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SEAS grad. victim of weather

(05/24/01 9:00am)

Rain chased the ceremony for the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences off the new stage in Franklin Field, and into the nearby Palestra. Throughout Monday afternoon's ceremony, technology was the key word, as speakers noted what an interesting time it is to be involved in engineering. Along with the distinguished Engineering faculty who attended the ceremony, University Provost Robert Barchi was also present to offer his congratulations to the class of 2001. "You can take great pride in the role [engineering] plays in today's technological world," Barchi said. He also told the graduates that they should be especially proud to be graduating from Penn Engineering. "There truly has never been a more exciting or more dynamic place for engineering than today's SEAS," he said. Following Barchi and an introduction from Engineering Dean Eduardo Glandt, commencement speaker and 1951 Engineering graduate Oliver Boileau, Jr. stepped up to the podium. Boileau -- who also received a graduate degree in engineering from Penn in 1953 -- is the Former President and Chief Operating Officer of Northrop Grumman Corporation, a global aerospace firm. "You've earned it," Boileau told the graduates, speaking of their degrees. But he also asked them to ponder their achievements. "Think of what this degree really means... for it is a framework for the accomplishments you make in the future," he said. Like Barchi, Boileau marveled at today's technology, and noted the huge difference between today's tech opportunities and those he encountered as a student in the 1950's. Boileau's prime example of his day's technology was the birth of the world's first electronic computer, ENIAC. ENIAC was invented at Penn 55 years ago, five years before Boileau graduated from Penn. This was an incredible achievement in Boileau's time. "ENIAC was developed and designed here at Penn," he said. But despite the generation gap, Boileau said there are some things that never change. "There is a no more fulfilling experience than creating something... through teamwork," he said. But in the end, Boileau's message was simply to look forward to the future, and not to fear it. "Know that you have the self-confidence to handle whatever may come along in your life," Boileau said.

Rep. inspires College grads

(05/24/01 9:00am)

Despite what other school graduation ceremonies offered, only the College of Arts and Sciences' ceremony offered sex appeal. On Sunday, the College welcomed 1992 College graduate and Tennessee Congressman Harold Ford, Jr. to speak at their evening ceremony. Ford, 31, was recently named one of the 50 Most Beautiful People in the World by People magazine, and is in his second term in the House of Representatives. Ford delivered a speech that was humorous, but still had a serious message. "The challenge for you now is to actually do something with your education," Ford told the graduates, adding jokingly that students shouldn't waste an education that costs as much as Penn's. Ford reminded students that, even though they are graduating, they should still be involved with the world around them. "By all measurements, things are good. But it is our responsibility to make things even better," he said. "When things are going good, it's much more important how you respond than when things are going bad," Ford added. Despite his many accomplishments, Ford said being asked to speak at the College ceremony was "the biggest honor [he'd] ever had". Ford was also the keynote speaker at the 2000 Democratic National Convention. Ford joked that, during his first campaign, the only places he was ever asked to speak were at 36 kindergarten graduations, and he spoke at almost every single one. College senior David Scales preceded Ford as the College's student speaker. Scales added his reflections on college life to the ceremony. "The most important aspects of our learning have been outside the classroom," Scales said. Scales gave some colorful examples of this extracurricular education. "I learned that if I procrastinated enough, I could read a 250-page book in about an hour," he said. And "I learned how much concentrated gelatin it takes to clog a toilet," he added. As the graduates move out into the world, learning will not take place inside an office either. Life's most important lessons, Scales said, "will not be learned between the hours of nine and five" College Dean Richard Beeman took a moment to remind graduates that, despite the attention given to each freshman class at Penn, it is the senior class that deserved to be noticed. Beeman was referring to the administration's tendency to proclaim each entering class as more intelligent than any other class to ever enter Penn based on rising test scores. "The real cause for celebration is what you have become at Penn," Beeman said. "You are now a much more impressive bunch than you were when you were freshmen."

Nursing grads told to be 'real'

(05/24/01 9:00am)

The School of Nursing rounded out a rainy graduation weekend, holding their ceremony Monday evening. The mostly-female Nursing class of 2001 held their ceremony inside the First District Plaza, located at 3'th and Market Streets. One of Penn's nursing giants was on hand to address the graduates and remind them of their essential roles as nurses. Claire Fagin -- nursing professor and dean emerita -- was Interim President of the University between 1993 and 1994, and now works with a variety of health care corporations. She said that, despite the other healthcare jobs she has done in her life, she has always remained a nurse first and foremost. "I am a nurse -- RN -- real nurse," Fagin said. "It's what sets the frame of reference for who I am." According to Fagin, all Nursing graduates, no matter what career they pursue, should always think of themselves primarily as nurses. "The way you introduce yourselves and keep referring to yourselves always has to be that you are a nurse," Fagin said. "A reference to nursing and to nurses must be present in whatever you tell people that you do," she added. Fagin feels one of the biggest problems facing healthcare today is the tendency to put money ahead of patients. She also feels nurses are in a good position to tackle this problem. "Cost over care cannot continue," Fagin warned the audience. "Nurses are the largest group in contact with the public," she added. "We can be part of the solution provided we have the guts, the passion and the wisdom." Fagin's advice was to be active and outspoken about what should be happening in the healthcare industry. "Our future requires that we voice our opinions in the right places. People are sympathetic to nurses," she said. Fagin told the graduates to always stick together and to "support your colleagues." She also pointed out that a nurse's list of contacts can be essential. And good contacts are what set Penn graduates apart from those in other nursing programs. "People wonder why should you go to an Ivy League school?" Fagin said. She answered by pointing out the people students can connect with at Penn and in the Ivy League. But despite everything, Fagin's last bit of advice was to be happy. "Whatever you choose to do, make sure you don't stay too long in work you don't enjoy," she said.

DiIulio returns for Social Work graduation

(05/24/01 9:00am)

Graduation may be a time of celebration for many students, but for graduates of the School of Social Work, it is also a time to reflect on the difficult road ahead. And several student speakers -- along with one very notable Penn professor -- did just that Monday afternoon at the University Museum. John DiIulio,director of the controversial White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, offered his congratulations to the graduates for choosing the path of social work. "[Social work] is a noble profession. You will have a lifetime of putting your ideas and your ideals into your profession and into civic service," DiIulio said. "[Social work] is a distinctive moral commitment that refuses to treat any individual as disposable," he added. DiIulio, as an assistant to the President of the United States, is on leave as both a professor of political science and the Frederic Fox Leadership professor of politics, religion and civil society. He noted that social workers are becoming increasingly important in the social climate of the United States. "You're taking on the role of refereeing a crucial national discourse about the future of anti-poverty legislation," DiIulio said. "Social work has kept Americans mindful that the poor are still very much with us," he said. Student speakers described their work in almost religious terms, focusing on how they were called to the profession of social work, despite little in the way of monetary rewards or recognition. Graduate student Danielle Hill summed up her call to the field of social work in one of the ceremony's student addresses. "I didn't choose social work, social work chose me," she said. "Social work is not just a profession, but a way of life." Lori Horowitz, another masters candidate, spoke of the social worker's mission in more artistic terms, citing a famous performance by renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman. Perlman -- who suffered from polio as a child and subsequently must walk with crutches and is required to perform seated -- once performed an entire symphonic piece with only three of the usual four violin strings, after one of the strings broke moments into the performance. Horowitz, in turn, used the story to illustrate the need for resourcefulness as a social worker. "We also have the obligation to use the strings we have left. We must use our creativity and dedication... to create our music," Horowitz said. She, like others, noted the hardships ahead. "We did not pick an easy profession," she said. "But we must hold on to the passion that brought us [to the School of Social Work] in the first place." Two students also received awards at the ceremony. Christina Boyko received the Rosa Wessel Award for academic performance, and Robert Fairbanks received the Hal Levin Award, which is given to a meritorious doctoral student who is still in the process of completing coursework.

Grads hear Nobel laureate speak

(05/24/01 9:00am)

Graduate students in the School of Arts and Sciences traditionally hear a member of the SAS faculty speak at their graduation ceremony, and this year, choosing the speaker was not difficult. Dean Samuel Preston said that SAS has known who their speaker would be since last fall when Chemistry Professor Alan MacDiarmid, along with two other chemists, was awarded the 2000 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. MacDiarmid, 73, shared anecdotes and advice with the graduates. Success, MacDiarmid said, was explained best to him by his mother. "Success is not obtaining an A grade," he said, quoting his mom. "[Success] is knowing you've used all of your capabilities to the utmost." For MacDiarmid, it's all about working harder than what is expected, and he has tried to stress this principle to both his own children and, on Monday afternoon, to the SAS graduates as well. MacDiarmid connected personally with the graduating students by relating the experiences he gained working with the graduate students in his laboratory. One student in his Chemistry research group was diagnosed with a terminal illness and died before completing his degree, for which he was awarded his degree posthumously. But MacDiarmid held the late student up as a model for others. "He said to me, I have so much work to do, and so little time to do it in'," MacDiarmid said of the student, noting he did not waste the time he had before his death. Much of MacDiarmid's speech referred to people who had been influential to him, and he reminded the graduates that their achievements will be influenced by others as well. "We're all students, we're all continuing to learn, we all stand on the shoulders of giants," he said. And in looking back at the past, we must also not forget about the people who will come after us. "The debts we owe are to those who will come along after us," MacDiarmid said. As to the future, MacDiarmid asked students to keep an open mind. "Our minds are the greatest limiting factor in our lives," he said. "If we think properly, though, minds can be a wonderfully liberating part of our daily lives." For MacDiarmid, the term "commencement" is much more appropriate than that of "graduation". "I myself prefer the term commencement," he said. "Commencement is not when you finish your education. Commencement is when you begin your education."

Penn still searching for permanent head of public safety

(05/02/01 9:00am)

Another month has come and gone, and the Division of Public Safety remains without a permanent leader. Executive Vice President John Fry, who is heading the search committee, said the process is currently stalled. He said there was "nothing new" going on with the search, but also indicated that progress will be made by tomorrow. The final candidates for the job are supposed to meet with University President Judith Rodin, but Rodin would not comment last night on the selection process or about when she will be meeting with the finalists. The only internal candidate for vice president for public safety -- a position that oversees the University Police, Special Services and Fire and Occupational Safety departments -- is current University Police Chief Maureen Rush. While Fry would not say whether Rush is still a candidate for the position, Rush herself has indicated that she is indeed still in the running. Rush, who is the interim vice president for public safety, said she was scheduled for another interview this week, even though it is unclear whether or not that interview will actually take place as scheduled. "It's understandable, though," she said. "It takes a long time to get everyone's schedules worked out." Rush said she feels that once the final interviews are conducted, decisions will be made soon. "We'll see a quick turnaround once all the interviews are completed," she said. Rush also said she hopes to have the process completed before graduation. "It would be nice to see everything finished up before Commencement," Rush said. "It would be nice for the students." Fry and others have noted that Rush is an excellent and qualified candidate, and has served as an effective vice president in the interim. Throughout the selection process, Fry has not disclosed the names of any other candidates. If Rush is given the position, it would leave her former job as University Police chief open. Deputy Chief of Operations Michael Fink is serving as interim chief and has said he will apply for the job if a vacancy opens up. Rush has noted that, if the time comes to select a new police chief, the position will be filled by someone already working in the police department. The Division has gone without a permanent vice president since last October, when then-Vice President for Public Safety Thomas Seamon stepped down to become the chief executive officer of the private security firm TrainLogic. At the time of Seamon's departure, Fry said a replacement would be selected by February. But the February deadline, as well as a later end-of-March deadline, has passed. Penn received a total of 66 resumes in application for the position. This number was narrowed to nine, and then to five after a series of interviews. From those five -- which were selected by February -- one or two applicants will be selected, who will then meet with University President Judith Rodin. After the five had been selected, Fry again set a deadline for the final decision -- the end of March. The five finalists were scheduled to meet with the tri-chairpersons of the Faculty Senate, the University Council Committee on Safety, and a committee of students, faculty, staff and community members headed by School of Social Work Dean Ira Schwartz.

Despite huge crowds, crime falls during Relays weekend

(05/02/01 9:00am)

While attendance skyrocketed during this weekend's Penn Relays, crime rates reached an all-time low. The crowd in attendance for this year's Relays increased by more than 8,000, yet crime rates continued to decline. "All in all, it was a very peaceful weekend," said University Police Chief Maureen Rush, the interim vice president for public safety. Between Thursday and Saturday, close to 110,000 people were in attendance at Franklin Field, not including the large crowds attracted to Penn's campus that did not even enter the stadium. According to Penn Police, there were four incidents of crime related to the Relays, down from nine last year. These four incidents were three thefts of handbags or wallets, some due to pickpockets in the crowds, and one report of a stolen vehicle. However, according to Rush, 21 incidents were reported overall, including one citation for trespassing, four disturbances in the stands at Franklin Field and two notices for public urination. Scalping had been highlighted as a major target for the police forces before Relays, and over the weekend there were three investigations of alleged scalpers, as well as 11 tickets confiscated from suspected scalpers. "The success of the Penn Relays is no accident," Rush said in an e-mail statement. "There were months of planning meetings with multiple divisions within the University and agencies within the City of Philadelphia." University Police collaborated with members of the Philadelphia Police Department to patrol Relays. "[The collaboration] made this event the best ever in regards to public safety, crowd control, cleanliness and vending management," Rush said. Director of Athletic Operations Dave Bryan said he was pleased with the results of this collaboration. "We've worked very closely with our police department working out the details of handling increased crowds and the volume of traffic. and things went very well," he said. "An event this size requires that kind of large effort," Ryan added. Three people reported injuries over the weekend, but only one was serious. A man was taken to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania for chest pains. Crime overall within the University Police jurisdiction also remained low between Thursday night and Saturday night -- a time period that also included Hey Day. There was only one robbery reported during this time period. On Friday night a person was robbed at the MAC machine located on the 3900 block of Walnut Street. Police said the incident was not related to the Penn Relays. Crime at Relays has consistently decreased over the past four years, creating a marked change from the 1997 Relays when there was a riot at the 38th and Spruce streets Wawa and a carjacking at Franklin Field. Penn Police's other main objective for the weekend was to organize a massive clean-up of the area after Relays. "By Sunday morning, you couldn't tell that over 50,000 people were ever in the area," Rush said. Bryan commended Penn Police for this effort. "Everyone tried to return the area to its original condition, and they did a good job," he said. All in all, Rush said she was very pleased with the Relays weekend. "The Penn Relays was a spectacular event, both inside and outside the venue thanks to excellent cooperation and team work," she said.

Effective fundraising key to Agenda

(04/26/01 9:00am)

While the Agenda for Excellence outlines several specific goals for improving the University, there is one goal that underlies all of them -- making money. Strategic Goal number nine sums it up best, stating that "the University will identify and secure the funds required to support its strategic goals." This goal addresses both the need for Penn to raise money, as well as to cut current costs. "The overwhelming majority of initiatives require resources, Vice President for Budget and Management Analysis Michael Masch said. "They also require a vision, but eventually you have to add the resources," At the heart of all the Agenda's money-making schemes was fundraising. Over the course of the past five years, gifts and pledges alone have brought in more than $903 million. For almost every goal outlined, more than half of the money needed to finance different projects was provided by this nearly $1 billion sum. But that means still leaves some money to be raised. "We anticipated a need, that in about seven years, we would have to raise $1 billion," Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Virginia Clark said. "Gifts have been coming in at a faster rate than expected," she added, noting that in only five years almost all of Penn's $1 billion target has been raised. "The alumni feel exceedingly good about Penn, and they have responded in terms of giving," Clark said. At the inception of the Agenda, the Department of Development and Alumni Relations was concerned that alumni and other donors would be hesitant to keep giving after the extensive Campaign for Penn fundraiser, a seven-year campaign that culminated in 1994. The Campaign for Penn raised $1.4 billion, "which was a real record for the University... and my intention is not to minimize the importance of that campaign," Clark said. But more than twice the volume of gifts to the University were given in the last five years than in the entirety of the seven-year Campaign for Penn, although the Campaign ultimately raised more money overall. "Donors have been responding specifically to the strategic plan," Clark said. "[University President Judith Rodin] and this plan have been a terrific fundraiser." Many University officials have noted that Rodin has been more successful at convincing alumni and friends to give than her predecessors. "[The Agenda] is a strong program that [Rodin] was able to leverage up," Clark said. "We have a very strong president, who provides a very strong base for this fundraising," she added. Rodin said effective long-term planning helps explain why Penn's fundraising efforts have succeeded. "We think the reason is that alumni and donors were galvanized by the strategic plan and they supported it," she said. There were several projects that alumni responded to in particular, including undergraduate financial aid and scholarships, Perelman Quadrangle, the Pottruck Fitness Center, Huntsman Hall and the Fox Leadership Series. Clark noted that donors, especially younger alumni, gravitated towards these projects because they could see the immediate impact of their money. "As long as they can see that [impact], they're willing to give," Clark said. "Younger alumni are getting more involved... some giving over $5 million," she added. "These are big gifts for younger alumni, but the University has been spending time to reach out to them." And a favorite of young donors seems to be the financial aid endowment and scholarships -- but the University fell short of raising as much as it had hoped. The Agenda's goal for undergraduate financial aid was $200 million, of which $131 million has been raised. Rodin had often cited financial aid as the University's top fundraising priority. Financial aid has been a sensitive issue for Penn, as its financial aid endowment is the lowest in the Ivy League. Masch said that Penn's endowment struggles have a long history. He said that, while schools such as Harvard, Yale and Princeton universities have a long history of only accepting the very affluent, Penn started out as a working-class institution. And even though all of these schools now accept students based upon their merit, Harvard, Yale and Princeton have been building large endowments based on donations from rich alumni for a long time. "Penn's endowment 25 years ago was much smaller than it is today," Masch said. "In the '70s, '80s and '90s Penn was able to succeed in raising the endowment significantly." "But these other institutions have a 100-year head start," he added. "In terms of new gifts we're very competitive, but we can't erase that history." But while the endowment certainly impacted Penn's ability to offer financial aid, University administrators maintained that the small endowment did not impact the other strategic goals of the Agenda. Masch noted that Penn is not the only institution having endowment troubles in the context of its larger peer group. "A lot of attention was given to Princeton's increase in financial aid, and now other institutions are following suit, but no one else could afford to do what they did," he said. The size of the endowment also came to affect this year's 4.9 percent tuition hike. "We held off on doing [this year's] increase as long as we possibly could," Masch said. But the time had definitely come. Over the last four years, Penn's rate of increase has remained low compared to most of its peer institutions. But those schools that have been able to maintain low rates of tuition increase also happen to be those that are most heavily endowed, like Harvard, Yale and Princeton. Rodin's plan seems to have impacted even those out of the University's radar. Since the Agenda's inception, several large donations also came from outside sources -- such as major corporations and foundations, instead of alumni -- to make some of the larger projects initiated by the plan. The Huntsman Building, for example, received a boost in 1998 from Taiwanese industrialist C.F Koo, as well as the Salim Group, each of whom gave gifts of $10 million towards the project's $120 million cost. Two people -- Amos Hostetter and Ione Strauss -- both made significant contributions to the undergraduate financial aid endowment. Sam Zell, chairman of Equity Group Investments, provided program endowment for the Wharton Real Estate Center out of "professional respect" for the center, according to an Agenda statement. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Ford Motor Company also gave generous gifts, to support writing programs in the School of Arts and Sciences and graduate fellowships, and to the School of Engineering and Applied Science, respectively.

Wawa robbed by gunman early yesterday

(04/24/01 9:00am)

The Wawa Food Market at 3744 Spruce Street was robbed by an armed man early yesterday morning. Wawa employees reported that a black male roughly 30 years old entered the store at around 4 a.m., bought a cup of coffee and proceeded to pull a gun on a male cashier. The gun was a nine millimeter, according to University Police Deputy Chief of Investigations William Danks. No shots were fired, however, and no one was injured during the incident. After flashing the gun, the man then demanded that the employee give him money. "He got away with an undetermined amount of cash," Danks said, noting that the total amount taken was probably not very large because convenience stores generally do not keep much money in the cash register. Jennifer Holmes, a Wawa employee who was working during the robbery, said the alleged assailant approached her co-worker and said "'Give me the whole [cash register] drawer.'" "And he took the whole drawer," Holmes said. "All I heard [my co-worker] say was 'We just got robbed'... and I didn't really believe him until he said to call the cops," she added. The alleged assailant, who was described as having a thin build with a light complexion, curly hair and a goatee, then fled east on Spruce Street, possibly ducking into a subway station. The man was wearing a black denim jacket and pants, brown boots, gloves and a pair of dark sunglasses at the time of the incident. Holmes said the gloves the man was wearing automatically made her suspicious. "It was so hot out yesterday, I was like, why is this guy wearing gloves?" she said. While the crime occurred within the jurisdiction of University Police, city police officers responded to the call. But the incident will probably be handed over to Penn Police, Danks said. For now, the Philadelphia Police Department's "Southwest Detectives have the videotapes [of the incident] and are trying to figure out who this guy is," Danks said. "When we see the film, we'll have a better idea of what happened," Danks added. Although Wawa Food Market has its own security cameras, Penn Police surveillance cameras are also positioned at the intersection of 38th and Spruce streets. However, these cameras did not pick up enough of the incident to provide much insight into the investigation. Representatives from both Wawa Public Relations and the Southwest Detectives could not be reached for comment. This incident marks the first time the Wawa on 38th and Spruce streets has been robbed since last May.

Crime stays relatively light during Fling

(04/23/01 9:00am)

As Penn students partied the weekend away, University Police kept watch to make sure all Spring Fling events were safe and, above all, legal. According to University Police Chief Maureen Rush, crime was fairly low over the weekend, resulting in a "pretty successful Fling all in all" for both students and police. In total, Penn Police issued 21 citations -- 19 for alcohol violations and two for fighting. Five people were sent to the hospital, also due to drinking and fighting. Rush, who is also the interim vice president for public safety, said that none of the hospital cases were serious, "but there were a couple instances where people were just face down on the ground." "We got to them before anything criminal or medically happened to them," she said. Rush said there were about 12 major parties that police were forced to shut down, the most notable of which occurred Saturday night on 42nd Street. Police were able to control the situation without making any arrests. "People just spilled out in street, and there was fist-fighting when police arrived," Rush said. "A lot of people started giving officers a hard time, but [the officers] were professional and knew what they had to do," she said. But Rush added that there were few general problems while clearing parties. "For the most part, most of the people really understood that they had to go and they left," she said. At several of the weekend's block parties, police slowly drove their motorcycles on the sidewalks to help disperse crowds. Rush said the department's goal for Fling was to have enough officers "on the scene of each large disturbance to effectively handle the situation without escalating the situation." "That was our plan and it worked very well," she said. Of the 23 major Spring Fling-related incidents, the most serious was an aggravated assault that happened early Thursday morning near Superblock. And while Rush said that "most people had the routine down at this point," there were still some troublemakers. "One [person] was actually fighting with Liquor Control Enforcement after being cited," Rush said. LCE officials handed out a total of 31 underage drinking citations over the weekend. Rush said that the majority of underage drinking incidents occurred inside dorm rooms -- mostly in the Quadrangle -- instead of at larger parties. One Quad incident on Saturday involved a student shooting a BB gun. "No one was hurt, but [bullets] could have been ricocheting off of people," Rush said. "Most people had fun, and did what they had to do safely when police were called," Rush said.

Perspective: Three years later, still no answers

(04/18/01 9:00am)

As the three-year anniversary of Wharton doctoral student Shannon Schieber's death approaches next month, the investigation into the yet-unsolved murder remains riddled with setbacks and disappointments. Although DNA evidence has linked Schieber's killer to five Center City sexual assaults, three years of investigation have left the attacker unidentified and still at large. Sylvester Schieber, Shannon's father, summed up his opinion of the Philadelphia Police Department's investigation in three words -- "In the toilet." "The police department screwed up the investigation big time," Schieber said. "Not only did they set [Shannon] up to get killed, they couldn't investigate their way out of a paper bag when it came time to figure out who killed her." Major misclassifications of crime may have added to the initial problems in the investigation. A 1999 Philadelphia Inquirer investigation found that the PPD had downgraded thousands of reports -- including those of rape and sexual assault -- in order to improve their annual crime statistics. "[Schieber's] murderer had assaulted five other women in the area and two of their cases were classified as non-crimes because they did not continue to investigate them," said Carol Tracy, executive director of the Women's Law Project, a public interest law group concerned with women's issues. "They underreported crime and eventually the DNA was connected," she added. The PPD was forced to audit over 3,000 case files, and the audit showed that almost 700 were Felony One rapes, and 500 others were some form of felonious assault. "One will never know if, had they investigated all these cases thoroughly, they would have realized they had a serial rapist on their hands... perhaps they could have saved Shannon's life," Tracy said. Sylvester Schieber agrees. "The guy that attacked Shannon had attacked four other women in a very small neighborhood," he said. "Nobody had warned the community, nobody warned Shannon. They were either indifferent to it or couldn't detect it." Although police quickly identified a suspect -- Yuval Bar-Or, an acquaintance of Schieber's from Wharton who had been accused of harassing her -- DNA tests completed within a month of the murder soon cleared him. It was not until February 1999 that the DNA found in Schieber's apartment was matched to samples found on the scene of two 1997 rapes, a delay Police Commissioner John Timoney at the time blamed on computer glitches. But Ken Coluzzi, the former lieutenant from PPD Homicide who handled the investigation, justified the department's efforts. "Countless people have been spoken to as potential suspects, and have been cleared through physical evidence," Coluzzi said. "The commissioner put out a notice to the labs to test all DNA samples and to compare all DNA samples with those from Shannon's apartment." "There are detectives that are still diligently working, there are still teams of detectives looking at every sexual assault that happens," he added. PPD officials declined to give specific details about the investigation. "It's active and ongoing and we're consistently investigating this case," PPD spokeswoman Sue Slawson said. Special Victims Unit Captain Joseph Mooney -- who is heading up the investigation -- refused to comment. With the investigation at an apparent standstill, criminologists are left only to speculate about the identity and the motives of the Center City rapist. Brian Marx, a Temple University professor who has studied violence and victimization, said offenders of this sort tend to have violent histories and are capable of committing non-sexual crimes as well. He added that these types of offenders typically "have psychopathic tendencies," tending to be "manipulative, out for themselves," "remorseless" and are usually involved in other, non-sexual crimes. "It's unclear as to what the circumstances were that lead up to murder," Marx said. "It could be the case that he is not usually looking to murder his victims but did in these circumstances... I wouldn't say this guy is not capable of killing other victims. It's hard to know what he's capable of." An FBI report last year alleged that Schieber's attacker had not intended to kill her, but had strangled her in a moment of panic upon hearing the police outside her Rittenhouse Square apartment door. The assailant's second victim was stripped and throttled until she fell unconscious. While raping his third victim, the man wrapped a belt around her neck and punched her as he said "stop screaming and I won't kill you." "[He] may be sexually turned on to things normal people wouldn't be excited about," Marx added. "They may be highly aroused and they just don't have the tools to regulate their affect or emotion in a healthy way." With the knowledge that such an offender had gone undiscovered for years before Schieber's death, her parents filed suit in U.S. district court in 1998. The Schiebers seek unspecified damages from the City of Philadelphia and the two officers who knocked on Schieber's door, as well as improved police treatment of rape and sexual assault cases. After a factual discovery period, motions for summary judgement were filed last August and Judge Norma Shapiro heard arguments in December. Shapiro has not yet decided if the facts of the case are clear enough for her to make a ruling without a jury trial. The suit alleges that Schieber was still alive when the officers, Steve Woods and Raymond Scherff, left her apartment. Additionally, the suit claims that the practice of downgrading crime left the officers without crucial information pertaining to the criminal, but that, regardless, officers failed to respond properly to a neighbor's 911 call and thus contributed to Schieber's death. This claim was supported by a June 2000 FBI report profiling the case. The profile alleges that Schieber's attacker had not intended to kill her, but strangled her to death in a panicked response to knocks on the door, first from her neighbor and later from police. Upon arriving on the scene, according to court documents filed by the police department, the officers questioned Parmatma Greeley, who placed the 911 call, as well as another resident who hadn't heard anything unusual. They then proceeded to Schieber's apartment and banged on her door with their batons. Police claim Greeley then expressed uncertainty about what he'd heard earlier that night. "They asked me if I was sure [the noises] came from her place or did it come from outside," he said in a deposition. "I said -- I said I'm not -- I said maybe, when they said 'Are you sure it didn't come from outside?'" Since no other residents heard noise from the apartment, the officers decided they had no probable cause for entering the apartment. Motions filed by the Schieber family, however, state that Greeley informed the officers that he had heard "the screams for help and the choking sounds from Ms. Schieber's apartment" and did not exhibit as much uncertainty as the officers claim. The Schiebers claim that any expressions of uncertainty were the result of leading questioning by the police. Timoney has stood by the two officers ever since the lawsuit was filed. Lawyers for both parties declined to comment on the lawsuit. Experts for the police department have disputed the Schieber family's claim and testified for the department in court. In October 2000, forensic pathologist Vincent DiMaio testified that Schieber would have become unconscious in 10 to 15 seconds after her assailant began strangling her and would have been dead after about five minutes. But Michael Baden, a forensic pathologist who testified for the Schiebers, said there were marks in Schieber's mouth often seen in victims who have been gagged, leading him to believe Schieber could have been held hostage when police arrived, and then killed any time before 3 a.m. This type of expert testimony is crucial to both sides of the case. However, a 1993 Supreme Court ruling placed strict limitations on expert testimony, requiring that it hold up to certain scientific criteria. The testimony must concern a hypothesis that has been tested using methods generally accepted by the relevant scientific community where the rate of error is known. The research must also have been published in a peer-reviewed journal. Penn Professor Lawrence Sherman, director of the Jerry Lee Center of Criminology, said that it will be difficult to find testimony in this case that fits these criteria. "The question is whether any expert will testify that there is a standard of care that requires the police to knock down the door under these facts," Sherman said. "I don't know of any such standard of care, but I know of many experts that would be willing to give that testimony...." "The point about causation in this case is that someone would have to testify that police breaking a door down where someone had been screaming would reduce the level of injury to that person," Sherman added. "I'm not aware of any research that has tested that hypothesis." If the case does go to trial, the result is far from predictable. "Generally, some courts are reluctant to second guess the police in the terms of allocation of resources, with regards to response time," Law Professor Regina Austin said. "The one area where it's pretty likely that the court will be an interventionist or closely scrutinize the police response is the area of domestic violence and violence against women." Reiterating that he believed there was a lack of admissible expert testimony, Sherman said, "I think there's enormous sympathy for families of rape-murder victims and a lot of ill will against the Philadelphia police system."

Visiting teen struck by car on Chestnut

(04/03/01 9:00am)

A high school student attending a model Congress event at Penn was hit by a car Sunday afternoon while crossing the street near 36th and Chestnut streets. The student, a 15-year-old girl, was struck by a Chevrolet Celebrity after exiting the Wawa located at the corner of 36th and Chestnut streets. The driver stopped at the scene of the accident. The girl was taken to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, where she was treated for leg and shoulder injuries, the worst of which was a broken arm. CHOP officials would not say whether she had been released as of last night. According to University Police officials, the girl was crossing the street against the red light. Wharton and Engineering senior Ira Hofer, the director of events for the Penn Model Congress, confirmed that the student had been on campus to attend the PMC's Fourth Annual High School Conference, which was held between March 29 and April 1. "She was one of our delegates who came to the conference," Hofer said. "There are no serious injuries, and we have been in constant contact with her advisor and her parents. We're helping her in any way we can." Hofer said the accident occurred after the day's conference session had already ended. The girl was preparing to board her school's bus after an advisor had given her permission to go to Wawa. This incident marks the second time this semester where jaywalking led to an accident. On January 22, third-year Law School student Jorge Salva was hit by a car near 37th and Spruce streets, near the Quadrangle. Salva was taken to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, where he was treated for a broken arm.

Security begins to tighten for Albright's visit

(04/03/01 9:00am)

University Police are beefing up security for former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's visit tonight in the hopes that the event will run smoothly, without any security threats. Albright, who was chosen as Connaissance's annual spring speaker this year, is scheduled to appear in Irvine Auditorium tonight at 8 p.m. Penn Police will be handling security for the event almost exclusively. "We have a dignitary protection detail of detectives and an emergency response team that are going to be handling the event," Interim Chief of Police Michael Fink said. However, Fink declined to disclose further details about the University Police presence at the event for fear of jeopardizing security. Penn Police have handled security for other high-profile speakers who have come to campus, including Bill and Hillary Clinton and former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who came to Penn in October of 1999. For Netanyahu's visit, University Police collaborated with members of the Philadelphia Police Department's Dignitary Protection Unit as well as the U.S. State Department, the federal Diplomatic Security Service and the Israeli Secret Service. But according to Connaissance Co-Director Nishchay Maskay, security for Albright will be "reasonably light compared to Netanyahu." For example, the metal detector screenings and bag checks that were mandatory when Netanyahu visited will not be in place for Albright. "It's pretty low-key," Maskay said. "It will be primarily Penn Police handling the security and it won't be quite as restrictive as it was for Netanyahu." "She is a former high-profile person," Det. Supervisor Frank DeMeo said. "But now she's just Ms. Albright." "Neither PPD or the State Department will be involved this time, and that was the call of the State Department," Maskay said. The layout of Irvine Auditorium was also a concern when Netanyahu spoke, since the building's design posed unusual security challenges. But DeMeo said that there is no such concern with Irvine's design this time. "We had a concern about [Irvine], but it has been well taken care of," DeMeo said. "We're not aware of any problems now, and we don't anticipate any big security threats." Maskay agreed. "Everyone is very used to doing events like this at Irvine," he said. "Last year [when Netanyahu came] Irvine had just reopened. But now everyone is very comfortable with the auditorium."

Alum's car goes up in flames on Walnut

(03/30/01 10:00am)

The car of a Penn alumnus suddenly caught fire yesterday afternoon in the middle of rush hour traffic on Walnut Street. No one was injured in the incident. As the driver was traveling down Walnut Street, smoke started billowing from the front of his car. "It was like spontaneous combustion," said the driver, who wished to remain anonymous. "It started smoking, and then flames shot up. [The car] just started burning." With the flames rising from the front hood, the car rolled to a stop -- right in the middle of Walnut Street, before the 40th Street intersection. "I made a beeline out of the car, grabbed some things from the car, grabbed my cell phone and called someone," the driver said. Police and members of the Philadelphia Fire Department arrived at the scene not long after. Some of the items he grabbed from the car included several cans of kerosene. The driver claimed, however, that all of the cans were empty and had nothing to do with the fire. They were not located anywhere near where the fire had started. University Police officials could not say definitively what caused the fire but said it was most likely caused by something in the vehicle's engine. The fire did not affect traffic much, since the police and fire department removed the vehicle from the scene within half an hour. While the driver had to pay to have his own car towed from the scene of the fire, he said he was not upset about his experience, particularly because no one was hurt. "A car is a thing -- it can be replaced," he said. "But life is precious... and that's the bottom line." The driver noted that he is in no rush to replace his car -- an older model Chevrolet -- and will use public transportation for the time being.

University Police Dept. gets national accreditation

(03/27/01 10:00am)

After a four-year struggle, the University of Pennsylvania Police Department finally received national accreditation, making it the first campus police agency in Pennsylvania to receive such an honor. The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc., made the announcement this past weekend at its spring conference in Greensboro, N.C. Sixty-two different agencies were in Greensboro over the weekend to receive either accreditation or reaccreditation. In a statement issued yesterday, Penn Police Chief and Interim Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush noted that "by obtaining accredited status, the UPPD is now among an elite group of professional law enforcement agencies that have demonstrated excellence and professionalism in the delivery of law enforcement services to the community." By becoming accredited, police departments also gain controlled liability costs. To attain this status, the UPPD had to comply with CALEA's 439 standards. Rush and several other members of the UPPD traveled to Greensboro to receive the award. "We're thrilled," Rush said. "We immediately called back home to announce this, and everyone is relieved and delighted." The department went through an intense five-day operational review in the spring of 2000, but accreditation was delayed until this spring after CALEA found the UPPD in violation of one of its standards. While CALEA mandates that all police departments have a single telephone number, the UPPD has two -- one each for on- and off-campus residents. In August of 2000, Rush travelled to Chicago to appeal the ruling, claiming that both numbers are necessary to accommodate the fact that many Penn students live off-campus. The department was allowed to keep both numbers, but accreditation was still pushed back until this month. As part of the accreditation process, a team of law enforcement practitioners from out-of-state agencies similar to the UPPD assessed the department based on written materials, individual interviews and visits to the UPPD's headquarters. The accreditation lasts for three years, at the end of which a department must be reaccredited. "It's critical that you keep up with paperwork and any time-sensitive reports," Accreditation Manager Sgt. Gary Heller said. "It's tougher for an agency to get reaccredited because you have to show that you're practicing what you preach." But Heller said he feels that the UPPD will have no problems when the time for reaccreditation rolls around. "As long as you make sure your files are up to date you should be in good shape, and I don't anticipate us having any problem with that," Heller said. The UPPD began its quest for accreditation back in 1996 under the leadership of then-Vice President for Public Safety Thomas Seamon. Seamon appointed current Interim Police Chief and Deputy Chief of Operations Michael Fink to head the department's efforts for reaching national police standards. By November of 1999, Heller was named accreditation manager, and the UPPD had already completed three-fourths of the accreditation process. "It's been a long four years, but the process has been very beneficial," Rush said. "It made us look at every policy and procedure in the department." "These are national policies that are in place in our department, that we live with each and every day. We're gearing up for three years from now, for our reaccreditation," she added.

Pa. House debates fire safety on campuses

(03/22/01 10:00am)

A number of Pennsylvania representatives are working on legislation they hope will make the state's college campuses fire-proof. House Bill 209, if passed, will mandate that all Pennsylvania colleges and universities install sprinkler systems in all dormitories within five years. The bill, currently under consideration by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives' Labor Relations Committee, would also apply to all fraternity and sorority houses officially recognized by a college or university. "Sprinklers act as a silent 24- hour-a-day professional fire fighter in every single room," said Rep. Michael McGeehan, who proposed the bill to the Pennsylvania General Assembly. Ted Bateman of Penn's Fire and Occupational Safety agreed that sprinkler systems save lives, pointing to a statistic from the National Fire Protection Association. "There has been no large loss of life -- which is considered to be two or more fatalities -- on record for any facility with sprinkler activation," Bateman said. At New Jersey's Seton Hall University, for example, three students were killed and 62 were injured in January 2000 during a dormitory fire. The dormitory lacked the kind of sprinklers the Pennsylvania legislature is trying to implement. "There is a shameful record in Pennsylvania," McGeehan added. "More students in Pennsylvania have died in college fires than in any other state," he said. "That statistic says more than I ever could about the critical need for this legislation." Interim Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush said she fully supports the bill. "We're not even waiting for the legislation to be passed," she said. "We're trying to expedite this plan in order to make campus safe." Sprinkler systems are just one element of a comprehensive safety model designed by Fire and Occupational Safety -- a model that still places emphasis on fire drills and evacuation. "It takes practice," Bateman said. "The more times you go through a fire drill, the more prepared you'll be in case of a real emergency." "Sprinkler systems help to contain a fire in a [small area]... and they reduce property damage," he said. For institutions that have problems paying for the installation of new sprinkler systems, the bill proposes that loan money be set aside. While the bill itself asks for $125 million for loans, another proposal by Gov. Tom Ridge suggests that a total of $350 million be loaned to needy schools at a reduced interest rate. Colleges and universities would be able to take out loans from the government at a 3.8 percent interest rate. The state would cover the other 3 percent of the standard 6.8 percent interest rate. "We're cognizant of expense. But it's cheaper to borrow this way than on the open market, and it's the right thing to do," McGeehan said. Legislators are working to incorporate some aspects of the governor's proposal into law. Whatever form the law takes, McGeehan said it will be acted on by April. However, McGeehan added that although each institution can apply for a loan at the same time, once the loan fund is used up, money will not become available again until the following year. McGeehan said he feels this could put small and independent colleges at a disadvantage. "Penn and Penn State would gobble up the lion's share of the loan money in the initial stages," he said. "A real concern is that larger institutions would be favored, and small and independent colleges would be an afterthought." "Folks who choose smaller colleges have as much right to be protected as those who go to Penn or Penn state," he said. Interim Police Chief Michael Fink also noted that smaller schools might encounter problems finding qualified companies to install sprinkler systems. "Companies faced with two contracts -- one from Penn worth a few million dollars, and another one from a smaller school -- will most likely choose Penn. That could pose a challenge to small schools, particularly in the Delaware Valley area," Fink said.