's top urban, Catholic universities.
I sincerely appreciate all of you coming out this morning to help celebrate the start of a dynamic new chapter in DePaul's long and successful Loop presence. We are honored and grateful to be an ever-growing part of this world-class city.
God bless you and God bless DePaul.