President White talks about DePauw's ranking and future plans

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3.22.2018--Dr. Lori White, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, at Washington University in St. Louis. Photos by Joe Angeles/WUSTL Photos

According to a press release from DePauw Stories, as of Sept. 12, 2022, DePauw has moved up to No. 45 and has remained No. 1 in Indiana on the preeminent list of the best national liberal arts institutions in the United States, U.S. News and World Report’s 2023 college ranking. Along with holding these spots, DePauw was also ranked No.16 on the list of most innovative schools and No. 49 for undergraduate teaching among national liberal arts institutions.

In conversation with President White on Monday, Nov. 29, this is not the first year DePauw has been ranked as the No. 1 school in Indiana.

“We’ve actually been the number one liberal arts college in the state of Indiana for a little while, so this was not the first year we were ranked number one.” President White said. 

President White further explained how the U.S. News and World Report works in the sense of the ranking system. 

She continued, “The U.S. News and World Report [have] a number of things that they look at to determine how institutions rank so everything from academic reputation to the number of students who graduate each year from the institution, how we retain our students…So, there are a number of parts and pieces that go into that formula.”

President White shared that there is a sense of pride in how DePauw ranks No. 1 in anything and to know DePauw has consistently ranked as the No. 1 liberal arts college in the state is a reassuring feeling. Though, the ranking of No. 16 in the list of innovative schools came as a surprise as it was the first time DePauw had scored a spot on the ranking.

“One of the places where we were ranked very highly this year was…the number 16 ranked innovative university of all the liberal arts colleges that were ranked, and we have never been ranked as an innovative university before.”

President White credits the Strategic Plan to earning this No. 16 spot and looks to the future of DePauw in moving forward with the Strategic Plan. 

“I do believe that the Strategic Plan had some influence on that. So, I believe folks are excited about what they hear and see from DePauw related to the establishment of the new School of Business and Leadership at a liberal arts college. I think those are some of the things that influence that particular ranking,” President White said. 

In the sense of moving toward the future, President White has high hopes for the new future with the Strategic Plan and its influence and will pursue higher rankings in the future in the further developments of the Strategic Plan.

“Anybody who knows me I’m super competitive, and while I’m very happy to be ranked number 45, we know that DePauw is a top 20-25 university, so it is my goal for us to move closer to the schools that are ranked in the top 20 and the top 25 liberal arts colleges. I believe the Strategic Plan is going to help us get there.” President White said. 

When asked about potential majors and minors within future Strategic Plans contributing to DePauw’s ranking, President White believes there is a high probability that it could.

“It certainly could. As you know, we have always had an economics degree, so now, we’re establishing this new School of Business and Leadership…The new majors that we approved to support the School of Business and Leadership are finance, business analytics, and entrepreneurship. We are also working on a new minor in leadership. The leadership minor hasn’t yet been approved, but there are a number of faculty who are working on that.” President White said.

President White continues, “In support of the Creative School, the faculty approved two new academic programs: film and media arts, and design studies. In total, five new majors and minors have been approved by the faculty in support of the two schools.”

Though the two new schools have been in the development stages, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences will not fall by the wayside as there will be the introduction of a new fellowship program for incoming students and current students to join.

President White said, “In addition to that, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, we are establishing a new fellows program called the Global Scholars fellowship program. That’s another new opportunity for our students. I think all of those new programs will signal to those who will evaluate liberal arts colleges that there [are] lots of exciting things going on here at DePauw.

The introduction of the new schools is another segway into the future for DePauw as, according to President White, there are certain challenges that come with emphasizing the value of the liberal arts experience. 

“As we were thinking about the future, it is sometimes difficult to articulate the value of a liberal arts experience to folks who are not yet here. I always say that once a student gets to DePauw, they drink the liberal arts college Kool-Aid, and certainly, all of our alums have drunk the liberal arts college Kool-Aid and are huge fans of the ways we are able to develop your skills in communication, critical thinking, ability to research, ability to work in diverse teams are all the parts and pieces of we think a core value of the liberal arts experience,” President White said.

She continued, “We wanted to make sure that our curriculum aligned with what you young people tell us you want to study. The example you used about the student being interested in design is one example of many of a newer generation looking for additional experiences as they choose colleges, so we wanted to make sure that DePauw was relevant to the 21st century. That’s where the thinking started.”