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Stoute visits Canisius as second of three presidential finalists

Steve Stoute, the vice president for strategic initiatives and chief of staff at DePaul University, visited Canisius’s campus on Monday afternoon as the second of three finalists for school president.

A native of Trinidad and Tobago, Stoute attended Seton Hall University in New Jersey where he and his family found the value of Catholic education, a value that has followed him since. He went to DePaul — located in Chicago — in 2018, after stops at Princeton University as an assistant director for the Princeton Varsity Club. Before that, he was the capital giving officer in the office of development, as well as University of Southern California as the life skills coordinator in the athletics department. He also had a non–academic stop at Dechert LLP in Philadelphia, as an associate specializing in corporate and security matters, with his attorney background.

At DePaul, he reports directly to the president and oversees the cabinet.

In his address to the campus community on Monday afternoon, Stoute addressed the importance of meeting prospective students “where they are” and using data-driven solutions to do that, such as utilizing Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok where they can attract students through multimedia platforms. He says he wants the school to be able to invest in any area where prospective students could come from around the country.

On top of that, he noted that he hopes to have a 360-degree, holistic view on prospective students that includes grades, class ranks, alumni and faculty interviews, writing samples and taking note of extracurricular activities. He mentioned that going test-free may be a part of that solution. The same goes for trying to increase the school’s graduation rate.

“I do not think that test scores are indicative of college success: … we must rethink what it means to be excellent,” Stoute said during his address.

He also wishes to increase student engagement, something that has lacked at colleges across the board since the onset of the pandemic. He wants to “create space, create opportunities and invest in building that community. … It is critically important to our success.” He mentioned things like having open office hours and doing things like having lunch with students in the dining hall in order to create a campus community, while also continuing things like strong student-professor relationships.

With his athletics background, he also stressed the importance of athletics on campus and said that it is in his plan to invest in it, wanting Canisius’s Division I sports to be a reason why students come to Canisius; he wants it to feel like students are supporting their peers by going to games, while he understands that the NCAA is rapidly changing and no schools are immune to that.

If selected, Stoute would be the first black president in the 151-year history of Canisius.

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