Former DePaul President John T. Richardson dies at 98


DePaul University/Jamie Moncrief

Former DePaul President John T. Richardson died on March 29

Former DePaul President Rev. John T. Richardson died on March 29, according to a release from the university. 

Richardson was 98 years old.

“Fr. Richardson’s leadership of DePaul resulted in growing our national reputation, while expanding our engagement in the city of Chicago and deepening our commitment to the university’s Catholic, Vincentian, and urban mission,” DePaul President A. Gabriel Esteban said in a statement on Wednesday. “He was a visionary leader, whose impact on our university will endure, and he will be missed by all in the DePaul family.

Richardson joined DePaul in 1954 as dean of the Graduate School, later becoming the university’s ninth president in 1981, in which he served 12 years in that role. Afterwards, he was DePaul’s chancellor for 24 years. 

One of the biggest projects during Richardson’s time as president was the $100 million Cornerstone Campaign from the late 1980s to the early 1990s, which helped to lead to major expansions of DePaul’s Loop and Lincoln Park campuses. 

Also during his tenure, DePaul’s enrollment increased significantly — reaching 16,500 by the end of his presidency — and the school became the largest catholic university in the country. 

“Fr. Richardson was a dedicated Vincentian, priest, educator and missionary,” said Rev. Patrick McDevitt, provincial superior of the Congregation of the Mission Western Province. “He was passionate about improving the lives of others and working for a more just and fair society.” 

Richardson presided over the transformation of DePaul from a small, Catholic commuter school to the diverse, urban university it is today. Three new residence halls were built during his time as president and DePaul’s reputation grew as the university began attracting students from out of state.

He also helped introduce the International Human Rights Law Institute, the Institute for Business Ethics and the Center for Urban Education. 

In 1992, DePaul began construction on the university’s first free-standing library on the Lincoln Park Campus, made possible by a major donation from the family of DePaul alumnus Richard Heise. The family asked that the library be named after Richardson. 

Richardson spent his last few years living in Perryville, Missouri. Funeral services are still pending, according to DePaul.