Drexel’s Seventh President: William Walsh Hagerty
In the thirty-two years since William Walsh Hagerty was president of Drexel University much has changed, but the core attributes embodied by President Hagerty and reflected throughout his tenure remain the same. Drexel students are energetic, innovative and focused.
In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of former Drexel president president, William Walsh Hagerty, the Libraries is taking a look back at the many ways that Dr. Hagerty helped to build the institution we know today. Most notably, Dr. Hagerty led Drexel in its transition from the Drexel Institute of Technology to the comprehensive research university it is today. In 1970, the Drexel Institute officially became Drexel University.
Drexel grew dramatically under Dr. Hagerty’s tenure. He granted twice as many degrees as any of his predecessors dating back to 1891 and grew the physical campus from ten to nearly forty acres, doubling the number of academic and service facilities. Contributing to this growth were the expansion of graduate programs and the awarding of Drexel’s first doctoral degrees.
The University gained notoriety in 1984, when Dr. Hagerty initiated the groundbreaking microcomputer program. The program required all incoming freshmen to have access to a personal computer and it made Drexel the first university in the nation to institute such a policy on a wide scale.
Additionally, Dr. Hagerty created the College of Science and College of Humanities and Social Sciences, forming the basis for today’s College of Arts and Sciences and led Drexel in its first major fund raising campaign, which exceeded its goal.
William Walsh Hagerty served the University for twenty-one years from 1963 to 1984. He was a nationally recognized educator in engineering and served on a number of educational commissions, including the National Commission for Cooperative Education, the Selection Committee for Presidential Scholars and the Commission for Independent Colleges and Universities.
Dr. Hagerty was named by President Lyndon Johnson as one of the first two Presidential appointees to the Communications Satellite Corporation in 1965, served as an advisor to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and was a board member of the National Science Foundation.
Prior to his time at Drexel, Dr. Hagerty was the dean of the College of Engineering and director of the Bureau of Engineering and Research at the University of Texas. He also had served as the dean of engineering at the University of Delaware and taught at Villanova University and the Universities of Cincinnati and Michigan.
Learn more at: Drexel, Hagerty and Philadelphia, an event recognizing Dr. Hagerty and his family. This event will take place on Friday, June 10, 2016, the date that would have been Dr. Hagerty’s 100th birthday. It will include a talk on the impact of his presidency and a custom cake in the shape of the library building that bears his name. For more information, please visit the Libraries’ website.