Drexel and the Academy of Natural Sciences

This afternoon I will have the great privilege of joining George Gephart, president and CEO of the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and Pew Charitable Trusts president and CEO Rebecca Rimel, among others, for a momentous announcement: Drexel University and the Academy of Natural Sciences have signed a letter of intent to undertake a historic affiliation between the two organizations.

The Academy of Natural Sciences is the nation's oldest natural sciences research institute, one of the region's leading resources for science education and a global leader in high-quality research. In short, it is an institution whose strengths complement Drexel's.

This affiliation offers Drexel the opportunity to take a national leadership role in environmental science and environmental policy, and grow the scope, capacity and reputation of the natural sciences at the University. It connects our stellar faculty to resources that will help them make even greater contributions to the natural and environmental sciences, and moves the University, and particularly our College of Arts and Sciences, to the next level in research and teaching.

Together, Drexel and the Academy can compete more effectively for public investment from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, as well as private funding from foundations and philanthropists involved in important research areas such as environmental degradation, biodiversity, global ecosystem interactions and sustainability. Already, the Pew Charitable Trusts has committed a $1 million planning grant for the affiliation to explore how best to leverage the strengths of both our organizations.

Our students will see a wide variety of new learning opportunities. They will have access to the Academy's outstanding scientists and its invaluable collections. We also foresee new opportunities for them to learn while working at the Academy, through our co-op program.

And our affiliation with one of the world's great science museums, in one of the world's premier cultural destinations, Philadelphia's Benjamin Franklin Parkway, will help Drexel better fulfill its potential to be a major cultural and economic force in the region.

The Academy had sought a university partner to help it take advantage of its strengths and continue to grow, and we are proud that Drexel was its first choice. Drexel is ready and excited to take up its role in providing stewardship for the Academy, one of Philadelphia's most historic and impactful institutions, on the eve of its 200th anniversary.

The Academy will continue to operate with its own board and endowment, as a not-for-profit subsidiary of the University. In this arrangement, the Academy's president, George Gephart, will report to me, and I will serve on the Academy's board, along with other colleagues from Drexel.

A formal affiliation agreement will be finalized for approval over the next several months. And with that, the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University will become a reality.

Please join me in celebrating an important day in the distinguished histories of Drexel and the Academy, and a great milestone for science and culture in Philadelphia.


John A. Fry

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