Office of the Provost
Office of the Provost Newsletter - Fall 2014

Well Wishes for the Fall Term

John Keats called autumn the “Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.” As I conclude over six years as your Provost and twenty years as an academic administrator at Drexel, the description carries special resonance for me. I look forward to some time to reflect and to changing the rhythms of how I spend my time. Much of what I will be reflecting on involves the University we have built at Drexel, working together, arguing ideas, realizing what best serves our students and the pursuit of knowledge. Work that, at its best, rightfully deserves to be called “fruitful.”

I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished together even as I’m mindful of the challenges ahead. Drexel is about becoming, with possibilities beckoning those with imagination and dedication. I wish you all great success in your teaching, scholarship, and service to the University and region. And I look forward to seeing you on campus again after this year. My parting gift is Keats’s poem in its entirety. Have a great year.


Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the mossed cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimmed their clammy cell.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reaped furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers;
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,--
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir, the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft,
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

- John Keats, written September 19, 1819; first published in 1820

Letter from the Interim Provost

James Herbert, Ph.D.,
Interim Provost

I am honored and deeply humbled to serve as Interim Provost for the coming year. I appreciate President Fry’s vote of confidence in my leadership. I would like to express my sincere thanks to Mark Greenberg for his guidance, collegiality, and friendship over the past summer as I transitioned into this role. We all owe Mark an enormous debt of gratitude for his able and transformative leadership over the past six years. The progress we will realize over the coming year will be due in no small part to the foundation laid by Mark. I would also like to thank my friend and colleague Kirk Heilbrun for graciously agreeing to step into the role of Head of the Department of Psychology during my time in the Provost’s Office. Finally, I extend my deep appreciation to all of those among the senior administration, faculty, and professional staff who have helped me in one way or another navigate this transition. I am profoundly grateful to each of you.

Having previously served in another interim leadership role at Drexel, there is one thing I know about this place: It is far too dynamic and forward-moving for a leader – interim or otherwise -- to be content merely to “keep the trains running on time.” We are all far too ambitious for such an approach, and we are compelled to move forward boldly and decisively. Consequently, I plan to work closely with President Fry, our Board of Trustees, the deans and other senior leaders, my faculty colleagues, and our students to advance key initiatives in our visionary strategic plan. Among the issues we will address over the coming year (in no particular order) include:

  • An analysis of the Drexel network, with the goal of articulating concrete action plans for its future
  • Exploration of the development of a graduate school and/or creating a position of Dean of Graduate Studies
  • Revising our policy for the way we charge tuition to PhD students
  • Examining the Program Alignment and Review process to ensure clarity of purpose, and effectiveness and efficiency of implementation
  • Working with facilities, the Office of Research, the college deans, and others on a plan to address infrastructure needs
  • Exploration of bold curricular and scheduling options to address disruptive forces in higher education
  • Clarify and begin to address concerns of our adjunct faculty
  • Enhance our efforts to recruit a more diverse faculty
  • Enhance our efforts to retain highly productive faculty members who might be tempted to move elsewhere
  • Integrate the College of Medicine fully into the rest of the university by fostering interdisciplinary research and reconciling academic policies and procedures
  • Work closely with the Office of the Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer on the roll out of the new Revenue Centered Management budgeting model
  • Work closely with the Office of Enrollment Management and Student Success on a restructuring of the way we recruit, admit, and retain students

Of course, this is not an exhaustive list. In some cases, we will be able to see through a project to closure, whereas in others an ongoing multi-year effort will be required. Importantly, each and every one of these initiatives will require that we work closely together, as partners. None of these efforts can be truly successful without the close cooperation of all relevant stakeholders, and the faculty in particular.

In summary, my overarching goals for the coming year are to continue to advance the academic mission of the university, and to set the stage for the recruitment of a strong provost who will work closely with President Fry, the senior university leadership, those of us on the faculty, and our students to move Drexel forward to even greater heights. I look forward to working together to make Drexel an even better place to learn and innovate.


In This Issue...





LeBow College of Business

College of Computing & Informatics

School of Education

College of Engineering

Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship

Center for Hospitality and Sport Management

Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design

College of Medicine

School of Public Health

More News


Drexel Center for Academic Excellence

VanR Initiative

Institute for Energy and the Environmanet

Institutional Research, Assessment and Effectiveness4

Office of Graduate Studies

Office of International Programs

Office of the Provost

Office of Faculty Development and Equity

University Libraries



Past Issues of the Newsletter

A Message from the editor

Since its inception in 2008, the Office of the Provost's Newsletter has grown exponentially, from a few select articles to over 40 pieces contributed by the colleges, schools and administrative offices. We are grateful for the contributions and pleasantly overwhelmed in highlighting noteworthy items from around the University and showcasing the accomplishments of the students, faculty, and staff.

That being said we are aware that the newsletter has outgrown its current format. Moving forward, the Provost’s Newsletter will be restructured to have a new look in which articles will have a short introductory paragraph with a link for readers to continue reading those articles of interest to them.

Best wishes for a successful 2014-2015 Academic Year.


Please send comments and questions pertaining to the Provost’s Newsletter or articles of interest to the attention of Donna McVicker,, Editor.


International Students Create Mobile Games for Charity
By Matt Erickson, Staff Writer, University Communications

Huy Dang grew up in one of Vietnam’s most underprivileged cities. Arsen Nikiforouk was raised by his grandparents in a rural village in Ukraine.  With their homes a continent apart, it seems unlikely for them to be friends, much less business partners. But, that is what they have become at Drexel. And, it was their backgrounds — quite different at first glance, but similar in other ways — that helped bring them together. A few years after they came to Drexel, and just a few months after they met, they started their own charitable mobile gaming company, called Beep Cloud Help.

Arsen Nikiforouk and Huy Dan.

Nikiforouk and Dang, who each came to Drexel from across the world after being offered a scholarship, study finance in the LeBow College of Business. After meeting at an on-campus event featuring a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, the duo learned that they had a few things in common: each was interested in being his own boss; grew up in a place where he saw poverty and other problems, firsthand; and, wanted his work to benefit those in need.  “That’s how we decided to do something positive,” said Nikiforouk who, along with Dang, just began his senior year.

Knowing that mobile technology was a growing field, Nikiforouk and Dag decided to create a mobile gaming company that would use banner advertisements to raise money for charity.  However, there was a small hurdle to clear - neither had any experience programming games, and they didn’t have the resources to hire a developer. Thus, over the course of a few months, they taught themselves.  “A lot of sleepless nights,” Dang said.  Eventually, they learned enough to create and release their first game called “Turtle Rock” that centers on a small cartoon turtle that users must move left and right to avoid rapidly approaching horned monsters. “It’s simple but quick-moving action makes it great for children,” Nikiforouk and Dang said.

The game, available free for both iOS and Android devices, also lets users know about its goal of raising money for charity, and Dang and Nikiforouk hope that users will feel good about the idea of helping people while playing.  “I think people like our cause,” Nikiforouk said. “They want us to succeed.”  The results of their first full month in operation offered some proof.  $600 in ad revenue was raised, of which half was donated to a campaign by a doctor in Vietnam to provide free health care for children and half to

In the future, Nikiforouk and Dang hope to grow large enough to hire developers to develop more games, including games tailored for the different causes they will benefit. For now, the two are focused on making “Turtle Rock” the best it can be. Android users seem to think it is quite strong already; the game has received 124 reviews giving it an average of 4.6 stars out of 5.

Nikiforouk and Dang plan to keep at their effort after they finish school. They have not yet decided whether Beep Cloud Help will be a for-profit corporation or a nonprofit group; however, either way, the focus will be to help those in need. The bond Nikifourouk and Dang share from growing up in disadvantaged areas assures this.  “People were struggling every day to make ends meet,” Dang said of his hometown.  And, Dang aspires to emulate his mother, a doctor who helps treat children from families struggling with poverty. Once, he recalls telling his mother that he planned to become successful so that one day she would no longer need to work so hard. But she replied that she would always keep working, whether she needed to or not, because those children would still need help.

With a focus on helping others, Nikiforouk and Dang hope that their work will inspire others to begin similar efforts. “We’re in probably the only industry that wants competitors,” Nikiforouk said, laughing.

Community Based Learning Blooms at the Dornsife Center
By Jennifer Johnson Kebea, Interim Director, Lindy Center for Civic Engagement;
Cyndi Reed Rickards, Assistant Teaching Professor, Culture & Communications; and Jennifer Britton, Launch Director, Dornsife Center

With its prime location, welcoming environment, and accessibility for both students and community members, the Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships has quickly become a natural home for community based learning courses at Drexel University. During the fall term, the Dornsife Center will host three Side by Side courses; a pedagogy that aims to co-create learning in a class comprised of an even number of traditional Drexel students and community students.

“Gleaning, Food Security, and Agriculture”, taught by CoAS English professor, Dr. Eva Thury, will expose students to the concept of gleaning through myriad ways including on the farm, in films and novels, on television, and throughout history. Students will work closely with Philabundance, a Philadelphia nonprofit focused on hunger relief, to examine the gleaning process aimed at addressing food insecurity.

Professor Cyndi Reed Rickards, CoAS professor of Criminology and Justice Studies, will teach a special topics course in criminal justice entitled, “Reconsidering Our Code: An Ethnography of 33rd Street”. This Side by Side course will explore the relationship between Drexel students and community students, creating opportunities for dialogue between members of the Drexel, Mantua, and Powelton Village communities.  Elijah Anderson’s Code of the Street: Decency, Violence, and the Moral Life of the Inner City, will be utilized as an example of urban ethnography or scientific description of the customs of individual peoples and cultures. Students will learn, review and evaluate ethnographic methods.  The course will begin an ethnographic study of 33rd Street through Mantua, Powelton Village and conclude on Drexel’s campus

Finally, after wrapping up a fantastic summer course focused on preparing family recipes in healthier ways, Chef James Feustel, of the Culinary Arts and Food Science program, will host a special topics course on food preservation. This course will also be structured as a Side by Side course, where both Drexel students and community members will work with seasonal fruits and vegetables that are ripe for preservation. Students will learn a variety of techniques and their work will be featured at the monthly Dornsife Center community dinners, held on the first Tuesday of each month. 

The Lindy Center for Civic Engagement is excited to witness the expansion of community based learning courses throughout Drexel University, and especially hosted in partnership with the Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships. If you have an idea for a course or would like to learn more about the Community Based Learning Framework at Drexel University, please contact Cyndi Reed Rickards at, or Jennifer Johnson Kebea at

From the Faculty Senate

Leadership, Collaboration, Community Healing
By Ludo C. P. Scheffer, PhD, Chair, Faculty Senate, Teaching Professor and
Director, Undergraduate Studies Program, Department of Psychology

The “Year of the Faculty,” is an idea founded in the Provost’s Office staff thinking, and taken up by outgoing Provost Mark Greenberg and me. The goal of this initiative is to celebrate the contributions of the faculty to all aspects of university life: research, teaching, and service.  At Convocation, the year was kicked-off with a talk by Dr. Paula Marantz Cohen, our colleague, and the new Dean of Pennoni Honors College. 

Before I continue, I do want to thank Mark Greenberg for his dedicated service to the university as Provost.  As many of you know, no newsletter, no convocation, no commencement under Mark was without William Blake.  In my word of thanks during the most recent Board meeting, I wanted to bring William Blake back one more time to honor Mark’s contribution to intellectual stimulation and enrichment of the university community.  This poem, for me, also was an ideal opportunity to transition to Interim Provost Dr. James Herbert.  So, in honor of Mark, here is the poem:

The Schoolboy – William Blake

I love to rise in a summer morn
When the birds sing on every tree;
The distant huntsman winds his horn,
And the skylark sings with me.
O! what sweet company!

But to go to school on a summer morn,
O! it drives all joy away;
Under a cruel eye outworn,
The little ones spend the day
In sighing and dismay.

Ah! then at times I drooping sit,
And spend many an anxious hour,
Nor in my book can I take delight,
Nor sit in learning's bower,
Worn thro' with the dreary shower.

How can the bird that is born for joy
Sit in a cage and sing?
How can a child, when fears annoy,
But droop his tender wing,
And forget his youthful spring?

O! father and mother, if buds are nipped
And blossoms blown away,
And if the tender plants are stripped
Of their joy in the springing day,
By sorrow and care's dismay,

How shall the summer arise in joy,
Or the summer's fruits appear?
Or how shall we gather what griefs destroy,
Or bless the mellowing year,
When the blasts of winter appear?

As a psychologist, Dr. Herbert would respond to some of the lamentations that one would have to learn to let go, to not pay attention to things that were just inside our heads, not in reality.  As Chair, I am looking forward to a continuation of collaboration with James, our Interim Provost.  Our relationship has been forged during the years he was my colleague in the Psychology Department, and the last few years after he became Department Head.  As Undergraduate Program Director, I had an open, transparent relationship with James.  The “Year of the Faculty” is a theme that provides the appropriate context to build on this relationship. 

During this academic year, we will highlight the contributions of faculty to university life through scholarship, teaching, and service.  The most visible part at Convocation was that the featured speaker is one of our own: Dr. Paula Marantz Cohen.  The contributions of Dr. Cohen are numerous, and as a Distinguished University Professor, she is a wonderful example of faculty contributions in the three domains of university life. 

The one area of the faculty role in university life that I want to highlight in this newsletter is the importance of the role of the faculty in shared governance.  We are building a model of shared governance that is getting more and more structure from the ground-up.  As a matter of best practices, Senate Committees are now meeting in which both faculty and administration participate.  The administration does not participate because they are invited, but because they are regular (ex-officio) members of the committee.  This is leading to a more transparent way of sharing information on the basis of which recommendations and/or decisions can be made.  If we are to be true to the President’s vision of “One University,” then it is imperative we work together in constructive fashion.  The next few years will see major changes.  We are implementing Student Lifecycle Management (SLM), a process in which faculty and programs play a much more significant role to recruit highly qualified alumni of the future, as the new Senior Vice President for Enrollment Management & Student Success Dr. Randi Deike calls it.  Simultaneously, we are moving to Responsibility Centered Management (RCM), a budget process that places revenues and costs more directly in the hands of the colleges.  This will bring great opportunities for growth but also great responsibility for acting as One University, and accountability for our decisions.  Both SLM and RCM are significant direction changers of how we will operate.  Constructive working relationships between faculty and administration will help shape the success of these major changes.  The Senate will work constructively to help ensure these changes will be a success for all.  Of course, shared governance does not only happen at the university level, but also at the college and departmental level – transparency is key in all levels of the organization.  To all my colleagues who engage in service to the university, my heart-felt thanks.  To those who want to become more involved, let your department, school/college or the Senate know. 

During the coming year, the President and I will return for round two of our Coffee hour visits, starting in January.  At the same time,  our CFO, Helen Bowman, and I will come to each college/school to talk about RCM.  Transparency and open communication are key ingredients for us to move forward during these big changes. 

Finally, this is also the year that the Senate will vote on a new Faculty Charter and a newly created set of By-Laws.  Once the Senate approves these, we will call a special University Assembly to discuss the proposed changes and a vote by the faculty.  Stay tuned. 

I am looking forward to an exciting year and hope you will remain, or become involved in service to university life, beyond the incredible job you already do in research and teaching!

Student Spotlight

Construction Management Students Help Rebuild Mantua Block
By Thao Tran-Da Duong, Marketing and PR Assistant

Sidewalk replacing, kitchen floor installing, base trimming, carpentry making, ceiling repairing and managing to save concrete from three pouring rains sound like a month-long project; but volunteers from the College of Engineering, including students from the construction management program got by all those tasks and beyond within one day.

On Saturday, May 10, 2014, 15 volunteers from the construction management program, 12 members of the 2014 Associated School of Constructions team as well as faculty and staff of the university participated in renovating a house at 3832 Fairmount Avenue. The trip was part of the Mantua Block Build project, a construction-centric program co-organized between the Lindy Center for Civic Engagement and Rebuilding Together Philadelphia (RTP). The program has received support from President John A. Fry as well as Chaka Fattah, the U.S. representative for Pennsylvania’s second congressional district.


On Saturday, May 10, 2014, 15 volunteers from the construction management program, 12 members of the 2014 Associated School of Constructions team as well as faculty and staff of the university participated in renovating a house at 3832 Fairmount Avenue. The trip was part of the Mantua Block Build project, a construction-centric program co-organized between the Lindy Center for Civic Engagement and Rebuilding Together Philadelphia (RTP). The program has received support from President John A. Fry as well as Chaka Fattah, the U.S. representative for Pennsylvania’s second congressional district.

“Walking away from this event has given me a new perspective on teamwork for the greater good,” Sean Smith, a construction management sophomore, wrote in an email.

“Getting to see our student body from Drexel University work hand and hand with the homeowners of Mantua enlightens the true meaning of community. A strong, committed and driven group of individuals can really change the landscape of our beautiful city, Philadelphia,” Smith continued.

The entire team, consisting of four crews, was under the supervision of Associate Clinical Professor and Program Director, Robert Muir, Ph.D., PE from the construction management program. The volunteers took responsibility in a myriad of tasks, including replacing over 200 square feet of concrete sidewalk, installing vinyl flooring, doors, trim and handrails, repairing ceiling, bricks and drywall.

One of the volunteers, George Kamaratos, a construction management senior, oversaw and worked with a carpentry crew on door repairing, outdoor balusters and handrails.

“One of the best parts of this experience was that we were able to apply our practical knowledge of construction tasks as well as what we have learned in our CMGT classes to come together as a group to work out issues and learn from each other. It was great to see how we could build on each other's ideas and also to see that students were motivated to get the job done correctly,” Kamaratos shared.

One major and unanticipated challenge that the team faced was completing the concrete and protecting it from three showers.

“[The team] demolished the concrete and broke it up with jack hammers. They worked very fast-paced, very hard, all day long, breaking the concrete then mixing it with the drum mixer on the site. They placed the concrete and then they started finishing it,” Muir said.

He continued, “In the middle of finishing the concrete, we got a rain shower. So we held plastic up in the air so it didn’t touch the concrete and that was enough to keep the rain off of it.”

After getting through the first round of the inclement weather, the team encountered more rain and had to do similar things to shield the concrete.

Muir said, “The third event wasn’t a shower, it was a monsoon. The sky opened up, it was pouring. It rained really heavily. We watched the concrete being washed away down the gutter. It was really demoralizing. But to our guys’ credit, they stayed there and worked very hard to save the concrete.”

Some members continued working at the site until 7:30 p.m., while they were expected to stay only at 4:00 p.m.

RTP Mantua Block Build was an essential experience for participants to hone, not only construction-related skills, but also leadership.

In Muir’s perspective, the project was beneficial because students could learn about giving back and paying forward, sharpen their hands-on skills about some tasks that they had yet to expose to as well as participate in civic engagement activities.

In the long run, Drexel University will continue to be engaged with RTP, according to Muir.

“President Fry puts a very high priority in civic engagement and supporting the neighborhood, being good neighbors. That’s part of the strategic plan. And so we’re following his marching orders and doing what we can and we’re able to because we have people with talent and skills in construction. We can fulfill part of the university’s strategic objectives of civic engagement,” Muir said.

Rebuilding Together Philadelphia is a non-profit organization whose projects are to bring volunteers and communities together to provide better accommodation and regenerate neighborhoods for low-income residents in the community.

Reed Foundation Grant Awarded to School of Public Health Doctoral Student
By Kim Menard, Director, Marketing and Communications, School of Public Health

Aimee Palumbo, a third year doctoral student in the School of Public Health’s Epidemiology doctoral program, was awarded a Ruth Landes Memorial Research grant from the Reed Foundation. Palumbo will use the grant to further research examining women's occupational patterns and health-related quality of life. Understanding women’s work patterns can help us better understand the changing economic structures of families, of women’s roles in society, and can also provide insight into the differences in wages and earning potential between men and women. This interdisciplinary project will incorporate aspects of economics and sociology in addition to epidemiology. By understanding the relationship between work patterns and health, we can make more informed decisions on work-place leave and other social policies to be more supportive of the various roles women play in society.

Sacramento MBA Students Pave the Way for Professional Success
Local Asian Chamber Awards Drexel Graduate a Scholarship for Leadership Program
By Jessica Dumont, Halldin Public Relations, Drexel Sacramento

At Drexel University’s Sacramento campus, excellent business partnerships are just part of the curriculum for students in the MBA program.  This past summer was no exception for MBA candidates completing their Strategic Management capstone course. Taught by Dr. Keisha Liggett-Nichols, the class is a culmination of MBA students’ two-year programming. It provides students with the opportunity to partner with local organizations and serve as business consultants to address a specific need or challenge.  “One of the goals of Drexel Sacramento is to immerse itself in the community and engage with small to mid-size businesses specifically to help students get experiential learning in the classroom,” Dr. Liggett–Nichols said.

As part of their capstone project, four students partnered with the Sacramento Asian Pacific Chamber of Commerce (SACC). The team – Gaosheng McCauley, Srikanth Rao, Meagan Harris and Justin Griffin – was tasked with creating a program enhancement plan that SACC could use to rebrand two of its leadership programs, Catalyst and Jump 21. The chamber programs help local high school and college students looking to gain professional skills and experience. “As soon as we received our final MBA assignment, we realized what a huge difference we could make if we delivered an exceptional mentorship framework and marketing piece to the chamber for its leadership program,” McCauley said.

From left to right: Justin Griffin, Gaosheng McCauley, Dr. Keisha Liggett-Nichols, Meagan Harris, Srikanth Rao

McCauley and her Drexel teammates dug their heels in and grew passionate about their project. They conducted research, administered surveys to program alumni, and gathered as much data as possible so they could better understand the programs.

They were so absorbed in the work that they produced an impressive 160-page curriculum and framework for the chamber, as well as a facilitator guide and power point presentation for the program.

“Many organizations are surprised with the level of detail that students come up with,” Dr. Liggett-Nichols said. “In addition to leveraging students’ skills and the concepts they’ve learned, it allows me to provide strategic thought leadership to ensure they’re focusing on the business case of the organization. This is such a valuable asset for the local community at large, because businesses receive a valuable deliverable in a condensed amount of time that they’d otherwise spend a great deal of money for.”

The success of the project for SACC resulted in a request from Chamber CEO Patricia Fong for a donation to the Drexel University Sacramento Consultation Research Institute.  It also helped McCauley discover the next step she wanted to take on her professional journey.

“As we worked to gather survey data and spoke to alumni of the Catalyst program, we just kept hearing about the professional and personal growth they've experienced and the admiration they have for the program,” McCauley explained. “I became really interested in the program myself, and asked Pat what I could do to join the Catalyst program.”

Fong, who was thrilled with the group’s performance, was pleased with McCauley’s interest and personally recommended her for a Catalyst program scholarship.  “It’s a thrill to see such enthusiasm from Drexel students like Gaosheng,” Fong said. “When she expressed interest in becoming a Catalyst member, I wanted to do what I could to help her participate in the program. She possesses the enthusiasm and intelligence we need in future leaders, and I can’t think of a more deserving student.”

McCauley has been awarded a full scholarship to join the Catalyst program this fall. She said that without the scholarship, she never could have dreamed of affording it. Coming from a single-income household with new student loan bills to pay, it would have been out of reach for McCauley.

“It is our hope and our goal that students will gain experiences and relationships during their time at Drexel that will present them with rewarding, professional opportunities once they graduate,” said Dr. Michael Marion, Executive Director and Associate Vice Provost of Drexel University Sacramento. “To see Ms. McCauley’s success, as well as the accomplishments of her cohort, inspires us and validates our mission and the great work our faculty is doing inside the classroom.”

After completing her MBA in August, McCauley headed into the Catalyst program September 22. She looks back on her time at Drexel as a great learning experience.  “Drexel lays a very strong foundation for any emerging leader, for anyone who wants to step up professionally,” McCauley said. “It’s more than an MBA – it’s the cohort experience, that face-to-face group work and classroom discussion that refines, builds upon, and draws out the leader within you. It has definitely catapulted my professional experience and added to my leadership toolbox.”

McCauley receives her diploma at graduation


Doing the Wright Thing
By Jonathan Hartley, Manager, Online Communication, LeBow College of Business

After an eight-hour day at co-op, most students unwind with video games, TV or social media.  For Nicholas Surgent, post-work relaxation involves 20 kids between the ages of 5 and 12 waiting to get help with their homework and play some basketball. For the past three years, Nicholas (pictured, right) has volunteered at the Wright Recreation Center’s afterschool program in Mantua. He originally volunteered as a requirement for his Civics 101 course, but loved it and stayed on to see the program expand from helping one or two kids to its current average of 20 per day.


As the program has grown, Nicholas has seen progress: “In the beginning some kids didn’t want to be there, but now I get the feeling that they genuinely have fun and they’re eager to learn.”

Through a connection at Wright, Nicholas joined the Drexel Community Scholars (DCS) and will be the program’s Education Coalition leader. In that role, he will visit the various sites throughout the city where DCS members serve, but he admits, “I’ll always have a bias towards Wright.”

Drexel LeBow Student Awarded AICPA Scholarship
By Lisa Litzinger-Drayton, Associate Director of Communications,
LeBow College of Business

Junior accounting and finance major Andres Vivas Lopez has been awarded a $10,000 scholarship from AICPA – the American Institute of CPAs. He accepted this award at the ALPFA’s national convention in Orlando.  ALPFA is the largest Latino association for business professionals and students with chapters nationwide and over 18,000 members.  It is dedicated to enhancing opportunities for Latinos and building leadership and career Skills.  Lopez serves as the president of LeBow’s ALPFA chapter. Accounting firm KPMG sponsored four LeBow students to attend the event, which included a case competition.

LeBow student Andres Vivas Lopez

Andres says the experience was amazing. “The fact that I was on that stage made people recognize me during the convention – other students and professionals would walk up to me and say congratulations!”

A recent transfer student from Community College of Philadelphia, Andres is currently doing his first of two co-ops at Grant Thornton, working within the firm’s business advisory services department. Part of his job there requires him to serve as a liaison for audit projects in Latin America – he’s bilingual, so that’s an asset.

Andres moved here from Colombia at the age of 8. He says the move was “A little shocking. Everything I knew completely changed.” His English wasn’t that good at first, but by the time he made his way through middle school he was excelling, and was accepted into Philadelphia’s Julia R. Masterman High School, where he competed at the state level running track.

He’s currently on track to become a CPA and says he really loves accounting. “On the one hand it can be black and white,” balancing numbers and so forth. “But it’s really so much more than that. As an accounting firm, you’re really selling an experience, values, personalities.”

“People think accountants are sitting in a dark room crunching numbers. I’ve been [at Grant Thornton] for months, and what I see are people testing, analyzing and engaging in client relations, making sure we understand the clients’ need and how to meet them.”

These Campers Mean Business
By Jonathan Hartley, Manager, Online Communication, LeBow College of Business

High school students participating in LeBow's Camp Business were treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of the Phillies’ facilities at Citizens Bank Park.

This past July, LeBow hosted top high school students from across the country for Camp Business. Since its inception in 2002, the camp has featured courses taught by LeBow faculty in the disciplines of economics, accounting, marketing, finance and management, as well as the core concepts of business including leadership, professional image, team building and strategy. The students get to know each other and Drexel University by staying in residence halls and participating in scavenger hunts and field trips.

The camp’s two weeks are split between residential and commuter sessions for students who either travel from a distance or live nearby. For their field trip, this year’s commuter-week campers were treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of the Phillies’ facilities at Citizens Bank Park. The wisdom and wit of the campers were on clear display during the Q&A portion of the tour. The campers peppered Phillies’ sales representative Stephanie Nieland with questions about the effect of the Phillies’ dismal season.

Under the students’ insightful questioning, Stephanie conceded that selling tickets is more challenging when the team has a losing record. At that, Jacob Borowsky raised his hand to offer a suggestion: “I’m not a professional, but I would recommend more Dollar Dog Nights.” The campers laughed at his deadpan, no-nonsense delivery, and Stephanie admitted that it might be time for more special promotions. The suggestion was tongue-in-cheek, but it was evident that Jacob and his fellow Camp Business attendees were in a problem-solving mindset after developing business plans all week.

Each camp session wraps up with students applying their newfound knowledge and skills in the Mike’s Bikes business simulation. Anyone who happened by the case classrooms on the fourth floor on presentation day likely noticed some very intense and professionally attired high school students pacing the hall and practicing their presentations. Teams presented financial results, strategies, and business concepts to a mock board of directors who selected the winning team that was recognized at the closing ceremony.

With top students from the region and others representing Texas, Kentucky, California, Colorado, Florida and even a student from Saudi Arabia, the presentations were impressive and highly competitive. The quality of their Mike’s Bikes plans made it evident that each camper will return for their final year of high school with a taste for experiential education.

College & School News

The Apple of Our Eye
By Lisa Litzinger-Drayton, Associate Director of Communications, LeBow College of Business

By the time they reach college, most students have long since passed the ‘princess phase.’ That is, unless they are cast as one in a Drexel musical. LeBow sophomore Georgie Manera landed the lead role of Princess Barbara in the Co-op Theatre Company’s recent production of “The Apple Tree.”

The Cinnaminson, N.J., native, who attends Drexel on a theater scholarship and plans to earn a theater minor in addition to her marketing and business analytics co-majors, says her favorite scene during the production had her playing out a role reversal where she got to act like a tiger – albeit wearing a dress – and scare her onstage counterpart who was actually wearing the tiger costume.

“Getting to be someone else for a little while is fun,” Manera says. She raves about her director, theatre professor Bill Fennelly, who has directed well-known musicals on Broadway including “Jersey Boys.”

Her involvement in theatre is just one item on a long list of academic and extracurricular activities here at Drexel. She’s also a member of Drexel’s a cappella group the Treblemakers and Pi Nu Epsilon, serves as a student ambassador and a peer leader, and just finished up her STAR research fellowship. In the perfect juxtaposition of her loves for theater and business, her STAR assignment was a market research project for Arden Theater’s upcoming production of “Herringbone.”

The Human Side of Big Data
By Jonathan Hartley, Manager, Online Communication, LeBow College of Business

When asked about her area of expertise, Elea Feit, PhD, could very simply answer, “big data.” It’s certainly a buzz term in business and academia, but she doesn’t find it particularly useful. “It doesn’t really mean anything,” she explains, “I prefer to say that I like to use math to understand people so that companies can make better decisions.”

It’s an approach she brings to her research, and this term, to Drexel LeBow. As a new assistant professor of marketing at LeBow, she is teaching two courses. The first is an undergraduate course titled, “Data Driven Digital Marketing” that focuses on helping students understand math’s takeover of the advertising world. The subject matter certainly attracts math lovers, but it also gives anyone with an interest in marketing a look at how data analysis has become essential in the current advertising workplace.

Graduate students had the opportunity to take “Business Experiments,” a course focused on collecting the data needed to answer a CEO’s questions. Teamwork is stressed as the experiments are designed to require both right and left-brain thinkers. Bridging the gap between analytical and creative minds is a fitting approach for someone with a bachelor’s in math from the University of Pennsylvania and a PhD in marketing from the University of Michigan.

Elea arrived at Drexel LeBow with a certain amount of familiarity after four years as the executive director of the Wharton Customer Analytics Initiative. Her husband, Jeff, is a Drexel alum whom she met while studying in University City. They live in her hometown of Kennett Square with their 11-year-old daughter, Zoe.

As she transitions, Elea continues her ongoing research into the efficacy of traditional mail versus email advertisements for a specialty retailer. She is also in the early stages of a research project with Google that will study the ways search terms can provide insights into a corporation’s reputation.

Feit’s other projects include working on her forthcoming book, An Introduction to R for Marketing Research and Analytics with co-author Chris Chapman, and preparing to teach at the American Marketing Association’s Academy of Marketing Analytics in Atlanta.

Drexel University’s Applied Informatics Group Names Patrice Tremoulet, PhD as New Science Director
By Kerry Boland, Writer/Editor, College of Computing & Informatics

Drexel University’s translational research center, the Applied Informatics Group (AIG), has announced its new science director, College of Computing & Informatics (CCI) Associate Research Professor Patrice Tremoulet, PhD, to succeed Professor and Senior Associate Dean for CCI Research and Scholarly Activities William Regli, PhD.

Tremoulet brings to AIG over two decades of wide-ranging experience in usability and systems engineering, research and development, statistical analysis, marketing, and process improvement.

AIG was established in 2011 by Regli and has flourished under his leadership. Beginning September 2014, Regli will commence a 2-year appointment through the Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) as deputy director of the Defense Science Office in the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

 “I’m really pleased about being a part of Drexel, where there are so many talented researchers doing cutting-edge work, and I’m especially excited about my new role in AIG, since it provides me with the opportunity to facilitate real world applications of some of the world-class research being performed across the University," Tremoulet said.

Tremoulet, who joined Drexel’s faculty in spring 2014, previously served as manager of the User Interfaces Group in the Informatics Laboratory at Lockheed Martin, where she also served as program manager for a number of initiatives, including “Interface to the Warfighter” for ONR's Large Tactical Sensor Networks program and as principal investigator for DARPA’s Augmented Cognition Program. She holds a doctorate and master’s degree in psychology and a certificate in cognitive science from Rutgers University; a master’s degree in operations research from Stanford University; and a bachelor’s degree in engineering with a major in operations research and a certificate in engineering management systems from Princeton University.

AIG bridges the gap between basic research and real-world applications and provides Drexel researchers a world-class advantage in transitioning their leading edge research to industry and government stakeholders. Their faculty and professional staff provide subject matter expertise in knowledge representation, mobile computing, machine learning, robotics, modeling and simulation, advanced imaging, human centered computing, cyber operations and information sciences; as a group they specialize in extending university research into developmental programs for industry and government solutions.  

To learn more, please visit AIG’s webpage on CCI’s website.

For additional information on collaboration and transition opportunities please contact AIG Operations Director Norm Balchunas at

Dr. Nancy Butler Songer Named Dean of School of Education
By Kristen Hampton, Marketing Communications Manager, School of Education

Dr. Nancy Butler Songer comes to Drexel from the University of Michigan, where she was a professor of science education and learning technologies and director of the Center for Essential Science, a multi-disciplinary research organization addressing the underrepresentation of urban students in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

She is known for her research into how to engage and support complex scientific reasoning among students ranging from elementary to high school ages. Her scholarship has received frequent recognition including a Presidential Faculty Fellowship awarded by President Clinton.

Dr. Nancy Butler Songer comes to Drexel from the University of Michigan, where she was a professor of science education and learning technologies and director of the Center for Essential Science, a multi-disciplinary research organization addressing the underrepresentation of urban students in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

She is known for her research into how to engage and support complex scientific reasoning among students ranging from elementary to high school ages. Her scholarship has received frequent recognition including a Presidential Faculty Fellowship awarded by President Clinton.

Songer previously served as chair of the Department of Educational Studies and director of the Educational Technology Program in Michigan’s School of Education, where she was a professor of science education and learning technologies. She began her career at the University of Colorado’s School of Education in Boulder, after completing her doctorate in science education at the University of California, Berkeley. She holds a master’s degree in molecular and developmental biology from Tufts University and studied biology as an undergraduate at the University of California, Davis.

Jump Inside Virtual Paintings at the Barnes with New App
Created by School Of Education Professors
By Kristen Hampton, Marketing Communications Manager, School of Education

Have you ever found a painting so enticing that you wished you could jump inside and explore? A new, interactive mobile application created by Drexel University’s School of Education for young visitors of the Barnes Foundation allows you to do just that.

Using 3-D immersive graphics, the touch-screen app, entitled “Keys to the Collection,” launches a game environment of the Barnes’ beloved, world-renowned art collection. The app turns a visit to the Barnes into a game or can be used to explore the Barnes virtually from anywhere. Using augmented reality, users who play the game from the Barnes’ galleries can even use their avatar to jump inside masterpieces to learn about elements of art like lines, colors, shapes and depth of space.

The game, which is targeted for ages 7-14, invites players to complete an assortment of art missions, guided by Dr. Barnes’ dog Fidéle. Players accumulate keys to enter different realms, solve a variety of mysteries and add works of art to a growing portfolio. Players rack up badges and points to chart the thrilling quest for the elusive gold key which allows them to unlock a special room, create their own art gallery and win the game.

To create the app, the Barnes Foundation reached out to School of Education assistant professor Aroutis Foster, Ph.D., noted expert on game-based learning systems and principal investigator of Drexel’s GLIDE (Games and Learning in Interactive Digital Environments) Lab, and assistant professor Jennifer Katz-Buonincontro, Ph.D., who has a Master of Fine Arts degree in Visual Arts and a doctorate in educational leadership, and has taught art to students of all ages. She also directs creativity and learning research projects at Drexel, including those regarding problem perception and solving in leaders, leadership development through the arts and applications of aesthetic theory. Funded by a Knight Foundation grant for $245,000, with $70,000 in cost-sharing from Drexel's School of Education, Foster and Katz-Buonincontro served as principal investigators on the grant. The app was designed and developed by a team of Drexel faculty, students and recent alumni over the course of nine months.

Ultimately, the game will help to broaden participation in the museum experience. It also has potential to reach learners from diverse socio-economic backgrounds, who are not able to visit the Barnes in person.

The game is free from the iTunes store and can be played on any Apple device. It also is downloadable from the Barnes Foundation website at

Dr. Peter DeCarolo Wins NSF Award
to Research Aerosol Particles in Antarctica
By Kate Gamble, Marketing Communications Manager, College of Engineering

Dr. Peter DeCarlo, Assistant Professor in the Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering (CAEE) Department and the Department of Chemistry has been granted an award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) entitled: Collaborative Research: High-resolution Study of Atmosphere, Ice, and Aerosol Interactions in Coastal Antarctica. The amount awarded is $388,798 and the project will continue for span of three years starting in July 2014.

Dr. DeCarlo, post-doc Michael Giordano, and CAEE Department doctoral candidate Anita Johnson, will travel with Lars Kalnajs and collaborators from the University of Colorado to McMurdo Station in Antarctica to use an Aerodyne Aerosol Mass Spectrometer and recently purchased Particle-into-Liquid Sampler (Brechtel Manufacturing Inc.) to collect real-time online measurements of aerosol (also known as particulate matter) composition. This project will obtain high time resolution measurements of aerosol composition and size in the Ross Island region in southern coastal Antarctica. Aerosol particles play a critical role in the chemical and radiative balance of the Antarctic atmosphere.

The interaction between aerosols, the gas phase, sea ice and the snowpack is complex and not well understood. Depletion of ground level ozone can be partially attributed to an increase in the coupling of gas and particle phases - these interactions can lead to aerosol formation and eventually to deposition and build-up in the snowpack. Snowpack consists of layers of snow that accumulate in regions where the climate includes cold weather for extended periods during the year. It is the incorporation of these aerosol particles into the ice core record (derived from the snowpack) that provides a window into the Earth’s past atmospheres. Dr. DeCarlo’s research group intends to provide aerosol measurements that will lead to a more complete understanding of the coupling of gas and particle phases which will enhance knowledge of current Antarctic atmospheric conditions and by extension the past Antarctic climate.

Due to the ability of the Aerodyne Aerosol Mass Spectrometer to make extremely high resolution and sensitive real-time online measurements, the data sets created by DeCarlo and his team will be of significant value to researchers in the fields of atmospheric chemistry, climate modeling paleo-climatology, glaciology and limnology. The project will also enhance STEM education opportunities by including a high school science teacher as a member of the field team who will be tasked with educational outreach regarding the importance of Antarctic aerosols in the understanding of present and past atmospheres. These research findings will also be incorporated into classes taught at both Drexel University and University of Colorado at Boulder.

Two College of Engineering Professors Selected as
“Highly Cited Researchers 2014”
By Kate Gamble, Marketing Communications Manager, College of Engineering

Two College of Engineering professors, Yury Gogotsi, Distinguished University and Trustee Chair Professor of the Materials Science and Engineering department, and Peter DeCarlo, Assistant Professor of the Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering department, were selected as “Highly Cited Researchers 2014” by Thomson-Reuters.

According to the official website, “Highly Cited Researchers 2014 represents some of world’s leading scientific minds. Over three thousand researchers earned the distinction by writing the greatest numbers of reports officially designated by Essential Science Indicators℠ as Highly Cited Papers—ranking among the top 1% most cited for their subject field and year of publication, earning them the mark of exceptional impact.”

Yury Gogotsi served as Associate Dean of the College of Engineering from 2003 to 2007. Gogotsi holds courtesy appointments in the Departments of Chemistry and Mechanical Engineering & Mechanics at Drexel University, and serves as Director of the A.J. Drexel Nanomaterials Institute. His research has been recognized with numerous awards, including Fred Kavli Distinguished Lectureship in Nanoscience, a European Carbon Association Award, Chang Jiang Scholar Award from the Chinese Ministry of Education, S. Somiya Award from the International Union of Materials Research Societies, G.C. Kuczynski Prize from the International Institute for the Science of Sintering, R.C. Purdy Award and several R.B. Snow Awards from the American Ceramic Society, NANOSMAT Prize, I.N. Frantsevich Prize from the Ukrainian Academy of Science, two R&D 100 Awards from R&D Magazine and two Nano 50TM Awards from NASA Nanotech Briefs.

Peter DeCarlo started as an Assistant Professor at Drexel University in the fall of 2011, following his Ph.D. work at the University of Colorado, a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland, and an AAAS Science Policy Fellowship in Washington DC. DeCarlo’s area of research relates to air quality, climate, and visibility issues through the use of specialized analytical instrumentation to study the size and chemical composition of tiny particles online and in real time. Some of his honors and awards include receiving an AAAS Science Policy Fellowship from 2010 to 2011, a Sheldon K. Friedlander Award for Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation from American Association for Aerosol Research in 2009, and obtaining an NSF International Research Postdoctoral Fellowship from 2008 to 2010. To view the list of the Highly Cited Researchers of 2014, visit the official website by clicking here.

Peter DeCarlo started as an Assistant Professor at Drexel University in the fall of 2011, following his Ph.D. work at the University of Colorado, a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland, and an AAAS Science Policy Fellowship in Washington DC. DeCarlo's area of research relates to air quality, climate, and visibility issues through the use of specialized analytical instrumentation to study the size and chemical composition of tiny particles online and in real time. Some of his honors and awards include receiving an AAAS Science Policy Fellowship from 2010 to 2011, a Sheldon K. Friedlander Award for Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation from American Association for Aerosol Research in 2009, and obtaining an NSF International Research Postdoctoral Fellowship from 2009 to 2010.

To view the list of the Highly Cited Researchers of 2014, visit the official website.

Trio of Entrepreneurship Co-op Students Disrupt Business as Usual
By Joseph J. Master, Director of Communications,
Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship

Coming up with an idea for a venture is easy. It’s actually growing that idea that makes you sweat. According to Benjamin Melman, Collin Cavote and Maria Allison, the Close School’s latest batch of Entrepreneurship Co-op students, sometimes the sweat lets you know your hard work is paying off.

After six months devoted to running their own ventures full time in the heart of the Baiada Institute’s incubator, Melman, Cavote and Allison earned their share of sweat equity, and some capital of the fiscal variety to boot.  Last week, the trio of entrepreneurs convened in the Baiada Institute to share their co-op stories with an audience of students, faculty and representatives from the Steinbright Center for Career Development.  Here’s what they had to say:

Benjamin Melman
Founder of Booksmart, a Web and mobile application that changes the way musicians, agents and managers book shows.

Benjamin Melman is practically a hardened music industry vet already. He has been a concert promoter since high school. In fact, he books many of Drexel’s shows. But, during an internship at the Agency Group in New York, a prominent talent-booking agency, he realized many tried and true booking practices were inefficient.

“I learned that basically a computer could do my job,” he says.

His answer was Booksmart, an app and Website that allows for a more streamlined booking process. Melman used his six month co-op to develop the app and recruit beta testers. He has even received buy-in from some of the biggest names in the music business, and has the contacts (and backstage passes) to show for it.

“I drew mock-ups on napkins and showed them to agents,” Melman says.

The app allows agents, managers and promoters to plan tours, sign contracts and manage all of the logistics that make tours possible.

The biggest challenge is “finding good mobile developers who would work for our company for no cash incentives,” Melman says. “It’s hard to build a technology company with limited funds, because developers are in extreme demand.”  Melman found a creative way around that by recruiting high school students to be on his development team. “They were all under the age of 16, and they were all geniuses,” he says.

What’s next?  Booksmart has received multiple investment offers, though Melman isn’t ready to give up control of his company yet. Melman is readying the app for a public launch next month.

Collin Cavote
Founder of Biome, a biowall company devoted to using plants to manage climate change by scrubbing carbon from our air.

 “I set out to build a biowall company. I wanted to build something to manage climate change,” Cavote says.  And that’s just what he did. Starting with the goal of using plant life to create cleaner air, Cavote used his co-op time to further focus his vision.

Biome was also selected as one of 50 companies to participate in’s 2014 accelerator. One trip to Paris later, Cavote took home a $10,000 prize, which Biome used to pay a prototyping firm to create with a USB-powered desktop air purifier. While the response to that product has been positive, Cavote is positioning it as an accessory to the large-scale biowalls that Biome will create.

The company is now working on a Web interface that allows users to digitally build their biowall by selecting the material, plant and arrangements. Their constructions will include a way for plants to magnetically click into place. A computer will control water pumps, and a slow-release nutritional bath will nurture the plants behind the scenes.

“It's a smart machine. An appliance,” Cavote says.

The biggest challenge, according to Cavote, “When I started Launch It!, one of the Close School's most popular classes, I had a very vague idea and there have been many iterations of how we should enter the market. A big part of my co-op was figuring out where to situate ourselves in the marketplace,” he says. “I had to figure out what Biome wants to be when it grows up.”

Cavote eventually realized his product would be most viable among high-end commercial properties. He has begun to concentrate his efforts on the commercial space, targeting architectural firms that can implement Biome products at the design stage.  “Our goal is to design with life,” he says. “We want to allow designers to make our spaces comfortable again.”

What’s next? Cavote plans to use his senior year to focus on product design, attending conferences and networking. He’ll further hone the look, feel and functionality of Biome’s products, and make key industry connections.

Maria Allison and Nicole Koedyker
Founders of Forsei, a socially conscious consulting firm that provides small businesses with the resources necessary to act on their good intentions.

“It's been an amazing experience to work on Forsei for six months,” says Allison, the half of Forsei participating in the co-op (Koedyker graduated earlier this year). “This time has been invaluable.”

Forsei, which shows businesses how they can operate in a more efficient and responsible manner, was officially incorporated last October.  “We will comb through a business' operations, from governance to workers to facilities,” says Allison. “We help them figure out how to maximize their positive impact. And we use the B-Corp certification framework to do this.”

During Allison’s co-op period, Forsei worked with three clients to provide impact assessment assistance, gap analysis and program implementation. “These clients helped us to establish our own internal systems,” she says.

The company also engaged more than 100 people across 10 events over the past through a group they founded called the Philly Collective. The organization encourages the cross pollination of services and triple bottom line best practices among member businesses, recruits new B-Corps and educates the public on what it means to be socially and environmentally responsible.

The biggest challenge that Allison and Koedyker see is the lack of incentive for companies to become B-Corp certified in Philadelphia. San Francisco, for example, offers B-Corp certified companies more financial benefits.  “Philly is on its way, but they’re not quite there yet,” Allison says.

What’s next? Allison will graduate from Drexel in December. Until then, she and Koedyker will continue to develop Forsei while Allison works part time in Drexel’s Office of Community Partnerships.

Silverman Family Endows Professorship Honoring Close School Dean
By Joseph J. Master, Director of Communications,
Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship

Two-time Drexel alumnus Stanley W. Silverman '69, '74 and his wife, Jackie, have donated $2 million to endow The Silverman Family Professor of Entrepreneurial Leadership at Drexel University. The professorship will be held by Donna DeCarolis, founding dean of Drexel University’s Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship.

"As one of Drexel's most visionary leaders, Dean DeCarolis inspires her students to greatness," said Silverman. "She has changed entrepreneurial education forever and our gift is intended to help her accomplish even more."

Endowed professorships are one of the highest academic honors the University can bestow on a faculty member. They enable Drexel to attract and retain the most insightful and pioneering scholars. Gifts like the Silverman Family endowment underscore the importance of faculty scholarship to the Drexel community and provide donors an opportunity to seed research and academic programming that captures their passions, as an enduring tribute to their life experiences.

"I believe that all students have the potential to take their ideas, in whatever context, and make them a reality," said Dean DeCarolis. "The generosity of the Silverman Family will provide the support to enable me, my team and my students the opportunity to dream big and pursue our entrepreneurial passions."

The Close School is the first free-standing school of entrepreneurship in the nation to offer degrees in entrepreneurship. Building on a foundation of curriculum, programming and thought leadership at Drexel, the Close School is the engine driving the expanded culture of entrepreneurship envisioned by the University’s strategic plan. 

As envisioned by DeCarolis, entrepreneurship is not just a technical process of launching new companies. Rather, it is a set of personal and professional skills that foster the pursuit of innovation in business, personal and career contexts. Students from every college and school at Drexel are able to connect through the Close School to curricular, extracurricular and experiential programs that support entrepreneurial efforts. The Close School also serves the regional entrepreneurial and business community through thought leadership in entrepreneurship research.

Prior to her role as founding dean, DeCarolis was the associate vice provost for entrepreneurship education at Drexel. In this role, she oversaw the development and coordination of all academic entrepreneurial offerings and student activities at Drexel. She previously served as the associate dean for graduate programs at Drexel’s LeBow College of Business, and was responsible for the administration and strategic direction of all graduate and corporate degree programs. DeCarolis is a weekly commentator on KYW Newsradio in Philadelphia, providing a business commentary on trends in entrepreneurship and leadership. Her opinions and commentaries have also appeared in Forbes, Business Week and various other media nationwide. DeCarolis is an active member of the Alliance for Women Entrepreneurs, the Academy of Management and the Strategic Management Society. She serves on the advisory board of several start-up companies and is a member of the Union League of Philadelphia. In 2003, she was the recipient of the prestigious Lindback Foundation Award for Distinguished Teaching.

Silverman, who received an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering and an MBA from Drexel, serves as vice chairman of Drexel’s Board of Trustees, chairman of the board of Drexel’s College of Medicine, and is a member of The Close School of Entrepreneurship’s Advisory Board. Throughout his career, Silverman has been both a student and teacher of leadership, and what differentiates great leaders. He is a recognized thought leader in the area of leadership, and has served as a guest lecturer on the subject of leadership at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and at Drexel. He has also served as a mentor and advisor to c-suite executives and other senior leaders. Silverman is the former president and chief executive officer of PQ Corporation, a global company operating in North America, South America, Europe and Asia Pacific in two core businesses – chemicals and engineered glass materials. He is a trustee of Friends Select School, has served on three public company boards and serves on a number of private and private equity boards, as well as the board of Ben Franklin Technology Partners. In 1992, Silverman was named to the Drexel 100, a group of the University’s most distinguished alumni. He is also a member of the Union League of Philadelphia and the Harvard Club of New York City.

'I’m Sorry to Hear' Welcomed into Project Liberty Digital
By Joseph J. Master, Director of Communications,
Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship

Rachel Zeldin, founder of online funeral planning resource I’m Sorry to Hear, LLC, has found a new home at 801 Market Street in Project Liberty’s Digital Incubator.   The incubator is located in the same space occupied by Interstate General Media (IGM), the parent company of Philadelphia Media Network (PMN), publisher of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News, Philadelphia SportsWeek and — which means that Zeldin will have the opportunity to work with PMN’s suite of publications to find ways to share her website’s content, search and review technology with a larger audience.

Project Liberty’s mission to grow the digital media startup ecosystem in the Philadelphia region signals a paradigm shift in digital media — the confluence of news and other Web resources to provide more value to readers (and more users for sites like I’m Sorry to Hear).  “It’s a great opportunity for exposure and integration,” Zeldin says. “IGM sees us as a way to improve some content on their sites. They look for companies who can bring something new to their media outlets. They are looking at ways to integrate the technologies of all of us on

It’s content generation. People go to to research so many topics. So we have a ton of content on our site that we can incorporate on their site as an educational component.”

A Different Kind of Angel

Over the past year, Zeldin ’06 established herself as one of the most vocal and esteemed voices among the stable of startups incubating in the Baiada Institute, earning a reputation as willing mentor to other fledgling companies.
Her eastward exit for Project Liberty is more than a success story; it’s a signal to other service sites and startup founders that you don’t have to build an app or work in the tech sector to scale a business.

I’m Sorry to Hear, which hopes to do for the funeral industry what Yelp and TripAdvisor have done for the hospitality sector, might sound like a morbid affair — but Zeldin’s passion for her work, as evidenced by an almost permanent grin and contagious laugh, is downright cheerful.  “I have embraced the fact that I am the funeral girl,” Zeldin says. “The topic makes it harder to sell what we’re doing because death isn’t sexy. So we work to use an emotional appeal. We have to say: ‘Look, we are all going to die. Why don’t we recognize this and plan for this?’ We are educating people.”

Currently, Zeldin is broadening the scope of I’m Sorry to Hear. What began as an online funeral planning community and resource has now found an audience with industry professionals, including hospice social workers and financial advisors and planners.

The hospice professionals are saints. Angels. Grossly underpaid,” Zeldin says. “And they have told me the work I’m doing is amazing. And that I am helping people. It’s amazing. It gives me chills.”

As her business grows, Zeldin is looking for angels of a different persuasion: Investors. 

Over the past year, two of Zeldin’s well-funded competitors went out of business.

“I might not have the funds they had or as many users as they did, but you know what?” Zeldin says. “Users don’t matter when you don’t exist. It’s about persistence and passion. Because what I’m doing is impactful. And if I’m not the champion of this, than no one will be.”

Chuck Sacco Finds Goodness in the Gray
By Joseph J. Master, Director of Communications,
Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship

"Be valuable by being versatile."  This is Chuck Sacco’s personal mantra.  Sacco has practiced what he’s preached from an early age. He even won the “Most Versatile” award — his first professional honor — while working at the local Wendy’s franchise in high school. Now, he shares this philosophy with young entrepreneurs at the Close School — a far cry from flipping burgers in South Jersey.

As Entrepreneur-in-Residence and Director of External Relations at the Close School, not to mention a post as Interim Director of the Baiada Institute, Sacco has certainly proved his versatility since joining Drexel full-time in 2013.

A serial entrepreneur at heart, Sacco has founded multiple companies — most notably PhindMe, which helps businesses reach customers on their mobile devices. But Sacco isn’t the type of guy who defines himself by his successes. He’s also a family man who enjoys traveling, gardening and the occasional Renaissance Fair. He speaks about his wife and children with pride. He does the same about his students and mentees. Sacco is quiet, too. Some might say he plays his cards close to the vest. That he’s cool and calculated.

They’d be right.

Luckily, we got him to talk. We sat down with Sacco to discuss entrepreneurship, his teaching philosophy and his legen-wait for it-dary encounter with none other than Doogie Howser, M.D. 

Where did you first develop your entrepreneurial skills?

In high school and college, I worked for the Hershey's Ice Cream Company in Hammonton, NJ. It was a great job because I got to learn a lot of business skills from the ground up. I was managing the books, which at that point was all paper. I had an adding machine. That was about the best I could do in terms of technology. I was checking in the drivers when they got back and counting their cash, reconciling their daily runs. I was washing trucks. When it was really hot and there was so much demand I was working the freezers. I really got to see all elements of the business. I even got the opportunity to sit with the drivers and drink beers with them. So, it was pretty cool. 

What drives you? Are you a competitive guy?

Being competitive is very important. Winning is good. But I think it’s ultimately about doing a good job. Getting something built. At the end of the day, if you’re focusing on winning and not focusing on adding value, I think maybe you’re not doing the right thing. You can win sometimes and be a real jerk and not doing the right things. I’d rather be slightly less successful and have done good. Have really made a difference. Created something that people use, that they like, that they want. And sometimes that’s not necessarily the winner.

I try not to look at business as a win/lose/competition type of thing. I think if you’re doing good, there’s going to be enough market share for everybody to go around. Winning and losing implies a black and white type of thing and I’m much more a “shades of gray” type of guy.  Grayness is a good thing to me. 

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
You just have to go and do it. You just have to jump in and try something. When I got my MBA, it was actually the third time I had applied to Drexel. It worked out fine, but sometimes I wonder what could have been if I had started it sooner. What other outcomes could have been there? So, it’s really about getting started and taking those first initial steps. As soon as you get something tangible, something that you can touch and feel and point to, you can say "I started that."

How important has your family been to you as you transitioned from an entrepreneur as a profession to entrepreneur-in-residence in academia?

My family – a blended one — includes five children. My wife, Sheila, and the kids have all been extremely supportive. We actually have four of them getting either Master's or Bachelor's degrees right now from four different colleges in three different states, so we’re very immersed in academia on a number of levels.

We hear you are an animal lover. How many animals are members of your family? 

We currently have two dogs, one fish and a hyperactive horse named Rodney. The best way to sum up how I feel about animals is based on a quote from Henry Beston in The Outermost House: “'We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals.” Check it out.

Tell us something most people would never know about you … 

I was an extra in a 2010 movie called The Best and the Brightest with Neil Patrick Harris. I’m pretty visible for a bit in a major scene toward the end of the movie. I got to meet Neil…very gracious guy.

Do you like to “suit up,” as Neil Patrick Harris has been known to say on How I Met Your Mother?

You know it. But I’ll always love my Buffalo jeans.

How would you describe your teaching style?

I try to make class as experiential as possible. I really try to be there for the students. I think more than anything, being present, making yourself accessible, relaying the things that are going on in your life and your business is very important. I try to make a personal connection.  Be a mentor, not just a teacher.

What makes Drexel students unique?

Because they’re also working, they have practical business experience. They’re seeing stuff, they’re doing stuff. They’re starting companies. It’s not just a theoretical exercise for them. Entrepreneurship is a discipline best applied. You can’t just do it by the book. You have to practice and get out there. I think that ties in really well with the fact that the Drexel student is on the ground and doing things on a very regular basis. 

Tell us why Philadelphia is a great place to be an entrepreneur?

It’s amazing what’s happened here over the past six or seven years. It’s a very strong yet accessible community. What really sets Philly apart from Silicon Valley or New York, or even Boston to some degree, is that it is accessible. It doesn’t actually take you that long to build your network. So if you’re a student or someone new to the community and you’re afraid of getting started and it seems overwhelming, it’s really not. 

Within a few months, you can attend a couple of tech meet ups. Maybe go to a few college-oriented events. Visit a co-working space and hang out for the day. And you can meet probably a good chunk of the people that you need to meet, who are then going to know a lot of other people. So it’s not that hard.

Hopefully as a teacher here, the value I can have is helping students make a connection to that community. 

What’s your favorite TV show?

Certainly shows like Breaking Bad. Game of Thrones. Walking Dead. I like these multi-part series that have very interesting characters where it’s not a linear path. I like shows that are complicated and have many different moving parts.

It’s Sunday afternoon. What are you up to?

I’m a very binary person. I’m either awake and doing something, or asleep. You will find me a lot of times working on a Sunday afternoon, doing things for the Close School. Whether it’s class preparation, preparing programming for the Baiada Institute, developing grant proposals, writing an article. So a lot of times I’m using Sunday as a workday. So, I might do that on a Sunday afternoon, but I might take an hour on a Wednesday morning to go pick vegetables in my garden. The times that work for me are very different from a lot of other people. I’m much more of a night person. I’m a terrible, terrible morning person. I don’t like getting up early. I’ve always looked for opportunities, and this is why startups are so great, where I don’t have to get up before 8 o’clock. I’m not that time of person, but I’ll stay up until two in the morning to work on stuff.

The Legend of Spor
By Joseph J. Master, Director of Communications,
Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship

Jason Browne had a vision. 

He was alone, on the tail end of a cross-country road trip, camping in Yellowstone National Park. The fluid landscape with its geysers and fumaroles is the kind of place you’d expect to see something numinous. And Jason Browne ’14, all brooding eyes and Dharma Bums mien, is the kind of guy you’d expect to stare into a hot spring and see something transcendent. 

But Browne didn’t stare into the abyss in Yellowstone. He was just collecting his thoughts. Because the thing is, he had this big idea. The kind of idea that could, perhaps, start a revolution. 

Browne’s vision came when he drove to Boulder, Colorado., stopped at a special kind of spa and submerged his body in a sensory deprivation chamber filled with warm water and Epsom salt. They call it “floating.”  That’s when it happened — the moment his brain stopped working.

Browne saw himself as a bright beam of light on a rotating planet Earth. All of the continents were dimly lit. With each rotation, he saw his beam of light traveling across the United States as he made his way back home. One day he lit up Indianapolis.  Then Pittsburgh. Then, Philadelphia. 

At each new city, his light merged with other lights. Some got brighter. 

The experience changed him. He’d never been so calm. So energized. So ready to build something.

It was July 2013. His vision became Spor, the portable, solar-powered battery charger that built Spor Chargers — a company that thrives on the evolutionary power of light. 

Browne returned to Philadelphia on a mission. 

Spor Chargers officially began months earlier, when Browne sat down for what would prove to be a monumental lunch with David Virgil Hunt ’14, who would become his co-founder and spiritual blood brother.

“I have this idea for a portable solar charger for mobile devices,” Browne said. “I think it could be really disruptive.”

Hunt, who speaks in pentameter and dresses each day as though he’ll be photographed, saw potential. They ran in similar circles. Hunt saw through Browne’s quiet nature and tree-hugging sensibility. In fact, he hugged the same tree — namely a desire to end nonrenewable energy. In Browne, Hunt saw a visionary mind and kindred spirit. He wanted in. 

“People sleep on his depth of consciousness,” Hunt says of his co-founder. “His persona isn’t as outward. But he is so kindhearted. Everything he does is meant to contribute value.”

In Hunt, Browne saw a potential voice for his idea and a clever financial strategist to keep his lofty ideas grounded. 

“I think this could be really big,” Browne said.

“I like it,” Hunt said. “But what do you want from me?”

“I don’t really know yet. But when I need you, I’ll let you know.”

The idea was simple, but the execution would be complex. Back then, it was just a solar panel glued to a battery with a single USB port. Soon, the idea evolved to include gooseneck cables and larger solar panels with customized, 3-D printable shells that could be sourced from just about any material. 

Hunt helped write the first business plan for Spor Chargers. Then, in October 2013, with Browne back from the abyss and ready to roll, the duo stood on stage at World Café Live and hit a home run pitching their company in the Baiada Institute’s prestigious Incubator Competition. They say people invest in other people, not ideas — and the one-two punch of the quixotic Browne and lyrical Hunt was simply magnetic.

“Jay is white and I’m black,” Hunt says with a laugh. “We’re yin and yang. We both have a piece of each other in ourselves. 

The Spor is simple, but the pieces are complex. It’s organic, but also technological. That’s us.”

“The common thread is truth,” Browne says. “We believe that we can really make the world a better place. We are making the energy industry equivalent of the PC. ” 

Browne and Hunt won $10,000 in the competition and space to call home in the Baiada Incubator. In a matter of months, they also won Philadelphia’s third annual Lean Startup Machine challenge. They tapped a group of engineers at Philadelphia’s NextFab Studios to help build a working prototype to turn Browne’s vision into a viable, scalable, adaptable and simple product that would be easy to assemble by the layman. 

Ever since, Spor has evolved from a single cell to an entire ecosystem. The current incarnation of the Spor can be charged via wall outlet, solar power, USB port and even with indoor light. The device has two USB ports that power two devices at the same time, as well as the ability to “daisy-chain” multiple units to increase energy capacity or transfer energy from one unit to another. With this innovation, multiple units can be connected to larger solar panels to increase the capacity of the system — the sum greater than any one part — creating a small-scale solar grid that can be assembled by anyone, anywhere.

And it’s the anywhere that keeps the duo up at night. In sub-Saharan Africa, only 24 percent of the population has access to electricity. This is where Browne’s prophecy and Hunt’s poetry are headed: straight into the Third World.

By Spring 2014, after a year of building prototypes at NextFab, it was time to take Spor to the masses.

On May 28, 2014, Spor Chargers launched an ambitious Kickstarter campaign to raise $100,000 in 30 days. 

For startups like Spor, Kickstarter represents a viable way to raise capital and brand awareness as an alternative means to bootstrap a business. Kickstarter allows companies to retain autonomy while engaging in an open and honest conversation with their “backers,” who donate rather than invest. It’s the monetization of the social media era, and it allows companies like Spor to scale on their own terms while prototyping their product to an incentivized group of “prototype” shareholders. 

For a pledge of $35, early backers received a Spor charger. For $50, they got a Spor with a 3-D printed shell. These pledge “gifts” not only encouraged support; they forced Browne and Hunt to keep it honest. While they weren’t beholden to real shareholders, they were bound to make good on their promise — which meant that if the project reached its goal, they’d need to ship product.

First, they created a value proposition video (Kickstarter’s bread and butter) with the help of a production company run by recent alums of Drexel’s Westphal College of Media Arts & Design. In the video, which went viral in days, the dynamic duo stay true to character: Browne talks tech and Hunt adds color commentary.

“Inside each Spor is a 5,200mAh lithium ion battery,” Browne says, completely deadpan, sporting his customary V-neck.

“That’s huge!” Hunt, wearing his signature blazer, counters. “That’s like three-and-a-half full iPhone charges!”

They raised $13,000 in 24 hours. The next day, they raised $8,000. Then $2,000. Then $1,100. Browne had his doubts. But Hunt kept him going. 

“Every morning I was up and aligning my own energy with the fact that we were going to make it,” Hunt says. “When you put your intentions out there into the universe, it happens. The rest of the world just has to realize it.” 

Thanks to the video, as well as press support from the likes of TechCrunch, Reign23, Techdirt and Philly, the campaign was an overwhelming success.  By June 30, they had exceeded their goal, receiving $112,408 in funding from 1,439 backers. 

The campaign received 130 comments and over 500 private messages — which Browne responded to personally — from potential investors, backers and venture capitalists. Most importantly, the campaign gave Spor solid traction across the globe — a currency that cannot be undervalued when it comes to raising future funds. 

“We have met with investors,” Browne says. “And a lot of times, they might say, ‘We want to see traction.’ And I’d say back, ‘Hey, we want to see traction, too. But we don’t have the money to validate this traction.’ Well, Kickstarter validates our traction.”

Or as Hunt puts it: “Now it’s like, ‘are you on the boat? Or are you just going to sit on the shore and watch us sail off to success?’ Because, now we’re moving.” 

The pair recently returned from a trip to China, where they secured production for all Spor components. They are also working on a full-scale digital marketing campaign. Then there is sourcing, distribution, branding and outreach to consider. Not to mention investors.

These are all moving parts, and they evolve every day.  The solar panels will get bigger. The USB cables will become more efficient. But regardless of hardware, the goal is for Spor Chargers to source the best components and put them together in the easiest possible way.

“The thing I love about a Spor is that it does change,” says Hunt. “It reproduces. Gives life to other things. Finally, at some culmination point, it becomes what it’s supposed to be.”

On a random day toward the tail end of Spor’s Kickstarter campaign, Browne dragged Hunt to a floating spa in Northern Liberties. He just had to share his experience, and after a year of such intense transformation, it was definitely time. Once prepped, the two co-founders parted for their respective sensory deprivation pods, submerged their bodies in water, and spent 90 minutes in the void.

When Browne emerged, he found Hunt waiting at the front desk. He’d already booked himself three more sessions.  “How was it?” Browne asked.  “It was good,” Hunt said. “But I can see how it’s going to be great.”

Center for Hospitality and Sport Management Hosts USDA Sponsored Cochran Fellowship Wine Studies Program
By Matt Gray, Director, Marketing and Enrollment Management,
Center for Hospitality and Sport Management

Bergström Winery Vinyards, Willamette Valley, Oregon

Drexel University’s Center for Hospitality and Sport Management recently hosted six Central American wine and spirits professionals through the Cochran Fellowship Wine Studies Program.  The fellowship program was sponsored by the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service to provide the participants with hands-on training in the areas of agricultural trade and marketing.  The two week training program was held August 3-16 with sessions in Philadelphia, Oregon’s Willamette Valley and California’s Napa Valley.

The fellowship program was led by Rosemary Trout, instructor of culinary science and Paul O’Neill, director of special projects.   The wine studies program began in Philadelphia with seminars led by some of the region’s top wine and beer specialists including Kevin Bloomquist of Artisan’s Cellar, Jason Malumed, MBA ‘14 of Chalkboard Wine and Spirits, Brian Freedman, beverage consultant, Brett Taylor, HOSP ‘14 of Soutirage and Lynn Hoffman, PhD of Drexel University.  Topics included wine and food pairings, natural and organic wines and sparkling wine of the United States.  A special emphasis was placed on American wines as a way for the fellows to increase their knowledge to better market American wines in their respective countries. 

The fellows also had the opportunity to visit several of the region’s top retail stores including Moore Brothers Wine Company in New Jersey, Fine Wine and Good Spirits Premium Store in Pennsylvania and Total Wine in Delaware.

The second half of the program included a three day visit to the Willamette Valley in Oregon which included visits to Bergström, Adelsheim, Ken Wright Cellars, EIEIO, Argyle, and Penner-Ash.    Sessions with the winemakers focused on the two major soil types in the region along with the climate’s effect on the vineyards.   In addition, the fellows learned of Oregon’s burgeoning prominence with the Pinot Noir grape and how the wines produced have drawn comparisons to the finest representations of Burgundy.

The trip concluded in Napa Valley with visits to the most celebrated producers in the country: Domaine Carneros, Joseph Phelps, Inglenook, Pride, and Silver Oak.  Each winery brought their unique perspective and tasting examples to distinguish their unique products.

Through the fellowship program, the participants were able to gain exclusive insight to America’s wine market and were also able to network with some of the wineries with hopes to propel their respective businesses and distinguish themselves from their contemporaries.

Drexel University is quickly becoming a global destination for beverage studies.  For more information on beverage studies at Drexel, please email

Center for Hospitality and Sport Management’s Culinary Science Program Certified as Culinology® Program
through Research Chefs Association
By Matt Gray, Director, Marketing and Enrollment Management,
Center for Hospitality and Sport Management

The Research Chefs Association (RCA) is proud to announce its newest certified Culinology® undergraduate degree program at Drexel University. The Bachelor of Science in Culinary Science combines the creativity of culinary arts with the technical and scientific expertise required of a food scientist preparing students for jobs in product development, quality assurance and sensory industries. 

The Drexel program is one of 13 RCA-approved Culinology® undergraduate degree programs across the United States and Asia offering a unique and strategic curriculum for students interested in food product development and other areas of the food industry.

“The Drexel University Center for Hospitality & Sport Management is proud to offer a Culinology® certified degree program through the Research Chefs Association for our culinary science students,” says Rosemary Trout MS, Instructor of Culinary & Food Science.  “This is the beginning of a new partnership with the RCA and we look forward to working together to help our students grow into qualified and confident professionals across the many exciting disciplines in the food industry.”

The Culinology® approval gives Drexel’s program a distinctive combination of both the artistic and scientific side of food and the food industry. The program will incorporate a mix of culinary arts, food science and physical science classes offering a unique and well-rounded curriculum for students.  In addition, the Drexel Food Lab was recently launched to solve real-word problems in the areas of recipe and product development and product ideation.

“The addition of Drexel’s Culinology® degree program is a huge win for the food industry,” says Allison Rittman, CRC®, RCA Education Committee Chair and Corporate Chef/Owner of Culinary Culture. “The RCA is honored to partner with Drexel’s Center for Hospitality and Sport Management, and we look forward to engaging their students as they complete their degrees and then welcoming them as professionals in the food industry.”

In 2002, the RCA introduced this novel concept to the food product development community: a unified academic experience combining both culinary arts and food science training,  giving students the opportunity to combine their knowledge and skill set to practice Culinology® — the blending of these two fields.

Through RCA-approved undergraduate degree programs in the United States and Asia, students learn how closely the two components interconnect. These programs offer a well-rounded, interdisciplinary curriculum that focuses on culinary arts and food science, but also incorporates other elements of food product development, such as business management, nutrition, processing technology, and government regulations, to name a few. 

About the Research Chefs Association:
Founded in 1996, the Research Chefs Association has rapidly grown to more than 2,000 members, including chefs, food scientists, technologists, writers, nutritionists, academics, researchers, consultants, sales and marketing professionals, suppliers, co-packers, distributors and students.  RCA is the premier source of culinary and technical information for the food industry and is committed to the advancement of Culinology® -- the blending of the culinary arts and food science. For more information on RCA Culinology® degree programs please visit For more information on Culinology® or the RCA, please visit

A Fragile Ecosystem: Arts & Culture in Mantua/Powelton
By Brittanie Sterner, Communications Coordinator and Executive Assistant to the Dean,
Westphal College of Media Arts & Design

A new report from Westphal Arts Administration Professors Julie Goodman-Hawkins, Neville Vakharia and Dr. Andrew Zitcer show there is a high concentration of arts activity in three West Philadelphia communities that neighbor Drexel’s campus. Among a number of independent artists and local arts organizations are Spiral Q Puppet Theatre, Mighty Writers, Gwen Bye Dance Center and Lil’ Filmmakers. But the neighborhoods of Powelton and Mantua are not the cultural hot spots that exist in Northern Liberties and Old City, and the report speaks to the potential benefits of further developing their cultural assets.

The report, “A Fragile Ecosystem: The Role of Arts and Culture in Philadelphia’s Mantua, Powelton Village and West Powelton Neighborhoods,” examines not only the crucial role of arts and culture in the communities, but focuses on the challenges local organizations face in funding, capacity building and outreach. “We wanted to explore arts participation and arts access in the neighborhoods surrounding Drexel, with the goal of encouraging and supporting efforts to advance these neighborhoods through the further development and use of their cultural assets,” said Professor Julie Goodman-Hawkins. “The arts have the potential to play a transformative role in building social, economic and community capital.”

The study draws on 450 interviews with neighborhood residents as well as surveys and focus groups conducted over a period of five months. Data collection was supported by a team of four graduate and two undergraduate students from Westphal College and Drexel’s College of Arts and Sciences.

The team found that residents see arts and culture as a crucial part of their community’s ability to educate youth, build employment skills, bridge generations, and revitalize spaces. But low public investment is a hindrance, and local arts groups operate on small budgets. The report also outlines needs for a support network for collaborative efforts and long-term planning; increased communication among artists and organizations; and more connections between cultural assets and churches, civic organizations and schools.

The team offers a plan in the report to help navigate these challenges and support the development of cultural assets that will meet the neighborhood’s needs. Action steps include increased funding from public and private sources for key cultural clusters; strengthened relationships between local arts groups and the public school district; and the collaborative development of a localized communications system. The study ultimately looks toward bringing the communities together across geographic and socio-economic boundaries to address challenges and improve the lives of all residents.

Click here to read the full report of how the arts can impact local communities, and click here to read the Philadelphia Inquirer’s coverage of the study.

Ciao Bella: Eight Decades of Italian Shoe Design with the
Fox Historic Costume Collection and DesignPhiladelphia
By Brittanie Sterner, Communications Coordinator and Executive Assistant to the Dean,
Westphal College of Media Arts & Design

From street corners to universities, artists’ studios to cultural institutions, DesignPhiladelphia explores design and innovation in our city’s diverse creative ecosystem. The tenth festival will take place from October 9 to 17 with more than 120 distinct events across the city.

On October 15, Westphal will join the festival with a special event in the College’s Fox Historic Costume Collection. FHCC Curator Clare Sauro will delve into a form of impeccable design that is the hallmark of couture Italian shoes. Her talk, “Ciao Bella: Eight Decades of Italian Shoe Design,” will review the rich history of Italian footwear, from Salvatore Ferragamo to the fashion-forward shoes produced by Prada and Romeo Gigli. The event will include an up-close viewing of Italian shoes from the Collection’s holdings. The FHCC is a teaching collection that holds more than 12,000 articles of fashionable dress and accessories, textiles and ephemera. Click here to register for the event on October 15, 6:00pm to 8:00pm, in Westphal College’s URBN Center Annex (3401 Filbert Street). Tickets are $25 and include a dessert reception.

The “Ciao Bella” shoe design event is also part of Ciao Philadelphia, a month-long celebration of all things Italian organized by the Italian Consulate of Philadelphia. Westphal hosted another event in conjunction with Ciao Philadelphia on October 2.The College screened Men of the Cloth, Vicki Vasilopoulos’ film portrait of three master custom tailors whose bespoke craft is vanishing. Nino Corvato, Checchino Fonticoli and Joe Centofanti explain the causes for the decline of the apprentice system as they approach the twilight of their careers. The film details the depth of their artistry and their lifelong passion for an endangered Old World craft. The free-to-the-public screening was followed by a panel discussion and reception.

Theatre Production: War of the Worlds
By Lisa Visco, Director of Communications, College of Media Arts & Design

The original 1938 War of the Worlds radio broadcast, simulating an alien invasion near Grovers Mill, New Jersey, was performed on the air as a Halloween episode by Orson Welles and The Mercury Theatre. This Halloween, Drexel’s Co-Op Theatre Company will stage a radio theatre production of the broadcast that created widespread panic across the country 75 years ago. “We thought it would be a lot of fun,” Director Nick Anselmo says on staging the show as a Halloween event.

In a “Theater of the Ear” production that harkens back to radio dramas, the only visual elements on stage during the show will be the creation of sound effects. “We are going to try to be as true to the original production as possible, which I believe included placing a microphone inside a toilet to create the echo sound of the reporter in the field,” Anselmo said. “We may not go that far, but we are going to do everything we can and we have hired a wonderful sound designer to create the effects with the actors.” Stefán Örn Arnarson, Rutgers University Theatre Programs Director and Music Instructor, has designed the production’s sound.

A limited seating preview of the show will take place on Thursday, October 30 at 8:00pm. The opening performance will be on Halloween, Friday, October 31 at 8:00pm. As with last year’s Halloween-timed performance of Godzilla, audience members in costume will receive free tickets to the show. Two more performances will take place on Saturday, November 1 at 8:00pm and Sunday, November 2 at 2:00pm. All performances are in the URBN Annex Black Box Theater (3401 Filbert Street). Tickets are $5 with a Drexel ID, $10 for all other students and $15 for the general public.

The show isn’t the Theater program’s first foray into radio drama. Several years ago, the Late Night Series along with the Theater program created the radio show Combustible Radio Theater, an evening of comic sketches written by NPR political satirist Richard Pliskin along with live music and two short plays, which aired on WKDU. Anselmo says that the War of the Worlds performance may also be broadcast on WKDU.

Valerie D. Weber, MD, Appointed
Vice Dean for Educational Affairs at College of Medicine
By Rachel Quimby, Media & Public Relations Director, College of Medicine

Drexel University College of Medicine is pleased to announce that Valerie D. Weber, MD, MS, FACP, has been appointed vice dean for educational affairs, effective October 1, 2014.  Weber joins Drexel from The Commonwealth Medical College, where she had been chair of the Department of Clinical Sciences, associate dean for clinical affairs, and professor of medicine.

“We are very excited to have Dr. Weber join our leadership team,” said Daniel V. Schidlow, MD, Annenberg Dean and senior vice president of medical affairs. “Her experience in innovative curriculum development will be a real asset as we explore the best approaches to educate new generations of physicians who will practice in a changed environment."

"We have always been innovators in medical education here at Drexel and I look forward to working with Dr. Weber to lead the way in planning and implementing new curricular approaches.”

As a member of the senior leadership team of The Commonwealth Medical College, Weber had a major role in many aspects of the development of the new school, which awarded its first medical degrees in May 2013. She was responsible for recruiting and developing more than 400 faculty members for the Departments of Medicine, Surgery and Psychiatry, as well as faculty leaders to create and implement the curriculum. She also led the development of the school’s innovative clinical curriculum, the centerpiece of which is a third-year longitudinal integrated clerkship, the largest implementation of that model in the world. This involved the development of medical school faculty across a 16-county region, establishing academic affiliations with nearly 30 hospitals and dozens of physician groups, and crafting a robust assessment plan.

Weber was the first chair of Commonwealth’s Committee on Academic and Professional Standards and was the LCME self-study chair (2010/11). She was also a member of the school’s Academic Leadership Group and Institutional Leadership Group and was active in the teaching of medical students at all levels, including problem-based, team-based and systems (case-based) learning sessions; history and physical examination; and the quality and patient safety curriculum.

Weber was previously vice-chair of the Division of Medicine at Geisinger Health System, where she co-led an 80-member division, encompassing multiple specialties. She was also department director of General Internal Medicine and Geriatrics. While at Geisinger, from 2000 to 2009, Weber held appointments as a clinical associate professor of medicine at Temple University School of Medicine (2007-9), as a clinical assistant professor of medicine at Thomas Jefferson University School of Medicine (2000-7), and as an adjunct clinical assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

Weber earned her medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and completed her residency in internal medicine at the Graduate Hospital, where she served as chief resident. In 2010, she completed a master of science in health care management at the Harvard University School of Public Health. She earned her undergraduate degree in psychology, summa cum laude, from Washington and Jefferson College.

Conflicts of Interest on FDA Advisory Panels
Examined by Drexel Public Health Researcher
By Kim Menard, Director, Marketing and Communications, School of Public Health

A study in the September issue of The Milbank Quarterly, that examined the potential for financial conflicts of interest to influence advisory committee members of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) during the drug approval process, found that there seems to be a voting bias when experts have exclusive financial ties to firms but, surprisingly, not when they have multiple ties.

“Conventional wisdom has it that more [industry] ties are worse than fewer ties, but we found on average, that doesn’t seem to be the case,” said study author Genevieve Pham-Kanter, PhD, an assistant professor of Health Management and Policy in the Drexel University School of Public Health, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

The new study looked at an expanded data set - 15 years of meetings and almost 16,000 votes from about 380 meetings of FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) advisory committee members. The level of financial conflicts of interest varied. Across all committees, an average of 13 percent of panel participants reported a conflict of interest. Committees reported that, on average, half of their meetings were attended by at least one person with a financial conflict.

Committee members had a 52 percent chance of voting in favor of a sponsor of a drug. But members who had financial interests in only the company whose product was under deliberation were more likely to vote for its approval, with a probability of 63 percent, the New York Times reported.

Pham-Kanter concluded that, if the objective is to reduce bias, then this study can be used to inform the FDA and the public about the policy effectiveness of various conflict of interest rules.

Drexel Autism Institute Receives $3.6 Million for Research Initiatives
By Kim Menard, Director, Marketing and Communications, School of Public Health

An anonymous $3.6 million gift to the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute's Life Course Outcomes Research Initiatives program will not only innovate and invest in evidence-based measures to support adults with autism, but will also train additional scholars in this important area of public health research. Led by Autism Institute associate professor Dr. Paul Shattuck – who holds a secondary appointment in the Drexel University School of Public Health – the programs include the Indicators Initiative, which will assess community-level and national indicators of outcomes and services for people on the autism spectrum; the Promising Practices Initiative, which will work to develop innovative approaches to service provision and policies; the Research Leadership Initiative, which aims to expand the field of useful research by training additional scholars; and, the Long-Term Knowledge Initiative, which will conduct studies designed to discover how life unfolds over a long period of time for people on the autism spectrum and their families.

Links to College, School, and Various Other Drexel News

Autism Institute

College of Arts & Sciences

School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems

LeBow College of Business
LeBow College of Business Quarterly Research Newsletter

College of Computing and Informatics

Drexel University Online – A Better U

School of Education

College of Engineering

Close School of Entrepreneurship

Pennoni Honors College

Center for Hospitality and Sport Management

Institute for Energy and the Environment

School of Law

Westphal College of Media Arts & Design

Drexel University College of Medicine

College of Nursing and Health Professions

Goodwin College of Professional Studies

School of Public Health

University Libraries


DCAE Launches 2014-2015 Academic Year with Two Faculty
Orientations: New Faculty and Adjunct Faculty
By Allison H. Keene, MS, Administrative Coordinator II, Drexel Center for Academic Excellence

DCAE Fellow and Associate Professor in the School of Public Health, Jennifer Taylor (left) addresses a table of new faculty members on creating a culture of engagement in the classroom.

The Drexel Center for Academic Excellence (DCAE) kicked off the 2014-2015 academic year with New Faculty Orientation. Over 60 new faculty representing 11 colleges and schools were in attendance, along with over 30 faculty and staff who acted as facilitators for various sessions throughout both days.

Prior to the start of New Faculty Orientation, new faculty were sent a link to the DCAE website, which included 6 video presentations on services available at the University Libraries, Drexel Writing Center, Human Resources, Steinbright Career Development Center, Office of Undergraduate Research and Drexel Counseling Center. A seventh video, by Sandy Friedlander, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education in the College of Arts and Sciences, provided an overview of the quarter system and grading policies for faculty. These videos may be accessed at

President John Fry welcomed the new faculty in a pre-recorded video in which he discussed the dynamic interest and accomplishments of the current faculty and his hope for similar accomplishments from new faculty in the coming years.  Those present were then provided the opportunity to learn more about one another by using clickers to respond to questions posed.  All of the answers were recorded within seconds and projected in the form of bar graphs.  Created by Danielle Rice, Teaching Professor inn Museum Leadership, and with the assistance of DCAE Fellow and Associate Professor of Chemistry Dan King, this session not only allowed new faculty to better understand the background of their new colleagues but was instrumental in exposing them to a key piece of educational technology that many Drexel faculty members use in their classes.

The remainder of the first day included: a hands-on workshop exposing new faculty to the Drexel Student Learning Priorities (DSLPs) and how to incorporate them into their course assignments and rubrics; roundtable discussions lead by DCAE Fellows on various teaching and learning topics and techniques; an informal lunch with DCAE fellows and representatives from the Office of the Provost including Jan Biros, Senior Vice Provost for Budget, Planning and Administration, and James Herbert, Interim Provost and Interim Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs; roundtable discussions, led by tenure track and teaching faculty from across the university on how to combine the ideas of teaching, research and service; and, a visit to the Academy of Natural Sciences and an adjoining research presentation on the opportunities for future partnerships that encompass both teaching and research for faculty and students.

On Day 2, new faculty received a warm welcome from Provost Mark Greenberg, who encouraged faculty to pursue the entrepreneurial spirit that has defined Drexel since its inception. Following Provost Greenberg’s welcome, attendees met representatives from over thirty different Drexel units during a Resource Fair; reviewed  legal concerns and academic dishonesty policies with representatives from Student Life and the Office of General Counsel; met with both graduate and undergraduate students who shared their learning experiences and the most effective teaching methods they have encountered during their time at Drexel; and, received a preview of the Drexel Smart Initiatives Program, including pictures of the Drexel SmartHouse and student presentations on how the house has spurred their own entrepreneurial interests. Faculty from last year’s Orientation were also on hand to share their own experiences during their first year at Drexel and to answer any questions.

In addition to offering an orientation for new, full-time faculty, the DCAE was pleased to offer an orientation for all adjunct faculty, both new and returning. This event included presentations from fellow adjuncts on their experiences teaching at Drexel, as well as roundtable discussions and case studies on critical issues related to teaching and learning. Adjunct faculty left the orientation more confident in their abilities to create course syllabi; a better understanding of some of the best practices and resources available for managing student behavior in the classroom; and, renewed insight into the Drexel culture that will help them plan the structure of their courses.

The DCAE invites all faculty to review its website for the most up-to-date information on monthly workshops and various initiatives, including the Faculty Learning Communities and Portfolio Workshop series available for the upcoming academic year. Please contact the DCAE at or 215-895-4973 with any questions or ideas.


The New Student Initiative at VanR Residence Hall
By Shivanthi Anandan, Associate Professor and Project Director; Subir Sahu, Associate Dean of Students; and David Ruth, Dean of Students

An exciting new initiative began this academic year in Van Rensselaer (VanR) residence hall (pictured). This new venture integrates critical aspects of the urban Drexel University environment and community with the freshman experience, and aims to engage our students in civic and intellectual activities to enhance and promote their development into responsible and informed global citizens. To put this plan into action, Dr. Shivanthi Anandan, a faculty member in Biology, will serve as the Project Director. She will have office hours in VanR, and act as an informal “bridge” to connect the residence hall students with the academic side of this university. The main goal of this initiative is to build a strong relationship with students by building a vibrant and involved community of students in the residence halls.

Specifically, some of the planned activities for this academic year in VanR are:

  • Civic Engagement 101 (CIVC 101) sections held in Van Rensselaer and facilitated by Residence hall staff.
  • Discussions on the broader scope and meaning of civic engagement with the instructors and Project Director.
  • Faculty led discussions on current topics of interest at social hours.
  • Social hours to meet and get to know faculty informally.
  • Linking students to campus activities and student groups.
  • Introducing and linking students to university services, such as tutoring, the Libraries, etc.

Institute for Energy and the Environment Speaker Series:
Dr. Kristina Johnson – October 21, 2014, 1-2 p.m.
Paul Peck Alumni Center
By Hugh Johnson, Senior Associate, Institute for Energy & the Environment

Join the conversation between Dean Joseph Hughes and Dr. Kristina Johnson on America’s energy roadmap. Dr. Johnson was the former Undersecretary of the Department of Energy in the Obama Administration.  Under her leadership, the department developed a Strategic Technologies Energy Plan, which provides a roadmap for how the United States can reduce its dependence on imported oil, dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create an ultra-low carbon electric grid.  Dr. Johnson is currently the Founder and CEO of Enduring Hydro, which modernizes existing hydropower to improve its environmental performance.  Check the IExE website for additional details, news and other events

Assessment Conference a Success
By Stephen L. DiPietro, PhD, Associate Vice Provost, University Assessment and Evaluation-IRAE

On September 10-12, Drexel played host to approximately 420 registrants for a national conference on assessment.     Those who required lodging were housed at the Sonesta Hotel of Philadelphia and shuttled to campus for the three-day event entitled, "Myths and Movements - Reimagining Higher Education Assessment".

Aside from the sheer number of registrants for this inaugural event, what is equally impressive is the number of presidents, provosts, senior vice presidents, senior and associate vice provosts, and deans who attended, including some 100+ faculty and staff from Drexel.  The conference brought together 91 presenters and panelists from nearly 55 college campuses from across the nation as well as Canada and Australia. One registrant from New York State made the comment that this conference is the only assessment conference in our region scheduled in the fall, and congratulated us on finding a great niche!

By all accounts, Drexel hit a home run with this effort. The comments coming from attendees have been exceptionally positive, and not just regarding the conference, but most importantly for Drexel institutionally. Everything from, "…what an extraordinary urban campus, filled with green space and even wild flower gardens," to "...Drexel is light years ahead of us in this field".  "I have learned so much here; it's been incredible"! One gentleman even said that "…if one of your purposes was to showcase Drexel, it worked!"  Another attendee from Michigan, "This place is fabulous, and the conference is extraordinary"!

In addition to four plenary speakers of national reputation in the field along with 56 concurrent sessions offered over the three days, attendees were treated to an evening reception at the Academy of Natural Sciences' Dinosaur Hall and a guided bus and walking tour of historic Philadelphia following the reception.

Chaired by Jan Biros and Steve DiPietro, this was without doubt a true team effort of extraordinary colleagues. Everyone who helped - convene a session, man the registration desk, present some of the sessions, and/or serve on the planning committee - was a volunteer. The conference experience served to reinforce what makes Drexel great - its people!

As the 2012 Middle States report suggested, Drexel is poised to take the leadership in the assessment and evaluation field; it was ours to seize. The planning committee believes it did just that.  Drexel simply shined.

Fall Assessment Workshops
By Stephen DiPietro, PhD, Associate Vice Provost for University Assessment Operations

The Office of University Assessment will be offering a second sequence of workshops designed to support curriculum review, assessment planning, and preparation for Program Alignment and Review.  The workshops will be facilitated by experienced Drexel faculty and professional staff who give so generously of their time and talents to this and other enterprises.

To present a workshop, or if you have ideas for a workshop offering, please contact Steve DiPietro, Associate Vice Provost at

Quality Improvement Quarterly
By Stephen DiPietro, PhD, Associate Vice Provost for University Assessment Operations

The Quality Improvement Quarterly is published during the fall, winter and spring terms. If you have any ideas or suggestions for future articles, or to submit a feature, please contact Steve DiPietro, Associate Vice Provost at

Graduate Studies Welcomes 2,200 New Graduate Students
By Sandra Golis, Office Manager, The Office of Graduate Studies

The Office of Graduate Studies is thrilled to welcome more than 2,200 graduate students to Drexel this fall. Approximately 1,200 have joined Drexel for graduate study, including 144 PhD, 73 doctoral and professional, and 972 master degree students. About 50 students enrolled in Sacramento. In addition, more than 1,000 students are pursuing online certificates and graduate degrees.

Each year, the Office of Graduate Studies - in conjunction with Student Affairs and International Students and Scholars Services - hosts a Graduate Student Orientation for all incoming graduate students enrolling in quarter programs.  The goal of orientation is to provide students with information regarding advising, campus resources, and the culture and traditions of Drexel.

This year, we had a record number of students register to attend, and more than 50 returning graduate students from a variety of programs and levels of study volunteered to help guide new students, sharing their knowledge, experience, and enthusiasm for Drexel.  On Thursday, September 11, a dinner and reception was held for over 250 international graduate students, many of whom were in the United States for the first time. Prior to their arrival, the International Graduate Student Association (IGSA) hosted a series of webinars to help prepare them for life in the U.S. Members of the IGSA volunteered to transport students from local airports and train stations and to host students until they could secure housing.

On Friday, September 12, more than 500 students attended a welcome from Drexel administrators, the Graduate Student Association (GSA), and graduate faculty and staff advisors. The program concluded with a Dragon Expo Resource Fair featuring approximately 40 Drexel departments, student services, and local Philadelphia vendors. Students enjoyed a “Taste of Philly” buffet with items such as soft pretzels, cheesesteaks, and Tastykakes.  On Monday, September 15, about 150 students attended the Center City orientation held specifically for the College of Nursing and Health Professions (CNHP). Students heard from a variety of panelists including CNHP Deans, Student Affairs Center City, faculty and staff advisors, and current graduate students.

Current graduate student orientation volunteers during Graduate Student Orientation, Friday, September 12, 2014.

For photo, video, and copies of the Graduate Student Orientation program, please visit the Office of Graduate Studies website.

After orientation was over, students continued to explore Drexel and Philadelphia during New Student Days. This year, the Office of Graduate Studies partnered with New Student Orientation and Family Programs to offer graduate students many of the same opportunities as undergraduate students, such as evening social events, information sessions, shopping trips, tours, and a trip to the Philadelphia Zoo. As part of New Student Days, the GSA hosted a sold out Spirit of Philadelphia cruise on Friday evening, September 19th before the commencement of the new term. About 300 students attended.

Many new international undergraduate students come to Drexel from Malaysia, thanks to an annual recruiting mission, completed this year in early September by Dr. Teck-Kah Lim, Associate Vice Provost for Graduate Studies, on behalf of International Admissions. Enrollment numbers have increased from the 7 two years ago to approximately 50 this year, thanks to this effort.  Dr. Lim also visited his old high school. Seeing the signboard with the school’s motto: meliora hic sequamur (here we strive for better things) made him realize how equally well that captures what the OGS does.

Overall, the Summer was full of quiet achievements including meetings of the University Advisory Committee on Graduate Affairs and the newly-formed Graduate Collaborative Council.

The Office of Graduate Studies wishes our graduate students the best of luck as they commence with their studies.

Air Pollution, Public Health and Collaborative Research:
Drexel Students Complete First Environment and
Public Health Internship connected to the Drexel-SARI Center
By Heidi West, Director of International Programs

From on-campus events to global academic and research initiatives, the Office of International Programs (OIP) understands how the support of faculty and staff positively impacts students as they contemplate and pursue global opportunities.  Recognizing faculty and staff as important stakeholders in Drexel’s global engagement, OIP not only offers a diverse range of resources and programming, but also collaborates across the University on a variety of research initiatives.  Accordingly, it was excited when it was approached by one of the PIs for an Energy and Environment project sponsored by the joint Drexel – SARI Center (Shanghai Advanced Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences) about creating a summer internship opportunity for this OIP supported international research project. 

After a collaborative process to develop the program, OIP and the School of Public Health offered a summer internship in Climate Change, Air Pollution, and Health under the direction of Dr. Longjian Liu, associate professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and Interim Chair, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health and Heidi West, Director of the OIP.  The application process was extremely competitive and included undergraduate and graduate student candidates from diverse disciplines and multiple colleges and schools.  The internship recipients, Chris DelRe (BS/MS Materials Engineering CoE), Xiaochen Zhang (MPH Biostats SPH), and Xuan Yang (MPH, Biostats, SPH), each completed independent research related to the larger research project, Co-Research and Education on Low Carbon and Health City Technology

This larger project includes faculty from across the university and colleagues in Shanghai as co-PIs and co-investigators:  from Drexel - Charles Nathan Haas, PhD (COE); Seth Welles, PhD (SPH), Arthur Frank, MD (SPH), Shannon Marquez, PhD (SPH), Jin Wen, PhD (COE), Peter Decarlo, PhD, (COE), and Mimi Sheller, PhD (COAS) ; and from  Shanghai Advanced Research Institute (SARI) of the Chinese Academy Science Team  PI: Mingquan Wang; Co-PI: Weiguang Huang; Co-Researchers: Feng TIAN, PhD (CCET), Kun GAO, MD (SARI), Jun WANG, PhD (CCET), Chen LIU(CCET).

After a four-week intensive program, the students presented their research findings to faculty and staff from OIP, the School of Public Health, and the College of Engineering at a closing program.  Xuan Yang completed data analysis on the situation of air pollution and public health in China, breaking out the data by region, climate, and population and paying particular attention to any potential correlations between health problems such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity and air quality.  Xiaochen Zhang presented similar work, but focused instead on the situation in the United States.   Chris DelRe offered a global perspective on air pollution as both a predictor and outcome of climate change. 

This program was successful because it was faculty driven, student focused, and collaborative.  OIP encourages and supports these kinds of initiatives across campus and around the world.  Spreading the word about these kinds of collaborations can be a challenge, so in fall 2012, OIP introduced its Faculty Forum: Opportunities Abroad series. These events help faculty and staff navigate the international opportunities available to them and their students. With such topics as developing collaborative research, finding internal and external funding sources, leading effective study abroad programs, and running global classrooms, these events utilize real faculty experiences to promote international partnerships. This past August, OIP expanded the Faculty Forum series with its first Advisor Forum event to discuss the pivotal role that academic advisors play in helping students navigate and participate in various international opportunities at Drexel.  Open to all, OIP encourages all Drexel community members interested in international opportunities to attend our forums. 

Examples of other recent faculty and staff collaborations for global engagement include a digital China Center supported by OIP and the School of Education, the Dornsife Global Development Scholars program with the School of Public Health, and the Drexel Community Scholar for Global Citizenship with the Lindy Center for Civic Engagement.

For more information please see the OIP website,

Drexel faculty and students pose for a group photo at the summer internship closing program and research presentations. Pictured (L to R back): Dr. Wei Sun, Heidi West, Dr. Chuck Haas, Dr. Julie Mostov, Dr. Longjian Liu, Dr. Seth Wells, and Dr. Shannon Marquez. (L to R front), Chris DelRe, Xuan Yang, and Xiaochen Zhang.

University Research Computing Facility
By Cameron Abrams, PhD, Professor, Chemical and Biological Engineering, and Chair of the URCF Board

This past January, Drexel University strengthened its rank within leading world-class comprehensive research institutions with the official opening of the University Research Computing Facility (URCF).  The URCF is a secure, 1,600 square foot datacenter located in Curtis Hall.  It provides space for investigator-purchased computer hardware used for research, and it also houses Proteus, the University’s “condominium-style” high-performance computing cluster. 

Proteus was initiated with support from the Senior Vice Provost for Research and is modeled after clusters at the nation’s leading supercomputing facilities.  Proteus currently consists of 2,000 processors linked by high-speed networking, and it’s growing as new computing hardware is incorporated under the specifications of individual faculty with support from their research grants. 

Many faculty have moved or plan to move their hardware into the URCF by the end of 2014, and many have participated in the first expansion of Proteus.  Since coming on-line in February, Proteus has delivered 140,000 CPU-days of execution time distributed to over a dozen research groups, and the number of participating groups in the URCF and using Proteus continues to grow.  Computational research on Proteus and within the URCF in general has fueled a great expansion of research in the bioinformatics, materials, structural biology, geophysics, and astrophysics fields, to name a few. 

The University has begun tracking proposal submissions that reference the URCF as a facility needed to perform research.  The heaviest users of Proteus represent groups of new assistant professors, fulfilling one of the URCF’s purposes to attract talented computational faculty to Drexel. 

The URCF is overseen by a governing board of six full-time faculty members and ex-officio representation from the Office of Information Resources and Technology (IRT) and the Office of the Provost.  Day-to-day management of the URCF is handled by a full-time senior systems administrator, who is a member of the IRT staff. 

Faculty and student use of the URCF during the first seven months of operation indicates that it has been very successful with a major positive impact on the expansion of computational research at Drexel. Continued investment will yield great returns on the quality and quantity of computational research, placing Drexel among the nation’s most talented and technologically adept research Universities.

PAR Update
By Jan Biros, EdD, Senior Vice Provost for Budget, Planning, and Administration,
Office of the Provost

The Action Plans for the 18 programs that went through the Program Alignment and Review (PAR) process during the 2013-2014 academic year were received over the summer.  These Action Plans provide recommendations made by the internal self-study groups and the external reviewers, and they emphasize priorities specified by the deans and their respective colleges under the purview of the PAR standing committee and the Provost.  In addition, Action Plans offer the opportunity to identify larger common themes and issues that can be addressed University-wide.   Each of the 18 Action Plans will be monitored to determine accomplishments, identify obstacles, and chart progress.

The 2014-2015 academic year has 13 programs undergoing PAR. The majority of these self-study teams began the process over the summer months, and were provided institutional data to aid their analysis.  Jan Biros and Steve DiPietro will periodically meet with the teams to provide assistance, as needed. In addition, two University Advisory Committees were created to review the important topics of Writing Across Disciplines and Integration of the Drexel Student Learning Priorities. 

The financial implications of PAR recommendations will be reviewed by President Fry.  Major recommendations address the number of faculty, conditions of facilities, and need for equipment and resources.  These will be addressed efficiently and effectively as they are integrated into the Strategic Plan implementation activities.  Those recommendations that do not result in a financial burden, such as curricular and cultural changes, will be readily addressed by departments

Voices from Our Faculty: 2014 Satisfaction Survey
By Ellonda L. Green, MEd, Senior Academic Coordinator, Office of Faculty Development and Equity

Last spring, the Office of Faculty Development and Equity conducted an online faculty satisfaction survey to all faculty members using the web-based Qualtrics survey tool. The 2014 Faculty Satisfaction Survey received 751 responses out of a total of 2,650 faculty members invited to participate (28.3%).  Published results of faculty surveys vary dramatically when utilizing web-based tools, and can be as low as 15.6%, so The Office of Faculty development & Equity was pleased to get this level of participation during the two weeks that the survey was open.

In reviewing the responses, there is an appropriate distribution across colleges and schools, and there are cross sections of faculty in various positions and career stages at the institution.  Thus, the sample size that was obtained in this study should be considered substantial and useful for assessment of faculty satisfaction. The survey has provided up-to-date information about the needs and interests of faculty members, and the data obtained has been analyzed in order to make changes and improvements.

The survey’s key findings indicate that more than 70% of respondents are enthusiastic and supportive about working at Drexel.  In addition, a majority of respondents would recommend working at the university to colleagues and are satisfied overall in areas concerning Drexel’s student population, departmental support, and freedom/autonomy.  Key concerns focus on work-life balance, space, and support for research.

Over the summer, the Office of Faculty Development & Equity worked on several initiatives to respond to the aforementioned concerns.  It is publicizing an online system for reserving spaces across campus for faculty work and meetings with students; improving communications between faculty and administrators; and, it is implementing many improvements for Drexel’s adjunct faculty members.  In addition, plans are moving ahead rapidly to provide nearby child care resources for our faculty members.

More information is available by visiting

For more information on activities of the Office of Faculty Development & Equity, please contact Janet Fleetwood, Vice Provost for Strategic Initiatives, at

Bringing More Natural Light into W. W. Hagerty Library
By Danuta A. Nitecki, PhD, Dean of Libraries, Drexel University Libraries

Natural light positively affects learning. Since the 1990s, research supports the benefits of light on concentration, productivity and designs of schools and other learning environments. More recently, this past spring Drexel students identified natural light among the important factors in campus learning spaces they selected as desirable learning environments. Data collected on current use of the W.W. Hagerty Library confirm the successful forethought of its original designers to place two light wells [the atrium] within the building and also to provide a wall of light in the lower level—seats in proximity to natural light are heavily occupied and very popular. 

With this in mind, the University engaged architects Purdy O’Gwynn to design a dynamic new learning environment with added seats on the second floor of the W. W. Hagerty Library. In early September, they began work with dean of libraries, Danuta A. Nitecki, and University Facilities with the goal of bringing more natural light into the building and echoing the University’s master plan to bring the University to the street. The north side of the library is currently occupied with staff spaces and the proposed renovation will transform walls to bring more natural light into the building and provide views of illuminated library activities from Market Street.

In coming months, details about design and library services will be posted.

Libraries’ New Website Simplifies Your Experience
By Jenny James Lee, Communications Manager, Drexel University Libraries

At the beginning of September, the Libraries launched a new website featuring a streamlined design that makes accessing resources and finding information – including information about the Libraries – simpler. The website is also mobile friendly to provide ease of use on smartphones and tablets.  Also available through the new website is an improved room booking system, calendar, research guides and institutional repository. Visit to see the new site.

CHNP Leads Campus in Completing Faculty Portfolios
By Beth Ten Have, Director of Library Academic Partnerships,
Drexel University Libraries

As of September 1, there are 457 faculty profiles in the Faculty Portfolios system – and 42% of these profiles are from faculty in the College of Nursing and Health Professions. All 200 full-time faculty from the College have started their profiles – congratulations to CNHP for reaching 100% participation!

The leadership of the college – Dean Gloria Donnelly and Associate Dean Susan Smith – made implementation of Faculty Portfolios a priority for the college faculty. Since February, liaison librarian for health sciences research, Janice Masud-Paul, has worked with the college to host more than 20 planned group sessions for faculty. With support from CNHP staff, largely from Debra Karlan, Director of Health Professions Operations, Janice hosted workshops, drop-in sessions, and private consultations, created a video tutorial for those unable to attend sessions in person and identified system improvements.

Faculty Portfolios is an evolving and centralized database of Drexel faculty academic achievements. The tool provides faculty a central place to store CV information and connect with faculty conducting related research. For more information about Faculty Portfolios, please visit or contact Beth Ten Have, director of library academic partnerships at



School of Public Health: Coveted Environmental Health Fellowship Awarded to MPH Alumna
By Kim Menard, Director, Marketing and Communications, School of Public Health

Cecilia Alcala, MPH, graduate of Drexel School of Public Health, has been selected as one of 12 fellows chosen for the prestigious Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH)’s joint fellowship program with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). She will be based in the Office of Research and Development in Washington, DC. The ASPPH/EPA Environmental Health Fellowship Program offers outstanding opportunities for early-career public health professionals by enabling them to train at EPA on high-priority environmental, public health issues.  ASPPH/EPA Fellows work closely with nationally recognized experts within the premier environmental health agency in the world. EPA leads the nation’s environmental science, research, education and assessment efforts, while working to protect our health and our environment.

Book Review

Heffernan, M., Willful Blindness.
New York: Walker Publishing Company, Inc., 2011
By Gloria F. Donnelly, PhD, Dean, College of Nursing and Health Professions

We have all observed something that we know to be wrong or unjust but we do or say nothing, remaining deliberately blind to the situation. We do this out of expediency, fear of conflict and change or self-protection – “Best not to get involved,” we tell ourselves, “this too shall pass, things will work out.”  Sometimes they do and the cycle repeats.  Willful Blindness by Margaret Heffernan explores those situations that require attention, action or at the very least, questioning and what results when there is a “reluctance to confront uncomfortable facts” including examining our own behavior and motivations.  Heffernan’s deep interest in the concept originated with her reading of the trial transcript of Enron executives Skilling and Lay.  In that case, the judge at sentencing evoked the concept of willful blindness asserting that “Knowledge can be inferred if the defendant deliberately blinded himself to the existence of a fact.”

Heffernan delves into every aspect of willful blindness, from neuroscience research findings that document our cravings for the like-mindedness that brings comfort and safety; to the brain’s consistent rejection of information that challenges our outlook or induces uncertainty; to the power of emotion in clouding reality.  She examines cultures of compliance, conformity, obedience and the pursuit of wealth and success that dramatically alters behavior.  Using the Greek mythological figure Cassandra whose unique gift was to see and prophesy what others refused to see, Heffernan asserts that Cassandra’s gift was also her curse as she was rebuked and punished for her insights.  Heffernan analyzes the experiences and fate of modern Cassandra’s, outsiders and whistleblowers who challenge the status quo and ask the awkward questions, like Harry Markopolos who studied Bernie Madoff’s strategies only to find that they were fraudulent or Mary Garzino a member of the Army Corp of Engineers, who challenged the “good old boy” system in New Orleans by blowing the whistle on installation of faulty pumps that would not have protected the city and that cost $430 million to replace.

In the final chapter, Heffernan reviews the history of formalized dissent, i.e., the devil’s advocate, the court jester and recommends strategies for creating cultures in which questioning, dissent and argument are the standard.  She cites the teamwork of a scientist and a statistician who routinely works to disprove the findings in order to strengthen the science.  Even though the chapters meander a bit, the stories are compelling and illustrative how willful blindness erodes justice and progress and how it can be overcome.


This message to the Drexel Community via Drexel Announcement Mail was approved by
Dr. James Herbert, Interim Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs