Following two years of fundraising, brainstorming and community meetings, Drexel University
is celebrating the grand opening of its Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships
. On June 12, the school cut the ribbon on the 1.3 acre site.
The genesis of the three-building complex -- located at 35th and Spring Garden Streets -- was a $10 million donation from Dana and David Dornsife
, an active philanthropist couple. (Dana is a Drexel alum.)
According to Lucy Kerman, the school's vice provost of university and community partnership, university extension centers -- in which the collective expertise of a school is used to solve problems and otherwise assist the local community -- have a rich history dating back to the late-19th century. The Dornsife Center has the potential to become "a place where every single college and school [at Drexel] could be engaged with the community in shared problemsolving," she says.
Programming has already begun. Drexel’s law school
students, for example, have been fulfilling their pro bono requirements by offering free legal services at the Dornsife Center. And, as Kerman points out, "We've got folks in English
who could be running a writers house. We have folks in engineering
who might do weatherization. We have a wonderful set of health sciences
programs, and we could be doing screenings."
In the meantime, a community advisory council that was formed prior to the site’s renovation is continuing to meet monthly; its input will play a role in the programs and services offered in the future.
"[At Drexel], there are lots of different kinds of expertise," explains Kerman. "Working together with community partners, we feel that we have an opportunity to do something really special."
Writer: Dan Eldridge
Source: Lucy Kerman, Drexel University