Skip to content

2010 Hall of Fame Inductee: Constantine Papadakis, PhD

Constantine Papadakis, an innovator in higher education with extensive experience in both academe and the corporate world, was president of Drexel University from 1995 to 2009. Dr. Papadakis used the historic strengths of the University (cooperative education, Drexel’s focus on technology and the rich resources of its Philadelphia location) to grow full-time undergraduate enrollment from 4,500 in 1996 to more than 11,000 in 2009, freshman applications from 3,500 to 22,000, grew the endowment from $90 million to $650 million and research funding from $14 million to $105 million.

In 1998, Drexel assumed operation of the bankrupt Allegheny University of the Health Sciences, which was temporarily renamed MCP Hahnemann University, and partnered with Tenet Healthcare Corporation, which acquired the University’s seven hospitals. Today, the School of Public Health (one of only two in Pennsylvania), the College of Nursing and Health Professions and the College of Medicine (the largest private medical school in the country) are academic units of Drexel University.

Building on Drexel’s strengths, in 2006 Dr. Papadakis spearheaded the creation of a unique law school at Drexel University focused on intellectual property, health care, and entrepreneurship law and cooperative education.

Dr. Papadakis joined Bechtel Power Company in 1974, where he served in several engineering positions. He managed a group of engineering specialists who did pioneering work in flood-control systems, hydroelectric power and cooling systems for nuclear reactors. He was recruited by STS Consultants, one of the top 150 engineering design firms in the nation, as vice president in charge of the Water Resources Division of the company, which had 17 offices. His accomplishments there included privatization of small hydroelectric power plants in the early 1980s. Tetra Tech, a Honeywell subsidiary in Pasadena, attracted him next. As vice president of the company he led FEMA and Superfund environmental projects.

Dr. Papadakis was lured back to academia when he realized that strong management could revolutionize an institution. In 1984 he 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, completed in 1995.

Dr. Papadakis received his diploma in Civil Engineering from the National Technical University of Athens in Greece. He held a master’s degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Cincinnati and a doctorate from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Constantine, or Taki, as his friends called him, was a Professional Engineer registered in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Greece. A member of numerous professional and honorary societies, he was a fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American Society for Engineering Education and the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. He authored or co-authored 80 articles and technical publications.

Dr. Papadakis served as a member of the Business Higher Education Forum and the Council on Competitiveness. He also served on the board of directors of the National Commission for Cooperative Education and the World Trade Center of Greater Philadelphia. He was a member of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce Executive Committee, the Eisenhower Fellowships Board of Trustees, the Board of Directors of the Opera Company of Philadelphia, the Hellenic College/Holy Cross Board of Trustees, and the Judicial Council of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. He served on the Board of Directors of Amkor Technology, Inc., Aqua America, Inc., CDI, Inc., Mace Security International, as well as Met-Pro Corporation.