May 25, 2012 by Alissa Falcone
Drexel President John A. Fry gave the second of four presentations planned to inform the University community about future renovations and expectations from the “Drexel University Strategic Plan 2012-2017” on May 21 in Behrakis Grand Hall.
In a talk titled “Transforming the Modern Urban University: Drexel University Strategic Plan 2012-2017,” Fry outlined the physical and internal changes that the plan would make to Drexel’s campus over the next five years.
The plan, which Fry said “has really been a shared endeavor with 300 people,” was first brought to the public through a series of town hall meetings on various campuses.
Fry touched upon the plan’s “transformational themes” geared toward improving the Drexel experience for students and faculty.
“We have so many assets, and we don’t always push them the right way,” Fry said. “But we’re going to get there because we’re the best team.”
According to Fry, one of the main assets that Drexel University possesses is its tremendously successful co-op program and the fact that few other institutions actually offer co-op programs.
“We have a lead, but let’s not just protect the lead — let’s exploit the lead and push it forward,” he said.
Fry plans on expanding the co-op offerings locally, nationally, and most importantly, globally. Fry said that only 3 to 4 percent of all Drexel co-ops take place internationally, and he wants that figure to increase to 15 to 20 percent.
Drexel’s international partnerships in Israel, China and Turkey were also credited with helping expand Drexel’s reach abroad and improving Drexel’s international reputation for both potential students and research opportunities.
Fry also mentioned and suggested areas of improvement for Drexel’s alternative education methods, such as the hybrid and online classes. Though Drexel was one of two recipients of the 2010 Sloan Consortium Award for Excellence in Institution-Wide Online Education, the University plans to refocus and expand Drexel’s e-learning department. The Strategic Plan will also offer more hybrid classes on Drexel campuses to make Drexel one of the premier providers of hybrid education.
The Strategic Plan’s physical improvements to Drexel include what Fry called the “innovation neighborhood” program, which will utilize Philadelphia’s location to Drexel’s advantage.
Fry likened Philadelphia to the 50-yard line of the East Coast, with New York and Washington being the end zones. He also mentioned Philadelphia’s location in relation to 30th Street Station, which is the second busiest train station in the country, and said that it was “a great gift and an asset” that Drexel owns unused land close to the station.
“We know how to build — that’s an easy thing to do. But why not build and make this an educational gateway for Philadelphia?” he said. “We own the land, and I think we could have the vision.”
Fry also announced that an Office of Corporate Partnerships will be created this summer, though the plans have not yet been finalized. The office would extend relationships and developments already in place through the Steinbright Career Development Center, the Office of Institutional Advancement, Drexel e-Learning, and the Office of Research.
The idea for the center came when Fry met with the CEO of The Vanguard Group in the company’s cafeteria. The CEO pointed out several Drexel students who worked there on co-op and complimented the way they were contributing to the company. However, Fry noticed that a St. Joseph’s University building housing the university’s master’s program in business administration was held was in close proximity, and he wanted Drexel to become more connected in the region.
The next presentation of “Transforming the Modern Urban University: Drexel University Strategic Plan 2012-2017” will take place May 30 from 3:30 to 5 p.m. at Geary Auditorium B on the Center City Campus and will feature a teleconference with the Sacramento Center for Graduate Studies. The final showing will take place May 31 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at the Queen Lane Campus in Auditorium B.