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Dean's Update: Celebrating Drexel's 125th Anniversary

November 2, 2016

The celebration of the founding of Drexel - 125 years ago, on December 17, 1891 - has begun. In preparation for this significant milestone, President Fry commissioned the creation of a book about Drexel's history, looking both at the University and at the city of Philadelphia. The book is a collection of essays authored mostly by Drexel faculty. Two Drexel faculty members, Scott Knowles and Richardson Dilworth, served as co-editors of the volume, and also contributed individual chapters. The book - Building Drexel: The University and Its City, 1891-2016--is being published by Temple University Press and should be released in time for the celebration kickoff next month.

The Drexel Libraries, and particularly its Archives, has been instrumental in supporting the preparation of this history book. Over the past year, researchers and students working under the direction of the book's editors have visited the Archives looking for publications, documents, images, artifacts and other records to use in preparing their chapters. Libraries staff helped them search and locate the collections, retrieving boxes of materials for researchers to review in the special reading room in Hagerty Library. The contributions of the Libraries - and particularly the work of the Archives staff - is generously noted in the book's acknowledgements, as is the desire to bring attention to the value of keeping the University's history: 'The university archives is an extraordinary repository, and we hope that this book marks a launching point for increased attention to the creation and curation of Drexel's history.'

In addition to the book release, numerous other events and activities are scheduled for the anniversary celebration: a kickoff campus holiday party, at least two major exhibits, a course open to the public with lectures and tours, toasts raised with a unique 'Dragon's Gold' beer brewed especially for the occasion and special merchandise on sale at the bookstore.

The Libraries is joining the theme through its own popular ScholarSip series--a quarterly social gathering of faculty and professional staff to toast the last day of class each term and to engage with 'food for thought' speakers that trigger conversations about their interdisciplinary research. Now in its 5th year, the series' event on December 5 will feature faculty and administrators who authored a chapter in the anniversary book. Richardson Dilworth, professor of political science and co-editor of Building Drexel, will share insights about preparing the book and will provide an opportunity for attendees to purchase a signed copy. Other ScholarSip speakers will cover the growth of online education and the challenge of preparing a family history, using the Libraries' University Archives to tell the Drexel story. This year we are also partnering with Alumni Relations to invite alums in the Philadelphia region to attend the networking social events. The website tracks other campus celebrations.

The Libraries is also exploring a complementary series for students, 'ScholarSnacks,' which will be a time for Drexel students to share their research experiences each quarter. This term, we will display an exhibit in the Hagerty Library, featuring materials from the Archives that were used in the anniversary book and focusing on students' contributions. We hope to launch this ScholarSnacks series at the end of the fall term by adding the event as a break from students' intense preparation for finals.

Stop by the Libraries to check a question you might have about Drexel's history or to join in some of the celebrations. And on December 17, wherever you are and with whatever you're sipping, raise a toast to Drexel's 125 years.

Danuta A. Nitecki
Dean of Libraries

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