Office of the President > Speeches & Communications > 2018-2019 > Academic convocation 2018

Academic convocation 2018

Remarks delivered by President A. Gabriel Esteban, Ph.D.​, at DePaul's annual academic convocation ceremony 
Aug. 30, 2018

Provost denBoer, Faculty Council President Professor Scott Paeth, cabinet members, Joint Council, distinguished faculty, staff and guests. I would ALSO like to welcome our new faculty and congratulate our newly promoted and tenured faculty. It is wonderful to be here this morning. I offer a special welcome to the Vincentian community. We are honored to be in your presence. 

Over the summer, my wife Josephine and I were blessed to have the opportunity to participate in the Vincentian Mission Institute trip to France. We walked in the footsteps of St. Vincent de Paul, guided by our distinguished Vincentian historian and university secretary, Father Ed Udovic. 

Fr. Ed,  even now, every time I go into a church I hear your voice and try to identify the church as maybe Romanesque with thick walls, small windows, and transverse arches, or maybe Gothic with thin walls, large windows and flying buttresses to support the roof. Am I right in describing our church as French Romanesque? 

On the tour, we also immersed ourselves in all things Vincentian. I got a sense for how St. Vincent and St. Louise operated – how they inspired others to help the poor, the hungry, the sick – those who had nowhere else to turn. St. Vincent was a true organizer. He also recognized that he couldn’t serve these groups without the funds to support them. 

I can empathize. 

Jo and I also had the opportunity to get to know our colleagues on faculty and staff. Their dedication to the mission, as demonstrated by their commitment to spending two years studying the life and works of St. Vincent de Paul and St. Louise De Marillac, is inspiring. 

My experiences with them on the Vincentian tour put me in the perfect state of mind to begin a new academic year. I feel energized. I’m fired up and ready to go. We are DePaul, and I am very, VERY proud to work alongside you – our talented faculty and staff. 

Let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work. In the words of the late Martin Luther King Jr., “The time is always right to do what is right…”

Provost denBoer highlighted some of the priorities in our new strategic plan, Grounded in Mission. There are a number of major initiatives that are already underway and some others which we will start work on immediately. 

Four of our current initiatives include: 
  • A Health Task force, 
  • A City Colleges partnership, 
  • A retention initiative which includes a seven-figure gift from an anonymous donor that will be matched by our strategic initiative funds,  and 
  • from another donor to fund 10, $5,000 scholarships a year targeting underrepresented groups in STEM fields. 
Moving forward we are creating three new groups:
  1. The DePaul Experience Working Group, which will be tasked with developing and implementing a strategy to create a greater sense of engagement among our students and school spirit on our campus.
  2. The Academic Calendar Task Force, which will study the feasibility of converting from the quarter system to a semester system.
  3. And the DePaul Tomorrow Task Force, will be charged with deliberating what our institution should look like 10, 20, 30 years from now. How large should we be and what is the proper mix of undergraduate versus graduate students, online vs. on site, are among the questions this group will address.
These are only a sampling of the major initiatives being launched under the strategic plan.

I hope you’ve been asking yourself where do I fit in? What is my role? 

In the weeks ahead, we will share more details about how each member of our DePaul community can get involved in the work that must be done to elevate DePaul to a position that is unequaled among urban universities in ensuring the success of a diverse community of learners.  I invite you to the State of University Address on October 4 at 11 a.m. for more details.

As I enter the second year of my presidency at DePaul, I remain humbled to be at the helm of this outstanding university. More than anything, I feel joyful and blessed.

Consider your many accomplishments:
  • The Fulbright Program listed DePaul among the top producers of award recipients in the country. Our students set a new university record for the number who were accepted by the prestigious program.
  • For the first time, the Peace Corps ranked DePaul among the top volunteer-producing colleges and universities. 
  • More than 90 percent of our 2017 graduates found jobs or were continuing their education within six months of graduation.
Many of our academic programs - and it's because of you - have received national recognition. As examples: our undergraduate program in Theater (BFA Acting) #24 as per The Hollywood Reporter; Digital Cinematic Arts #13 also per The Hollywood Reporter; Game Design # 7 according to Animation Career Review; Entrepreneurship is in the top 25, as per Entrepreneur magazine. At the graduate level, our Health Law program is ranked #16 in the country; online MS in Accountancy ranked #1.

And we received a record-number of freshman applications for this fall, leading to one of the largest, most diverse and most academically prepared freshman classes in our history.

DePaul is well on track to continue to excel. I have no doubt we will succeed. I believe in DePaul because I believe in you. I believe in your talents, your strengths, your dedication to give our students the very best. 

It’s true we have much work ahead of us. I have complete faith in your ability to continue to keep DePaul among the best. As we embark on our new strategic plan, we will make our ambitions a reality. 

I share the prayer of St. Vincent de Paul: “I pray that His Divine Goodness may accompany you, be your consolation along the way, your shade against the heat of the sun, your shelter in rain and cold, your soft bed in your weariness, your strength in your toil and finally, that He may bring you back in perfect health and filled with good works.”

I look forward to continuing our work together.

Thank you.
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