On May 10, President Lori White and Board of Trustees Chairman Doug Smith discussed on-campus housing renovation plans and student experience improvements during a media session with The DePauw and WGRE. The session follows a series of meetings among the Board of Trustees from May 8 to 10 about the recently established Housing Renewal Task Force and the execution of the Exemplary Student Experience goal of the 2027 Bold and Gold Strategic Plan. 

The Housing Renewal Task Force, co-chaired by Vice President for Student Affairs John Mark Day and Vice President for Finance and Administration Andrea Young, aims to address students’ concerns about the quality, accessibility, and affordability of on-campus housing. The task force consists of a Short-term Committee for immediate residential improvements, a Long-Term Subcommittee for conceptualizing a comprehensive housing plan, and a Finance Subcommittee for funding strategies.

White said the administration continues to explore common funding options among higher education systems. First is bond funding, which involves borrowing external funds that will be paid back using students’ housing payments. 

“Another [option] is what's called a public-private partnership, where you work with a company that you lease the land to and they come and build the housing for you,” White added. “[We want to] do it in a way that doesn't increase the amount of money that the university owes, and do it in a way that's financially feasible for both the university and for students.”

The Housing Renewal Task Force continues to analyze housing concerns and suggestions from a university-wide housing survey emailed to students on May 3. The timeline for renovations will be determined based on financing strategies for each residence hall.

Ten student representatives also attended meetings with the Board of Trustees to discuss improvements toward the “Exemplary Student Experience” goal in the 2027 Bold and Gold Strategic Plan. White noted the emphasis on the First-Year Mentor program, which aids first-year students in their transition to university life through a team of DePauw student mentors.

“They also talked about what we can do better for returning students when they come to the campus. Students talked a lot about the resurgence of campus life through student organizations through support from the DePauw Student Government. They also talked about the smaller communities in which students are a part of whether that's Greek life, [DePauw] Athletics, Intramurals, or a cultural club,” she said.

Students also highlighted the resurgence of traditionally African-American sororities and fraternities and their impact on fostering student diversity. White said the community increased from approximately four to 34 members over the years.

Meanwhile, Smith elaborated on the importance of the Roy O. West library as some students did not have a library space during a portion or the entirety of their time at DePauw.

“The students thought that we [should] capitalize on that student experience tapping into what makes Roy O. West [Library] … a transformational space,” Smith said.

White further discussed the hiring of ten tenure-track faculty members for upcoming semesters. In Fall 2023, the university opened new tenured positions in the Theater, Creative Writing, Film and Media Arts, and Design Studies departments. A new faculty member has also been hired in the Art History Department for Fall 2024, while a new choir director for the School of Music will be hired in place of outgoing Director of Choirs Eric Schmidt.

Furthermore, White and Smith elaborated on new developments for the Creative School, which is set to launch during the Fall 2024 semester.

“We have a small committee that is identifying ideas for a Creative School footprint. And I don't think it's going to be only one place because if you think about the Creative School, we have the art museum, we have the Green Center for Performing Arts,” White said. “We want to make sure that we take full advantage of all of those spaces and make sure that those spaces support the ideals envisioned for the Creative School.”