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City aims to lure college students

(05/03/00 9:00am)

Philadelphia's reputation is about to get a facelift. For decades, many have perceived the City of Brotherly Love as nothing but a rest stop between New York City and Washington, D.C. And although the five-county Philadelphia region includes more than 50 colleges and universities -- not to mention 250,000 students -- it is not traditionally considered a college town. But the city's image is about to change, according to Todd Hoffman, founder of Campus Visit, a for-profit company started in Boston in 1995 to promote the city as a college town. The Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation has put up $300,000 to hire Campus Visit to launch a promotional program in Philadelphia to boost its image among college applicants. Sixteen Philadelphia-area colleges and universities, including Penn, are already involved in the campaign. GPTMC Program Director Veronica Wentz said the initiative is one that area schools have been contemplating for years. "A lot of colleges are hoping to see us step up to the plate," she said, adding that institutions other than those that are already involved have expressed interest in taking active roles in the campaign. "[The initiative] will re-position Philadelphia not as a city of colleges but a city where colleges and commerce are intertwined," Hoffman said. "Philadelphia does not seem to get the recognition it deserves." Hoffman added that the city has a great deal of untapped cultural and ethnic diversity. "[The campaign] has been a long time coming," said Becky Bowlby, associate director of Undergraduate Admissions at Drexel University, a participating school. "Overall, I think Philadelphia gets a bad rap. What's heard outside the region [about crime and the people] is negative." Larry Moneta, Penn's associate vice president for campus services, said Philadelphia's resources are comparable to Boston's, but that the city has not done as good a job promoting them. "Imagery is a function of how you package the product," he said. The project is currently focusing on the first of three phases, which consists of attracting prospective college students. Later, the organizers will direct their attention toward helping enrolled students become familiar with the city and retaining students after they graduate. "When people are looking to select a college, 70 percent of them will go to a school they first visited," Hoffman said. "It's absolutely critical that you get the kids to visit the campus." Hoffman explained that the initiative aims to lessen parents' fears about the city by encouraging high school students and their parents to experience the city -- independent of the schools -- when they visit. The program offers suggested itineraries and recommended hotels and restaurants through its toll-free number , a travel desk and a Web site, The initiative also includes a 46-page magazine with articles about the participating schools and the region. "There's a lot of information on how to apply to college, but there's little on how to do a campus visit," Hoffman said. "It's very important to sell people on the region." While Campus Visit's quantitative impact on application numbers is difficult to determine, Hoffman said the Boston schools involved reported a 15 percent increase in applications since joining the initiative, even though college applications rose only 2.3 percent nationally.

Phila. not hot spot to area grads

(04/27/00 9:00am)

Most Penn students choose to leave the City of Brotherly Love for more lucrative pastures. In 1740, the nation's first university opened its doors, drawing the region's best and brightest to the City of Brotherly Love. Today, more than 250 years later, the Philadelphia area boasts the second largest concentration of undergraduate and graduate college students in the country, with more than 250,000 college-age students calling the city home. But those 250,000 are a transient group. For decades, the Delaware Valley -- the region spanning Philadelphia and nine counties in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware -- has witnessed a mass exodus of its students to other urban areas after they graduate. In fact, a survey conducted in February by four Drexel University students showed that 62 percent of 177 undergraduate and graduate students at five Philadelphia area schools -- Penn, Drexel, Temple, Villanova and St. Joseph's universities -- plan to leave the region after they graduate and seek employment elsewhere. What draws so many students to other East Coast cities like New York, Boston and Washington, D.C.? Better yet, what pushes them away from Philadelphia? Penn, the City of Philadelphia and other area institutions are in search of these answers -- answers they hope will help reverse the trend of students turning their tassels and then packing their bags. Gone for good When Wharton senior Dylan Brooks was looking for a job this fall, he didn't look in Philadelphia. And the oversight, he said, was no accident. "[Philadelphia] has so many problems that are being covered up with band-aids? the city wage tax, crime? the roads are terrible," Brooks said. "There isn't any reason to be here." "It's kind of like a black hole. There's no way out," he continued. "The wage tax rate has flushed all the business out." Brooks, who accepted a position at Bank of America in Charlotte, N.C., explained that he found cities farther south more attractive because their taxes are lower. Meanwhile, College senior Cory Reynolds said that while her employment plans for next year are not definite, she intends to work in either Washington, D.C., or New York as a paralegal or teacher. "Philly, as a city, is declining in terms of interest," she said. "It's not attractive enough to stay around." Reynolds said that although she believes Philadelphia offers as many employment opportunities as other large cities, its social scene is lacking. In Philadelphia, she explained, many recent graduates move to the suburbs, but in New York, there are greater populations of younger people living in downtown Manhattan. The Drexel survey suggests that these students' opinions are not uncommon. While more than three quarters of the 177 students surveyed said they considered working in Philadelphia, nearly half -- 46 percent -- of them listed New York City as their first choice job location. And 17, 11, 8 and 6 percents of students said they would choose Chicago, San Francisco, Boston and Dallas, respectively. Carol de Fries, executive director of Penn's Office of Government, Community and Public Affairs, said she thinks the city's retention rate may be suffering because many students are unaware of the employment opportunities in the area or have poor perceptions of the city. "Is it the lack of jobs that prevents students from staying? Is it a negative image of Philadelphia?" de Fries asked. "Students don't try for jobs if they have a negative image." One question on the Drexel survey attempted to answer these questions, asking students to list Philadelphia's major shortcomings. About 32 percent of students said a major downfall is that stores and other establishments close too early, 21 percent highlighted crime, 11 percent reported the lack of nightlife, 10 percent said the wage tax and 9 percent indicated uncleanliness. And while less than 10 percent listed transportation as a downside, Peggy Curchack, associate director of Penn's Career Services office, said the issue is a huge problem. "There isn't a single hub center where all the work is, as there is in Manhattan." Because Philadelphia lacks a similar job core downtown, she said, many of the students who do stay in the area seek work in surrounding towns. And since many of those areas are not easily accessible by public transportation, commuting to and from the city is a chore. When asked to rate the Philadelphia job market on a scale of one to 10 -- 10 being the highest -- only 6 percent gave it a 10, and 24 percent rated it an eight. An additional 29 percent gave a rating of seven. Career Services Director Patricia Rose defended Philadelphia by saying that it does indeed offer a wide variety of employment opportunities, especially in venture capital, Internet start-ups, teaching and nursing. She did admit, however, that there often are more opportunities in other cities -- a fact that students realize. "Do we have as many opportunities as other parts of the country? No. But we have some," Rose said. Here to stay It was the price tag that sold 1999 Wharton graduate Janelle Bundas on Philadelphia. Bundas, an investment banking analyst at Legg Mason in Philadelphia, said she chose to work in the city for a number of reasons, especially because of its low cost of living. "It's a better overall experience, even though the firm is not as big and prestigious as those in New York. [Philadelphia] is smaller, more personal and less hectic," she said. "I didn't want to be a small fish in a very big ocean in terms of company size and size of the city." But Bundas' enthusiasm did not carry over to the recent Penn grads that her company tried to recruit this year. Although one of the four sought-after students accepted a job with the company, the position was for a branch in Virginia. Bundas added that Legg Mason experiences more difficulty recruiting students from Penn than those from Drexel and Villanova. "In terms of investment banking, [Penn students] consider the major names," Bundas said. "[But] the stereotype that to be successful you need to be in New York is very incorrect." Curchack said a major factor of students' decisions to stay in the area is their career choices. "If students want banking-related jobs or paralegal jobs, New York is seen as home," she said. "Philadelphia, quite frankly, is a less interesting financial market." Rose agreed, "If the top opportunity in any field is in some other place, they're likely to pursue it." St. Joseph's Career Services Director Matthew Brink said a student's hometown also plays a role in where students choose to work. He said, for example, that St. Joe's draws more students from the Philadelphia area than Penn does -- and, in turn, manages to retain nearly 75 percent of its students. And Drexel juniors Adam Uffalussy and William Hadden say Philadelphia is the ideal spot for them to open their proposed business, Sigma ASP -- an application service provider that specializes in education software. "The market for our business is perfect here," Hadden said, noting that Philadelphia public schools are often unable to afford sufficient technological resources for students due to a lack of funding. Building "Philicon Valley" Though Philadelphia has not yet reached its college graduate magnet potential, it's getting there. Former Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell organized a city-wide retention committee in November 1997 to enhance the city's image, to raise awareness of area career opportunities and to create a so-called "Philicon Valley." To lure graduates, the city and individual schools are using methods ranging from conferences to prizes to encourage start-up companies For the past two years, the city's retention committee has held a conference for students to highlight the benefits of starting businesses in the area. And as part of the event, students have the chance to win up to $1,000 for their start-up business plans. Bonnie Grant, who heads the committee, said the annual program "is designed to demystify the process of what it takes to be successful in the area." A similar event -- E-Day, to be held at Drexel in June -- will address issues of e-commerce and entrepreneurship, and students will have another opportunity to enter their business plans into a contest. And last October the committee held the first annual Collegefest to promote Philadelphia's businesses and social options. "Before the initiative, it was low on the radar screen in terms of a real economic development strategy," de Fries said, adding that while it's still too early to measure the effort's tangible effects, students' growing interest in the different conferences is indicative of the future.

Dartmouth announces details of Greek changes

(04/21/00 9:00am)

A report prevents new single-sex Greek residences and bans taps and bars in houses. More than a year after Dartmouth College's president recommended a large-scale overhaul of residential and social life on campus, the school's Board of Trustees announced this week several major changes to the Greek system. The report calls for a moratorium on the creation of any new single-sex Greek houses, moving rush from the fall term of sophomore year to the winter term effective in the academic year 2001-2002, banning taps and bars in all Greek houses and abolishing the school's independent Greek judicial system. All of the initiatives are meant to better incorporate the Greek system into the school's overall social community, officials say. To achieve this, for instance, the independent Greek judicial system might be replaced by a similar system that would hear cases of both Greek and non-Greek organizations. "[The report] lays the groundwork for some fundamental changes building on Dartmouth's traditional strengths and making the most of these while moving into the future," Dartmouth spokeswoman Laurel Stavis said. Dartmouth President James Wright's recommendations last February stemmed from a number of problems within the Greek community, including many incidents of alcohol abuse in the houses, and an episode where several students with bullhorns climbed onto the balconies of at least two fraternities and made sexually suggestive remarks to female students walking below. A committee of administrators, faculty, students and alumni was formed last April to examine the Greek system after Wright and the school's trustees announced that they wanted to eliminate single-sex fraternities and sororities. Conversations between administrators and student leaders have continued throughout the year. "The president has said that the outcome was shaped by the process," Stavis said. For the most part, Greek leaders said they were satisfied with the decisions and said the trustees took their opinions into consideration. Dartmouth Panhellenic Council President Alex Kremer, a junior, said the trustees' decisions set forth standards of excellence for the Greek system and that "the sorority system has always held itself to these standards." "On the whole, I don't see this report shaking up the way the sororities operate," she said. However, Kremer said she was displeased with some aspects of the trustees' endorsements, including ending the formation of new single-sex Greek houses, which prevents the formation of a new sorority. According to Kremer, the Greeks had hoped to establish a seventh sorority in order to accommodate all women interested in pledging. Last year the six-sorority Panhel was unable to guarantee bids to all rushees. Dartmouth InterFraternity Council President Mike Johnson, a junior, agreed that the general sentiment among Greeks is one of support of the trustees' decisions. "The reactions are mixed to a certain extent? but students realize that the decisions are made in the best interest of the students," Johnson said. He said that one common concern, though, is that the move of rush to the winter term may negatively affect membership in the fraternities and sororities because many students study abroad during that time. Johnson added, however, that the trustees' initiatives are not as specific as he had anticipated. "That means that there's going to be a lot of communication between the Greek system and the administration," he said. "Ideally the fraternity system would like to take actions not recommended by the trustees but that would benefit the Dartmouth community." In addition, Johnson said he expects the changes to ease tension among administrators, faculty, Greeks and the rest of the student body. "[The initiatives] will bring out a lot of positive aspects of the Greek system," he added.

Princeton to add 500 students

(04/20/00 9:00am)

The second-smallest Ivy League school is about to get a little bigger. The Princeton University Board of Trustees unanimously approved a recommendation last weekend to increase the size of the undergraduate student body by about 10 percent -- or 500 students -- from 4,600 to 5,100 students. A committee led by trustee and 1955 graduate Paul Wythes convened in the fall of 1997 to explore ways to enhance the quality of education and make more effective use of the school's resources. In January, the committee proposed the 500-student increase and the construction of a new residential college to accommodate the growth. According to Princeton Vice President and Secretary Thomas Wright, the increase in the student body size will not begin for another three or four years, until additional dormitory and dining space has been constructed. "We have to have the physical resources for the new students, and it's something that the university is studying right now," Princeton spokeswoman Marilyn Marks said. Wright noted that "it's not a very large increase. It will be slightly more than 1 percent each year after 30 years of no change." According to Wright, the trustees and faculty agreed that a goal of increasing the student population should be to enhance the diversity and intellectual vitality of the student body. He added that there is a general acceptance and understanding among faculty and students of the reasons for the increase in size, but there are also concerns that the increase might adversely affect the quality of the undergraduate experience. "Princeton will remain significantly smaller than most of the institutions that we compete with," Wright said. "[The increase] will not change either the reality or the experience of the undergraduate education here." Princeton has a total of 6,300 undergraduate and graduate students, making it the second-smallest Ivy League school. Dartmouth College is the smallest. Wright said he does not expect a significant change in the number of faculty members. The size of the faculty has been growing very gradually and will continue to expand at the same rate of about 1 percent each year, Wright added. "We expect a disproportionate increase in faculty size," he said, adding that there will likely be more hiring of faculty in departments with the largest undergraduate enrollments and either no increases or slight decreases in faculty size in other departments. "To some extent, [the changes will be] a matter of balance between the size of the faculty and the size of the undergraduate student body," Wright said, noting that the faculty-student ratio will remain the same. Princeton may also see an increase in the number of graduate students admitted to some departments -- especially the ones that have a large number of majors, where additional assistants in instruction and research are needed.

JOKE ISSUE: Getting ass soon to be much harder

(04/10/00 9:00am)

[NOTE: This article appeared in the annual joke issue.] University President Judith Rodin misses "the way things used to be" at Penn, she said on Friday after announcing that the University's 12 college houses will return to single-sex status in the fall of 2001. "Co-ed dorms breed pregnancies and a whole lot of distractions," Rodin said. "Something must be done to prevent problems like these." The University Trustees approved the president's proposal that the campus be divided into a west campus and an east campus, with the 38th Street bridge serving as the connection between the two sides. The dorms west of the bridge -- Harnwell, Harrison, Hamilton, Gregory and DuBois college houses -- will be male residence halls, while the Quadrangle, Stouffer, Hill and King's Court/English college houses -- all east of the bridge -- will be designated for females. "Hooking up should be more of a challenge," said Rodin, who as a Penn undergraduate lived in then-all female Hill House. Under the new housing arrangement, students will not be allowed in dorms of the opposite sex between midnight and 7 a.m. Spectaguards will be charged with enforcing this rule, and will receive bonus pay for each attempted violation they report. Director of College Houses and Academic Services David Brownlee said he thinks the move will only improve the already flourishing college house system. "Really," he asked, "how much better can this program get?" Meanwhile, Rodin said she hopes the change will raise student GPAs across the board and bring back the creativity currently lacking in the student body. "When I was an undergraduate, we had to be creative to get ass," Rodin said, adding that climbing through windows and substituting pool tables for beds were common practices. Students' reactions to Rodin's news were mostly negative. College sophomore Craig Platt was practically speechless after hearing about Rodin's plans. "What the?" was all that the irate Platt said. Meanwhile, College junior Kei Yamamoto, a resident advisor on the 11th floor of Harnwell, said, "If enough students are disgusted by the new arrangement, there will no longer be a housing crunch on campus." And Sugata "Sugar" Ray, a Wharton sophomore, explained, "No one, not President Rodin, not the guards, can stop me from climbing through windows to see my lady friends in the wee hours of the morning." Penn Students Against Single Sex Housing will be holding a 24-hour orgy in Rodin's office starting today to protest the housing change.

JOKE ISSUE: Mistake makes Class of '04 stupidest ever

(04/10/00 9:00am)

[NOTE: This article appeared in the annual joke issue.] Just days after Admissions Dean Lee Stetson announced that Penn's Class of 2004 would be the most selective in history, officials are now saying that the admitted group may, in fact, be one of the weakest group of scholars ever to gain admittance to the University. "We screwed up -- big time," Stetson stated in a letter of explanation to University President Judith Rodin and the University Trustees. "This group may actually be the very stupidest to ever get past our noses." In the letter, Stetson blamed the poor quality of the Class of 2004 on an administrative snafu, which admissions officers did not catch until decision letters had already been sent. "Apparently, one of our former work-study students was incapable of recognizing the difference between accept and reject [application] piles," Stetson said. "Needless to say, he's no longer with us." After several days of manually sorting through admissions records, new figures were released yesterday on the actual composition of the Class of 2004. The admitted group actually boasts an average combined SAT score of 1072, rather than 1412 as originally announced. And the average student will graduate in the top 66 percent of his or her class -- not the top 2 percent as Stetson said previously. In addition, admission to the Class of 2004 has been offered to 12 valedictorians, four salutatorians and one student who was ranked second in his class but has been bumped down to fourth after a disappointing third marking period. "[That student] is kind of our wild-card now," Stetson said. "The percentage strength of the class would really benefit by that kid being number two or three. Damn that senioritis!" Rejected students reacted angrily to the enormous bureaucratic mix-up, which Stetson said could not be rectified in time for the beginning of the fall term. "In all my days, I have never experienced such inane lunacy as I did when I received my [rejection] letter from Penn," said E. Thornton Merriwhether, an honors student and national merit scholar currently attending Exeter Academy in Massachusetts. "A 1600 on the SATs, ranked first in my class -- I even served as temporary ambassador to NATO," Merriwhether said. "What more does Penn want? Princeton, here I come." Some students, however, expressed sheer delight with their unexpected acceptances. Tiffi Chawawa, an admitted student from the Cosmetology School of Staten Island, N.Y., said she was very surprised to be admitted, especially since she submitted her application on a dare from some of her classmates. "I is so, so, so thrilled to be getting my letter from Mr. Stetson at the great school of Penn U.," Chawawa said. "Go Nittany Lions!" Penn Students Against Stupid Students said they were angered by the Admissions office mistake and will protest the move today by calling accepted students and insulting them until they hang up.

Penn accepts just 22% of applicants

(04/05/00 9:00am)

Penn's admissions rate has been steadily declining since 1991, when 47 percent of applicants were admitted. High school seniors across the country found some long-awaited letters in their mailboxes this week. And for a record-low 22 percent of the 18,815 Penn applicants, the news was good. Next year's freshman class will again be the University's most selective ever, according to Admissions Dean Lee Stetson. At one minute after midnight Saturday morning, the University released acceptance letters to 4,280 -- or 22 percent -- of its 18,815 applicants, including early decision applicants, for the class of 2004. The admissions rate is a continuation of the University's decade-long decline, down from 26.6 percent last year and a whopping 47 percent in 1991. And for the first time ever, the percentage of regular decision applicants accepted dropped into the teens, at 19 percent. "We admitted fewer to keep the class size under control," Stetson said, adding that he expects the yield rate -- the percent of students accepted to choose to matriculate -- to be close to last year's at 53.7 percent. That number was higher than expected, resulting in a larger than usual freshman class. "We'll be right where we want to be? with a class size of 2,350," if the yield rate is between 53 and 54 percent, Stetson said. The number of applicants for admission also reached a record level this year -- the total applicant group was 6.6 percent larger than last year's pool. About 42 percent of the Class of 2004 will be comprised of students who applied early decision. In addition to the overall decrease in the rate of admission, three of the four undergraduate school saw decreases in their acceptance rates. The College of Arts and Sciences accepted 23 percent -- 2,796 out of 11,986 applicants -- down from 27.4 percent last year. The School of Engineering and Applied Science admitted 26 percent -- 853 out of 3,325 applicants -- down from 32.9 percent. The Wharton School accepted 16 percent -- 521 out of the 3,278 applicants -- marking a one percentage point decrease. And the Nursing School accepted 51 percent of its applicants, up from 43.4 percent last year. The Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business -- the joint College and Wharton program -- accepted 72 of its 641 applicants. The Management and Technology Program of Wharton and the Engineering School accepted 87 out of 829 applicants. And 12 students were accepted to the the Healthcare Management Program of the Nursing School and Wharton. Admission offers were made to 2,175 women, representing 50.8 percent of all acceptances. And 447 international students were accepted. They comprise 10.4 percent of the admitted group and represent six continents and 79 countries. Additionally, minority students -- including African Americans, Latinos, Asians and Native Americans -- make up 41 percent of the accepted group. But that number falls significantly, to 17 percent, when Asians are excluded. This year's group of admitted students boasts an average SAT score of 1412 -- up from 1407 last year -- and the average students ranks in the top two percent of his or her graduating class. According to Stetson, 757 of the accepted students are valedictorians or salutatorians, and 663 valedictorians and salutatorians were denied admission. "This just shows how selective [we] had to be," he said. Stetson explained that the admissions office is relying more heavily on the waitlist this year -- with 500 names on the list -- in order to yield the desired class size. Last year the yield rate unexpectedly increased by five percent, resulting in a housing shortage in the fall. "We're better off being a little more conservative with admission," Stetson said. "Otherwise, we're at the mercy of who says yes [to his or her admission offer]." Mark Cannon, deputy executive director of the National Association for College Admission Counseling, said the trend of increased waitlist use is being employed by more and more schools so they can better control class sizes. "[Students] are increasingly delaying their final decision? some students are double-depositing, going through pre-registration and orientation [programs] and not opting to enroll ultimately," Cannon said. "The waitlist is there as a cushion. Now that acceptances have been sent, Stetson and his office are shifting their focus toward getting the best yield possible, through tours, luncheons and campus visits. He said 50 to 60 percent of accepted students are expected to take advantage of the services over the next few weeks. "The competition to get them to enroll is intense," Stetson said, adding that the next month will be a chance for "Penn to put its best foot forward." Admitted students have until May 1 to accept their offers of admission.

'Echo Boom' hits the college years

(03/31/00 10:00am)

Baby Boomers' kids are flooding schools with a record number of apps. They say that history tends to repeat itself. Most college admissions officers across the country would agree. About 30 years ago, college enrollment numbers reached an all-time high as the Baby Boomers -- those born in the post-World War II years spanning from 1946 to about 1964 -- filled classrooms across the country. The 1980s and early 1990s saw a decline in college-aged students, but today, the number is rising once again: the Baby Boomers' children are ready for higher education. Born between 1977 and 1994, the so-called "Echo Boomers" -- who currently account for 26 percent of the United States' population -- are contributing to growing application numbers at colleges and universities nationwide. According to School of Arts and Sciences Dean Samuel Preston, an expert on demographic trends, today's population of 17-year-olds is about 10 percent larger than it was five years ago. What does that mean for Penn and its peer institutions? A dramatic rise in college applications, which they all have seen over the past several years. However, Preston said that the Echo Boom is mild in comparison to the Baby Boom -- which, at its peak, was 20 percent larger than the Echo Boom. "This is nothing like the boom of the past," he said. "The biggest period of growth is over [and the college-age population] will remain the same for another 10 or 12 years." Penn Sociology Department Chairman Douglas Massey said the Baby Boom generation is nearing the end of its child-bearing age, but the Echo Boom's effects on college enrollment should last about another decade since more middle-aged women are giving birth. While Massey said the Echo Boom is not as intense as the Baby Boom, the generation has left its mark. "All colleges and universities will experience increased pressure for admissions because of the echo of the Baby Boom," Massey said. He added that he expects the effects of the Echo Boom to remain steady. "[College enrollment] will increase a bit in the short term, but there will be no wild swings," Massey said. While the upswing in application numbers is benefitting schools across the country, its effects are particularly evident in the Ivy League, where admissions applications for the Class of 2004 were up almost across the board. Brown University and Penn led the Ivies with increases of 14 percent and 6.6 percent, respectively. According to Penn Admissions Dean Lee Stetson, the number of applications has risen fairly consistently in the past decade, from under 12,000 applications in 1992 to nearly 19,000 this year, at least partly because of the Echo Boom. And while the Echo Boom has played a role in the trend of increasing applications, Joyce Smith, executive director of the National Association for College Admission Counseling, said there are other more significant contributing factors. "The boom [in applications] is also reflected in students submitting more applications," she said. She added that five years ago, high school seniors typically applied to only five schools, while a growing number of students nowadays are applying to as many as 20 colleges and universities. Smith said technology, especially in the form of online applications, has made the application process easier and faster.

Glitch hits computer network

(03/30/00 10:00am)

A possible security breach or system overload cut off many students' access to PennNet. Many Penn students experienced technological glitches while using the Internet for the past two days, finding themselves unable to use software like instant message service ICQ. Penn officials say that most of the difficulties were a result of an investigation into a series of potential security breaches on the network, which forced the Office of Information Systems and Computing to place a block on many PennNet services. Security violations could include hackers entering PennNet. Hackers can automate several computers to send all data stored on them to a single computer system and thereby place an overflow of information into the system. ISC Vice Provost Jim O'Donnell, a Classical Studies professor, said officials are looking into a series of security-related incidents, though he declined to elaborate on what they were. Whatever the cause, for the past two days Penn put a block on certain services to check if they were the source of security problems. O'Donnell said the block has been mainly lifted, but he would not say if the root of the problem had been discovered. He explained that if hackers were to access the system, possible security problems could be denial of service attacks -- programs designed to generate enough traffic on the network so that they deny access to the network's legitimate users. Denial of service attacks include attempts to flood a network with traffic, to disrupt connections between two or more machines, to prevent a particular individual from accessing a service and to disrupt service to a specific system or person. "One of the challenges these days is you're not sure what clever ideas people can come up with to do with the Internet," O'Donnell said. Another possible cause of the network traffic is PennNet users' use of new audio and video services. But O'Donnell doubts that is a problem. Napster -- a popular Internet service that allows quick downloads of megabytes of music -- has been a burden on some college networks by draining bandwidth away from regular applications, such as Web browsing. "We haven't seen [Napster] as a real big problem here yet," he said. O'Donnell said traffic problems sometimes go unnoticed for long periods of time. But for the past year, ISC has utilized new network monitoring software, which notifies staff as soon as a technical difficulty is detected. O'Donnell said most people found out about the problems from a statement he posted on the PennNet-announce listserv and newsgroup and experienced few or no difficulties. Traffic issues are "part of the challenge of living on the Internet," but similar problems have not occurred in recent years, O'Donnell said.

Applications climb at five Ivies

(03/27/00 10:00am)

Brown led the Ivy League with a 14 percent increase, while Penn was second with a 6.6 percent rise. Admissions applications in the Ivy League are up almost across the board, with most of the eight institutions showing increases in the number of applications received for the Class of 2004. Brown University had by far the largest gain in the number of applications received, with a 14 percent rise from last year. The Providence, R.I., school received a total of 16,784 applications this year. Penn, whose number of applications increased by 6.6 percent to a total of 18,803 applications, saw the second-greatest increase among the Ivy schools, followed by Harvard, Columbia and Cornell universities. Dartmouth College and Yale University received slightly fewer applications this year, seeing 0.9 and 3.2 percent drops, respectively. Statistics for Princeton University were unavailable. Marlyn McGrath Lewis, director of admissions at Harvard, attributed the school's 2.9 percent increase partly to the growing role of technology in the admissions process. "With the availability of information on the Web, there is some inevitability that people will find out [more] about us," she said. "And it has become more and more easy to apply [with online applications]." Mark Cannon, deputy executive director of the National Association for College Admission Counseling -- a group of admissions officers and high school guidance counselors -- said the increased use of technology contributed significantly to the rising number of applications. "Technology is improving the students' ability to search for compatible institutions," Cannon said. "Technology has enhanced communication -- college admissions officers use e-mail to communicate with applicants." Cannon said having application forms online has also played a role in the rise, adding that students who in past years would have applied to only five schools are now applying to as many as 15 to 20. Columbia reported a similar increase of 2.7 percent, seeing about 15,650 applicants for its Class of 2004. And applications rose by about 1.5 percent at Cornell University, going from 19,934 applications last year to a total of 20,200 this year. According to Cornell Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Donald Saleh, the school will likely admit about 30 percent of the applicants -- 400 fewer students than last year. Both Penn and Cornell's yield rates -- the number of students admitted who choose to matriculate -- last year were higher than expected. At Penn, this overflow led to an on-campus housing shortage last fall. In response, both schools anticipate lower acceptance rates this year. "We over-enrolled the freshman class," Saleh said. "We're making a dramatic step this year to make sure that we don't bring in a class larger than our target." Penn Admissions Dean Lee Stetson said Penn will rely on the wait-list more heavily this year to control the size of the Class of 2004. Meanwhile, Dartmouth reported 10,165 applications this year, just slightly lower than the 10,260 received last year. And Yale University received 12,809 applications, 3.2 percent fewer than last year. Yale Dean of Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid Richard Shaw said in an interview with The Harvard Crimson this month that publicity from the high-profile murder of senior Suzanne Jovin in December 1998 might account for the smaller applicant pool this year. The Ivy schools will all be sending out their letters of acceptance to high school seniors in early April.

Trustees approve 3.4 percent hike in '00-01 charges

(03/24/00 10:00am)

Penn's total charges will be the third lowest in the Ivy League, behind Yale and Princeton. The University Board of Trustees approved a 3.4 percent increase in total student charges for the academic year yesterday, pushing the cost of a Penn education up to $32,996 from $31,902. The increase is Penn's lowest in more than 30 years. At an Executive Committee Meeting yesterday, the Trustees approved a 3.9 percent increase in undergraduate tuition, raising rates from $24,230 to $25,170. In addition, room and board costs will rise two percent, from $7,672 to $7,826. "We're so committed to try and limit the rate of increase," University President Judith Rodin said. The increase in total charges was 3.7 percent last year and 3.9 percent the year before. Rodin added that the University has done everything possible to "create all the opportunity for the best and brightest [to come to Penn]." Penn's increase is on the low end in the Ivy League, with other undergraduate charge increases ranging from 2.9 percent at Harvard and Yale universities to 4.6 percent at Cornell University. And Penn could almost be called a bargain, at least relatively -- its total charges are the third lowest in the Ivy League. Rates will be slightly lower only at Yale and Princeton University, at $32,880 and $32,681, respectively. Columbia University is the only Ivy that has not yet announced next year's charges. University Budget Director Mike Masch explained that Penn is committed to keeping expenses down and not raising tuition more than necessary. He explained that much of the tuition money goes toward a wide range of academic programming. Initiatives in the Penn Humanities Forum and the Institute for Research in Cognitive Science, coupled with the construction of new buildings on campus, contribute to rising costs, he said. Masch added that Penn's greatest expense is personnel. "We pride ourselves on having a really outstanding faculty," he said. "We want to retain our faculty? so salaries have to be competitive." But the increases are necessary if the University is to "remain at the cutting-edge of creating new knowledge," Masch said. Another top priority for the University is continuing to make a Penn education affordable for all qualified students. According to Rodin, the support of the Trustees will enable the University to maintain its need-blind admissions policy and continue to provide financial assistance to those students who demonstrate need. She said in a statement yesterday that she expects the University's undergraduate, need-based grant budget for the 2000-01 academic year to exceed the $54 million budgeted. Penn has had difficulty competing in recent years with the financial aid offerings of other schools, such as Princeton and Yale, who offer predominantly grant-based aid because they fund financial aid almost entirely from their endowments. But Penn has a much smaller endowment per student ratio than other schools and has been unable to take similar steps. Still, more than 40 percent of undergraduates received grant support from the University last year. "We have had and continue to have one of the most creative, and flexible and extensive financial aid programs of the top research universities in the United States," Masch said. Rodin added that she and the Trustees are committed to the University's campaign to raise $200 million to enhance its endowment for undergraduate financial aid. Over $100 million has already been raised. Penn's per-capita endowment is the lowest in the Ivy League, making it difficult for the University to match financial aid packages offered by other schools.

College forced to face dangers of alcohol abuse

(03/23/00 10:00am)

Alcohol-related deaths of students have brought drinking to the forefront. Part three of four The alarming headline swept across colleges and universities throughout the country one November morning in 1997 -- a Massachusetts Institute of Technology freshman had died from alcohol poisoning. Eighteen-year-old Scott Krueger, who died after spending three days in an alcohol-induced coma, had a blood alcohol level about five times higher than the state's legal limit for drivers while drinking heavily at a fraternity pledge event. Krueger's death was just one in a string of high-profile alcohol-related incidents that have struck colleges nationwide over the past few years -- incidents that have pushed the issue of alcohol abuse to the forefront at hundreds of schools. At Penn, the death a year ago this week of 1994 Penn alumnus Michael Tobin after a night of drinking at a Phi Gamma Delta annual reunion weekend hit close to home. The incident prompted officials to re-examine the University's social climate -- temporarily enforcing a mostly dry campus and ultimately overhauling the policy altogether. Many institutions are engaged in similar ongoing battles against excessive drinking, and even schools untouched by alcohol-related catastrophes are, like Penn, examining and revamping their alcohol policies and beefing up non-alcoholic social options. Yet administrators agree that the problem of alcohol abuse among college students cannot be solved easily. "As much as we're doing, it's conceivable that another tragedy could happen, if not here, then somewhere else," said Noah Bartolucci, a spokesman for Duke University, which saw an alcohol-related student death last fall. MIT spokesman Robert Sales agreed. "Binge drinking is a societal problem. I think MIT is doing as much as you can do as an institution." Following Krueger's death, MIT expelled the fraternity he was pledging and established a system of progressive sanctions on alcohol violations, ranging from calling a student into the dean's office about a minor first infraction to fines of up to $1,500 and expulsion. The Cambridge, Mass., school is also revamping its undergraduate housing system by discouraging freshmen from living in fraternity houses, as was the custom before Krueger's death. Last fall, student alcohol abuse made headlines once again when a Duke junior died from alcohol poisoning. Raheem Bath died of aspiration pneumonia in November several days after he consumed large quantities of alcohol, passed out and inhaled his own vomit -- which caused the fatal bacterial infection to form in his lungs. Duke initially did not disclose the involvement of alcohol in Bath's death due to privacy concerns of his family. However, after Bath's mother mentioned at a December memorial service that her son's death involved alcohol, administrators began to discuss the issue with student leaders and trustees. And officials have since appointed a task force of administrators, faculty and students to explore ways to improve Duke's alcohol policy. Tragedy also struck Michigan State University when a student there died after excessive drinking in 1998. Bradley McCue died on his 21st birthday when he participated in a school tradition by trying to drink 21 shots of alcohol to celebrate his birthday. He consumed 23 and subsequently died. With the assistance of McCue's parents, MSU now shows two videos on the dangers of excessive drinking during freshman orientation to both the students and their parents. According to MSU's Associate Director of Student Life Marie Hansen, the vignettes have given rise to discussions on alcohol between parents and their children. "For the first time, they're talking about the issue in a manner that is more forthright and less parental," Hansen said. Still, the reality of alcohol abuse again echoed throughout the MSU campus last spring when nearly 100 students were arrested for alcohol possession and disruptive behavior after a riot broke out when the school's basketball team made the Final Four. In response to this incident and to a similar riot that took place the previous spring, MSU President Peter McPherson brought city officials and residents together with MSU administrators and students to find ways to curb excessive drinking. According to Hansen, MSU officials are aiming "to eliminate high-risk drinking rather than prevent all drinking." She added that according to a recent school survey, 71 percent of MSU students have zero to five drinks per week, an amount she said is reasonable. Dartmouth College is also revamping its alcohol policy since incidents of overconsumption of alcohol -- especially in the Greek community -- surfaced on its campus. Dartmouth's Student Life Committee recommended revisions to the alcohol policy, and the suggestions, which include a mandatory education program during freshman orientation, are currently being reviewed. The small Hanover, N.H., is also close to eliminating its Greek system altogether. Margaret Smith, the coordinator of alcohol and other drug education at Dartmouth, said the changes have been in the making for at least 30 years. "[Dartmouth] is trying to be proactive," Smith said. "Alcohol abuse has become an issue on many campuses? and it can't be side-stepped." Smith added that administrators, faculty and students alike agree that amendments to the alcohol policy are necessary. "The change is what's being debated," she said. "We're going to try to make our policies very developmental? something to grow from and not to be taken lightly." Though free from high-profile alcohol-related incidents in recent years, Brown University has had a group in place to review its alcohol policy since 1996. "No particular incidents, no catastrophe prompted the review [of the alcohol policy]," Brown spokeswoman Tracie Sweeney said. But she added that an incident in 1998 emphasized the need to curb alcohol abuse. An undercover reporter for The Providence Journal went drinking with a group of students at a gathering at a student social center on campus and then wrote an article about the high level of underage drinking at the event. In response, police entered the center one night and found the reporter's story to be true. Brown temporarily closed the center, where students must now scan ID cards that identify minors.

Record number of applicants apply to Class of 2004

(03/09/00 10:00am)

Nearly 19,000 high school seniors await the University's admissions letters. The Penn Admissions Office is in the midst of the most competitive admissions period in the University's history, according to Admissions Dean Lee Stetson. Admissions officials are weighing the fates of the record 18,803 applicants for the roughly 2,350 spots available in the Class of 2004. The total applicant group is 6.6 percent larger than last year's pool. The rise in applications means that the final acceptance rate may drop to 23 percent for the applicant pool as a whole, compared with 26.6 percent for the Class of 2003, Stetson said, adding that Penn will accept a smaller number of students this year to make up for last year's higher-than-expected yield. "We're going to be more conservative with admissions? and we will use the wait-list to control the class size," Stetson said. About 200 students more than were expected accepted admissions offers to this year's freshman class, resulting in a housing shortage in the fall. Stetson said this year's applicants are stronger than ever. "Penn has moved into a new realm," Stetson said. "The personal qualities of the students are exceptional." The average SAT score of the applicant group is 1355. But, Stetson said, "It's not even close to where we're going to end up with our average [for the Class of 2004]." Each of the four undergraduate schools reported an increase in the number of applicants this year. The College received 11,986 applications, up 7.7 percent from last year, Stetson said. Engineering applications rose to 3,325, marking an increase of 7.4 percent. Wharton received 3,278 applications, 1.8 percent more than last year's 3,220. And applications to the Nursing school increased by 5.9 percent. In addition, interest in the dual degree programs increased this year. Management and Technology -- the joint Wharton and Engineering program -- received 829 applications, 36 percent more than the 610 received last year. And 641 students, 1.6 more than last year's 631, applied to the Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business. The applicants hail from all 50 states and 87 foreign countries. Also, the University received record-high numbers of applications from 23 states. A record number of minority students applied for admission to the Class of 2004. African-American students submitted 1,222 applications, Asians filed 5,847 applications, Latinos submitted 907 and Native Americans sent in 40 applications. Those figures are all increases from last year. Admissions Officer Leslie Smith estimated that 85 percent of the applicants are academically qualified to attend Penn. And Admissions Officer Martin Bonilla said the statistics suggest that Penn is a hot school for high school seniors right now. "The message is that Penn is a really elite institution but not elitist," Bonilla said. Stetson agreed, saying the applicant pool shows Penn's growing popularity. "I think students are telling a good story about the University," Stetson said. Bonilla attributed part of the rise in applications to the popularity of schools located in cities. "Urban universities seem to be quite in vogue," Smith said, noting that many students are attracted to the city's internship opportunities. The Admissions Office will mail acceptance, rejection and wait-list letters on April 1. Penn has made a remarkable climb through the ranks of the nation's top colleges and universities over the past decade. In 1991, the University accepted 47 percent of applicants applying for admission to the Class of 1995. Since then, the number of applications has continued to rise while Penn has moved higher and higher in national college rankings.

Legality of online note firm uncertain

(03/08/00 10:00am) may iolate copyright laws by posting class notes on a Web site. When it comes to the controversial, there's one thing most everyone agrees on -- the legality of buying and posting class notes online is a very precise shade of gray. The site, which pays college students to post their lecture notes online, received negative publicity recently after Yale University demanded that all of its professors' lecture notes be taken down. Yale argued that each time features new notes online, the company violates copyright laws. And although Penn has not taken any action against the Web site, a committee of administrators is looking into the issue -- which, according to Penn Legal Studies Professor Dan Hunter, is very complex. Hunter said that while students would be infringing on copyright law if they copied professors' notes verbatim, because they are selling only their interpretations of the lectures, it may not be against the law. "There is a loophole here," Hunter said. He explained that copyright law protects the expression of an idea. The students employed by are actually expressing the ideas, which are given by professors. The students therefore have a degree of the copyright material, Hunter said. And however complex the issue of copyright may be, spokeswoman Janet Cardinell insists that the Web site is not infringing upon the law. She said that the copyright laws do not extend to information in the public domain and scientific facts -- the type of material presented in the introductory courses for which notes are posted. "These classes provide basic information," Cardinell said. "The student in the class is writing down their interpretation." The notes are designed to be value-added, as the notes are meant to be used as supplements to professors' lectures, she explained. Cardinell admitted, though, that "there is a gray area of the law." Problems may arise, she said, because at times professors plan to publish the material they present in class, and thus want to protect it from being made available to the public before they are finished. Several Penn professors expressed concern earlier in the week because they were not informed that notes were being posted for their classes . In addition, some of the notes were of low quality. "We understand their concerns," Cardinell said, adding that often does not contact professors before posting notes from their classes but plans to begin doing so and will likely encourage professors to review the notes before they are posted. This process would allow professors to have control over what is published and to find out if students are understanding the material presented in class, she explained. "We will work with professors individually so that everyone is mutually satisfied," Cardinell said. has not contacted any of the Penn professors whose notes are online. Penn Deputy General Counsel Wendy White said that the University has a committee currently looking into the site, which has notes posted for 52 Penn courses in a range of departments including Economics, Biology, Philosophy, Political Science and Computer Science. "It is an issue for the University whether Penn wants to permit this activity," White said. "The Provost's office and our office need to take a look at it, and we are." White added that there will likely not be a problem if a professor has granted a student permission to post the course notes and if the notes accurately reflect class discussions.

Schooling concerns aired

(02/29/00 10:00am)

At a meeting with Mayor Street last night, W. Phila. residents spoke of the need for improved schools. Hundreds of community members filled the auditorium of West Philadelphia High School last night for their second chance this month to address education and neighborhood concerns with Mayor John Street. Complaints about the new Penn-assisted public school and the state of local schools kept Street and Third District Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell's attention for much of the four-hour open-invitation meeting at the school, located at 48th and Walnut streets. Immediately after Street opened the floor for questions, the audience of senior citizens, parents, local students and children assembled into two long lines spanning the length of the room for a chance to speak. The heated discussion about schools that highlighted the last town meeting resurfaced, as dozens more spoke about the plight of area schools -- in particular the Lea School located at 47th and Locust streets. With the backdrop of supportive residents holding signs and banners declaring "equal opportunity for all" and "Lea School has no library, new school has computers," residents submitted a petition of more than 500 signatures to Street, demanding that both Penn and the city give a combined $10 million to improve area schools. "It's dirty. It's dreary. It's depressing," Valeria James-Berry, the vice president of Urban Market Developers and a concerned parent, said of the school. James-Berry said that her eighth grade daughter, who attends the Lea School, tests on a fifth-grade math level. She added that some of the teachers attend school only once a week -- leaving inconsistent instruction by substitute teachers. Lela Shedrick, a resident of 48th and Pine streets and the mother of two, explained that her 10-year-old son, who attends Lea, does not have books to bring home because five students sit around a table and share a book in each class. Street agreed that the biggest problem facing the city is the quality of education in the school. "[But] the city is not on fire about public education, not yet," Street added. "We must decide what we expect from our system." Controversy also again surrounded the Penn-assisted public school -- slated to be built on 42nd and Locust streets -- and its proposed catchment area that the the school board will draw to determine who will attend the new school. Many complained that Penn-affiliated, upper-middle class students would be the only community members to benefit from the still-undetermined catchment area. "We simply want equal education opportunity for the children at the Lea School," said Walnut Hill Community Association President Betty Reavis, who organized the petition. But while educational issues generated the most debate last night, there was room for other topics of discussion. Many voiced concerns about the blight of West Philadelphia neighborhoods and demanded that abandoned houses be fixed up and sold or removed. "The abandoned houses have really taken away the quality of life for us," said Christine McCullough, who has resided on the 300 block of South Frazier Street since 1955. "Either these people shape up or ship out." McCullough, 71, added that some of the houses have been vacant for nearly 20 years and that there are two behind her house. "It's a depressing site, [and] nobody's going to buy a house where there's an abandoned property," she said, noting that the blight brings in drug dealers and an overall bad element of people. "If I had the money, I'd move." Street said the city is developing a program called Saving Neighborhoods, dedicated to determining the best ways to allocate money to the various neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia. "We are prepared to invest in neighborhoods," Street added. "But if we can't get cooperation from the community, then it doesn't matter what we do."

Worth the cost?

(02/28/00 10:00am)

Prestigious diploma not key to success Two college graduates are interviewing for a job. One is from a highly selective school, the other is from a no-name one. Who gets hired? According to a recent study conducted by the the National Bureau of Economic Research, the student from the more prestigious school won't necessarily be a shoo-in. Basing the selectivity of an institution on the average SAT score of its students, researchers found that intelligent, hard-working people will succeed in the job market regardless of the school they attend. "The study showed that students who go to a more selective college do tend to have higher paying jobs, but it appears that it's not caused by the fact that they attended more selective colleges," said Alan Krueger, the study's co-author and a Princeton University Economics professor. "It appears that students who attend highly selective schools are highly motivated going into college? and would attain high-paying jobs regardless," he added. The study did find, however, that students from disadvantaged backgrounds do benefit from attending well-known schools, which can provide them with contacts they might otherwise not have had. Krueger and co-author Stacy Berg Dale, a researcher at the Arthur W. Mellon Foundation, based their findings on two separate studies -- the College and Beyond Survey and the National Longitudinal Survey of the High School Class of 1972. The College and Beyond Survey includes information about the labor market outcomes in 1995 for students who graduated in 1980 from highly selective and less-selective colleges and universities nationwide. The National Longitudinal Survey shows the correlations among the incomes of students who entered college in 1972, the average SAT scores of all the schools to which they applied and the average SAT scores of the schools they attended. Krueger noted that the survey results should not deter students from attending costly schools, as there are many factors to take into account when choosing which college or university to attend. "For example, if a student is interested in business, he is better off going to a school that specializes in business, like Wharton," Krueger added. According to Penn Career Services Director Patricia Rose, the prospect of finding a well-paid job is only one of several reasons why students come to a top school like Penn. Many students choose Penn for "the richness of the intellectual experience [and] the opportunity to study with outstanding faculty, to live with very smart, very interesting classmates," she said. Caren Lissner, who received her bachelor's degree in English from Penn in 1993 and now is the managing editor of the Hudson Reporter Newspaper Group in New Jersey, agreed. "Being with smart people and with very intelligent professors? is more important than getting out and making a lot of money," Lissner said. "I think that people get can out of a school what they put into it." However, she pointed out that graduating from a prestigious school like Penn does make a difference, despite the study's results. "It is unfortunate, but I think the name [of a school] plays a role," Lissner said. "Sometimes people are judged by where they went to school." But 1986 Penn graduate Henry Kahwaty, who earned his doctoral degree in Economics in 1991 and is now employed as an economist at the Washington, D.C.-based Navigant Consulting, said he is not particularly concerned with where potential employees earned their degrees. "They really have to know economics," Kahwaty said. "But schools with the most rigorous economic programs like Penn and Vanderbilt have the most successful students, and we certainly see a difference in the qualities of candidates."

Yale prof pleads guilty to child porn charge

(02/22/00 10:00am)

More than a year after being arrested for receiving and possessing child pornography, Yale Geology Professor Antonio Lasaga pleaded guilty on Friday to the charges against him. Lasaga, who has been on leave from the professorship since his arrest in November 1998, admitted to receiving tens of thousands of images of child pornography on his computer and possessing two videocassettes of a child engaged in sexual acts. The professor agreed to plead guilty to two of the federal charges filed against him in exchange for five other charges being dropped. Lasaga has been the subject of investigation since the Federal Bureau of Investigation seized pornographic pictures of children in 1998 from his on-campus apartment in the college house where he was the faculty master. Lasaga, 50, was to be tried this week in U.S. District Court. "We find it distressing that these crimes were committed by a member of our community," Yale spokesman Lawrence Haas said. "The university will be taking appropriate action at the appropriate time." Under federal sentencing guidelines, the plea agreement recommends that Lasaga be sentenced to a jail term of 135 to 168 months -- about 11 to 14 years -- and pay a $17,500 to $175,000 fine, the Yale Daily News said. U.S. District Judge Alvin Thompson will sentence Lasaga on May 8, after the U.S. Probation Office has prepared a pre-sentencing report. The judge could sentence Lasaga up to 20 years in jail and a maximum fine of $500,000. Lasaga's attorney, William Dow, would not speculate as to what the sentence would be. "Professor Lasaga has acknowledged his wrongdoing. His fate is now in the hands of the court," Dow said in a written statement after the plea was entered. In addition to the federal charges, Lasaga faces state charges, including first-degree sexual assault and the promotion of an obscene performance, in reference to the videotapes. Under the agreement, Lasaga must undergo a polygraph test to verify that he no longer possesses any child pornography. Federal agents determined that Lasaga had been using an Internet portal site since 1996 to download child pornography. In his written statement, Dow said Lasaga's situation "teaches us once again that even the most accomplished of us cannot escape the experiences of our youth." Because Lasaga waived his right to further appeals in the federal case by pleading guilty, he will have to accept whatever sentence Thompson gives him in May.

Harker appoints Schmittlein as new deputy dean

(02/22/00 10:00am)

Newly appointed Wharton Dean Patrick Harker announced yesterday that David Schmittlein will take over as the school's deputy dean. In his new position, effective March 1, Schmittlein -- the Ira A. Lipman professor of Marketing and chairman of the Marketing Department -- will serve as Wharton's chief academic officer and second-in-command. "I've been at Wharton for 20 years? and there's no place I'd rather be," Schmittlein said. "The opportunity to work with a great faculty is something that just doesn't seem right to turn down." According to Harker, who held the deputy dean position until being appointed dean of Wharton on February 8, Schmittlein has proved to be a strong academic administrator. "He's a very effective department chair in attracting and recruiting faculty," Harker said. Schmittlein played a role in developing the electronic commerce MBA program, which was approved last November. Before becoming chairman of the Marketing Department in 1994, he served as vice dean and director of Wharton's doctoral programs, and before that as co-director at the Center for Marketing Strategy Research. Schmittlein said faculty recruitment will be a top priority for him in his new role, noting that keeping the faculty at the forefront of technological innovations and fundamental changes in the learning environment is an ongoing challenge. Schmittlein and Harker agreed that Wharton classes will have an emphasis on information technology. Harker praised Schmittlein's efforts in the development of the MBA program in electronic commerce. Schmittlein said he will focus on maintaining solid relationships between Wharton and various companies -- whether they be consulting firms or e-commerce corporations -- and bringing their expertise into the classroom. "I want to make sure that the work we do here? gets the visibility it deserves," Schmittlein added. Schmittlein serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Interactive Marketing, Marketing Letters and the Journal of Marketing Research. In 1993 he won the Wharton Undergraduate Excellence in Teaching Award. Schmittlein received his doctoral degree and master's degree in philosophy from Columbia University and his bachelor of arts degree from Brown University. Schmittlein is currently working on research projects involving customer purchase patterns, the assessment of future sales potential and direct marketing.