Faculty Council discusses Bethke stepping down, declining enrollment


Bianca Cseke | The DePaulia

DePaul University Lincoln Park campus.

The November Faculty Council Meeting invited DePaul’s Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Bethke to answer questions from members, as he will be stepping down from his position at the end of the year.

The council also discussed updates in technology, including BlueMail, where 15 students had their identities compromised just this week. 

There was an introduction from the new Board of Trustees President, and developments in the liberal studies curriculum. 

Faculty Council President Scott Paeth wished Bethke well at the start of the question and answer session. 

According to DePaul Newsline, Bethke will be stepping down to “found an operational/financial consultancy aimed at higher education clients undertaking transformational change.” 

The questions for Bethke mainly revolved around how new programs are funded, enrollment data and an overview of where DePaul stands in regard to revenues and expenses. 

Interim Provost Salma Ghanem said new programs are planned based on student enrollment and interest, among other factors. Bethke added that new programs are included if they are financially beneficial to the university. 

However, this was the subject of debate throughout the meeting. 

“We ignore the things we have and do well,” said Winifred Curran, the chair of DePaul’s Department of Geography. 

Curran felt that the current programs being offered at DePaul were being overlooked, even with all the merits they’ve received.

Bethke responded to declining enrollment trends, citing a 1.6 percent decline over the past 10 years. 

With that, he discussed how DePaul has to manage its revenues and expenses. As revenues are declining and expenses are rising, Bethke mentioned the past and current state of the budget. Prior to the pandemic, DePaul managed with early reductions, pay cuts and retirements. However, the budget is now subject to the financial impact of Covid-19. 

Bethke also said that an engineering program, which was asked about at the meeting, had some influence on the budget. 

“That program will take a while to ramp up,” Bethke said. 

He said it would be a part of increasing expenses. 

Bob McCormick, the vice president of Information Services, gave an update on university information systems. 

McCormick explained currently 2.5 to 3 million messages are sent through D2L emails per year. However, some users have encountered issues with identity theft, McCormick said. 

“There’s something that’s not quite right going on with this BlueMail email,” said Quietta Shelby, an associate professor of inorganic chemistry at DePaul. 

Shelby said she has been receiving emails that came from student addresses, even though students hadn’t composed them. 

Following this, the new Board of Trustees President Lori Holland spoke with the faculty council. She explained her background as a DePaul student, and now, someone the Faculty Council can look to in the guidance for new programs and more.

“We want to offer whatever guidance we can,” Holland said. 

The council also discussed matters with adjustments to the liberal studies curriculum. John Shanahan of the Liberal Studies Council discussed changes that would be made.

Some of these changes include implementing more STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) courses in the LSP core. Since this was approved by the academic provost and Faculty Council, it’s already being worked on and will be effective beginning in the fall term of the academic year of 2021.

This adjustment will change the current quantitative reasoning courses of LSP 120 and 121 to have one course of that domain while adding statistical reasoning and computational reasoning.