Thomas J. Hindelang, 68, of Kennett Square, vice dean of Drexel University's LeBow College of Business, died Thursday, Dec. 8, of heart failure at his office in Philadelphia.

"LeBow College is filled with extraordinary professors. But only one, Tom Hindelang, was known universally as 'the professor,' " said George P. Tsetsekos, the R. John Chapel Jr. dean of LeBow.

In a note to the university community, Drexel president John A. Fry cited Dr. Hindelang's "devotion to improving the student experience . . . across Drexel" during 38 years at the school.

"He was central in developing the approach to business education that has helped the college's programs achieve national recognition," Fry wrote. "He was also a popular and involved figure in campus life."

Dr. Hindelang founded the college's Center for Teaching Excellence, which honored outstanding LeBow instructors.

"In academia the emphasis is usually on research, but Tom felt that teaching is important, too, and should get recognition," said his wife, Christine T. Kydd.

Dr. Hindelang was the first head of LeBow's finance department. He served Drexel as the first chair of the faculty senate and special assistant to then-president Constantine Papadakis during the first two years of his presidency.

In addition to being vice dean, Dr. Hindelang was the Francis professor of finance.

A story about Dr. Hindelang in the LeBow magazine portrayed him as a colorful figure on campus, with his cowboy hat, distinguished gray beard, and colorful ties.

In that article, Dr. Hindelang said: "One of my favorite quotes is that 'educators touch eternity' by passing on knowledge and their passion for teaching and learning to their students, who then . . . pass everything along to the next generation of students."

In May, Dr. Hindelang organized a one-day business professors' teaching summit that drew attendees from across the nation; he was already planning a second one.

"For everybody that knew him, the word that would come to mind is generous. We all could learn from that. He was generous with his knowledge and time and energy," his wife said.

Born in Detroit, Dr. Hindelang was educated there and earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Detroit. He received a master's degree in operations research from Stanford University, a master's in business administration from the University of Michigan, and a Ph.D. from Indiana University. He joined the Drexel faculty in 1973 and moved to Kennett Square.

He met his wife when she was a student at Drexel.

In private life, he enjoyed travel, growing flowers, and gourmet cooking. "He was the family cook and had become quite good at it," his wife said.

Surviving, in addition to his wife of 31 years, are a son, Stephen Kydd-Hindelang; a daughter, Meredith Kydd-Hindelang; three brothers; and two sisters.

Viewings will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 13, and from 10 to 11 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 14, at the Episcopal Church of the Advent, 401 N. Union St., Kennett Square. An 11 a.m. funeral service will follow on Wednesday; burial will be later in Maine.

Donations may be made to the Tom Hindelang Student Scholarship for Excellence, c/o Drexel University - Hindelang Fund, Box 8215, Philadelphia 19101-9684.

Contact staff writer Bonnie L. Cook at 610-313-8232 or bcook@phillynews.com.