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When College senior Jana Hirsch was studying soil samples, she didn’t have to limit herself to what was available in Philadelphia. Her class paid for a trip to Puerto Rico.

Hirsch isn’t the only student with this opportunity. A number of classes at Penn incorporate class trips into their curricula. Funded by a combination of endowments, grants and gifts, professors have said these trips will continue unaffected by recent budget cuts.

When Hirsch went to Puerto Rico, she went with GEOL 611 — “Field Study of Soils,” taught by Earth and Environmental Science professor Arthur Johnson.

As with a number of Earth and Environmental Science courses, the class includes a trip funded by an endowment started with a gift from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. According to Johnson, this money has been managed prudently, since the endowment’s principal has yet to be consumed.

“Even if the endowment totally disappeared, we could still probably continue the trip for five or six more years,” Johnson said.

The endowment covers housing, transportation and other miscellaneous fees. Students only have to pay for airfare.

“This was outstanding because it does not limit the class or trip to only those who are able to afford it,” said Hirsch.

On the other hand, trips included in History of Art courses are funded by gifts from donors, rather than endowments, according to Holly Pittman, College of Women of 1963 professor and department chairwoman.

One significant difference between a gift and an endowment is that the former is gone once spent, Pittman explained. Even so, gifts to the department have not been diminished, and class trips have been continually funded.

Among these classes is a freshman seminar that sends students to Venice, Italy, during fall break. The gift pays for everything except food.

“[The trip] is very expensive, but it is a wonderful thing for students to actually see works of art, as it is very important in the study of art history,” said Pittman.

COMM 395 — “Communication and the Presidency,” taught by David Eisenhower, director of the Annenberg School for Communication’s Institute for Public Service — also includes funding for student trips.

Each student in the class receives a stipend toward a trip to research past presidents in presidential libraries or national archives, according to Eisenhower.

The program is funded by a 2003 grant to Annenberg.

Eisenhower explained that the current recession “has had no effect on the funds or the students, but if it does start affecting us, then we will find additional ways to fund [the program].”

“We definitely want to preserve [the funding] for our students to do primary research in presidential libraries and take on internships in Washington over the summer,” he said. “That is not going to change.”

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