Mourning the Loss of Dean Penny Hammrich, School of Education

Dear Students and Colleagues,

It is with deep sadness that we share the news of the sudden passing of Penny Hammrich, PhD, Dean and Distinguished University Professor for the School of Education. In her tenure at Drexel, Penny made an indelible impact on the School of Education and was admired and beloved by everyone both in the School and across Drexel.

Penny first came to Drexel in 2010 as a professor and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and was appointed to the role of Dean in 2019. In just three years, Penny grew the School significantly through new academic programs and initiatives. The School added several new labs for faculty and students to collaborate on research in education. Among them are the Lisa and John McNichol Early Childhood Education Lab, which Penny worked to bring from an idea to a reality that has made an impact on pre-K education in Philadelphia and beyond. She also expanded the School’s Student Services department to better meet the needs of students. She paved the path for several non-credit professional development programs through the School’s Education Passport initiative, which allows working professionals to earn digital badges and microcredentials beyond their degree.

More importantly, however, was the impact Penny made on her colleagues and students at Drexel. Penny always said that the School of Education was her family. Her door was always open for faculty, professional staff and students, and she would do anything she could to help them overcome whatever obstacle they faced.

Academically, Penny was published over 150 times throughout her career and was the Principal Investigator on more than 35 research grants totaling over $30 million. She began her career as a K-12 science teacher and always had a strong passion for science education. Prior to Drexel, she served as Dean of the School of Education at Queens College in New York City and Professor of Science Education and Founding Associate Dean of Research at Temple University.

As a gentle reminder to those seeking support during this time, Drexel offers numerous support resources. To schedule an appointment with a counselor, students can call 215.895.1415 or email; faculty, professional staff and graduate students can connect with a live SupportLinc representative by calling 1.888.881.5462.

Sarah Ulrich, Associate Dean of Teacher Education and Undergraduate Affairs, has agreed to step in and provide leadership for the School of Education in the near term, until decisions are made about an interim dean.

We are grateful for the many contributions Penny made to our community over the past 12 years, and will profoundly miss her as a leader, colleague and friend. Our hearts go out to her family, friends and all who knew and loved her.


John Fry

Paul E. Jensen
Executive Vice President
Nina Henderson Provost

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