The A.J. Drexel Society Annual Gala hosted over 400 of the University’s “strongest stewards and great friends” Nov. 17 in the Drexel Recreation Center Multipurpose Room in the Daskalakis Athletic Center.
With 400 affiliates of Drexel in the audience, the Protocol Office and the Annual Fund Office worked hand in hand to create an elegant, friendly environment for alumni and donors of the University to gather and get a feel for the way the University is changing and how their contributions make a difference in the community. For some of the donors who have not recently visited campus, there were a myriad of images and descriptions given about recently created facilities, such as the Recreation Center and the URBN Center.
Senior Vice President of Institutional Advancement Elizabeth A. Dale announced that out of the $400 million fundraising goal that the University set for its campaign, “Dream It. Do It. Drexel — A Campaign for the Future,” $353 million have already been raised.
President John A. Fry also took a moment to celebrate the 60-year anniversary of the barcode, which was created by Drexel alumni Bernard Silver and Joseph Woodland in 1952. Widespread influences like this and the potential new uses of robot technology to aid after natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy are examples of the impact that Drexel researchers are perfectly positioned to make, Fry explained.
Two student speakers also shared their experiences at Drexel with the audience. After describing all that Drexel has done for her in her personal ambitions, Raelle C. Brown, class of 2013, smiled as she described how proud she is to be a Drexel student “who can face life like a Dragon.” Brown is studying marketing and entrepreneurship in the LeBow College of Business.
Nicholas V. Grzeczkowski, a neuroengineering major set to graduate in 2014, described how despite his superior academic performance, financial barriers made it a difficult prospect for him to be able to attend Drexel. “I hope to be in your shoes one day and give a Drexel student the same opportunity you’ve given me,” he said to the audience of donors.
The A.J. Drexel Paul Award for Service to Alma Mater was presented to John A. Daskalakis, who most students would recognize as the DAC’s namesake. Fry described him as a “serial entrepreneur” to whom Drexel is “greatly indebted to for his undying Dragon passion.” Daskalakis saw athletics as not only a way to maintain healthy lifestyles but also to be used as a propellant for social change. In the introduction of co-ed flag football at Drexel, the community attitudes about gender and physical capabilities and teamwork are also prompted to be rethought. From the very onset of the University, Anthony J. Drexel was noted for founding a school that both men and women from working families could attend. It seems that Daskalakis found the most likeminded university to make his vision and athletic pursuits a reality. As a result, the graduation rate of students involved in athletics is higher than that of the general student population, “which is a rare thing among American universities,” he said.
The University bought out an entire page of the Philadelphia Inquirer Nov. 16 to show how proud and appreciative they are of Philip B. Lindy, who received the Joseph H. Jacovini Outstanding Service Award at the gala. The award is given to a nonalumnus who has devoted countless hours, expertise, and philanthropic resources to the University.
“This is a real wow,” Lindy said in his acceptance speech. “It is an honor and a privilege to be connected to this University. What a thrill.” In a spirit of gratitude, Lindy went on to share with the audience the Lindy Mathematical Formula of Giving: If you have $100 and give $20 away, you still have $80, plus the connections with the people you’ve invested in, plus the thrill of seeing the people make good use of resources. “The magic is that the $80 becomes $100,” he smiled as he explained excitedly, “I’m the guy that gets all the fun.”
Lindy’s contributions to the development of civic engagement on campus and in the community are the reason why he was chosen for the award. His work with the Lindy Scholars Program, the Lindy Center for Civic Engagement, and his continual pouring of resources into the University community is proof that a single individual with a heart of passion and drive can make the most notable difference.
Janet E. Guthart, Assistant Vice President of Protocol and Special Events, played a vital role in the planning of the gala. Coordinating over 20 student volunteers and tracking the schedule down to the minute, she ensured that the night would go smoothly for each of the guests and made an undying effort to make each individual at the event feel warm, welcomed and appreciated.
“These donors play such a key role in the future success of the University and our students,” she said. “It’s important that we do everything we can to ensure that they have a memorable night.”
Guthart also spoke of the relationships within the Drexel offices and couldn’t be happier to work with an institution where, as Lindy said, “You can feel it in the air that people like working here.”