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In Memory of
FEBRUARY 2, 1946 – APRIL 6, 2009
Former President, Drexel University

A life that bridges Hellenic values and the American dream


“A true source of inspiration, his memory and life will be forever celebrated. Dr. Papadakis is greatly missed by all” the Late Chris P. Tomaras, Founder and Former Chairman of the PanHellenic Scholarship Foundation.

Dr. Papadakis’ lifework and achievements had become an example for the Greek youth to follow and that is why it was our honor to recognize him with our Foundation’s Paradigm Award which he received at our annual event in November 2006.

The Paradigm Award is an honor bestowed annually on a Hellene whose life and career inspire Greek Americans, especially students, to put forward their best effort and to excel so that they may make outstanding contributions to the U.S. as Americans of Hellenic descent.

Dr. Constantine Papadakis, president of Drexel University in Philadelphia was an immigrant whose life and career are an extraordinary example of Hellenic attributes and values enriching society in America.

In 1984 Dr. Papadakis agreed to head up Colorado State University’s civil engineering department, then the second largest in the nation and known for water resources research and an entrepreneurial faculty. Two years later, he became the dean of the University of Cincinnati College of Engineering. There, he built top-quality graduate programs, more than quadrupled research contracts and grants and established relationships with leaders of local industry. During his tenure he increased the size of the faculty from 94 to 170 and commissioned architect Michael Graves to design a research center. Before turning to academia, Dr. Papadakis served as vice president of Tetra Tech, a Honeywell subsidiary, as vice president of STS Consultants and at several engineering positions with Bechtel Power Corporation.

Dr. Papadakis, an innovator in higher education with significant experience in both the academic and the corporate world, was president of Drexel University from 1995-2009. He used the historic strengths of the university (cooperative education, focus on technology and the rich resources of its Philadelphia location) to double Drexel’s enrollment to 18,500 students, to quadruple freshmen applications and grow the endowment from $90 million to $550 million and research funding from $14 million to $105 million.

Drexel University is the 20th largest university in the United States, and to date Drexel is the sixth largest private employer in Philadelphia with 5,300 employees and an annual budget of about $600 million. In 1998 Drexel acquired a College of Medicine-the largest private medical school in the nation-a College of Nursing and Health Professions and a School of Public Health which are now fully integrated academic units of the University. Drexel recently launched a new College of Law that focuses on intellectual property, health care and entrepreneurial business.

Dr. Papadakis received his diploma in Civil Engineering from the National Technical University of Athens in Greece, his master’s degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Cincinnati and a doctorate from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. He was registered as a Professional Engineer in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Greece.

Dr. Papadakis also served on the Board of Directors of: Amkor Technology, Inc., Aqua America, Inc., CDI, Inc., Mace Security International, Met-Pro Corporation, Sovereign Bank, Philadelphia Stock Exchange, the Opera Company of Philadelphia, the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce Executive Committee, the Hellenic College/Holy Cross Board of Trustees and the Judicial Council of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Papadakis had also received many Honors in recognition of his lifetime achievements, a few of these are: the Justinian Society Award in 2005, being Knighted Cavaliere Ufficiale in the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic in 2004, and receiving the US Department of Treasury Medal of Merit in 2003; In 2001 he received the Golden Medal of Saint Isidore of the island of Chios, the Congressional Medal of Ellis Island, the Medal of the City of Athens, the key to the City of Pireas, the Heart of Philadelphia Award from the American Heart Association and was inducted in the Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle as Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. Dr. Papadakis was also an esteemed member of Leadership 100, a group of supporters of the Orthodox Archdiocese of America.

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