Gordon Tech mulls changing its name



A proposal to change the name of Gordon Tech High School to DePaul College Prep High School has drawn opposition from some graduates of the school.

Gordon Tech, 3633 N. California Ave., formed a partnership with DePaul University in 2012. The school, which was founded in 1952, was an all-boys school until it became coeducational in 2002. It is named after the Very Reverend Francis Gordon, a leader of the Polish community in Chicago in the early 20th Century and of the Congregation of the Resurrection, which founded the school.

At a meeting held by the Gordon Rebranding Committee to discuss the school’s image, reputation, brand identity and academic improvements, some alumni expressed concern about the possible name change.

About 200 graduates of the school attended the meeting, and the majority of the 56 who spoke said they do not want to see the school’s named changed, according to Mary Dempsey, a member of the DePaul Board of Trustees and the chairwoman of Gordon Tech’s Rebranding Task Force. Dempsey said that the school also heard via e-mail from other graduates who support the name change.

"We are undergoing an entire rebranding process," Dempsey said. "We’re looking at the overall image of school, the overall brand of the school. The name change is something that has come up from market studies from surrounding communities."

In addition to the name change, the task force is seeking to upgrade the infrastructure of the school, add technology and expand academics.

Gordon Tech received a $100,000 grant from the Macarthur Foundation to hire a director of connected learning. The grant is designed to allow the school to create more learning spaces and implement a 21st Century digital skills set for students. The plan is to upgrade infrastructure to move to one-on-one computing with students.

Because of the connection with DePaul, Gordon Tech is now a candidate for the International Baccalaureate Program.

"As we move forward, we want to be respectful of the Gordon Tech heritage and name," Dempsey said.

Steve Imparl, who graduated from the school in 1981, said he is delighted with the changes that will improve the school but that it can be done without changing the name. Imparl said if the name change is approved, the history of the school might not be lost immediately, but that in time it will.

"A lot of rich history and tradition would be lost," Imparl said. "The name is part of our tradition, and the big concern is that we will lose a lot of our heritage and history."

Joseph Haugh, who graduated from Gordon Tech in 1984, said he thinks that the rebranding process is needed. Haugh mentors two students at the school as part of the Big Shoulders Fund, which provides support to Catholic schools in the city.

"I understand the passion shown for keeping the name," Haugh said. "I love the name, but this will put us on a patch that we want."

The decision on the name change will be made by the Congregation of the Resurrection, a group made up Roman Catholic priests, brothers and seminarians who founded Gordon Tech and other Chicago-area schools.