With just 70 students when it was founded in 1898, DePaul has grown to become the nation’s largest Catholic university. DePaul, named for St. Vincent de Paul, has maintained its commitment to serve students who might otherwise be denied a quality education, from turn-of-the-century women and returning veterans to first-generation, low-income city residents. Our urban, multicultural perspective has led to innovative programs and a hands-on learning approach that reflects our deep ties throughout Chicago and a growing international influence.

Explore DePaul’s History

1875 – 1909


DePaul is established in Lincoln Park by the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentian priests and brothers) to serve the children of immigrants. It builds its first buildings, forms football and baseball teams and an alumni association, and increases its enrollment from about 70 to about 200 students.

1910 – 1919

Breaking Barriers

DePaul begins admitting women, establishing its reputation as a groundbreaker in Catholic education. It starts offering courses in the Loop and founds the colleges of Commerce, Music and Law.

1920 – 1929

D-men to Demons

The nickname “Blue Demons” is first used and the basketball team established. Enrollment exceeds 3,000.

1930 – 1939

New Programs, New Buildings

The drama and elementary education programs are established and the building program continues with the Hall of Science, now O’Connell Hall. Enrollment exceeds 8,000.

1940 – 1949

War Years

DePaul participates in war training and welcomes returning veterans, who boost enrollment past 11,000. New programs include the MBA. Legendary men’s basketball coach Ray Meyer is hired.

1950 – 1959

At Home in the Loop

The Lewis Building is donated to DePaul, establishing a permanent location for the Loop Campus. Lincoln Park construction includes Alumni Hall, home of the basketball program for many years. DePaul adopts “I will show you the way of wisdom” as its motto.

1960 – 1969

Academic Expansion

DePaul establishes its first doctoral programs and the undergraduate honors program. The School of Education is established. Lincoln Park construction includes the Schmitt Academic Center (SAC).

1970 – 1979

Major Acquisitions

DePaul adds the land and buildings of the McCormick Theological Seminary to the Lincoln Park Campus and buys what is now O’Malley Place for the Loop Campus. It acquires the Goodman School of Drama, which faced closure. The School for New Learning, one of the nation’s first colleges dedicated to adult students, is created, as is the university’s first suburban campus in Park Ridge.

1980 – 1989

Addressing urban, academic issues

DePaul creates the computer science department. It buys the Merle Reskin Theatre and the building that now houses the College of Computing and Digital Media on the Loop Campus. Many centers and institutes are established, focusing research on urban problems and emerging issues. Enrollment is nearly 15,000.

1990 – 1999

Building Boom

DePaul purchases and renovates the Goldblatt’s Building, rechristened the DePaul Center, on the Loop Campus. Lincoln Park construction includes Richardson Library, the new Student Center and Ray Meyer Fitness and Recreation Center, McGowan North and The Quad. The school of computer science is created. DePaul celebrates its centennial.

2000 – 2009

Second Century

U.S. President Bill Clinton speaks at DePaul. The Steans Center for Community-based Service Learning is created. DePaul becomes the nation’s largest Catholic university, with enrollment exceeding 25,000.

2010 –

DePaul Today

Radio DePaul is named the nation’s best student radio station. DePaul receives $30 million gift from Richard Driehaus.


DePaul University was founded as a Catholic institution in 1898 by the Congregation of the Mission priests and brethren, known as the Vincentians.

As followers of 17th century French priest Saint Vincent de Paul, the Vincentians valued philanthropy and access for everyone.

Since its founding, and in keeping with its mission, DePaul has been widely known for welcoming students and employees from all ethnicities, religions and backgrounds.