Philadelphia (AP) — Constantine N. Papadakis, the president of Drexel University, died on Sunday, three days after taking medical leave. He was 63. The cause was pulmonary complications of lung cancer, which was in remission, a statement from Drexel said. Dr. Papadakis raised the endowment, enrollment and profile of Drexel, a onetime commuter school.
Dr. Papadakis became Drexelʼs president in 1995 and began shoring up its finances, eventually overseeing the construction of numerous campus buildings. Under his leadership, the university acquired schools of medicine, nursing and public health, and established an extensive online degree program. In 2006, Drexel started its own law school.
Drexel has begun putting down roots for a possible second campus in Northern California. It started offering masterʼs degree programs in Sacramento in January and received approval from local officials to build a campus in nearby Placer County, though environmentalists have challenged the plans in court.
Dr. Papadakis was born in Athens on Feb. 2, 1946, to Nicholas Papadakis, a Greek physician, and Rita Masciotti Papadakis, a native of Italy.
He received a degree in civil engineering from the National Technical University of Athens, according to a Drexel news release. After arriving in the United States in 1969, the university said, he earned a masterʼs degree in civil engineering from the University of Cincinnati and a doctorate from the University of Michigan. He joined the Bechtel Corporation in 1974, and his first assignment involved the construction of the Metro subway system in Washington.
He worked at other engineering firms and then turned to academia, joining the faculty at Colorado State University in 1984. Two years later, he became dean of the University of Cincinnati College of Engineering.
His survivors include his wife of 39 years, Eliana; a daughter, Maria, a 2008 graduate of Drexel; and a sister, Katy Papadourakis of Athens.
Many major Greek American organizations including the AHEPA, SAE, the Pancretan Association of America, Cyprus – US Chamber of Congress and the Archons issues messages of condolences.
In a message, the president of AHEPA Ike Gulas said:
“We were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Dr. Constantine Papadakis, President of Drexel University. His death is a great loss to all who knew him.
His dynamic and charismatic personality encouraged all that came in contact with him to persevere and were energized by his positive attitude and commitment.
His entrepreneurship and accomplishments for the benefit of the City of Philadelphia and our community will not be soon forgotten.
s a dedicated father, educator, and friend, his untimely passing will be missed by many and we extend to his wife Eliana and daughter Maria, our sincerest condolences on behalf of the Members, Officers and Directors.”
SAEʼs US Coordinator, Theodore Spyropoulos said:
“The USA Region of SAE expresses its deep sadness and extraordinary sense of loss for the passing of Dr. Constantine Papadakis, the president of Drexel University, a distinguished member of the Greek American community and a leader in the American Academic community.
Dr. Papadakis was a stellar personality and a model of creativity and inspiration in the administration of the university. He was a pioneering figure as a university leader who contributed greatly to the growth and upgrading of Drexel, even as he served with pathos Hellenic ideals and Hellenic culture.
A dear friend to most people who met him and worked with him, Constantinos Papadakis leaves a mark that is impossible to duplicate in the Greek community. May our feelings of sorrow for his loss be transformed into an intense struggle to uplift Hellenism and education, two entities that he served with such loyalty. Dr. Papadakis’ life will be a treasured model for Hellenes everywhere, and a source of inspiration for those following him.
Our sincere and warmest condolences to Dr. Papadakis’ wife, daughter and sister and to all other relatives and friends. May his memory be eternal.”
The National Commander of the Archons Dr. Anthony Limberakis issues the following statement:
“It is with profound sadness, that the Order of Saint Andrew, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in America, notes the falling asleep in the Lord of Archon Didaskalos tou Genous, Dr. Constantine Papadakis, President of Drexel University. The untimely passing of Archon Constantine is an unspeakable loss for his family, Drexel University, the Greek and American Communities at-large, and particularly for the Order of St. Andrew. His wisdom, experience, expertise and fellowship will be deeply missed by all. During these coming days of Holy Week, our prayers and thoughts are with his family and friends.”