Toni McMenamin’s Legacy Lives On
Antonia “Toni” McMenamin grew up in the Lawndale section of Philadelphia and graduated from St. Basil Academy in Jenkintown. She earned a Bachelor’s degree from Gettysburg College.
She and her husband met on a blind date and married in 1960. She helped him and her brother, Robert Wetzel, operate the two Wetzel & Son Funeral Homes in Philadelphia until 1985, when she became an advisor in the academic-achievement program at Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science, now Philadelphia University.
Toni joined Drexel’s administrative staff in 1987. She worked with Drexel libraries when she first came to the University. In 1991, McMenamin became an advisor to students in Drexel’s new Honors Program. In 2003, Drexel established the Pennoni Honors College, and she was named Assistant Dean two years later. She also advised Drexel’s Cambodian and Vietnamese Unions and Young Republicans.
Mark Greenberg, Provost of Drexel University, explains Toni’s work ethic and how she strove to always put students first. “She would spend a lot of time talking with students about life choices, about a philosophy of living, about how to handle their work, if they were upset about a personal issue.”
David Raizman, a Professor in the Department of Art and Art History, echoed Greenberg’s sentiments. “Students First was Toni’s golden rule, and that was long before Drexel had an initiative here that was called ‘Students First.’ I mean, they could have named it for her — that’s how much of a motto it was for everything she did.”
Toni passed away in May of this year after a long battle with cancer. She will be remembered as one of the most dedicated and influential administrators and mentors in Drexel’s history. In order to preserve her memory, her family has established the Toni McMenamin Award for Putting Students First. This award will be directed annually to an individual employee of the Pennoni Honors College who best exemplifies the principles Toni embodied during her illustrious career.