Search Results

Below are your search results. You can also try a Basic Search.

Rodin to offer deposition in game room court battle today

(10/17/97 9:00am)

The University and the game room owners were also ordered to exchange significant documents. President Clinton wasn't exempt from giving a deposition in federal court. Likewise, today, after months of legal wrangling, University President Judith Rodin must do the same. In a sworn affidavit dated July 15, Rodin said she was too busy to give the deposition in the court battle that will decide the fate of a local video arcade and laundry. But on July 28, U.S. District Court Judge Marvin Katz denied her attorney's request. The deposition -- which could last up to five hours -- is set for 8 a.m. at the offices of Fox, Rothschild, O'Brien & Frankel, LLP, whose attorneys represent the University Pinball and University Laundry owners. Although it's not known what Rodin will say, in her July statement she claimed that her knowledge of the case was limited to what Executive Vice President John Fry told her. The University says the establishments located at 4006-4008 Spruce Street, across from the Dental School, attract crime at the edge of campus. Attorneys cite 19 incidents from October 1996 to March 1997 supporting Penn's case. But attorneys for the Schoepes, who own the establishments, claim that the University used its considerable clout to get city officials to shut down the businesses illegally last April, even though the District Attorney's office said there wasn't enough evidence to justify such a closing. As the trial date in the six-month case nears, the University continues to deny these accusations and is asking a judge for a quick decision in the matter. In documents filed last week in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, University attorneys maintain that the University was "similar to any community group that would complain about a nuisance property." "The closure was the culmination of an ongoing campaign which began in the fall of 1996 by the University to force the Schoepes to close the arcade and laundromat," states a pretrial memorandum. The Schoepes sued the University and the City of Philadelphia in federal court last April after their businesses were labeled a public nuisance and closed. The family also sued the University and its chief spokesperson, Ken Wildes, in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court for libel and slander over comments Wildes made in the May 8 issue of the weekly University City Review. The University has filed countersuits in both cases, seeking to close down the establishments at night and to get the Schoepes to add security and enforce curfew restrictions. Both sides filed motions for summary judgment in federal court last week. If Katz grants either request and assigns wrongdoing, the jury trial will only determine damages. The federal court case will get a trial date after November 3, while the libel case won't go to trial until at least December 1998. City officials paid the Schoepes $60,000 last month in settling their part of the federal lawsuit, admitting in court papers that the businesses were in compliance with the law on April 18 and weren't a public or private nuisance. Katz also ordered the Schoepes Tuesday to turn over all their tax returns and financial records since 1994 to University attorneys. The documents won't be available to the public. And Wednesday, Katz ordered Penn to produce unedited patrol logs and crime records and to have University Police Lt. Joe Weaver, who handles police records, give a deposition in the case. University officials claim that the game room and laundry attract people who urinate in the streets, violate curfew laws, steal cars, deal drugs and beat up students. The businesses also attract people who "appear likely to become involved in disorderly and/or criminal activity," University attorneys state in court papers. Those claims have led the Schoepes' attorneys to argue that the University wanted to keep the game room's mostly young African-American and Asian-American clientele away from campus in order to boost Penn's crime-fighting image. In documents supporting the University's motion for summary judgment, attorneys argue that the University and Director of Police Operations Maureen Rush were "exercising their First Amendment right" to complain to city officials about the Schoepes' businesses and didn't act in a racist manner. The Schoepes are asking for $2,244.87 in compensatory damages and unspecified "punitive damages, emotional distress damages and attorneys' fees." Schoepe attorney Ron Shaffer and University outside counsel Roger Cox declined to comment on the case.

Council pleads for prevention of alcohol deaths

(10/16/97 9:00am)

At yesterday's University Council meeting, talk also surrounded outsourcing. Responding to the recent alcohol-related hospitalizations of several University students and numerous alcohol-related assaults, administrators, faculty members and students are brainstorming ways to fight unsafe drinking among students. University President Judith Rodin led what she called a "preliminary" discussion on the issue at yesterday's University Council meeting in the Quadrangle's McClelland Hall. The campus-wide advisory body sought help from all corners of the University in an effort to prevent an alcohol-related death in the future. The alcohol discussion took up more than half of the two-hour meeting, which also saw heated arguments break out over the University's move to outsource facilities management. Rodin said she was pleased with the alcohol session, even though administrators didn't prescribe any immediate remedies for the situation. "I don't think that there will be a consensus on this issue," Rodin said after the meeting. "I think that, ultimately, we will have to make some hard and important decisions." The forum focused on the effects of binge drinking, defined as the consumption of at least five drinks in a row for men or four in a row for women. Administrators, students and faculty members recounted recent incidents involving students who nearly died as a result of alcohol poisoning or were assaulted by other intoxicated students. Several members of the University community expressed concern that too many students consider drinking to be a normal part of life, rather than a less desirable alternative. Hoping to reverse that feeling, health educator Kate Ward-Gaus called for a "norm" of "health, responsibility and consideration of one another and ourselves." "Anything less is unacceptable," said Ward-Gaus, the Drug and Alcohol Resource Team adviser. College sophomore Matthew Chait, who was allegedly assaulted in his home September 28 by three Penn football players in an alcohol-related altercation, told Council he worried the message wouldn't reach its intended audience. "I think the people who need to hear all these scary statistics and stories like mine are not in the room today," said Chait, an Undergraduate Assembly member. "We need to find those people." Also at the meeting, several people blasted the administration's handling of the decision to outsource management of University properties, accusing officials of unfairly keeping workers in the dark until the deal was announced October 8. A-3 Assembly Chairperson Donna Arthur and others lashed out at administrators for not consulting facilities managers before deciding to turn the employees' jobs over to Dallas-based Trammell Crow. "Why was this kept so secret?" Arthur asked, adding that the University is "shutting people out of basic decisions that affect their lives." Arthur called for the formation of a committee to discuss the affected employees' concerns and asked that the University's top human-resources official report to Council every two months on the status of future outsourcing agreements. Council didn't vote on either suggestion. Executive Vice President John Fry stressed that about three-fourths of the 175 affected managers are expected to get jobs with Trammell Crow, and those who do will be eligible for salary bonuses and stock options. He added that it was "fairer" that employees got the news three hours after the agreement was signed instead of from unreliable leaks. Council yesterday also saw a rarity -- a quorum -- allowing the body to approve an amendment to its bylaws which lowered the number of members necessary for a vote from a simple majority to 40 percent. Council Parliamentarian Mark Frazier Lloyd originally counted 41 members present -- five short of a quorum, eliciting groans and laughs from many of those present. But five more members in the audience revealed themselves, giving Council a bare majority and allowing the vote to lower the quorum to 40 percent. At its November meeting, Council will vote on whether to grant a seat to the United Minorities Council. Council couldn't vote on the UMC seat last April because there wasn't a quorum, mainly because many faculty members didn't show up.

U. Museum ready to build new wing

(10/10/97 9:00am)

The University Museum's new $15 million East Wing, scheduled to open in 2001, has no windows on one side, which might make it aesthetically unappealing to some observers. But if it did have windows, the wing would be unable to accomplish its purpose -- storing valuable organic artifacts that would be destroyed if they came into contact with air or sunlight. On Wednesday, the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology officially unveiled plans for the 35,000-square-foot addition, the first new construction on the building in more than a quarter-century. "What the new wing will enable us to do is to literally preserve these incredibly precious cultural materials and at the same time allow access for all our different constituencies," Museum Director Jeremy Sabloff said. Officials have already raised about $8 million of the $15 million necessary to build the wing and hope to raise all of the necessary funding by the spring of 1999. Board of Trustees Chairperson Roy Vagelos and his wife, Diana, have contributed to the project, as have University Trustee Bruce Mainwaring and his wife. The new wing, which will extend north from the museum's east end, will house artifacts made from textiles, wood, leather and other organic materials. Such objects are wrapped in "layer upon layer of plastic" and kept in basements never meant for storage, according to Sabloff. The new wing will also relieve overcrowding problems and allow easier accessibility for students, faculty members and other researchers, officials said. Although the museum has its own fundraising staff, the University's central Development and Alumni Relations office is providing the museum with "research and prospects" for the campaign, according to Assistant Vice President for Development Thomas W. Flynn. "The president and the provost are very interested in this campaign," Flynn said. "We help coordinate with their offices and the museum where they can play an active role." Construction is scheduled to begin in the fall of 1999 on the East Wing, which will be the first addition to the museum since its academic Kress Wing was completed in 1971.

Trammell Crow tries to ease fears of U. employees

(10/10/97 9:00am)

Employees worry about what the outsourcing deal will mean to them. Why do we have to interview for our jobs again? Why are you taking away tuition benefits for our kids? Why do we have only one choice for a retirement plan? That's a sampling of the questions Trammell Crow Co. officials heard yesterday from University facilities managers, many of whom were anxious, angry, confused or still in shock over the University's recent decision to turn their jobs over to a for-profit company. Officials from Dallas-based Trammell Crow tried to allay such fears during a pair of two-hour sessions with about 130 Penn employees at the Sheraton University City hotel. Under a 10-year agreement signed Wednesday, the company will manage all of the University's on- and off-campus buildings as of March 18. "You guys took a hard hit of news yesterday, and we just wanted to give you the straight scoop," Trammell Crow Vice President for Human Resources Zita McLean told the Penn employees. Approximately 175 managers and support staff in the facilities management, residential housekeeping, residential maintenance and Physical Plant departments will have to interview with Trammell Crow to be eligible for the new jobs. The company is eliminating an unspecified number of positions. "There will not be quite as many jobs as there are today," McLean said. Trammell Crow Executive Vice President John Maher estimated Wednesday that his firm would employ between 110-150 workers to manage Penn's facilities, and would give University employees first crack at the positions. During yesterday's sessions, McLean and other officials explained the company's policies on health and retirement benefits, sick and vacation days and other procedures to the audience. But even after an open question-and-answer period, several employees said they still had unresolved concerns about the transition. One employee, who requested anonymity, complained that workers still do not have a list of the positions they can apply for in November. "All the answers should have been in place before this blew up," she said. In response to questions about whether anyone outside the University or within Trammell Crow would have a shot at the new positions, McLean stressed that University employees would be given the first opportunities to interview for and fill the jobs. But some workers said they are skeptical of such assurances. "The message to the employees seems sugar-coated right now," Housing Services employee Rashida Abdu said. "We're told our jobs aren't in jeopardy, but it doesn't sound like that at all." Many University employees were particularly upset that if they are rehired by Trammell Crow, they will lose tuition benefits for their families after 2001. Currently, the University pays 75 percent of employees' children's undergraduate tuition at the University, all of their tuition and fees at seven graduate schools and 75 percent at the other five. The University also subsidizes a portion of children's tuitions at other universities. University Staff and Labor Relations Director Jack Heuer said the tuition benefits are "probably one of the biggest issues that we have" with the agreement, emphasizing that the deal between Penn and Trammell Crow has not been finalized. Trammell Crow's retirement plan was another bone of contention for the University employees, who will have just one choice -- a 401(k) investment fund -- under their new employer. The University currently offers several pension plans, and money from the Penn plan can't be transferred to Trammell Crow's 401(k) plan, McLean said. Daily Pennsylvanian staff writer Tammy Reiss contributed to this article.

Trammell Crow flies into education role

(10/09/97 9:00am)

For Trammell Crow Co., taking over management of all Penn facilities will be its first foray into a higher-education business it expects to increase tenfold over the next five years. And since yesterday's agreement with the University will add at least $5.25 million to the Trammell Crow's annual revenue -- which hit $255.5 million in 1996 -- company officials are excited about their ability to compete in the new market. The company's net income was $12.1 million last year. "There's no one really offering the full range of services in the higher-education market that we know of," Trammell Crow Executive Vice President John Maher said, noting that "there's an incredible opportunity" in that market. Maher added that higher education will "absolutely" become more competitive as more companies strive to grab a share of the lucrative business. But the Dallas-based company, which manages the largest real-estate block in the country, is targeting more than just higher education. The total market for outsourced facilities management -- from private and governmental institutions -- is estimated at $50 billion per year, according to a recent filing with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission. "Outsourcing is a rapidly growing trend in the United States," the filing states. "Through outsourcing, organizations seek to reduce costs, improve profitability and refocus management and other resources on core competencies." Trammell Crow is a company in transition, however, having recently filed for an initial public stock offering. It will repay some of its debt with the proceeds from the offering, according to the filing. But Maher declined to give a date or any other details about the offering. The University is putting its buildings in good hands, according to Sean Hockens, a real-estate analyst with M/PF Research Inc. in Dallas who is familiar with the company. Trammell Crow is a "very well-known and well-respected developer and real-estate services provider" who will "bring a lot of expertise to that area," he said. Hockens added that this was the first time he heard of a "big company" managing a private or public college's or university's buildings. Trammell Crow -- a percentage of which is owned by the family of former Penn Trustee Michael Crow -- already manages University City Associates, Penn's for-profit real-estate arm, under an August 1996 agreement. The company is one of the five largest U.S. real-estate brokers. And in 1995, it was the fourth-largest commercial property developer.

University to sell the farm

(10/08/97 9:00am)

Penn's decision to sell its 211-acre Buck County farmland has angered many local residents. The University has recently devoted considerable time and energy toward improving its often strained relationship with the surrounding community, where many residents complain of being ignored. But now Penn's town-gown problems have spread beyond West Philadelphia -- 30 miles beyond it, to Upper Makefield Township, a wealthy Bucks County hamlet. The University's recent decision to sell the 211 acres of pristine farmland it owns there has sparked a hailstorm of controversy, with many local residents fearing that the land will be sold to an unscrupulous real-estate developer and carved into condominiums, irreparably changing the character of the area. But University officials maintain that they're just trying to get the best price for a property they neither need nor want and are listening to the community's concerns. "[The farm] does not suit the needs of the Graduate School of Fine Arts," Vice President for Government, Community and Public Affairs Carol Scheman said. "Virtually every university that I know of ends up with these sorts of things. Some of these gifts have to be turned into capital." The University received the farm in the mid-1970s as a gift from the estate of Monroe and Edna Gutman, who stipulated that Penn develop it as an arts center. But the University never developed the land, finally deciding to put the property up for sale. The asking price is $5.5 million. In response, local residents, preservation groups and federal and state legislators have formed a coalition to raise the money necessary to buy the land and ensure that it isn't developed. "I'm very interested in preserving as much of it as possible as open space," said U.S. Rep. James Greenwood (R-Pa.), whose district includes Upper Makefield. "This is really in an area that's been under intensive pressure for development." The University and its real-estate firm originally set an October 29 deadline for developers or conservation groups to bid on the property and submit a proposal on what they would do with the land. Yesterday, however, University President Judith Rodin offered to push back the deadline so that Greenwood and other interested parties can come up with a proposal -- and the money -- necessary to purchase the farm, Greenwood said. Additionally, University officials are scheduled to meet with members of the coalition on October 17 to discuss their concerns and tour the farm. "[Rodin] is enormously enthusiastic about working with us," Greenwood said. "We simply need a little extra time so that we can pull together some resources." Rodin was unavailable for comment yesterday. The controversy deepened last week, following a Philadelphia Inquirer article that quoted Graduate School of Fine Arts Dean Gary Hack as saying Penn is "not a charity." "I was very disappointed by the attitude that he seems to be expressing," Greenwood said. Hack's office referred questions to Scheman and Managing Director of Real Estate Tom Lussenhop. Scheman defended the comments, insisting that Hack "is very concerned that the school maximizes resources and pursues his agenda strongly." Organizations such as the Heritage Conservancy, a nonprofit Bucks County group that works to preserve land in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York, are leading the drive to make sure the land doesn't get developed. "What we're trying to do is not act as if we're irresponsible tree huggers," said Jeff Marshall, the group's director of historic preservation. Instead, they simply want to maintain the character of the community and the area, he added. But they'll only be able to do that if they can come up with the money to buy the land, and few residents have indicated that they would be willing to open their pockets to keep the land the way it is, according to Christopher Chandor, an attorney and developer who lives near the farm.

Game room owners amass evidence against U.

(10/08/97 9:00am)

The owners of the controversial area businesses are asking for a quick decision in a suit against Penn. Depending on which University or city official you ask, a "nuisance" could be "something that bothers people," a property that contributes to a "marked increase in crime" or a "business that attracts undesirable people." And since those officials couldn't give consistent definitions of what constitutes a public nuisance in recent depositions, Penn and the City of Philadelphia had no right to shut down a local video arcade and coin-operated laundry last spring, according to attorneys for the Schoepe family, who own the businesses. Attorneys for the Schoepes have amassed a pile of documents -- including the depositions containing the above quotations -- supporting their argument that city regulators and University officials illegally and unconstitutionally shut down University Pinball and University Laundry at 4006-4008 Spruce Street on April 18. Although a federal court order reopened the establishments one week later, the Schoepes subsequently sued the University and the city in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia over the incident. In court documents filed Monday asking for a partial summary judgment in favor of the Schoepes, their attorneys argue that the "defendants have no admissible evidence which demonstrates that any action or inaction by plaintiffs have caused crime to increase in the area." Such judgments determine wrongdoing, but a jury trial would still be necessary to assess damages. District Court Judge Marvin Katz will set a trial date after November 3. The Schoepes' case against Penn got a boost last month when the city agreed to pay them a $60,000 settlement and admit, in a court document, that the establishments complied with city codes. University General Counsel Shelley Green declined to comment on the latest motion yesterday, which the University must respond to within 10 days. The battle over the Schoepes' establishments -- which are located on the western edge of campus across the street from the Dental School -- has also spread to Philadelphia Common Pleas Court. Last May, the Schoepes sued the University and its chief spokesperson, Ken Wildes, for libel and slander over comments Wildes made in the May 8 issue of the weekly University City Review. The University has filed counter-suits in both cases, accusing the Schoepes' establishments of attracting criminal activity. Schoepe attorney Ronald Shaffer declined to comment on the latest development in the federal lawsuit, saying that the motion and accompanying depositions, memos and reports speak for themselves. To support the Schoepes' claims that their businesses do not attract crime, their attorneys point out that University Police handled 36 incidents at 4006 Spruce Street between February 1996 and February 1997, compared with 254 incidents at the Wawa convenience store at 38th and Spruce streets during the same period. That would make Wawa more of a nuisance than the arcade and laundry, attorneys argue. But since Penn owns Stouffer Triangle -- the building that contains Wawa as well as Stouffer College House and Stouffer Dining Commons -- the University wouldn't want to label its own property a nuisance. Also at issue is whether the University improperly used the District Attorney's Public Nuisance Task Force to shut down the businesses. Task force chief Ed Jaramillo refused to comment, saying he gave a deposition for the case September 10. But the District Attorney's office did provide The Daily Pennsylvanian with a 50-page guide for community members concerned about crackhouses, speakeasies and other establishments that foster public drinking, violence, loud noise and other nuisance-like activities. While the University claims that many of these activities regularly occur in and around the arcade and laundry, Schoepe attorneys argue that there isn't enough evidence to show that the businesses are responsible for such activity. And Assistant District Attorney Carl Anderson said in a deposition that he wasn't "aware of any" facts that would allow the Department of Licenses and Inspections to shut down the Schoepes' businesses without a court hearing. Schoepe attorneys also question whether the University Police Department -- whose 100 officers make it one of the largest private forces in the state -- has the right to patrol private property not belonging to the University. The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania ruled last April that a University of Pittsburgh Police officer lacked the authority to arrest an allegedly intoxicated motorist who was driving on a public street. The Schoepes' attorneys contend the ruling also applies to Penn police, confining them to patrolling only on Penn property.

Feds join harassment suit against U.

(10/07/97 9:00am)

Former Linguistics graduate student Brian Linson couldn't find a lawyer to represent him when he first filed a 1995 sexual harassment lawsuit against the University. Then the U.S. Department of Justice, on the lookout for sex discrimination cases, found Linson. Without any prior notice, the agency's Civil Rights Division stepped in last January to aid Linson in his appeal of a 1996 federal court decision in favor of the University. Linson's appeal now depends on a case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court, in which the court will rule whether same-sex harassment constitutes discrimination under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. In his own lawsuit, Linson accuses the University of allowing another male student to grab his genitals and ask for sexual favors. "Now it's Linson and the United States [versus] Penn," said the 31-year-old Linson. "It makes my case much more powerful." The Supreme Court case, Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services, Inc., centers upon a Louisiana man's claims that his boss and two co-workers, all male, sexually harassed him while he was employed on an offshore oil rig. The men allegedly pushed a bar of soap into Joseph Oncale's anus while he showered and threatened to rape him. In deciding against Oncale, the U.S. District Court and Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans both ruled that federal law didn't cover same-sex harassment claims. Oncale's attorneys appealed the May 1996 decision to the nation's highest court -- and the timing couldn't have been better for Linson. "Without the United States' interest being expressed, the [appeals court] judges? can just throw the case out," Linson said. Linson, a San Diego State University graduate who began his doctoral work at Penn in 1991, claims that fellow graduate student Kenjiro Matsuda sexually harassed him for about seven months beginning in September 1992. When Matsuda accused Linson of altering Matsuda's personal computer files, Linson said he did it because of Matsuda's harassment. In June 1993, the case went to the University's internal judicial system, which eventually dismissed Matsuda's charges. Linson, however, continued to press his sexual harassment complaint. The University dropped Linson from its program before his complaint wound its way through Penn's judicial system, claiming that he owed the University nearly $10,000 and had failed to register for the fall 1993 semester. Linson filed his lawsuit against Penn in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia in June 1995. After a series of motions and counter-motions by both sides, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Kelly ruled in favor of the University in August 1996, saying that Linson "failed to point to anything in the record indicating that the University's alleged discriminatory actions were gender-based." But five months later, Department of Justice attorney Linda Thome called Linson out of the blue, gave him the government's Federal Express account number and told him to send her all documents pertaining to the case so she could prepare a brief, Linson said. "Contrary to the district court's holding, there is no requirement that a plaintiff seeking to establish a Title IX violation also demonstrate that the educational institution treated his or her complaint differently because of his or her gender," the brief states. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has put Linson's case on hold pending the Supreme Court's decision in Oncale, even though Linson and Oncale brought their claims under different parts of civil rights law. Thome wasn't available for comment yesterday, and the University's outside attorney, Joe Tucker, referred questions to Associate General Counsel Brenda Fraser, who didn't respond to repeated telephone calls for comment.

Veterinary School scores $30.5 million in state funds for FY 1997-98

(10/02/97 9:00am)

The funding amount for the state's only veterinary school increased by more than 50 percent from the last fiscal year. Just what exactly is the purpose of "general-instruction" funding? In meetings with penny-pinching state legislators in recent years, University President Judith Rodin couldn't justify the millions of dollars in state funds the University was receiving annually, prompting the legislature to eliminate the money altogether. But Rodin did convince the legislature to boost funding for the School of Veterinary Medicine for the fiscal year that began July 1 to $30.5 million -- an increase of almost 50 percent -- keeping the state's total contributions to the University at about $35.5 million. University administrators said they are pleased the state legislature recognizes the value of the only veterinary school in Pennsylvania, a program which consistently ranks as one of the best in the country. Penn's Vet School placed third in this year's U.S. News & World Report rankings, coming in behind schools at the University of California at Davis and Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. "The reason we get money from the state is because agriculture is the leading industry in the state," Vet School Associate Director of Administration Barry Stupine said. "[Legislators] have finally recognized that they can't exist without a good vet school." The University submitted its 1998-99 budget proposal September 24, asking the state for $36.9 million in funding, including $31.4 million for the Vet School. Vet School administrators insist that the school's fiscal problems from earlier in the decade will remain a thing of the past, adding that the $30.5 million budgeted for the Vet School in 1997-98 -- more than double the amount it received three years ago -- will only increase slightly in future years. The state funds, which now cover about 43 percent of the Vet School's budget, go toward reducing tuition for Pennsylvania residents by at least $4,500, renovating buildings on its New Bolton Campus in Kennett Square, Pa., and supporting several research initiatives. The increased funding comes just one year after Gov. Tom Ridge (R) threatened to eliminate the state's contributions to the University within two years. But Ridge has since come to see the Vet School as an important asset to the region and the state, according to University Vice President for Government, Community and Public Affairs Carol Scheman. "I think that there's a great affection in the legislature for the University of Pennsylvania," Scheman said. She added that Rodin and Ridge "have been working closely on issues of regional economic development and innovation." Support from key legislators, including House Speaker Matthew Ryan (R-Delaware County) and Sen. Vincent Fumo (D-Philadelphia), the minority chairperson of the Appropriations Committee, has been critical to maintaining University funding. "Senator Fumo has led the fight on several occasions when governors have proposed budgets that cut Penn's funding," said Fumo spokesperson Gary Tuma. Of the remaining $5 million in fiscal 1998 appropriations, about $4 million goes to the Medical School. The Dental School receives the final $938,000. Those are standard appropriations for all statewide medical and dental schools, based on their student population and other factors, Scheman said. This is the first year that Ridge, who was elected in 1994, included University funding in his annual February budget proposal, according to Stupine. Officials hope that the added funding makes Penn's Vet School a more attractive choice for Pennsylvania residents. In 1996-97, about one-third of in-state residents accepted by the school opted for other institutions, where the tuition for out-of-state residents averages about $17,000. At $22,230 a year, the Vet School isn't cheap, even for Pennsylvania residents. But that's about 15 percent less than what out-of-state residents pay. In addition, the school offers 15 scholarships, worth $5,000 apiece, to its top in-state students. Approximately 430 students are currently enrolled in the Vet School.

Ex-HUP employee claims anti-Muslim discrimination

(10/01/97 9:00am)

Leonard james Smith has sued HUP, accusing supervisors of harassing him after he attended at Louis Farrakhan speech. Leonard James Smith kept his religion private for the first three months he worked as a custodian at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. But after Smith attended a March 1995 speech delivered by controversial Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan at the Civic Center, all of Smith's co-workers and supervisors knew he was Muslim because The Daily Pennsylvanian printed a front-page photograph prominently featuring Smith, who wore a white jacket and a bow-tie and held a dollar bill in his right hand. According to a recent lawsuit, they harassed and discriminated against him until he was fired that June. The 51-year-old Smith, unable to find a job due to the stigma of being fired, is suing HUP in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court for more than $50,000 in damages. In the suit, he accuses the University's flagship hospital of failing to prevent racial and religious slurs against him and allowing a "hostile working environment." "The workplace is not where [co-workers] should be able to express those prejudices," said Alex Pierre, Smith's attorney. "I have tried in many instances to settle this case with [the University]. All I was told was to bring the case to litigation." Yesterday the University denied all of the charges in the civil suit, which was filed September 22. Penn has not yet responded to the suit, and no court date has been set. "Leonard Smith's allegation is completely baseless," Health System spokesperson Rebecca Harmon said. HUP officially doesn't discriminate against its employees based on race, religion, sex and several other factors, she added. University officials doubt the validity of Smith's claims because the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission ruled against him earlier this year. But Pierre maintained that such a ruling is "normal" and simply allows the plaintiff to move ahead with a lawsuit. Prior to attending the speech, Smith knew the event would draw a large crowd -- which the DP later estimated as about 2,000 -- but he didn't know his picture would run atop the next day's front page, Pierre said. The lead photo, measuring 8 inches by 6 1/2 inches, had the following caption: "Supporters of Minister Louis Farrakhan donate money during his speech 'Let Us Make Man,' at the Civic Center last night." A smaller picture of Farrakhan ran below the one of Smith. Someone taped the photo to the office time clock, the complaint states. One supervisor told Smith, while he cleaned a hospital room, that the Nation of Islam was a "cult." Another said "Louis Farrakhan hated white folks and that [the plaintiff] was like him by following him [Farrakhan]," according to the complaint. None of the supervisors named in the complaint could be reached for comment yesterday. Smith's superiors often chose him to work overtime hours and didn't have any complaints about his job performance. But after the photo was printed, Smith's hours "dropped precipitously and he no longer received overtime hours," according to the suit. A HUP employee privately told Smith "that the atmosphere at work was one of enmity against the Plaintiff by reason of his religion," the suit states. Smith, a Philadelphia resident who is married with two high-school-age children, was fired about 2 1/2 months after the photo appeared, according to his lawyer. "He has the right to exercise his First Amendment right by practicing his religion after business hours," Pierre said.

U. seeks ways to free funds for student aid

(09/30/97 9:00am)

Officials want to use more of the endowment on financial aid costs. The University has had problems meeting undergraduates' financial-aid needs -- which now total about $50 million per year -- for as long as Student Financial Aid Director William Schilling can remember. But officials have recently begun working to make such problems a thing of the past. At stake is Penn's need-blind admissions policy, which disregards applicants' financial situation, as well as the University's ability to offer aid packages competitive with those of its peer institutions. The problem lies in Penn's endowment, which just isn't big enough to support the undergraduate financial aid budget. To avoid depleting the $2.5 billion investment fund, policies strictly limit how much of it can go toward the general budget each year. As a result, out of the $50 million Penn spends annually on student financial aid, only $2.3 million can come from the endowment. With 4,000 undergraduates receiving aid each year, that places Penn squarely at the bottom of the eight-member Ivy League in terms of how much of each institution's endowment goes to financial aid demands. Princeton University, for example, covers 95 percent of its undergraduate financial aid through its endowment, according to a report in the September 23 Almanac. The University's general operating budget funds the remainder of the financial-aid pool -- which puts the squeeze on other programs. "It's really critical to maintain the quality of our student body -- that we be able to respond to the financial needs of students we want to see at Penn," Schilling said. Tuition at private, four-year colleges increased 90 percent from 1980 to 1995, but financial aid increased at only about half that rate, according to the New York-based College Board. Admissions Dean Lee Stetson was unavailable for comment. Although administrators have not yet set an official figure, the University needs an estimated $100 million to $200 million in donations in order to allow more of the endowment to go toward financial aid, according to Bonnie Devlin, a top official in Penn's Development and Alumni Relations office. The University began a long-term fundraising campaign in July 1996, which has netted about $20 million so far, Devlin said. Many of the donations go toward endowed scholarships, she added. Board of Trustees Chairperson Roy Vagelos is personally spearheading a trustees committee attempting to find ways to increase the portion of the endowment earmarked for financial aid. When Vagelos enrolled in the University in 1954, a semester's tuition cost $250. Although current Penn students accustomed to paying $11,125 per semester might laugh at that amount, Vagelos was able to attend Penn solely because of financial aid. The campaign to help other students follow in his footsteps ranks "probably No. 1" among Vagelos' priorities. "Penn is quite underendowed from the point of view of undergraduate financial aid, compared to our Ivy League competition," Vagelos said. Spending budget funds on financial aid "restricts the total use of our funds and gives us much less flexibility as a university." To make the difficult task of raising $200 million a bit easier, the University is launching several creative programs designed to get alumni excited about contributing. One of the initiatives, "Penn Pals," lets a contributor sponsor one specific College student for all four years of his or her education. How it works: An alumnus agrees to donate $10,000 a year for five years. For four years, the student gets $5,000 in aid, while the other half goes into the endowment. In the fifth year, the endowment gets the entire $10,000. Since development officials will raise $50,000 to match the individual donation, the total contribution is $100,000 -- and that magic number endows a student "in perpetuity," Vagelos said. The Penn Pals campaign began in July and could begin supporting students in next fall's entering Class of 2002, according to Devlin. The University's troubles aren't unique in higher education, according to Larry Zaglaniczny of the Washington-based National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, of which Penn is a member. "[Private universities are] striving hard to keep down their costs and at the same time providing as much financial aid as they possibly can," said Zaglaniczny, the organization's associate director for government relations.

Sansom Common will pay for itself, U. claims

(09/25/97 9:00am)

The University will borrow approximately 80 percent of the necessary funding for the first phase of the project. Although the University plans to borrow about 80 percent of the $73 million needed to finance the Sansom Common complex, the project is financially sound and should pay for itself, administrators and experts said. University officials provided The Daily Pennsylvanian with a detailed breakdown of how the school is financing the first phase of Sansom Common. During the initial phase, a new bookstore, a hotel and space for six retail shops will be built in what is now the parking lot between 36th and 37th streets and Walnut and Sansom streets. The University will borrow about $59 million to fund the building, officials said. Construction began in June. "As we speak, we're out talking to underwriters," Executive Vice President John Fry said. Administrators are in discussions with six such companies, including New York financial giant Morgan Stanley, Dean Witter, Discover & Co., Fry added. The remaining funding includes $8 million from the transaction that gave control of The Book Store to Barnes & Noble College Bookstores, Inc., $3 million in interest income, and an expected $3 million in donations. Only the preliminary feasability studies were paid for out of the University budget, Fry said. The financing plan is "acceptable if not attractive," according to Temple University Professor Forrest Huffman, an expert in real estate and development law. The percentage of funding from loans is "a little high for commercial borrowing," Huffman said. "But then again, Penn is probably a good credit risk," he added. Fry stressed that officials "haven't even thought of increasing" the complex's projected $73 million cost. "You don't build what you can't afford," he said, adding that construction is "moving very fast? this is what's called a fast-track project." When retail rent, as well as income from the new bookstore and the 250-room Inn at Penn become "stabilized" in 2003, officials project that the building will produce about $7 million in annual income for the University. Approximately $5 million of that will be allocated toward debt and interest repayment -- a figure Huffman said was "acceptable for a real estate investment." In 1996, the University announced it would build a new bookstore as part of the agreement with Barnes & Noble. And last November, University President Judith Rodin announced plans to transform the area around the building into an upscale dining and shopping location. Sansom Common's future phases -- which will include redeveloping the graduate towers area and adding retail space to the Mellon Bank building -- could bring its total price tag to an estimated $120 million, Fry said. But he added that future construction depends on the success of the initial phase. "If this is successful, we begin to look at subsequent phases," he said. Officials have been working closely with the accounting firm Ernst & Young LLP on the specifics of the financing and potential income. Also, administrators have completed numerous studies on Sansom Common to determine if there was enough consumer demand to sustain the complex. "A development like this gets done at the feasibility stage first," Managing Director of Real Estate Tom Lussenhop said. If Sansom Common weren't financially sound, workers wouldn't be constructing it right now, Fry noted, adding, "We could have tanked this 14 or 15 months ago."

bike lawsuit comes to a close

(09/24/97 9:00am)

A University Police officer wasn't responsible for injuring a bicycle rider in a September 1994 collision on Locust Walk, a jury ruled earlier this year. Kim Song Suy, 22, sued the University and then-University Police Officer John Newton in February 1996, seeking more than $50,000 in damages. In the civil suit, filed in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court, Suy charged that Newton assaulted him on the 3700 block of Locust Walk after he violated the University's anti-bike riding policy. The case went to trial April 17, and the jury ruled in favor of the University and Newton the following week. The jury found Newton "negligent" in the incident, but "Newton's negligence [was not] a substantial factor in bringing about the harm suffered by the plaintiff," according to the verdict sheet. Newton, 45, who was promoted to sergeant last June, said yesterday that he felt "vindicated" by the verdict, and he denied any wrongdoing in the incident. "My purpose there was to make sure that the Walk was safe for everyone," the six-year University Police veteran said. The dispute began when University Police Officer William Daley stopped Suy on the Locust Walk foot bridge and told him to walk his bicycle, according to court testimony. Suy, who came to the United States from Cambodia in 1980, began to ride again at the bottom of the bridge. After Newton received a radio message from Daley warning him that Suy was approaching, the two collided. Newton wasn't seriously injured in the collision, but Suy suffered various bruises and was sore for two to three weeks, according to testimony. In the suit and in court, Suy accused Newton of intentionally knocking him to the ground. Although Newton admitted in court that his hands came into contact with Suy, he stressed that "I did not intend to push him." "He wasn't going to stop and at that point I was in fear for my health and my safety. So I had to defensively redirect him away from me," he said in court. University Policy bars bicycle riding on Locust Walk from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and riders must always walk their bicycles over the 38th Street bridge. In the aftermath of the collision, Suy had recurring nightmares and had trouble passing his classes, according to court testimony and documents. "After the incident I start? having this dream like somehow riding my bike, all of a sudden I falling down the cliff or sometime somebody was just pushing me off," Suy testified. And Doylestown psychologist John D'Alessandro testified that Suy suffered symptoms of anxiety and panic resulting from the incident. Former Penn students Colleen Mastony and Jennifer Manion --Ewho witnessed the incident and wrote a Daily Pennsylvanian guest column calling for Newton's dismissal -- also testified for Suy. Mastony, a 1996 College graduate, declined to comment yesterday on the lawsuit's outcome, but said that she thought "some kind of disciplinary action should have been taken." Suy, who currently lives in Upper Darby, Pa., declined to comment yesterday, and his attorney, Peter Gardner, didn't return repeated telephone calls. The Office of the General Counsel and University spokesperson Ken Wildes also didn't return calls for comment.

City settles its part of arcade suit

(09/23/97 9:00am)

Philadelphia will pay $60,000 to the Schoepe family to cover legal fees and lost revenues from the forced closing. Ending part of a controversial lawsuit, the City of Philadelphia agreed Friday to pay the owners of a local video arcade and laundry $60,000 to settle claims that the University and the city shut the establishments down illegally last April. But University attorneys said they won't give up their court fight with the Schoepe family, which owns University Pinball and University Laundry at 4006-4008 Spruce Street. The $60,000 settlement represents the equivalent of the revenues the Schoepes lost after the city revoked the establishments' operating licenses last April, shutting the businesses for approximately one week, as well as the Schoepes' legal fees, according to a city spokesperson. "We think it is a good settlement for the city, and clearly that's why we agreed to it," said Deputy Mayor Kevin Feeley, the chief spokesperson for the city. The settlement amount is 50 percent more, however, than what the city had originally offered the Schoepes August 1, according to court documents. Since the Schoepes didn't accept that settlement within 10 days, city attorneys withdrew the offer. It was not immediately clear from the settlement whether the city had admitted any wrongdoing in the affair. William Schoepe and his sons William Jr. and Robert sued the University, Director of Police Operations Maureen Rush, the city Department of Licenses and Inspections and Director of Business Regulatory Enforcement Rudolph Paliaga in U.S. District Court on April 24. In May, the Schoepes also filed a civil suit in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court against the University and its chief spokesperson, Ken Wildes, accusing them of libel and slander over remarks Wildes made in the May 8 issue of the weekly University City Review. The University filed countersuits against the Schoepes in both cases, claiming that the businesses attract criminals and threaten public safety, particularly at night. University attorneys filed the counterclaim in the libel suit last Wednesday, two days before the city and Paliaga settled their part of the federal suit with the Schoepes. In its countersuits, the University seeks to shut down the arcade and laundry at night and force the owners to enforce the school-day and nighttime curfews for persons under 18 years of age, in addition to seeking unspecified damages. Court documents gave no indication of any impending settlement between the University and the Schoepes, and Penn Associate General Counsel Roman Petyk refused to comment on whether any such deal was in the works. Additionally, Feeley said he didn't know whether the University and the Schoepes were in settlement negotiations. Schoepe attorney Ron Shaffer was unavailable for comment yesterday. "Clearly [University officials] believe that the plaintiff in this case is operating a business that is a nuisance to the site and the University," Feeley said. Most of the game room's patrons are local West Philadelphia residents and not Penn students. That, according to the Schoepes, raises questions about whether University officials want to shut the businesses down out of valid security concerns, or whether administrators merely want to give the impression they are actively fighting crime. The University claims that the arcade's customers urinate in the streets, steal cars, smoke marijuana, deal drugs and cause general mayhem in the area of 40th and Spruce streets, across the street from the Dental School and the Van Pelt College House. Judges will set a trial date for the federal lawsuit after November 3 and for the libel suit after Dec. 7, 1998.

Will PennCard battle QuakerCard?

(09/18/97 9:00am)

QuakerCard officials aren't worried about the possibility of competition from the University ID card's new functions. It seems like a mismatch. In one corner is a 16-month-old, student-founded company offering a popular debit card to University students. In the other corner are two 500-pound gorillas -- Penn and the PNC Bank Corp. -- who are teaming up to add debit functions to the PennCard and enroll many of the same local merchants who already accept the QuakerCard. But the owners of University Student Services, Inc., which offers the QuakerCard, said they aren't concerned about possible competition from the University. And University officials said they're confident that restaurants and other stores on and around campus will eventually allow PennCard holders to make purchases using their bank accounts or a new chip on the identification cards. Approximately 30 local businesses, primarily restaurants or food stores, accept the QuakerCard -- a debit card connected to a student's account with University Student Services. Two-thirds of the businesses offer discounts to cardholders. In contrast, the new PennCard hasn't yet made inroads outside the University, and local merchants have mixed views on whether they would invest the money in the equipment necessary to process the PennCard's magnetic strips and gold chips. An informal Daily Pennsylvanian survey revealed that out of 12 businesses already accepting the QuakerCard, only three said they would like to take the PennCard, while four said they wouldn't and five said they weren't sure. Ken Lee, manager of the 39th Street Hong Kong Cafe, said he "would consider" buying the PennCard equipment, but stressed that he won't drop the QuakerCard because it has increased business and already attracted some steady customers. Currently, students can only use the PennCard in Dining Services hangouts like Chats and the dormitory commissaries run by Penn Student Agencies. The charges either show up on a student's bursar bill or are deducted from a special Dining Services account. But with 10,000 students now toting the new PennCards -- which boast ATM functions as well as a chip that can carry the equivalent of $50 in cash -- administrators hope to sign up local merchants to allow students to swipe their cards and eat. "We expect to have a very healthy response," said Laurie Cousart, director of telecommunications and campus card services. PNC Bank officials have begun contacting University City businesses, and the first crop should sign on early next month, she added. Cousart said she didn't know whether the PennCard's debit functions would give the QuakerCard a run for its money, but the 20,000 undergraduate and graduate students who will have the new cards would seem to provide an instant customer base. "I think that they are different products working in the same market," Cousart said. "I think the consumer will decide." Matthew Levenson, one of the four 1997 Wharton graduates who founded University Student Services last year, refused to disclose the number of its student customers, but said the amount was "significantly" more than 3,000 customers. Levenson and another partner, Michael Vaughan, emphasized that their service is more convenient than the new PennCard because QuakerCard accounts are stored on a separate computer and don't limit the amount of money each card can hold. "We're in touch with [Penn students]," Levenson said. "We know what's going on." Undergraduate Assembly Chairperson and College junior Noah Bilenker, a QuakerCard holder, said the QuakerCard is a better deal right now than the new PennCard because of its discounts and wide accessibility. He said the University was planning to add debit functions to the PennCard before the creation of the QuakerCard, and added that "it's possible that maybe the creation of the QuakerCard actually got the University to get rolling." University Student Services has more than doubled its merchant base since last year, adding businesses such as the Thriftway supermarket at 43rd and Walnut Streets and the Yellow Cab Company, in response to customer requests. So far, the QuakerCard has been available only to undergraduates, but University Student Services plans to begin selling the card to graduate students next week, Levenson said. University Student Services officials declined to disclose the company's revenues, but Levenson said the company had yet to make a profit.

Foreign grad student sues Penn over dismissal

(09/17/97 9:00am)

Guang-Chyi Liu claims the University tried to force him to write on his homeland. A Chinese-born graduate student who was dropped from his program after he spent 15 years working toward a doctorate has sued the University, accusing it of discriminating against him by pressuring him to write a dissertation dealing with a Chinese topic. Guang-Chyi Liu, 51, of Sewell, N.J., seeks a master's degree and more than $50,000 in the civil suit, filed in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court last May -- four years after the City and Regional Planning Department in the Graduate School of Fine Arts dismissed him from its doctoral program. The University has denied all the charges in the suit, saying that the school dropped Liu because he repeatedly failed his preliminary doctoral examinations and didn't come up with an "acceptable dissertation proposal," according to a court document. And last month, Judge Pamela Cohen denied Liu's request for a preliminary injunction that would reinstate him into the doctoral program for the fall semester and award him a master's degree. Liu believes that the department dropped him because he proposed to focus his dissertation on an American topic instead of something to do with Taiwan, according to the lawsuit. In the suit, Liu's attorneys claim that the City and Regional Planning Department "'steered' [foreign] students to develop areas of expertise relating to their native lands so that the students would 'return home' after completing their studies and not compete with Americans for scarce jobs." Benjamin Lipman, Liu's attorney, declined to comment on whether he had evidence that the University discriminates against foreign students by dissuading them from writing doctoral dissertations on American topics. "We think it's best if we hold that [evidence] to reveal in the course of the litigation, rather than through the press," Lipman said. He added that he didn't know what the University's motive was in its alleged discrimination against Liu. According to the lawsuit, Liu had to take three written tests and one oral examination as part of preliminary requirements for completing his doctorate in City and Regional Planning. After failing the tests in February 1992, Liu appealed the department's decision to drop him from the program, arguing that then-Graduate Chairperson Ann Strong's absence at one of his oral exams violated a clause in the City and Regional Planning Department's doctoral student guide. The department gave Liu another shot at passing the preliminary exams, but administrators dropped him from the program after he passed two written tests but failed the third. Liu pleaded his case to University officials in the fall of 1994, and City and Regional Planning Graduate Dean Stephen Putman agreed that he was eligible for a master's degree, according to an Oct. 20, 1994 letter. Putman, Fine Arts Dean Gary Hack and City and Regional Planning Department Chairperson Anthony Tomazinis were unavailable for comment yesterday. Liu also filed a similar complaint against the University with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission in November 1993, but the agency has not yet issued a ruling on the alleged discrimination. Liu filed the civil suit against the University on May 27, the last day he was eligible to do so under Pennsylvania's four-year statute of limitations. Attorney Hannah Schwarzschild, who is representing the University in the case, declined to comment and referred questions to University spokesperson Ken Wildes. Wildes did not return repeated phone calls last night. No trial date has been set for the lawsuit.

Museum hits fundraising midpoint

(09/16/97 9:00am)

The University Museum has raised about half of the $15.5 million it's seeking for the building of a new, 35,000 square-foot wing that will house some climate-sensitive collections and provide much-needed space, museum officials said. Administrators hope to begin work on the new wing -- the first addition to the building since 1971 -- at the end of 1999, approximately 100 years after the current building first opened. The construction should take about 18 months, and the new section should open in 2001. The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology launched the campaign last October and has raised about $8 million in private donations toward the as-yet-unnamed wing, according to Director of Development and Special Events Leslie Kruhly. She stressed the entire cost of the wing will be funded through private donations from "overseers and other patrons of the museum" -- and not with University money. Although blueprints of the new wing weren't available yesterday, the section will extend north from the museum's South Street side, near 33rd Street, Kruhly said. The addition -- about three-fifths the size of a football field -- will increase the size of the 240,000 square-foot museum by approximately 15 percent. Kruhly said the new wing is designed to protect artifacts made from organic materials such as leather which have not been stored under proper space or climate conditions. It will also relieve overcrowding throughout the museum. "The museum's main priority as an institution is safeguarding its collections," Kruhly said. "We were in danger of jeopardizing its contents." And a new home for the so-called perishable materials "will make it easier for people coming to the University of Pennsylvania to carry out research," according to Anthropology Professor Robert Schuyler. "Right now, [the artifacts are] not under very good conditions," Schuyler said, describing the current setup as "very crowded." The wing will open up space throughout the rest of the museum, he added. Museum officials said they'll make a formal announcement about the project next month, during which time they will distribute plans for the wing and begin seeking donations from around Philadelphia. Additionally, museum officials are in the early stages of planning a new 33rd Street entrance to the facility, although the cost of that project has not yet been determined, Kruhly said. The museum, which was founded in 1887, attracts about 130,000 visitors each year -- 25,000 of whom pay an admission fee -- and has approximately 3,000 members. It has a projected budget of $9.4 million for the year ending June 30, 1998, and it receives approximately half of its funding from the University. The most recent addition to the museum -- an academic wing that houses the Anthropology Department -- was built in 1971.

Former safety inspector sues over firing

(09/12/97 9:00am)

Mark Selikson claims the University dismissed him after he advised telling federal investigators about radiation violations. A lawsuit filed against the University yesterday alleges that Penn fired its radiation-safety head last February for blowing the whistle on a Medical School professor's safety violations -- which may have included testing unsafe radioactive material on humans. Mark Selikson, who was hired as Penn's Radiation Safety Office director in 1988, accuses the University of flouting federal laws so it could reap millions of dollars in potential revenues from the professor's new magnetic resonance imaging technique. Selikson, 47, of Radnor, Pa., seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages in the suit, which was filed in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court. Yesterday, the University denied all charges. "It's the Catch-22 of all Catch-22s," said Bob Bedard, a spokesperson for the Philadelphia law firm of Willig, Williams & Davidson, which is representing Selikson. According to Bedard, Selikson faced the choice of doing his job -- ensuring compliance with radiation-safety regulations -- and being fired for it or allowing Radiopharmaceutical Science Professor Hank Kung to experiment on humans with untested radioactive chemicals. Selikson hasn't been able to find a job since the University fired him from his approximately $80,000-a-year position because of the stigma attached to such a dismissal, Bedard said. But accusing Penn of violating federal safety regulations is "despicable," University spokesperson Ken Wildes said yesterday. Selikson's firing was "based on [his] own conduct in the management of the Radiation Safety Office, not on any alleged whistle-blowing activity," Wildes added, though he would not elaborate on how Selikson's conduct caused his dismissal. According to the complaint, the saga began in fall 1994, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration investigated Kung and discovered that he did not keep records or adequately test the radioactive chemicals he sent around the country in the course of his research. In March 1995, the FDA investigated Kung again and told Selikson the University should not have allowed Kung to make and ship the radioactive materials, the suit maintains. And in August, the FDA warned University President Judith Rodin about Kung's activities, prompting the University to resolve to stop shipping radioactive chemicals without notifying the agency in advance. Nearly a year later, the complaint states that Kung "impressed" research colleagues at the Society of Nuclear Medicine's annual meeting with images of a human brain made with an untested radioactive chemical other researchers had not yet been able to use because they were tied up performing preliminary safety tests. Kung may have injected himself with the chemicals in order to take the image, Bedard alleged. At that point, the suit states, Selikson formed a task force within the University to investigate Kung. He warned University administrators last November that Kung continued to disregard federal regulations, advising them to contact the FDA preemptively. But the University fired Selikson before he could alert federal regulators about the violations, charging him with mismanaging his department, improperly running a private consulting business and pirating software, according to the lawsuit, which disputes those claims. The University also threatened to fire members of Selikson's staff if they worked for his consulting business, the complaint states. Bedard didn't know how much money the University stood to make from Kung's magnetic resonance imaging technique, saying only that it was "millions and millions" of dollars. Kung declined to comment yesterday, referring questions to Health System spokesperson Lori Doyle, who referred questions to Wildes.

U. may force Campus Text off campus after January

(09/11/97 9:00am)

The discount textbook seller must get permission from the University to sell books on campus after next semester. Campus Text Inc. may have to change its name to Off-Campus Text, after a recent settlement in its 1996 lawsuit against the University gave Penn the power to decide whether the company will continue to operate from its familiar location next to The Book Store. The discount textbook seller, which poured more than $25,000 into its nine-month legal battle with the University, faces an uncertain future now that it has settled its civil suit accusing Penn and The Book Store operators of interfering with its business and pressuring it to move from its 38th Street and Locust Walk location. Under the settlement, Campus Text must get the University's permission to sell books on Penn property, which includes the area where the company operates on 38th Street beneath the foot bridge. And University officials haven't decided yet whether to allow Campus Text to stay on campus past the January 1998 book-buying season, according to Associate General Counsel Robert Terrell. But although Campus Text hasn't yet identified a possible off-campus site for its business, co-owner Michael Saewitz said that he and his partner, 1995 College and Wharton graduate Doug Levy, aren't planning to stop selling textbooks at Penn. "We will find an alternative location," Saewitz said. "We are not about to fold our tents and throw in the towel. If we don't [stay in business], what will happen is the students are going to be left with little choice -- if any. "We hope that the students will continue to patronize our business. No business likes to relocate," he added, noting that Campus Text would have continued the lawsuit if it had the financial resources. The company -- which sells textbooks at up to 10 percent discounts from trucks outside The Book Store -- has been a thorn in the University's side since Levy founded the company as Penn Text in January 1994. The company agreed to change its name after the University threatened legal action, insisting that "Penn" was a trademark. The squabbles boiled over into a full-blown lawsuit in September 1996, when Campus Text sued the University, Barnes & Noble College Bookstores, Inc. and the city in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia. In the suit, Campus Text accused the University and University Police officers of harassing employees who were distributing promotional literature on Locust Walk In June, attorneys for both sides agreed to the settlement -- which barred Campus Text, the University and Barnes & Noble from further legal action over the dispute. Additionally, according to the settlement, if Campus Text wants to distribute fliers on the campus thoroughfare, it may do so only between 36th and 37th streets. Saewitz and Terrell wouldn't disclose other terms of the settlement, which Saewitz described only as a "multipage agreement." Campus Text's future may also depend on the outcome of a proposed City Council ordinance that would limit and reorganize vending around campus. It was unclear yesterday, however, exactly how the ordinance would affect Campus Text and whether University officials would permit the business to operate on campus. "That's a matter that really has to be worked out after the [January] selling period," Terrell said. He added that Campus Text's fate depends on "what the campus-wide vending policy is at the time," but stressed that he wasn't familiar with the terms of the ordinance Book Store Director Michael Knezic referred questions to Vice President for Business Services Steve Murray, who didn't return telephone calls yesterday. And Jack Shannon, the University's top economic development official who is in charge of publicizing Penn's stance on the vending ordinance, referred questions about Campus Text to the Office of the General Counsel. Saewitz declined to disclose Campus Text's revenues or profits. The company is based in Bala Cynwyd, Pa., but has only sold books at Penn, he said. Several students said yesterday that they would walk the extra blocks in order to save money on textbooks. Wharton sophomore Jason Liu said he would walk "maybe four or five more blocks" to Campus Text's yet-to-be determined future location. Right now, its trucks operate just outside The Book Store, which is on Locust Walk between 37th and 38th streets.

'Water buffalo' ending leaves speech questions unanswered

(09/10/97 9:00am)

Although the University eliminated a controversial speech code broadly banning racist behavior in the aftermath of 1993's infamous "water buffalo" incident, similar codes still exist on many college campuses and many experts say a similar high-profile case is likely to reoccur. The incident began in January 1993, when a group of African-American women performed a sorority ritual involving singing outside then-freshman Eden Jacobowitz's high-rise window. He yelled to the women, "Shut up, you water buffalo. If you're looking for a party, there's a zoo a mile from here." The women accused Jacobowitz, a 1996 College graduate, of violating Penn's racial-harassment policy. After the Wall Street Journal, conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh and the American Civil Liberties Union took up Jacobowitz's case, the women dropped the charges, saying the intense publicity meant their claims would not receive a fair hearing. "The University obviously didn't walk away without any damage to itself," said Larry Frankel, executive director of the Pennsylvania chapter of the ACLU, which helped represent Jacobowitz in the University's internal judicial proceedings. "Hopefully, the University learned a big lesson -- that it should not be in the business of regulating what students say." The University admitted no wrongdoing in settling the lawsuit, although it did pay Jacobowitz's attorney, Edward Rubenstone, under $10,000 to cover some of Jacobowitz's legal fees and expenses. "I think what the University owes him is an apology," said History Professor Alan Kors, who advised Jacobowitz in the judicial proceedings. What matters most is that Jacobowitz was vindicated in the court of public opinion, Kors added. Jacobowitz's case won't have the effect, however, of weakening or eliminating speech codes at colleges and universities across the nation, according to Jesse Choper, a Law professor at the University of California at Berkeley. "There are hate-speech codes enacted in a great many publicly connected universities," said Choper, a 1960 Penn Law graduate. Indeed, Jacobowitz, now 23 and starting his first year at Fordham University Law School in New York, said Sunday night that he recently attended a meeting where a panel discussed Fordham's hate-speech code before the law students. Additionally, the U.S. Supreme Court hasn't handled a case on the issue of campus hate-speech, making it likely that a high-profile case like Jacobowitz's "probably will" happen again in the near future, Choper said. Another "water buffalo"-like incident "absolutely" could happen again, said History Professor Sheldon Hackney, University president at the time of the incident. "Racism is still alive and well and has become more acrimonious as affirmative action has become attacked in other parts of the country," said Hackney, who was criticized for not stepping in to defend Jacobowitz at the time of the incident. But University Trustee Gloria Chisum, who advised the women during the judicial proceedings, said she hoped that "at Penn at least, we have people who are wise enough, who are kind enough and who are sensitive enough to try to prevent such a situation from happening [again]." Chisum characterized the incident as "being totally blown out of proportion by people who have no interest in the University and have their own private agendas."