Students dine with Dean DeTurck
The event, hosted every semester, allows students to talk with the dean about college life and initiatives
February 24, 2012, 12:59 am · Updated February 27, 2012, 11:16 pm·
Over 100 College undergraduates signed up to dine with the Dean last night, but only the first 30 gained the opportunity.
Students gathered at the cozy Sweeten Alumni House to eat pizza and share their college experiences with College Dean Dennis DeTurck Thursday.
The Dean’s Advisory Board coordinates the “Dine with the Dean” event every semester.
“The College has so many incredible programs that it’s hard to keep track of,” said College junior and the Dean’s Advisory Board social chair David Shapiro. “This is an opportunity for kids to pick the dean’s brain about [which ones] they should pursue.”
Students sat with the dean in a circle of couches and chairs in a warm, carpeted room. He broke the ice with a simple question, “So … what do you want to know?” and several hands shot up.
Will the College revamp its sector requirements? Why are tuition fees increasing next year? What initiatives are there to support minority students at Penn? Why isn’t there more information about dual-degree programs?
DeTurck courteously answered each of these questions.
“You could’ve come to me!” he said to Wharton and College senior Parth Shah, who said he was unaware of the challenges that came with dual-degree coursework when he first applied and wondered if he would have made the same choice had he been given more information.
“Even if we had given you that summary, you wouldn’t have listened,” DeTurck said to the chuckling audience. Incoming students tend to have an overambitious mentality when they enter Penn, he said, because of their previous “do everything” attitude in high school. New students feel obligated to enroll in a dual-degree program.
The downside to doing a dual degree, however, is “not the rigor,” said DeTurck, “it’s the fact you’re always satisfying those requirements.”
Students often end up going through all those requirements when, ultimately, they realize they were really interested in a single concentration.
The great thing about the College, according to DeTurck, is that you have more freedom. “You can pick the stuff you like and leave the rest of the stuff on the table.”
DeTurck said he does not anticipate changes to the sector requirement any time soon. Students used to have 10 sector requirements, he said, and now that it has been revised to seven, he does not see the need for changes.
DeTurck said next year’s 3.9-percent increase in tuition fees is in part due to students’ expectations for attending a college like Penn. Penn students expect to have free resources at their disposal like laboratories, databases, gyms, Spring Fling, research grants and financial aid.
The dean did not discuss any new initiatives for minority students, but he said there are already initiatives in place to help minorities such as the PennCAP Pre-Freshman Program, which provides academic mentoring for students.
In between questions, DeTurck dropped several fun facts about the College. Every 30 seconds, he said, air from inside the Chemistry building is exchanged with outside air for safety measures. Fisher-Bennett Hall also used to be a women’s gymnasium.
College senior Madeleine Macks said she learned a lot from the dinner. “I think everyone in the College should come.”
“I think it’s a great chance to get questions answered about why the College is the way it is,” added College sophomore and former DP columnist Dan Bernick.