January 13, 2012 by Sandra Petri
The LeBow College of Business lost an important member of its community when Vice Dean Thomas J. Hindelang died of an apparent heart attack in his office Dec. 8.
Hindelang joined the Drexel staff in 1973 and served as a professor, vice dean and mentor to many members within the college.
Sometimes referred to as the father of the finance department, which he founded, Hindelang was much more than just a professor or administrator. Even after he stopped teaching courses, he continued teaching through his creation of the Center for Teaching Excellence. He approached Dean George Tsetsekos with the idea eight years ago and then started working on organizing and running the Center.
“Professor Hindelang’s focus was [on] how to develop better teachers, to help the students, to guide them through the education process and also through their careers. He believed firmly that it’s very important to share good teachers, to become teachers of other faculty so that all of us can be better teachers in order to do an outstanding job in the classroom for our students,” Tsetsekos said.
Dana D’Angelo, a clinical professor of general business, had Hindelang as a professor while studying for her master’s in business administration at LeBow in the early 1990s. After establishing that initial connection, he became her mentor and guided her through a career change that landed her back at Drexel.. In her first few months as a professor, Hindelang asked D’Angelo to sit in on some meetings on his behalf.
“He gave me every opportunity. [He] trusted me to be his eyes and ears during those couple weeks, and that time put me in front of this new dean and some department people. It kind of exposed me. I wouldn’t have had those opportunities right away,” she said.
Even with some of her more ridiculous ideas, Hindelang supported D’Angelo. After attending a conference for professors in Boston, she proposed that Drexel should host one of its own. She knew this was no simple task and was wary about pitching the idea to other members of LeBow’s faculty and staff. Hindelang, however, supported her from the start.
“This was one of [my] most outlandish, lofty ideas — a big undertaking. It took seven people 12 months to get this thing together, and he was so supportive,” D’Angelo said.
Jodi Cataline, another LeBow professor, first met Hindelang in her capital budgeting class while completing her undergraduate degree. In the past few years, she was able to develop a closer relationship with him and recounted a day they did a photo shoot together for Market Street, the official magazine of LeBow.
“We ended up taking a walk, and we had pictures taken the whole way. They told us to act natural, and it was so much fun. We thought it was very, very funny. I was giggling the whole time. We had to look as comfortably ridiculous as we could,” Cataline said.
D’Angelo and Cataline agreed that he was always so focused on others and never bragged about any of his impressive accomplishments, which included earning a doctorate from Indiana University and writing a textbook used in capital budgeting courses around the world.
“On our walk back [after the photo shoot], he started telling me about his family. He loved his kids. He was always talking about everybody else and how proud he was of everybody else. He was never egotistical or self-centered,” Cataline said.
In an email sent to the Drexel community Dec. 8, President John A. Fry recognized all of the contributions Hindelang made to the University and how his legacy lives on.
“The sudden loss of a person like Tom leaves a hole in the fabric of our University that will not soon be closed. But I know that we will pull together as a community to support each other and Tom’s family in this time of sadness, and that we will continue to honor his lasting legacy,” Fry wrote.
Anyone struggling with the loss of Hindelang is encouraged to reach out to Drexel’s Counseling Center for support at 215-895-1415 or after regular hours at 215-416-3337. The Center also offers a peer counseling helpline open Sunday through Thursday from 8 p.m. to midnight. For more information about crisis counseling, visit drexel.edu/studentlife/ch.