For a better experience, click the Compatibility Mode icon above to turn off Compatibility Mode, which is only for viewing older websites.

Westphal at the Dornsife

January 10, 2017

Our College has taken to heart President John Fry’s strategic objective of Drexel becoming the most civically engaged university in the nation and we are proud of a number of collaborations our faculty and students are doing with The Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships. The Dornsife Center, whose mission is to be a neighborhood resource that offers stakeholder-driven programming that supports the health, wellness and stability of the neighborhoods that surround Drexel University, has been described as an "urban extension center" that offers programming that places Drexel students, faculty and staff alongside community members to solve problems and improve life in West Philadelphia. In partnership with the Dornsife Center, leading Westphal faculty from our Dance, Music, Theatre, Design & Merchandising, and Music Industry programs are now offering ongoing programming to the residents of Mantua and Powelton.

The Dance Program is in its third year at the Dornsife Center. Drexel undergraduate and graduate students from multiple majors of study including Dance, Dance Movement Therapy, and Education co-teach multiple styles of dance classes. Drexel students and alumni teach nine classes per week for youth, adults and seniors. Participants can enroll in classes in hip hop, ballet, choreography, jazz, creative movement, senior dance fitness and more. The Dance at the Dornsife Center Program marked the conclusion of the fall 2016 session with an informal performance for families. Dance Major Kate Alaine Algarme reflected on an experience with two 11-year-old students in a choreography class saying, “I loved learning their choreography. I admire how sure they are in making creative decisions. This was another reminder of the confidence I want to bring to my work as a student and artist. For more information on Dance at the Dornsife Center classes, please contact Valerie Ifill, Dance Program Director, at

Music Industry Professor, Cyrille Talliander, has lead music recording and production workshops that teach community participants how to make their own music using high tech computer software. Taught by Music Industry students in a lab setting, these workshops introduce participants to modern music recording and production techniques and encourage creativity while fostering music and computer recording proficiency. Professor Talliander was also part of the Dornsife Center’s Writers Room National Endowment for the Art’s Big Read Festival this past year, a series of programming paying tribute to one of the pre-eminent writers of twentieth century African-American literature, Zora Neale Hurston. Tania Isaac, Dance Professor, hosted an Open Notebook workshop as part of the Big Read. 

This Spring, Design & Merchandising Professor Anne Cecil will lead an after school program that offers hands-on experience in making and selling fashion products, and participants will have their designs featured in the March and May D&M Pop-Up Shop. This past fall term students made Kimono's for Mom and held a fashion shoot, turning the images into personal magazine covers. They also created fashion figure holiday cards and utilized the laser cutting technology offered in our Hybrid Lab to create holiday ornaments.

This winter marks the second year of the Music Program at the Dornsife. This past Fall, nine Drexel Music Therapy graduate students from the College of Nursing and Health Professions and four of our undergraduate students gave lessons in guitar, voice and percussion, welcoming over forty elementary through middle school aged students. The Music Therapy graduate students each have professional musical and teaching experience, and are drawn to using their musical talent to serve. The Program is geared toward a bi-directional learning encounter, where the Drexel students learn as much as the community members they teach. "Our goal is to teach the tools that will ultimately be used to articulate the participants culture," states Luke Abruzzo, Music Program Director, "not the other way around."  Are you an undergraduate interested in participating? PRFA 100 is a course that gives Drexel students the opportunity to learn and teach while creating meaningful relationships with the children of Philadelphia. Contact Luke Abruzzo at for more information.