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$15 Million Gift from Howley Foundation Expands Drexel Scholarship Program for Local Graduates

Drexel University received additional support for its mission of expanding access to a Drexel education for all students in Philadelphia, courtesy of a $15 million commitment from The Howley Foundation, a nonprofit philanthropic organization led by alumnus and trustee W. Nicholas (Nick) Howley ’75, his wife Lorie and their daughter Meg Howley ’10. The Foundation’s support will expand Drexel’s Howley College Scholars Program to provide financial aid for up to 10 promising graduates of seven Philadelphia-area high schools. Combined with Drexel scholarships, the Program will cover the scholar’s full cost of attendance.

“With its continued generosity, The Howley Foundation is enabling our University to deliver on its mission of expanding access to a Drexel education,” said Drexel President John Fry. “In just a short period, the Howley Scholars program has bolstered our student body with some of Philadelphia’s best and brightest. The opportunity to expand this tremendously successful program is a gift that will benefit Drexel and Philadelphia for years to come. I applaud Nick, Lorie, and Meg’s commitment to ensuring access to quality higher education and thank them for their inspired philanthropy.”

Established in 2023, the Howley College Scholars Program annually provided funding to select graduates of Philadelphia’s West Catholic Preparatory High School. With the $15 million infusion, this fall, the program will contribute to 10 scholarships per year for tuition, room and board to eligible students graduating from any of the following seven Philadelphia schools: West Catholic, Roman Catholic High School, St. Joseph’s Preparatory School, Merion Mercy Academy, Saints John Neuman and Maria Goretti Catholic High School, Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School and Little Flower High School.

The full cost of attendance is covered by the scholarship contribution of the Howley Foundation, financial aid from Drexel University and federal financial aid, so that the students have zero out-of-pocket expenses for tuition, room, and board.

Students will be selected based on a solid track record of demonstrated academic success, and acceptance into one of Drexel’s academic programs in engineering, biomedical engineering, business, nursing, or computing and informatics. They will be eligible to maintain the Howley Scholarship for all five years of their Drexel education, provided they remain in good standing.

“We believe the best way to encourage upward social and economic mobility is through an education opportunity that leads to a high-quality job and career,” Howley said. “Due to the combination of academic rigor and the highly differentiated 5-year co-op program, Drexel is uniquely qualified to provide these students with the education, the extensive real world job experience, and the additional co-op earning potential to complete their college education and achieve their career objectives. These factors, combined with our long family history with Drexel, led to this commitment.”

The Howley College Scholars Program expands a longstanding record of collaboration between Drexel and West Catholic. In 2014, the two institutions joined to launch an Engineering Technology Academy at West Catholic, designed to give students a hands-on, interdisciplinary approach to learning basic engineering skills throughout their high school years. Bolstering this connection, West Catholic and Drexel’s respective chapters of the National Society of Black Engineers have an ongoing history of closely working together. Furthermore, the University has shared practice space at its Vidas Athletic Complex with the high school’s football team.

Nick Howley is the co-founder and board chairman of TransDigm Group Inc., a New York Stock Exchange-listed company. It is one of the largest designers and producers in the world of highly engineered aerospace components, systems and sub systems. The company employs approximately 20,000 people across approximately 120 locations worldwide.

Howley is also a founder and co-chair of Perimeter Solutions, a New York Stock Exchange-listed company that is the world leader in forest fire control. Howley has also served on a range of other public and private for-profit boards.

In addition to co-founding and serving as trustee of The Howley Foundation, Howley’s extensive nonprofit experience includes service on the boards of Case Western Reserve University, Washington and Jefferson College, Cleveland Clinic, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Saint Martin de Porres High School (Cleveland), St. Joseph’s Preparatory High School (Philadelphia) and as past chair of Cristo ReyNational Network Board – a collection of 40 Catholic, college preparatory high schools that serve more than 14,000 economically disadvantaged students across 21 states.

After graduating from Drexel with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, Howley earned an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Howley previously facilitated scholarship support for Drexel students through the Doug Peacock Scholarship, a fund supported by TransDigm and named in tribute to Howley’s late TransDigm co-founder. Launched in the 2020–2021 academic year, 30 Doug Peacock Scholarship awards have already been presented to College of Engineering and Bennett S. LeBow College of Business students.

Lorie Howley holds a bachelor’s degree in ornamental horticulture and a master’s degree in communication arts, both from Cornell University. She applied this experience during a 15-year tenure as an educator at Longwood Gardens, where she developed and taught post-secondary and continuing education programs. Lorie also has significant non-profit governance experience in both educational and horticultural institutions. She is co-founder of the Howley Foundation, served as the Foundation’s executive director from 2003 to 2013 and is currently an active member of the Foundation’s board of directors.

Meg Howley serves as executive director of The Howley Foundation’s Philadelphia operations. She earned a master’s degree in psychology from Drexel, an undergraduate degree in psychology from Hobart and William Smith Colleges, and a master’s in school psychology and educational specialist certification from Rowan University. She provided early intervention services to cognitively impaired students in preschools in the Philadelphia area prior to her current role with the Foundation.

Nick Howley’s father, Nick Howley, attended Drexel Institute of Technology directly after World War II and graduated in 1950 with a BS in commerce and engineering.

Founded by Nick and Lorie Howley in 2003, The Howley Foundation’s mission is to create social and economic mobility and improve lives by giving students access to a range of high-quality educational opportunities that they would not otherwise be able to afford. The Foundation supports programming from elementary schools through the collegiate level, emphasizing serving students in Philadelphia and Cleveland.