New DePaul University President Talks COVID Impact, Tuition Goals

Note: The above segment misstates the school's health care approach. DePaul University does not provide on-campus health care or contraception. 

DePaul University has a new face on campus.

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The largest Catholic university in the nation is welcoming Robert L. Manuel, its 13th president. 

Manuel was the former president of the University of Indianapolis and an administrator at Georgetown and New York University. Now he’s setting big goals for the DePaul community. 

First on the list is dealing with the impact of COVID-19. 

“A few times in higher education history have come out of such a severe sense of isolation and trauma that we could redefine models of quality going forward,” Manuel said.  

The school aims to continue their education given the reality of the virus and how it might affect individuals differently by providing a flexible model of both virtual and in-person learning. 

“The biggest goal is to find a design for DePaul to match the times coming out of COVID to design ourselves to be an asset to the city,” he said. “...making sure that we still teach what is needed out there.”

Throughout his career, Manuel has prioritized the success of underrepresented populations which has resulted in increased enrollment, retention and graduation rates at previous institutions. About half of the DePaul attending population are students of color, and 87% of undergraduates receive federal aid, according to Data USA

With President Joe Biden announcing a new loan relief plan, Manuel hopes that higher education can redesign its future.

“In DePaul’s case, our tuition has increased 26% since 2013 but the amount of money that we put in from our own resources to help students afford that has increased by 77% at the same time,” he said.  

“We’re putting in almost $230 million a year to make sure that students who are acceptable and are here and want to be at DePaul and want to take advantage of our education have the resources to be able to afford that,” Manuel added. 

Being new to Chicago, Manuel says he aims to listen to the community more, particularly students and faculty who might present new approaches to the redevelopment of DePaul.

“It’s better to listen a little more than I speak right now,” Manuel said. 

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