Drexel University founder Anthony J. Drexel started his own business at 13, and understood the value of professional skills and training. He was instrumental in the creation of Drexel's Evening College in 1892; he believed strongly in giving individuals who worked during the day an opportunity to earn a quality education at night.
George Childs Drexel was the ninth and youngest child of Drexel University founder Anthony J. Drexel. From 1894-1902, he was owner and publisher of The Public Ledger, Philadelphia's most prominent newspaper. As a successful businessman himself, he shared his father's passion for professional training through the Evening College.
In 1932, George set out to establish an award to honor his wife, Mary S. Irick Drexel. He was so impressed with the accomplishments of the alumni of the Evening College (now Goodwin College of Professional Studies); he decided that the recipient would be a member of this community. Childs Drexel determined that the Evening College's dean would select the candidates, and the award would be presented at a College meeting at the end of the academic year. The Mary S. Irick Drexel Awards continued in this fashion through the administrations of Laura S. Campbell, Kenneth W. Riddle, and Stanley Gwiazda, who retired in 1987.
The committee organizing the awards ceremony restructured it in 1989 in an effort to create a strong community of alumni who were actively engaged in Drexel's Evening College. The Mary S. Irick Drexel Society was born, with a focus on honoring prominent alumni with strong ties to the Evening College.