President White poses plan to create three reimagined schools at DePauw University

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By Abigail McArthur-Self and Olivia Jennings

On March 16 at 3:01 p.m., President Dr. Lori White officially announced DePauw’s “Strategic Plan,” for the upcoming years. The plan proposes restructuring the university into a College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS), a School of Business and Leadership, and a Creative School, in addition to reviewing a number of existing university policies and dynamics.

“We want to prepare students not only for the world of today, but the world of tomorrow ... We feel like the combination of our firm foundation on the traditional liberal arts, expanding that to business and leadership and expanding that to all things creative really sets all of our students up for maximum success,” White said. 

The CLAS and the Creative School are changes to DePauw’s two existing colleges. According to White, the university intends to reaffirm its commitment to the sciences as a part of a liberal arts education. 

“We know we do science… Obviously Percy Julian is one of many examples of great scientists who have come up through DePauw,” White said. “We're formally adding sciences to the name again because prospective students and families when they think liberal arts, they may not understand that the liberal arts also includes the scientists.”

The Creative School will include what is currently the School of Music as the Division of Music and will also include other departments focusing on the creative and performing arts. It is supposed to open in 2024.

The School of Business and Leadership, projected to open in 2023, which is backed by a $40 million gift, will adapt some current majors but will also introduce new majors and minors for the school’s focus area. According to White, prospective business majors make up a large group of potential incoming students. White believes the creation of the School of Business and Leadership will provide the education these students are seeking. 

“We want to tell the world we're all in and we also want to provide the broad perspective on business and leadership that you can do through a school beyond what you could do with a major,” White said. “We also want to encourage students to fully connect the courses that we're offering through the School of Business and Leadership with courses in the creative school with courses in the College of Arts, liberal arts and sciences. So giving students this really broad opportunity to figure out a way to marry and connect [a lot] of things that students are interested in.”

Credit requirements for the three schools will remain relatively consistent, according to White, although specific programs – such as music performance majors – may have different credit requirements in order to follow accreditation standards. 

The Strategic Plan will require an increase in funding, which White acknowledges has worried some people. She expressed her commitment to raising money for the initiatives. Although tuition for next year will increase, White said the increase is less than it has been in previous years and not directly related to the university’s plan. It’s because of “everything that you've read in the newspaper right? Inflation, wanting to adequately and fairly compensate our employees,” White said.

The plan will also examine the university as an employer. White said that DePauw aims to be “an employer of choice.” To that end, the university will be evaluating employee benefits such as healthcare compared to the packages offered by other employers. The university is also looking into “live where you work” initiatives, hoping to bring more staff into the greater Greencastle community. 

“Let's say you have a class at four o'clock and at five when the class is over the faculty member says, ‘Hey, come over to my house … let's continue talking about what we talked about in class and let's have some nibbles,” White said. “I think it means that folks can come to football games and come to your music events in ways that are much easier than if you live all the way in Indianapolis.”

Many aspects of the strategic plan call for the university to gather data and opinions about current policies or departments at the school to better determine how to meet the plan’s stated goals. Student and staff feedback is welcome at all levels, according to White. The DePauw Student Government (DSG) and the advisory councils the school forms for specific issues are two ways for students to share their voices.