During a recent era in which many of Drexel’s athletic teams have elevated their programs, the University has elevated and modernized the way it celebrates its past athletes. This winter, Drexel opened a new Hall of Fame to honor its great athletes of the past and maintain a collection of their achievements.
The modern design was unveiled Dec. 5 inside the Drexel Recreation Center with Barry E. and Janet C. Burkholder being honored as the presenters of the gift. It is on display now in the hallway connecting the recreation center and the Daskalakis Athletic Center.
Featured there are four interactive touch screens and a display listing all of the inductees. The Hall of Fame began inducting athletes in 1971, and since then it has celebrated the athletes and greatness of Drexel’s teams in the University’s 117-year history.
The official name of the hall is the Janet C. and Barry E. Burkholder Athletics Hall of Fame. Barry Burkholder is a Drexel graduate, class of 1962, has served on the board of trustees since 1998 and is set to retire this year. In 2012, 50 years after his graduation, he was awarded Drexel’s “Golden Dragon Society Award” for his service as an alumnus. Without their support, the project to complete the hall would not have been possible.
Sean Joyce is the assistant athletics director for external relations at Drexel and has been part of bringing the project to life. He and the department wanted to have a central location that celebrates all of their past athletes in one location for the Drexel community to see.
“We never had a hall of fame before. We had just had oil paintings going back to our first hall-of-fame class in 1971,” Joyce said. “So we really never had a place that we [could] showcase our history of athletics; it was just sporadically throughout the DAC.”
Joyce and Drexel had worked for a few years on this project before landing on the perfect location: a connection between the past and present at Drexel, between the public and the Drexel body.
“Our goal for the last two years was to work on this project, and we thought this was a prime space,” Joyce said. “We have over 3,500 people go in this space every day, and it’s open to the public and it’s a really cool place to showcase the history of Drexel athletics.”
As a school that is typically ahead of the technology curve, Drexel once again displayed its efforts to be as modern of a university as any other out there. The design was done by Forty Nine Degrees.
“We just wanted to have a traditional hall of fame, but not traditional in the sense that it’s all dusty trophies and stuff like that. We wanted something that fit the Drexel mold,” Joyce said.
Using the screens, visitors can scroll through Drexel history and learn more about each of the Hall of Fame inductees. On each of the biographies, there are links to things such as photos, retired jerseys, old rosters, as well as achieved articles about the athletes from The Triangle.
The achieved stories are a good way for alumni who visit the DAC for the various sporting events to relive the past and be reminded of some of the experiences and memories they had when they were attending Drexel.
“That’s one of the cool things,” Joyce said. “There’s people who haven’t been here since they went to school here, and they go through and see the old articles and all the old shops and restaurants in the ads. There’s beer ads in some of them, cigarette ads, and seeing that stuff just adds to the interactive screens.”
Drexel also uses the area to stream live sporting events, which has allowed for people to gather in the space and watch the Dragons’ current athletic stars.
“It’s been pretty popular after basketball games. You see a lot of alumni stop by and check it out,” Joyce said.
It likely will not be long before more is added to the Hall of Fame, as the 2013 induction is nearing. The induction, which happens biannually, will be the first class to be inducted at the new site. To be eligible for inclusion in Drexel’s hall, a former student-athlete must be 10 years removed from Drexel.
“Each year our committee gets together with all the people who have been nominated, and they try to get in the people who are most deserving and who should be in,” Joyce said.
There is an early favorite for induction as part of this upcoming 2013 class. Former Drexel forward and two-time NBA champion Malik Rose, who played for the Dragons from 1992 to 1996, is more than deserving for induction. He likely would have already been inducted had he not been away from the Philadelphia area, as the committee likes to select inductees who can attend the ceremony and dinner. Now that he is working for the Philadelphia 76ers as a color commentator on their TV broadcasts, Rose’s schedule is a little more accommodating as they begin to compile the class of 2013.
“Malik Rose is now in the area, so there should be a big push for him this year,” Joyce said. “We like to have the inductees attend the dinner, and with him being in San Antonio, [Charlotte] and New York’s Madison Square Garden Network in past years, we would like to try and get him now that he works for the Sixers.”
Until then, Drexel students, faculty, alumni and friends can enjoy the display and learn more about the Dragons’ athletic history. Available during all hours the rec center is open, the interactive touch screens are there for all to enjoy.
“The big thing we just want people to know is that there are touch screens with this stuff,” Joyce said. “People come in and they see big flat-screen TVs and think you’re not supposed to touch them, so we just want to let the people know that these are interactive screens. Go play with them.”