The View From Main

Posted in Departments, Summer 2017, View from Main

So often we see proof of the maxim that Drexel graduates journey into the world and make a real difference in people’s lives, with some of the most recent inspiring examples of Drexel alumni achievements detailed in this issue of Drexel Magazine.

It’s a safe bet that the many engineering alumni who worked on various stages of America’s newest, next-generation weather satellite would say modestly that they were just doing their jobs. But their collective effort and know-how stands to improve the lives of millions, equipping forecasters with the most accurate data to help entire populations brace for storms.

Engineering reaches back to the earliest days of this University, of course. Its importance to Drexel’s history and identity cannot be overstated. Engineering students were the first to go on co-op placements nearly a century ago, and it is in that fine tradition that some of the Lockheed Martin engineers contracted by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to build the GOES-16 satellite learned the ropes while on a Lockheed co-op.

Even so, Drexel has come to mean so much more — as a school for the liberal and design arts, where the hard and soft skills are combined and intertwined. You can see that lived out in the work of creative writing professor Harriet Millan, who wrote a book with one of the “Lost Boys” of Sudan. Moved by the saga of the more than 20,000 children who fled their civil-war-torn nation two decades ago, and whose family reunions continue today, Millan now puts social justice and humanitarianism at the forefront of her pedagogy. Those themes echo the egalitarian principles that prompted Anthony J. Drexel to found his Drexel Institute.

In another link to our rich past, The Drexel Collection is being brought back to life — both restored as a body of great art, as well as its usefulness as a teaching tool. Among the conservators working on the project to repair and showcase the University’s art collection is Ron Hoppes ’60, a Drexel alumnus who remembers passing the David Rittenhouse Astronomical Musical Clock on his way to class, never dreaming it would figure one day in his professional life.

We probably cannot perfectly forecast the ways that Drexel alumni and the University community will impact our world for the better, but we can be assured that — in so many instances — those contributions will be extraordinary.


John A. Fry / President