October 24, 2014 by Op-Ed
My colleague and friend Robert Zaller, whose observations are always of interest, seems to have gotten it wrong with respect to the newly designed Drexel campus in his editorial of Oct. 10. He writes that “[t]he plaza in front of MacAlister-Creese, which, granted, was a concrete wilderness, has now become an equally unbecoming concrete playground with chairs and tables set out for casual dining or whatever …” He laments that the construction site for the new area bore the slogan “Live. Dine. Shop,” instead of “Study. Learn. Educate.”
I disagree. Far from inhibiting education, the newly configured Drexel spaces are supportive of it. It used to be that any foray outside our buildings meant entering a wasteland. There was nowhere for students, staff and faculty to congregate; no congenial restaurants and coffee shops; no places to discuss the mysteries of the universe, an idea for a new app, or the prospects facing the Eagles. Now, you see such gatherings and hear such conversations all the time. This is due to the transformation of Drexel’s indoor and outdoor spaces.
Drexel is an urban university. It has grown rapidly in recent years. Beautifying it has been a challenge. Yet I think great strides have been made. What we have now is an inviting campus that doesn’t try to disguise its urban nature in pretentious, Ivory Tower architecture.
The slogan “Live. Dine. Shop.” is not antithetical to “Study. Learn. Educate.” In our current society, a university that acknowledges the appeal of these first imperatives is more likely to lead students to the second.
Paula Marantz Cohen
Dean, Pennoni Honors College
Distinguished Professor of English