Poached eggs and avocado toast, a cinnamon roll waffle, and a double-shot espresso — these are just some of the perks enjoyed by members of the University Club at Penn.
Housed on the second floor at The Inn at Penn, the club offers a daily buffet lunch, private meeting rooms, and member events such as monthly speakers, holiday celebrations, and wine tastings. Club member and Associate Director of Penn Transit Services Michael Randolph said he joined the club in 2016 and described it as a great place to network too, adding that members often use it to interview potential job candidates or meet guests.
“I go so often that [the staff that work inside] know me personally,” Randolph said.
The University Club at Penn serves segments of Penn's community through exclusive facilities as a division of Penn Hospitality Services. But while the University Club opens its membership to Penn faculty, staff, alumni, and graduate students, undergraduates cannot become members. Randolph said it likely is because of space limitations.
The University Club was formerly known as the Faculty Club and originally had its own building, Director of Business and Hospitality Services Pam Lampitt said. By 1999, however, the club was experiencing a loss of over $1.5 million. To minimize the deficit, the school decided to relocate the club to The Inn at Penn, which had just finished construction that year.
Hilton, which runs the hotel, also operates the services within the club, University Club Coordinating Liaison Kristin Cummings said. The hotel provides dining and facility services while Penn's Business Services Division manages membership, she said.
Currently, excluding departmental memberships, the club has around 650 individual members, according to an email sent to The Daily Pennsylvanian by Business Services Director of Communications and External Relations Barbara Lea-Kruger. She wrote also that the University Club Board is responsible for deciding who gets to apply for membership.
The annual membership fee for faculty, staff, alumni, and graduate students is $65, while emeritus faculty and retired staff receive a discounted fee of $50. New faculty or staff members can enjoy club membership for free during their first year at Penn.
Lea-Kruger said that while members can eat lunch inside the club, they still have to pay for meals — membership only grants access to the dining area.
Even though undergraduates cannot eat inside the club as frequently as members can, they may still do so up to five times each semester through the “Take Your Professor to Lunch” Program. This program allows Penn students to take their current or past professors, teaching assistants, advisors, or members of Penn’s professional staff to a free lunch. Additionally, undergraduates can collaborate with Club members to request a room and have lunch inside the Club.
Lea-Kruger wrote that this year, Penn staff make up 34 percent of the University Club membership. Faculty and graduate students come second with 23 percent each, and alumni account for eight percent of members. However, Lea-Kruger added that these statistics can vary from year to year.
Penn's academic departments can also apply for membership to the University Club. This allows departments to invite lecture guests to the club and for faculty to hold business-related meetings there.
Outside of campus, members of the University Club at Penn can access over 100 university clubs in the Association of College and University Clubs across the country and around the world. Schools inside the ACUC include Columbia University, Princeton University, Rutgers University, Brown University, Harvard University, and Johns Hopkins University.
Should members choose to travel to another university and use its club, Cummings said, the University Club at Penn would write an introductory letter.
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