Greetings to our DePauw Community, Families and Future Tigers,
Transitioning to a university presidency during the 2020-21 academic year—one marked by a pandemic, social distancing and mask-wearing—certainly presented challenges for which there were no playbooks. My liberal arts degrees in psychology and English—the ability to understand why and how people behave and respond in particular ways and during crisis situations, to analyze and synthesize complex problems and to communicate effectively, have been an important foundation for my success as a leader. The pandemic has reinforced the value of a liberal arts and sciences education — one that develops the skills and experiences to be well positioned for success regardless of the circumstances and to pivot when the world changes unexpectedly, as it did last year.
I also leaned on my years working in higher education as a former vice president for student affairs, devoted to championing and empowering diverse students and their voices, and my driving passion is to ensure that our students are always at the center of who we are and what, together, we seek to achieve. The culture and vibrancy of our student body is the first opportunity for many students to get to know and develop friendships with others who have grown up in different neighborhoods and countries. I am deeply committed to ensuring our campus is one that affirms the culture, identity and lived experience of every student and that the education we provide exposes students to wide-ranging ideas, even those with which they may be uncomfortable. Preparing leaders the world needs means embracing DePauw’s Gold Within values, including listening to and discussing different opinions, researching to develop viewpoints based on facts, respectfully arguing for or against one another’s ideas without engaging in personal attacks, and believing in the humanity of others. I have always been inspired by these words by John Wesley: Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion? Our residential environment and the close connection students form with professors and staff helps us provide, inside and outside the classroom, a range of experiences that support these important values.
During my first year as DePauw’s president, I experienced the incredible resilience of our community of faculty, whose teaching and scholarship is at the heart of our mission; staff, whose expertise and dedication to supporting our students ensures we are able to deliver an unsurpassed student experience; and our extraordinarily successful alumni who are always eager to engage with and mentor our students and exemplify the leadership qualities we seek for our graduates.
And most important of all, at the very heart of our community, are our students—scholars, musicians, student-athletes, community activists, and leaders, who are smart, inquisitive, thoughtful, compassionate, and are a daily source of great inspiration and optimism for the future of our country and the world.
As I begin my second year as DePauw’s president, I am delighted that we will return to a fully residential campus for Fall Term 2021, as we welcome the Class of 2025 to DePauw. I am uplifted and gratified each day as I walk around our lovely campus and greet visitors to campus and members of our DePauw family. We have an exciting future ahead of us and I look forward sharing more about DePauw’s vision for the future and celebrating my inauguration as DePauw’s 21st president with all of you on October 1, 2021 (insert link here).