Mary S. Irick Drexel Society
This society comprises prominent Drexel University alumni, all of whom are recipients of the Mary S. Irick Drexel Award—Drexel’s oldest, continually awarded alumni honor. The award, named in honor of Mrs. George W. Childs Drexel and first awarded in 1932, has traditionally been given to an outstanding alumnus/a of the Goodwin, formerly Evening, College.
Alumni recipients are vetted by active members of the Irick Society. Criteria for selection includes: past contributions of measurable benefit that will enhance and perpetuate the work of Drexel today and into the future; personal attainments reflecting credit to the University; contributions to civic and community life; a continuing, active interest/participation in Drexel activities and in its development in all areas.
Mary S. Irick Drexel became the Director of the Red Cross Canteen Service in Philadelphia during the First World War and was known for her charity and humanitarian work. George W. Childs Drexel, the youngest child of AJ Drexel, decided he would create an award that would highlight and encourage a continuation of such activities among alumni.
Drexel University founder Anthony J. Drexel started his own business at 13, and understood the value of professional skills and training. He was instrumental in the creation of Drexel's Evening College in 1892; he believed strongly in giving individuals who worked during the day an opportunity to earn a quality education at night.
George Childs Drexel was the ninth and youngest child of Drexel University founder Anthony J. Drexel. From 1894-1902, he was owner and publisher of The Public Ledger, Philadelphia's most prominent newspaper. As a successful businessman himself, he shared his father's passion for professional training through the Evening College.
In 1932, George set out to establish an award to honor his wife, Mary S. Irick Drexel. He was so impressed with the accomplishments of the alumni of the Evening College (now Goodwin College of Professional Studies), he decided that the recipient would be a member of this community. Childs Drexel determined that the Evening College's dean would select the candidates, and the award would be presented at a College meeting at the end of the academic year. The Mary S. Irick Drexel Awards continued in this fashion through the administrations of Laura S. Campbell, Kenneth W. Riddle and Stanley Gwiazda, who retired in 1987.
The committee organizing the awards ceremony restructured it in 1989 in an effort to create a strong community of alumni who were actively engaged in Drexel's Evening College. The Mary S. Irick Drexel Society was born, with a focus on honoring prominent alumni with strong ties to the Evening College.