DePaul to implement test-optional alternative for freshman admission

February 24, 2011

Against a backdrop of national discussions about the appropriate use of standardized tests in college admission, DePaul University will implement a test-optional admission policy for freshman admission starting in fall 2012. DePaul is believed to be the largest private non-profit university in the nation to implement the test-optional program.

Under the program, applicants would submit their high school transcripts and can choose to submit either their ACT or SAT test scores or answer a number of open-ended essay questions. The questions are aimed at eliciting evidence of students’ experience and other characteristics that have been shown to be better predictors of student success in college than standardized test scores, said Jon Boeckenstedt, associate vice president for Enrollment Policy & Planning at DePaul.

Research by DePaul and experts at other institutions shows that the best predictor of a student’s success in college is his or her performance in a rigorous, college preparatory program in high school, and that standardized test scores add little if anything to that, Boeckenstedt said. In some cases, standardized test scores may even skew admission toward students who are good test-takers while eliminating those who are not, he said.

“Test scores don’t add much above and beyond high school GPAs, and researchers point out that test scores vary widely by income and ethnicity,” Boeckenstedt said. “This raises some concerns about putting certain students with strong high school performance at a disadvantage.”

Providing a test-optional admission route benefits students who lack the resources to test multiple times or take advantage of expensive test preparation or coaching, Boeckenstedt said. It also simplifies the process for students who have achieved in high school, but not necessarily in a high-stakes testing environment.

The Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M., president of DePaul, said the new test-optional admissions policy is a result of several years of tracking student success at DePaul.

“We learned that the combination of their high school GPA and their extracurricular accomplishments are better predictors of college success than SAT or ACT scores,” Holtschneider said. “We also learned that this approach better helped us identify non-traditional students who would do very well here.”

DePaul’s decision to move toward test-optional came as a result of three years of using the Diamond project, which uses essay questions to measure student attributes such as leadership, long-term goals, positive self-concept and a supportive family in the admission process.

David Kalsbeek, senior vice president for Enrollment Management and Marketing, agreed. “Data show that it’s the right thing to do. It’s better for the student and the university. The things we measure with Diamond really do level the playing field.”

DePaul’s test-optional pilot program will run four years – until 2016, when its impact will be evaluated and it will be determined whether it will become a permanent admission policy at the university, Boeckenstedt said.

Other institutions that have adopted test-optional programs include Bates College, Lawrence University, Providence College, College of the Holy Cross, Fairfield University and Wake Forest University.

Visit the DePaul website for more information about the test-optional program.

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DePaul women’s hoops reaches No. 7 in Associated Press Poll

February 21, 2011

The DePaul women’s basketball team is having a record-breaking year — its 25-3 record is a program-best; its 12 BIG EAST wins is a first and on Monday when the Associated Press Poll was released, the Blue Demons were ranked No. 7 — the highest in the program’s 37-year history.

Prior to the poll’s release, junior forward Keisha Hampton was named to the BIG EAST Conference Weekly honor roll.

Keisha Hampton was named to the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll for the fourth time this season.

The Blue Demons (25-3, 12-1 BIG EAST) ran their McGrath-Phillips winning streak to 18 games last week with victories over BIG EAST foes Rutgers and No. 18/18 Georgetown.  During DePaul’s home court winning streak which spans two seasons, the Blue Demons average margin of victory is 20.1 points.  DePaul has also defeated four top 25 opponents (No. 3/2 Stanford, No. 8/8 West Virginia, No. 21/22 Marquette and No. 18/18 Georgetown) during its streak which currently stands at 377 days.

With DePaul’s win on Sunday over the Hoyas, the Blue Demons clinched a double-bye in the BIG EAST Conference Championship which will be played in Hartford, Conn., March 4-8.  DePaul’s first game of the Championship is scheduled for March 6 and will be televised on ESPNU.

DePaul’s program-best No. 7 ranking comes on the heels of the Blue Demons winning 12 of their last 13 games with its lone loss during that period at No. 2/2 Connecticut on Feb. 5. Prior to its loss at UConn, DePaul was ranked No. 9 in the Associated Press Poll that was released on Jan. 31, 2011 — at the time, the program’s highest ranking ever.

Hampton received her fourth BIG EAST Weekly honor roll accolade on Monday after leading the Blue Demons with 17.0 points last week.  The junior tallied 22 points, dished out a career-best seven assists, tallied three blocks and was 5-of-11 from 3-point range in DePaul’s win over Rutgers.  The Philadelphia native scored 12 points against Georgetown.

The Blue Demons return to action at Louisville on Feb. 23 before traveling to rival Marquette on Feb. 26.  DePaul closes out the regular season at home against Notre Dame, who is ranked No. 8 in this week’s AP Poll, on Feb. 28.

Tickets for the 8 p.m. clash with the Irish are still available and can be purchased from the DePaul ticket office located at 2323 N. Sheffield Ave. or by calling (773) 325-SLAM.

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Bella Itkin Konrath, beloved director and master teacher, dies at 90

February 10, 2011

The Theatre School at DePaul University sadly announces the passing of Dr. Bella Itkin Konrath, who died at St. Joseph’s Hospital in the afternoon on Wednesday, Feb. 9, at age 90.

Dr. Itkin was Professor Emeritus of acting at The Theatre School at DePaul University, formerly the Goodman School of Drama, where she taught for 47 years, and directed over 200 productions, including The Seagull, Romeo and Juliet, Toys In The Attic, The Cherry Orchard, A Streetcar Named Desire and the Chicago premiere of Tennessee Williams’ Eccentricities of a Nightingale.

A funeral mass for Itkin will be said Saturday at 10 a.m. at the St. Vincent de Paul Church, 1010 W. Webster St.

Read announcement in the Chicago Tribune >>

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Sister Helen Prejean donates personal archives to DePaul University

February 10, 2011

Sister Helen Prejean

DePaul University announced on Feb. 9 that it will house the personal archives of Sister Helen Prejean, C.S.J., the crusading New Orleans nun who has dedicated her life to serving the poor and who is a national voice for abolishing capital punishment through the Ministry Against the Death Penalty.

Her archives include personal journals, notes from meetings, letters, speeches and other artifacts spanning a period of 30 years. The papers include her personal correspondence and manuscripts for her books “The Death of Innocents” and “Dead Man Walking”— the latter a best-selling account of Prejean’s spiritual relationship with a Louisiana death-row inmate that was the basis of an Oscar-winning 1996 film.

Prejean, 71, a member of the Congregation of St. Joseph, has been one of the nation’s leading voices opposing the death penalty. Her ministry to death-row inmates began 30 years ago. During that time, she has prayed with five men before and accompanied them to their executions. Her work has been on multiple fronts, including serving as chair of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty in the 1990s.

“Sister Prejean has long been a leading light in the fight for social justice across a wide spectrum of issues, especially the movement to end capital punishment in the United States,” said the Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M., DePaul’s president. “We are deeply honored that she has chosen DePaul to preserve the records of her life’s work. We are committed to making certain that her papers will long serve as an important and accessible research tool for scholars and others interested in fighting for the rights of the condemned.”

After receiving requests from a number of other universities, Prejean chose DePaul to archive her records in part because of DePaul’s long commitment to social justice issues. DePaul’s College of Law is home to the Center for Justice in Capital Cases (CJCC), which is headed by Andrea Lyon, professor of law at DePaul and one of the nation’s leading death-penalty attorneys.

“I can’t think of a more appropriate place to archive the records of my life’s work than DePaul, as my work has so closely aligned with the university’s mission that is guided by its patron St. Vincent de Paul’s teachings on charity and social justice,” said Prejean. “I was impressed by the diversity of DePaul’s student body, and the commitment to service and to the poor by academic departments throughout the university.”

DePaul’s relationship with Prejean dates back many years. She received an honorary degree from the university in 2000 and has been a key participant in CJCC conferences examining issues surrounding the death penalty.

Discussion of Prejean donating her archives to DePaul first arose when she was interviewed at her New Orleans home in 2009 by Susanne Dumbleton, a DePaul professor and former dean of its School for New Learning, who is writing a book about extraordinary women leaders in social justice movements around the world.

Read the full article in the DePaul Newsroom >>

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