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GUEST COLUMNISTS: Your chance to be heard

(12/01/99 10:00am)

There are precious few times that a student can walk into a room and talk to President Rodin, Provost Barchi and leaders from the faculty, staff and graduate and undergraduate student governments. As the leaders of the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly and the Undergraduate Assembly -- which together represent the approximately 20,000 students on campus -- we urge you to attend and seize this opportunity to speak out. Students are allowed to talk for up to three minutes, and are encouraged to prepare their remarks in advance. You must provide the Office of the University Secretary (898-7005) with the topic of your remarks by no later than 5 p.m. tomorrow to secure a place on the formal agenda. In addition, if time remains at the conclusion of the forum, Council will take direct questions from the audience. It is important to take full advantage of this opportunity. Your remarks should relate to campus-wide issues such as financial aid, campus pluralism, safety, recreational facilities, community relations and the like. If your landlord has not fixed your toilet in three weeks or you want paper towels in Quad bathrooms, this is not the proper venue for airing these grievances. And this open forum is not a panacea -- the objective of this forum is not to solve problems on the spot. It is to provide University Council members with knowledge of student concerns from the mouths of the students themselves. On the other hand, rest assured that your concerns will be taken seriously. The points you raise are likely to be referred to the appropriate Council committee. And GAPSA and the UA will be sure to contact you individually so that we can properly follow through on your concerns with the administration. You may be intimidated at the thought of giving a speech in front of University Council. You shouldn't be. Think of it this way: Everything you say will be on the record. There is no room for cover-up. As long as you follow procedure, this will be your opportunity to throw a curveball at the powers that be. GAPSA and the UA are working to build bridges with each other and facilitate more meaningful interaction between the student body and the administration. Our joint appeal for student involvement in this open forum is an example of that collaborative effort, which also includes working together on issues such as off-campus living, SEPTA, allocation of student space and the creation of cheaper retail and food options on or near campus. This open forum is your time to give thoughtful and honest input as to how our University can function better. Without your participation, our voice as your elected representatives is not complete.

Chodorow quits provost job, loses UT bid

(06/01/98 9:00am)

Tenafly High School '96 Tenafly, N.J. Former University Provost Stanley Chodorow learned an unfortunate lesson this year -- sometimes, not everything goes according to plan. In late October, Chodorow, 54, announced he was resigning his position, the top academic post at the University, to pursue the vacant presidency at the University of Texas at Austin. And that is exactly what happened. The University of Texas System Board of Regents instead chose Larry Faulkner, provost of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, as president of the country's largest university. The January 12 announcement came 1 1/2 months after Chodorow resigned his Penn position to pursue the post. But his original decision to resign was hardly a surprise to the University community, as UT-Austin was at least the fifth school in a year to contact Chodorow about presidential openings. Since the fall of 1996, the former provost also contended for top posts at the University of Arizona, the University of California at Los Angeles and the University of Michigan, coming up short each time. And last November, he was named as one of two finalists for the presidency of Tulane University in New Orleans, but he withdrew from the race, explaining that UT-Austin would be a "better match." Chodorow said the Texas announcement presented him with "the right time" to leave the post he has held since 1994, when he came to Penn from the University of California at San Diego. Although he said that he did not actively seek out any of the positions, Chodorow said he intends "to become a president." Despite a rocky beginning -- in which he was criticized for his handling of a controversial new student judicial code, among other matters -- Chodorow left his position proud of his contributions to the undergraduate experience. He referred specifically to projects such as the 21st Century Plan, an initiative to increase academic and research opportunities, the newly-released college house residential plan and the Foreign Languages Across the Curriculum and the Speaking Across the University projects that were implemented last year. If he had more time, Chodorow said, he would have liked to develop more hubs for focused student groups on campus. Using the Kelly Writers House as a model, he said he would like to see hubs for community service, international programs and visual-arts groups at the University. A search committee comprised of both faculty and students hopes to find a permanent replacement for Chodorow by August. In the meantime, the University selected Deputy Provost Michael Wachter to take over as interim provost, effective January 1. Wachter stressed that Chodorow's initiatives are integral to the transformation of undergraduate education. "It is to Stan Chodorow's credit that much of the fine work he and President Rodin began together has been carried on so effectively and without disruption," Wachter said. "That is a terrific testament to his management and leadership style." And administrators were confident that Chodorow's initiatives had sufficient momentum behind them to survive the provost's departure. "When he left as provost, Dr. Chodorow left a strong, able team of individuals in place to carry on this work," Wachter said. On his major projects, Chodorow worked closely with faculty and administrators, and appointed a student board for the 21st Century Plan to advise administrators on programs under its purview. During his final days as provost, Chodorow headed a committee which investigated officials' handling of star defensive tackle and 1998 College graduate Mitch Marrow's eligibility to play football. Chodorow communicated his findings to the NCAA, which forced Penn to forfeit every winning game in the 1997 season in which Marrow played, dropping Penn's 6-4 record to 1-9. Before he stepped down, Chodorow said he wishes he could have accomplished more, but noted that "you don't have to accomplish everything to accomplish a lot."

COLUMN: With the blueprints drawn, Penn's plans progress

(09/03/97 9:00am)

Guest Columnist: Judith Rodin Guest Columnist: Judith RodinI hope you had a wonderful summer. Now that you are on campus -- some of you for the first time -- you may be speculating about the upcoming year. In fact, some of the speculation began early. Over the summer, I was asked on several occasions what "the plan" is for the year ahead. Each time I gave the same basic response: "The plan is to follow the plan." Because Penn is large and disparate, it may appear at any given time that a range of distinct and unrelated activities is taking place around campus. New technology here, new programs there, construction and reconstruction: "What does this have to do with that?" is a frequently heard question. The answer, much of the time, is that seemingly disconnected endeavors and developments are, in fact, essential and interwoven parts of our institutional agenda. They relate to each other like the working parts of a body and, as Penn drives ahead toward comprehensive excellence, each has its own vital role. Penn needs and has a blueprint, an Agenda for Excellence, because more than ever before, students need a superb education and the world needs the growth in knowledge produced by the best research universities. Moreover, the world of higher education is growing ever more competitive and, unless Penn strives to be among the best, we will end up -- certainly not among the worst -- but among the many. That is simply unacceptable for the university founded by Benjamin Franklin. With this as background, I offer an account of our recent progress on a number of fronts. Each is an area of emphasis in the Agenda for Excellence; our progress is not happenstance. Exciting new academic programs We have launched vigorous new programs in a number of Penn's schools in a campus-wide spirit of innovation. To highlight just a few, the School of Arts and Sciences has instituted a rigorous quantitative skills requirement that will help prepare its graduates for life and careers in the 21st century. SAS and the School of Engineering and Applied Science have also established a small battery of competitive new master's programs. The School of Medicine is moving forward with Curriculum 2000, perhaps the most significant curricular development in medicine this century. The Law School is developing strategic cross-school programs with Wharton, SAS and other schools as it takes broad advantage of Penn's multi-disciplinary opportunities. And significant advances in distance learning are being made across the University. A leader among universities in the wise use of technology Penn continues to be recognized nationally for its innovative leadership in the use of information technology. Undergraduates who live in first-year and college houses will see a real breakthrough this month in our support for their computing needs -- through a support-in-residence program that integrates computing support with academic support in math, English and the use of library resources. The rest of the campus is settling in to the first full year of computing service delivered under a new decentralized-support model that puts users more directly in touch with technical resources. Penn's groundbreaking Resnet project is finished. And we're beginning to link up with new high-speed networking that goes beyond what the conventional Internet can do. An urban campus of great beauty and function Penn's academic programs have been enhanced and enriched by our peerless campus. A unique gem in the middle of a major city, it remains home to each of our twelve schools and is being wisely, strategically developed. This year we will see: * Completion of the world-class Institute for Advanced Science and Technology and Logan Hall for the College and several SAS departments * Construction on our new student center, the Perelman Quad; a revitalized Sansom Street running west to the new Sansom Common; and new laboratories and research space in Biomedical Research Building II * Planning for new and renovated SAS and SEAS facilities and a new Wharton building that will help solve the School's dire space needs. A neighborhood that is clean and safe Cleanliness and safety are the two main goals of the University City District that was inaugurated in August. Supported by Penn and other area institutions, UCD will complement city services with cleaning, security and other services specially tailored to our West Philadelphia community. UCD will augment the University's commitment to the safety of our community. Over the past year we added more than twenty new police officers to our force and contracted with a leading firm to bring state-of-the-art electronic security systems to our buildings and residences. Because of our continuing efforts, the number of reported robberies in our area has dropped significantly from a year ago. When crime does occur, our police are now able to make more and quicker apprehensions. Our students are equally impressive. I know our upperclassmen join me in welcoming Penn's Class of 2001 -- our "millennial class." The road that led these bright young people to Penn was documented in a marvelous April cover story in U.S. News and World Report. And our student "accept rate" is even higher than last year's record. Our newest students bring great promise to Penn, the excitement of the new millennium, and the hope of many good things to come. So, too, does all of our strategic planning, implementation, and progress. Together we are advancing the University to a position of preeminence in the approaching century. I look forward to continuing the journey with you.

Grad students get own dining room

(11/18/91 10:00am)

Graduate students on meal plan will not have to share their dinner hour with undergraduates anymore. Graduate students lost their only grad-student-only dining commons when the Law School dormitory was demolished earlier this year. This year, graduate students said they had nowhere to eat without being bombarded by undergraduates. Second-year Fine Arts graduate student Heidi Tarshis said she has been eating dinner at Hill House and has had to deal with "freshmen throwing food." "For a grad student, you don't really want that while you're eating," Tarshis said. And Dining Services Director William Canney said he understands the need for graduate students to have their own dining facility. "It's much like you have the UA to represent the undergraduates and GAPSA to represent the graduate students," Canney said last week. "Likewise the graduate students would like their own area [to eat]." But Canney said the problem was not solved before the school year began because Dining Service lacks space this year due to the closing of the dining rooms in English House and the Law dorms. "I'm space-poor right now," he said. "I'm serving as many people this year in two less facilities." The English House dining room will reopen next fall, while the new Law School dining room will not open until 1993. The Mendelson Room seats 120 people and as many as 350 graduate students are eligible for dinner, Canney said. But Canney said that he is "looking at about 250 people" to eat at the T-House during the 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. dining hours. Some graduate students have cancelled their meal plans this year because of the lack of a dining facility, according to Tarshis, who spearheaded the drive for private dining space. While the problem may be solved for now, graduate students will again lack dining space next fall when the football team, which normally dines there, returns to the field. "Come the fall, I'm still in the same dilemma," Canney said. If the number of students who use the facility is low, there is a possibility that the program may not continue through next year, but Canney said he is "optimistic about the count." Yet many graduate students, and Canney himself, agree that the location may keep many students away. "I think it's a good idea, granted I would like it a little closer to Grad Towers," said third-year law student Eric Costello, who added that he would "try it on opening night." First-year Law student Valerie Kelly agreed that the location was one of the things that may keep her from dining at the facility. "To me, it seems a little remote," she said. "They do have to walk a couple of blocks to get to Training House," Canney said, but he added that he thinks it is worth it. The Mendelson Room will also continue the tradition of serving wine on Friday nights, which was started by the Law School dining room. Canney also said that Dining Services has found a way to solve the problem of long lines during the lunch hours at Hill House. A second cashier will be added during the peak times around noon to ease some of the traffic, Canney said. The extra line will be in place sometime this week, he said.