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Urging a sparse audience to examine the University's role in society and West Philadelphia, a panel discussion yesterday kicked off a series of forums looking at the University's future as part of the 250th anniversary celebrations. During the two-hour discussion, the six panel members focused much of their debate on the responsibility that the school has toward the community and called for the University to expand its role. School of Arts and Sciences Ph.D. Candidate Amy Cohen emphasized that the relationship between the University and West Philadelphia is currently little more than an economic two-way-street. She said that "the relation has to go beyond that." She added that social relationship, where both parties interact with each other, is needed. Other panelists said the University should spend more time and money on education instead of trying to attract subsidies from corporations -- which want professors to conduct research for them. Drexel University History Professor David Noble, told a riddle to the audience, referring to President Sheldon Hackney. Philip Wider, a 1990 College Graduate, however, said the University has created several important programs designed to help area residents. But he added that the students who participate lack efficient training to make the programs completely successful. "Students are sent without any equipment to handle the situations they confront," Wider said. The forum was the first in a series of four that will examine other areas of the University's future in the 21st century and beyond. Some of the 25 students attending the discussion at the Annenberg School agreed with many of the panel members, saying the University cannot rest upon its past successes. "[Students] need more support from the University so that we know what to do when we are out there," College senior Gordon Ruckdeschel said. "I would like to see Penn encourage working people to come here and make a difference," said Graduate and Professional Student Assembly member Lynne Snyder, an SAS graduate student.

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