This essay is the fourth and final in a series about Drexel's presidents, marking the inauguration of John A. Fry.
By Bill Paterson
Dr. Kenneth G. Matheson became the third present of the Drexel Institute in 1921. Thirty years old, Drexel faced problems ranging from lowered enrollment and a related drop in income; a lack of cohesion amongst the faculty and alumni communities; and the great need for updated equipment and facilities. Dr. Matheson took these challenges seriously, establishing and beginning to execute a plan of improvement even before officially taking office. To cure these ills Dr. Matheson reorganized Drexel’s faculty and administrative structure, gave faculty an active voice in administration and reached out to students and alumni. An ardent supporter of the young cooperative education program, Dr. Matheson greatly expanded Drexel’s network of employers in the program to more than eight hundred. It was under Dr. Matheson’s hand that the engineering program was accredited, and became a five year program. Pushing himself until the end, in 1931 Dr. Matheson died of a heart attack, having postponed the health leave the Board of Trustees had voted for him, and leaving a greatly improved, far more solvent Drexel with a significantly expanded campus.
This essay is the third in a series about Drexel's presidents, marking the inauguration of John A. Fry.
Parke R. Kolbe and the Fascination of Unattainable Goals
By Martha Cornog
“Anyone with knowledge of another language….,” suggested Parke Kolbe, “may share the joy of creative genius vicariously by indulging in translation. He may not produce a literary masterpiece even at second-hand, but he will at least know and appreciate more adequately the work of the truly great.”
Drexel’s fourth President thought it was fun to translate foreign literature in his spare time. Originally a Professor of Modern Languages and trained as a linguist, Kolbe further broadened the collective background of the Drexel presidency. First president James MacAlister had been distinguished in Education, his successor Hollis Godfrey in Engineering, and Godfrey’s successor Kenneth Matheson in English.
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.
Drexel University Archives is pleased to present the work of ten Drexel students writing about innovation at Drexel. Each Thursday during this Spring quarter, we will feature a new essay. These essays were written for Professor Sheryl Simons' English 102 class, Winter quarter 2011.
Please join us for an open house at the Drexel University Archives this Wednesday, March 30, from 5-7 P.M.
The Archives is located on the Lower Level of Hagerty Library.
Why come to the open house?
You can examine rare books and manuscripts!
You'll see documents and photographs from Drexel history!
You'll learn about our services and upcoming events!
If that sounds like fun, come to the Archives this Wednesday at 5 p.m.!
Please join us for a reception to mark the opening of the Archives new exhibition, "Dear Mr. President: Letters to and from the Drexel Presidents." The reception will be held on the first floor of Hagerty Library from 4-6 p.m. today.
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.
If you're planning to do some research on Drexel history, or want to see rare books from the dawn of the age of printing, please plan to come an hour later. We're not opening until 2:00 so that staff can attend a lecture by Dr. Barbara Tillett, Chief of the Policy and Standards Division (PSD) at the Library of Congress. There's more information on her talk here, if you're interested.
See you at 2:00!