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Drexel Launches Presidential Search

August 4, 2009

The search for a new president has officially begun at Drexel University. Witt/Kieffer, a national executive search firm with an office in Philadelphia, has been retained to assist in recruiting outstanding candidates, announced Drexel chairman Richard A. Greenawalt. Witt/Kieffer ranks among the top 10 executive search firms nationwide and is the single largest firm specializing in senior-level executive search assignments for higher education, healthcare and not-for-profit organizations.

“More than a dozen firms specializing in higher education and not-for-profit searches submitted proposals to be considered to lead Drexel’s presidential search” said Greenawalt. “The search committee reviewed each proposal and is looking forward to working with Witt/Kieffer as the search process moves forward.”

The search follows the death in April of Constantine Papadakis, who had served as president of Drexel since 1995. C.R. “Chuck” Pennoni, former chairman of the Board of Trustees and Drexel alumnus, is currently serving as the University’s interim president. Pennoni served as interim president once before from 1994 to 1995. He received his Drexel bachelor’s (1963) and master’s (1966) degrees in civil engineering, and was recognized with an honorary doctorate from the University in 1992.

A search committee has been formed to represent a cross-section of Drexel constituencies. The members include students, faculty, staff, alumni and trustee representatives. A Web site has been developed to keep Drexel stakeholders informed and share information with interested candidates and the public.

“We are excited at the prospect of finding a leader for the long term to continue Drexel’s remarkable record of excellence,” said Greenawalt, who also serves as the search committee chair.

Pennoni is an ex-officio member of the search committee. Trustees serving on the committee are: Manuel Stamatakis, chairman of the Drexel University College of Medicine; Renee Amoore, founder and president of the Amoore Group, Inc.; James Dougherty, Esq., sole proprietor of Dougherty Law Offices; Denis O’Brien, executive vice president of Exelon and president and CEO of PECO Energy Company; and D. Howard Pierce, former president and CEO of ABB Inc.

Other members of the committee include: Faculty Senate chair Michael Kennedy, Ph.D., professor and program director of Drexel’s Pathway to Health Professions Undergraduate Program; James Herbert, Ph.D., interim head of the Department of Biology, professor of psychology and director of Drexel’s Anxiety Treatment and Research Program; Elizabeth Dale, Ed.D., senior vice president for Institutional Advancement; Robert Falcone, Drexel 2009 graduate and MBA student; Hae Ji Choi, College of Engineering student; and Michael Exler, vice president and general counsel.

For up-to-date information on Drexel’s presidential search, visit

About Drexel In 1891, Philadelphia financier and philanthropist Anthony J. Drexel founded the Drexel Institute of Art, Science and Industry to provide educational opportunities in the “practical arts and sciences” for women and men. As society’s need for technically proficient leaders grew, so did the institution, which became Drexel University in 1970. Today, Drexel enrolls more than 21,500 full and part-time undergraduate and graduate students at its University City Main Campus, Center City Hahnemann Campus, Queen Lane Medical Campus, several satellite sites, and its new Center for Graduate Studies in Sacramento, California.

The arrival in 1995 of the late Drexel President Papadakis ushered in a new era of growth and recognition for the University. During the past 14 years, the University was transformed from a primarily commuter to a residential campus with renovation or construction of eight residence halls. Always considered a leader in technology, in 1983 Drexel became the first university to require all students to have microcomputers. In 2000, Drexel became the first major university to operate a fully wireless campus. The 2001 Yahoo! Internet Life magazine survey ranked Drexel No. 1 in wireless access. And in 2002, the University launched DrexelOne Mobile, the first wireless Web portal service for students.

On July 1, 2002, Drexel formally acquired the former MCP Hahnemann University, which it had managed since 1998. The University now includes the Drexel University College of Medicine, the nation’s largest private medical school, the College of Nursing and Health Professions, and the School of Public Health, one of just two public health schools in Pennsylvania. The creation of the Earle Mack School of Law in 2006 marked the first opening of a law school by a research university in 25 years. These acquisitions in the health care professions, along with the establishment of a law school, position Drexel as a comprehensive research institution of national preeminence.

Drexel’s cooperative education program for undergraduates is one of the nation’s oldest, largest, and most highly regarded. Drexel students alternate periods of on-campus study with full-time employment in related fields involving more than 1,300 employers in business, government, education and the arts in 27 states and 12 foreign countries. The Earle Mack School of Law is one of two law schools in the country to follow a co-operative model. Drexel has been ranked in the category of Best National Universities in “America’s Best Colleges” by U.S.News & World Report. Drexel also ranked second among national private universities in the first U.S. News list of “Schools to Watch,” ranking the nation’s top “up-and-coming schools.”


News Media Contact: Philip Terranova, vice president, University Relations 215-895-2613 or

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