A Message from the President for the New Academic Year — September 13, 2011
To the Drexel Community:
I had an extremely fulfilling first year at Drexel, and it's my pleasure to report to you on the University's accomplishments and milestones in 2010-11 and look ahead to the year to come.
When I had the honor to take office as Drexel's 14th president last summer, I knew I was joining a great institution. But I was still surprised by the remarkable momentum that pushes our University forward. That momentum is a credit to every person who studies, teaches or works here, and it makes me very confident that we'll successfully tackle the priorities we identify in the strategic plan we are now crafting together.
The strategic planning process continues. By early 2012, we expect to complete an academic plan, an enrollment plan, a campus master plan for facilities and space and a capital campaign plan that will guide our fundraising over the next three to four years. This strategic plan will be an important milestone, made possible by the contributions of our students, faculty and professional staff.
In the meantime, Drexel is pursuing several broad goals that I articulated at my inauguration this past April: to increase our impact on our neighborhood's well-being and our region's economic growth; to use our strengths to take on problems that are challenging our society's health and prosperity; and to complete the transformation of Drexel into a global university. I am proud to say that our achievements in 2010-11 moved us closer to those goals.
Drexel's backbone is its academic enterprise—teaching students and preparing them professionally, finding new knowledge and ways to apply that knowledge, and innovating in the classroom, the lab and clinical settings. I have been exceptionally impressed with all aspects of the University's academics.
I had the honor in June of presiding over Drexel's 124th Commencement ceremonies, my first as president. More than 5,000 outstanding graduates, including nearly 100 at the inaugural ceremony for our Sacramento Center for Graduate Studies, received degrees and embarked on a wide variety of exciting futures. Scientists and engineers, doctors and nurses, lawyers and business leaders, teachers and librarians, designers and architects—I am proud of these professionals and scholars and the roles they are prepared to play in society. As just one measure of the quality of today's Drexel students, the University last year saw more students and faculty named Fulbright and Goldwater Scholars and NSF National Graduate Research Fellows than ever before in our history.
We attract great students because we offer a great educational experience. We have just learned that Drexel is ranked 88th in the category of "Best National Universities" for 2012 by U.S. News & World Report, our fourth consecutive year in the top 100. We remain one of only two top-100 universities in Philadelphia, and one of six in Pennsylvania. Drexel also ranked No. 6 on the U.S. News list of schools most often cited by university administrators nationwide as making "the most promising and innovative changes in the areas of academics, faculty, student life, campus, or facilities." Drexel has been in the top 10 each of the four years this list has been published.
Drexel's growth into a comprehensive national university saw another milestone last month when our Earle Mack School of Law received full accreditation from the American Bar Association. The law school has progressed from a great idea to a respected leader in legal education in barely six years, and accreditation represents an outstanding achievement.
Our faculty members are both wonderful teachers and productive scholars and researchers. Drexel's research enterprise received sponsored research funding of $119.4 million in FY2011. Research expenditures increased by 1 percent to $114.6 million, and indirect costs recovered increased by 4.5 percent. This recovery on sponsored projects and contracts allows Drexel to build, maintain and operate our research facilities.
Perhaps the biggest win for our research enterprise last year was the $10 million grant we received from the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation to help us establish a $20 million endowment for translational research in biomedical engineering. This major milestone will help us meet society's need for innovative solutions by moving healthcare discoveries into the commercial and clinical spheres where they can save lives. It will also catalyze economic growth in the region by furthering Philadelphia's status as a national hotbed of medical device development.
Our affiliation with the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia is another historic achievement, one that can transform academics at Drexel and our role in Philadelphia and the world. We now have the opportunity to take a national leadership role in environmental science and environmental policy, and grow the scope, capacity and reputation of the natural sciences at the University. Together, Drexel and the Academy can compete more effectively for public and private research investment in important areas such as environmental protection, biodiversity, global ecosystem interactions and sustainability. We will begin to see the impact of this affiliation this year.
This spring I led a Drexel delegation to China to work on expanding our global academic relationships. While there, I signed a joint training agreement to create an international biomedical engineering doctoral program in partnership with Shanghai Jiao Tong University, a top public research institution with nearly 43,000 students including more than 24,000 graduate students. This fall I will travel back to China to sign a comprehensive joint research agreement with the prestigious Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Academic and Clinical Medicine
The College of Medicine remains a key component of Drexel's success as a comprehensive university, despite a significant cut in funding from Pennsylvania which we were able to partially reverse. The College's core M.D. degree program is one of the nation's most popular, while its complementary professional and biomedical studies added six new degree or certificate programs last year, including the nation's only M.S. degree in histotechnology. The excellence of our faculty as caregivers is demonstrated by the inclusion of 51 Drexel physicians in the most recent Philadelphia Magazine "Top Docs," and a top-40 ranking from U.S.News & World Report for heart care and heart surgery at Hahnemann University Hospital, where Drexel cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons are responsible for most patient care. And an ongoing improvement of clinical facilities included major renovation of the College's largest medical office building, the Berman Building at 219 N. Broad Street, and the purchase of and renovations at the 1427 Vine Street building.
Students and employees have seen a number of improvements in their experience of working, studying or living on campus and in the neighborhoods around Drexel, thanks to our dedicated and talented colleagues from Student Life and Administrative Services.
Efforts on behalf of students begin with our newest arrivals, and in the summer of 2011 the Student Orientation program expanded to 10 freshman sessions and welcomed more than 2,700 students and 1,930 family members. Additional events are expected to be attended by 743 transfer students and 378 international students.
Drexel's campus is becoming a more and more desirable place for our students to live and collaborate. We will start 2011-12 with full occupancy of University housing for the second straight year. The Office of Student Life worked with 305 recognized student organizations, an increase of 30 percent over the past four years. Membership in Fraternity and Sorority Life rose by 14 percent last year. And more than 14,000 student events took place, up by 45 percent since 2007. In May we also celebrated the opening of the James E. Marks Intercultural Center, a home for programs and events fostering cultural and religious respect and understanding. The Center embraces Drexel's wide diversity of racial and ethnic backgrounds, political beliefs, socioeconomic status and sexual and gender identities.
Drexel has continued to undertake and complete ambitious capital projects throughout one of the most challenging real estate markets in memory. It's been breathtaking to watch the Papadakis Integrated Sciences Building rise toward completion at the corner of 33rd and Market Streets, and now that it is occupied, we'll begin to see how important this state-of-the-art facility is to our research enterprise. We're also on track with financing to complete the URBN Center of the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design at 3501 Market Street and 3401 Filbert Street, and we've broken ground on the outstanding 12-story facility planned for LeBow College of Business to replace Matheson Hall, financed by a magnificent $45 million gift from alumnus Bennett S. LeBow which we announced last November. Smaller but no less critical projects completed this year include the Library Learning Terrace at the Race Street Residence Hall, a groundbreaking initiative to bring library services to where students live and study; and the newly renovated Admissions Visit Center in the Main Building, adding to the strong impact Drexel makes on prospective students.
Changes to our physical environment are matched by changes to the virtual environment. Last year, Information Resources and Technology unveiled a new DrexelOne Mobile, believed to be the first university mobile portal released simultaneously for Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, Palm webOS and Windows phones. Less than 12 months later, version 2.0 is already nearing release. Use of the University's web content management system continues to grow, with 51 departmental sites now relaunched and 15 more engaged in the redesign process. The Drexel.edu home page and core content were migrated to the system in March, setting the stage for the launch of a revamped home page in May.
Drexel is committed to leading the way in sustainability in university operations. Last winter I had the honor of signing the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment on behalf of the University, and then the pleasure of seeing us begin to meet the ACUPCC goals almost immediately. Thanks in part to new agreements to purchase Renewable Energy Certificates equal to 100 percent of our energy use, putting Drexel among the top 50 wind energy purchasers in the nation, we have already met the goal for the year 2050 of an 80 percent reduction of our carbon footprint. Drexel received one of two dozen 2010 Green Power awards for "leadership in energy efficiency" from PennFuture, the Pennsylvania environmental advocacy organization, and was named to Sierra Magazine's 2010 list of "Cool Schools" ranking the greenest campuses in the United States.
Drexel's campus safety improved this year thanks to the strong presence of Public Safety and the Drexel University Police Department. Overall crime reported to Public Safety in the first eight months of 2011 was down 2 percent compared with the same period in 2010, and violent crime was down 32 percent. Security magazine ranked Drexel fourth in the nation for safety among colleges and universities. And Drexel and the University City District have partnered to significantly extend the boundaries we help keep safe.
We are also expecting international accreditation this fall from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) for our police department and communications center. We have received final assessment reports from CALEA for each unit, and they were excellent. Drexel has been invited to the national CALEA conference in mid-November for the final phase of the accreditation process.
The University's academic excellence is complemented by a strong Athletics program. To offer just a couple of examples of success of Drexel's varsity teams, our Field Hockey team was ranked in the preseason national top 20 for the second year in a row, and the Women's Crew varsity eight received the Chairman's Trophy from the Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta in honor of their unprecedented 2010 Sports Council Cup victory at the Henley Royal Regatta in England. We also added Men's Squash and Women's Squash as the newest varsity sports, and both teams will be coached by John White, a former top-ranked professional who previously coached at Franklin & Marshall. Also this fall, we will proudly host the U.S. Open Squash Championships. Drexel's Recreational Athletics program continues to serve all our students well, while the Recreation Center completed its first full year as a vital resource for the Drexel community and the neighborhood.
Drexel has had another outstanding year of student recruitment, despite the economic uncertainty that continues to affect families nationwide. The University welcomes a new class of approximately 3,900 full-time undergraduate students, the largest and one of the most academically qualified in the University's history, for this fall. Of our new freshman, a third graduated in the top 10 percent of their senior class and two thirds in the top 25 percent, and 55 are high school valedictorians or salutatorians.
The class represents 42 states and 54 countries. It will also include 50 new Liberty Scholars, outstanding Philadelphia students with financial need who will receive full tuition-and-fees scholarships. In its second full year, the Liberty Scholars program is the perfect expression of Drexel's commitment to making Philadelphia neighborhoods places of vibrant opportunity.
In my first major address to the University community, at Convocation last October, I challenged us all to work together and with our neighbors to improve the state of the neighborhoods surrounding our campus. I've been gratified to see the response to that challenge.
Our new University and Community Partnerships office is already developing a variety of programs that will leverage Drexel's strengths to the benefit of Powelton Village and Mantua. Early accomplishments included the enriched and geographically expanded Employee Home Purchase Assistance Program, a community greening partnership with Philadelphia Parks and Recreation and the Drexel-PECO Community Education Collaborative, through which the energy company has given $1 million to support our efforts to improve neighborhood schools, and in particular the Powel School.
For long-range impact on our community-building efforts, no event in the past year exceeds the pledge by Philip B. Lindy of $15 million to support our community initiatives and name the Lindy Center for Civic Engagement. Mr. Lindy's gift will help the Center build on the success of its 75 community partnerships and more than 200 civic engagement projects. It will also establish the Lindy Neighbors program, fostering partnerships with the West Philadelphia community to optimize access to health and wellness education and healthy foods. Mr. Lindy's commitment to neighborhood revitalization should be an example and an inspiration to everyone at Drexel.
Financial Strength and Support from Stakeholders
Despite the ongoing economic challenges faced by every organization in America, we can continue to be proud of Drexel's financial performance as managed by the Office of the Senior Vice President for Finance, Treasurer and CFO. The University operates from a base of relative financial strength, and has realized a healthy change in assets in excess of the original budget of $24.2 million for FY2011. The preliminary change in net assets is $138.6 million. And our endowment has grown to $536.5 million as of June 30, 2011, up 20.8 percent from the end of FY2010.
Support for Drexel from a wide variety of stakeholders remains strong. The Wallace H. Coulter Foundation was among a number of foundations to offer support to our scholarly activities. Government and Community Relations helped secure state and federal funding including grants from Pennsylvania's Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program totaling nearly $20 million to support our major building initiatives, and a $2 million line item in President Obama's FY2012 budget supporting the Applied Communication and Information Networking (ACIN) program. And Drexel's faculty and professional staff continue to be partners in our success, with the number of participants in the Why I Give employee fundraising campaign up more than 5 percent over last year to more than 1,600.
The year was also marked by several transformative philanthropic commitments. The highlights were Philip Lindy's $15 million gift for civic engagement initiatives and Ben LeBow's remarkable gift of $45 million, the largest individual gift in University history, to spearhead the construction of the new facility for the LeBow College of Business. Excluding the gift from Mr. LeBow, Drexel raised more than $70 million in FY2011, only the second time we have crossed that threshold.
Institutional Advancement continues to build strong relationships with a number of key audiences for Drexel. The University's creative approach to alumni engagement was demonstrated by events like the Global Night of Networking in May, when more than 300 alumni attended networking happy hours in 38 cities around the world, with 500 more participating via social media. And Institutional Advancement established two new organizations that offer me perspective on governance issues: The Parents Council includes 42 prominent, interested and influential parents of Drexel students, and the Board of Visitors comprises 15 former members of the Drexel Board of Trustees and their peers.
As exciting as this year has been, it is only a prologue to what we hope to accomplish at Drexel. As I mentioned, the coming year will see the completion of the strategic planning process, the implementation of our affiliation with the Academy of Natural Sciences and the full occupancy of the Papadakis Integrated Sciences Building. And 2011-12 will undoubtedly bring new challenges and opportunities that we can't even imagine right now.
I thank all of you for your role in making last year a great year for Drexel. And I look forward to working with you as the new academic year unfolds.
John A. Fry