Flexibility Is Our New Norm

Interim Dean Tom Donley | Photo by Kathy Hillegonds

Interim Dean Tom Donley | Photo by Kathy Hillegonds

This fall, we welcomed our business students back to DePaul with a course schedule that offered a range of in-person, remote and hybrid classes. Flexibility has become the new norm for how we deliver business education, shaped by the diverse needs of our students and the novel ways we have learned to teach and support them during the pandemic.

We educate undergraduates seeking the traditional campus experience, nontraditional students juggling part-time jobs and/or family care with school, professionals pursuing graduate degrees while working full time, and far-flung doctoral students who travel to Chicago once a month for residencies. To meet their varying expectations while continuing to address the uncertainties of the pandemic, we are expanding online degree programs, upgrading classroom technology, embracing new teaching techniques and offering personalized advising services in multiple modalities.

In September, we launched three new online degrees—master’s degrees in entrepreneurship and finance and a bachelor’s degree in accountancy. These programs provide a flexible option for local professionals who continue to work partially or entirely from home while enabling us to offer a DePaul business education to more students located outside of Chicago. Across the curricula we are offering courses in five modalities, including Flex, which allows students to choose whether to attend class in person or virtually each week.

To support these new instruction modes, DePaul is investing in high-tech classrooms that feature motion-following cameras, upgraded audio and the latest digital presentation tools. Many of our faculty members have completed DePaul’s award-winning online teaching workshops, and our college hosts regular tutorials on how to teach engagingly whether in person or remotely. Our faculty members are emphasizing interactive learning, such as real-world team projects working with Chicago businesses, during shared in-person and synchronous, online class time, with lectures often delivered via videos that students view before class.

We also have learned a lot about the power of connection and delivering a high-touch, personalized experience to students. Zoom advising sessions give international, out-of-state and busy transfer students more flexibility to meet with an advisor for one-on-one conversations and collaborative registration walk-throughs via screen share. We have found that smaller virtual events encourage inclusion and build community by providing more opportunities for personal interaction among students and industry speakers. We will continue offering online advising and events while resuming on-campus guidance and gatherings this fall, serving students flexibly where they are.

Many of you are likewise seeking new ways to collaborate, communicate and connect in workplaces that combine in office, remote and hybrid work. In this issue’s feature story, alumni and faculty at the forefront of understanding these issues offer their insight and advice for navigating new workplace norms.

As you find your way in an evolving workplace, we hope you’ll help us support the next generation of DePaul graduates who will soon join your ranks. DePaul has launched The Finish Line Fund to benefit students who are facing financial hardship on the brink of earning their degrees. Please help these students cross the finish line to become DePaul alumni through your contributions to this scholarship fund.

Tom Donley signature

Thomas Donley
Interim Dean, Driehaus College of Business

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to toolbar