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Penn's business chief Clifford Stanley leaves the University today, 10 days after announcing his resignation. [Dara Nikolova/DP File Photo]

As Penn's business chief Clifford Stanley officially steps down today, many in the community are left confused by his swift and mysterious exit and regretful that they never got to know him better or watch him dig his teeth into the post he held for less than a year.

Stanley was recruited directly from the Marine Corps last year, replacing former Executive Vice President John Fry. A major general with three decades of service under his belt, Stanley came into office Oct. 15 of last year.

"I never met him," community activist and West Philadelphia resident Larry Falcon said. "I wanted to, but I never had the chance."

Falcon, who heads Neighbors Against McPenntrification, said that though Penn's Office of Government, Community and Public Affairs had arranged for he and Stanley to meet, nothing came of the effort.

Falcon added that those in the community with bitter memories of Fry's management style had hoped for a better relationship with his replacement.

"It's sad in the sense that I had hopes that [Stanley] would make a positive difference in Penn's approach to the community, but he wasn't there long enough to make an impact," Falcon said. "It's a real shame... the office has been misused before... and I was interested in what his plans were for the community."

Experts in higher education executive recruiting and retention have noted that when Rodin's tenure ends at the end of this academic year, Stanley would have been expected to step down. But until last week, neither Rodin nor Stanley indicated that he would be leaving, even after Rodin announced her resignation plans.

During an interview in August, Rodin said that having a relatively new EVP would not effect Penn's retail strategy, noting that Stanley was no longer a rookie in his post.

"The retail strategy is set, and we're all committed to it, including the not-so-new-anymore executive vice president," Rodin said.

Stanley did not reply to repeated requests for comment.

Others noted the marked difference between Fry's seven-year legacy and Stanley's 360 days.

"You seem to run into Fry frequently -- and I didn't run into the general very often," said Matt Wolfe, vice president of the Spruce Hill Community Association and Republican ward leader for the 44th Ward.

"You got the impression that Fry was a force out there looming over everything," Wolfe said, adding that he hadn't been well acquainted with Stanley.

"The only time I met the guy was at the Penn Relays," Wolfe said. City and Community Relations Director "Glenn Bryan introduced me to him, he seemed like a fine, fine gentleman, other than that, I didn't really have any contact with him."

Wolfe noted that the soon-to-be-vacant office of the EVP exists at the whim of the University president.

"I'm amused by people who seem to attribute to the position itself some specific power or authority," Wolfe said.

"So long as the trustees are willing to give the president of Penn carte blanche -- and they basically did, after the first few years... they pretty much let her do whatever she wants."

Vice Presidents Omar Blaik, John Heuer, Robin Beck, Rick Whitfield and Leroy Nunery did not return phone calls.

Employees in the Office of the EVP were unavailable for or would not comment.

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