Letter from the Provost - Winter 2013

Well Wishes for the Spring Term

The poet T.S. Eliot begins his famous work, "The Waste Land," with the line "April is the cruelest month..." It was a big shocker in 1922. But as anyone who attends Drexel knows, it's not April but March that may be the cruelest. At other universities, students are sitting for—and faculty grading-- two sets of finals; here we have three. While others see their second set of finals as concluding the academic year, we approach these knowing there's yet one more set to come. No wonder a University Advisory Committee (UAC) is investigating—once again--Drexel’s academic calendar to see if there’s not a better way to parcel time for learning and teaching. In partial recompense for the calendar, the weather is getting milder. Bulb shoots appear above ground level. The days appear to last longer as sunlight increases. And we continue to celebrate the intellectual and material progress we are making at Drexel.

Our Strategic Plan has spawned a number of initiatives aimed at driving academic excellence through the variety of modes in which students currently learn: in person, online, in hybrid blends, and at a distance using all these modes. We are reimagining how best to wed online admissions, onboarding, counseling, academic advising, and instruction. Many of the lessons learned will spawn better in-person experiences, as well. We are starting to recruit to retain and graduate students, and anticipate with satisfaction moving our graduation rates ahead. We are rounding out the Co-op experience, to include international, research, and non-profit opportunities supported by generous donors to the University. We are enhancing our teaching and learning facilities, with the opening of the state-of-the-art—and very cool--URBN Center for students at Westphal College, now enjoying the kind of thoughtfully-developed spaces students learning in the Papadakis Integrated Sciences Building have enjoyed for a few years. Business students anticipate the opening of the new LeBow Building in the fall, as do those who will reside in Chestnut Square and those of us who will attempt to steal, unnoticed, into the Shake Shack to be located there.

Drexel’s singular approach to educating by doing also finds expression in our many neighborhood and regional opportunities for civic engagement. The Lindy Institute, directed by Dr. Lucy Kerman, sponsors school-based opportunities to learn by serving and now includes the Center for Civic Engagement and the new Dornsife Extension Center. There, neighborhood based programs, full partnerships between Drexel and the residents of Powelton Village and Mantua, will promote deep and lasting relationships and the learning they spawn. Help with taxes, design-build programs, nutrition classes, and a law clinic, among other programs, will connect campus with community. The opportunities for learning and research here are limited only by our imaginations.

One University. That goal of the Strategic Plan expresses our understanding that a University the size of Drexel and with its urban physical location and current endowment will succeed only if we work together, united in service to our students, to learning, and to the advancement of the University’s reputation. Through a vote of our Trustees in support of One Drexel, the College of Medicine will join the other colleges and schools--not as an anomaly with its own separate budget, Board, email addresses, and apparent distance from teaching, learning, and research--but fully integrated now, part of one Drexel University. Again, as a result of Trustee leadership, we are exploring ways of bringing important aspects of online education closer to the University, to the colleges and schools that actually offer the courses and academic advising. Our goal is to create an online experience with all the connectedness, interactivity, support, and rigor of the campus experience we offer our students in Philadelphia and Sacramento. One University.

New leadership in several academic units will bring new vision, commitment, collaborations, and abilities to a University that never sits still. We are searching for new deans for LeBow College of Business and the School of Public Health. We are in the final stages of our LeBow search, hoping to announce the new dean shortly. Dean Roger Dennis and his colleagues served the University with intelligence and great judgment in presenting four exceptional finalists. The search for a dean for Public Health progresses with a search committee chaired expertly by Dean Gloria Donnelly. We anticipate inviting finalists to campus during April. And with endorsement from the members of the Program Alignment and Review Committee and its task forces devoted to Goodwin College and the School of Education, effectively chaired by Senior Vice Provosts John DiNardo and Jan Biros, respectively, we will soon be searching for new leadership for a reimagined Goodwin College and new purpose for our School of Education. Goodwin is moving back to its future. With millions of working adults seeking to complete their baccalaureate degrees while working and raising families, sometimes involving travel and the need for flexible, distance learning, we see a critical role for Goodwin—Drexel’s renamed, venerable Evening College. We again look to it to serve as a national model for quality education for this student population with particular needs. Offering access and affordability for working adults is part of our Founder’s vision. We aim to reaffirm our commitment to it using 21st Century technologies and instructional techniques.

While we may lament whatever cruelties attend the season, there’s no apparent diminution of energy, commitment, or imagination among our faculty or students as we look ahead to the full flowering of spring. I wish you all the best for this season and the upcoming academic term.


In This Issue...

 Past Issues of the Newsletter

Please send comments and questions pertaining to the Provost’s Newsletter or articles of interest to the attention of Donna McVicker, donna.t.mcvicker@drexel.edu, Editor.


Fellowships Office: Drexel Sweeps Goldwater Fellowship Awards
by Erica Levi Zelinger, Communication Specialist, Pennoni Honors College

In an impressive sweep, all four of Drexel’s nominees for The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program were awarded one of 271 scholarships for the 2013-2014 academic year.

Recipients include Rishon Benjamin , Emily Buck, Alex Sevit and Andrew Zigerelli. All four recipients are Honors Program students.

Established in 1986 to honor Senator Barry M. Goldwater’s dedication to his country, the award is given to qualifying undergraduate sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue careers in science, mathematics and engineering.

“Goldwater is an award that plays to Drexel's strengths and aspirations,” said Rona Buchalter, director of the Drexel Fellowships Office. “As we've expanded our undergraduate research opportunities – especially the STAR program – we've helped make it possible for our students to be really competitive for national awards like Goldwater that emphasize undergraduate research.”

Drexel’s four Goldwater Scholars were selected from a field of 1,107; schools are limited to four nominees and Drexel was only one of four universities nationwide to receive awards for all its nominees.

Rishon Benjamin (Chemical Engineering, PHC ’15) is investigating development of high-efficiency polymer electrolytes for use in fuel cells, with an eye toward making such innovations both clean enough and cheap enough to be practical (advisor: Prof. Yossef Elabd). Rishon was also a STAR student in Dr. Elabd’s lab.


Emily Buck (Materials Science Engineering, PHC ’14) is working on using electrospun polymer nanofibers for water filtration, with a specific interest in making such devices able to accommodate the wide variety of contaminants found in water globally (advisor: Prof. Caroline Schauer). Emily first started her research in Dr. Schauer’s lab through the STAR program.

Alex Sevit (Biomedical Engineering, PHC ’15) first became interested in biomedical research when he began a co-op position at Drexel's Implant Research Center under Professor Steven Kurtz. There, he helped initiate a multi-center cardiac pacing lead retrieval program that characterizes the biodegradation of the wires that connect the pulse generator of the pacemaker to the heart wall.


Andrew Zigerelli (Mathematics, PHC ’15) is interested in computational mathematics and would like to work on developing models that can effectively represent and manage complex scientific data (advisor: Prof. Thomas Yu).

With Goldwater Scholars in three separate Drexel schools, Buchalter says, “This shows us that there are terrific students, mentored by caring faculty, in all corners.”

Buchalter also credits the faculty committee that worked with the Fellowships Office to help the students learn and develop skills through the application process.

Goldwater Scholars often go on to apply for National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship grants. This year, six Drexel students and alumni have received this award including Jonathan Hubler (Civil Engineering ’12), Arvind Kalidindi (Mechanical Engineering), Amanda Pentecost (Materials Science Engineering), Derrick Smith (Materials Science Engineering), Kristyn Voegele (Biodiversity Earth and Environmental Sciences) and Mickey Whitzer (Mechanical Engineering & Mechanics ’12).

University and Community Partnerships: Dornsife Center Launch
by Jennifer Britton
With appreciation from Lucy Kerman, Vice Provost, University and Community Partnerships

The Dana and David Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships has opened its doors to the community. A project of the Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation, the Dornsife Center is the new cornerstone of Drexel’s neighborhood investments. Located on the 3500 block of Spring Garden Street, the Center serves as a community resource for both the Mantua and Powelton Village neighborhoods and provides a home base for creative and collaborative programs that bring Drexel students, faculty, and staff together with our Mantua and Powelton Village neighbors and local non-government organization (NGO) service providers.

Drexel took ownership of the property on February 28, a day that also celebrated a $100,000 grant from Citizens Bank for the Dornsife Center, money to be used to assist local residents by providing free financial education workshops at the Center. For example, the Center has welcomed Campaign for Working Families, which offers free tax return preparation to low incoming working households in Philadelphia. One of eleven tax sites in this area, program volunteers have completed 154 returns for Philadelphia families at the Dornsife site and, based on past experience at Campaign for Working Families’ other locations, this is indicative of approximately 800 returns targeted for next year’s tax season. In addition, the Earle Mack School of Law has launched a weekly free law clinic at the Center. Having an emphasis on community wealth building, the law clinic offers assistance with estate planning, housing and home ownership, and criminal record expungement. Partnering with the Free Library of Philadelphia, Drexel’s Human Resources and Library staff members have also become engaged with the Center and, together, will offer workshops on resume writing, navigating online job information, and job application support. Other Dornsife initiatives planned are a series of financial management workshops via a partnership with Clarifi, a Philadelphia consumer credit counseling agency, and a financial skills series geared towards young adults when the Center teams up with DB4, a Mantua group that advocates good choices and positive neighborhood change.

Further development of the programmatic initiatives will take the Dornsife Center’s good works outdoors, thanks to the material and technical support from the Triskeles Foundation, who promotes positive social change through engaged philanthropy. Several raised garden beds will soon be installed on the Center’s lawn to grow herbs, flowers and vegetables. Planting will take place during April by a diverse group to include members of the Drexel Urban Growers student organization, neighborhood residents interested in gardening, and Drexel faculty who would like to connect with a working garden for research and course design.

As an innovative model of community support, strategic planning for the future of the Dornsife Center must be an ongoing, intensive participatory process. In this regard, approximately 80 stakeholders from Drexel and the Powelton Village and Mantua neighborhoods will gather this month over a two-day period to identify and develop a clear vision for the Dornsife Center, establish a community advisory board, and discuss staffing of the Center. Undoubtedly, this two day workshop will foster a unified sense of enthusiasm and grassroots support for The Dana and David Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships and Drexel University’s outreach efforts.

For additional information, or to find out how to become involved at the Dornsife Center, please contact Jen Britton at 215-895-2552 or jenbritton@drexel.edu.

Drexel University College of Medicine’s 20th Annual Pediatric AIDS Benefit Concert
by Rachel Sparrow
Media & Public Relations Director, Drexel University College of Medicine

Drexel University College of Medicine is celebrating two decades of charitable giving through music and dance. The College held its 20th Annual Pediatric AIDS Benefit Concert on February 16, when more than 420 students, faculty, and guests sang, danced, and laughed their way through a fun-filled evening that showcased a total of fourteen acts.

This year’s concert raised $27,500 for children with HIV and AIDS, bringing the total amount raised over the past twenty years to $483,000. Proceeds benefit the Dorothy Mann Center for Pediatric and Adolescent HIV at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children.

Drexel Medical Student Adam Lundy performs at the 20th Annual Pediatric AIDS Benefit Concert.

Proceeds also help pay for the services of a child-life specialist and a dietitian for the program; offer the children the opportunity to attend summer camp; and, help provide the affected families with emergency funds for housing and other expenses. The largest of its kind in the tri-state area, the Center provides comprehensive care, including social services, to children infected with HIV and their families.

St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children is a teaching affiliate of Drexel University College of Medicine.

Faculty Feature

Academic Entrepreneurship: DeCarolis’s Vision for Making Big Ideas Happen
by Rebecca Ingalls, Director of the First-Year Writing Program
Assistant Professor, Department of English & Philosophy

Donna DeCarolis, Ph.D., founding Dean of the Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship

In classical rhetoric, we call it “kairos,” that opportune moment when history, context, people, the right decisions, and maybe even the stars all come together to create something special. In many ways, Drexel is driven by it, populated by brilliant, creative folks who know a unique chance when they see one. Professor Donna DeCarolis, founding Dean of the Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship, and former Associate Vice Provost for Entrepreneurship, has that kind of savvy, and it has the potential to reap some very exciting rewards for both students and faculty across the disciplines.

Take a look at DeCarolis’s background, and you’ll see that she comes honestly by her appreciation for innovation across the disciplines. Originally a history major, she taught high school for a year before deciding to turn a corner and pursue her MBA. There, she began to really cultivate her love for strategy: she began to do some strategy consulting with some of her colleagues, and a couple of professors suggested that she pursue a Ph.D.

“I always liked school,” she reflects, “being a new student and learning. I applied for programs, went to Temple, and got a Ph.D. in strategy specializing in innovation management.” Anchored in Philadelphia by her love for the city and her young family, a window of opportunity opened up for her at Drexel: an assistant professorship. “I was extremely happy about Drexel,” she says. “I thought it was THE place for technology and entrepreneurship.” In many ways, it would seem, DeCarolis was right. Though courses and research in entrepreneurship were still to be developed, DeCarolis established herself as an innovative teacher and scholar at Drexel, and was the recipient of both the Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award and the LeBow Distinguished Teaching Award. From there, she continued to work hard as an administrator—department head, then Associate Dean for Strategic Initiatives, and then Associate Dean for Graduate Programs—to bring “the tech side and the business side” of academia together. She developed a curriculum in entrepreneurship, worked with the Laurence A. Baiada Institute for Entrepreneurship, and brought a new visibility to innovation in entrepreneurship to Drexel.

This vision for entrepreneurship at Drexel took the spotlight when President Fry came on board, and DeCarolis was there to drive more change. She describes how the Close School came into being: “The university strategic plan is focused on innovation, and that was the genesis of where I got the idea for this [Close] School of Entrepreneurship. I was on many task forces with many wonderful colleagues in the university: research, administration, the Provost’s Office. This became clear to me: while there were pockets of entrepreneurship, there was not really a path for students to follow if they were not a business student.” Committed to taking the notion of “entrepreneurship” into the many disciplines at Drexel, DeCarolis imagined a “unified” place where students from all programs of study could come together to cultivate their ideas for new business: History, Design, Engineering, Biology, English.

“I drafted an idea,” she says. And here’s where that window of opportunity began to open: “At the same time,” she explains, “President Fry was talking with the Close Foundation. They had originally funded Baiada anonymously, and they were looking for something bigger. I was at a reception with President Fry in June of 2012. I had this idea, and I just pitched it to him. He said, ‘Send me the proposal.’ He brought it to the Close Foundation, and they liked the idea.” Once the relationship between Drexel and the Close Foundation was sparked yet again, collaboration ensued. The 10 million dollars in funding came in October of 2012, and the wheels have been turning to get it underway ever since.

As it turns out, the timing is perfect. “The wonderful thing about this school,” says DeCarolis, “is that it’s really fulfilling a marketed need. We are graduating students into a workplace that is very different than it was 15 years ago. Students will have 10 jobs by the time they are 45. Not in the same industry or position. Many will be self-employed. Companies are downsizing, outsourcing, using freelancing workers. If this is the case, then we need to be educating these students to have an entrepreneurial approach to their careers.” Part of this education, explains DeCarolis, is helping students to think strategically about their professional lives, encouraging them to ask big questions: How do you pursue innovations within a company? How do you start your own company? Armed with this sense of critical inquiry, she argues, students will be much more equipped to tackle the challenges of innovation in their workplaces.

Though the Close School aims to begin admitting students in fall of 2014, efforts are already in motion to lay the groundwork for a culture to welcome them. DeCarolis describes the “initial products” of the Close School initiative: an entrepreneurship living learning community for fall 2013 incoming first-year students that will provide for them activities and some classes focused on innovation and entrepreneurship; a spring field trip to Silicon Valley, where they will visit companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Ebay, and Apple; for existing students, an entrepreneurial co-op open to all Drexel students, funded by the Close School, where they can work for their own companies; and, a new fall 2013 class called “Launch it,” in which students can propose their own businesses, and the Close School will seed fund them to help them “de-risk their business models, do market research, and develop prototypes.” All of this, says DeCarolis with excitement in her voice, is to “encourage students’ big ideas and their passions.”

I ask DeCarolis what keeps her at Drexel, and her response echoes the sentiments of so many of our faculty: “I just love this university. I cannot think of another where there are so many ideas popping up and we’re allowed to pursue those ideas. I was given a lot of free reign to do things, to try things. It’s the spirit and culture here of innovation and entrepreneurship. Look at what Drexel’s doing right now: Innovation Neighborhood, Drexel Ventures, and the Close School. A triumvirate—three initiatives that are transforming the university, pushing our knowledge out there to better society. These three things in tandem facilitate that cause, that mission for ‘academic entrepreneurship.’” The work of DeCarolis adds immensely to other major developments in the university—like the Lindy Center for Civic Engagement—that aim to do just that: “better society.” Thanks to her remarkable vision for how Drexel can help its students across the disciplines see their big business ideas through, that notion of “academic entrepreneurship” is likely to make Drexel an even brighter star in the futures of our prospective students and faculty.


Office of Graduate Studies, Awards & Accolades
by Sandra Golis, Administrative Coordinator, Graduate Studies
With appreciation from Teck-Kah Lim, Associate Vice Provost, Graduate Studies

The Office of Graduate Studies is proud to recognize several student achievements this quarter.  This year, Graduate Studies introduced the Higher Education Advocate Travel Award (HEATA).  The objective of this award is to challenge and fund Drexel’s graduate students to return to their high school and university alma maters to share the opportunities higher education has afforded them. Graduate students are especially appropriate as advocates for higher education because high school and undergraduate students can easily relate to the experiences of their older peers, and the graduate students share a generational and educational connection with the younger groups. The first recipient of the HEATA was Karen Sullam (Biology). Karen traveled back to her high school in Baltimore to talk about her research regarding evolutionary ecology in nature. Christina Peters (Physics) and Julianne Winters (Biology) have also received the HEATA.

Graduate Studies also awarded a series of Dissertation Fellowships to teaching assistants in the final term of their PhD degree programs. The objective of this award is to allow students to focus on writing and defending their dissertation while relieving them of teaching responsibilities. Winter and spring quarter recipients include Pouya Dianat (Electrical and Computer Engineering), Meng Xu (Biomedical Engineering), Marjorie Austero Kiechel (Materials Science and Engineering), Boryana Dimitrova (Business), Simara Price (Biology), Julianne Winters (Biology), and Sam Kennerly (Physics).

In addition to internal awards, Drexel had three nominees for the 2013 Lindau Award competition. The Lindau Award supports exceptional doctoral student researchers to attend the annual Lindau Meeting of Nobel Laureates in scenic Lindau, Germany. This year’s Lindau meeting will focus on Chemistry and Chemistry-related fields. The nominees were Kevin Freedman (Chemical and Biological Engineering), Kristy Jost (Materials Science and Engineering), and Siobhan Toal (Chemistry). Jost has moved on to the second phase of the competition.

Glenn Winters (Digital Media) is one of three national platinum winners who have been invited to attend the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco this March. Winters will present his narrative review of the game “Journey,” the third game released in March 2012 by thatgamecompany, an American independent video game development studio.

Our student organizations also deserve recognition. The Drexel Biomedical Graduate Association (DBGA)  sold sweatshirts, T-shirts, and sweatpants with custom logos designed by members. Clothes were printed at a Philadelphia printing shop in an effort to help support local and small businesses. DBGA sold 150 pieces and raised $900 for a variety of charitable organizations. St. Jude’s Children’s hospital received $400, the Pediatric Aids Foundation received a donation of $300, and the Revlon Run/Walk for women’s cancers received a donation of $200.

This past February, the Graduate Student Association hosted Ski Trip 2013 at Sno Mountain in Scranton. The trip sold out in just three days with overwhelming demand, and resulted in seven buses of Drexel graduate students and their family and friends attending.  Appreciation is extended to student volunteers and staff who helped make the trip a huge success.

Karen Sullam (Biology), recipient of the first HETA
GSA Ski Trip 2013 at SNO Mountain

Office of Faculty Development & Equity: Career Development Awards Announcement and Handbook for International Faculty
by Maria Gritz, M.Ed., Senior Academic Coordinator, Office of Faculty Development & Equity
With appreciation from Janet Fleetwood, Ph.D., Vice Provost for Strategic Development & Initiatives

The Office of Faculty Development & Equity (FDE) is pleased to announce the recipients of the sixth annual Career Development Awards, designed to help faculty increase their exposure to colleagues at other institutions who can be collaborators and role models. Past awardees have developed mentoring relationships with scholars in four different continents, eleven different countries, and thirteen different U.S. states. To learn more about previous awardees and their projects, please visit the FDE homepage and click on the yellow “Career Development Awards” buttons on the left side of the page. This year, the awardees are:

Tatyana Livshultz, Ph.D. Department of Biodiversity, Earth & Environmental Science, College of Arts & Sciencees; Santiago Ontañón, Ph.D. Department of Computer Science, College of Engineering; Aleksandra Sarcevic, Ph.D. College of Information Science & Technology; Yared Shifferaw, Ph.D. Department of Civil, Architectural, & Environmental Engineering, College of Engineering; Erica Wilkins, Ph.D., M.F.T. Department of Couple & Family Therapy, College of Nursing & Health Professions.

This past winter, FDE, in collaboration with the Office of International Programs, updated the Drexel University Guidebook for International Faculty: A Practical Guide to Working at Drexel and Living in Philadelphia. First published last spring, this practical and comprehensive book covers essential topics such as housing, transportation, and health care; topics that are also useful for international professional staff and students. Available electronically on the FDE website, all members of the Drexel community are encouraged to take a look at this handbook and to forward it to anyone who may be interested in its content.

Drexel University Guidebook for International Faculty: A Practical Guide to Working at Drexel and Living in Philadelphia

The Skills-Based Faculty Mentoring Program still has many highly qualified and eager faculty mentors available to meet one-on-one to offer help in skills including strategizing for career development, managing work-life demands, and steering through diversity & inclusion issues.  This program covers the cost of lunch for the faculty member and mentor.  Mentors are available for faculty at all ranks, from Assistant Professor to Full Professor.  For more information, please visit the Skills-Based Faculty Mentoring Program page.  Questions and  comments may be directed to fde@drexel.edu or by calling 215-895-2141.

Student Conference Brings Diverse Community of Scholars, Students, and Activists Together to Address Global Security
by Kailey Kluge, Office Assistant; Kate Pagano, Office Assistant; and Adam Zahn, Program Coordinator
With appreciation from Julie Mostov, Ph.D., Vice Provost for Global Initiatives and International Programs

This past March, the Office of International Programs held its 6th Annual Student Conference on Global Challenges. This year’s topic was Security. The conference, the only of its kind on Drexel’s campus, was attended by over 200 students, faculty, and community members and provided the opportunity for students to present on unique challenges and innovative solutions to global security in the 21st century.

The keynote speaker, Ambassador Thomas Graham, Jr., delivered a stirring address on nuclear weapons and global security. His talk on the relationship between the weapons programs of Iran and North Korea was extremely timely considering the current international nuclear negotiations, and was picked up by major news outlets, including Fox News. Ambassador Graham is considered one of the leading experts on nuclear non-proliferation, serving as the senior US diplomat in the negotiation of every major international arms control agreement in the last 40 years. He concluded his speech with an extensive question and answer session, as well as a book signing of his latest book: Unending Crisis: National Security Policy after 9/11.

Keynote speaker, Ambassador Thomas Graham, Jr. delivers his address on nuclear weapons and global security in front of Drexel students, faculty, staff, and community members

In addition to the six student panels and the keynote address, participants had the opportunity to meet with representatives from various organizations whose work directly relates to a broad array of security issues. The conference concluded with a reception and closing remarks delivered by Dr. Julie Mostov, Vice Provost for Global Initiatives.

The Office of International Programs extends thanks to all of the student panelists and faculty moderators who contributed to the success of this event.

Gratitude is also extended to Assistant Teaching Professor, Cinema & Television, Philip Salas and his Television Management graduate students for their innovative research and multimedia presentations.

Details pertaining to the 2014 Student Conference on Global Challenges will be announced this fall and can be found at www.drexel.edu/international.

Student panelists on the Global Health panel moderated by Dr. Shannon Márquez, School of Public Health

Drexel Center for Academic Excellence to Expand on 2012’s Success with New Initiatives
By Allison Keene, Academic Coordinator for Drexel Center for Academic Excellence
With appreciation from Barbara Hornum, Ph.D., Director, Drexel Center for Academic Excellence

Scott Warnock, Ph.D., Director of the Drexel Writing Center and Writing Across the Curriculum (pictured center), and Dan Driscoll, MA, Associate Director for the Drexel Writing Center, present at the March 5, 2013 DCAE Workshop on best practices for commenting on student writing.

The Drexel Center for Academic Excellence (DCAE) has experienced considerable growth over this academic year, and is pleased to announce three new initiatives being planned: Preparing Future Faculty; the First Annual Showcase of Teaching Day; and, the introduction of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning at Drexel.

In recognition of the need to prepare Drexel’s Ph.D. students for future careers in academia, the DCAE has partnered with representatives from the Office of Graduate Studies and the Graduate Student Association to create the Preparing Future Faculty program to ensure that our Ph.D. students are exposed to best practices in teaching and learning.  The Center not only looks forward to welcoming these future professionals to our currently planned workshops, but also adding workshops that target the needs of these students during the 2013-2014 academic year.

The second initiative is the First Annual Showcase of Teaching Day.  Planned for June 5, 2013, it will acknowledge the accomplishments of Drexel professors using a variety of teaching techniques to enhance student learning and engagement in the classroom.   The event will include a plenary speaker and will have poster and concurrent sessions highlighting best practices across all disciplines.  It will also showcase the DCAE’s five sponsored faculty learning communities, an initiative aimed at creating a cross-disciplinary group to explore a topic or idea.  A call for proposals went out in early April, with all abstracts due by May 3.

The final initiative, the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SOTL), stems from DCAE Director Barbara Hornum, Ph.D. and Associate Director, Shivanthi Anandan, Ph.D.  attending the SOTL Conference and Workshops at Georgia Southern University in March.  The information gathered at this event will assist the DCAE in formalizing the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning initiative at Drexel.

In addition to future planning, the Center has continued its monthly workshops during the second half of the 2012-2013 academic year on topics such as “Teaching Graduate Students,” “Faculty and Student Diversity in the Classroom,”  “What Are You Trying to Say: Strategies for Commenting on and Reading Student Work” (co-sponsored with the Drexel Writing Center), and “Managing Controversy in the Classroom.”  All events were well-attended and served as effective stepping-stones to promote cross-disciplinary connections, as presenters represented eight different Drexel units: LeBow College of Business, College of Engineering;  School of Public Health, College and Nursing and Health Professions; College of Arts and Sciences; Earle Mack School of Law; the English Language Center; and, the Drexel Writing Center.

As a final note, the DCAE is pleased to announce that Drexel faculty will be showcasing their teaching and learning expertise once again at the 2013 Lilly Conference on College and University teaching, which recently accepted a presentation proposal from DCAE Director, Barbara Hornum, Ph.D., entitled "Using Course Design to Develop Reflective and Inquiry-Driven Students Despite Increasing Complexity and Diversity."  In addition to Dr. Hornum’s presentation, fellow Drexel presenters and DCAE fellows include Shivanthi Anandan, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Biology; Daniel King, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry; and, Janet Zimmerman, MSN, RN, Assistant Clinical Professor, Department of Nursing.  Jointly, they will be delivering a presentation entitled "Applying a Set of Student Learning Priorities in Different Course Formats," inspired by the Drexel Center Learning Priorities and the December 2012 DCAE Workshop.


University Pushes for Quality Student Outcomes Data
By Devin Scott, Assistant Director, Academic Analytics, Institutional Research, Assessment & Effectiveness

As the value of a college education comes under increased scrutiny, universities are being asked to provide measures of the value-added by their services. In response to this call for action, Drexel has initiated programs across the university to assess the impact of a Drexel education and improve upon the return on investment from an earned Drexel degree. To support these efforts, Drexel University will aim to improve the quality of student outcomes data garnered from the Senior Exit Survey. This feedback will provide information critical to the success of future generations of Drexel alumni.

Historically, the Drexel Senior Exit Survey has been decentralized and received response rates of approximately 60%.  Although questions were changed annually, the survey never went through a strenuous validation process.  Working with departments across the disciplines to combine the existing Senior Exit Surveys into one university-wide instrument, the Office of Institutional Research, Assessment, and Effectiveness (IRAE) has refined this tool with dramatic reformatting and validation testing to improve the quality of the data collected and, thus, result in a stronger source of student outcomes data.  In collaboration with Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs John DiNardo, IRAE will be working to integrate the Exit Survey into the graduation process, with the goal of raising the response rate above 90%.

The Senior Exit Survey will include questions about employment and graduate school outcomes, student satisfaction, and learning gains.  The results will be distributed University-wide at the end of the 2013 summer term.  To ensure that your department is provided both the final reports and access to raw data, please make sure that IRAE has the name and contact information for the individual to contact for your department.   In addition, program-specific questions may be incorporated into the survey.  Please send program-specific questions to Devin Scott, dms347@drexel.edu, who will also assist with any questions or concerns regarding the changes to the 2013 Senior Exit Survey.

Program Alignment and Review (PAR) Update
By Jan Biros, Senior Vice Provost for Budget, Planning, and Administration

The inaugural year of the PAR project is just about half over, and much has been accomplished. The five full-scale pilot self-studies (English & Philosophy, Physics, Business and Engineering, Chemical Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering) are now complete, and each self-study group has identified, invited and secured distinguished colleagues who will review their respective programs and offer comments and recommendations. Upon completion of the external reviews, detailed action plans and associated timelines to address program improvements and alignment issues will be put into place.

In addition, as the Provost shared in his Winter Newsletter, the PAR Steering Committee’s first recommendation was to return the School of Education to independent status and to re-imagine the role of Goodwin College. Since that time, the task forces created to redesign each school have worked diligently and have presented their observations and recommendations in reports to the President, Provost, and to the PAR Steering Committee. The PAR Committee is now charged to review each report, prioritize recommendations, and offer its guidance and direction to each school and college.

The Steering Committee has also identified other important alignment issues meriting attention. One such example is the various ways computing courses are being taught and computing research carried out across many colleges and schools. To this end, a 28 member Computing Task Force, composed of faculty and staff from across the disciplines, will study how the University can best organize instruction and research in Computing that will not only meet the needs of our students, but reflect external trends in the discipline.

By fall 2013, Drexel’s Program Alignment and Review will be in full-swing with an additional 18 departments or programs under review. In this regard, self-study teams are currently being identified, and an orientation for team members will be held this spring. This systemic, ongoing review of the University’s academic programs will assess and improve the academic experience for our students and, thus, increase Drexel’s impact on learning and discovery.

Writing Programs to have New Satellite Location in One Drexel Plaza
By Scott Warnock, Ph.D., Associate Professor of English
Director of the Writing Center and Writing Across the Curriculum

Writing is integral to learning and important for thinking, inquiry, and communication.  In this regard, and with thanks to the Office of the Provost, the Drexel writing programs will have a new presence in One Drexel Plaza (ODP), expanding their efforts to work with students and faculty on one of the most transferable communication and thinking skills needed to participate effectively in all walks of life.

While the writing programs’ main location remains in the lower level of McAlister Hall, the ODP satellite space will help the primary components of the writing programs – the Drexel Writing Center (DWC), the Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) Program, and the Writing Intensive (WI) Course Program – to reach more people and, thus, provide an additional place where the programs’ faculty and tutors can work with the teachers and writers of the Drexel community.

Highlights of the new satellite location include the following:  The increasing number of students taking courses in ODP will be able to meet in a new room for one-on-one sessions with DWC tutors; there is  meeting space for Drexel faculty to collaborate with members of the WAC program on ways of using writing in their courses and programs; faculty teaching WI courses will have another place, perhaps closer to their classrooms, to discuss ways of using writing to achieve their course objectives (all Drexel undergraduates take three WI courses, two of which are in their major); and, there is a conference room for writing workshops and other events.

For information about the writing programs visit http://drexel.edu/engphil/about/DrexelWritingCenter/.

Institutional Research, Assessment & Effectiveness Launches Assessment Website
By Steve DiPeitro, Director of Operations for Learning Assessment & Evaluation

The Office of Institutional Research, Assessment, and Effectiveness (IRAE) is pleased to announce the creation of a public website on learning assessment at Drexel University. The site is a repository of information on assessment instruments and methodologies and offers such resources as developing course and program level outcomes, curriculum mapping, tools for rubric creation, glossaries, and copies of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment newsletters. Most importantly, the site lists all of the program level outcomes (PLO’s) received for all programs, university-wide. This compilation permits us to be in compliance with the Middle States Commission on Higher Education's position which states that an institution’s program level outcomes must be made available to currently enrolled students as well as prospective students. Additionally, the assessment website directly links to the Drexel Student Learning Priorities (DSLP) website, thereby increasing the awareness of the DSLP’s to both existing and future students.

In order to have the most recent information available on the site, IRAE has operationalized a business practice to address the issue of the currency of the PLO's. At the commencement of each academic year, beginning with September 2013, each college and school will be contacted and asked to review the current program level outcomes on file that also appear on the website. Since many of colleges and schools also have an external accreditation process in addition to the MSCHE process, these outcomes can obviously be impacted by both external and internal forces. Internally, changes in the program level outcomes can be driven by changes in the program’s focus, scope, and relevance. Although there may be no changes to a program outcome for a year or more, having a protocol that requires an annual review is an efficient organizational approach to insure the outcomes' currency. In addition, given the size of the University, which has a strategic plan that calls for additional growth, robust operational practices to manage increasingly complex tasks must actively be sought. The establishment of this practice is an example of one such approach, and the advent of this foundational site, which will grow and expand over time, provides a snapshot of how Drexel is proactively seeking a one university approach to learning assessment and program review.

IRAE would like to acknowledge the services of Jim Mergenthal, Director of Web Development, who was instrumental in the development of the website. Any comments or suggestions regarding the site should be sent to the attention of Steve DiPietro, Director of Operations for Learning Assessment & Evaluation, sld343@drexel.edu, extension 4264.

This message to Faculty and Professional Staff via Drexel Announcement Mail was approved by
Dr. Mark Greenberg, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs