Helmut Epp bids farewell as provost
June 21, 2012
Faculty and staff filled Cortelyou Commons to celebrate Helmut Epp’s time as provost. A series of speakers paid tribute to the university’s chief academic officer of the past seven years with a mixture of heartfelt appreciation and good-natured ribbing.
The event on June 7 included the unveiling of a rendering of the collaboration lab on the first floor of the CDM Center that will now be known as the Helmut P. Epp Collaboration Lab. His portrait, also unveiled at the gathering, will be displayed in the lab of the college he founded in 1995 when the Computer Science Department became a free-standing unit.
“His portrait will hang in the place where his heart has always been,” said the Rev. Dennis Holtschneider, C.M., president, who hosted the event and predicted that the lab will be known more colloquially as the “Eppicenter.”
“Helmut made a powerful difference in what this institution has become,” said Fr. Holtschneider, noting that Epp, who had been the dean of what’s now CDM, had to be talked into taking the provost’s position.
“He was the reluctant provost,” said another speaker, Jacqueline Taylor, dean of the College of Communication. “But he took the job because he understood that the university needed him and because he loves DePaul.”
Epp, who joined the university 38 years ago and whose legacy includes the creation of the College of Communication and the College of Science and Health, characteristically downplayed the plaudits. He noted that he has been at the university for a third of its 114-year history. “I have seen it grow, and I have seen it built, but it’s due to the actions of many,” said Epp, who will return to faculty after a leave.
He used a portion of his parting words as provost to make a plea for children of illegal immigrants. He noted that he emigrated with his mother from war-torn Germany to a small town in Illinois, where he was teased by schoolmates for not knowing English.
“What is happening to illegal immigrants is terrible, there is no compassion.” He said that as a condition of his U.S. citizenship, he needed to pass a test on the U.S. Constitution. “I realized how much I loved the U.S. Constitution,” he said. “I hope it comes back into fashion.”