In this year’s annual State of the University address, DePaul President A. Gabriel Esteban provided university updates and outlined his plans for the next year. Following the address, faculty and staff expressed their concerns about burnout and fading morale.
Esteban announced that he will be stepping down earlier this summer, effective June 2022 but emphasized his commitment to the university’s six year strategic plan.
“As you’re well aware, this is my last year at DePaul,” Esteban said. “This doesn’t change my unwavering commitment to our Catholic, Vincentian values.”
Esteban began by talking about enrollment numbers. Enrollment is down 1.2 percent this year. Graduate students see the most prominent dip in enrollment, with a 5.7 percent decrease from the previous year. Undergraduate enrollment, on the other hand, rose by 1 percent.
The university’s six-year strategic plan highlights six main categories — mission, diversity, student success, access, academic excellence and fiscal strength. Three years into the plan, DePaul published its metrics and where the university still needs to improve.
As far as the university’s fiscal strength, Esteban said that donors committed $93 million in 2021, the highest single-year total in university history.
In terms of the university’s advancement of diversity, equity and inclusion, Esteban highlights that 867 faculty and staff have completed DEI training.
After the address, faculty and staff approached the microphone and expressed their concerns during the Q&A portion.
Carolyn Vos, assistant director of institutional technology at the Center for Teaching and Learning, asked whether there could be a way in which vacation days could be rolled over if they aren’t used in a term. Vos said that, with the stress and demands of their jobs, vacation days often go unused.
This sentiment was repeated by other faculty members who participated in the Q&A, concerned about staff morale and worsening burnout.
In response, Esteban said that the university offers “stress relief” days to improve these conditions. Members of his cabinet added that they will look into the financial possibility of rolled over vacation days.
[DePaul student media were instructed not to record the Q&A portion of the event.]