Based on the DePauw 2020 plan, our campus of the future will — pending funding and inevitable revision — look like a more elite university.
We want to make sure the DePauw experience of the future, however, avoids blind imitation and strengthens DePauw's distinguishing features — accessible outlets for students' passions, meaningful faculty-student relationships, and fun, diverse social communities.
Here's the challenge: how does DePauw avoid imitating the programming, character, student body and faculty personality of the lofty institutions it is emulating? How do we identify DePauw's best, most unique characteristics and develop them?
That's fundamentally the administration and its consultants' jobs. Their vision should be more nuanced and comprehensive than students'. But we see core values of DePauw that separate us from other elite schools.
Students find and develop their passions here. Freshmen can walk into almost any student organization and contribute — whether it's economic, political, scientific, environmental, journalistic, artistic or otherwise. They prove themselves as motivated leaders, and still others branch out and start their own organizations. No doubt this passionate growth happens at other campuses, but we do it so well that it's an essential feature to maintain and develop.
Faculty-student relationships are unusually strong here on multiple levels. Many students graduate with faculty members as close friends. Some faculty members consider students their professional, intellectual peers and seek input on research or creative work. Others become post-graduate transition mentors.
And the vast majority of students graduating from DePauw say they thoroughly enjoyed their social lives, aside from greek life and our reputation as a party school. Even in small-town, Midwest America, students graduate with close friends from various classes, states, countries, races and beliefs.
Campus redesigns were critical turning points for the reputations of Davidson University, Johns Hopkins University and others in recent decades, President Brian Casey said. DePauw may very well be next.
We want to visit in 15 years and recognize it as a better version of the place we left behind.