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Diversity of speakers

To the Editor: Enrique Landa's recent column ("Talks worth hearing," The Daily Pennsylvanian, 9/26/00) is, unfortunately, based on a number of misconceptions about recent Connaissance speakers. Landa claims that only political figures and academics are able to give valuable talks to Penn students. It is unfortunate that he feels that speakers with more diverse backgrounds are unable to provide substantive messages to the Penn community. Conan O'Brien showed students that personal failure does not have to impede success. Ellen DeGeneres offered students insight into her struggles as a lesbian in Hollywood; although this experience may not be unique, her willingness to publicly discuss it is. Similarly, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's upcoming speech will provide a powerful message based on his extensive research of influential black figures of this century. In the University community, a discussion of racial and minority issues should spark the intellectual discourse which Landa craves. Although these speakers may not be as exciting to Enrique as the more political George Stephanopoulos, Benjamin Netanyahu and Gloria Steinem, it is absurd to contend that each is not attractive to an equally important cross-section of the student population. Connaissance seeks to provide Penn with a series of speakers that caters to the highly varied interests of the University community. In doing so, we ensure that each speaker contributes something unique to both the intellectual and personal needs of the audience. Recent speakers have done this quite successfully, and we have every confidence that our upcoming guests will do the same.

Samantha Cohen College '02

Nishchay Maskay College '01

The writers are the co-chairmens of Connaissance.

Faring well in finance

To the Editor: The DP reports that "College grads make less money in financial fields than Whartonites." ("Differing levels of financial success," 9/27/00). The evidence cited in this article refers only to starting salaries. Data on later career stages is contained in an August 1999 survey conducted by Career Services of the College and Wharton graduating classes of 1985-87. For respondents working in financial services, Arts and Sciences graduates earned an average salary of $164,000, compared to $122,000 for Wharton graduates. Similarly, College graduates out-earned Wharton graduates in the communications, manufacturing and health services fields. Average earnings for all Wharton students exceeded those of all College students ($104,000/year versus $94,000/year), primarily because many College graduates choose careers such as teaching and public service where salaries are significantly lower. We hope that these data help to allay the fears of College students (and their parents) regarding their career prospects. Penn's outstanding liberal arts education prepares students for lifetime achievement, which is only weakly connected to the characteristics of one's first job.

Sam Preston Dean, School of Arts and Sciences

Richard Beeman Dean, College of Arts and Sciences

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