This essay is the second in a series about Drexel presidents
Hollis Godfrey and Drexel's Design
By Martha Cornog
Although he authored a science fiction novel titled The Man Who Ended War, Hollis Godfrey did not inspire peace after taking over as the second president of the Drexel Institute of Art, Science, and Industry. While the expertise of predecessor James McAlister came through experience with administering secondary school systems, Godfrey’s background was all very much higher education: two doctoral degrees in science and engineering, two in law, and a position on the faculty of MIT. MacAlister’s legacy, a collective of self-run departments granting no degrees, struck Godfrey as likely to hold Drexel back from its full potential. The Drexel name should become positioned as a respected source of technical education as the new century unfolded, and as an institution to be reckoned with.1
Accordingly, Godfrey set immediately to reorganize the departments and faculty, and to push for degree-granting status. Of the original eighteen departments, he trimmed them down to eight departments within three schools: the School of Engineering, the School of Domestic Science and Arts, and the Secretarial School. This last later became the School of Business Administration. However, the Library School and the Architectural Department ended up on the cutting room floor. Simultaneously, Godfrey began pushing the faculty towards getting additional training, funding their coursework at nearby universities and bringing in guest speakers.
Perhaps surprising to us today, the newly-birthed Drexel Institute gave no collegial degrees. In setting up the original organization, James MacAlister envisioned something in the spirit of vocational guilds.1 Founder Anthony J. Drexel together with collaborators George W. Childs and Drexel’s wife Ellen Rozet Drexel had intended a vocational emphasis,2 but they themselves were not educators. So it was MacAlister who pulled together overall structure, departments, and faculty. And through MacAlister, who had emigrated from Scotland at age 10 and had run the public school systems in Milwaukee and Philadelphia, the original “Drexel Institute” concept took shape: advanced vocational training, somewhere between high school and any later higher education.
This essay is the seventh in the series Drexel students write about Drexel history
The Armory and "The Dandy First" 103rd Engineer Regiment
by Christopher Murphy
Before the United States was established as a nation, Benjamin Franklin had laid the framework in Philadelphia for one of the greatest domestic military branches in the world. The 103rd Engineer Regiment, “the Dandy First,” created in 1747, is considered the first regiment of the nation’s National Guard.
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.
In the student center, the wall plaque reads: “A compassionate and witty gentleman, a scholar of repute, the students’ champion. A sensitive humanist, he molded a dynamic technological institution devoted to enriching the quality of life for all mankind.” While heartfelt, the words only begin to measure the true impact of James Creese on the Drexel Institute.
This essay is the fourth in the series Drexel students write about Drexel history
Women in Sports at Drexel
by Andi Stampone and Tanmai Rayavarapu
Since its inception, Drexel University has always encouraged its women students to participate in athletics. Today, we have eight women’s Division I sports teams: basketball, soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, swimming, tennis, rowing, and softball.
This essay is the second in the series Drexel students write about Drexel history
Left in the Dark
by William F.
A Toy Wagon to the Moon: Wernher von Braun and Rocket Engineering
By Martha Cornog
As a 12-year-old, little Wernher was hauled in by the police for setting off explosions on the street. The child had attached fireworks to his toy wagon, trying to make a rocket-propelled car like those developed by Max Valier and Fritz von Open. At school, he did not do well at math or physics until he realized the connection with space travel, which fascinated him.
Two Sugars, Cream, and an Extra Napkin with That: Portia Isaacson and the First Computer Store
By Martha Cornog
The bar napkin and the airline napkin have long served to record innovation before the keyboard. And thus flying home from the First World Altair Convention, Portia Isaacson used a napkin to pencil in her business plan for a computer store. Her Micro Store opened in March 1976 right across the freeway from Texas Instruments, part of a transition in computing that was far from micro in scope or impact.
Celestial Space and Eternal Darkness: The Piccards’ Engineering Feats
By Martha Cornog
When your father twice beats the record for the highest balloon flight, what can you do but explore the eternal darkness of the ocean’s depths? At first, Jacques Piccard was just helping out with dad’s bathyscaphe—his real career was teaching economics at the University of Geneva. Father Auguste was internationally recognized for his adventures in the upper atmosphere, having made twenty-seven balloon flights and setting a final record of over 72,000 feet.