DePaul welcomes the Rev. William Piletic, C.M., to the Office of Advancement staff

October 9, 2014
The Rev. William Piletic joins the Advancement staff as alumni chaplain.

The Rev. William Piletic joins the Advancement staff as alumni chaplain.

DePaul University welcomes the Rev. William “Bill” Piletic, C.M., to the Office of Advancement, where he will serve as chaplain for alumni, donors and the university community. Piletic first came to the university in the 1960s and now returns after 50 years in Los Angeles where he was working with a small parish and other houses of prayer as needed.

“It’s like a homecoming,” Piletic says. “I have always loved the energy and vitality of the campus. It is really exciting to see the expansion of programs and campus buildings and the tremendous influence DePaul alumni have in the city and beyond.”

In his new role, Piletic will serve as a liaison for the alumni community and will attend regional and local events and events throughout the Chicagoland area. As this is a brand new position in advancement, many of his responsibilities are still to be determined. He invites the DePaul community to contact him and let him know how he can be of help.

“I want to hear from the university community about how I can best serve them,” he says. “I would love to nurture relationships between the university and those who support it. If alumni are interested in getting together for spiritual occasions, I would be happy to help plan such events. I always say that though I’m not a licensed counselor, I have a good ear and a strong shoulder. I’m excited to hear from the community, and I hope everyone feels free to contact me, whatever their needs might be.”

For more information, contact the Office of Alumni Relations at

Erin Minné joins DePaul’s executive leadership team

September 11, 2014

Erin Minné, senior vice president of advancement (Photo courtesy of Illinois State University)

DePaul University welcomes seasoned fundraising professional Erin Minné as senior vice president of advancement, effective Sept. 15. “DePaul is gaining a highly successful fundraiser with decades of experience in higher education,” says DePaul President, the Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M. “I am thrilled to announce her appointment and could not be happier to add the parent of a current DePaul student to our senior leadership team.”

Minné comes to DePaul from Illinois State University (ISU) in Normal, where she spent four years as vice president for university advancement and executive director of the ISU Foundation. During her tenure, Minné increased the number of alumni donors, improved donor retention and helped elevate faculty, staff and retiree giving totals to more than $1 million—the highest in university history.

Prior to her appointment at ISU, Minné was vice president for development at the University of Iowa foundation for nine years; her responsibilities included managing a $500 million campaign for the university’s medical center. In addition, Minné worked at Michigan Technological University, where she created the stewardship and donor relations unit. Outside of her extensive higher education experience, Minné has also directed fundraising efforts for Boysville of Michigan, the American Cancer Society and Orchard’s Children Services.

“I am very grateful to have the opportunity to serve DePaul first and foremost for its academic excellence,” Minné says. “I especially admire DePaul’s dedication to serve the underserved. As a first generation student myself, I know what it is like to fund a college education with limited resources.”

Minné takes over at a pivotal time in DePaul’s history, as the university successfully concluded its Many Dreams, One Mission Campaign—which raised more than $333 million for scholarships, programming and facilities—in June 2014. She will lead the Office of Advancement in a post-campaign environment, continuing to raise funds, build alumni engagement and support, and prepare for the next comprehensive fundraising initiative.

Communication degree helps alumna snag national commercial

May 6, 2014
Barley Labs

Scott Beaudry, Theresa Chu (CMN MA ’09) and Barley

Scott Beaudry and Theresa Chu (CMN MA ’09) take turns in the kitchen, baking furiously to keep up with demand for their all-natural, preservative-free dog treats. All the while, Barley, their 5-year-old lab mix, waits patiently to perform her duty as vice president of quality control. “She’s been our taste tester from the very beginning,” says Chu. “Granted, eating is one of her favorite past times so I’m not sure how discerning of a palate she has, but she loves them.” The treats come in three flavors—cheese, peanut butter and pumpkin—and each has been carefully vetted by Barley herself. “We knew she liked them when we’d give her those first trials and she ate them up immediately,” Chu recalls. “We knew we were on the right track.”

Barley Labs was born out of a desire to reduce waste. Beaudry had started home brewing and was looking for ways to recycle used barley when he stumbled upon a recipe for dog treats. After months spent painstakingly tweaking recipes, Beaudry found the perfect balance, and he and Chu started distributing dog treats to family and friends. “For us, it was all about using ingredients that people understood right off the bat,” Chu explains. “There are basically four ingredients: spent grain, egg, flour and the main flavor component. When you read it, you know exactly what’s going into your dog.”

Barley Labs treats

Barley Labs treats

By September 2012, Barley Labs was in full swing, thanks in large part to the spent grain donated by Fullsteam Brewery in Durham, N.C. Today, the company’s treats are available in 49 retail locations in seven states, as well as online at and “Barley has been a huge part of our lives,” Chu says. “It’s hard to imagine life without her, so we donate 10 cents from every bag we sell to our local shelter in Durham. This year, on the anniversary of Barley’s adoption [March 7], we donated a dollar from each bag sold on our website to PAWS Chicago.”

Chu uses many of the skills she learned at DePaul in the day-to-day operations of Barley Labs. “DePaul gave me a well-rounded view of marketing, public relations and advertising that I apply to my business,” she asserts. “Those basic, core principles that I learned at DePaul had an impact on the way we built Barley Labs.” From creating branding to publicizing it effectively, Chu credits DePaul with preparing her for the realities of running her own business. “I’m still learning every day,” she says. “I make mistakes and not everything is perfect, but at the very least having that foundation gives me the confidence to make informed decisions.”

She entered the Intuit Small Business Big Game contest to win a Super Bowl XLVIII commercial on a whim, the public-relations professional in her deeming it “silly” not to at least try. “We didn’t think we’d make it far,” she remembers. Weeks passed, and Barley Labs remained in the running, ultimately making it to the top four. While they didn’t win the Super Bowl commercial, Barley Labs received a national commercial and $25,000 for their business. “We might not have won the big prize, but it certainly still feels like we won,” Chu laughs. Thanks to the contest, Barley Labs’ sales have jumped more than 100 percent, accelerating the growth of their business five years in just a few months. “We never expected this business to be anything more than a small, local dog treat business,” she stresses. “We’re incredibly grateful.”

DePaul’s President Speaks at Hearing on Keeping College Affordable

January 28, 2014
TRIO congressional testimony

DePaul University President, the Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M., speaks at a hearing on education access.

On Jan. 28, the Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M., president of DePaul University, spoke to federal legislators in Washington about ways DePaul promotes college access and success. Holtschneider gave testimony and answered questions at a hearing before the Congressional Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training, “Keeping College Within Reach: Sharing Best Practices for Serving Low-Income and First-Generation Students.”

Much of Holtschneider’s testimony focused on federal TRIO programs, which provide services for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. He spoke about the success DePaul has seen in two such programs: Student Support Services, which is designed to increase graduation rates for low-income and first-generation college students, and McNair Scholars, which is geared toward preparing students from underrepresented groups for doctoral studies and faculty careers. Holtschneider also proposed ways TRIO programs could be improved nationally to encourage universities to collaborate to better serve students and reduce administrative costs associated with enrolling students in TRIO programs.

Read Holtschneider’s full testimony.

The Theatre School paves the way for bilingual educator

November 13, 2013
Lauren Carranza

Lauren Carranza (THE ’05)

At any given time during the day, third-grade teacher Lauren Carranza (THE ’05) might be explaining a lesson in English, but answering a question in Spanish. That’s the culture of Denver’s Escuela de Guadalupe, a unique kindergarten through fifth grade dual-language program that stresses the importance of retaining native languages while studying new ones. “We always say we are learning a new language,” she explains. “We never say, ‘I don’t speak English or Spanish.’” A non-native Spanish speaker herself, Carranza learns from her students as much as she teaches them. “The kids correct me all the time in Spanish,” she laughs.

While at DePaul, Carranza took two years of Spanish in addition to her studies at The Theatre School. After graduation, she found herself in Honduras, working at Teatro la Fragua, a theatre run by Jesuit priest Jack Warner (MFA ’78). “I was the only English speaker there besides [Father Warner],” she remembers. “I learned a lot really fast.” It was at Teatro la Fragua that Carranza developed a passion for teaching. “I found that teaching was actually more of what I wanted to do, but theatre led me to it,” she says.

When she returned to the U.S. after spending more than a year in Honduras, her passion for the Spanish language landed her a job at Escuela de Guadalupe, where she has been teaching for the last seven years. “I’m a good model for the kids because I’ve learned a second language,” says Carranza. “I know how much of a struggle it was to get food on my plate or get a ride to work every day in Honduras. I understand both the parents and the kids because I know how hard it is.”

photo 3

Carranza received the CenturyLink Leadership in Education Award in March 2013.

Today, Carranza uses many skills she mastered at The Theatre School in her classroom. “I constantly have the kids use voices and visualizing techniques,” she says. Additionally, she credits her ability to think outside the box to her time at DePaul. “Every single day something comes up where I can’t go by the book, but I have to deal with it,” she explains. “[At The Theatre School,] I learned that you do not need to do something the way that it’s written … there are rules, but you can do anything you can think of.”  Carranza’s efforts earned her a CenturyLink Leadership in Education Award in March 2013. The award, which came with a $1,000 gift to the school, was especially meaningful because she was nominated by her students’ parents and her peers. “With theatre, you get to stand up and get applause and awards, but you don’t get that with kids,” she says. “It’s incredibly validating to know I am on the right track.”

Carranza stays the course by remembering two things: “All shall be well” and “Be content where you are, but always look for progress.” That way, her teaching methods remain fresh, and she remains energized for the work ahead. “I’m proud of our school,” she enthuses. “We worked hard to develop a respectful and dignified program. It’s a unique place that’s making great strides with different communities. It’s a good start to a young person’s legacy.”

Return to the Alumni & Friends website. >>

Building Robots, Building Community: Mike Ulinski Lives the Vincentian Mission

August 5, 2013

Robots get ready to rumble.

Fans cheered and lights blared as the Electric Eagles took to the field at the Edward Jones Dome. The stadium was packed with thousands of supporters, sponsors and college representatives, but this was no football game. Along with 400 other teams, the Electric Eagles had arrived in St. Louis for the annual FIRST Championship, where robust robots showcase the technical and creative acumen of high school students from around the world.

While robotics competitions naturally foreground the life-size assemblages of metal, wire and motors, “it’s not about the robot,” says Mike Ulinski (CDM MS ’06), who has mentored the Electric Eagles for seven years. “The whole concept is to get kids involved with and exposed to science and technology, and to show how fun it can be.” Designing and building a robot may be fun, but it’s also a lot of work. The process begins in early January, when FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) announces the annual “game” and provides a collection of parts to jumpstart each team. Only six weeks later, the first round of regional competitions begins.

The finals in St. Louis.

In 2013, the game entailed shooting Frisbees into a series of goals, followed by a climbing exercise, in which each robot scaled a pyramid-shaped jungle gym structure. Unsurprisingly, conquering these challenges required teamwork, perseverance and creative problem-solving. The Electric Eagles hail from Lindblom Math and Science Academy in West Englewood, so they’re no strangers to difficult technological problems, but the robotics project tends to be daunting. “The majority of my students have never really used power tools,” Ulinski notes. “Quite a few have never seen pneumatics, car window motors or some of our donated materials.”

The team met four times per week, including Saturdays, so the students ramped up quickly. “We actually had students teaching other students,” Ulinski says. In particular, two seniors shared their accumulated experience with the 13 other team members. “I have one student who was distracted a lot as a freshman,” Ulinski remembers. “Now, he still gets our attention, but he’s gotten so enthused with [robotics] that he’s basically learned to do computer-aided design all by himself.” These types of success stories are common in the robotics community.

Poised to begin the game.

Students gravitated toward different roles within the mechanical, electrical, programming and public relations sub-groups. For example, the latter cohort created logos and banners that were strung up in the pit area during competitions. “It actually has a NASCAR feel,” explains Ulinski. Regardless of their specific area of expertise, all students “acquire new skills as they learn how to project manage and speak in front of people.”

Last spring, after placing well in several regional competitions, the Electric Eagles were satisfied with a middle-of-the-pack finish at the FIRST Championships. Now, they’re already thinking about next year; preseason will start again in the fall. For Ulinski, who works as a staff engineer at Shure, volunteering with the Electric Eagles is an ongoing commitment and an enjoyable way to carry out the Vincentian mission of giving back. “It’s just the satisfaction of helping students,” Ulinski muses. “To see the students grow from this and see what additional possibilities [come from this]. It will be great to see what cool stuff they do in the future.”


Members of the Electric Eagles work on their robot in the pit.


The robot in action.

From DePaul to “Deadwood”: The Scene Stealing Characters of W. Earl Brown

May 30, 2013
W. Earl Brown (THE MA '89) can be seen in the movie, "The Lone Ranger," scheduled for release in July.

W. Earl Brown (THE MA ’89) can be seen in “The Lone Ranger,” scheduled for release in July.

W. Earl Brown (THE MA ’89) is lying in a pool of fake blood in a New Mexico desert when he experiences a surreal flashback. The cast and crew of “The Lone Ranger” fade away as Brown’s memory leads him back to his Kentucky childhood. “We’re using my mom’s picnic table as a train – it’s a train robbery. And we would jump off the picnic table onto our moving horses,” Brown recounts. “And I’m lying there doing the exact same thing 43 years later, except this train is real, the horses are real, the pistol on my hip is real.”

It was a heady, “pinch me” moment, even for an actor as successful and established as Brown, who honed his acting chops at Murray State before heading to DePaul for graduate school. “I soaked it all up,” Brown says. “The Theatre School made me a much, much better actor, and it made me much more prepared for a career in this industry.”

His career almost took a different turn. During his first quarter, Brown was invited to audition for The Second City Touring Company. He was up against an unknown named Chris Farley, and Farley won the spot. “It was my first lesson in crushing disappointment in show business,” Brown shares. “And it’s probably the best thing that could have happened to me as an actor. Because going back and focusing at DePaul made me better at what I do.”

After graduating, Brown picked up local work, with roles in “Backdraft” and “Rookie of the Year” among others, but he was desperate to make it to Los Angeles. A temporary move in 1993 soon became a 20-year stay. “Wes Craven took me under his wing, casting me in three films,” Brown remembers. “‘Scream’ was the first project I had billing on – with my name at the front of the movie – that did well.” Two years later, Brown entered the pop culture lexicon when he delivered several memorable lines as Warren, the beloved special needs brother of Cameron Diaz’s character in “There’s Something About Mary.”

While Warren remains close to Brown’s heart, his favorite role came later, when he was cast as Dan Dority in HBO’s “Deadwood.” The critically acclaimed show debuted in 2004 and won seven Emmys® throughout its run. During the second season, Brown joined the writing staff. “So it was my life 24/7,” he says. He still enjoys watching reruns of the show and eagerly anticipates the chance to work with producer and writer David Milch again.

Brown is grateful for the shape his career has taken. “I’ve created characters that have become famous – but I’m not famous. That’s a plus in that it makes disappearing into roles much easier, but the payday is nowhere near what fame delivers,” he notes wryly. Nonetheless, Brown has found professional success doing what he loves. “For any artist, the joy of creation can never be taken away from you,” Brown says. “Are you always going to have a big audience or a big paycheck? No. But you always have the opportunity to create.”

Return to the Alumni & Friends website. >>


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