The Academy of Natural Sciences was established in 1812. It’s the oldest natural science research institution in America, with authoritative collections of specimens, and 18 staff scientists. But president George Gephart said they have an image problem.
“It may sound odd, but we have a misunderstood brand. We’re the Academy of Natural Sciences, but if you ask 20 people on the street what that means, they’ll say: they’re the dinosaur museum,” he said. After many years of partnering on individual research projects, Gephart reached out to Drexel to enter into a deeper affiliation. The university will provide technology and engineering resources to the Academy’s exhibitions and, as Drexel biology professor Ken Locovara says, the Academy has renowned expertise in birds, bugs, and mollusks.”In those areas they have some of the best collections and some of the world’s leading scientists. It’s a great research opportunity for Drexel students,” he said. The Academy will legally keep its name, but will be branded as the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University.The University is not swallowing the Academy. This agreement does not involve an exchange of money or assets. But Drexel has an endowment ten times the size of the Academy’s and will have some influence on its board. The Pew Charitable Trusts has granted one million dollars toward transition costs.