This essay is the fifth in the series Drexel students write about Drexel history
James Creese, The Students' Champion
by Edward Ho, Rob Zielinski, Bryan Sternlieb
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.
James Creese was the 6th President of Drexel, serving from 1945 to 1963. He modeled the Drexel Institute of Technology after MIT, with technology and engineering as the focus. He traveled to the Soviet Union, at the height of the space race in 1956, because he believed that they had far superior programming.
Born in Leetsdale, PA in 1896, he graduated from Princeton University with a Bachelor’s degree in humanities and after the war, a Master’s degree. During World War I he served as a Second Lieutenant for the U.S. Army. As World War II ended, Drexel experienced a surge in new students and the school began to solidify itself among colleges. The Engineering School initiated graduate degrees.
Creese dedicated many of the school’s resources to building more facilities, laboratories, and creating more space on campus for students. These buildings included: the Engineering Laboratories, the Korman Library Center, Residential Dormitories, and the Campus Activities Center. He set the stage for Drexel's future growth.
After retirement from Drexel, Creese continued to serve the public interest by working for educational foundations, championing students until his death in 1966.
Sources for this post include Miriam Kotzin's
A history of Drexel University, 1941-1963 (Philadelphia : Drexel University, 1983) and
James Creese administration records, 1945-1963 (Drexel University Archives, collection UR 1.7).
President Creese lays the cornerstone to the new student center, 1962