30th Street Station Development Plans Announced


A renedering of what the area around 30th Street Station would look like when all the projects envisioned in the development plan are completed. | Renderings by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, courtesy Amtrak

This morning, Amtrak, SEPTA and Drexel University officials unveiled plans for a massive transformation of the area around 30th Street Station.

The massive, multi-decade 30th Street Station District Plan would, when completed, turn the area around 30th Street Station into a second downtown for Philadelphia focused on the second-busiest station in the Amtrak system. That station, transformed into a multimodal transportation hub for the region, would serve as the linchpin of the planned development.

New office, retail and residential buildings containing 18 million square feet of total space and 40 acres of open space would be created under the plan, with most of the development privately financed. A total of $2 billion in public investment would leverage an additional $4.5 billion in private investment. These figures are on top of the $3.5 billion Drexel University and Brandywine Realty Trust have already pledged to see the Schuylkill Yards development, which Drexel President John Fry described as “a down payment” on the plan at this morning’s public unveiling, to completion. Read more »

Drexel Professor’s Study: Touching Sandpaper Can Increase Charitable Donations

Drexel - study - sandpaper - Chen Wang

Chen Wang, an assistant professor of marketing at Drexel, co-authored the study.

Charitable organizations who want to raise more money have a secret weapon in their arsenal: Sandpaper.

Really! A new study co-authored by Drexel marketing professor Chen Wang says that touching sandpaper could trigger empathy — making people more likely to donate to charity.

“Our theory is that when you are touching a rough, coarse surface you feel this mild discomfort on your fingers,” Wang tells Philadelphia magazine. “And it triggers something in your brain and you pay more attention to people’s hardships and others’ discomfort … basically, our brain is hardwired to do so many things that we’re not even aware of.”

There were several studies done for the paper. In one, participants held either smooth paper or sandpaper when viewing a series of images. They were found to have more brain activity in the area associated with empathetic responses when touching the sandpaper.

In another, undergraduate students were asked to test hand wash in the guise of a product evaluation. They were given either smooth or rough hand wash, then were asked about their feelings about a foundation that helps sufferers of Sjögren’s syndrome, a chronic autoimmune disease where white blood cells attack the exocrine glands. Those who used the rough hand wash were more willing to donate. Read more »

Drexel Fires Bruiser Flint, Reports Bruiser Flint


Drexel has fired men’s basketball coach Bruiser Flint, Flint himself said in a tweet. If that wasn’t enough proof, CBS Sports also reports Flint has been fired.

Flint had been coach of the Dragons for 15 years — since the 2001-02 season. They generally enjoyed success under Flint — he went 245–217 as head coach — but had never reached the NCAA tournament. This year, though, the Dragons bottomed out: Drexel went 6-25 this year, though even in this lost year, the Dragons still beat Penn and La Salle. Read more »

Without This Drexel Prof, Those Gravitational Waves Confirming Einstein’s Theory Might Not Have Been Found

Photo | Drexel University

Photo | Drexel University

Remember a few weeks back when everybody was all excited about the discovery of gravitational waves from black holes and the New York Times called the recordings of the waves “one of the great sound bites of science” and you were all like, “Woah, that’s so cool. I wonder what they’re talking about?” You should have asked Drexel physics professor Stephen McMillan, because without him, those gravitational waves might never have been found. Read more »

Drexel President Named Chairman of Chamber of Commerce

John Fry, president of Drexel University.

John Fry, president of Drexel University.

The Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce has found a new leader. John Fry, the president of Drexel University, will become chairman of the organization in October 2016. He’ll succeed Denis O’Brien, senior executive vice president of Exelon Corp., and CEO of Exelon Utilities.

Fry has been a member of the Chamber’s board of directors since 2010 and a member of its executive committee since 2011. He’s certainly a power-player in the Philly business community. He’s led Drexel’s Campus Master Plan, which has attracted $475 million for projects like student residences, market-rate housing, retail amenities and a hotel. In October, Fry extended his contract at Drexel for another five years. Read more »

Drexel Prof Finds Exercise Doesn’t Protect Student Athletes From Depression

The death by suicide of Penn freshman track athlete Madison Holleran in January 2013 rocked the local college sports world and jump-started discussions everywhere about the pressures faced by student athletes. But when Drexel Med professor and Drexel sports team physician Eugene Hong wanted to examine the issue of depression in college athletes, he found very little research on the subject. What there was instead was a general perception that participation in athletics had a protective effect. “Because of our societal and cultural idiosyncrasies,” says Hong, “we equate physical health with mental health.”

Whether that perception was true was what Hong and his fellow researchers wanted to find out. So they performed their own study of 465 athletes at a single East Coast D-1 university. The results, just published in the February issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine, showed the same level of clinically relevant depressive symptoms in student athletes as in their non-athlete peers.

That result was surprising, says Hong, whose experience as a team physician dates back nearly two decades, not just because of that societal perception, but also because studies have shown that exercise is a clinically acceptable treatment for depression. Why wasn’t it protecting these college kids?  Read more »

Does Anyone in Philly College Hoops — Besides Villanova — Have a Shot at the March NCAA Tourney?

St. Joe's DeAndre Bembry (left); Villanova's Josh Hart (right)

St. Joe’s DeAndre Bembry (left); Villanova’s Josh Hart (right).

The January break is over, and all six of the area’s Division I men’s college basketball teams have started division play. With no hope of sporting glory among the pro ranks — except maybe the hard-charging Flyers — it’s now time for Philly sports fans to turn their attention to the college hardwood. So who would make a run to the NCAA tournament this season?

As has been true for every year for about a decade now, the best team among the Big 5 is Villanova. The Wildcats (12-2) are 11th in the AP Top 25, a rank that’s sure to rise when the next poll is released today. Nova is coming off a 2-0 week that included a road win over Butler yesterday.

But Villanova is ranked even higher among computer polls. The Wildcats are the No. 1 team in the nation in RPI, which is the tool the selection committee uses to help them select the bracket. They’re also No. 2 in the Kenpom rankings and No. 7 in ESPN’s BPI.

The Wildcats trailed by 7 in yesterday’s game about three minutes into the second half, but Ryan Arcidiacono sparked a 17-4 run. Villanova led by as many as 9, and held off a late Butler charge to win 60-55. Josh Hart had 22 points on 10-of-15 shooting in the win. The Wildcats do pretty much everything well this season except shoot threes. But as college hoops scribe Ken Pomeroy has persuasively argued, there’s reason to think they may improve.

Villanova is already 4-0 in the Big East, a conference with enough quality teams that a solid campaign in it could land the Wildcats another No. 1 seed. Now, about MarchRead more »

After Drexel Broadside, Temple Prez Defends College Football

Neil Theobald won’t let John Fry rain on his parade.

Just a few days after Fry, Drexel’s president, wrote a critique of college football’s effect on, well, college, Temple’s Theobald has responded. His argument: Good football teams make great universities even better.

“A well-run football program can create innumerable benefits to a national university,” Theobald, Temple’s president, wrote in a letter shared with Philadelphia Business Journal. Read more »

West Philly Rising

A rendering of the under construction FMC tower and the growing West Philly skyline. | Pelli Clarke Pelli/Brandywine Realty Trust.

A rendering of the under construction FMC tower and the growing West Philly skyline. | Pelli Clarke Pelli/Brandywine Realty Trust.

Each year, the University City District compiles, in a glossy report, the vital signs for the eastern half of West Philly. For a while now, the trend lines have been strong. But this year, the numbers are truly staggering. Read more »

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