Dear DePauw Faculty and Staff,
Before my official start date as DePauw’s new president July 1, I wanted to send greetings and share with you how much I am looking forward to joining you as part of the DePauw family.
From my first visit to campus, as I gazed up at the portraits in Meharry Hall, I marveled at the storied history of this amazing place, knew instantly that I wanted to be part of it, and felt great excitement for DePauw’s future. I’m honored beyond words for this opportunity to embrace that future with you.
My anticipation has not been diminished by the pandemic, although the all-consuming response it has required of all of us has prevented me from having the pleasure of meeting and spending time with you in person. However, that separation also has affirmed that I am joining a caring, responsive community that has made the health and safety of its people paramount. DePauw’s response at every unpredictable turn of this crisis has been remarkable. I thank all of you for your unwavering commitment in support of our students and one another while adjusting to teaching and working remotely.
As some of you begin gradually returning to campus in July, we’ll continue to follow the safest protocols. Whether virtually or socially distanced, however, I am committed to getting to know each of you and listening to your thoughts about the opportunities and challenges facing DePauw.
I also write today to announce two cabinet-level appointments beginning July 1, one an extension and one new. The first appointee – Dave Berque – needs no introduction at DePauw. I am delighted that Dave will remain in place as the vice president for academic affairs – no longer as interim – through the 2022-23 academic year. Dave’s appointment has the enthusiastic endorsement of the Faculty Governance Committee, the members of which commended his steady leadership during the COVID-19 crisis and commitment to and respect for shared governance.
As a new president, I felt it was important to reinstate the vacant chief of staff position at DePauw. Dr. Sarah Steinkamp, who serves as the assistant dean of strategic and educational initiatives in the Division of Student Affairs at Washington University St. Louis, will serve in this role. Sarah has proven to be an outstanding and collaborative leader and will support the entire cabinet, coordinating institutional strategic planning and presidential initiatives; she also will hold a part-time faculty appointment as an assistant professor in university studies. Two of Sarah’s degrees are from liberal arts colleges – a B.A. in sociology from Wells College and a M.S. in health education from Ithaca College, both in New York – and a Ph.D. in education from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale.
The university’s news announcement provides additional background and details about Dave and Sarah. I’m excited to have these critical appointments firmed up so that we can hit the ground running this summer. Please join me in congratulating Dave and welcoming Sarah when she joins us July 1.
Before closing, I want to respond to a question that frequently comes my way about whether I have specific plans for DePauw. My leadership approach is values-driven and inclusive; therefore, I believe planning must be a collective process to which each of you has an opportunity to offer your voice. I have thought deeply about the framework for our ongoing dialogue as we look toward our future, shaping what I call “transcendent priorities,” those that we will hold constant as the strong foundation of our university. Among them are:
- An unparalleled student experience that, in the spirit of the best liberal arts tradition, intentionally integrates students’ academic and co-curricular learning.
- A campus culture in which every student, regardless of identity, background or financial circumstances, thrives at DePauw and has full opportunity to participate in all aspects of a DePauw education.
- Strong partnerships with the city of Greencastle such that the city and the university continue to see ourselves as mutually intertwined.
- The financial health of our institution today and for the future, including the growth of our endowment.
- A resolute commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion made explicit to those whom we invite to join our community; we should not be afraid to publicly state these are aspirational values – that part of our learning environment is to figure out together what it means to study, work and live in a diverse, equitable and inclusive community.
Moving forward, we must plan on two parallel tracks – one to continue to protect our community in the face of COVID-19, and the other to continue to honor the history of Old DePauw and our legacy of providing a truly transformative educational experience, while firmly establishing our place among the very best liberal arts colleges in the country.
I am deeply grateful to the Board of Trustees and the search committee for this opportunity and to all of you for the warm and enthusiastic welcome I have received. You, our alumni and supporters, and countless generations of students are truly Gold Within, and I look forward to joining you in carrying that legacy forward.
Lori S. White