VISION twenty12: Thinking like Vincent
Published: Monday, October 10, 2011
Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 16:08
DePaul intends to become one of the finest, urban, Catholic universities of the
United States. Resolute in its Vincentian mission to make an extraordinary education
accessible, DePaul will focus its energies on creating nationally recognized, rigorous
programs of study; preparing women and men to be at the forefront of their chosen fields
as ethical and socially engaged leaders; and building the financial and operational
foundations to make our cherished mission permanent and truly effective.
Six years ago, the Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider stood before a room full of prominent DePaul faculty to discuss the university's next big initiative. "Plan anything you want," he said.
It was 2005, and the freshly-appointed university president was addressing DePaul's Strategic Planning Steering Committee. "No idea is off the table," he said. "If it will improve the academic quality of DePaul University, I'll go out and find the money to fund it."
Thus, VISION twenty 12 was born.
The Six Goals of VISION twenty12
Holtschneider says that most universities wishing to improve academic quality do so by become more selective – pruning the student body by raising the bar in the admission office. This was not, however, what Holtschneider and the planning committee had in mind for DePaul.
"Actually, it was quite the opposite," said Donald Casey, dean of the School of Music and member of the planning committee. "Because of our unique Catholic Vincentian mission, DePaul has historically valued diversity over selectivity," he said.
Within a year, the committee's plan was unanimously approved by the university's board of trustees, and VISION twenty 12: The Plan for Academic Enrichment was officially unveiled in May of 2006.
"In 2012, we will be academically deeper and financially stronger," Holtschneider said in a VISION twenty 12 announcement letter to the DePaul community. "We will have solidified our Catholic and Vincentian identity and secured our mission into the future."
The plan was based around six major goals that would be realized in six years. While the goals were less than explicit, each involved a subset of more specific objectives for university improvement.
"Sometimes you leave the language a little vague so that things can fit in later as the plan and the university evolve," Holtschneider said regarding the VISION twenty 12 goals.
Aside from detailing DePaul's institutional ambitions, the initiative proposed the construction of several stateof- the-art facilities around DePaul's Lincoln Park Campus, all of which would qualify for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.
The Lincoln Park Master Plan alone cited five major building projects, including a new Theatre School,
School of Music, academic building, art museum and extension of the outdoor campus Quad. While the plan involved unprecedented university development, it was not the first of its kind. The Vision 2006 initiative was drawing to a close when the committee announced VISION twenty 12, which was largely based upon its predecessor.
"The Vision 2006 strategic plan laid the groundwork for aggressive investment in faculty, programs and more than $300 million in new and upgraded facilities," said Holtschnieder, who was inaugurated as DePaul's president during the fourth year of the 2006 initiative and played a major role in its completion.
Like VISION twenty 12, the plan for 2006 involved numerous goals for institutional improvement. Its primary ambition, however, was to increase undergraduate enrollment and shape DePaul's national reputation as the largest private Catholic university in the country.
"Vision 2006 was all about growth," Holtschneider said. "VISION twenty 12, however, is about academic
quality and rebalancing this growth." The 2012 initiative aimed to achieve a 2:1 ratio of graduate to undergraduate students, as well as increase transfer enrollment, according to Holtschneider.
"DePaul intends to become one of the finest urban Catholic universities of the United States," reads the official VISION twenty 12 brochure. "Resolute in its Vincentian mission to make an extraordinary education accessible, DePaul will focus its energies … to make our cherished mission permanent and truly effective."
Five years later, sharing in the university's vision for 2012 requires far less imagination.
In a welcome letter published in DePaul's 2011 parent and family calendar, Holtschneider addresses the several major construction projects that new students will see underway on campus this year: "DePaul is creating new and improved facilities that emphasize quality, enabling our programs to use the latest techniques and technologies to prepare students to achieve their goals."
Costing more than $300 million in total, these new and improved facilities are hard to miss.
Students in the Colleges of Communication and Commerce are now accustomed to the Richard M. and Maggie C. Daley building (otherwise known as the 14 E. Jackson Blvd. building), acquired and renovated for the Loop campus in 2008. Science majors have been attending classes at the new Monsignor Andrew J. McGowan Science Building in Lincoln Park since it opened in 2009, becoming the first university science building in Illinois to receive Gold LEED certification.