The first dean of men, J. Peterson Ryder, had a penchant for punctuality, standing in the court, pocket-watch in hand, spurring on students late to class. He provided funds for the clock in the Great Court, inscribed with “Be on Time.”
The music to the University’s school song was written by organist
James M. Dickinson, with lyrics by a young Library School student,
Virginia Carter Castleman, Class of 1899:
Hail, Drexel, hail to thee,
accept our praise.
To you this joyful song thy children raise.
Drexel is in our eyes like a guiding star;
Bright with illuming rays, shining afar.
Splendid in beauty sure, wave our
Proclaiming truth with blue;
great worth with gold.
Now, as our music swells, rings this
Hail, Drexel, hail to thee!
Our star shines strong.
Me at the Dragon Statue
“Mario the Magnificent,” the bronze statue of the school
mascot, the Drexel dragon, is the work of renowned Philadelphia
sculptor Eric Berg. The statue and the Drexel Dragon Park at 33rd
and Market Streets were dedicated on December 4, 2002; donations
funded the artwork. Mario is 14 feet long, 10 feet high and weighs
4,100 pounds, on a 17-ton granite base. He is an easily visible
landmark at which people can meet, especially when they are unfamiliar
with the campus.
The Dragon has been the school’s mascot for nearly 80 years;
there seems to be no special reason for its selection other than its
obvious alliterative appeal. The Dragon represents ferocity and combativeness,
desirable qualities in a mascot. Before they became Dragons, the school’s
sports teams had been known by a variety of names, including the Blue
& Gold, the Engineers and the Drexelites. The first published
reference to the Drexel Dragons appears in a 1928 edition of The Triangle,
in an article on the football team; a dragon logo appears on the jerseys
of the men’s basketball team in a photo in the 1929 Lexerd.
Your Mark - Lancaster Walk
In 2001, Student Life began honoring incoming classes with dragon
claw plaques on Lancaster Walk. The bronze plaques are presented at
the end of New Student Week to encourage students to "Make Your
Mark" at Drexel.
H. D. Cady, class of 1896, wrote that his school pin was “the regular design used when the Institute opened its doors fifty years ago. The colors, orange and silver, were the colors in those days.” In the early 1920s, the Athletic Association adopted blue and gold for Drexel teams. Later, the University’s Board of Trustees approved the colors “gold with blue.”
In 1895, Drexel's first President, James MacAlister, would often cancel classes and allow Drexel students to go to Cramps Shipyard along the Delaware River to watch the war ships set sail. In honor of this long lost tradition, the Drexel Traditions Program started a new one where undergraduate seniors now celebrate their accomplishments with an annual party afloat on the Delaware River on the Moshulu
& Gold Days
Alumni and special friends gather during Blue & Gold Days each spring, celebrating reunions, sharing memories, seeing campus improvements and expansion and engaging in social and sports events.
Drexel Fight Song
The Drexel Fight Song was written by Gay V. Piercy '39 and Todd Groo '41. It first appeared in print in a 1938 edition of the Drexel Athletic News. In the 1950s, the song was recorded by the Drexel Bands and combined Glee Clubs. The recording was lost but rediscovered in 2006; since then, the song has been revitalized and the spirited tune is once again an important part of Drexel pride and tradition.
Created in 1991, this group consists of the University’s most successful living alumni, recognized for their professional accomplishments. New inductions are made every two years.
“The Water Boy,” one of The
Drexel Collection’s proudest treasures, is by Frédéric-Auguste
Bartholdi (1834-1904), the French sculptor of the Statue of Liberty.
Originally called “The Alsatian Vintner,” the statue was
designed as a fountain with a stream of water pouring from the cask
into the boy’s mouth. While an aged patina covers the statue,
the right toe remains a shining bronze—generations of Drexel
students passing through the Main Building’s Great Court have
rubbed the toe for good luck in exams.
Cyrus H.K. Curtis, the publisher of The Saturday Evening Post, purchased
the large pipe organ built for Philadelphia’s Sesquicentennial
Exposition of 1926, and presented it to the University of Pennsylvania.
William Sylvane Thunder, the organist at Drexel and at Curtis’s
suburban residence, suggested that Curtis might present a similar
organ to Drexel. When Curtis asked how much it would cost, Thunder,
having never considered the matter, blurted out, “$40,000.”
Mr. Curtis promptly replied, “Have it installed.” In 1928,
the Austin Organ Company of Hartford, Conn. installed in the Drexel
Main Building Auditorium a 70-rank, four-manual instrument, according
to Thunder’s specifications. The organ is maintained by an annual
gift of Mary Louise (Mrs. Efrem) Zimbalist, daughter of Mr. Curtis.
Left to right: Anthony J. Drexel, founder of the Drexel Institute
of Art, Science and Industry; Constantine Hering, Jacob Jeanes,
Walter Williamson, founders of Homeopathic College of Pennsylvania
(later Hahnemann Medical College); William J. Mullen, founder of
Female Medical College (later Woman’s Medical College and
Medical College of Pennsylvania).
and Founders Day
Convocation and Founders Day honors the legacy of Anthony J. Drexel as well as the founders of Medical College of Pennsylvania and Hahnemann University, the predecessors of the Drexel University College of Medicine. As part of the same ceremony, Convocation welcomes new faculty to the University, and the Provost’s Medal for Excellence is awarded to a student.
At this ritual during the first week of school at the Drexel University College of Medicine, alumni present new medical students with their first white coat. The theme is professionalism, and the students recite the Hippocratic Oath for the first time. In their third year, they go through a similar rite, the Clinician’s Ceremony, reciting the ancient oath once again.
Thompson Sailor Suit
“A Parisian Wedding” (1880), a painting by Julius L. Stewart (1855-1919) in the Paul Peck Alumni Center, purportedly depicts the marriage of a Drexel family member. The boy at the base of the steps is wearing a Peter Thompson Sailor Suit, very popular with young girls and boys at the time, and supposedly designed by an English tailor in America for Anthony J. Drexel’s son George. ::back::
When John D. Lankenau needed money to finish his hospital, he went to his brother-in-law, Anthony J. Drexel. Drexel said he would give Lankenau the needed money if, in turn, Lankenau would will his painting collection to Drexel Institute. Many Lankenau paintings hang in the Antoinette and Ray Westphal Picture Gallery along with paintings from Drexel family homes.
of Anthony J. Drexel
Moses Ezekiel (1844-1917) crafted the bronze statue of Anthony J. Drexel in 1904. On the University’s 75th Anniversary, it was moved from Fairmount Park to 33rd and Market Streets, and it was moved in 2003 to its present site overlooking the pedestrian plaza at 32nd and Market. Kenneth Matheson, Drexel’s president from 1922 through 1931, was reported by his son (later a Drexel dean himself) to have snapped to attention before the statue when passing through Fairmount Park, saluting it as he had seen Alexander Van Rensselaer (Anthony J. Drexel’s son-in-law) do before. Ever after, the Matheson offspring waved to the statue when they passed by.
Tall-Case Astronomical Clock
Philadelphia’s most noted astronomer and mathematician during the 18th century, David Rittenhouse (1732-1796), built this clock in 1773. With 16 sets of chimes that play 10 tunes, it is regarded as the most important clock in America. The widow of George W. Childs, publisher of The Public Ledger, donated the clock to Drexel Institute of Art, Science and Industry in 1894; it is exhibited in the Anthony J. Drexel Picture Gallery in the Main Building.