Gordon Tech College Prep will become DePaul College Prep as soon as summer, the school’s board announced Wednesday.
The school in the 3600 block of North California Avenue will be renamed DePaul College Prep, but its campus will be known as “Fr. Gordon Campus.” according to a letter sent by the school board to Gordon Tech families. The board also approved the establishment of the “Fr. Francis Gordon Scholarship Fund,” an endowment scholarship for academically eligible family members of Gordon Tech alumni.
And a “Heritage Committee” will “ensure that the sponsorship of the Congregation of the Resurrection and the history and heritage of Fr. Francis Gordon, CR [Congregation of the Resurrection] and Gordon Tech are appropriately honored, celebrated and respected,” the letter said.
The school’s mascot — the Rams — as well as the school’s symbolic orange color will remain, but the board may add another color to “represent the future direction of the school.”
The school met some resistance after the Gordon Tech Rebranding Task Force, formed by the school board in November, sent out a letter Jan. 18 to Gordon Tech alumni, alerting them to a meeting to talk about ways to ensure the school’s image and reputation and to discuss ways to improve the school’s academics.
In addition to examining a name change, part of the task force’s mission was to expand the school’s academics, upgrade facilities and add technology.
But not all alumni were on board with the change. Some argued DePaul, which became an academic partner in 2012, was taking away a community staple. Through Facebook and Twitter, many alumni spread the word on the alumni association page, and also tweeted with the hashtag #WeAreGt.
Adrian Cazares, a 2000 graduate who runs his own private equity and venture capital firm, has staunchly protested the name change since January. On Wednesday, he said he was “heartbroken” by the news.
“We’re not going to have a school to visit like we did in the past,” Cazares said. He said the school keeping both the color orange and the mascot name is not enough.
“I feel like it’s just trying to put a Band-Aid on what they already decided to do. They believe that keeping the orange and keeping the Rams as the school mascot would appease the masses” so they’ll support the new DePaul College Prep. “Unfortunately, that’s not going to be the case,” Cazares said. “It’s nice but it’s not enough. It’s not enough to change my mind.”
Alumni were told in the January letter that many families of prospective students had voiced their opinion that DePaul’s involvement with the school was one of the most “promising” changes to have happened to the school, which has struggled with falling enrollment and fundraising. The letter claimed those families suggested the name change and said DePaul didn’t ask for the name change or to take over the school.
Mary Dempsey, former city library commissioner and a member of DePaul University’s Board of Trustees, is also the chair of the rebranding task force and on the vice chair of Gordon Tech’s board of directors. She said the task force met with parents twice, as well as students and alumni to hear what was important to them.
“It really was a decision born out of a lot of thought and compromise and, if I may say, it’s a Catholic school, so a lot of praying and thinking, and a really good series of dialogues,” said Dempsey.
Dempsey said Gordon Tech faculty is already working in partnership with DePaul’s theater, music, education and computer and digital media colleges. It’s also using a tutoring program to help kids who are struggling. She said the school has also implemented new professional development programs.
“You’ll see a great deal more improvements over the next year and the next few years,” Dempsey said.
She said the signs reminding students it’s the Father Gordon Campus will be “everywhere.”
“We will always link those two names on our signs and on our website because they really beautifully represent the heritage and the future of school,” Dempsey said.
Some current students, as well as former alumni tweeted messages about the name change along with a picture of a ram: “In our hearts we will always be Gordon Tech. R.I.P. 1952-2014.”
Ultimately, the decision to change the name to DePaul was made by the Congregation of the Resurrection — made up of a group of Roman Catholic priests, brothers and seminarians who founded Gordon Tech and many other Chicago-area schools.