DePaul College Prep: sharing more than just a name

Rachel Marciano
June 10, 2015

This month, DePaul University will complete the first year of its academic partnership with DePaul College Prep, a high school on the north side of Chicago. Formerly Gordon Tech College Prep, DePaul College Prep now works with the university to deliver a strong, Catholic and college-prep education to students from across the city and surrounding suburbs.

Although 2014-15 was the first academic year the school shared the name DePaul, collaboration on its programs began in 2012. Three years ago, Bishop Francis Kane, Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Chicago, approached the university for use of the name. The Archdiocese wanted to enhance the school's academic offerings and credibility within Chicago, and believed the DePaul name would best fit the direction in which they wanted to grow. The university agreed to consider sharing its name if it could collaborate with the high school to strengthen its academic program and offerings, while working closely with  James Quaid, the president and principal of DePaul Prep.

"This was a great opportunity to live our strategic plan," says Rob Karpinski, director of Catholic school relations at DePaul University and board member for DePaul Prep. "We're strengthening and deepening our anchor in the city while living our Vincentian mission, and providing our faculty and graduate students another opportunity to work in the community."

Beyond the traditional curricula, DePaul Prep has integrated multiple aspects of the university into its large-scale plan. For example, DePaul Prep now has a program similar to the First Year Program at the university. Last summer, 25 incoming high school freshmen spent two weeks at the Lincoln Park Campus, learning about the college selection process, career preparedness, team building and academic success skills. Eighteen of those students have already volunteered to come back this summer as mentors for the next cohort. According to Amy Kavanaugh, director of institutional advancement for high school at DePaul Prep, students who completed the program transitioned smoothly into high school and were top performers throughout the academic year.

"The benefits of this affiliation are immense for DePaul Prep," Kavanaugh says. "It is one of our greatest differentiating assets as a Catholic high school in Chicago. DePaul Prep is grateful for the supportive and expanding relationship with many of the colleges and departments at the university."


The College of Computing and Digital Media has been critical to the curriculum and technology found in the high school's Steam Lab, a place for hands-on learning grounded in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. (Photo by Jeff Carrion)

Various departments across the university are sharing their expertise with the growing collaboration. The College of Education and Enrollment Management and Marketing's Center for Access and Attainment provide professional development and resource programs for DePaul Prep's staff and faculty, along with tutoring support for our students. The College of Computing and Digital Media has been critical to the curriculum and technology found in the high school's Steam Lab, a place for hands-on learning grounded in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. The STEM Center also advises the school's math faculty on new teaching and learning strategies.

The School of Music lends support and input to enhance DePaul Prep's music and choral programs, and The Theatre School provides students with behind-the-scenes tours, tech rehearsal visits, free tickets to university concerts and performances, and opportunities to meet with theatre students and staff. Kavanaugh and other members of the collaboration hope to see these relationships continue to grow and benefit both sides of the affiliation.

In addition to input from a number of entities at DePaul, several university staff members sit on the board of directors for the high school to ensure the collaboration runs smoothly. Karpinski is joined by Mary Dempsey, Chair of the Board for DePaul Prep and a member of the university's board,  Verna Donovan, associate vice president for strategic marketing and branding at DePaul, Jeff Bethke, treasurer, and Peter Argianas, a member of the advisory council for the Driehaus College of Business and member of the university's board, as well as various other members of the Chicago community.  

"We're looking forward to growing and strengthening our ties with each other and with the city," Karpinski says of the coming years for the collaboration. "But most of all, we're excited to keep the mission of Catholic education alive."