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Baker apologizes to Stevens for remarks

(04/11/95 9:00am)

In an open letter, English Professor Houston Baker apologized to School of Arts Sciences Dean Rosemary Stevens yesterday for comments attributed to him in a Daily Pennsylvanian column that ran last month. In the column, which was written by College junior Mike Nadel, Baker was quoted as making several serious accusations against Stevens. Nadel quoted Baker -- who is also the director of the Center for the Study of Black Literature and Culture -- as calling Stevens incompetent and described incidents in which she was accused of being biased against certain ethnic groups and departments. Since then, many SAS faculty members and administrators have rallied in support of Stevens. In yesterday's letter, Baker said he did not call Stevens a racist. He denied any ill intent on his part. "My harshness was a direct result of the frustration I feel about the general status and function of our School of Arts and Sciences within the larger university community," he stated in the letter. Baker suggested an "open, public, 'civil' forum on the future of the liberal arts and sciences at Penn, to be attended by University trustees, administration, faculty and staff." He said last night that he sent this letter "out of my genuine concern for the excellence of the University of Pennsylvania." Stevens said she thinks the forum is an interesting idea because it is in the spirit of the continuing goal of the faculty to build excellence at the University. "There are many important issues to be dealt with in the University," she said last night. "And I look forward to putting this episode behind us and proceeding with the work that needs to be done. But Nadel was not so quick to dismiss Baker's original comments. "I am glad that Professor Baker has made it clear that there was no misinterpretation of his comments on my part," he said. "I just wish that members of the University community felt free to be more honest and vocal about what they know to be the poor quality of Rosemary Stevens' deanship." Nadel added that although there has been a lot of support for Stevens over the last two weeks, there has also been "vocal criticism of undergraduate education coming from dynamic, futurist faculty members all over the University." "Those who say that Rosemary Stevens is either dynamic or future-thinking are being disingenuous, possibly for political reasons," Nadel said.


U. accepts 4,960 students into Class of 1999

(04/10/95 9:00am)

Most selective class in years Only 33 percent of high school applicants were accepted to the University this year, making it one of the most selective classes in recent history, according to Admissions Dean Lee Stetson. This figure is down from 36 percent last year. And regular decision applicants whose acceptance letters were mailed out last Wednesday were accepted at a rate of 25 percent, compared to 32 percent last year. Out of the 15,050 applicants, 4,960 students were admitted, Stetson said. "This was the most challenging selection in my tenure of almost 18 years," he said. The number of admitted students climbed 25 over last year's 4,935 accepted students. "We admitted more because the pool was significantly stronger academically and therefore students will have many options," Stetson said. He added that the Office of Admissions will probably have to make limited use of the waiting list, which contains 300 students this year. Stetson said the applicant pool was "a very strong class academically." The average combined Scholastic Aptitude Test score for the group was 1311 -- 697 in math and 614 in verbal. This total is eight points higher than last year. The average achievement test score was up seven points to 653. And the average applicant ranked in the top three percent of his class versus four percent last year. But Stetson said the attributes are even greater than the numbers indicate. At least one student from every state was admitted to the University, Stetson said. This includes one from Wyoming, two from both North and South Dakota and three from Montana -- the states most at risk of under-representation, he added. Last year the University accepted one student from each Dakota but neither enrolled. Stetson said a fewer number of students were accepted from the New England and Mid-Atlantic regions this year. Only 385 were accepted from New England, compared to last year's 449, and 2,173 were accepted from the tri-state region -- Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York -- which is 68 less than last year. He attributed these low numbers to the stronger yield from those two regions. Stetson said 52 percent of admitted students were from "outreach" states-- all states not in the Mid-Atlantic or New England region and international regions. The number of international students accepted was 463 -- 61 more than last year. Of the students admitted, 3,256 were accepted into the College of Arts and Sciences. Stetson said his goal is to have 1,480 of these students enroll. Wharton accepted 607 students -- up from 571 last year. Stetson attributed this increase to a stronger academic pool, making it necessary to accept more students in order to yield 360 matriculants. The School of Engineering and Applied Sciences accepted 1,047 applicants -- up from 1,020 last year. Stetson said he would like to see between 360 and 380 enroll. The Nursing School, which suffered a 25 percent decrease in applications this year, accepted 108 of its applicants. Only eight of these were male. Stetson said he is looking for 80 of these students to enroll. There were 120 students accepted to the Management and Technology program and 51 into the International Studies program. Stetson said he expects to enroll 50 to 60 in the Management and Technology program and 40 into the International Studies program. The University also accepted more females this year. Compared to last year's 48 percent, 49 percent of the accepted students are women this year. Women made up 30 percent of accepted students in the Engineering School and 38 percent of Wharton students. This is up from 26 percent and 32 percent respectively. Stetson said he was pleased with the increased number of women applicants. "I think it is a healthy sign that more women are applying to Wharton and Engineering," he said. The number of minorities accepted to the University dropped this year from last year's 1,911 to 1,864 -- making up 37 percent of the admitted students. In general, the number of accepted minorities was down -- with the exception of the number of Native American students, which doubled to 14 this year -- and the number of Hispanic students, which was up by 33 to 298 students this year. Just like last year, 63 percent of the accepted students are from public schools. The University accepted 193 students from the Philadelphia area -- up two from last year. Stetson said this class is not only talented academically, but also brings in a great deal of involvement, energy and well-roundedness, as well as a significant interest in the University. "Still, now the challenge is to enroll the students," he said. Stetson added that admissions officers, faculty and students will be travelling across the country to talk to admitted students over the next few weeks. In addition, several performing arts groups -- including Counterparts, Quaker Notes and Mask and Wig -- have assisted in selling the school to students around the country, Stetson said. And today is the first day of Penn Preview Weeks, a three-week period of intense information sessions and guided tours for prospective freshmen and their families. "It will be interesting to hear during the next few weeks what our competition really is and where [the students] have been admitted," he said.


The anxiety is over in Room 11 of College Hall

(04/10/95 9:00am)

While decision letter-induced anxiety is just beginning for prospective freshmen, stress has just eased up for the four workers in Room 11 of College Hall. Last Wednesday, over 15,000 response letters were sent out to high school seniors who applied to the University. But before the letters could go out, each and every one had to be printed and checked by Network Administrator Margaret Porigow, Word Processing technicians Marcella McMillan and Ken Ward and Kathleen Lawville, a part-time administrative assistant, . "We worked around the clock last weekend," Porigow said Friday. She added that they have been printing decision letters since the middle of February. As their deadline of April 5 drew closer, they were printing an average of 400 decisions a day, Porigow said. But they were not doing it completely alone. "We brought in a lot of people to help," Porigow said. Once the decisions were printed, checked and signed, they had to be coordinated with financial aid decisions and stuffed into envelopes. They were then stored on either tables, the wooden bookshelves that line the front wall of the room, or the multiple mail bins which were set up around the room. The letters were eventually transported from Room 11 to a small drafty room around the corner where they were stored on tables until it was time to send them off, Porigow added. "Fifteen thousand letters take up an enormous amount of space," she said. "It was just wall to wall letters." Now that the letters have been sent, the room is completely empty -- ready for next year's letters. Porigow said the workers of Room 11 have already started preparing for next year. When they are not printing up and sorting decision letters, the four workers spend their time printing out recruitment letters and other information for prospective students, she said. She estimated that they print 200,000 letters a year. They also update the files on all of the applicants, which they download from the 11 computers around the room, Porigow said. All of this activity climaxes at the point of the decision deadline, she added. "It's a process but you feel good at the end," she said.


Stevens to honor outstanding student achievement

(04/06/95 9:00am)

The School of Arts and Sciences' 11th annual Dean's Forum will take place tonight at 8 p.m. in Harrison Auditorium. The forum "will honor and recognize outstanding undergraduate and graduate students for their academic performance and intellectual promise," according to a letter by School of Arts and Sciences Dean Rosemary Stevens. Nine students in the College, one student in the College of General Studies and 10 graduate students will be recognized as Dean's Scholars by Stevens, who will present them with books and certificates. These students were chosen by the Associate Dean of the College on basis of grade point average, rigor of courses taken and extracurricular activities. In addition, Donald Johanson -- who is a world-leading, and America's best known, paleoanthropologist -- will be speaking on "Ancestors: In Search of Human Origins" at the forum. Johanson has spent the last 25 years exploring and discovering. He is responsible for discovering the oldest and most complete human ancestor, the fossilized remains the world knows as "Lucy." Stevens said she is looking forward to this evening's event. "It's a wonderful opportunity to appreciate outstanding students and in doing so we realize the goals and excellence of Penn as a whole," she said. The College students honored are sophomores Tali Aronsky and Nicolae Garleanu, juniors Marsha Cheung, Stephen Lin and Jeong Yeon Whang, and seniors Derek Apanovitch, Aaron Cook, Abigail Doran and Mali Heled. The College of General Studies winner is junior Jessica Robbins. And the Graduate Students who were chosen are Hilary Beth Appel, Maria Hohn, Jon McGinnis, Roumyana Pancheva-Izvorski, Jane Marie Pinzino, David Roxburgh, Paul Sievert, Juuso Valimaki, John Zilcosky and Eric Zorrilla.


Steiner: If being English chair doesn't work out, there's always Bruce Willis

(03/31/95 10:00am)

As trucks rumbled by on 34th Street, Wendy Steiner sat in her cluttered third floor office in Bennett Hall and recounted her seemingly endless history at the University. "I've been here forever," the English professor said, her hands folded neatly in her lap. The Canadian native started as an assistant professor in 1979 after teaching a few years at the University of Michigan, and has since worked her way through the ranks to become a Richard L. Fisher Professor with a salary funded entirely from an endowment. And this July, she will take over the English chair from Professor John Richetti. "I must say that this school has been very very good to me, very supportive all along and very understanding," she said. Steiner added that she was gratified when she was made chair "because it was so painlessly done." "It was like the Godfather sort of thing," she said. "A year ago people started coming to me and saying [I should be chair]. "Gradually they plant an idea in your head and they kind of look eager and you start thinking about it," she added. "And that's the first fatal flaw. They sort of set me up to think about it." Although Richetti said he believes Steiner is the first woman to ever have this job, she said she is not sure of this fact. There is a picture of Rosamund Ture -- a famous 17th century settler -- outside of the chair's office along with pictures of former chairs, she explained. "I would bet you anything that she came here, was chair for eight months, couldn't stand it and died," Steiner added. And if being chairperson of the English Department doesn't work out?well, there's always Bruce Willis. Steiner explained that she has ambitions of writing a "Bruce Willis sort of novel that can be sold to the movies." "I kid to myself that the way to get through the chairmanship is to everyday when I come into the office write for an hour about life-threatening adventures and then get to work," she said. But she said she still supports the idea of women in academia. "I think it's important for other people to feel that women can succeed in various levels of academia," she said. Steiner added that she has big plans for the department. She said she wants to increase the amount of interaction graduate students have with other aspects of culture. "I would like all of our students to come out of here understanding the relationship between cultures that we deal with," Steiner said. Her suggestion is to "take our graduate students out and put them in touch with those areas in the general culture that aren't directly relevant to their various studies, like public education and journalism." Steiner will hold the chair for three years, with an option to extend it for another two years. Although she has been working with the current department chairpersons on making the transition, she is not certain what lays ahead. "People warn me that I'm going to be miserable," she said. Steiner currently sits on several committees, including a Dean's committee that discusses departments and programs. She cited this committee as one of her favorite parts of the job, attributing this to her "coffee sensitivity." "I sit around and drink coffee and I feel so good and it just feels like such a great time we are having discussing all of these things," she said. "So you can see you take great pleasure in small things in this business." Steiner has an extensive background in writing. Not only does she write literary reviews for the New York Times, but she has also published three books. "I like to write," she explained. "I really like it -- it's not just that I do it to get ahead or anything." She just finished a non-fiction book that "she is very excited about," which will come out in the fall called The Scandal of Pleasure. "It is about all of the various scandals in the arts that recently have taken place," she said.


Penn Jew to replace Quaker as new school mascot

(03/29/95 10:00am)

The Pennsylvania Quaker will be trading in her velvet robe and hat for a talis and a yarmulke next season. Cheerleading coach Marci Sartor announced last night that the Quaker is going to be replaced by a new mascot -- the Penn Jew. Sartor said this decision came after her squad pointed out to her that the current mascot "was no longer an accurate representation of the student body." "There aren't as many Quakers around here as there used to be," she said. "But there are certainly a lot of Jews." Sartor said the new mascot will be slightly different than the Quaker. Some of the suggestions on the table include throwing gelt into the stands to improve fan morale, wearing the Hebrew letter chai around his neck and waving a Torah at the other team, she added. As a result of this new mascot, the overall athletic schedule must be adjusted, Athletic Director Steve Bilsky said. "Since we have a Jew representing us, it would almost be a sin not to observe the Sabbath," he said. "So we will be playing our football games on Sundays instead." And one of the University's longest standing traditions -- the throwing of the toast -- will be changed, he added. "We thought it would be a nice gesture to change it to matzah," Bilsky said. "Or at least challah." He added that he is toying with the idea of hiring vendors to sell kosher hot dogs and potato latkes during the game. Hillel Director Jeremy Brochin said he was very pleased with the decision to change the mascot. "Mazel tov to the athletic department for finally giving our people the recognition they deserve," he said. And University President Judith Rodin said she was "thrilled to death that the University will be represented by one of the tribe." But not everyone is happy with the new mascot. "Oy vey," Provost Stanley Chodorow said. "What will they think of next?"


Stetson: no more Lawn-Gylanders

(03/29/95 10:00am)

The Class of 1999 is going to be noticeably different from any other freshman class, as a result of strict orders from Admissions Dean Lee Stetson. In a multi-paged memo obtained by the Daily Pennsylvanian from a source in College Hall, Stetson ordered his admissions officers to avoid accepting too many students from specified geographic regions. On the top of his list of specified states were New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. "These states are over-represented at this University," he said in the memo. "So please avoid accepting too many applicants from these regions, no matter how qualified they are." Stetson would not comment on the record about this last night. However, off the record he admitted he sent the memo. "Yeah, I sent it," he said. "There are just too many people here from Long Island. I can't take it any more. Everywhere I go I hear that annoying accent. Tawk, cawfee -- it's enough to drive a person batty. "Then, a few months ago, I realized I could do something about it. I was sitting in my office naked staring into space when it suddenly occurred to me. I said to myself, 'wait a minute Lee, you big stud -- that's what I like to call myself when I am alone -- you're the one who let these people in -- you can control this situation!' "So I decided to tell my officers to try and take more students from nice states - like Iowa for example," he added. "People from Iowa are nice. They like cows, I like cows-- we'll get along just fine." But Syosset High School senior and University applicant Rachel Cohen-Schwartzenbaumowitz said she was "like totally totally shocked." "Like, oh my gawd," she said. "I'm all vechlempt. I am going to tell daddy."


Many want Camfield to get tenure

(03/27/95 10:00am)

A School of Arts and Sciences committee denied tenure to popular English Professor Gregg Camfield last week, outraging both students and faculty members. And while Camfield's future at the University may seem short, many devoted students are not going to let Camfield leave without a fight. The English Undergraduate Advisory Board has taken quick action to gather support for the man Ellona Wilner, College junior and Student Committee on Undergraduate Education secretary, described as "probably the best teacher in the English department." Wilner said this incident has really mobilized the English undergraduates. "He has such a strong reputation," she said. College senior Michelle Falkoff said the English UAB had an impromptu meeting, which was announced over their Internet listserver, to begin planning actions to protest the decision. In order for students to voice their support of Camfield, the English UAB has organized a letter writing campaign. UAB members will contact students who have taken classes with Camfield and encourage them to write letters, she said. She added that they are also considering getting in touch with alumni. According to College senior Liz Fekete, these letters will be directed at SAS Dean Rosemary Stevens, College of Arts and Sciences Dean Robert Rescorla and Provost Stanley Chodorow. The UAB has set up a box in 125 Bennett Hall for students to submit these letters, she said. And Fekete said that so far, many students have responded to the UAB's call for action. "Everyone I have heard from is completely incensed and I know of a lot of people who are starting to write letters and want to get involved on Camfield's behalf," she said. Falkoff said that in terms of the sheer volume of student responses, she thinks the campaign will be successful. "But I don't know what its effect will be on the administration," she added. Wilner said the English UAB is going to try to meet with Stevens and possibly Chodorow to discuss this situation. "We want the administration to understand that we see this as a symbol of their lack of interest in good teaching skills and their lack of respect for students," Falkoff said. And although the UAB is organizing this effort to fight the SAS's rejection of Camfield's tenure dossier, Falkoff said the group also wants to protest the tenure system itself and "a negative reaction against good teaching." Fekete said she wants to make the dean aware that students think Camfield is indispensible to the University. "Obviously we want to change Steven's mind," she said. "But because it may be difficult to get her to reconsider in Camfield's case, then we want her to know that students take seriously what was said about taking education seriously and that we expect actions with words." Fekete added that the group is also talking about organizing some sort of demonstration, maybe in conjunction with the Geology Department because of the recent denial of tenure to one of its most popular professors -- George Boyajian. Wilner added that they are thinking of making a banner for the major fair on Wednesday and possibly painting on the wall by the Walnut Street bridge. "We don't want to be belligerent," she said. "We want to try to be reasonable but we do feel it is important to make a strong statement." They also have written a petition, which Fekete said is available in 120 and 125 Bennett Hall for students to sign. There will also be a copy at the major fair.


Faculty dismiss Baker's claims that Stevens is incompetent, racist

(03/27/95 10:00am)

Several faculty members have rallied to support School of Arts and Sciences Dean Rosemary Stevens following accusations of alleged incompetence and racism. A column in Friday's Daily Pennsylvanian quoted English Professor Houston Baker as calling Stevens incompetent and describes incidents in which she is accused of being biased against certain ethnic groups and departments. In particular, Baker -- who is the director of the Center for the Study of Black Literature and Culture -- describes an incident in which Stevens allegedly overlooked the importance of an Asian American Studies petition at a meeting she had with students advocating the formation of such a department. But many doubted the validity of these allegations, and Stevens said she was surprised by Baker's statements. "I am a strong supporter of Asian American Studies and misreporting what occurred at the very helpful meeting with students does a disservice to faculty and students in this school," she said. In response to the column, written by College junior Mike Nadel, Stevens held a one hour information session on Friday for concerned students. She also took individual phone calls throughout the day. While the column initially offended South Asia Society President and College junior Mika Rao, she said meeting with the dean helped alleviate her concerns. "She was very interested and supportive and I believe her track record supports this," she said. Rao added that Stevens denied making the comments outlined in the column, and said she would meet with the other Asian-American leaders within the next few months. "I think there must have been a misunderstanding involved," she added. And Undergraduate English Chair Al Filreis said he has never had a problem with Steven's attitude toward his department, although Baker had indicated otherwise in the letter quoted in Nadel's column. Baker also said Stevens suffers from what he labels as "resentment of excellence syndrome." As a result of this, he said, she has sacrificed the quality of the educational experience by refusing to grant tenure to qualified professors. But Regional Science Professor Stephen Gale denied that there are ulterior motives involved in Steven's decisions. "The idea that the deanship might not be committed to excellence is undoubtedly untrue," he said. Gale added that he does not blame the dean for the problems at the University, attributing the flaws more to the system than to a particular administrator. Baker would not comment further on Stevens last night. However he maintained that he is committed to excellence. "I hear about the University of Pennsylvania and its excellence," he said. "I have worked toward that excellence for 20 years and will continue to do so."


Popular English professor will not get tenure

(03/24/95 10:00am)

SAS decision stuns Camfield A School of Arts and Sciences committee voted to deny tenure to Gregg Camfield, an English professor well-liked by many students. Camfield said he was stunned by this decision. "I did absolutely everything I was supposed to do and to have this happen is quite surprising," he said yesterday. And many students and English professors -- including Department Chair John Richetti -- said they were upset by what they see as a great injustice. "I myself feel that Gregg deserved tenure," he said. "I would say that he did absolutely everything that he should do to get tenure at the University of Pennsylvania." This is not the only recent case of a popular professor being denied tenure. A few weeks ago, Geology Professor George Boyajian was voted down by the Personnel Committee -- although he received a unanimous vote of support from his department. According to Richetti, the requirements for tenure are teaching, scholarship and service -- all of which Camfield said he had fulfilled. Last May, Camfield received the English Undergraduate Advisory Board's first annual teaching award. Also, he has published one book and has a second book under contract. And Camfield served on the writing committee in the College which helped institute the writing requirement. Undergraduate English Chair Al Filreis described Camfield as "just the sort of faculty member we need to retain." He added that Camfield was especially popular among his students, mentioning that his evaluations in the Penn Course Review regularly averaged at 4.0. Richetti said that while Camfield received enough support from his department to reach the next step in tenure evaluation -- the SAS Personnel Committee -- not every faculty member was in favor of his tenure. And the SAS committee, comprised of distinguished members of the arts and sciences community, chose to reject his dossier, according to Richetti. But he added that SAS Dean Rosemary Stevens is not obligated to follow the advice of this committee. Stevens, however, said she believes that "deans rightly have a hands-off role in this stage of personnel determination." "My philosophy is not to override the decisions of this committee," she said. "I think they do a very good job and this is where the responsibility rests in the faculty for making judgements." Yet Stevens said she has not received a formal notification of the committee's decision in this case. Camfield said he will not be leaving the University before his time is up. "I have another year before they kick me out, so I will definitely be here another year," he said. Many members of the English UAB who have had Camfield as a professor said they were extremely disappointed at hearing the news of his rejection. "Outraged doesn't even begin to cover it," said College senior Liz Fekete. "Gregg Camfield is one of the best teachers at this University and I think the fact is incontestable." She added that she feels the administration acted in a hypocritical fashion. "Maybe I was wrong to believe that this University meant what it said when they said they were going to support teaching and undergraduate education," Fekete said. "But they have proven by this case that they didn't mean a word they said." College senior Michelle Falkoff said she was crushed by the decision. "I have absolutely no idea why they would have decided this," she said. "From what I understand the bulk of student opinion of him has been overwhelming." Fekete said the UAB is not going to let the decision go uncontested. "We are going to write letters, try to meet with the Dean -- we are going to do everything we can because he is too valuable to let leave," she said. Boyajian said last night that he was not terribly surprised by the SAS committee's decision to deny him tenure. "I have felt from day one that tenure was a crap shoot," he said. "Some people that deserve it probably don't get it; some people who get it don't deserve it." He added that he thinks he is an "above average" teacher and that as a researcher, his colleagues rank him in the top five of his peers. "If the University doesn't want that, that's up to them," Boyajian said.


Greek reaction mixed over new UA, SPEC plan for open parties

(03/23/95 10:00am)

The Undergraduate Assembly's vote Sunday night in favor of allocating funds for open student parties at fraternities has sparked a lot of debate among students. "My house, and I am sure many others on the Walk, do not want to host parties for the entire campus," Delta Sigma Theta brother and College senior Ryan Heil posted on the University computer newsgroup upenn.talk earlier this week. But leaders from the four organizations behind this plan -- the Social Planning and Events Committee, the InterFraternity Council, Panhellenic Council and the Bi-Cultural Inter-Greek Council -- are still very optimistic that the parties will benefit all members of the student body. The plan, which is still in the beginning stages, calls for several parties a month to be run by these four organizations, according to SPEC President and College senior Lissette Monge. The UA voted to allocate $10,080 to SPEC to pay for the costs of the parties, at which the "Bring Your Own Beer" policy will be strictly enforced, according to InterFraternity Council Judicial Manager and UA representative Josh Gottheimer. "It will be easier to monitor and control with four groups in charge," the College sophomore added. Each party sponsor will work with a $700 budget, Gottheimer said. IFC President David Treat said the system allows larger parties to be held because there is less of a risk of being caught with BYOB violations. The College junior added that it helps appease students who do not want to pay to get into a party for which they had to buy their own beer. At the same time, fraternities will be reimbursed for their entertainment costs. "This allows us to throw parties free to the whole Penn community so fraternities and sororities do not have the financial burden and everyone can get together and have a good time," Treat said. Gottheimer stressed that the purpose of these parties is to simply provide "a safe social environment for students at Penn." The parties will not be solely IFC events, he emphasized. Gottheimer added that the parties are a good alternative to students going downtown for the night-life. Many of the parties will be held in fraternity houses because fraternities are insured. But Monge said not all of the parties will be held in fraternity houses. Some may be held in Houston Hall, she said. Panhel president Lissette Calderon, a Wharton junior, said SPEC will have complete control over the funds, which will be allocated "in a very strict and stringent system." "We want to guarantee the University that no fraternity is making a profit as a result of this," she said. The new plan, which will begin in the fall, has received positive feedback from the administration, according to Gottheimer. But not everyone is as excited as its organizers. Some fraternity brothers claimed they had never been consulted by the IFC about the plan. And Alpha Chi Rho president and Wharton junior Tim Brown said he is not sure if he supports the idea. "I am still not certain if this is going to help or hurt the fraternity system and the social activities we have now," he said.


Before matriculating, incoming frosh must get hepatitis vaccination

(03/23/95 10:00am)

It used to be that incoming students only had to worry about tequila shots and the occasional gun shot. But next year's freshman class now has another kind of shot to be scared of -- vaccination shots. Starting in September, hepatitis B is going to be added to the University's Pre-matriculation Immunization Requirement, according to Director of Student Health Services MarJeanne Collins. She added that the University is the first large university in the nation to require the hepatitis B shot. "At this moment I only know of one [other school] that [requires the shot] -- Springfield College did it in September of 1994," Collins said. "We are definitely in the forefront." Other institutions are either thinking about or in the process of implementing such a policy, she said. The PIR, which was initiated in 1984, already requires students to be vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella. Entering freshmen will be informed of this requirement in the admission packet that is sent to them this spring, Collins said. They will not be able to register for classes until they have at least two out of the three required doses of this vaccine, she added. They can get the third shot at student health. Collins, who also serves as chairman of the American College Health Association's Vaccine Preventable Diseases Task Force, said Student Health decided to require this additional vaccination "because it is the right thing to do." She added that although the shots are relatively expensive, "it is much cheaper than it used to be." "The entering college student can now get [immunized] at a pretty reasonable price of about $10 a dose," she said. Immunization Coordinator at Student Health Vernell Edwards said this addition is important "because it is becoming more and more of an issue on college campuses across the country." There are approximately 300,000 new cases of hepatitis B a year in this country and teenagers are at high risk because the disease is transmitted through bodily fluids such as blood and semen, she added. "They are in the risk group for hepatitis B by virtue of age," Collins said. "Almost everyone will become sexually active during those years." She added that it is necessary to require this because college students do not usually visit their doctors more than once a year and are not on an immunization schedule. Edwards said the University holds one of the strictest PIRs in the country, due in large part to Collins' efforts. Although only the freshman class will be required to have these shots, the vaccine will be recommended for all other students. Edwards said he is excited to see how the entire University population will respond to this request. "A lot of students did have the shots last year even though it wasn't a requirement," he said.


Harvard receives $70 million gift from alumnus

(03/20/95 10:00am)

Harvard University received its largest donation from a living benefactor last week when alumnus John Loeb and his wife Frances Lehman Loeb pledged $70.5 million to the school. This gift, which is the ninth-largest gift in the history of higher education, brings Harvard's on-going $2.1 billion fund-drive to over $861 million. The university already has a $6.2 billion endowment -- more than any other university in America. While Loeb has been an active donor to Harvard over the last four decades, he only recently decided on this latest gift, which represents the bulk of the couple's assets. He added that he saw this gift as a way to do a good deed and to save on inheritance tax -- as well as to make sure that his children were taken care of. "In my old age, it occurred to me that we could make a difference to our country, and do it with an institution that had staying power and that I was familiar with," Loeb told the New York Times. "After all, Harvard has been around more than 300 years." Harvard President Neil Rudenstine said he hopes this gift will encourage other people to consider giving large gifts to the school's capital campaign. Harvard College will receive $39.2 million of Loeb's endowment. This money will go toward the creation of six new endowed professorships and add to the endowment of 15 junior faculty positions the Loebs donated in 1982, as well as to financial aid and increasing the already-existing Loeb Scholarships. The Graduate School of Design, which Loeb helped renovate in the 1960s, will receive $17.2 million to support the Frances Loeb Library and to add to the Loeb Fellowship Program in Advanced Environmental Studies. And $11.8 million will go towards professorships and associate professorships at the School of Public Health. Also, $1.5 million will be given to the Loeb Drama Center, which was created in 1957, to help support undergraduate training and education. The final $800,000 of the money will be donated to the Memorial Church for the Humanist chaplaincy. According to Rudenstine, the timing of the actual gift is uncertain. Loeb set aside part of his estate as a deferred gift so the additions will not be immediate. The New York Times and Harvard Crimson contributed to this article.


Steiner to become English chair, will be first woman to head dept.

(03/03/95 10:00am)

Wendy Steiner is making history. She is the first woman ever to be selected as chairperson of the English Department. The English professor, who has been described by Undergraduate English Chairperson Alan Filreis as "a world-class scholar and public intellectual," will be replacing her colleague John Richetti, who currently holds the position. Richetti, whose five-year term ends in July, explained that the chair is selected by a committee that "canvasses the faculty" before voting. Only the 38 standing English faculty members were considered by the committee for this position. Adjunct and visiting professors were not included in the selection pool. "The committee discovered that Wendy Steiner was the almost overwhelming choice," he said. Rick Beeman, associate dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, said the committee, which was chaired by English Professor Robert Lucid, forwarded its recommendation to SAS Dean Rosemary Stevens. "Rosemary enthusiastically endorsed that recommendation, as Wendy is a superb scholar and a wonderfully responsible citizen of the school and the University," he said. "We look forward to working with her." This will not be Steiner's first administrative position at the University. She has also served as graduate chair of the English Department. "Under her leadership, our graduate program made many important reforms to its requirements," Filreis said. He added that even though Steiner will not officially assume her new position until July 1, she is already planning for the transition. "John Richetti as outgoing chairman, and Vicki Mahaffey and I as grad chair and undergrad chair respectively, are already working closely with her to get her up to speed on departmental plans and visions," Filreis said. Steiner, who was unavailable for comment last night, received her doctorate from Yale University. She has authored several books, including a an academic text on Gertrude Stein entitled Exact Resemblance to Exact Resemblance, and two books on the relationship between modern literature and the visual arts, The Colors of Rhetoric and Pictures of Romance. According to Filreis, the position of department chairperson entails acting as chief academic officer of the department "while at the same time continuing regular duties as a member of the departmental faculty." He added that this is a particularly large responsibility in the English Department, citing responsibilities that range from conducting searches for new faculty appointments to supervising the office staff and organizing departmental committees. Richetti said when he became chair five years ago, the undergraduate department needed a lot of work. "I have devoted a good deal of my energy during my years in office to making improvements in our undergrad programs," he said. He added that "most of this has been accomplished by persuading Al Filreis to become undergrad English chair. "That's what I would consider to be my greatest accomplishment of my term," Richetti said. He attributed the department's improvement in undergraduate education to the electronic technological revolution that the department has undergone.


Math prof receives prestigious new SAS award

(02/24/95 10:00am)

Undergraduate Mathematics Chairperson Dennis DeTurck has been selected as the first recipient of the Davidson Kennedy Professorship in the College of Arts and Sciences. According to College Dean Robert Rescorla, this appointment will last for a three-year period and will carry a research and teaching grant of $10,000. The professorship, which was created in November, is awarded to "a School of Arts and Sciences faculty member with a distinguished scholarly career who has made outstanding contributions to undergraduate education in the College," he said. DeTurck, who found out just last night that he was awarded the position, said he was pleasantly surprised to learn that he is going to be the first to hold the chair. "For me, the best part of the whole thing is what the chair is for," he said. "It is specifically about undergraduate education." DeTurck added that he is happy with the unique combination of research and education that the chair provides. "I find [the idea of the chair] encouraging," he said. "But it is even more exciting because I get to have it first." The criteria sent to department and undergraduate chairpersons by Rescorla and SAS Dean Rosemary Stevens states that the recipient "should have displayed excellence in teaching, innovation in curriculum development, and service to students, as well as first-rate scholarship." Rescorla said the purpose of this position is to raise the visibility of teaching as a contribution to the institution. "We are trying to acknowledge people who have made important educational contributions," he said. DeTurck said he is excited by this goal. "There simply aren't any chairs like that at Penn, so this is sort of a new direction, and I think a correct direction," he said. DeTurck added that it is very significant that the College -- and University in general -- is concerned about the quality of undergraduate education. Rescorla said he is hopeful that the College will set up similar chairs in the future. He added that he was pleased with the feedback he received from the departments. "It was really very rewarding because as you looked them over you realized how many first-rate contributors we have in the College," he said. This position will be given to someone every three years "so we can keep people noticing that we care about teaching and other educational contributions," Rescorla said. "It isn't just a good teaching award," he added. "It's an award for people who have thought about good education and what it should be like." DeTurck said because he just found out about this position, he does not have any concrete plans yet. "One does not often have funds like this that you have complete discretion over," he said. "There are a lot of things in my mind. I haven't had time to think about it yet." DeTurck added that there are some interdisciplinary projects he might be interested in initiating. "Hopefully we can build on the momentum of having this to go forward with initiatives for the math department and [other College departments]," he said. DeTurck has been praised for his consistent accessibility to students and his openness to new ideas. He has also been particularly visible in dealing with students' complaints about the Maple calculus computer program that was introduced into the curriculum last year. Although the Davidson Kennedy Professorship is quite an honor for DeTurck, it is not the first recognition he has received from the University. In 1991, he was awarded the University's most prestigious teaching accolade -- the Lindback Award. Along with the recognition of being one of the University's top teachers, he also received a $1,000 prize. In addition, DeTurck has received multiple awards from the mathematics department.


ACELA explores option of Latin American Studies major

(02/22/95 10:00am)

If La Asociacion Cultural de Estudiantes Latino Americanos has its way, there will be a Latin American Studies major at the University. According to ACELA president and College senior Elizabeth Gomez, there was interest in the creation of such a major at the last ACELA meeting. ACELA has not yet proposed the idea to the University administration. "The general consensus at the meeting was that this is important for Penn as a whole," she said. There is currently a Latin American Studies minor, which was implemented in 1991 after an unusually strong collective effort among students, faculty and administrators. The minor consists of six courses dealing with aspects of Latin American life, including advanced language, composition and literature courses. But according to Gomez, many students are not satisfied with the minor. "Students are experiencing that courses are too difficult to take because of the lack of professors [which means that] courses aren't offered each semester," she said. And Latin American Living Living-Learning Program Director Gons Nachman agreed. "I think there are not enough Latin American professors at Penn, which has an effect on the Latino students at Penn," he said. He added that the major would bring higher visibility to Latin American culture, which "is definitely under-represented at Penn." "It would also maybe bring in more Latin American students," he added. Gomez said the creation of this major would be about more than Latino education, especially with the University's new plans for a new education initiative for the 21st Century. By the year 2000, Latinos are projected to comprise one quarter of the U.S. population. "This isn't just Latino students," she said. "It effects students of all colors and all majors -- especially Wharton because a lot of the market will be in Latino countries and communities. Therefore, it will be to their advantage to understand the Latino culture." Gomez added that her organization believes that the major would "in itself strengthen the minor." But she emphasized that the idea is still in the planning stages. "We are just trying to get a feel about what students want," she said. Gomez added that there is an open meeting tonight at 9:00 p.m. in the Greenfield Intercultural Center for all students who are interested in discussing such a major. "We are going to get ideas and make decisions about what steps we are going to take in the process," Gomez said. This meeting is a joint effort between ACELA and other Latino organizations on campus, she said. College of Arts and Sciences Dean Robert Rescorla said he would have an open mind on the subject. "I would be glad to discuss it with a group of students if they want," he said. And Nachman said he was optimistic about the possible effects of the major. "It's definitely a plus for the Latin American community," he said. "There's no question about it."


FOCUS: SYSTEM OVERLOAD

(02/13/95 10:00am)

The information superhighway is falling prey to traffic jams and congestion as an increasing number of users and features test the limits of the Internet. There is gridlock on the information superhighway. Students have complained that they have had trouble getting on-line, and officials have cited the recent influx of Internet initiatives as a source of the congestion. But the University is doing everything possible to alleviate this situation. Daniel Updegrove, associate vice provost for information systems and computing and executive director of Data Communications and Computing Services, attributed the overwhelming difficulty of connecting to the system to the increasing number of students using it for both personal and educational purposes. "The general sense is that more faculty are building networking into coursework," he said. "And it is pretty common to have homework distributed on the 'Net." One of the departments that makes exhaustive use of the Internet is the English Department. Undergraduate English Chairperson and English Professor Al Filreis said his department uses listservs -- electronic mailing lists that distribute e-mail -- instead of newsgroups as an adjunct to courses because "they are a better supplement to in-class discussion." He said applications such as Penn MOO -- or Multiple User Dungeon Object Oriented, an on-line virtual environment that supplements English 88 -- are small drains on the system, adding that PennNet is more congested from personal use. "The real drain on the system is the student who has e-mail, and receives many messages, but never reads his or her account and/or does not delete messages," Filreis said. Updegrove also cited e-mail as a drain on the system, but for a different reason. "If you get more users than the design capacity, it will be slow," he said. Updegrove added that it is the number of people logged on, not the actual e-mail use, that affects the system. "We have a lot of people using e-mail, but an e-mail user is not affecting the network much at all," he said. "Any amount of people logged on will cause congestion." The most salient problem is when students must compete to enter the modem pool, Updegrove added, describing the situation as a "peak loading problem." He said the University has 300 modems. This is sufficient except during the prime hours that students and faculty log on, which Updegrove cited as being from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. "To the extent that students can adjust their connect time, they can reduce the chance of encountering busy signals," Updegrove said. He said DCCS has compiled statistics that indicate the system is processing approximately 900 people an hour, and that the average session is 20 minutes. About 15 modems becoming available every minute. "So it pays to just keep trying," he said. "On average, one modem will become available every four seconds." He added that his department has been attempting to increase the size of the modem pool, but it is facing a temporary storage problem. "We are thinking of taking out 60 of the older modems and putting in 120 newer, more space-compact modems," he said, adding that DCCS has been adding 60 new modems to the pool each semester for the last four semesters. But there is a problem because this is very new technology, Updegrove said. "We don't want to employ the new stuff without testing it," he said. He said he hopes the testing will be done in the next week or so, allowing DCCS to order the new modems. Updegrove added that some of the time the modem pool is busy because outside users are on it. "It is strictly prohibited for Penn people to be sharing their network ID with people outside the Penn community," he said. Besides e-mail, another strain on the system is an application called CU-see-me -- a program for the Macintosh or IBM which permits video transmission over the Internet. This system has been available to the University for about a year and a half. While this program uses up a lot of memory, Updegrove said he does not think there is enough use of it to cause a problem, adding that most users still do not have video cameras connected to their computers. "If we get tens of people doing videos, then that could be a problem," he said, adding that this program can be used in different degrees of intensity, which varies its effect on the system. "If you crank it up to irresponsible levels, it will have a much larger impact on the network," Updegrove said. He added that more students are using PennNet because of the increased number of services it is able to integrate. He cited as an example the fact that the School of Arts and Sciences is now using the Internet for advising purposes. "I think students are finding the Internet is an interesting place to explore," he said."It is quite striking how much information is available world-wide on the Internet. "And given that this is growing in other universities, the number of people on the Internet is growing," Updegrove added. Anthony Rutkowski, executive director of the Virginia-based Internet Society, said the predominant function of the Internet is moving files -- which is done through ftp, or file transfer protocol service. Rutkowski added that the second most-used service is the World Wide Web, which links of information throughout the world in a series of virtual pages, while the third most-used feature is newsgroups. "E-mail, in terms of bytes, is actually rather a small portion of the traffic [on the Internet]," he said. Updegrove said DCCS is trying to upgrade the infrastructure of the system as quickly as possible. "Probably the dominant thing we are doing right now besides the modem pool is trying to get ResNet finished as fast as possible," he said. With the ResNet system, each computer uses Ethernet to connect directly to PennNet, bypassing competition in the modem pool and making performance is a lot faster, Updegrove said. He added that DCCS has been working on a four year project to install ResNet in all of the dormitories for the past two years. In that time, 3,500 Ethernet connections have been made in seven residence halls. DCCS has also installed several thousand PennNet connections in faculty and staff offices, as well as in student computer labs. Updegrove said his department just completed another four-year project two weeks ago called "sub-netting," which consisted of upgrading the carrying capacity of the building networks from one megabit per second to 10 megabits per second. And three weeks ago, DCCS installed the first Ethernet switch in the David Rittenhouse Laboratory, which segments the building by floor so each department has 10 megabits of its own. "This enables math and physics to have their own 10 [Megabits per second] 'collision domains' instead of sharing the building Ethernet," he said. Updegrove added that the University is anticipating employing these switches in the busiest buildings on campus. In August, his department upgraded the campus Internet gateway, from 1.5 Megabits per second to four Megabits per second, he said. "And we are likely to upgrade it to something higher than that in the course of the summer," he added. Updegrove said DCCS is going to upgrade the central campus backbone from 10 to 100 Megabits. He added that the University recently upgraded the speed and capacity of key campus server machines, including Mail.sas, Netnews, Dolphin and Pobox. Updegrove said the key is to stay a little ahead of the demand. "You don't want to be a lot ahead because the prices decrease every year and you can't buy more than you can afford," Updegrove added. For the past 10 years, DCCS has been attempting to project what the level of traffic on the Internet will be in an effort to keep the whole system in balance. But Updegrove said upgrading the system is a never-ending process, because DCCS must continually go back and upgrade the wiring of the first sections wired on campus. Engineering junior and e-mail expert Meng Weng Wong said the University has succeeded in terms of "networking and computer stuff." He said our system has served as a model for other universities. "A lot of other schools are following in our footsteps, initiating a ResNet program that looks like ours," Wong said. And Filreis said the University should do everything possible to "support, maintain and if necessary expand the technical structure to enable this revolution to go forward." "It's bang for the buck," he said. "The qualitative change in how we can conduct education -- and enhance intellectual interaction with our students -- is worth a hundred times to us the cost of the technology."


Students learn in virtual reality environment

(02/09/95 10:00am)

Students in English 88 can't stop talking about the MOO -- PennMOO that is. And last night, Provost Stanley Chodorow got a first-hand taste of the MOO. What is all of this moo-ing about? The MOO -- Multiple User Dungeon Object Oriented -- is defined by its advisor Susan Garfinkel as an on-line virtual environment which is a supplement to regular classroom sessions. She added that it is a descendent of the on-line Dungeons and Dragons game. "But the dungeons and the dragons are both gone now," she said. This semester, English Department Chairperson and English Professor Alan Filreis is integrating this innovative system into the curriculum of his Modern American Poetry course, English 88. Garfinkel said that when a user enters to PennMOO, he will find himself in a space called "PennCentral." There will be a description and a map, just like in an adventure game. From there, the user can move from "room to room." English 88 has a cluster of rooms at PennMOO within the Classroom Center, Garfinkel added. Although PennMOO was created nearly a year and a half ago, this is the first large class to be put on it, he said. Filreis said his 80 students are required to spend a certain amount of time each week using the MOO. Each student is assigned a character for the program. Filreis added that he, his teaching assistants and Garfinkel all have virtual office hours on the MOO. He added that students can use the MOO for many purposes. They can construct poems, there is a bulletin board and there is an internal mail system. There is also a scrabble game and a virtual coke machine within these "rooms," he said. Students can put virtual quarters into this machine and get virtual drinks, which they can pass around to each other. There is also a Classroom 88 and a Cafe 88 and small conference rooms attached to the cafe which are named for famous modern poets, such as William Carlos Williams and Allen Ginsberg. Students can use these locations to meet and have informal discussions about class material, Filreis said. And College junior Jon Slotkin, a student in English 88, said he thinks the MOO is great. "Sure, the MOO was intimidating at first, but once I got over any technophobia, I was surprised to find that such a seemingly impersonal experience as a computer was as intimate learning experience," he said. And last night, Chodorow got a sense of the MOO when he went on it for an hour to talk with the students. He spoke with the students on the subject of "grades and their relation to education." "It was good to be able to talk to students about a general subject like that," he said. But he added that it is tiring to be on the MOO. "I suppose that if you're a professional pianist, your fingers are in terrific shape, but an ordinary person finds his fingers beginning to wilt after 45-50 minutes," he said.


Officials launch campaign to fill campus dorms

(02/08/95 10:00am)

Officials are doing everything imaginable to keep as many students as possible living on campus next year. These actions range from adjusting on-campus rent rates to shooting several commercials on the subject. Last week, officials announced that the average rate of rent for undergraduate housing would not increase this year. While the aggregate rent will remain the same, some rents will go up while others go down proportionately. Associate Vice Provost for University Life Larry Moneta said this is "directly tied to a long and consistent and concerted effort to make the residence halls more marketable." Earlier this week, the department released a tentative list of proposed rents. These figures are still pending approval by the University Board of Trustees. According to the Undergraduate Residence Rent Schedule, all rents for the high rises are either staying the same or decreasing slightly. But rents for most other dorms, especially those frequented by freshmen, have increased slightly. The cost of a single in the Quadrangle has gone up to $4,259 -- a $250 increase from this year's price. A double room in Ware College House rose by $220 to $4,570. The cost of a double in Hill House and Kings Court/English House have all increased to $4,000. This is a $300 increase for Hill and a $180 increase for Kings Court/English House. Besides adjusting rents, the department is also producing several short video spots to be shown on the ResNet movie channel in between movies. According to ResNet Coordinator Chris Cook, the commercial spots serve a dual purpose. "We wanted to get students on the movie channel," he said. "And this is the time of year when students are deciding where to live and this is an innovative way to tell students their options." He added that the commercials will begin airing in two to three weeks. Cook said his department filmed students and faculty members last week. They interviewed students passing by on Locust Walk, in the lobbies of several dormitories and in the dining halls. They also got a brief statement from University President Judith Rodin, Cook added. And the video team filmed several "informal chats" between students with common interests. One segment took place in the greenhouse of the Modern Language College House and featured a discussion between nine students living in College Houses. During the hour-long conversation, they talked about the advantages of living on-campus and in theme houses. Cook said the crew accumulated 10 hours of footage over the two days. "We have so much great material that I imagine that while these are airing we will be producing more [commercials]," he said. Officials were very pleased with the outcome of the project. Moneta said he saw the rough footage, adding that "our students are the most articulate and candid of any I've met." And Cook said he was very happy with the student reaction. "As a member of the Department of Residential Living it is especially gratifying to hear the positive feelings that students have for Penn's residential living options," he said. Simeone said the group of students had a lot of interesting and very positive things to say, adding that "some of it was very moving." She added that she hopes it is something students enjoy watching. "We hope students will get a bang out of seeing their friends and colleagues on camera," she said. "It was really neat hearing all of the students' perspectives," Simeone added. A full list of the rents for next year is available in the Residential Living Assignments Office located in the upper lobby of High Rise North.


College offers advising over electronic mail, Web

(02/06/95 10:00am)

Students in the College of Arts and Sciences will not have to go any further than the nearest computer the next time they need academic advising. According to College Dean Robert Rescorla, there is a new electronic mail account set up specifically to answer students' questions. This account can be accessed directly by sending questions to "advising@mail.sas" or through the new College Web, a set of pages on the World Wide Web that provides information about the University. Rescorla added that the College has set up the direct address to make it easier for the average student. "A lot more students know how to e-mail than use the Web," he said. College Information Management Specialist Susan Quant said students can post questions in specific pages on the Web. "Questions of a general nature get automatically directed towards this account," she said. Diane Frey, director of advising services for the College, said the feature has been operating since last Wednesday. "We haven't gotten any messages yet," she said. But Quant said she is not pessimistic about the lack of initial response. "It is a work in progress and it is growing everyday," she said. Rescorla said he hopes the new advising system will be a time-saver for students. "Our goal is to be able to give students rapid response to questions," he said. "If the question they pose is simple, they get a rapid response -- if it is more complex, they will get a note saying to come in." Some of the questions may be answered by information posted on the College Web, Rescorla said. He added that the advisors will be encouraging students to venture into the Web. Under this system, the account will be monitored twice a day by one of the department's 10 advisors, Frey said. "We each take a shift to make sure we can answer [all of the questions] within 24 hours," she said. Rescorla said they will increase the number of times the account is monitored if they get a lot of queries. He added that this is not supposed to be a substitute for face-to-face meetings with advisors. "This is only intended to clear up minor confusions or answer small questions for students," he said. Quant reiterated this point. "I think it is really important for people to come in and see advisors in person," she said. "But if you have a quick question or you just need to be pointed in the the right direction, this is a feature off the College Web that will hopefully be useful to people." Frey said her department attempted to set up an advising system through e-mail last summer for incoming freshman. "We got a grand total of four messages," she said. "But we are more likely to get questions from Penn students [already enrolled]." Frey said the advisors are excited about using this new feature. "We are all waiting for the messages to come," she said.