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Not equal yet: At universities, women in power rare

(03/27/00 10:00am)

Only 25 percent of top penn administrators are female. The percentage at other Ivy schools is comparable. Each day, Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Virginia Clark checks her numbers. With the University typically slated to take in $300 million a year in donations and gifts, Clark and her staff are responsible for a guarantee: that Penn can absorb $850,000 a day for 365 days. For Clark, the high-ranking job has meant weekly traveling, speaking at functions and meeting with a hefty pool of Penn's 225,000 alumni around the world. It may seem taxing, but Clark is just doing her job, one that has secured her a top spot in the University's senior planning committee. Together with only five other senior-ranking females at the University, Clark is one of the most powerful women at Penn. Currently, women like Clark fill a quarter percent of the top-ranking posts in the Penn administration -- a statistic similar to that of the other Ivy League schools. But none of the other schools has taken on the number of search committees Penn has in recent years, where opportunities may have arisen to bring more women to top posts. Despite seven major searches for top administrative positions, the number of female administrators at the University has remained relatively stagnant over the past three years. Standing alongside Clark at the top are University Secretary Rose McManus; Affirmative Action Executive Director Valerie Hayes; Vice President for Government, Community and Public Affairs Carol Scheman; Vice Provost for University Life Valarie Swain-Cade McCoullum; and University President Judith Rodin. The other top-flight women at the University include three of the 12 University deans: Annenberg School for Communication Dean Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Graduate School of Education Dean Susan Fuhrman and Nursing School Dean Norma Lang. That leaves Penn with six women on its 20-member senior planning committee and three female deans out of 12. With few notable exceptions, the majority of the women are in posts that do not receive much on-campus attention from students. Though the numbers and visibility seem low, Penn isn't alone -- the percentages of top women are small at most major colleges and universities. "We do an awfully good job of looking for women, but we and everyone else needs to do better," McManus said. At Princeton University, five out of that school's 24 officers are women. At Cornell University, six of the 23 executives are women, while at Dartmouth College, only one of the 10 senior officers is a woman. And Penn is the only Ivy with a woman as the school's permanent president. During the past three years, the University has searched for seven major administrative positions: a Law School dean, Wharton School dean, Engineering School dean, School of Arts and Sciences dean, College of Arts and Sciences dean, University secretary and provost. Though all of those committees interviewed women for the job, only one position -- University secretary -- was given to a woman. According to the final reports last year, the search committee for the provost considered 165 candidates, 37 of whom were women. The Wharton dean search committee of last year reviewed 213 candidates and 18 women. The Engineering dean search committee came up with similar numbers, reviewing the credentials of 211 candidates, 19 of whom were women. And the most recent Law dean search committee considered 99 candidates, including 23 women. Despite the low numbers, administrators and University Trustees stress that Penn is gender-blind in its search process, pointing to other reasons why the number of women interviewed by Penn is, in all cases, paltry. Elsie Sterling Howard, the outgoing president of Penn's General Alumni Society, suggested that the current pool of women is low both in academia and Fortune 500 companies, areas from which deans and administrators are often selected. At Penn, she said, "If there were a woman as good as or better than the other male candidates, I would think the woman would get the position without a doubt." Women today represent 11.9 percent of corporate officers in America's 500 largest companies, according to an annual census published by Catalyst, a non-profit research organization that aims to advance women in the workplace. "Higher education, in my experience, hasn't been particularly enlightened by women," Scheman noted. "When I look at my colleagues in other institutions, the vast majority of people with my title are men." Added McManus: "I think the net has been cast as wide as possible -- Penn's outreach for female candidates is definitely there." Others point to the historic differences in opportunity among men and women in the top ranks. "In leadership positions there have always been more men," Fuhrman said. "For most of us, that's the way life has always been." NBC News chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell, a 1967 College of Women graduate and University Trustee, added, "I think it's always difficult with these search committees for new deans because most often it's men doing the selecting." One top member of the administration, who wished to remain anonymous, said many candidates for deanships -- both men and women -- refuse the offer because "being a dean is not always an attractive position. Many turn it down because it forces you to let go of your research, writing and teaching." While Rodin may be known to publicly push for the advancement of women, the rules of the search process preclude her from playing an active role. Though she says she pushes committees to specifically consider women for the job, Rodin does not participate directly in the search process. "When it's a formal search committee, I always strenuously ask the committee to search all over the country particularly for women or members of minority groups," Rodin said. "I think this is a particularly gender-friendly administration that tries to get it right more often than not," she added. Indeed, Penn has established a number of organizations dedicated to the advancement of women at the top, including the Association of Women Faculty and Administrators, the Trustees Council of Penn Women and, here on campus, the Women in Leadership Series. And for now, the women who do sit at the top say they are proud to be where they are. "[The female deans] haven't even talked much about being women here because we aren't uncomfortable in the slightest," Fuhrman said. "We certainly do not feel isolated."


Rodin: Life outside of her College Hall office

(04/21/99 9:00am)

From cooking to raising a child, Judith Rodin leads a life outside of her role as Penn's president. and Catherine Lucey It's not surprising that Judith Rodin sleeps only four or five hours a night. Her career demands it. Waking up at 6 a.m. each day to a freshly delivered copy of The New York Times, Rodin's days -- from beginning to end -- are filled with meetings with the provost, the executive vice president, deans, potential donors and students to develop extensive academic and campus planning strategies. So much so that Rodin hardly has a free minute to read a good book or chat on the telephone with a friend. Still, at 54 years old, Rodin insists that hers is the good life and she is certainly not hiding the fact that she is a university president. In fact, every decoration in her home -- located at 3812 Walnut Street -- tells just that. From framed photos of her own inauguration at Penn to pictures of parades marched in her honor, the amenities that make it onto Rodin's walls each, in some way, represent the chronology of her life. But the one thing that becomes clear when speaking with Rodin is that despite the demanding nature of her job as the chief executive officer of the University and the overseer of the Penn Health System, she is a full-fledged mom in the meantime. And at the end of her lengthy working day, Rodin returns to Eisenlohr Hall where she resides with her 17-year-old son Alex Niejelow, her husband -- who splits his time between Philadelphia and the couple's home in New York City ---- and their dog, Butterfinger. With her son currently on frequent college tours up and down the East Coast, Rodin says the two are very close, emphasizing that she will miss their Scrabble tournaments, political debates and occasional late movie at the nearby Cinemagic once the high school junior goes off to college. Though Niejelow has watched his mother direct a revival of the West Philadelphia area -- anchored by the $120 million Sansom Common project and the planned Robert Redford-run Sundance Cinemas complex -- he says he is sometimes overwhelmed by the magnitude of her work. "I went away to camp and you got a bookstore," Niejelow quipped to his mother. And Rodin countered, "You can only imagine what will happen when you go to college -- I'll build the Taj Mahal." Though her initiatives often fall on a grandiose scale, Rodin says she has had to sacrifice the little things, admitting that the role of president -- through all of its satisfying attributes -- does have its setbacks. Above all else, the highest paid woman in the Ivy League has had to sacrifice her social life. When she dines at the downtown hotspot Buddakan, it's usually for a business meeting, and when she and husband Paul Verkuil attend the opera, it's usually to nab a potential donor. Casual telephone conversations are a thing of the past, as Rodin doesn't even have "half an hour to talk to someone on the phone." "Your role changes when you're president -- it's hard to hang out with the girls," Rodin explained, adding that "I miss it because I valued the closeness of a lot of my female friendships." Even the time she spends with her husband is far from stress-free. She and Verkuil -- who serves as dean of the Cardozo Law School at Yeshiva University in New York City -- often spend quality time in her study, seated at desks facing each other while finishing up work from the office. Verkuil is Rodin's third husband, confidante, tennis mate and New York Times reading partner. "We're addicted to the news. Since we like sharing a lot, we report on different sections of the paper to each other," Verkuil said. "But she always grabs the front section first." Married at the Carlisle Hotel in New York City five years ago, Rodin and Verkuil are reliant now on weekly visits, weekends and summers. "I think it works out fine," Verkuil said. "We've learned to get the benefits of this and each focus hard on what we're doing -- oh, and of course we talk on the phone at night." When Rodin has rare moments of free time, she tries to make room in her schedule for hobbies that include reading, tennis and cooking. "There are very few things in my life that you can both begin and end and cooking is one of them," Rodin said matter-of-factly. "I still make a great chili." And while the kitchen oven may be turned off most of the time, Rodin -- who just finished the latest Toni Morrison novel -- has had the heat burning full blast throughout her academic career. Entering Penn in 1962 as a freshman, Judith Seitz planned to major in French. But after an introductory course with Psychology Professor Henry Gleitman, Rodin said she was "tremendously turned on" to the field. She went on to earn a graduate degree from Columbia University and achieve awards for her studies of health psychology and body image while serving as a psychology professor at Yale University and later as the school's dean and then provost. "Unlocking the mystery of human behavior has been fascinating," she said. Gleitman, who Rodin credits as the catalyst of her academic career, praised Rodin's intellectual prowess and dedication to Penn. "You never know who's gonna become a Stephen Hawkins or an Albert Einstein. Mozarts are rare -- people who show it at age four," Gleitman said. "But I remember writing when she was an undergraduate, 'I think she has the flame.'" He added, "She could probably run the entire damn electric system of Philadelphia." Indeed, Rodin's academic pursuits have not gone unnoticed. Her fellow Penn alumnus and student government leader, Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell, praised Rodin's initiatives at Penn and suggested that a political career may be in her future. "I think she would have been a dynamite candidate to run for mayor and I told her that," said Rendell, admitting that when he suggested the idea Rodin entertained it for only about "a second and a half." Yet Rodin -- who headed the Women's Student Government in her undergraduate days and was named in September as one of the top 20 potential female presidential candidates by the White House Project, a group dedicated to procuring a female president by the year 2008 -- says she is not tempted to think about what will be next for her. What she made clear, though, is that she is not planning to leave Penn any time soon. "I'm enjoying this and I think there's a lot left to do," she said. The one future plan she admitted to was one of teaching and writing novels that have a psychological twist. "I always thought that would be a fascinating career," Rodin said. "But I can't see a life of true retirement. I can and will teach."


JOKE ISSUE/IFC Pres. Metzl resigns over bid card scandal

(04/07/99 9:00am)

Metzl resigned late last night after admitting he never signed a bid card. In a move that came as a shock to the entire Greek community, InterFraternity Council President Mark Metzl resigned his post last night, admitting to a startling controversy that led to the end of his short-lived tenure. Members of the Tau Epsilon Phi fraternity discovered last weekend at a closed brotherhood event that Metzl, a College junior and an alleged brother of that fraternity, never actually signed an official IFC bid during his freshman year. The recent discovery renders Metzl non-Greek, an identity which clearly precludes his holding the IFC presidency. The brothers who discovered the unsigned bid did not confront Metzl with it but instead brought it directly to the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs at around 8 p.m. last night, where OFSA Director Scott Reikofski deemed the unsigned bid an official violation. Reikofski scheduled a press conference minutes later in College Hall, where the now former IFC president announced his resignation to the IFC and Panhellenic Council executive boards. Also in attendance at the conference were University President Judith Rodin, Provost Robert Barchi, Vice Provost for University Life Valarie Swain-Cade McCoullum and Reikofski. "I'm sorry I have to do this but my actions are inexcusable and I realize that," Metzl said. "The Greek community deserves to have a leader with more integrity." Several sources close to the situation wondered if Metzl purposely withheld from signing the bid or if the move was just a small oversight. Many said they suspect Metzl wanted to join the fraternity, though not officially, so he could later use his knowledge to rally against the Greek community. Metzl denied the strong allegations, claiming that he is not genuinely disinterested in Greek life. "I never signed the bid because I didn't really know if I wanted the label of being Greek so early in my college career," Metzl said later in the night. "If I could turn back time, I would." But when asked why he never signed the bid during his sophomore or junior years, Metzl refused to comment. He did say, however, that he didn't mind being the first IFC president in University history to be forced to abdicate. In fact, he said he "liked the attention." Several TEP brothers said they felt betrayed that Metzl had been an active part of their brotherhood until now -- even serving as the fraternity's president this past year -- when he was never actually an official TEP brother. "Who does this kid think he is --James Bond? He's like one big freakin' spy!" screamed current TEP President Steven Kalter, a Wharton junior, while banging his fist down on the table. Upon hearing the news, IFC Executive Vice President Andrew Exum, a College junior, Sigma Nu brother, member of the Tennessee Valley Authority, lightweight football team member, onetime juror on the Scopes Monkey Trial, Son of the Confederacy and Daily Pennsylvanian columnist, admitted that he was excited to "usurp the Greek throne." "Heck, this position was meant to be mine anyway," Exum said in an especially exaggerated Tennessee twang as he swung his machete. "Now it's all Exum, all the time." Student leaders complained that they were not consulted on the decision to oust Metzl. They said a rally would be held to protest the issue later this week.


Three U. grad schools fall in 'U.S. News' list

(03/19/99 10:00am)

Only Wharton and the Medical School went up in the annual rankings. and Faye Iosotaluno The annual U.S. News & World Report rankings of America's best graduate schools has rated three of the five ranked Penn schools lower than last year, with only the Wharton School's graduate program and the Medical School showing signs of improvement. Wharton ranked second this year by scoring 98 out of a total 100 points -- sharing the No. 2 slot with Harvard University and the Kellogg School at Northwestern University -- a one-place increase from 1998. It lags behind only Stanford University. On the down side, though, the Law School fell from eighth to 12th and the Graduate School of Education fell dramatically from 10th to 20th place. Within the 11 business specialty programs ranked by U.S. News, Wharton was rated among the top five in seven of the 11 departmental categories. The Finance Department was ranked best in the nation. And Allen said he was especially pleased that Wharton was ranked in the top 10 in each of the 11 categories. "This is just another one of many surveys showing that Wharton is basically always number one, two or three," Wharton Vice Dean Bruce Allen said. "And since all of these surveys have different methodologies, that just shows how robust this place is." "I look back and say I am particularly proud to be part of this community of scholars," Allen added. The Medical School also saw a one-place increase, moving from fourth to third, trailing only behind Harvard and Johns Hopkins universities. Yale and Duke universities -- which shared the fourth-place rank with the University last year -- slipped to fifth and sixth, respectively. The Medical School's speciality programs in Internal Medicine, Drug/Alcohol Abuse, Women's Health and Geriatrics were ranked in the top 10, with Pediatrics second only to Harvard. But the Education School saw the most drastic drop in the rankings, falling a full 10 slots from last year. Tom Kecskemethy, an assistant to Education School Dean Susan Fuhrman, attributed the drop to flaws in U.S. News' ranking methodology. "We've known for quite some time that U.S. News & World Report is constructed in a way that favors larger schools than small," Kecskemethy said. "If you look at the schools that advanced in front of us, you're talking about large public schools of education and schools that have had historical reputations of rank," he added. The Law School also fell from eighth place to 12th and held no top-10 positions within the eight evaluated fields. And the Graduate School of Engineering and Applied Sciences fell in ranking from 32nd to 35th. University spokesperson Ken Wildes said the U.S. News rankings are often arbitrary since they compare schools of varying sizes for different programs. "There's just great diversity among America's colleges -- comparing them is really difficult," Wildes said. "You have small schools and you have large schools, you have schools with research or teaching emphasis, schools that are involved in the community and schools that aren't," he added. U.S. News also evaluated doctoral programs within the graduate division of the School of Arts and Sciences. The graduate school's science programs, including Computer Science, Physics and Mathematics, were ranked among the top 26. The school also rated eighth in the specialized field of Artificial Intelligence and ninth in Geometry/Topology. Nursing programs were not ranked this year but the Nursing School ranked second in 1998. The School of Veterinary Medicine was last ranked in 1997, when it placed third.


U. seeks policy on sweatshop labor standards

(02/19/99 10:00am)

Officials are not sure if Penn apparel is made under harsh conditions. and Ian Rosenblum Though the University does not have an official policy on the use of sweatshop labor for college-logo apparel, Penn officials say they are working with other college administrators to develop one. The issue has gained prominence in recent weeks as students at Duke and Georgetown universities and the University of Wisconsin at Madison have held well-publicized sit-ins to demand that their schools adopt strict codes of conduct prohibiting the use of sweatshop labor and that they disclose the locations of all factories manufacturing the school's insignia apparel. This week, students at several Ivy League schools held lower-key protests, where they made similar demands. Officials from seven of the eight Ivy schools held a meeting this week in New York City to discuss possible guidelines -- with Penn the only absentee. But the University says it is in the process of developing its policy on labor practices in coordination with other groups, including the Ivy League. While the University is doing so, however, a number of the clothing manufacturers who make Penn apparel use factories located in developing countries known for poor working conditions. In an attempt to ensure that sweatshops are not used in the production of Penn clothing, the University has in place a number of preventative measures -- such as asking potential licensees to list the locations where they have factories and reserving the right to inspect the premises. But in at least the past three years, Penn has never taken advantage of its right to do so. And the policy requiring a general list of locations is new and thus has not had an impact on the current licensees. "We're growing in our understanding, our sensitivity of this issue," said Managing Director of Penn's Center for Technology Transfer Louis Berneman, whose office is responsible for licensing the University's name and logos. Despite the precautions, Berneman conceded that some Penn apparel could be produced using sweatshop labor. "I have no way of knowing the answer to that," he said, adding that, "I think it would be foolish on my part to rule that out." A sampling conducted by The Daily Pennsylvanian of a number of companies who make Penn apparel sold at the University Bookstore revealed that many products are assembled in countries including El Salvador, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Honduras, China and Taiwan, where there have been allegations of brutal treatment of workers and sub-poverty pay levels. Though many of the companies said they have business codes of conduct aimed at preventing sweatshop labor, all manufacturers asked by the DP to provide the addresses of the overseas factories they use declined to do so or said the information was not immediately available. And while there are no known allegations that involve the Penn name, not all of the firms the University contracts with inspect the factories that produce their goods. For example, the Jones & Mitchell apparel company, which is a Penn licensee, produces goods through factories in Honduras, Mexico, Bangladesh and India, according to the company's director of purchasing. "We absolutely do not do business with anybody who has sweatshops," Jerry Quickel stressed. But because the company uses external agents to contract with and monitor overseas factories, Jones & Mitchell does not have direct knowledge of what occurs at their sites. "We have to [use the agents]," Quickel said. "We're just not big enough." Other Penn-apparel manufacturers with overseas factories, however, say they do inspect the plants they use. "Before we send any work to any factory we go and do an inspection, and it must comply with the rules of reason that it's a comfortable and safe workplace," MV Sports President Josh Pyser said. "We continue to monitor our factories. We're very careful about these things." Pyser said that while his company is a Penn licensee, the University has never asked him to ensure adequate working conditions in his factories. He added, however, that he has been asked repeatedly by Barnes & Noble College Bookstores -- which operates the University Bookstore -- to sign a business code of conduct promising fair labor practices. According to the company's business code, B&N; College Bookstores "reserves the right to cancel any and all purchase orders and return product with any resource found to be in violation" of their standards. The company asks its vendors annually to sign the code and return it by the end of December, spokesperson Erica Moffett said. B&N; College Bookstores, however, does not check up on its vendors throughout the year -- relying instead on each manufacturer to honestly report its labor conditions. "We are relying on the companies' good faith to trust that they are dealing honestly," Moffett said. "I feel that we took a strong stand on all of this by asking our vendors to sign the code of conduct." She added that B&N; College Bookstores has not had any reason to cancel any purchase orders because all of the companies it contracts with have signed the code of conduct, promising to monitor facilities. "At this point we haven't had any violations we know of," Moffett said. Anti-sweatshop groups have long campaigned for stricter regulations, claiming that strategies like Penn's do not reach the core of the issue. "Not one single worker had ever heard of a U.S. company code of conduct," National Labor Committee Executive Director Charles Kernaghan said of his experience with workers in developing countries. Kernaghan said that an effective anti-sweatshop policy would have three elements -- public disclosure of factories' names and locations, a "real demand for the respect of workers' rights" and the guarantee of a "living wage" above the subsistence level. "A living wage will help these young workers climb out of misery and into poverty. We can ask that much of Nike and Champion and Russell and the rest of them," he said, adding that he has no knowledge of specific violations by these particular companies. And Kernaghan -- whose organization came forward with the 1996 allegation that television personality Kathie Lee Gifford's clothing line was being produced in sweatshops -- stressed that universities have a large role to play in the anti-sweatshop movement. "Everything [a college] stands for is really what this whole struggle is about," he explained. Kernaghan added that students, more than any other group, have the power to effect change. "The companies go into a panic because they can't point to the students and say, 'You're a special interest group,' " he said. "The companies are frightened to death of students." Penn's Berneman also pointed to the power of group movement, saying that Penn's best chance at an effective policy is in working with other schools. "We will have far greater leverage over those manufacturers [when we work with other universities] than any individual institution," he noted. As a result, Penn is working with the other Ivy League schools and the Association for Collegiate Licensing Administration to develop its policy, which would ultimately have to be approved by Penn President Judith Rodin after review by several offices. Berneman said the University's lack of representation at this week's meetings was due to a "scheduling conflict," and "certainly not a lack of interest." And he said he expects "some resolution in the near future." Daily Pennsylvanian staff writer Eric Tucker contributed to this article.


COLUMN: A Russian study in contrasts

(12/04/98 10:00am)

An illuminated, gilded statue of the notorious Vladimir Lenin towers over a region called V.D.N.Kh in northern Moscow, while the stores surrounding the statue are alive with customers browsing through Apple PowerBooks and Casio digital watches. Small kiosks in the below-ground crosswalks sell bottles of Finnish shower gel for 50 rubles a pop, while many Russians' monthly salaries are pensions that barely exceed 30 rubles -- if the Russians even receive salaries at all, that is. Handsome men in Italian suits and suede shoes run their fingers through their gelled hair and chat loudly on cellular phones, as they step over beggars who hold up hands stained by dirt, frost and calamity. BMWs and Mercedes with tinted windows race past each other on the highways. Occasionally one stops at a roadside fruit stand and a man surrounded by bodyguards and weapons walks away with a crate of oranges. He doesn't have to pay. The fruit vendor, an aged woman of 65, will not stop him. She cannot stop him. The handsome statue of KGB founder Felix Dzerzhinsky no longer stands in its longtime location on Lubyanka Square, but the KGB and secret service still operate using different aliases, and their presence here is still very real. The Kremlin itself, trying to coerce the nation into adhering to Western practices and free market capitalism, takes two steps back each time it makes a step forward. The Parliament is still run by Communist leaders who are innately supportive of Stalin and blind to his purges, leaders who are at their core both anti-American and anti-Semitic, leaders who kill democrats for their cause. And no other leader but Boris Yeltsin in 1991 has ever seemed so promising, so triumphant in a time of evolution and post-Communist change. But Yeltsin, like other Russian leaders, became paralyzed by his own vanity, his reluctance to uncurl the fingers of an iron fist. Because of his own reticence, his need to do things his way, he brought the army to Chechnya, where 80,000 people -- working to recreate their nation -- fell at his hands. Standing strong before the White House, Russia's Parliament building, in 1991, Yeltsin himself appeared vibrant, ready and above all, capable of bringing a baby -- the new Russia -- into a world so shaped by the former Soviet Union. But now, after multiple heart attacks, quintuple bypass surgery, alcoholism and foolish errors like Chechnya and his attack on the White House in '93, Yeltsin's own story is a staggering irony. As a result, Russia has slipped into the greedy hands of the notorious oligarchs who control her with their wallets. Russia is clearly a nation in transition, but her movement from one era to the next extends far beyond its physical manifestation. Behind the beggar, the BMW owner, the man still clinging to Communism for support, is the Russian soul, an entity so tarnished by its past and already so weary from what appears to be its future. The Russian himself looks at 1998 and sees himself trapped between two worlds: a 75-year-old past cloaked in the red veneer of power and security, and an infantile future, replete with economic shock and turbulent politics. Should he walk backwards or forward? Any move he makes will land him in the international limelight, and each choice is harder than the next. His past has not ended, his future not yet begun, but his present is dashing in and out of both unknown worlds. The Russian people, from the young children who sport Chicago Bulls caps to the elderly pensioners, are faced with the unthinkable task: to build a new nation, to make a pile of rubble into a palace. But with the imperial epoch long gone, Communism supposedly squashed and a semi-democracy causing more pain than anything else, the Russians do not know where to turn. Despite their errors, their history is an amazing story of repression and survival, and the fact that they have survived at all is both astonishing and magnificent. To live in Russia at the turn of the millennium is to just barely see the light at the end of a long tunnel, to wonder if hope is there and to struggle mercilessly to attain it. To live in Russia now is to wonder who you are, who your allies are, what you believe in and to watch your back. Sandwiched in between communism and democracy, constantly turning your head backward and forward to see two different flags, unsure of your past or present and exemplifying that in both the ancient and modern aspects of daily life, is to be what Russia is in 1998. From the remaining statues of Lenin to the explosive McDonald's franchise that has blanketed this city from one edge to the other, Russia will always be -- at the end of a remarkable century -- a study in contrast.


GUEST COLUMNIST: Jazzing up 40th Street retail

(09/04/98 9:00am)

If the retail in this area were reflective of historically established West Philadelphia culture, 40th Street would likely not be cluttered with such oddities as Radio Shack and F.W.O.T., institutions which are probably not the best choices for the consumer population in our neighborhood. And although UniMart and Smokey Joe's are both campus staples, they are not indicative of what West Philadelphia really should be: a locus of academia, art and culture reflective of a once-bohemian, progressive area which grew with the evolution of jazz and diversity. Local retail should reflect the area's multicultural population and notable history. International craft galleries might thrive here, as would art galleries featuring contributions from promising West Philadelphia and student artists. Sansom Common has been built as a haven for upper-middle class consumers interested in Arctic mocha drinks and pricey sporting goods. But Xando, Urban Outfitters and Parfumerie Douglas are not exactly screaming "culture." However, it is no secret that the University focuses on the bottom line, and understandably so. For a project like this to materialize, the administration needs raw numbers relating to both cost and student interest, which is clearly going to take a while to compute. But it is still a safe assumption that a jazz club would bring a new wave of revitalization over this area, a feat which Video Library and Boccie cannot accomplish alone. And 4040 Locust Street could not be a more ideal location to suit the needs of everyone. Visions for a cultural retail area would likely result in a strengthened University-community relationship. With a little help from the University's real estate management team, this image can happen on or near 40th Street, where the boundary between Penn and West Philly becomes one and the same, an extraordinary area where the University and community gel. It is necessary also to examine the University's relationship with its surrounding community, one that has long been plagued by mistrust and minimal consultation. In fact, Penn has had a rather tumultuous relationship with the surrounding area this year. Our administration made decisions on the Sansom Common front without adequately consulting community leaders, and to the surprise of few, community members blasted the University for its tyrannical approach to building the new retail hub. Add to that the University's rocky relationship with area merchants, which became very contentious after the retailers at 38th and Walnut streets in University Plaza were displaced for a new Wharton facility. The owners of University Jewelers fought hard for a suitable relocation site with an affordable rent, but the University perhaps took too long to settle that issue, leading many to believe that Penn has little regard for its long-time independent merchants (who are, incidentally, often praised by students for giving the area its unique flavor). But the University has certainly made some moves in the right direction, too. It spearheaded the development of the University City District, which works in conjunction with the community to make the surrounding area a safer and cleaner place to live. And in the retail department, administrators in Executive Vice President John Fry's office are in the process of securing the artsy Sundance Cinemas for 40th Street. Those decisions were two very smart moves which work in bettering town-gown relations and making the 40th Street area more attractive and cultural. On campus, we already boast the Annenberg Center, the Institute of Contemporary Art and the Kelly Writers House, three institutions which give the University more of a polished, cultural flair. Still, take a minute and imagine the inconceivable: walking down 40th Street and seeing community faces which are suddenly familiar. Picture a scenario in which some sort of effective retail drew Penn students beyond the safe walls of Superblock and into an environment where they could socialize with the people who call West Philly their home. Administrators need to work on providing this area with retail options which are attractive to both students and community members, and are universal in their appeal. Beginning with the themes of musical performance, community-student togetherness and appreciation of a deep-rooted jazz culture would only be a step in the right direction.


GUEST COLUMNIST: Jazzing up retail on 40th Street

(07/30/98 9:00am)

If the retail in this area were reflective of historically established West Philadelphia culture, 40th Street would likely not be cluttered with such oddities as Radio Shack and F.W.O.T., institutions which are probably not the best choices for the consumer population in our neighborhood. And although UniMart and Smokey Joe's are both campus staples, they are not indicative of what West Philadelphia really should be: a locus of academia, art and culture reflective of a once-bohemian, progressive area which grew with the evolution of jazz and diversity. Local retail should reflect the area's multicultural population and notable history. International craft galleries might thrive here, as would art galleries featuring contributions from promising West Philadelphia and student artists. Sansom Common has been built as a haven for upper-middle class consumers interested in Arctic mocha drinks and pricey sporting goods. But Xando, City Sports, Urban Outfitters and Parfumerie Douglas are not exactly screaming "culture." However, it is no secret that the University focuses on the bottom line, and understandably so. For a project like this to materialize, the administration needs raw numbers relating to both cost and student interest, which is clearly going to take a while to compute. But it is still a safe assumption that a jazz club would bring a new wave of revitalization over this area, a feat which Video Library and Boccie cannot accomplish alone. And 4040 Locust Street could not be a more ideal location to suit the needs of everyone. Visions for a cultural retail area would likely result in a strengthened University-community relationship. With a little help from the University's real estate management team, this image can happen on or near 40th Street, where the boundary between Penn and West Philly becomes one and the same, an extraordinary area where the University and community gel. It is necessary also to examine the University's relationship with its surrounding community, one that has long been plagued by mistrust and minimal consultation. In fact, Penn has had a rather tumultuous relationship with the surrounding area this year. Our administration made decisions on the Sansom Common front without adequately consulting community leaders, and to the surprise of few, community members blasted the University for its tyrannical approach to building the new retail hub. Add to that the University's rocky relationship with area merchants, which became very contentious after the retailers at 38th and Walnut streets in University Plaza were displaced for a new Wharton facility. The owners of University Jewelers fought hard for a suitable relocation site with an affordable rent, but the University perhaps took too long to settle that issue, leading many to believe that Penn has little regard for its long-time independent merchants (who are, incidentally, often praised by students for giving the area its unique flavor). But the University has certainly made some moves in the right direction, too. It spearheaded the development of the University City District, which works in conjunction with the community to make the surrounding area a safer and cleaner place to live. And in the retail department, administrators in Executive Vice President John Fry's office are in the process of securing the artsy Sundance Cinemas for 40th Street. Those decisions were two very smart moves which work in bettering town-gown relations and making the 40th Street area more attractive and cultural. On campus, we already boast the Annenberg Center, the Institute of Contemporary Art and the Kelly Writers House, three institutions which give the University more of a polished, cultural flair. Still, take a minute and imagine the inconceivable: walking down 40th Street and seeing community faces which are suddenly familiar. Picture a scenario in which some sort of effective retail drew Penn students beyond the safe walls of Superblock and into an environment where they could socialize with the people who call West Philly their home. Administrators need to work on providing this area with retail options which are attractive to both students and community members, and are universal in their appeal. Beginning with the themes of musical performance, community-student togetherness and appreciation of a deep-rooted jazz culture would only be a step in the right direction.


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."


SEPTA union threatens strike

(05/28/98 9:00am)

Workers plan to walk off the job June 1 if a new contract is not signed. Marking a possible end to 2 1/2 months of deadlocked negotiations, Transport Workers Union Local 234 has threatened a regional transit strike against SEPTA management for noon on Monday, June 1, even if talks are still going on. "If I do not have an agreement by June the first, there will be a strike," TWU President Steve Brookens said, stressing that riders should prepare alternate means of transportation on that date to avoid being stranded. At a press conference yesterday at TWU headquarters on 22nd and Spring Garden streets, State Representative Dwight Evans (D-Philadelphia) announced his support for the union and his willingness to do "whatever it takes" to avoid a strike. Evans announced the appointment of Herman Wooden -- secretary-treasurer of the United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 1776 -- to the SEPTA board of directors. Brookens said the first-time appointment of a "labor person" to the SEPTA board will "give a different view to board members," and aid in the settlement process. The new June 1 deadline marks the first of its kind since the March 15 expiration of the old TWU contract, which covered about 5,300 city transit workers. Two suburban contracts, representing around 300 TWU members, also expired last month. The strike threat covers all three bargaining units. Negotiators for SEPTA and the TWU have been meeting several times a week since mid-March -- when union leaders said they would continue negotiating as long as progress was being made -- but both sides report little progress on the major issues, including health benefits, wages, work rules, pensions, and workers' compensation. The two sides have not met at the bargaining table since the announcement of the June 1 deadline last week, and there are currently no meetings scheduled until that date. "If rational people were really in charge of SEPTA negotiations, they'd be having urgent negotiations to settle, but they show no interest in doing so at this point," TWU business agent Bruce Bodner said. And Brookens added, "This is not about money, it's about tearing this union down." A strike would shut down subways, buses and trolleys, leaving 450,000 weekday passengers searching for other ways to get around the city. A strike would also affect the thousands of riders on SEPTA's suburban services. But insisting that leaders would not bend on their demand for a contract that overhauls work rules, changes worker absenteeism policies, and cuts the cost of health benefits, SEPTA management said it was confident it could handle a strike. "Given the union's conduct in these negotiations, if they go out on strike, the entire city will turn against them," SEPTA's chief labor counsel David L. Cohen told The Philadelphia Inquirer last week. Hours before the union announced its new June 1 deadline, the TWU filed an unfair labor practices complaint with the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board, charging SEPTA with failure to bargain in good faith. "[SEPTA] is bargaining from a fixed position, and that's not even negotiating. That's something else," Bodner said. For several reasons, a strike in June would put pressure on SEPTA management to settle, Brookens said. Representatives of the Republican and Democratic National Committees plan to visit Philadelphia in June to evaluate the city as a potential site for the 2000 political conventions 2000. A June strike might press area politicians to push for a settlement. Also, Philadelphia's 6th annual Welcome America bash is set to run from June 26 to July 5. Last year's event injected over $15 million to the economy and brought in 2.5 million people. According to the union, a transit strike might cause tension in the city and make it less desirable to visit. June also traditionally ranks as SEPTA's biggest month for ridership and passenger revenues. Last year, average daily revenues for the month of June topped $785,000, while revenues raised in other months fell below $700,000. SEPTA's fiscal year ends on June 30. In order to secure state funding, the management must complete several projects that are part of an improvement program. A June strike could make completion of those projects impossible.


Family, friend mourn Schieber's death

(05/15/98 9:00am)

and Ben Geldon BETHESDA, Md. -- In 1991, Shannon Schieber was already making waves as a young math whiz. When she was student government president at her suburban Washington, D.C., high school, the county council was set to dramatically shrink the school system's budget. Schieber obtained a copy of the budget and devised a method for the county to save money and reduce the proposed budget cuts, according to Larry Levin, Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School's student government adviser since 1982. Schieber testified before the council, which ended up enacting several of her spending suggestions. But her promising life came to an abrupt and brutal end May 7, when the first-year Wharton doctoral student was found strangled to death in her Center City apartment at age 23. Her funeral was held Tuesday in Chevy Chase, Md. The homicide of the prodigy -- who worked as a fellow with the S.S. Huebner Foundation at the Wharton School -- left friends and family shocked and distraught, as they searched to find a reason behind the killing of a close friend and colleague. "It was a very big shock and was really very hard to believe for all of us," said Farshad Mashayekhi, a first-year Wharton doctoral student. "You love one of your best friends, and then suddenly it's hard to believe that she is gone." Mashayekhi described Schieber as "very talented, smart and happy." "She smiled a lot," he added. Schieber was studying insurance in Wharton's doctoral program. Many of her friends and fellow classmates refused to comment on the murder. But classmate Sven Sinclair stressed that the Insurance Department will suffer with the loss of Schieber. "She was a person with great potential because she was very smart and she liked what she was doing," Sinclair said. Schieber, who grew up in Chevy Chase, graduated in 1995 with a math degree from Duke University in Durham, N.C. She also had majors in philosophy and economics. Duke math lecturer Margaret Hodel, who taught Schieber for three semesters, said her classroom performance was "stellar." "She was the person who sat in the front row and answered all of my questions," Hodel said. "She was both an exceptional person and student with a lot of promise." Hodel recalled a presentation Schieber made on a complicated math topic in a senior seminar. "The class was spellbound when they listened to her because she was such a dynamic person," Hodel said. "She told me she wanted to teach, and she would have made a very superb teacher." Schieber had always been a naturally gifted leader, according to those who knew her. In high school, her teachers considered her election victory outstanding, since she had transferred to the Bethesda, Md., public high school just before her junior year and was new to the school. She graduated in 1992. "She was the finest student leader I have ever had the pleasure to work with," Levin said. Schieber's classmates at Wharton agreed with Levin when he said he especially remembered her "wonderful smile" and "giddy laughter." "I think it's a major loss, not only to the community she was living in, but to the future communities she would have been a part of," Levin said. "I have no doubt she would have been a major philanthropist working for the good of others." Others who knew her as a teenager echoed Levin's remarks. "She was lovely," said the mother of one of Schieber's high school friends. Schieber wanted to let people know she was going places. At a leadership conference for high school students, she said she would prove wrong a lecturer who insisted a woman would never be president of the United States, a friend told the Philadelphia Daily News. "Yes, yes, there will -- it's going to be me," Schieber told the speaker. Her father -- an economist appointed by the Clinton administration to revamp the Social Security system -- told WTTG-TV in Washington, that his family is "in pain." "She was a loving daughter, and we loved her very much," Sylvester Schieber said.


The University draws former city officials.

(04/29/98 9:00am)

As Philadelphia's budget director for five years, Mike Masch helped the city bounce back from the brink of bankruptcy in the early 1990s. But two years ago, he decided it was time to move on. Given the opportunity to work for one of the most prestigious institutions in Philadelphia, Masch came to the University to serve in a capacity similar to what he had done for the city. Masch is not the only high-ranking city administrator to make the proverbial jump from City Hall to College Hall in recent years. At least a half-dozen top Penn officials -- including Managing Director of Public Safety Tom Seamon, Vice President for Finance Kathy Engebretson and Managing Director of Economic Development Jack Shannon -- have also come to the University after stints in top city positions. What makes Penn such an attractive employer? A few common reasons pop up in interviews with University and city officials: Penn is the largest private employer in the city, giving such a job instant prestige and more stability than a public-sector job, and the University injects billions of dollars into the state's economy, giving it an image unmatched in Philadelphia. The higher salaries and better perks don't hurt either. Masch called Penn "one of the city's brightest bright spots" since it appears to be self-sufficient and economically vibrant. In addition, the University recruited Masch and gave him the opportunity to increase his salary 33 percent while working in an academic setting, a prospect "he liked," according to Kevin Feeley, Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell's spokesperson. Other areas of the city may not be as financially stable as Penn. The city's economic base has been shrinking steadily over the past 50 years and there has been a subsequent population decrease. Less than 1.5 million people live in the city today, according to Census Bureau statistics. Given those circumstances, the city values Penn for providing a booming dollar influx. Engebretson worked for the Rendell administration for two years as city treasurer helping to solve a cash crisis and raise the bond rating. At the start of Rendell's first term in January 1992, the city was plagued by a cash crisis and a low bond rating, in which no organization would lend money to the city. Engebretson left the city in 1994 to continue work on her dissertation at Penn and work for a money-management firm. When Penn came calling last year, the salary it offered was a positive factor. "Financially, it was a big sacrifice to work for the city," Engebretson said. "I made more money at my old job [at the investment firm] and in my new job at Penn." Feeley added that there "are outstanding jobs at Penn. So why wouldn't anyone want to work there?" Shannon, Penn's top economic development official who has been closely involved with the vending issue, used to serve as the city's deputy director of commerce. He left his position in city government in 1997 simply because Penn recruited him. "I had a great three-year tenure working for Mayor Rendell and his cabinet, but working for Penn was an opportunity I couldn't pass up," Shannon said. Explaining why many people switch over to University positions, at-large Councilman Frank Rizzo suggested that private sector jobs -- like university positions -- are appealing because they are more stable and can grow. Shannon added that University President Judith Rodin's interests are linked to Rendell's interests, primarily because "the future of the University depends on a healthy and vibrant city of Philadelphia, and just the same that the future of Philadelphia depends on a healthy and vibrant University." With that reciprocal relationship in mind, Shannon still maintained that Penn has not been given any unreasonable advantages in the city. Penn's Executive Vice President John Fry was directly involved in recruiting Shannon, Engebretson and Seamon -- a former deputy Philadelphia Police commissioner. In doing so, Fry said he looked for people who have already established credibility in the city and were interested in working in the University environment. Fry said the salary Penn offers is not the most attractive part of the package. "These people [who Penn recruits] are real professionals and they wanted professional challenges, so they came to Penn," Fry said. But Fry added that Penn has a huge presence in a "crucial" part of the city. "I would say we are a very large and important part of the economy, so when we have needs, people tend to listen to us," Fry said. "And when you talk to people in the city about who they know, Penn is high on their list." Penn is indisputably attractive in its size, prestige and its academic community, and it's touted as a proactive institution "where people are always doing things," Fry said.


Close ties bind Penn, city govt.

(04/29/98 9:00am)

Just how powerful is Penn? As an oasis of economic activity, culture and scholarship in Philadelphia, few question the idea that Penn -- a symbol of prestige and productivity -- is a force to be reckoned with in the city. But given Penn's prestige both city-wide and on a national level, does the city government feel obliged to grant the University's requests? In other words, does Penn always get what it wants in this city? Perhaps it should, according to City Council President John Street. At Council's April 14 hearings on a controversial bill regulating University City vending, Street declared that the city has "an obligation to the second-largest employer in the City of Philadelphia." But Kevin Feeley, the spokesperson for Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell, said the suggestion that Penn is catered to purely because of its status as the city's largest private employer is "going way too far." Feeley said the University has had to wrestle with the city in recent years on such issues as the vending ordinance -- which was not passed immediately -- and its failed attempts to purchase the Civic Center in the early 1990s. Penn Executive Vice President John Fry agreed, noting that "we have to work really hard for everything we get." Penn does not always get what it wants, he added. And University Vice President for Government, Community and Public Affairs Carol Scheman said Penn has repeatedly prodded Council for initiatives that have not been implemented. Scheman cited the University's push for street lighting, street repair and a University of Pennsylvania sign heading east over the Schuylkill River -- none of which Penn has received. But Scheman still called Rendell's administration "responsive." "We certainly have a mayor and a city administration that cares about us and understands that this university is an important citizen in the city," she said. Feeley added that "Penn is a national institution of significant importance, so it automatically commands respect." At-large Councilwoman Happy Fernandez stressed the economic significance of a large university situated within the city, calling Penn "a very important part of our economy." "Every student who comes to the University from out of the city is bringing with them four years of hotel nights plus tuition, purchases and their parents' visits," she said. She added that Penn contributes roughly $2.5 billion to the state's economy each year, a statistic which speaks for itself. Also, Penn Vice President for Finance Kathy Engebretson said 1992 and 1993 -- when she worked as city treasurer -- were "tough years" for the mayor's administration and that Penn was a positive force for a city in debt, particularly in the way it pumped money into the city's economy. "Penn was really vital to the city as its largest non-governmental employer," Engebretson said. "It definitely was positive that Penn was here." If Penn's initiatives benefit the city economically, the city is more likely to grant its desires, Political Science Professor Jack Nagel said. "If the University is able to frame [its proposals] as a matter of economic development that is good for the city, then the University is in a superior position to get its way," Nagel said. "But the University can't just snap its fingers and get what it wants," he added. At-large Councilman Frank Rizzo said Penn has a large voice in the city because it is a big company and has greater needs than smaller companies or organizations. "Sometimes people just perceive that Penn gets more than it deserves, but Penn is a major contributor to the tax base of the city," Rizzo said. Any influence Penn might have in the city would not be unfounded, Fernandez said, since the University works hard at improving its surrounding area. Calling Penn a "neighborhood anchor," Fernandez cited Penn's work toward creating the University City District, which aims to clean the streets and make the area safer. Penn also works closely with University City secondary schools and encourages faculty and staff to own homes in the area, two initiatives which are beneficial for the neighborhood. Since universities and medical centers will be the driving forces in the next millennium, "the city needs to actively support these knowledge industries," according to Fernandez. Years ago the economy was run by factories and industry, but along with their gradual disappearance came a reliance on universities and hospitals to provide money, she added.


City unveils new arts center

(04/17/98 9:00am)

Center City's Regional Performing Arts Center is $77 million short of its expected cost of $245 million. If all goes according to plan, a new Regional Performing Arts Center will break ground at Broad and Spruce streets next fall and open in 2001, anchoring the Avenue of the Arts. There's only one problem: Fundraising for the colossal, $245 million complex designed by renowned architect Rafael Vinoly is still about $77 million short, Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell said yesterday after unveiling the plans for the building during a press conference in the Pennsylvania Convention Center. The plans call for an overarching, glass-enclosed superstructure containing a 2,500-seat concert hall and a 650-seat recital theater to be built on the 2.3-acre site. And although the RPAC's chairpeople have only raised a total of $168 million for the project thus far, Rendell maintained that he was still confident that state and other private donors and groups would kick in the remaining funds. "The remaining money is something that we can and will raise," he said. "Rafael has given us that design and we will build it." The long-awaited unveiling of the RPAC plans are clear proof that economic developments related to art and culture have become key parts of the city's mission to increase tourism to Philadelphia and maintain a high cultural profile. The RPAC will likely draw both out-of-state tourists and in-state suburban residents to the site, injecting large amounts of money into the city's economy. The three venues -- including the nearby Academy of Music -- will support a capacity of nearly 6,000 seats and become one of the largest performing arts destinations in the nation. Proposed performing companies include the Pennsylvania Ballet and the Opera Company of Philadelphia. The designs for the Philadelphia Orchestra concert hall bear a striking resemblance to the box of a cello, while the concert hall will also have apertures at the top similar to those of a cello. The ceiling openings can be adjusted to allow sunlight to penetrate the building. "I used to play the cello, and as I was looking at the interior, I saw that the interior space of the instrument was pretty much the same as a concert hall," Vinoly said. "So that is what we've created -- an enormous cello." The concert hall is surrounded by reverberation chambers designed to adjust the acoustic behavior of the hall for different artistic preferences. The recital theater has a high rectangular space with orchestra-level seating and two surrounding balconies. The principal element of the design is a huge turntable that revolves to display an acoustic shell surrounding the concert platform on one side and a stage on the other. "The recital theater is essentially a precision tool, a mechanism that enables people to be in one space that actually functions as several," Vinoly explained. Above these two structures is a semi-transparent "folded membrane" shaped like an arch, which aims to create a public space. Within that space, the roof of the recital theater will have a tree-lined indoor garden overlooking Center City. Vinoly also designed the Tokyo International Forum, a performing-arts center. In addition, he is designing Princeton University's new sports stadium, which is set to open this fall.


Famed Penn prof dies

(04/15/98 9:00am)

Law and Criminology Professor Marvin Wolfgang led his field. World-renowned Law and Criminology Professor Marvin Wolfgang, a popular instructor whom an academic journal once described as "the most influential criminologist in the English-speaking world," died Sunday at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania after a long bout with pancreatic cancer. He was 73. Wolfgang, the director of the University's Sellin Center for Studies in Criminology and Criminal Law, had been at Penn for nearly 46 years. The longtime University City resident taught introductory courses in criminology and white-collar crime to generations of undergraduates, as well as advanced graduate-level seminars in criminology research and theory. Wolfgang -- who received both his master's degree and his doctorate from Penn -- published more than 200 articles and 35 books on criminology. His many honors include two Guggenheim Fellowships, a Fulbright Prize and the American Society of Criminology's prestigious August Vollmer Research Award. Additionally, he was the first recipient of his namesake prize, the Wolfgang Award for Distinguished Achievement in Criminology, an honor considered in the field to be the "Nobel Prize of Criminology." Colleagues and students are mourning Wolfgang's death. Wolfgang was a "serious scholar with a wide breadth of interests, a wonderful and caring colleague and a mentor to literally hundreds of graduate students," Legal Studies Professor Bill Laufer said. Both Laufer and University of Southern California Criminology Professor Malcolm Klein described Wolfgang as the foremost criminologist in the world, and Laufer stressed that the field would "miss him terribly." Wolfgang stopped teaching more than two months ago due to his illness, according to College freshman Melissa Wong, who is enrolled in his introductory course on criminology. "He was great," she said. "We could tell that he was tired, but he never lost his enthusiasm for the incredibly interesting subject." Until his death, Wolfgang was working on a 10-year study of juvenile delinquency in China. He was a strong opponent of the death penalty, and his research findings were used the U.S. Supreme Court's 1972 Furman v. Georgia decision, which abolished the death penalty nationwide. The death penalty was reinstated in 1977. He was also the first to suggest that some crimes are caused by the victims, and developed a now-common procedure to measure the seriousness of a crime, according to Klein. "There's going to be a lot of wailing going on across the country because a lot of students are indebted to him," Klein said. "So in that sense, his legacy is going to last for generations." During Wolfgang's long tenure at the University, the Criminology department grew from a small division of the Sociology Department to an invaluable subsection of the Wharton School's Legal Studies Department. He also held a joint appointment at the Law School, where his seminars tackled the topic of criminal justice. "He literally shaped the boundaries of criminology, not only as a quantitative discipline but as a theoretical discipline," Laufer explained. Wolfgang served as the president of both the American Academy of Political and Social Science and the American Society of Criminology, and was a consultant on the President's Commission on Law Enforcement and Justice in 1994. Wolfgang -- born in Millersburg, Pa., in 1924 --Eis survived by his wife Lenora, a French professor at Lehigh University, his children Karen and Nina and two grandchildren. He lived on the 4100 block of Locust Street until his death.


Will new projects spur Phila. revival?

(04/09/98 9:00am)

A slew of large projects may not prevent people from leaving the city. With major construction projects springing up all over Philadelphia this year and in the near future, Mayor Ed Rendell and other officials are openly optimistic about the city's economic prospects. The list of enterprises likely to boost the city's visibility and tourism is long: a makeover of Independence Mall, a new regional performing arts center in Center City, an urban entertainment center at Penn's Landing and an ever-increasing number of hotels and restaurants. But whether this upsurge in economic development will actually encourage people to settle in Philadelphia remains unclear, according to many experts. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Philadelphia County had the highest rate of population decline in the state from 1990 to 1995, seeing its population fall from 1.59 million people to 1.50 million, a 5.5 percent drop. Penn Urban Studies Professor Ted Hershberg, director of the Center for Greater Philadelphia, said that while economic development projects are likely to increase tourism to Philadelphia and the number of entry-level jobs, they will not have a significant impact on migration to the city. Hershberg explained that taxes, schools and crime are the main factors which typically affect migration to a city. "In none of those areas does this city have the advantage," Hershberg said. "In this country, the cities are the losers." Still, he added that the projects can't help but improve the city's image. "Presenting Philadelphia as a desirable city is the right strategy," Hershberg said. "Cities have to become exciting places." And "exciting" is exactly what Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell and other city officials say they want Philadelphia to be. The city has landed a major project for Penn's Landing -- a $200 million Family Entertainment Center which will likely include a 24-screen movie theater, as well as several themed restaurants and retail outlets. Although there is no timetable for the center, officials expect to finalize plans for it by June. Another major venture is the $65.6 million renovation of Independence Mall, the 15-acre tourist attraction between Fifth and Sixth streets north of Chestnut Street that typically attracts more than 1.6 million visitors per year. At the heart of this plan is a proposed $30 million, 50,000-square-foot Gateway Visitor Center, which would serve as the region's orientation point for tourists. Rendell also wants to build a National Constitution Center to highlight the effect of that document on citizens' everyday lives. This center is estimated to cost $123 million and is not yet funded. Additionally, an increasing number of new hotels aim to lure the Democratic or Republican national political convention -- or both -- to the city in 2000. And officials are expected to unveil plans soon for a new regional performing arts center to be located downtown. But while Rendell has largely been praised for these urban expansion projects, "he will still not have the resources to deal with poverty," Hershberg said. He added that since "the poor have settled mainly in cities," the fiscal playing field is tilted in favor of the suburbs, as it is more rational for middle-class people to move to the Main Line or South Jersey -- where crime is lower and schools are better -- and still reap the benefits of a nearby city. And since the poor don't pay as much taxes as the middle class, Philadelphia loses out on a huge amount of revenue. One possible way to parlay economic development into a solid footing for the future is to "take extra income from the projects and dump it into the school system," according to George Thomas, a Penn Urban Studies professor and an expert on Philadelphia history. Ira Harkavy, director of the University's Center for Community Partnerships, said city renewal will require more than an influx of business and tourism dollars. "Revitalizing cities requires comprehensive, long, sustained efforts that take paramount advantage of existing sources," Harkavy said, citing higher education and medical facilities as potential focal points. "It isn't just about encouraging firms to build," he added. Harkavy said that successful cities are comprised of strong, close-knit communities, stressing the importance of maintaining initiatives aimed at improving West Philadelphia and other areas. The growth in economic development this year might indicate a need to build a downtown baseball stadium for the Philadelphia Phillies, a move which would further increase the visibility and attraction of Center City.


Phila. Int'l Airport to see major growth

(04/07/98 9:00am)

The Philadelphia International Airport is about to get a bit more international. US Airways and city officials outlined plans last week to design and construct a new international terminal, scheduled to open in 2001, and a concourse for commuter-airline flights, planned to open in 2000. A spokesperson for US Airways, the largest airline in the Northeast, said the company is working to designate Philadelphia as its "primary international gateway." The $400 million project will likely be one of the area's major job engines during the next decade. The project should generate about $18 billion in business over the next 18 years, according to Mark Pesce, an airport spokesperson. Pesce said the construction will generate 3,000 jobs, with the international terminal itself creating about 3,600 permanent jobs. In addition, airport officials had more good news this week: Philadelphia has the fastest-growing airport in the country in terms of passenger traffic. According to figures released by Airports Council International, an airport trade group, Philadelphia International Airport's traffic hit 22.4 million passengers last year, an increase of 16.2 percent. Such an increase is nearly double that of the second-place facility, the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, which had an 8.4 percent growth rate. Philadelphia's total number of passengers rose 3.1 million, second only to Atlanta's Hartsfield International Airport. Philadelphia's airport, the 21st-busiest in the nation, now directly serves six international cities for Arlington, Va.-based US Airways: Frankfurt, Munich, Paris, Madrid, Rome and London. On April 29, the airline will also begin flights to Amsterdam from Philadelphia. In 1997, about 2 million international passengers traveled through Philadelphia. US Airways spokesperson David Castelveter also said Philadelphia will be a connecting arm for commuters. "There is now a significant growth in the international marketplace, so you need the facilities to accommodate that growth," Castelveter said. The $275 million, 700,000-square-foot international terminal will be built just west of Terminal A, and will curve over what is now the airport's runway system for departures. It will continue through what is currently a ramp area and land occupied by a vacant TWA hangar and three other buildings, providing up to 19 gates for increased international service. The new facility -- expected to open in the spring of 2001 -- will be called Terminal 1 and will require relocating bridges and highway ramps from Interstate 95. It will include expanded international-arrival facilities, moving walkways and larger public sitting areas. The $65 million, 165,000-square-foot concourse for US Airways Express commuter flights will be called Terminal F and will be located at the northeast end of the terminal system. The facility -- set to open in the fall of 2000 -- will be Y-shaped, featuring its own ticketing and baggage-claim facilities. Connecting passengers will be able to reach the new terminal either by enclosed walkways or by a shuttle bus. "All the terminals will be part of a single large facility, linked by moving walkways and with easily accessible parking facilities and public transit," said Dennis Bouey, director of Philadelphia International Airport. The new concourses come on the heels of more than $1 billion in renovations and additions to the airport by airlines and the city over the last decade. Renovations to two terminals are scheduled to be completed this summer, and a new commuter runway will be ready in December 1999. The terminals and other projects associated with the construction will be financed with bonds sold by the Philadelphia Authority for Industrial Development, a quasi-governmental agency. Revenue generated by US Airways and its passengers will pay off the bonds. No local tax dollars will fund the project. US Airways currently operates 390 jets and US Airways Express flights daily at Philadelphia, serving 90 destinations in North America and the Caribbean, as well as the soon-to-be seven sites in Europe.


SEPTA talks stalled, but will the union strike?

(04/01/98 10:00am)

The Transport Workers Union has a history of strikes but has yet to make good on its current threats. As the bitter negotiations between SEPTA and its main union move into their 18th deadlocked day, one question remains on the minds of riders, SEPTA leadership and union members: will the union's leadership actually call a citywide transit strike? Indeed, while the union has recently ratcheted up its public attacks at SEPTA -- going so far as to call the agency's chief strategist a "tyrant" -- it has not yet taken advantage of the many opportunities it has had to strike. The union's continued, but unfulfilled, threats to close down all of the city's buses, trolleys and subways raise questions about whether it is actually willing to take the risk of a protracted strike, or whether the threats are merely a ploy to keep the heat on SEPTA management to give up ground at the negotiating table. The union, however, is no stranger to striking. It has shut down SEPTA service six times over the last 23 years, most recently with a two-week strike in 1995. The strike threat is a basic tool of organized labor to put pressure on management and speed up negotiations. Indeed, the consistent strike threat and the pervading uncertainty of whether public transit will be running every morning has worked against SEPTA in the current talks. Passengers' anxiety about being stranded by a strike have caused the transit agency's daily ridership to fall since the strike threat began. During the first week of negotiating after an initial deadline had passed, SEPTA said that ridership declined between 8 percent and 15 percent, costing the agency roughly $250,000. And although SEPTA officials have since reported that ridership has returned to usual levels, the union said last week that it suspects SEPTA's ridership is still dwindling. But while many riders have expressed pro-union sentiments in the current stand-off, a strike might alienate many such supporters. Edward Shils, a Management professor emeritus in the Wharton School, said the public attitude toward the situation has hardened since March 14, when the contract was scheduled to expire and the union announced it would not strike as long as negotiations progressed. "Overall, I feel that the public patience is not there," Shils said. "I feel that if they strike at this time, it's going to be a terribly unpopular strike." The fact that the TWU has not yet struck may mean that it is too frightened by the idea of mass chaos to consider striking at all, Shils added. Moreover, despite last year's United Parcel Service strike -- which had public opinion on its side -- unions have grown weaker nationally and citizens place less trust in them, he said. He added that the daily traffic clogging city streets during a strike would turn the public against the union and thwart the union's success. Another reason why a strike has not occurred is that the two sides have made at least minimal progress on the issues of wages, workers compensation and health benefits. A strike would become possible only when the talks cease -- and they're still continuing. Negotiators for both sides are still meeting at the Franklin Wyndham Plaza Hotel, though union officials have walked out twice since March 14 in efforts to convey frustrations with the negotiations. Early on, union spokesperson Bruce Bodner called contract negotiations "positive." But he has since labeled them "antagonistic" berating SEPTA for its supposed inflexibility on major issues. In response, SEPTA's chief strategist David L. Cohen, Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell's former chief of staff, has said there is "virtually no more room for SEPTA to move" within the proposed framework.


U. buys City Hall from Phila.

(03/31/98 10:00am)

As part of continuing attempts to move campus eastward, University administrators announced their decision yesterday to purchase City Hall, located at Broad and Market streets in Center City. The building -- which currently houses City Council, Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell's office, courtrooms and various government offices -- will become a new Wharton School building set to open in the spring of 2024. Construction will begin next week. "An Ivy League school really should not be located in West Philadelphia," University President Judith Rodin said. "It's time we get out of this place." Many were surprised that Rendell agreed to the $790 million deal. City Hall, a National Historic Landmark, has been the center of Philadelphia politics for more than a century. The building itself -- once the tallest in the city until a bunch of skyscrapers went up all around it -- is 510 feet high. The original building was designated by its founder, William Penn, to be the home of "publick concerns." But Rendell -- a 1965 College graduate -- said he is ready for a change of scenery, adding that as a Penn alumnus, it is "his duty" to aid the University in its expansion. "Penn and the city have a beautiful relationship, so I don't mind hooking the school up with a nice hunk of property," the mayor said. "Plus, this place is so darn ugly that I am ready to get out of here," he added. Rodin said City Hall will be razed and reconstructed to fit the new "Sansom Common image" of Penn. She detailed plans which included psychedelic, neon murals adorning the walls of the new, 15-story Wharton building. "Our facilities really just need to be more hip, funky and upscale," Rodin said at a press conference yesterday. Rodin refused to comment on where the funding for the city-wide expansion project was coming from, but suggested that this year's 4.5 percent tuition increase "would be put to use in some sort of revamping initiative." But University City residents were less than thrilled with the University's attempt to leave West Philadelphia, noting that Penn and its community cannot seem to foster an amicable relationship. "I just can't understand why Penn is always running away from its West Philly residents," said Joe Ruane, president of the Spruce Hill Community Association. "I think their recent decision to buy City Hall just shows how they do nothing to improve town-gown relations." Undergraduate Assembly Chairperson Noah Bilenker agreed with Ruane, adding that he would refuse to take classes outside of West Philadelphia. College senior John La Bombard said that he had no opinion on the deal, but added that he was glad that Penn's desire for new property "didn't hit my penis."


SEPTA, union meet but make no progress

(03/25/98 10:00am)

The only thing left to do is wait. And wait. And wait. SEPTA negotiators met briefly with officials from Transport Workers Union Local 234 yesterday but failed to resolve any contract issues for city transit employees. The two sides plan to resume talks today, and city buses, subways and trolleys will likely run on schedule. TWU President Steve Brookens said Monday that the union no longer plans to alert the public each evening of a potential strike, claiming that he's tired of hearing SEPTA management accuse the union of "holding the public hostage." Yesterday, the union made no public comment on the likelihood of a strike. Union officials are planning a rally Thursday afternoon at SEPTA headquarters at 12th and Market streets, and until then, only minimal progress is expected in the talks. A strike by the 5,300-member union would shut down most buses, trolleys and subways, leaving the transit system's 450,000 weekday passengers searching for other ways to get around the city. Regional rail lines would be unaffected. The deadlocked negotiations rolled into their tenth straight day yesterday, with both sides agreeing that little progress has been made. Contract talks have continued since March 14, when the union agreed to keep talking past the contract deadline and postpone a possible strike. Yesterday, Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell reiterated his suggestion that the union should accept SEPTA's current proposal and move to settle disputes over pensions, workers compensation, benefits and zero tolerance for drugs and alcohol violations -- the issues which continue to stymie negotiations. "The union has to understand that to finance that contract they have got to agree to changes in the work rules? and some of their benefits, which will save SEPTA millions of dollars," Rendell told The Associated Press. While the deadlock continues, the possibility of an expanded strike is becoming more real, as bus drivers and mechanics on routes in Bucks and Montgomery counties voted Sunday to authorize a strike when their contract expires April 7. Additionally, members of the TWU's suburban Victory Division, which has some rail lines running through West Philadelphia, voted last night to authorize a strike if they did not have a contract by their April 1 deadline.