DePaul University today confirmed it has entered into a partnership with Gordon Tech College Prep High School, a move that is expected to trigger sweeping changes for the Catholic institution at 3633 N. California Ave.
Confirming speculation first reported by Roscoe View Journal, DePaul will apply its expertise in Catholic education to virtually every part of the operation of Gordon Tech, including curriculum, marketing and administration. The university has already spearheaded the formation of a new board of directors for the school, which will spend the next year in strategic planning sessions to enhance Gordon Tech’s curriculum, counseling and facilities. The board will also select a new principal for the 2013-2014 academic year; school athletic director Paul Chabura is currently serving as interim principal under President Kelly Jones.
A press release from DePaul and Gordon Tech describes the agreement as a partnership, but DePaul’s involvement appears to be all but a takeover of the school, which has seen its enrollment dip from a high of 2,000 in the 1980s to 540 this year. However, the press release–which a DePaul spokeswoman sent to RVJ–takes pains to note that the school will still be sponsored by the Congregation of the Resurrection and quotes the order’s Rev. Gene Szarek as calling the agreement an “unprecedented blessing.”
The new Gordon Tech board is chaired by DePaul trustee Dia Weil, the chair emeritus of the board of Notre Dame High School for Girls, 3134 N. Mason Ave. Ms. Weil is a retired telecom executive and is well-known in Chicago business and philanthropic circles. One of her fellow board members is another DePaul trustee, longtime former Chicago library commissioner Mary Dempsey.
The school says its goal is to boost enrollment to more than 1,000 students and put Gordon Tech on a par with the city’s elite Catholic high schools such as Hales Franciscan and Marist as well as selective-enrollment CPS facilities such as neighboring Lane Tech. “Partnering with a university provides opportunities to students and families that are simply not available at other Catholic high schools,” said DePaul Catholic schools initiative chief Robert Karpinski in the release.
DePaul’s assistance has stretched to marketing studies that it says show a desire for quality Catholic high school education on the city’s North Side, and will reportedly include working with Gordon Tech counselors to assist students in college preparation and placement. Gordon Tech leaders hope the announcement of DePaul’s partnership will increase interest and attendance at upcoming open houses for prospective students and parents on October 25th and November 11th. More information can be found at www.gordontech.org.