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Giving Credit Where Credit is Due: Antoinette Westphal

This essay is the sixth in the series Drexel students write about Drexel history

Giving Credit Where Credit is Due: Antoinette Westphal

by Emily Kim

Drexel University’s art corner, the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts and Design (AWCoMaD), is located at the corner of 33rd and Market Street. The college offers 14 undergraduate and 5 graduate degrees as well as a summer program for prospective high school students. The school has endured more than a century’s worth of name changes, some ten at last count. Since 2005 it has been named in honor of the late Antoinette Passo Westphal at the request of her husband Ray Westphal. Both are 1959 Drexel graduates, who also received honorary degrees in 2002.

Antoinette was undoubtedly a versatile and active Dragon on campus. As a fashion student, she was successful in balancing her academics with her extracurricular activities. She was captain of both the field hockey and lacrosse teams, a member of the Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority, president of the Panhellenic Council, and the gossip columnist, known as the Court Jester, for the Triangle newspaper.

Antoinette Westphal 1959Antoinette Westphal pictured in the 1959 Lexerd yearbook

Her well-rounded quality followed her throughout life, even after graduation from Drexel. Her husband Ray founded Vertex, Inc., a tax compliance software company, in the 1970s, and she became one of its first employees. Upon retirement from her husband’s company, she started a day spa which thrived and won many awards.

The Westphals are among the most ardent benefactors in the history of the University. They have contributed a great deal to the Drexel community, particularly to the College of Media Arts and Design and its programs. AWCoMaD is home to the Mandell Theater, the Leonard Pearlstein Gallery, Drexel’s television station (DUTV), the Kal and Lucille Rudman Institute for Entertainment Industry Studies, MAD Dragon Records (MDR), and the Historic Costume Collection. The Mandell Theater is a 424-seat venue for students enrolled in theater, dance, and music programs. Pearlstein Gallery showcases masterpieces of local, national, and international contemporary artists and designers. Drexel’s own television station is also a major component of AWCoMaD, giving students the opportunity to gain experience in television management and production through educational broadcasting that reaches all Philadelphians. MDR is Drexel’s prestigious student-run musical record label that has released almost two dozen titles. The University’s Historic Costume Collection was originally intended to be an educational aid to Drexel students. Locals have donated to the collection since the 1920s, and it has since been nationally acclaimed for its antiques and treasures.

In addition to these facilities and resources, AWCoMaD is celebrated for its distinguished academics. Perhaps these will be the students who follow the path that the late alumna Antoinette Westphal once traveled.

Information for this article came from the 10/21/2005 Triangle article, "CoMAD renamed in honor of late alumna," by Jason Gomes.

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