Remembering the Legacy of Drexel’s Myers Hall — and Harold M. Myers
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.
Myers Hall, a Drexel University dormitory that has housed generations of students, will close its doors forever this fall. Preparation for the removal of Myers Hall will begin this September, with the next few months spent inventorying the building and its contents in order to salvage any infrastructure, furniture or materials that can be repurposed or recycled. Demolition is expected to take place over the summer of 2018.
The land upon which Myers Hall was built will then be transformed into a unique green space on campus. The closure of the historic Drexel building represents one of the first major steps in the University’s long-term strategy for public spaces, as presented in the 2012-2017 Campus Master Plan.
In honor of the dormitory’s upcoming removal, DrexelNow takes a look at the history of Myers Hall as well as the man for whom it is named: Harold M. Myers ’38, Hon. ’83, who graduated from Drexel and then worked for the University until 1982, leaving only to serve in World War II and the Korean War. He came out of retirement in 1987 when he was appointed interim president.
As a student majoring in commerce, Myers joined the Alpha Upsilon Mu fraternity, serving as historian during his sophomore year, secretary during his junior year and president during his senior year. He also held formal positions as the manager of the basketball team and the business manager of Drexel’s independent student newspaper, The Triangle, among other positions in student organizations. His involvement and engagement with a variety of different organizations foreshadowed his long, wide-ranging career at Drexel, as well as his civic interests off campus.
After graduation, Myers served as an instructor in the Department of Co-operative Education and the director of graduate placement for five years. He left Drexel in the spring of 1942 to serve as lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy in World War II. In 1946, Myers returned to campus as the assistant dean of men and director of the Student Building (now the Creese Student Center) from 1946–51. He was then called to 18 months of active duty in the Korean War, which would be the last time he’d leave Drexel for another 30 years.
Upon coming back to campus, Myers served as the dean of men (Drexel’s youngest dean at 37) from 1952–55. He then moved up the ranks to become treasurer (1955–57), vice president and treasurer (1957–1980) and then senior vice president of University Relations (1980–82). He retired in 1982 and was awarded the degree of Doctor of Science, Honoris Causa in 1983. In 1984, he was granted “Life Trustee” status on Drexel’s Board of Trustees. Off campus, he held leadership positions as president of the Union League of Philadelphia and honorary chairman of the Philadelphia Council of the Boy Scouts of America, among other positions and participation in local organizations.
It’s no wonder, then, that the University named a dormitory for Myers long before he was named its president. As Drexel’s vice president and treasurer, Myers played a leading role in getting the University’s fourth dormitory built — all the while not knowing that it would later be named in his honor. Originally called “the New Residence” or “the New Res,” Myers Hall was opened in 1977 as one of the 21 total buildings erected during Drexel’s construction boom from 1960–1980 (for reference, just eight buildings had been constructed in Drexel’s first seven decades).
In 1984, “the New Residence” was renamed Myers Residence Hall, with a plaque of dedication listing his professional accomplishments at Drexel placed at the entrance of the dormitory. At the time, it was the only building on Drexel’s campus named for a living person. Later, Myers was voted by his peers to serve as interim president from 1987 to 1988, becoming president emeritus in 1989. That made Myers Hall the only residence hall and one of just six buildings on campus named in honor of a Drexel president.
Myers, who died in 2004, became the first Drexel alum to serve as interim president — C. R. “Chuck” Pennoni ’63, ’66, Hon. ’92, would follow suit in from 1994–95 and again in 2009–10. Even more unique is the fact that Myers, a student-turned-administrator-turned-University-president, was on campus for all three of Drexel’s name changes: he took classes as a student at the Drexel Institute of Art, Science and Industry, graduated from and was hired at the Drexel Institute of Technology and later became president of Drexel University.
DrexelNow salutes Myers the man’s six decades of service as well as Myers the building’s five decades of service to improving Drexel in any and all possible ways. There has been a solid, steadfast and loyal Myers on campus for nine out of 12 decades of Drexel’s existence.