Vince Vidas’ Gift to Drexel’s Athletic Department
In the spring quarter, Vince Vidas (B.S.E.E. '59 M.S.E.E. '64) took his place among the undergraduate students in a class at LeBow. He wasn’t there to earn a grade or receive credit; he attended simply because he wanted to know more about financial management. He learned to play piano in the same way.
After he retired from SEMCOR, Inc., where he was the President and CEO for 32 years, he approached the Settlement Music School in Philadelphia to see if they would give him piano lessons. They said yes. Those lessons continued, and Vidas now practices piano every day.
As an engineering student while at Drexel, Vidas also had an interest in athletics. He played freshman basketball, spent a season on the lacrosse team, and played football in the fall (and was twice named Little All-American). He also had several co-op experiences — moving pianos, for one, but also valuable jobs in engineering that helped prepare him for his leadership role at SEMCOR. And, it was during his first year at Drexel that Mr. Vidas met his future wife, Judy (B.S. ’56).
Many years later, Vidas decided he wanted to ensure that current Drexel students had access to the same opportunities he did, as well as additional opportunities for learning outside of the classroom. “I was somewhat successful in the business world and felt there were things I could do for Drexel that would help the students.” Vidas and Athletic Director Eric Zillmer worked together to come up with a plan that would put his philanthropy to good use. Today, Mr. Vidas’ gifts to the Athletics Department have significantly impacted all aspects of the program—from the athletic field to the basketball and lacrosse teams, to the athletic club. The Vidas Athletic Complex is named in honor of his extraordinary generosity. His most recent commitment of $1 million is one of the largest single gifts ever received by the Athletics Department.
When asked about the differences between the Drexel of 50 years ago and the Drexel he sees today, Vidas does not hesitate. “The transformation is astounding. In the 13 years that President Papadakis has been at Drexel, we’ve seen a revolution of change.”
When asked what advice he has for today’s Drexel students, Vidas answers quickly. “I hope students realize this is just the beginning of their education,” he says. “And I also hope they find an education outside of the classroom. It doesn’t necessarily have to be in sports, but I think they must have something more to participate in so they can have the total experience while at Drexel — social as well as educational.” He pauses. “And I believe sincerely that if I have anything that I can give to make sure that happens, well, then, that’s what I want to do.”