Letter from the Provost - Winter 2014

Snow Women and Men

Last year at this time I shared with you Richard Wilbur’s “Year’s End.” Since your reception of Wilbur’s lines was so gratifyingly strong last year, my gift to you again this year is another fine meditation on winter: Wallace Stevens’ “The Snow Man.” It’s been a few years since I offered this lyric and I encourage you to ponder the interplay it depicts between mind and the winter landscape. As we emerge from the Holiday season to begin another term, days are short, temperatures chill, and we know that this is but the middle term of the Drexel academic year. Nevertheless, ideas bubble up, life moves on at a clip, and new challenges emerge from the apparent barrenness and cold of the season. We desire what we cannot have: certainty and order; ironically, these may only emerge from our reflections occasioned by year’s end—from the mind of winter.

Deans Searches

During this winter our colleagues are helping narrow the field for two very important deans’ searches. The LeBow College of Business Search Committee, ably chaired by Dean Roger Dennis, has recommended five semi-finalists. President Fry and I are meeting with each and will invite the strongest candidates back to campus for two-day extensive visits. Dean Allen Sabinson is chairing our search for a new dean for the School of Education, a maturing academic unit developed over the past decade by Dean William Lynch and characterized by exceptional faculty dedicated to education research and instruction. Recently charged by President Fry and me, we expect to name a new dean during the spring. As a result of Dr. David Jones’ announcement that he will step down as dean of the Pennoni Honors College at the end of the academic year, we are in the process of organizing a local search for the College’s next dean.

Program Alignment and Review Process

During Spring, 2012, our Office established a standing Program Alignment and Review (PAR) Committee, composed of senior faculty, the Chair of Faculty Senate, deans, and senior staff from the Office of the Provost and chaired by me. The PAR Committee is ably coordinated by Senior Vice Provost Jan Biros and managed by Associate Vice Provost, University Assessment Operations, Steve DiPietro. Its mission is to oversee ongoing review of all Drexel academic programs and also to review duplication or misalignments of programs across the University. Our goal is to drive excellence and impact in teaching, learning, research, and creative work.

A. Review

During its first year, five academic units engaged in the PAR process. Each prepared a detailed self-study and identified external reviewers who visited campus and developed recommendations for helping improve each unit. This academic year, 18 units are undergoing a similar review process. Ultimately, all Drexel academic units (typically, departments) will be reviewed on a five-year cycle.

We have developed a handbook to help guide the process, with detailed objectives, questions, and procedures articulated, and have held workshops with faculty involved to ensure rigor and comprehensiveness in reviews. Meanwhile, I have addressed faculty in each College or School about why we are engaging in this process, the outcomes desired, and how the process will lead to measurable improvements.

B. Alignment

Where there exists duplication or thematic overlap among academic programs, joining of disparate disciplines for no apparent academic reasons, or the separation of affinity units, PAR is empowered to review and recommend actions that will create optimal alignments, consolidations, or greater coordination—all aimed at increasing Drexel’s impact on learning and discovery. Instruction and research in Computing, spread across at least five colleges and schools, is one example of an opportunity to re-think where and how we offer instruction; a single department that conjoins anthropology, sociology, communications, criminal justice, and foreign languages, another.

PAR’s first recommendation regarding program alignment was to return the School of Education to independent status and to re-imagine the role of Goodwin College. The Provost concurring, and following discussions with the faculty in each unit, the School of Education is now again free-standing, reporting to the Provost, and several Goodwin College programs have been assigned to new academic homes. A new College has been born of this process, as well: the College of Computing and Informatics, combining Computer Science, programs already thriving in the old iSchool, and Cyber Security & Technology from Goodwin.

This year, among programs being reviewed is the School of Biomedical Engineering, Science, and Health Systems. And PAR is developing a thorough review of writing instruction across the University, likely to be conducted by a University Advisory Committee, jointly developed by Faculty Senate and the Office of the Provost and reporting directly to the PAR Committee.

Convening Family Events

Many convening events bring us together, and I am delighted to have invited my colleagues and their families to attend two Drexel Basketball games sponsored by my office along with Drexel Athletics. I hope you accepted my invitation to join me and my family at one or both of them. Consider this a post-Holidays gift and an invitation to join with other faculty and staff in supporting our great Drexel athletes:

On Saturday, January 11, 2014 - Men's Basketball took on Northeastern at 2:00 PM, with Dragons Chris Fouch and Frantz Massenat combining for 58 points as Drexel survived double overtime and defeated Northeastern, 93-88.

On Sunday, January 26, 2014 - Women's Basketball will also face Northeastern at 2:00 PM as part of Homecoming, with senior Fiona Flanagan and sophomore Meghan Creighton returning as starters from last year’s WNIT championship team.

For the women’s game, each Drexel Faculty/Staff member can still receive one free general admission ticket for her or himself and one guest ticket as well as unlimited youth (12 and under) tickets. Additional adult tickets are available to purchase at the Daskalakis Athletic Center Ticket Office at the faculty/staff rate of $10 for either chairback or general admission seats.

All that I have described, the effort, the accomplishments, the failures and successes, all obtain meaning upon the reflection which this time of year calls forth.   That’s why the frozen and still winter so appeals to poets.  It offers “Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.”

May your winter days be filled with new imaginings, winter quiet that stimulates your “mind of winter.”


The Snow Man

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

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.


Three Drexel Students Are Awarded Whitaker Grants for Biomedical Engineering
By Erica Levi Zelinger, Communication Specialist, Pennoni Honors College

In August 2013, Alexander Valiga (B.S., ’15) received an email from the Drexel Fellowships Office informing him that his academic performance made him a good candidate for the Whitaker Undergraduate Scholarship.  Having only heard of the Drexel Fellowships Office, the junior biomedical engineering student had never considered applying for any awards.  In fact, he was definitely completely unaware of the Whitaker International Program, grants awarded biannually to support students in their international study, research, or work in biomedical engineering.

However, one thing Valiga has realized from his time at Drexel is that collaboration, especially on an international level, is vital to one’s understanding of the clinical needs in our world.  So, with a month and a half to get his materials in, Valiga, who has a concentration in biomaterials and tissue engineering, worked diligently to compile his application materials.  “The Fellowships Office was incredibly helpful, kind, and prompt with every aspect of my application,” Valiga said. “Urgency was important and they were well aware of that.”

Valiga is one of three Drexel University students to receive this prestigious honor, and just one of 15 nationwide awarded biannually.  His Whitaker grant will take him on a research co-op to Switzerland in spring 2014, where he will be working in the laboratory of Dr. Reinhard Dummer with the Department of Dermatology at the University of Zurich, Switzerland.  While there, Valiga will focus on the development of a screening assay to improve the diagnosis and prognosis of melanoma progression from congenital melanocytic nevi.  “The Whitaker and other research awards are designed to expose its awardees to these types of collaborations in an effort to create engineers and scientists who are well equipped to recognize a clinical problem and know how to go about resolving it,” Valiga said.  His previous research experience includes working with Drexel’s Dr. Adrian Shieh in a laboratory of tumor microenvironment and studying the molecular mechanisms predicting melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma metastasis at the Wistar Institute, work that has been published in the journals of Molecular and Cellular Proteomics and Cancer Discovery.

Valiga is joined by Frank Chang (B.S./M.S., ’15), a junior biomedical engineering student with a concentration in biomechanics, and Reed Vennel (B.S., ’17), a sophomore biomedical engineering major. Chang and Vennel will also be heading abroad with help from the Whitaker International Program to undertake self-designed projects that will enhance their careers within the field.  Chang will journey to Australia in spring 2014 for a research co-op with Dr. Hala Zreiqat at the University of Sydney’s Tissue Engineering & Biomaterials Research Unit, where he will focus on hard tissue development and modification.  He credits the Drexel Fellowships Office, a unit of the Pennoni Honors College, who helped to answer a lot of questions during the application process.  “There are always people out there willing to help, as long as you start asking the questions,” Chang said.

Vennel, an Honors student and member of Drexel’s NCAA Division I diving team, is headed to Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University on a Study Abroad program in January. The scholarship, he said, is a financial means to get him to his first non-Western country – but, more importantly, to prepare him for future endeavors.  “I am a Mandarin minor, but I've never been to Asia – strange, right?” Vennel said.   Vennel heard friends say they cannot afford to study abroad, but opportunities such as the Whitaker Scholarship, he says, completely cover the cost of your study abroad.  “I don't foresee myself spending a dime more during my term in Singapore than I would in Philadelphia,” Vennel said.  He added jokingly, “If you check the weather there—I’m basically going to get to live in Hawaii for four months.”

Alexander Valiga
Frank Chang
Reed Vennel

Fellowships are an investment in you! Read about the application process and explore possible awards at drexel.edu/fellowships, and then make an appointment with the Drexel Fellowships Office by emailing fellowships@drexel.edu.

Faculty Feature

What Do We Have? What Should We Have?
A Conversation with Dr. Yaba Blay
By Rebecca Ingalls, PhD, Director of the First-Year Writing Program,
Associate Professor, Department of English & Philosophy

Dr. Yaba Blay’s (1)ne Drop project and her newly released book, (1)ne Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race, have gained national recognition. CNN’s “Black in America” series based its fifth segment, “Who is Black in America?” (hosted by Soledad O’Brien) on Blay’s project. And the mission of the project—to reconstruct public perceptions and assumptions about blackness by making visible and remarkable the many “faces of Blackness”—has been spotlighted by WHYY’s Radio Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, BET, and FXX.

But here’s the best part: She’s here at Drexel. She is Assistant Teaching Professor and Co-director of Africana Studies, and our students have the extraordinary opportunity to take her classes: “Intro to Africana Studies,” “Black Feminism,” “Gender & Black Popular Culture,” and “Politics of Hip Hop.”

What I want to know about, apart from the growing attention that her project and publication are receiving outside of Drexel, is how it’s going right here on campus with students, with colleagues—is change happening? Is that “recalibration” of perceptions of race visible to her in her own classrooms? And, perhaps a more difficult question, does she see possibilities for creating a rich Africana Studies program in our university community?

One of Blay’s major goals in the public and private spheres in which she works is to cultivate language that can talk about race, not as an inaccessible idea, but as a tangible reality. While Blay’s classes are designed to draw students in for their relevant, edgy content, they are also designed to upend students’ common assumption that race is a social construct. “What does that mean?” she asks them. “Yes, people made up race, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t impact our lived experiences.” And this is one of the most challenging aspects of being a student in her course. “There’s been nothing in their reality that has forced them to consider race,” explains Blay. “They’ve not had to discuss it; they've never been taught. Because black people were in their classroom, they think they’ve had a diverse experience.” She often encounters claims from students that they’re in a “post-racial society,” one in which children are growing up to be colorblind, and she resists those claims. “Those are deflections,” she argues. “It’s easier to say that than to sit in the reality that we live in a society that is still racist. The knee-jerk reaction is to say the words ‘race is a social construct’ or ‘we’re all the human race.’ That one really burns my skin.” But though the gravity of the problem is embedded in her scholarly and pedagogical work, she is mindful to assert that such misperceptions are not entirely the students’ fault—they have grown up in environments that did not foster their acknowledgement of racial identities, and that did not give them the words to communicate about those identities. For these students, Blay hopes that her classes become a “launch pad” for students “to look at something differently and ask a different question” in the deeper, infinitely more nuanced discussion on race.

I ask her how and when their shift in consciousness becomes visible. “I see it in their responses in the classroom, in their writing. But really it’s in the next term when they’re in my class again. And I get ‘a-ha’ emails.” Blay takes a moment to reflect on a shorter time in her life when she was a professional therapist (she has an M.Ed. in Counseling Psychology) as she considers how her students make their learning known to her. “It’s part of that therapist-client modality,” she says. “Clients cannot email you to say they’ve had a breakthrough. But students do.” And it’s partially that tangible outcome of her work—however it surfaces—that motivates Blay to cultivate a teaching and scholarly life. As the daughter of a university professor, Blay’s sense of belonging on a college campus has taken her from her pre-doctoral fellowship at Florida International, to her doctoral work at Temple University, to a joint faculty-administrative position at Lehigh University, and then to a more focused teaching position at Lafayette College before coming to Drexel. For Blay, to have come from a flagship African American Studies program at Temple, and then to find herself in other university environments where there was a disturbing lack of understanding about what Africana Studies truly is, was “a paradox.” In these new environments, Blay reflects, Africana Studies was a “one-person show” in which the big question was, “Which black person on campus can teach courses on black people?”

So what does that experience mean for her here, now, as Co-director of a program with possibilities, but in need of development? Here at Drexel, Blay finds herself in the very small minority once again in terms of program leadership, but the wisdom of her experience in other contexts has given her the knowledge and political savvy to ask fundamental questions that not only aim to create space for students to learn, but that also aim to educate her colleagues. The questions she’s asking are grounding as they point to the larger issue of the role that liberal arts play at Drexel, and they ask us to look at the present material conditions that may or may not support that role. “What do we have?” she asks. “What should we have? How do we show our value for liberal arts in this space? If students aren’t going to come to Drexel to get a liberal arts degree, what type of liberal arts credential can we offer them instead?” The perspective that Blay has gained in her experience with “the fighting and ideological wars” of trying to build programs elsewhere has been the consequence of working in the academic world outside of the graduate classroom. “At Temple,” she looks back, “we learned about the development of the discipline itself, and about debates about the role of Africana Studies on campuses. But talking about it and experiencing it are two different things.” In the role of program leader, she comes face to face with palpable issues like the need for space and faculty, but also with the less concrete problem of establishing an exigency and an understanding about Africana Studies that is shared by all in the community.

Now that she is anchored back in Philadelphia and at Drexel, she is realistic, but hopeful. “It makes me feel more creative. How do we make a program viable in this space? I feel fortunate to be able to map this out. I have to teach my students what it is; I have to teach my colleagues what it is. I’m okay with starting small. You have to plant the seed first and grow from there.” Though Blay’s reputation outside of Drexel is not at all small, and though her plans for her upcoming project—a return to Ghana to continue her study of skin bleaching and establish a pro-women campaign—will likely bring her exemplary work even more to the global forefront, we can have faith in the knowledge that Blay’s home campus is here, where she works passionately to bring students face to face with their—and our—lesser known realities of what race means.


DCAE Launches Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Initiative
By Allison H. Keene, Administrative Coordinator II, Drexel Center for Academic Excellence, with appreciation of Barbara Hornum, PhD, DCAE Director

On October 25, the Drexel Center for Academic Excellence officially announced its Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SOTL) initiative with an introductory workshop featuring Peter Felten, PhD, of Elon University. Dr. Felten is an accomplished teacher and researcher, well-respected in the field of SOTL for his own publications and his service on editorial boards for journals including Teaching and Learning Inquiry, College Teaching, and the International Journal of Academic Development. Additionally, Dr. Felten co-chaired the 2013 International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Conference held this past October in Raleigh, NC. During his workshop, Dr. Felten provided key insights into the origin of SOTL, why research into our teaching practices is necessary, and how the rewards of doing SOTL will enrich not only the experience of students at Drexel, but serve the higher education community across the country and abroad. Dr. Felten’s presentation, along with a list of additional resources about SOTL, is available on the DCAE website (www.drexel.edu/dcae).

In addition to the SOTL workshop, the DCAE sponsored a workshop on Classroom Assessment this past December  with presenters Kevin Scoles, Associate Professor from the Drexel University College of Engineering; Larry Epstein, Teaching Professor from the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts and Design; and Daniel King, Associate Professor from the College of Arts and Sciences. Attendees were able to compare and contrast various assessment techniques presented by the three presenters as well as gain a general understanding of why formative and summative assessment practices are important to enhance student learning and engagement. The event was well attended by faculty across multiple disciplines and also marked the beginning of a partnership between the DCAE and the Graduate Student Association that will include PhD-level students in our faculty development programs. The next workshop will be held on January 14 featuring Department of English and Philosophy faculty Scott Warnock and Dan Driscoll, Associate Director and Director of Drexel Writing Center, and will focus on Writing Intensive (WI) courses. In this workshop, faculty who teach or want to teach a WI course will develop perspectives on why to teach a WI course, what students should learn, and how to establish meaningful writing/learning goals for the course. Through a facilitated discussion, attendees will also have the opportunity to investigate how and where WI offerings fit into their particular programs, begin evaluating their unit’s current WI offerings, and ascertain if their unit’s goals for disciplinary writing are being met through those courses.

During the winter months, DCAE will conduct the ongoing academic portfolio workshop series.  This is an application-based, four-week program where faculty mentees are partnered with mentors who provide vital feedback on the academic portfolio creation process according to the needs of each mentee. Although the application process for the winter offering has closed, the DCAE will begin accepting applications for the spring workshop series from February 3 – February 21, 2014, with the official start date slated for April 22, 2014.

Additional planning is currently underway for the Second Annual Showcase of Teaching. Building on the success of last year’s Showcase of Teaching, the DCAE asks that those interested save the date of April 15, 2014 for the second installment of this university-wide event, which will feature roundtable and poster sessions highlighting how Drexel professors and PhD students across all disciplines are shaping their students’ learning in the classroom. Additionally, the event will feature a keynote address by Brian Coppola, PhD, from the University of Michigan. Dr. Coppola is a Professor of Chemistry, recent recipient of the Cherry Award for Great Teaching, advocate for science education, and promoter of global higher education partnerships across continents.  More information on the proposal process will be available to faculty in January 2014.

The DCAE would also like to take this opportunity to announce that Kevin Egan, Assistant Director of the Honors College and DCAE Faculty Learning Community participant; Stephen Gambescia, Professor, College of Nursing and Health Professions and DCAE Fellow; and, Jonson Miller, Associate Teaching Professor, Department of History and Politics and DCAE Fellow have been accepted to present at the 6th Annual Conference on Higher Education Pedagogy.  This February 2014 conference is hosted by the Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg. In addition, Keunah Han, Assistant Teaching Professor in the Department of English and Philosophy, was accepted to present her paper entitled “Academic Performance and Cultural Adaptation of South Korean students in the U.S.” at the 26th Annual Ethnographic and Qualitative Research Conference hosted by the University of Las Vegas, also to take place in February 2014. The DCAE is pleased to provide support to all four faculty members and congratulates each of them on their respective acceptances and dedication to teaching and learning scholarship.

Please contact the DCAE at 215-895-4973 or dcae@drexel.edu with any questions regarding any of the events above and the DCAE looks forward to seeing participants at its future events.

Travel Subsidy Promotes Graduate Student Success
By Sandra Golis, Administrative Coordinator, Graduate Studies, with appreciation of Teck-Kah Lim, PhD, Associate Vice Provost, Graduate Studies

The Office of Graduate Studies believes that co-curricular education and interdisciplinary research are essential parts of graduate study at Drexel. These components, it is generally believed, help build the foundation for a successful career whether in education or industry.  Part of the mission of Graduate Studies is to provide students with resources and opportunities for co-curricular activities including participation at local and national meetings and conferences.

Graduate Studies has awarded more than $170,000 (over 600 awards) to Drexel graduate students since the implementation of the Travel Subsidy Award in 2007.  The number of awards and the amount of funding have steadily increased over time.  The purpose of the travel subsidy is to encourage participation in academic meetings and conferences within the United States and territories.  Travel subsidies are awarded to masters and doctoral students who have been invited to present at the gathering of a professional society where they have the opportunity not only to discuss their research with colleagues from around the world, but also to hone their presentation skills for a wide audience.  Students are also asked to write a follow up report and reflect on their experience.  Each award is meant to help cover meeting-related expenses including registration, transportation, lodging, and food.  The average award since 2007 is about $270.  Students can only receive one award per fiscal year and there is a cap of five awards to any one meeting, an increase from the previous cap of three awards. The amount of support awarded is based on several criteria including the extent of travel, type of participation, anticipated visibility of the student in the conference, the subsidy funds available, and any other funding the student is receiving to help cover expenses.

Our students often report that their work is well-received and many have gone on to win top awards at their meetings.  Kelsey Hatzell, PhD candidate in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) recently attended the 224th Electrochemical Society Meeting in San Francisco, California.  She was invited to participate in a new symposium, The Water-Energy Nexus.  Hatzell gave two talks related to her research on a new concept for energy storage and capacitive deionization as a method for desalination.  Her poster entitled “Optimization of the Flowable Electrode for the Electrochemical Flow Capacitor” won 1st Prize out of 300 posters in the Electrochemical Capacitors Symposium.  In addition to the award, she was able to network with experts from her field and was offered the chance to utilize resources and collaborate with the National Institute of Standards and Technology, one of the nation’s oldest physical science laboratories.

Hatzell’s colleague, Kristy Jost, also a PhD candidate in the MEM Department, attended the same meeting and took home 1st Prize in Solid State Science and Technology from the Electrochemical Society along with her co-authors for their poster entitled “Knitted Electrochemical Capacitors for Applications in Smart Garments” - a clean sweep for Dr. Yury Gogotsi, and Drexel’s MEM Department. Jost is well-known for her research using nanotechnology to develop integrated energy storage for ‘smart’ and electronic textiles and is also funded by the National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship (NDSEG).

Dr. Carlos Perez (left) and Kristy Jost (right) in front of their poster

Awardees also benefit from the ability to ‘pick the brains’ of experts in their field, opening doors for future collaboration. Elena Schroeter, recent PhD graduate from the Department of Biology (Advisor: Dr. Kenneth Lacovara), attended the 72nd Annual Society of Vertebrate Paleontology Meeting in October 2013 in Raleigh, North Carolina.  Schroeter presented a poster entitled “Histology of normal and deformed Argentinean titanosaur femora.”  Shroeter was able to discuss her work with expert paleohistologists who provided her important feedback as she moves forward with her research.

Latifa Jackson, Biomedical Engineering PhD candidate and GAANN Fellow, was awarded a travel subsidy to attend the 2013 American Society for Human Genetics Annual Meeting in Boston this past October.  Jackson was one of several representatives in attendance from Drexel including her advisor, Dr. Aydin Tozeren.  Jackson presented her research on the genetics of addiction and her work was very well-received.  The connections she made helped her explore possible postdoctoral fellowships with top researchers in her field. Other students report receiving on-the-spot interviews, invitations to interview on campus, and job placement.

The travel subsidy is just one way Graduate Studies supports students and Drexel’s mission of research, collaboration, and global perspective.

College & School News

Drexel University’s New Gerri C. LeBow Hall Opens for Business
By Mark Eyerly, Executive Director, Communications, Bennett S. LeBow College of Business

The future of business education is here. With a dedication ceremony this past fall, Drexel University celebrated the opening of the 12-story, 177,500-square-foot Gerri C. LeBow Hall—the new home of the University’s LeBow College of Business.

Governor Tom Corbett and benefactor Bennett S. LeBow were joined by Drexel President John A. Fry and LeBow College Interim Dean Frank Linnehan for the dedication.  “The opening of Gerri C. LeBow Hall marks a major milestone for the University,” said Fry. “This new building will transform business education at Drexel and affirm LeBow College’s stature as one of the nation’s premier business schools. We are extremely thankful to Ben for his generosity and commitment to helping prepare future generations of students for leadership roles in an increasingly complex world.”

A Banner Day at Drexel

The opening of the $92-million building named for Bennett LeBow’s late wife was accompanied by announcement of LeBow College’s new School of Economics. The elevated status for economics at Drexel will include growth of the doctoral program in economics, the launch of a master’s degree in economics, recruitment of additional high-quality research faculty and deeper collaborative research efforts with other schools and colleges at Drexel and around the world.  “These announcements about business education at Drexel are strongly correlated,” Fry said. “The same excellence and level of achievement that demanded a world-class home like Gerri C. LeBow Hall also demands that we constantly reassess the structure of our academic enterprise and develop new offerings like the School of Economics. This is a banner day at Drexel.”

LeBow, a native of West Philadelphia, described his gift of $45 million to Drexel in 2010 – the 12th-largest single gift ever awarded to a U.S. business school – as a ringing endorsement of the business school and its accomplishments. He made his first gift of $10 million in 1999; since then LeBow College’s stature has risen steadily nationally and internationally.  “My Drexel education was the catalyst to my professional success,” said Bennett S. LeBow. “I know first-hand the passion and hunger in LeBow to provide a superior education to students and I am delighted to do what I can to make its vision a reality.”

A New Home on Drexel’s Campus

The new building, designed by New York’s Robert A.M. Stern Architects and Philadelphia’s Voith & Mactavish Architects, features an exterior of approximately 67,000 square-feet of limestone combined with glass.  Gerri C. LeBow Hall’s interior features undergraduate and graduate classrooms organized around a dramatic central atrium that is accessible from entrances at the building’s three corners. An open stairway within this atrium leads to a 300-seat auditorium, a 100-seat lecture hall and a conference center. On the building’s upper floors, faculty offices are interspersed with seminar rooms and group study rooms—a deliberate mix of uses fostering the collegial interaction between students and faculty that is essential to the best in business education. The building also includes a green roof and is Green Globe certifiable.

“Thanks to Bennett LeBow’s long-term commitment to the College, we have been able to attract more students, recruit top scholars and support research that ranks our faculty among the best in the world,” said Linnehan. “The opening of this new building will help us further enhance the connection among the business community, our faculty and our students for which LeBow and Drexel are so well known.”

Drexel LeBow Launches School of Economics
By Mark Eyerly, Executive Director, Communications, Bennett S. LeBow College of Business

Drexel University announced October 3 that it is launching a new School of Economics within LeBow College of Business.

“The importance of economics as a discipline has been made clear during the global financial crisis and subsequent recovery challenges,” said Drexel President John A. Fry.  “Drexel can respond to this increased focus because our economics faculty has become one of the most distinguished in the nation, with experts in industrial organization, international trade, macroeconomics and more.”  The Drexel LeBow economics faculty is ranked among the Top 100 out of 1,400 economics faculties worldwide in the field of international trade.

Economics Professor Vibhas Madan will serve as the first director of the School of Economics, reporting to the dean of the college.

The elevated status for economics at Drexel includes growth of the Ph.D. program in economics, the launch an M.S. in economics (first class begins study in fall 2014), recruiting additional high-quality research faculty and deeper collaborative research efforts around the world and with other schools and colleges at Drexel.\

LeBow Corporate and Executive Education and Campbell Soup Partner to Improve Employee Financial Education
By Leda Kopach, Assistant Director, Communications, Bennett S. LeBow College of Business

Campbell Soup Company has a new partnership, and it has nothing to do with food.  The Fortune 500 Company has partnered with Drexel University to provide employees with an education curriculum designed to enhance Campbell’s finance capabilities.

In collaboration with Campbell senior finance executives, Drexel LeBow Corporate and Executive Education has developed and delivered the Campbell College of Finance curriculum and courses that enhance employee understanding of theoretical financial concepts and their practical application to support Campbell’s business processes.  The program was prompted by Campbell’s initiative to standardize information and processes across its global finance department and to provide employees with opportunities to enhance skills and knowledge for better decision-making and improved performance management.

“It is critical to our success that Campbell finance professionals, at all levels, maintain and demonstrate a consistent, extensive understanding of key finance and accounting concepts,” says Anthony DiSilvestro, senior vice president of finance at Campbell.  “Equally important is to effectively apply these concepts in a pragmatic way as we work with our business partners to build shareholder value while maintaining a strong internal control environment.  Drexel LeBow has been an excellent partner in designing, developing and delivering custom courses that have brought both application and theory to life in a thought-provoking environment.”

The Campbell College of Finance courses are delivered in the classroom, online and in a blended format covering topics such as Investment Decisions, Cost Accounting and Financial Statement Analysis.  Courses employ an experiential and applied learning approach, extensively integrating Campbell data and subject matter experts to enhance the experience.  Classes range from one day to seven weeks and are led by Drexel LeBow professors onsite at Campbell’s world headquarters in Camden, N. J. and at other Campbell locations around the world, including Australia and Canada.

“Increased business complexity has driven the need for closer integration of financial processes,” says Kristin M. Risi, MBA, PhD, executive director of Corporate and Executive Education at Drexel LeBow. “Campbell is an innovative company that recognizes how investment in the development of its finance and accounting associates is essential for the company’s continued growth and success.  Drexel LeBow Corporate and Executive Education is pleased to continue our relationship with the Campbell Finance organization in fulfilling its commitment to provide rigorous and relevant experiential leadership development opportunities for the finance organization worldwide.”

College of Computing & Informatics to Host Second Annual Philly Codefest in February 2014
By Kerry Boland, Writer/Editor, College of Computing & Informatics

The 2013 Philly Health Codefest, held at the Edmund D. Bossone Research Center, featured nine teams competing for over $15,000 in prizes.

Drexel University’s College of Computing & Informatics (CCI) has announced its second annual hackathon, Philly Codefest, to take place on Drexel’s main campus on February 21-23, 2014.  The two-day coding competition to tackle a variety of information challenges features an expanded scope from last year’s inaugural Philly Health Codefest, which mainly focused on developing solutions to Philadelphia’s most pressing healthcare issues.

Participants in Philly Codefest will form teams to come up with creative ways to tackle a variety of tech challenges affecting Philadelphia. During the 36-hour event, coders representing diverse areas of the tech community—including professionals, educators, students and entrepreneurs—will work to produce new prototypes and tools related to domains such as health, hospital and patient care; government and civic solutions; media and digital arts; data science and visualization; and cybersecurity, among others.

“Once again, the Philly Codefest is bringing together tech’s movers and shakers to develop innovative, on-the-spot applications while competing for great prizes,” says CCI Dean David Fenske.  “With this year’s broadened focus areas, we anticipate that attendees will be able to leverage a variety of data to address a diverse set of real-world information challenges affecting Philadelphia, and beyond.”

The 2013 Philly Health Codefest featured speakers such as Chief Data Officer of Philadelphia Mark Headd, along with representatives from Philadelphia’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, Jumpstart NJ Angel Network, and Independence Blue Cross before the participants began their marathon coding session.  The competition, which involved a total of nine teams, was judged by a panel comprising both venture capitalists and respected members of Philadelphia’s tech community.  Prizes included the Team Innovation Award, Most Scalable, Most User-Friendly, Venture Capitalist’s Choice, and a $5,000 Grand Prize.  Sponsors of the Philly Health Codefest included Alliance Global Services, Independence Blue Cross, IMS Health, Thomson Reuters, TokBox, HealthQX, with support of a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Drexel has previously hosted hackathon events, such as “Random Hacks of Kindness”—an open source solution effort founded by Microsoft, Google, Yahoo!, NASA and the World Bank.

For more information on the 2014 Philly Codefest and to register, please visit http://www.phillycodefest.com.

Drexel University Names Hugh Johnson as Senior Associate for IExE
By Kate Gamble, Marketing Coordinator, Office of the Dean, College of Engineering

Drexel University has named Hugh P. Johnson Senior Associate for the AJ Drexel Institute for Energy and the Environment (IExE). The institute is designed to shape the development of a sustainable energy future, identifying new energy technologies, systems, and policies that will help meet the energy demands of society and promote sound environmental policies. It has been designed to contribute to the University's Strategic Plan (2012-2017). Born out of the ongoing energy renaissance, the IExE brings together individuals from the public sector, academia, industry and the environmental community, ensuring that all facets of multi-dimensional energy opportunities and challenges are explored and it's research advances are driving curricular innovations in many of Drexel's colleges and schools.

Johnson has consulted on renewable energy, energy efficiency, energy measurement and verification and green building projects for private, municipal and federal clients, as well as provided financial and technical due diligence for private equity investors and start-up/growth stage companies. Johnson’s previous experience also includes working within and consulting for corporate sustainability departments on topics including sustainable manufacturing metrics, supply chain/supplier evaluations with regards to environmental and social parameters and corporate sustainability reporting.

Johnson received a master's degree in Forest Science, Conservation and Policy from the University of Minnesota where his research focused on productivity and successional trajectories of two cover-types within the near boreal forest following catastrophic blowdown. His other natural resource management experience includes leading and contributing to terrestrial and wetland restoration projects, municipal cover-type and land use mapping and the design of stormwater best management practices. Johnson also received his bachelor's degree in Resource Ecology and Management and an MBA from the University of Michigan.

Drexel Medicine’s Partnership Comprehensive Care Practice
Celebrating 20 Years of HIV Treatment and Research

Founded in 1993, the Practice is the Largest HIV Clinic
in the Greater Philadelphia Area
By Ed Federico, Media Relations Manager, Drexel University College of Medicine

The Partnership Comprehensive Care Practice (the Partnership) of Drexel Medicine is celebrating its 20th anniversary. Over the span of two decades, the Partnership has not only grown in size, but also in reach. It started humbly in 1993 as one of the first clinics to treat a segment of the population that had been marginalized at the time due to the stigma that comes with an HIV positive diagnosis. Through the years, the Partnership has served thousands of patients and families in Philadelphia coping with HIV/AIDS. It is a comprehensive primary and specialty medical care practice that offers treatment and prevention services to about 1,900 people a year – regardless of their ability to pay.

City of Phladelphia citation for 20 years of service. James Reynolds, MD, chair of the Department of Medicine, makes the presentation to Jeffrey Jacobson, MD, and Marla Gold, MD

The Honorable Michael Nutter, Mayor, and the City of Philadelphia recently honored the Partnership and its staff with a citation, “officially recognizing and congratulating the Partnership on two decades of steadfast service to the citizens of Philadelphia and commending the Practice’s dedicated staff for the delivery of the highest quality care to citizens living with the challenge of HIV/AIDS.”

“We are a full-service clinic to our patients and that includes supporting not only their medical needs, but also their emotional needs,” said Jeffrey Jacobson, MD, professor in the Department of Medicine at Drexel University College of Medicine and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and HIV Medicine.  “The Partnership also maintains an active and engaged research arm, working to develop the next generation of HIV medications, with the goal, of course, being a cu6re.”

Compassionate Care Comes First

The Partnership started out as a clinic – founded by Marla Gold, MD, professor and former dean of the Drexel University School of Public Health – dedicated to treating those with an illness that few understood in the early 90s.  Its primary focus has always been providing compassionate, non-judgmental treatment for HIV patients. In addition to primary and specialty HIV medical care, treatment at the Partnership is comprehensive and can include:  gynecologic care, prenatal care, family planning services, nutrition assessment, pharmacy services, HIV support groups, rapid HIV testing and much more. The partnership also focuses on educating people who will provide multidisciplinary HIV care in the future.

“HIV specialists at the Partnership are skilled in managing HIV, as well as a patient's other conditions, which could include diabetes and hepatitis C,” said Sarah L. Allen, MSN, CRNP, clinical director of the Partnership.  “The staff here feels very passionate about what they do and the impact they have in the community.  The work they do is very well known in the Philadelphia area, and the Partnership has become a beacon to those who need medical attention and may have nowhere else to turn.”  In 2011, MANNA awarded the Partnership its Nourish Award in recognition of its service to those living with HIV and in particular its commitment to proactive nutritional practices.

Next Generation of Treatment

The Partnership is investigating long-term treatment options for those who are HIV positive, including a once-a-week, injectable drug.  Over the past 20 years, the Partnership has garnered millions of dollars in research grants.  In fact, Dr. Jacobson has been awarded in excess of $10 million in National Institutes of Health funding for a series of studies on improved HIV treatments, novel medicines and potential vaccines.

A Trusted Source

Over the past 20 years, what was once a small clinic dedicated to treatment has blossomed into the largest HIV practice in the Philadelphia area, with a thriving research arm dedicated to finding a cure.  The Partnership is a trusted source to the city of Philadelphia and its citizens and has helped the community better understand the plight of those fighting HIV/AIDS through community outreach, education and support.

It is located at 1427 Vine Street in Center City Philadelphia, with satellite practices at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children and Kensington Hospital.

Composite photograph of PECO’s Crown Lights saluting Drexel Medicine's Partnership Comprehensive Care Practice's 20 years of service.

Public Health Field Practice: Sub-Saharan Africa
By Rich Ochab, Director of Marketing and Public Relations, School of Public Health

Stepping off the plane in Dakar, Senegal after a long flight from New York City, School of Public Health (SPH) student Heidi West felt a sense of excitement, exhaustion and anticipation.  She, along with seventeen other students from the SPH, joined by professors from the SPH, were finally in West Africa after months of planning and studying about the strengthening of maternal and child health programs and health systems in Senegal and The Gambia.  It was a unique chance to get some field experience abroad. They are all enrolled in the SPH’s Global Health Certificate program, and this was a shocking, yet, calming moment.

“One of the things I was most excited about going into this trip was the opportunity to learn about the public health systems through a variety of different lens,” said West, who is the director of the Office of International Programs at Drexel University. “Participation in a diverse range of activities allowed us to see health through the lens of culture, history, clinical practice, academia, government and community.”

“The program allows students to combine coursework learning with a situation that reflects professional practice in global health and international development,” said Shannon P. Márquez, PhD, MEng, associate dean for academic affairs and the director of global public health initiatives.  The students were mentored by professors who teach in the global health program, including professors Al Jatta, Márquez and Tererai Trent, PhD, who is an internationally known humanitarian renowned for her work with Oprah Winfrey building schools and improving the lives of women and girls in Africa. The students also worked closely with partnering preceptors from NGOs, international agencies, the Ministry of Health, and universities.  “Collaborating with our knowledgeable and well-traveled professors put me more at ease as we made our way to Senegal and The Gambia,” said Triza Brion ’14. “They prepared us mentally and intellectually prior to our arrival to these countries which made our experiences and interactions with local partners much more meaningful.”

The students focused on an examination of the most important causes of morbidity and mortality in the region, as well as cross-cutting global health issues such as the integrated management of childhood illnesses, reproductive health, monitoring and evaluation, and the role of traditional medicine and village health workers in the health system.

The Gambia is encircled by Senegal on all sides apart from its Atlantic coast. For this reason the two countries have a lot of cultural and ethnic ties. Senegal is a former French colony. The Gambia was colonized by Britain.

“This trip was a really eye-opening experience for me. I’ve studied public health issues on American shores, but never internationally,” said Brittany Coote ’14. “One aspect of the Gambian health system that was quite poignant was the resourcefulness of the health system.”

The Gambia and Senegal, in contrast to many of its West African neighbors, have enjoyed lengthy spells of stability since independence. The public health service delivery system in this region of sub-Saharan Africa is built around three levels and based on a primary health care strategy.  Primary healthcare is focused on villages and village health workers and traditional birth attendants are trained as lay health workers and then assigned to deliver primary health care and maternal and child health services to their village of responsibility.

At the intermediate level, health care is provided by major and minor health centers – which have small teams of doctors, nurses, and public health officers on staff – who oversee the village health workers. Village health services are complemented by reproductive and child health trekking visits from the health centers at the intermediate level.  At the tertiary level, health services are delivered at general hospitals that provide specialized services. In addition, there are private clinics and NGOs operated clinics. Traditional medicine is also acknowledged as contributing significantly to the health of the population, and includes bone setters, herbalists, spiritualists, birth attendants and those who combine the methods.

“Traditional medicine is an integral part of the health sector in The Gambia,” said Brion. “Our class met with a group of Gunjur Health Center’s traditional birth attendants who worked as unpaid volunteers. We also met an herbalist from Ghana who had treatments for everything from obesity to cancer.”

“An alternative to treatment at the hospital, Gambians had access to medicines that were low-cost and even free for those who could not pay,” said Brion. “I noticed that these traditionalists were committed to improving the health of the Gambian people with little monetary incentive, but a lot of passion and dedication.”

In contrast to Senegal, healthcare facilities and training institutions are relatively sparse in The Gambia, though health services are being built up in the country and the University of The Gambia has prioritized initiatives to train more doctors, nurses, and public health officers.  “The Gambian health services system is mostly built to address infectious diseases, which are more prevalent than chronic diseases,” said Coote. “Western and traditional medicine are seamlessly combined to create a health system that works very well to deliver the necessary health services to the Gambian people despite its lack of resources.”

“This experience had a major impact on me and the way that I think about local and international collaboration for health systems improvement,” said West. “I am inspired by our Gambian colleagues and look forward to applying the lessons from this experience to my academic and professional engagement.”

Left to Right – School of Public Health Professor Al Jatta with students Chidinma Tiko-Okoe ’14, Ceclia Alcala ’13 and Frances Adachi ’14 in Africa as part of the Certificate in Global Health program.


Office of the Provost Administrative Team
By Donna McVicker, MS, Director of Provost Operations and Assistant to the Provost; Denise Smith, Office of the Provost Academic Coordinator; Joanne Robinson, MEd, Executive Assistant to the Senior Vice Provost for Budget, Planning and Administration; and, MaryBeth O’Neill, MS, Executive Assistant to the Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs

As we begin a new academic term, we thought it an opportune time to provide a brief overview of the functions of the Office of the Provost administrative staff.  Moving forward, we will use this forum to keep all abreast of various administrative news that we feel you should be made aware of as well as insight into new initiatives that are targeted for the future.

The Office of the Provost is led by a group of seasoned academic administrators who bring with them a wide range of experience, expertise, and perspectives.  Individually and collectively, they are committed to academic excellence.  To assist them in their activities in this regard, the Office of the Provost administrative staff’s mission is to be of service – to students, faculty, professional staff and the entire Drexel community.  This service-minded approach should and hopefully does trickle down from this office and throughout the University, creating a collaborative learning community; one that is dedicated to providing help and service to ensure that our students are prepared to improve not only their careers, but their communities, as well.

Our goal compliments the above mentioned mission - To demonstrate administrative functions that are performed effectively and efficiently by an administrative staff that exemplifies a team-first, service-minded environment; delivers exemplary results; and, rolls with the inevitable changes that come our way.

With this is mind, we look forward to working with each of you in the days ahead as we collaborate together on the ongoing goal of making the University a beacon of scholarship and research.

Happy New Year,

Donna, Denise, Joanne, and MaryBeth

An Educational Journey
Heading Down the Co-op Path a New Experience for Sacramento Students By Jeffrey Weidel, Vice President Halldin Public Relations

As an undergraduate student at Drexel University Sacramento, Jeremy Labelle has friends who have already graduated from college and accepted jobs in their career path. Yet the excitement and high expectations many of his friends felt when the jobs began has been replaced by discontent; it turns out the field they chose in college isn’t what they thought it would be.   Labelle vows not to make the same mistake and have a misguided college career.  “My generation all seems to be looking for that dream job when they get out of college,” Labelle explained. “But some of my friends have graduated and gotten jobs that they hate. They found out that it isn’t the type of work they want to do. That’s not going to happen to me.”

Labelle, 24, chose Drexel’s new Bachelor in Business Administration degree program in Sacramento for many reasons. But the primary one was its cooperative education (co-op) program.  “The co-op aspect sealed the deal for me. It’s similar to an internship, but it’s in your chosen field and you get paid to do it for six months,” Labelle said. “Drexel gives you a lot of help in lining up the job and it’s very major specific. It’s a great way to find out if this is what you really want to do.”

That’s sound logic to Amanda Miller as well. She excelled at Sierra Community College in Rocklin, east of Sacramento, leaving with associate degrees in both natural science and liberal arts.  Miller, 30, was accepted and ready to attend California State University, Sacramento before hearing a Sierra College presentation by Olivia Stelte, Drexel’s Assistant Director of Admissions.  “Olivia’s presentation blew me away and had a huge impact,” Miller recalls. “I couldn’t stop thinking about Drexel. The thought of going there really intrigued me. It made so much sense, being in Drexel’s co-op program and getting real-world experience for six months. Getting that experience is very relevant and something you can’t receive sitting in a classroom.”

Miller and Labelle are among the inaugural class of students enrolled in the new program, which is designed for students who have finished at least the first two years of their undergraduate education.

Thanks to Drexel’s main campus in Philadelphia and the vigilant efforts of John Carvana, the Manager of Career Services in Sacramento, Drexel has developed an enormous network of business relationships for their co-op students. Each term, 98 percent of Drexel students applying for a co-op have found a placement and, in 2012-13, earned an average of $16,593 for the six-month period.

There are 3,329 jobs openings available to the students in the U.S. Drexel offers co-op placements in 33 states and 40 countries worldwide. There are currently six Sacramento employers participating in the co-op program, including the NBA’s Sacramento Kings.

Among the employment choices Sacramento students are considering for their April-September 2014 co-op include:

  • Accounting firm in New York City
  • Pharmaceutical company in Philadelphia
  • Boston-based foundation, sponsored by the Boston Red Sox
  • Leading PR firm that’s branding the City of Sacramento
  • New York fashion showroom
  • Sacramento non-profit located next door to the home of one Drexel student

“This first group of BSBA students are the ‘pioneers’ of our undergraduate program,” Carvana said. “They chose Drexel University Sacramento because they understand that having a degree isn’t enough. They know that today’s students need to graduate having practical experience along with a solid academic foundation in order to remain competitive in the job market. Our BSBA program is unique in that respect.”

Drexel-Philadelphia has been nationally recognized as a co-op education leader for many years. The co-op program, which is available to every Sacramento undergraduate student, is an aspect that Dr. Sandra Kirschenmann, Associate Vice Provost and Executive Director of Drexel University Sacramento, is proud to discuss.  “I think that’s the most exciting part of what we’re doing,” Kirschenmann said.  “Providing our students with on-the-job experience gives them a much better chance of competing in the job market. The added benefit is students receive good wages while they are working and that money can be used to offset their educational costs.”

Unlike many students at California universities and colleges who struggle to get classes and frequently don’t graduate on time, the Drexel model is set up for students to graduate in two years.  Labelle, who lives with his wife in Sacramento, is taking 16 units in his first quarter and will have an even heavier load in the second one with 20 units. He welcomes the challenge.  “I don’t have to worry about not getting the classes I need; I’m assured of that at Drexel,” he said. “Being about to finish in two years was another big reason that I chose Drexel.”

One year after graduating from high school, Labelle enlisted in the Air Force and served four years. During his two deployments, he spent considerable time aboard cargo planes, which were frequently the target of ground fire in Iraq and Afghanistan.  At Drexel, Labelle is not only getting his education paid for under the Yellow Ribbon Program, he’s also receiving a monthly stipend. Labelle is already considering remaining at Drexel and getting his MBA.

After graduating high school in Idaho, Miller spent one year at Boise State. However, the cost was an issue, so she relocated to Sacramento and lived with her mother. Miller has worked ever since, juggling a full-time job at Costco and pursuing her education. Although she has nothing but praise for Costco, Miller is eying an accounting job after graduating from Drexel.  “I’m very excited at the prospect of having a co-op job that’s in my career field,” Miller said. “The business administration field is very broad and there are tons of different options to take. I love anything with numbers, so I think accounting is my calling.”

Besides an array of intriguing business courses, both Miller and Labelle have been impressed by the Co-op 101 class taught by Carvana.  Among the goals are producing a flawless resume and getting students totally prepared for interview situations. They practice online in “InterviewStream,” where mock interview questions are answered and recorded on a webcam.  Carvana critiques every aspect of the interviews and provides insightful feedback. “John is amazing. He’s extremely knowledgeable and totally approachable. He’s a huge help,” Labelle said.  Miller also lauds the efforts of Carvana and has enjoyed the cohort aspect of a Drexel education. The intimate class of students will be together for two years.  “We’ve really been able to build strong relationships and we hang out together. We’re almost like family now,” Miller said. “I love the small class size and all the one-on-one attention we receive.”

Miller and Labelle both agree that graduation in spring 2015 will be a prideful day, picking up their diplomas as the first group of Business Administration degree programs students.  “Being able to say I was part of that first class will be great,” Labelle said. “I’ll be very proud of that. I love talking about Drexel to other people that I know. Drexel has become a special place for me.”

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

One of the many qualities that make Drexel University great is that it is a community where innovation is the norm rather than the exception. The Office of Assessment & Effectiveness within Institutional Research, Assessment and Effectiveness (IRAE) has developed a new online newsletter to highlight some of the inspired ways Drexel’s faculty and staff are working to make Drexel even better through innovation in assessment, teaching and learning. The publication focuses on new initiatives as well as those that have been in operation for a longer period but have recently been evaluated. It also features articles, interviews, and links to resources. Going forward, the format will invite communication within the Drexel community. In this way, the newsletter will be an interactive forum in which we can learn from one another and thereby grow as an institution.

The content of the first edition of the newsletter is available on the IRAE website. Please send thoughts on future articles or ideas regarding this project to Steve DiPietro at sld343@drexel.edu or Jeff Bonfield at jkb28@drexel.edu.

Hands-on Learning: Drexel's School of Law
at the Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships
By Karen Pearlman, Director of Pro Bono and Public Interest Programs, Drexel University School of Law; Rachel Lopez, Assistant Professor, Drexel University School of Law; Jen Britton, Interim Director, Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships and Associate Director, Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation

In April 2014, renovation at the Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships will be complete and its doors open for Drexel’s faculty, students, and academic programs for their work in partnership with the Center’s staff and neighborhood residents on collaborative and creative programming.

The Center was established as an answer to its neighbors’ interest in gaining increased access to the University’s knowledge and expertise, as well as to address the rapidly growing interest among faculty in locally engaged research and teaching, among other priorities.  Located at 3509 Spring Garden Street, the new facility and its three buildings will feature multipurpose meeting and learning space where staff will act as liaisons to neighborhood residents and nonprofit program partners.  The Dornsife Community Advisory Council is already meeting to provide guidance and to keep program offerings grounded in and connected to local needs and interests.

For the Drexel University School of Law, the Dornsife Center represents a unique opportunity to fulfill its mission of providing students with hands-on legal training while at the same time offering direct legal services to the Powelton Village and Mantua communities.  Programming through the Center will be fully integrated into the Law School curriculum and students will work with supervising attorneys to address the legal needs of these communities either for credit or to satisfy their pro bono service requirement. 

In the fall of 2014, the Law School will launch the Community Lawyering Clinic, under the direction of Assistant Professor Rachel Lopez, Drexel University School of Law. With a community-driven focus, the Clinic will take a holistic approach to providing legal services to the community and will draw on partnerships across disciplines and with community organizations.  Students participating in the Clinic will dedicate 20 hours a week over the course of an academic year to work at the Dornsife Center, and will use a variety of strategies including litigation, policy or legislative advocacy, community education, media advocacy and international advocacy.  The Clinic is being developed through an in-depth needs-assessment process conducted by Lopez, along with a number of students.

In addition to the Community Lawyering Clinic, Drexel University School of Law provides discreet pro bono legal services at the Dornsife Center. The Pro Bono Program is a core component of the Law School’s curriculum, reflecting strong commitment to the Philadelphia community and the unmet legal needs of its men, women, and children.  It also demonstrates the Law School’s commitment to the development of professionalism in its students. Through the Pro Bono Program, Drexel students perform 50 hours of uncompensated legal services and, under close supervision, develop legal skills and gain practical, hands-on experience working directly with clients. 

The Law School currently hosts four pro bono projects at the Dornsife Center.  The first is the Estate Planning Clinic, in which students draft wills, powers of attorney, and advanced medical directives for clients. These documents empower clients to exercise control over their lives by communicating who will one day inherent property, wishes regarding future medical care, and who will handle the business of one’s life such as paying bills, managing investments or making key financial decisions for those individuals who cannot speak for themselves.  Second is the Criminal Record Expungement Project, dedicated to working with the community to reduce the collateral effects of criminal records. This project provides free direct legal services to individuals seeking to expunge non-conviction records in Philadelphia County.  The Community Intake Clinic is the third of the four projects.  A community-based intake clinic, it offers information and referral services right in the community to isolated clients in a comfortable environment within the neighborhood.  Finally, the Campaign for Working Families Tax Clinic provides free tax services to low income community members.  Along with tax preparation, this project strives to improve the economic well-being of low and moderate income individuals, families, and communities by building a movement to dramatically increase access to tax credits and benefits and asset-building opportunities.

Leveraging Drexel’s Research Strengths to Address Global Challenges
By Adam Zahn, Program Coordinator, and Heidi West, Director, Office of International Programs, with appreciation of Julie Mostov, PhD, Vice Provost for Global Initiatives

Drexel University is committed to engaging in collaborative international research to address global challenges. Leveraging the research strengths of our diverse and talented faculty and students with those of our partners at home and abroad is just one of the strategic ways we enhance Drexel’s global impact. The Office of International Programs has seen a number of exciting developments in Drexel’s efforts to address challenges related to health, energy and the environment, and gender.

This past November, President John Fry and Dr. Julie Mostov, Vice Provost for Global Initiatives, travelled with Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter to Israel where the Mayor witnessed the signing of a research agreement among Drexel University, Hebrew University, and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), formalizing a pediatric translational research consortium that will leverage on-going research by Drexel faculty.  This partnership will continue to take shape as Drexel and CHOP host a unique symposium with researchers from the three institutions January 27-28, 2014. The goal of the symposium is to present cutting-edge science that will benefit from collaboration among investigators from the partner institutions. This is analogous to the "Dream Team" concept in which a broad range of experts crossing traditional institutional or disciplinary boundaries are assembled for a common purpose – in this case, to advance the health care of children.  The symposium and this collaboration are outgrowths of Drexel’s partnership with the Institute of Drug Research in the Department of Pharmacy (IDR) at the Hebrew University, which began in 2010.

In addition, The Office of International Programs and the Office of Research are supporting collaborative research projects in the areas of energy and the environment at the joint Drexel-SARI Center in Shanghai, China.  These projects represent an expansion of the current collaborative research projects at SARI in the areas of bio-manufacturing and nano-carbon diamonds for application in nanomedicine.  Drexel is also building joint research projects with Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (PUC- Rio) in the area of energy and the environment.

Another global challenge to be addressed is the cross-cutting theme of Gender, which permeates research and education in all fields.  This topic will be the focus at The 7th Annual Student Conference on Global Challenges, scheduled to take place on March 13, 2014 at which time undergraduate and graduate students from across the university will have the opportunity to present their research and hear from internationally known experts, Dr. Tererai Trent and Dr. Rashad Shabazz.

If you are interested in learning more about the international collaborations of Drexel faculty and to include your own global engagement in the Drexel database, visit the GRAND Faculty Database at www.drexel.edu/international  where a full list of international partnerships is available as well the opportunity to register for the Student Conference on Global Challenges.


From Left: Hebrew University President Menahem Ben-Sasson, President John Fry, and Dr. Julie Mostov, Vice Provost for Global Initiatives
©Kate Privitera, City of Philadelphia
From Second on Left: The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) CEO, Dr. Steven M. Altschuler, President John Fry, and Mayor Michael Nutter at the signing ceremony of a research agreement between CHOP, Drexel University, and Hebrew University.
©Kate Privitera, City of Philadelphia


Fall Activities at the Drexel Smart Initiatives Program (DSIP)
By Shivanthi Anandan, PhD, Joan Weiner, PhD, and Diana Nicholas, Co-Directors, Drexel Smart House Initiatives Program

DSIP Academic Program: As part of the first course in the proposed Drexel Smart Initiatives Program, the special topics course being offered this past fall allowed students to visit with Youngmoo Kim, Associate Professor, Electrical & Computer Engineering, and Genevieve Dion, Assistant Professor, Fashion Design, at the Expressive and Creative Interaction Technologies (ExCITe) Center; Uri Hershberg, Assistant Professor, School of Biomedical Engineering; Nicole Koltick, Assistant Professor, Architecture & Interior Design; Shivanthi Anandan, Associate Professor, Biology; Jim Mitchell, Associate Professor, Architecture & Civil Environmental Engineering; and, Mike Glaser, Assistant Professor, Fashion Design & Merchandising. Next week, Joan Weiner, Professor, Management, will address the group on the topic of “Group Dynamics and Collaboration for Innovation.” Note: The proposed minor itself is going through the stages of approval at the Senate Committee for Academic Affairs and Faculty Senate.

Research with the Drexel Smart Initiatives Program:  Green building design research expert Dr. Ajla Aksamija spoke to a large crowd of interested students and faculty this past fall.  Her lecture, entitled “Interdisciplinary Research: Building, Technology and Environment”, was a blend of research based investigation and sustainable building explorations.  Head of research for the Building Technology Laboratory at international design firm Perkins+Will, Aksamija covered her ongoing research in high-performance buildings, building systems, innovative design approaches and emerging building technologies.

Dr. Aksamija also spoke about the nature of interdisciplinary research and technology as they relate to building innovation in practice at Perkins+Will.  A question-and-answer session followed the lecture and included practical advice for beginning designers on everything from software packages to collaboration to post occupancy studies.  The event was sponsored by the Drexel Smart House team, a student-led, multidisciplinary initiative that has performed cutting-edge environmental research and design since 2006.  Aksamija’s work aligns with the goal of the organization to conduct research and develop designs in the areas of environment, energy, interaction, health and lifestyle in order to improve quality of life in the urban residential setting.

Dr. Aksamija's research expertise includes building science and sustainability, emerging building technologies, digital design and information modeling.  Her most recent book, Sustainable Facades: Design Methods for High-Performance Building Envelopes (Wiley, 2013), presents strategies and technical guidelines for designing environmentally sensitive, energy efficient facades based on scientific principles.   Aksamija is the founder and editor of the Perkins+Will Research Journal.  She received a doctorate in architecture from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, with an emphasis on technology and environment.

Drexel Smart House Student News:  Joe Massott, Drexel Smart House President, accompanied by members Mohamed Zerban, Alex McBride, JJ Womack, Vincent O'Leary, and Mike Magee, actively engaged in a panel entitled “2B: Social Responsibility and Innovation”; at the MIT-China Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum this past November at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  This was a 2-day conference that embodied the theme Transforming Ideas to Impact (http://mitchief.org/).   For two days attendees networked with top investors, serial entrepreneurs, technology leaders and business professionals from China and the United States, and explored how innovative technologies and leading academic research can help address the practical challenges faced in today's changing economy.

In addition to attending the conference, the Drexel Smart House contingent also met with representatives of the MIT House_n and the former dean of the business school at Harvard. The House_n initiative has many overlaps with Drexel Smart House -  “House_n research is focused on how the design of the home and its related technologies, products, and services should evolve to better meet the opportunities and challenges of the future. Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers are investigating methods for merging new technologies with person-centered design. To facilitate these studies, a unique "living laboratory" residential home research facility called the PlaceLab has been constructed near MIT.”  More information on the MIT House _ n can be found at http://architecture.mit.edu/house_n/intro.html.

Additionally, “The Smart Affair” was held this past November to celebrate the accomplishments of the Drexel Smart House and to highlight its future goals. This unique student event, which connected Drexel students with like-minded community members and industry professionals, was the first opportunity for individual and corporate philanthropists to learn about Drexel Smart House’s recent progress and to contribute to future innovations. Invitees were invited to help the organization make a long-lasting impact in our community, and every contribution made will be acknowledged on the Drexel Smart House website, Facebook, and event program. A reception, with entertainment by Drexel University’s a cappella group, followed the information session.


Please visit www.drexelsmarthouse.com for more information on the Drexel Smart Initiatives Program.

Winter/Spring Assessment Workshops
By Stephen DiPietro, Ph.D., Associate Vice Provost for University Assessment Operations

Due to the wide interest in the fall assessment workshops, additional workshops haven been added and are scheduled as follows: 

January 9, 2014, Sky View, 6th Floor, McAlister Hall

10:00 a.m., Developing Direct Assessments of Program Level Outcomes/DSLPs (by Ray Lum)

11:00 a.m., How to Envision and Align Course Embedded Student Learning Objectives with Program Level Outcomes (by Andrew Ziner)

1:00p.m., Curriculum Mapping (by Don McEachron)

More information on the February, March and April workshops can be found on the IRAE Website, which will focus on the following topics:

  • Portfolios as Effective Assessment Tools
  • How To Effectively Use Hyperion to Generate Reports
  • How To Develop Program Level Outcomes
  • Direct Assessment of Program Level Outcomes

A description of each workshop is available on the IRAE website. You may register for one or more workshops by clicking “Register for this Workshop” located below the workshop descriptions. Registration confirmations will be automatically generated.

Measuring Outcomes of Quality Initiatives for Online Courses
By Marlin Killen, PhD; Fran Cornelius, PhD; Linda Marion, PhD; Allen Grant, PhD; Karyn Holt, PhD; John Via, D Eng; and, Ray Lum, MPhil, MS

The creation of the Online Learning Council heralded the beginning of a University-wide effort to promote positive, transformative changes in online learning at Drexel.  The eight Fellows of the Online Learning Council have worked to support this cultural shift through its efforts over the last eighteen months.  With a focus on the 650 existing online faculty who teach in Drexel’s 115 online programs, the Fellows have provided professional consultation to approximately 10% and provided direct training to approximately 19% of the online faculty across the University.  In addition, the Fellows have provided collegial peer review services to approximately 7% of the online faculty using the Drexel University Core Design Elements Checklist and Quality Matters Rubric as tools for confidential, voluntary internal course design reviews.  The Fellows have prepared and conducted approximately 59 workshops and presentations, created three online self-paced training courses, and had three publications that championed the online initiatives at Drexel.

Responses to these efforts have been positive.  Diane DePew, DSN, RN-BC, Assistant Professor in the College of Nursing and Health Professions, recently requested an internal Quality Matters review of her online course and found it to be an easy and supportive process.  “The methodology used by the reviewers was so positive, so collegial, that I didn’t feel threatened; I didn’t feel defensive.” reported Dr. DePew.  “They pointed out what I did well and made suggestions to improve the course.”  Having a peer review can have a broad impact, reaching beyond the course reviewed, continued DePew, “The benefit of going through an internal QM review was that it really helped me to improve the course.  Now I am taking what I learned from that review and applying that to my other online courses.”

Faculty members in other colleges report similar experiences and results.  Pru Dalrymple, PhD, Research and Teaching Professor, Director of the Institute for Healthcare Informatics at the College of Computing and Informatics, commented: “I felt comfortable having my course reviewed because the review panel did exactly what they said they would do—review the structure of the course and not the content.  They also took the student’s perspective, which is very helpful and also very difficult to obtain at the level of granularity the panel offered.  I am confident that my course will provide a better learning experience for the students; it has also sparked conversations between me and the other faculty who teach this course.” 

Beyond the measures of the participation rates and qualitative testimonies on the value of the quality initiatives, the OLC Fellows will focus on establishing metrics on outcomes of the quality endeavors in the coming academic year.  This focus on the return of resources by the academic units, programs, faculty and students on improving student learning outcomes will shift from input to output.  The research by Quality Matters has identified specific elements of course design towards improving student outcomes regarding online courses.  For instance, QM Standard 2 on Learning Objectives and QM Standard 3 on Assessment and Measurement are often used to strengthen outcome criteria at Accreditation reviews.  However, the OLC Fellows recognized that the strength of QM is course design and that faculty instruction and pedagogy plays equally an important role in student learning outcomes. 

Over the coming year, the OLC Fellows will review the initiatives the Drexel Center of Academic Excellence designed to improve faculty teaching and collectively work to establishing metrics that measures the initiatives provided by both entities.  To ensure the metrics are aligned with the University’s vision of learning outcomes, the OLC fellows will be integrating their findings across the academic units with the overarching aspiration of learning assessment quality from the Office of Institutional Research, Assessment and Effectiveness.  The goal is that the collaboration among these leading factions on Quality Learning will extend and document the success of Drexel’s quality education.

Academic Unit Leaders’ Workshops
By Ellonda L. Green, MEd, Senior Academic Coordinator, The Office of Faculty Development and Equity

The Academic Unit Leaders’ Initiative is designed to support the Drexel University Strategic Plan and the Provost’s Academic Priorities. The term “Academic Unit Leader” applies to any individual who serves in a leadership role and evaluates faculty members, although they may continue to hold titles such as “department head,” “department chair,” “division chief,” or “associate dean” depending on the convention of the specific college or school.

As Drexel invests in academic excellence, it will engage its faculty as Drexel’s intellectual leaders and provide the necessary resources to develop a cadre of talented, pioneering, collaborative, productive, and diverse scholars dedicated to fostering student learning, advancing knowledge, demonstrating excellence in their fields, developing innovative programs, and working entrepreneurially.  This development requires high-functioning academic units with strong and capable leadership.

Academic Unit Leaders meet in order to discuss an array of important topics, which are based on a survey of the Academic Unit Leaders’ own perceived needs and interests and by feedback from the deans and provost.  Issues closely align with national best practices, and include Departmental Strategic Planning, Educational Programming & Assessment, Management & Stewardship, Scholarly Work, Research & Creative Activity, Faculty Recruitment, Retention & Advancement, Shared Governance & Collaboration, and other topics related to personal professional development.

The Academic Unit Leader’s Initiative held two workshops during the fall 2013 term; one in October and one in December. The first session launched the initiative with a presentation by Helen Bowman, Senior Vice President for Finance, Treasurer & CFO, and Scott Friedman, Director of Huron Consulting Group, about the new Strategic Transformation of Administrative Resources Review (STAR Review) and how it affects academic units and faculty members. The second workshop featured President John Fry and Senior Vice President for Finance, Treasurer & CFO Helen Bowman for a conversation on Drexel finances.

For more information regarding the Academic Unit Leader’s Initiative, contact Janet Fleetwood, Vice Provost for Strategic Development and Initiatives, at janet.fleetwood@drexel.edu.

Assessment Conference 2014
By Stephen DiPietro, Ph.D., Associate Vice Provost for University Assessment Operations

In 2011, The Middle States Commissions on Higher Education stated that Drexel University "...is a remarkable institution that has proven itself by meeting the multifaceted challenges of the past, truly challenging decade. Drexel is now poised not merely to succeed, but to lead. The moment is now Drexel's to seize."

​In response to this challenge, Drexel is hosting its first regional conference on assessment September 10-12, 2014.  Taking place on Drexel’s campus, it is anticipated that this conference will bring 200-300 attendees from across the middle states region to Drexel’s campus and from many more institutions across the United States in the years to come.  A “Save the Date” card was sent in October to over 2,800 faculty, deans, assessment professionals and provosts throughout the 5 state region and the District of Columbia, and a direct e-mail campaign will take place. 

The website for the assessment conference is now active and can be accessed at http://www.drexel.edu/mythsandmovements.  Conference registration, hotel information, proposal submissions, and more can be found at this site.  All Drexel faculty and staff who are interested in attending one or more sessions MUST register using the above mentioned URL and, as a special feature, employee registration will be FREE OF CHARGE by indicating a Drexel faculty or staff affiliation.  The conference planning committee is especially interested in receiving proposals for the conference from Drexel faculty and staff members. 

​Entitled “Myths & Movements: Re-imagining Higher Education Assessment,” it is the hope of the planning committee to engage attendees in rich conversation through interactive presentations, snapshot sessions, debates and plenary addresses.  ​​Please contact Steve DiPietro at sld343@drexel.edu for additional information.

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