During a year of unprecedented challenges, the Drexel community has come together in remarkable ways. We’ve taken new and innovative approaches to academic and student life, shifting to remote learning in a matter of weeks, pursuing life-saving research in the face of a global pandemic, and grappling with the great social imperative of our time — to foster a safe and welcoming environment for all, rededicated to overcoming prejudice and committed to racial justice.
When I recorded a recent video update to the Drexel community in the Great Court of the Main Building where our University was founded in 1891, I suggested that viewers picture in their mind’s eye this historic building once more teeming with students, faculty, professional staff and alumni. That image wouldn’t look quite the same as before — because, of course, everyone would be wearing masks and staying at a safe distance.
Now, we are beginning to see that new vision take shape, as we return to campus in greater numbers to teach, to learn, to take us to the next level as an R1 research university and to socialize safely. But while we remained apart from one another for much of the year, we have done everything possible to ensure that Drexel continues to thrive and grow. Throughout this 2020 President’s Report, you will see how Drexel’s academic vigor, its dedication to innovative solutions, diversity of ideas and viewpoints, and its tradition as a caring, humane and civically engaged community have enabled the University not only to manage through the daunting reality of the present, but also to prepare for an even more innovative and inclusive future.
Read Now: A Deep Dive into Drexel’s 2030 Strategic Plan
Naturally, our preference would have been to do all of this while together on the vibrant campus we’ve worked so hard to reimagine in recent years. But as we have found the many ways of teaching and learning while physically apart, we also enacted sweeping protocols to safely resume in-person research by faculty and graduate students, and launch wide-ranging inquiry into the biomedical, epidemiological and socio-economic challenges of COVID-19. And we renewed our collective vow to ensure that racism has no place at Drexel or in the broader community. As a result, our new, 10-year strategic plan, painstakingly developed by our Executive Planning Committee, also establishes racial justice, diversity and inclusion as key measures of success.
More broadly, the strategic plan will strengthen our research capacity and secure Drexel's national leadership in experiential learning as a model for higher education at a time of profound change and disruption. Central to this strategic approach is building on the power of partnerships — from local solutions-based learning and civic engagement with communities and organizations in Philadelphia, to global research collaborations, to deep and productive relationships with a broad array of cross-sector employer-partners.
For all that we plan to achieve in the years ahead, I look ahead with confidence — because of the foundation we have built and the remarkable response of the Drexel community to the historic challenges we faced over the past year.