Employee Spotlight: Barbara Hornum and George King
May 22, 2017
This article is part of the DrexelNow “Faces of Drexel” series honoring Drexel’s history as part of the University-wide celebration of the 125th anniversary of Drexel’s founding in 1891.
In 1966, Drexel was celebrating its 75th anniversary and two employees, Barbara Hornum, PhD, and George King, were hired to serve in two different positions in two different areas of the then-Drexel Institute of Technology. Fifty years later, as the University commemorates its 125th anniversary, Hornum, an associate professor in the Anthropology Department of the College of Arts and Sciences, and King, lead groundskeeper of grounds maintenance in Drexel’s Grounds Department, are still on campus — and celebrating an important milestone of their own.
When Hornum started, there were only two anthropology courses taught at Drexel. She developed courses in both anthropology and sociology, which she taught at introductory and intermediate levels to students outside of the discipline. Some of those classes, like “Societies in Transition,” are still being taught today. Likewise, Hornum has kept in touch or remained friends with some of the students she taught from her early days on campus.
Hornum also served as associate provost for undergraduate affairs from 1996 to 2002 and then founded the Drexel Center for Academic Excellence, which she directed during its existence from 2005 to 2016, to improve professional and academic experiences for Drexel’s faculty. She was a member of the Faculty Council, the precursor of today’s Faculty Senate, and served on the first senate as chair of the faculty affairs committee and as senate chair from 2003 to 2005 and 2009 to 2013.
Looking back, she is pleased to see how Drexel, its Anthropology Department and its students have grown over the past 50 years.
“I think it’s been wonderful,” she said. “When I look at my classes now, they are so much more diverse in terms of gender, ethnicity, discipline and where they come from, either in America or internationally. That diversity encourages lively classes and great discussions that show different points of view.”
The University’s campus has greatly changed during that time — and King would know. When he began as a janitor at the Drexel Activities Center (now the Creese Student Center), Drexel only had 11 buildings. Since then, the University City Campus has added or renovated 15 buildings and acquired so many more, which King saw firsthand after he transferred to Grounds Development in 1982.
“The quality in both the campus facilities and university status has improved greatly,” he said. “The biggest changes have been in construction. To see designs change from orange brick buildings to steel and glass is fun to witness.”
King, who never is late or calls out, attributes his hard work effort and longevity on campus to not wanting to sit around at home, which is why he enjoys coming to a place he has grown to love. Drexel became a little more like home too when one of his two daughters attended the University. And now, he still has his Drexel family on campus too.
“I am most proud of being here long enough to have seen the campus grow up around me and to have been a part of the resurgence of Drexel,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed every year of it and all of the people I’ve met along the way.”
This piece first appeared in Drexel Quarterly's Spring 2017 issue.