The family of Jesse Gelsinger reached a settlement with the University and others involved with Penn's Institute for Gene Therapy on Tuesday night. The amount of the settlement is not being released. The settlement, which was announced today, comes about six weeks after the lawsuit was filed and over a year after the teenager died while participating in a Penn gene therapy research trial. The lawsuit claimed Gelsinger's death was a direct result of negligence by Penn, IHGT Director James M. Wilson and two other scientists for the experiment in which Gelsinger was enrolled. Penn's Center for Bioethics Director Arthur Caplan and former Health System CEO William Kelley -- both originally named in the suit -- were also dismissed from the suit prior to settlement. "Penn's hope is that the agreement among the parties will enable the Gelsingers to bring a small measure of closure to the loss," the University said in a statement released today. Gelsinger family attorney Harris Pogust said the Gelsingers are pleased with the settlement. "I think we're as happy as we can be. Nothing's going to bring back Jesse," Pogust said. The suit listed six causes for action, including wrongful death, fraud, emotional distress and battery and asked for in excess of $50,000 in each count. The suit also alleged that Wilson and Kelley were positioned for financial gain from a successful outcome in the experiment because they owned several gene therapy patents.
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It was a traditional Halloween scene. Cobwebs draped the stairs leading to the house, candles lit the entryway, spooky music played in the background -- and Morticia Addams passed out candy to eager trick-or-treaters. But last night Morticia was none other than the University's own Judith Rodin. Rodin -- decked out in a long black wig, black fishnet tights and a long black dress -- opened Eisenlohr Hall, the president's official residence on Walnut Street, to trick-or-treaters for two hours last night. Streams of students filtered through the house, with handfuls stopping to snap pictures with Rodin. Dozens of young trick-or-treaters joined the Penn students, demanding candy from Rodin as part of the night's festivities. Rodin said she dressed as Morticia Addams in recognition of the opening of Addams Hall, the new Fine Arts building named after Penn alumnus Charles Addams, the creator of the popular television family. For many students who visited, last night was the first time they had met the president. "I definitely thought that this would be an interesting opportunity to meet her," Wharton junior Christine Fleming said. Several added that last night's event helped put a more personal face on Rodin, who has been criticized in the past for being inaccessible to students. A Daily Pennsylvanian survey last spring showed that while 87 percent of students thought Rodin did a good job, only 19 percent had actually met her. But last night seemed to help. "If you see your college president dressed up as a witch, she's one of us," College freshman Patricia Maloney said. And College freshman Grace Chien noted that seeing Rodin passing out candy to students "makes her much more down to earth." Some speculated that the opening of Eisenlohr on Halloween was motivated by Rodin's desire to seem more approachable and willing to work with students. "That's probably why she's doing this," said Engineering senior Sheneikwa Thomas, who said that she didn't think Rodin was very accessible to students. But Rodin -- who now lives in Eisenlohr alone, with her husband working in New York and her son a freshman at Duke University -- asserted that last night's Halloween event was about having fun, not forming an image of approachability. "That's not what tonight was about," she said adamantly. Still, some students said that they thought Rodin could be doing more than hosting trick-or-treaters to welcome students. "She's just a figurehead to me," College freshman Cecilia Fang said. "She should definitely be more accessible." Some students used last night's opportunity to meet Rodin as a chance to tell her about their activities. Julia Oh, a College junior and member of the Penn symphony orchestra, said she took advantage of last night to encourage Rodin to hire the orchestra's string quartet. "She was really enthusiastic about it," Oh said. Those who met Rodin for the first time said they left impressed. "She was really nice and friendly," Chien said. "From what I've seen, she seems like a really outgoing, friendly person." "She's very convincing as a witch," College freshman Mike Cheung joked. Next year, Rodin said, she hoped to host a Halloween block party, perhaps closing down a local street for the festivities.
As of today, the ineffective "Bring Your Own Beer" component of the University's year-old alcohol policy ceases to exist. University President Judith Rodin approved several key changes to the policy last Thursday. Aside from the elimination of BYOB, the alcohol policy now applies to all undergraduate student organizations. The administration proposed changes to the alcohol policy in mid-September, noting that the BYOB clause was ineffective and hard to enforce. BYOB required that every 21-year-old attending a registered on-campus party -- including fraternity parties and most other events organized by official campus groups -- could bring a six-pack of beer into the party and later retrieve the alcohol from the bartender. But officials now say the BYOB component simply doesn't work. "It's fair to say BYOB was difficult to enforce," University Alcohol Coordinator Stephanie Ives said. "It was a challenge." Undergraduate Assembly Chairman Michael Bassik, a member of the original provost-led committee that wrote the new alcohol policy in the spring of 1999, said the elimination of BYOB won't have a practical effect. "As we all know, the reason BYOB was eliminated from the policy was that it was unenforceable to begin with," he explained. "Students shouldn't realize any changes whatsoever." The policy is also broadened to apply to all undergraduate student organizations, which was not explicitly stated before today's changes. "It's just sort of more encompassing of all student organizations," Ives explained. She added that prior to the change, groups that received money from SAC could not use those funds to buy alcohol, but all groups weren't explicitly included in the alcohol policy. "It was not allowed by the Office of Student Life, but it wasn't in the over-arching, all-encompassing policy," Ives noted. Bassik said that this also won't have a large effect. "All undergraduate organizations affiliated with the University can't use University money to buy alcohol," he said. "It's merely just making sure that every part of the policy is enforceable." The revised section of the policy includes five components, including banning large alcohol containers -- like kegs -- and drinking games and prohibiting student organizations from using University funds to purchase alcohol. The policy also states that no student, regardless of age, can be served alcohol at a registered party if he or she is clearly intoxicated. Alcohol must be served from a separate area of the party by of-age bartenders unaffiliated with the group sponsoring the event. The policy changes were available for comment from the University community for a month, ending October 13. Ives said the only feedback she received came from the Alcohol and Other Drug Task Force, which recommended minor wording changes in the proposal. Last fall, the University adopted the campus-wide policy -- including stricter monitoring, a ban on hard alcohol and an emphasis on education and counseling, as well as the BYOB component. The old policy came under fire in March 1999 following the death of 26-year-old alumnus Michael Tobin after a night of drinking at a Phi Gamma Delta fraternity reunion party. Just days after his death, Rodin imposed a full ban on alcohol at undergraduate parties. Provost Robert Barchi convened and led a committee to re-examine Penn's policy -- which developed the school's current rules.
Just days after being criticized by student anti-sweatshop activists, the Committee on Manufacturer Responsibility met yesterday and continued to debate issues surrounding monitoring organizations. The committee has a Thanksgiving deadline to submit a recommendation to University President Judith Rodin on whether the University should join the Worker Rights Consortium or the Fair Labor Association. Both the WRC and the FLA aim to monitor factories used to produce collegiate apparel and ensure that working conditions are safe and fair. While the FLA has government and industry backing, the WRC is favored by student groups, including Penn Students Against Sweatshops, and human rights activists. According to Committee Chairman Gregory Possehl, yesterday's meeting featured extensive discussion about the way in which universities are represented in the two organizations. "The committee had a very good and thorough discussion regarding this issue, and I think they're very happy with where we sit today," the Anthropology Department chairman said. But Possehl did not ask the committee to vote on which, if any, monitoring organizations the group would recommend Penn join. He maintained that the group would make its Thanksgiving deadline, which he set earlier this semester when the committee was accused of "foot-dragging" on making a recommendation to Rodin. Penn was a member of the FLA -- which PSAS claims would not effectively monitor labor conditions because of its corporate ties -- until February. The University withdrew from it following a nine-day PSAS sit-in, and has not been a member of any official monitoring group in the months since. The committee of students, faculty and staff was formed late last spring to replace the Ad Hoc Committee on Sweatshop Labor, which had recommended that Penn withhold membership from both the WRC and FLA. On Monday, PSAS sent a letter to Rodin expressing concern that the committee was not adequately addressing the issue of university representation, which it claims is supposed to be the committee's first priority when evaluating the WRC and FLA. The letter also demanded anew that Penn join the WRC. Possehl said the letter was not directly addressed in yesterday's meeting. However, a student member of the committee who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that university representation was the first issue on yesterday's agenda because of the PSAS letter. "They wouldn't have given it sufficient attention" without the pressure of the letter, the student said. And the student member added that it was his impression that the committee wasn't emphasizing university representation like the Ad Hoc Committee recommended last spring. But the student also acknowledged that yesterday's discussion was a step forward. "A lot of good dialogue started," the student said. "It's definitely moving in the right direction." After the committee makes a recommendation, Rodin will make the final decision about membership in the FLA or WRC. She said she has not been speaking with the committee about the issue out of respect for the members' right to deliberate amongst themselves. Rodin also said she has been following the monitoring organizations' development and would integrate the committee's recommendation with external reports and independent analysis when making her decision.
Nearly six months after their now-famous nine-day sit-in, members of Penn Students Against Sweatshops are criticizing the University again and repeating their demand that Penn join the Worker Rights Consortium. PSAS submitted a letter to University President Judith Rodin Monday saying that the Committee on Manufacturer Responsibility has not fulfilled its stated obligations. The committee was formed late last spring to replace the Ad Hoc Committee on Sweatshop Labor, which had recommended that Penn withhold membership from either the WRC or the Fair Labor Association. Both the WRC and FLA are attempting to monitor factories used to produce college apparel and ensure that they use proper working conditions. Penn belonged to the FLA until last February, when Rodin was convinced to pull out of it as a result of the sit-in. The WRC is supported by most human rights organizations --ÿand while it had only a few members during the sit-in, the numbers have swelled. The FLA, meanwhile, is supported by the White House and the apparel industry. While committee members refute the PSAS criticism of their progress, the student group said it sees problems in the current process. One of PSAS' concerns is the way the committee is evaluating the two available monitoring organizations. Although the committee said it would take a close look at University representation within the groups, PSAS claims it has abandoned this as a priority. Additionally, the group claims the committee has not secured monitoring reports from all the factories producing Penn-logo apparel as it was supposed to after the University approved a Code of Conduct last spring for all factories it uses. "Based on what we were hearing from our representatives [on the committee], we needed to do something to hold the committee accountable," said College junior Matthew Grove, a PSAS member and one of the letter's three authors. The committee will recommend whether Penn should join the WRC or the FLA by Thanksgiving. FLA opponents argue that the WRC is better suited to protect workers' rights because it has fewer ties to corporate interests and is committed to stricter guidelines. But the WRC is less established and critics say it will have a more difficult time enforcing those standards. Committee Chairman Gregory Possehl responded to the group's claims in a letter yesterday. "I have said that the level of university representation on the governing board of either organization is not the only criterion we might use for making a decision," Possehl said in his letter to PSAS. "I did not mean, however -- contrary to the letter's suggestion -- that university representation is not a very important criterion," the Anthropology Department chairman continued. "It obviously is." But PSAS member Annie Wadsworth said that work done last year on the sweatshop issue mandated that University representation remain the primary concern in evaluating monitoring organizations. "It's kind of a step back to say it's only one of many [concerns]," she said. Possehl also noted that despite PSAS' allegations, the University has requested monitoring reports from factories producing University-logo clothing. "Penn mailed the Code to all apparel licensees almost four months ago, on July 3, 2000," Possehl explained in his letter. "The Code requires licensees to file reports with the University no later than January 3, 2001." The Committee on Manufacturer Responsibility -- composed of students, faculty and staff -- was formed last May. It will work to enforce the University's Code of Conduct for University apparel manufacturers as well as recommend whether the University should join the WRC or FLA. Grove also said he was worried that the committee was being swayed by political dealings. "We're frustrated with how it doesn't seem to be openly democratic in how the agenda is set," he said. "It's been more politically motivated." Rodin expressed her confidence in the committee in an e-mail statement yesterday. "I am confident that the standing committee will weigh all of the significant factors, including university representation, with great care and will reach its own conclusions based on a full discussion of the issues."
As the violence in the Middle East continues, Penn students who want to study in Israel next semester face a dubious future. Last Thursday, the Office of International Programs told students that if they were to go to Israel, Penn would not accept credit from study there and that the office would not forward their applications, which were due October 15. But after receiving a number of complaints about this severe stance on study in Israel, Penn officials changed their mind on Friday. "We have come to a decision to try and keep options for a longer period in time," OIP Director Joyce Randolph said. The University will now allow students to proceed with their applications to study in Israel second semester, Randolph said. However, she said the University will continue to monitor the situation in the Middle East. Officials did, however, say that until mid-December Penn reserves the right to advise students not to go and not give them credit for work completed while studying in Israel. In late September, violence struck Israel's West Bank when Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon visited a holy shrine that has been the site of longtime Israeli-Palestinian dispute. The total death toll from fighting between Palestinians and Israel security forces is now around 120, mostly Palestinians. Israel Prime Minister Ehud Barak said this weekend that Israel would take a "timeout" from the peace process. Currently, seven Penn students are studying abroad in Israel. Penn recently recommended that all students spending this semester in Israel return to the United States. The OIP will allow students applying to study in Israel to submit second study-abroad application in case the University cancels the program. Normally, students are only allowed to submit one application, but Randolph said that the University would make a "huge exception to the general rule" due to the unusual circumstances. Randolph said 12 students planned on submitting applications to study in Israel. They learned of the new decisions by e-mail Friday evening. Thursday's decision to cancel the program was prompted by continued student inquiries in light of the situation in Israel, Randolph said. "We made those recommendations because the students were already beginning to feel uncertain," she explained. "The first decision was made because safety was the primary concern." Many students said they were upset with the initial decision. "It was horribly unfair," said College junior Jordana Levitsky, who is planning to apply to study in Israel for next semester. "They did not have the right to tell us we couldn't apply when the situation in three months could change dramatically." And David Mandel, a College junior applying to spend next semester at Hebrew University, said he thought Penn cancelled the program too soon. "It was premature," he said. "I thought they should allow us to apply and then advise us whether or not they thought we should go." With the student's feedback in mind, the University re-evaluated its stance. "I think, in the best of all possible worlds, they will go, but that it is wise for them and for us to be thinking about back-up plans for each of the 12 in case the world again changes," University President Judith Rodin said Friday. Several of the students said that the new decision was more reasonable, and that they would be watching the situation closely before deciding whether they still want to study abroad. "At this point, it's really hard for me to say what my decision will be," College junior Suzy Berger said. Berger will double-apply to study in Israel and, as a back-up, Kings College in London, though she emphasized that her first choice is still Israel.
The University has hired the executive search firm Spencer Stuart to assist in finding a new Health System Chief Executive Officer and dean of the Medical School. Last month, a 16-member search committee was formed to find the replacement for former Health System CEO and interim dean Peter Traber, who resigned in July after just a few months at UPHS' helm for a job in the private sector. After receiving eight proposals and interviewing three of its top candidates, University President Judith Rodin and committee chair Dwight Evans picked Spencer Stuart as their first choice to help Penn. "We found them to have the greatest breadth and the greatest degree of experience," Rodin said. "They have done searches in academic medical centers exactly like ours," she added. Rodin and Evans, the Psychiatry department chairman, discussed their selection with the entire search committee at its first meeting on October 13, which gave its approval for the selection. The committee includes several members of the medical school faculty, as well as high-ranking University administrators. Rodin formally announced the decision last week. Spencer Stuart worked with the University during a 14-month search for the internally appointed Wharton School Dean Patrick Harker, who received the job last February. The firm also helped bring Rodin to Penn in 1995. Rodin said officials were impressed with Spencer Stuart's ties to qualified candidates in the private sector. "They now say that there's some good cohort of scientists who have run businesses who might be ready to come back [to academia]," Rodin explained. "We thought that was a very interesting spector that we might not have thought of or had access to," she said. She added that Spencer Stuart has done numerous medical school dean searches and searches for major hospital chains. Penn administrators have repeatedly said that they are looking for a single person to hold both the CEO and the dean position. According to Rodin, the committee has not started examining potential candidates, but will instead focus on doing an assessment of the Health System and Medical School and preparing materials about the job for potential candidates, with the help of Spencer Stuart. "They'll prepare a position paper and a report for the search committee," Rodin explained. Though these searches typically take around three to six months, a timeline has not been set for this particular search. Many recent academic searches at Penn have dragged on for about a year -- all resulting in the appointment of an internal candidate. Traber was appointed to the top of the beleaguered health system after Rodin ousted longtime CEO and dean William Kelley last February. Traber was named permanent CEO just weeks later, but was serving as interim dean at the time of his departure because University regulations require a consultative search process for academic appointments. Many had expected that he would eventually be appointed Medical School dean permanently. Rodin said an outside search firm is useful because it isn't tied to the institution -- something candidates sometimes find more trustworthy. "The candidates often have questions they would rather talk to a non-institutional person about," Rodin noted.
If a Penn professor writes a textbook that sells a million copies, who should get the profits -- the University or the author? The University is looking to answer this and other questions surrounding professorial work as it redrafts its copyright policy for faculty. While most faculty endorsed the University's effort to create a policy, many said they were not sure what all the rules meant yet or how they would be implemented. "I'm not sure any of us know what the short-term or long-term potential of this is going to be," Anthropology Professor Alan Mann said. The proposal places the copyright with the faculty, with key exceptions. For example, if the University contributes a "substantial" amount of resources to the production of something, the copyright will rest with Penn. The policy is aimed at faculty members and will not address students or staff. It was authored by a 14-member committee last spring and is currently under review by the Faculty Senate. But many faculty members expressed confusion over how the policy would be implemented, if approved, and several weren't aware of the proposal's contents. Some, for instance, said they worried about the ambiguity of the term "substantial." "That's going to be problematic because the resource is the intellectual activity, and it's very hard to do accounting of who owns the resources in someone's intellectual thinking," Director of the Biotechnology program Scott Diamond said. And Mann added that how the University interprets the term might impact a professor's willingness to publish or produce. "I think these very nebulous terms have to be defined in the future... and that will impact your contribution," he explained. Mann teaches several classes online through PennAdvance, a College of General Studies program. He has voiceovers on the course Web site, which could become Penn supervised under the policy, meaning that the school can control class audiovisual materials. "I would assume that would come under this particular heading, and I would not be pleased with that," he explained. Legally, however, Law School Professor Polk Wagner, an intellectual property expert, said the word substantial won't really be a problem, adding "that's a perfectly appropriate term to use." Overall, many professors endorsed the University's efforts to redraft their copyright policy. "My take is that we should be very close to what I consider to be a good solution to this long-standing, open issue," Faculty Senate Chair and Communications Professor Larry Gross said. Gross added that the Senate committee on Faculty will discuss the proposal together next Tuesday, and that he hoped to put the proposal before the entire Senate at their next meeting in November. "We're just about where we need to be," he said. But the success of the proposal won't really be clear until it gets implemented, which is contingent on the Faculty Senate's approval. "It's sometimes overwhelmingly clear on a case-by-case basis," Diamond said, adding that it was hard to write or evaluate such a broad-based policy. The proposal was, in part, prompted by the influence of growing technology and distance education on academia. Diamond, for example, said that computer programs can be drafted to help students in classes or can be used to develop different drugs -- thereby making them lucrative both for the faculty member and the University. But according to several professors, their departments haven't yet had to deal with the impact of online classes or software. And Louis Berneman, the managing director of Penn's Center for Technology Transfer, said that professors who wanted to take advantage of new media didn't usually do so without outside help, thereby forfeiting their chance at the copyright. "Many of them are savvy enough to realize they need assistance," he said. But the core of the policy recognizes the role of faculty, generally giving them the copyright. Ideally, many professors said, they should own the copyright to work they produce. "The University expects a faculty member to be doing research, producing scholarly publications," said Paul Langacker, chair of the Physics and Astronomy Department. "That's a part of the job. The University, for that, should not expect to receive financial rewards or returns."
The past several weeks of violence in the Middle East has hit home for the eight Penn students studying abroad in Israel this semester. Last Friday, the University recommended to all eight undergraduates and their families that they return home, given the extreme political chaos. "We are recommending very seriously that they do come home," Office of International Programs Director Joyce Randolph said. One student already returned to the United States last weekend, according to Randolph. Of the original eight students, four intended to study at Hebrew University, about 20 minutes outside Jerusalem, while four planned on spending the semester at the University of Haifa in northern Israel. Violence erupted in Israel's West Bank in late September when Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon visited an East Jerusalem shrine that has been the point of Israeli-Palestinian dispute. Since the visit, fighting between Palestinians and the Israeli security forces has claimed around 100 lives, mostly Palestinians. Yesterday, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak agreed to a "statement of intent" to end the violence after two days of negotiations, though neither leader has signed the document. The Penn students have been in Israel since August in an intensive Hebrew language program, which recently ended. They are now on a break before classes start for the fall semester in late October, with six traveling in Europe while one remained in Haifa. None of the students supposed to study in Israel for the fall semester could be reached last night, and the Office of International Programs would not release their names. Randolph said that to her knowledge, no Penn students had witnessed any of the violence firsthand and that they didn't feel they were in any immediate danger. "When we first contacted them in early October, they weren't even aware of the violence," she said. "They certainly have not felt threatened." "My feedback is that most of the students want to go back to Israel," she explained. The University recommended that the students return home to the United States without stopping in Jerusalem, telling students that Penn's resident director in Jerusalem would collect their belongings from their housing in Israel. "We think it's wiser that they do not go back to Israel," she said. If they chose to return to the United States, the students will receive University credit for the language course they already took, and will not have to pay tuition for the fall semester. Randolph said that her office has been in touch with the families of the students supposed to study in Israel to help them decide whether to bring their student home. "We are in continuous touch with the families as they do have to struggle to make this decision," she said, adding that the difficulty of the decision is augmented by the precarious nature of the situation in the Middle East. "The situation changes almost on an hourly basis," she noted. The U.S. State Department has issued a "worldwide caution" because of terrorist activity, advising all American travelers to be cautious due to the possibility of violent action against U.S. citizens.
Chemistry Professor Alan MacDiarmid received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry yesterday, becoming the first Penn professor to win the prestigious award in 20 years.
Penn now faces the fundamental question of who owns what in academia as it redrafts its policy relating to copyrights and joins a growing number of universities confronting the controversy surrounding intellectual property. Intellectual property is the umbrella term for the ownership of ideas -- works of art, copyrightable books, patentable inventions or research. Currently, the Faculty Senate is looking at Penn's proposed policy on copyrights, drafted last spring -- which applies only to faculty, not students or staff. The proposal is a change from the present policy, where Penn has the copyright for everything except traditional academic work -- such as books and plays, where the copyright rests with the author. The policy was drafted by a 14-member task force that included faculty members. Many universities have been re-examining intellectual property, Stanford University Law Professor John Barton said, as technological change -- and the growth of the use of the Internet to disseminate information -- has undermined definitions of ownership. With Penn's proposal, the copyright would now, with key exceptions, rest with the faculty member. Under the proposed policy, exceptions will arise when grants and industry or government-sponsored research require that the University hold the copyright. Another significant exception arises when "the faculty create works that make substantial use of the services of University non-faculty employees or University resources," the proposal states. So if a professor writes an article for publication in a trade magazine only using library resources, his computer and his telephone, he hasn't entered the realm of "substantial resources" and therefore owns the copyright. But if he creates software to help professors grade chemistry labs using -- besides his own computer -- the resources of Penn's Information Systems and Computing staff members and substantial University financial backing, the University would own the copyright and share in the profits. "The software issue is becoming more and more important," noted Barton, an expert on intellectual property. He added that universities have been redrafting their policies to accommodate software -- which is largely hard to patent -- because institutions stand to profit from it. Yet another exception occurs in cases of works for hire, when faculty create works explicitly for the University. Also, audiovisual materials and recordings intended for Penn students are specifically included as materials to which the University would hold the copyright. But the policy would not tackle online note firms like Versity.com, which allow students to post online notes from a professor's lecture. "If you give a lecture, the lecture that you're giving verbally is non-copyrightable," Provost Robert Barchi explained. "The copyright exists immediately when you reduce something to concrete form," like when a professor types out a lecture before delivery. The University's examination of copyright policy is part of an overall trend for academic institutions to look at intellectual property in a world of growing technology and an expanding global community. Until recently, copyright policy was relevant mostly to the production of traditional academic materials -- textbooks, poetry and essays. Such materials typically weren't very profitable, according to intellectual property lawyer Jeff Burgan, and consequently didn't consume much of a typical university's time. "Because of the push for professors to publish, they're a little more liberal with copyright policy," he explained. "There's not a huge profit motive for the universities." In the past decades, however, things have changed. Professors can now put their courses online, or produce computer programs that provide students with basic coursework. Barton said that little in the area of educational Web sites or distance learning has been defined, which makes it difficult for universities to draft long-lasting copyright policies. "Things are going to get interesting," he added. "I don't think universities have quite come to grips with when distance learning works."
Author Maya Angelou and retired opera singer Beverly Sills are the two final choices for this year's Commencement speaker, according to a University source close to the speaker committee. An e-mail listing these two choices was sent to the members of the Commencement Speaker Advisory Committee -- composed of faculty and students -- in July. They were asked to select one candidate and, based on the votes, an invitation was to be sent to either Angelou or Sills -- though an invitation does not mean the choice will necessarily accept. The e-mail stressed the importance of choosing a woman. "The selection of a female speaker is particularly appropriate for 2001, when we will be celebrating 125 years of women at Penn," it read. And during the one meeting of the advisory committee, members were encouraged to select a minority woman, according to those close to the committee. The two candidates were finalized by another group, the Trustees Committee on Honorary Degrees and Awards, after two conference call meetings this summer, the e-mail stated. But a source close to the situation said that to his knowledge, the University has not yet contacted Angelou about the possibility of speaking. A representative of Sills could not be reached for comment. Each committee member voted on either Sills or Angelou, but according to sources, committee members have not yet learned the results. The student committee consists of Senior Class President Ray Valerio, Undergraduate Assembly Chairman Michael Bassik, UA Vice Chairman Malhar Saraiya, United Minorities Council Chairman Jerome Byam, Graduate and Professional Student Assembly Chairwoman Kendra Nicholson and GAPSA Vice Chairman Kyle Farley. Angelou, acclaimed author of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, was discussed by the committee, sources said. But Sills, the first female chair of the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts, had not been discussed by the committee before they received the e-mail. The Trustees' Committee on Honorary Degrees and Awards met twice via conference calls this summer before selecting Sills and Angelou as their final choices. Last year, Irish poet and Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney delivered the annual Commencement address, drawing mixed reviews. Many said that the choice of Heaney was disappointing after the selection of big-name celebrities and politicians in the past, like Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin in 1999, former President Jimmy Carter in 1998 and comedian Bill Cosby in 1997. Angelou gained international fame for her poetry and books. She was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in 1971 for Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'fore I Die, her first book of verse. And also in 1971, with her production of Georgia, Georgia, Angelou became the first black woman to have a screenplay produced as a film. The selection of the lesser-known Sills would mean a departure from the literary realm. Sills is lauded with helping bring opera music to the masses. She recorded 18 full-length operas and numerous solo albums during her 25-year career with the New York City Opera. Though Sills retired from singing in 1980, she became the first female and first performer to become the chair of the Lincoln Center -- a position that oversees 11 subsidiary institutions.
A special committee investigating gender equity issues at Penn reported yesterday that women make up just 13 percent of the Wharton School faculty and 6 percent of the Engineering School. At its second meeting of the academic year yesterday, the University Council heard a progress report on the status of women at Penn that also revealed few significant salary disparities between men and women. The Gender Equity Committee was charged last spring with examining gender discrimination issues among Penn faculty. Though committee co-Chairwomen Phoebe Leboy and Barbara Lowery emphasized that further data needed to be collected and analyzed, the committee found that female faculty members totaled 24 percent of the 525 members of the standing faculty in 1999. But the University-wide number may be misleading, Leboy said, because of the massive differences between schools. For instance, while 98 percent of Nursing faculty are women, females constitute just 6 percent of Engineering and 13 percent of Wharton faculty. The committee also presented Council with the changes in female representation between 1988 and 1999, with the percentage of women in both Engineering and Wharton decreasing. "It looks like we are running into some problems in these two schools," Leboy told the committee, though she cautioned that the loss of a single female professor in those schools can look skewed because the female representation was fairly small to begin with. University President Judith Rodin said before the meeting that it was important to address the female faculty retention of Penn. "In some way, we're not retaining," she said. The 14-member committee also gathered data regarding the status of female professors. "There is a disproportionately [high] number of women at the assistant professor level," Leboy explained. Women are also underrepresented on the tenure track, the committee found. However, Lowery said the committee had found that there was no significant gender discrepancy in the salaries of faculty members outside of the Medical School. Salary data for the Medical School is still being gathered. Finally, the committee presented a breakdown of the representation of females in leadership positions at the University, with 25 percent of dean positions and 24 percent of associate, vice or deputy dean positions being held by women. It also reported that women make up just 8 percent of departmental chairs University-wide. "We need to do some work," Lowery said. Both Lowery and Leboy reminded Council that the committee's work, though progressing, was far from done. The committee -- which hopes to present a final report in the spring -- will also interview and distribute questionnaires to faculty members in an effort to try and understand the more qualitative aspects of gender equity, such as faculty perceptions, mentoring and scholarly activity. "We just wanted to show the committee how far along we've come," Lowery explained. Also at the committee meeting, Provost Robert Barchi presented reports highlighting the achievements of the University in the past several years and future projects Penn would tackle. The Committee on Pluralism and Committee on Admission and Financial Aid also presented their annual reports.
From Singapore to India, Wharton's influence is no longer constrained to the United States. For the past three years, the Wharton School has been working with the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University to develop the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad, India. ISB is expected to open its classroom doors for the first time next summer, and the admission process for its inaugural class is already underway. The school took a decisive step last weekend when it appointed Sumantra Ghoshal to be its founding dean. Ghoshal is currently a professor at the London School of Economics. According to Wharton Deputy Dean David Schmittlein, Wharton and Kellogg have largely held advisory roles in establishing ISB. "We and Kellogg jointly have played a role with respect to structuring the school's curriculum, its potential faculty composition, its organizational structure, those kinds of things," Schmittlein said. Wharton's contributions to ISB parallel how Wharton has worked to develop the curriculum of the Singapore Management University, a second business school in Asia. SMU accepted its first class of students this summer. Schmittlein credits the origin of ISB to Rajat Gupta, the managing director of the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. It was Gupta, Schmittlein said, who originally began tossing the idea of starting ISB around the business world. So in November 1997, then-Wharton Dean Thomas Gerrity, the dean of the Kellogg School and Gupta all signed a memorandum of understanding to symbolize their commitment to the ISB. ISB will only offer an MBA program, which Schmittlein said would last around 16 months. The campus will also contain a technology center focusing on the management and development of business technologies. About 70 percent of the students will probably be from India. Hyderabad, according to Schmittlein, is a technology hub in India and consequently a natural place to locate ISB. Marketing Professor Jagmohan Raju helped draft ISB's program of study, and noted that the curriculum was not very different from Wharton's own. But, he added, there are distinct focuses on e-commerce, entrepreneurship, analytical finance and strategic marketing. Wharton has no definite plans to directly contribute professors or financial resources to the school, Schmittlein said. ISB has been largely funded through private donors, and the state government of Andhra Pradesh -- of which Hyderabad is the capital -- helped find the school a location. But while Penn is not likely to directly supply professors, Schmittlein said he wouldn't be surprised if some faculty choose to teach at ISB as visiting professors. Yet Raju noted that while some might step up, most recognize that their "primary commitment was to the University." Though the most obvious beneficiary of the partnership is ISB, Raju and Schmittlein agreed that Wharton would also gain from the deal. "There are, of course, a variety of Penn faculty who are interested in Asia, in developing economies and in India specifically," Schmittlein said. And Raju said the ties with a campus in India would open up new possibilities for a different kind of research in Asia. "The U.S. population is relatively homogenous," he said. "India has 22 different languages, different cultures, different religions. It's really in many ways a much more diversified market." The 53-member board of directors includes numerous members of the private business sector, as well as Wharton Dean Patrick Harker. Gupta is the chairman of the board.
Just a few weeks ago, Penn formed a committee to find a new Health System chief executive officer and Medical School dean. If recent history is anything to go by, this search will be long and pricey, surveying people from all over the country. But in the end, a Penn person will land the job. Whether it's the Philadelphia atmosphere, University leadership or Penn's salary offers, academics from other schools simply have not come to Penn in recent years. The last five major administrative appointees -- for provost, School of Arts and Sciences dean, Engineering School dean, Wharton dean and Law School dean -- were all faculty members at Penn. Experts say that though institutions typically vary in whether they go internal or external, Penn's recent hirings are unusual. "The pattern in higher education is typically to go to the outside," said Bruce Alton, a senior consultant for Academic Search Consultation Service. Bill Bowen of the executive recruiting firm Heidrick & Struggles noted that jobs go to insiders in only about half of searches -- though Penn has gone with the inside guy every time in the past two years. Now Penn is recruiting faces for what might be their biggest challenge yet -- finding a new leader for the beleaguered Health System. After William Kelley was forced out last February, Peter Traber served as his replacement for less than six months. He then left over the summer to work for a drug company. After these troubled months, some people wonder whether Penn will be able to draw a leader from another institution. University President Judith Rodin said she will consider candidates from both pools. However, a source close to the administration said that when a school is in crisis, it is often better to go external -- as was done when Gary Hack arrived in 1996 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to revamp the Graduate School of Fine Arts. However, it can be logistically difficult to move people from schools where they are established, in areas where they have settled with families. Rodin acknowledged that it is "complex to move distinguished senior people" from other institutions. Bioengineering Department Chairman Daniel Hammer -- who sits on the committee to find a vice provost for research -- added that personal issues are increasingly preventing people from changing institutions. "When push comes to shove, [candidates] think about how difficult it is to move my family," Hammer said. But even from within, administrative posts are looking less and less attractive to professors. Hack said that the life of a professor simply is more appealing than the life of a dean -- both at Penn and other institutions. "The best job at the University is being a faculty member," Hack said. "Most faculty members do not consider a dean being a promotion. They consider it a sacrifice." Richard Herring, who chaired the committee that named then-Law School Professor Michael Fitts to that school's deanship, said that he knew of at least three cases where internal faculty members did not agree to become candidates until well into the process and after several consuming external searches. "Quite frequently, people who were initially not candidates became candidates," Herring said. "Well into the process, they were persuaded to change their minds." Many were glad that people did step up, saying that it helps to have someone already familiar with Penn in a top position. "I honestly think it's a tribute to the strength of the faculty," Rodin said. Communications Professor Larry Gross, chair of the Faculty Senate, said that it helps to have someone without the "institutional baggage" of another school. Gross was also on the committee that helped recommend Provost Robert Barchi to his position in the spring of 1999. Before that, Barchi chaired the Neurology and Neuroscience Department in the School of Medicine. "An internal person has a lot of institutional knowledge that allows them to get going with things quicker," Hack added. But most said that there was nothing about Penn or its leadership that would turn people off and stop them from coming here. "Penn is a very attractive institution," Bowen said. "Penn is not viewed in a negative light."
Harvard University's endowment has skyrocketed to $19.2 billion in Fiscal Year 2000. The nearly $5 billion increase in just one year eclipses Penn's entire $3.2 billion endowment. The increases are due largely to the Cambridge, Mass., school's venture capital investments. While venture capital and private equity are riskier than stocks in established companies, they offer the chance to capitalize on growth opportunities in dot-com and biotech start-ups. Penn has been wary of these investments in the past, but officials said they plan to move more aggressively in venture capital over the next few years. From $14.4 billion last year, Harvard's endowment fund jumped 32.2 percent in FY 2000. In FY 1999, Penn's endowment was reported to be $3.19 billion. According to Vice President of Finance Craig Carnaroli, Penn expects to report its own endowment performance at the University Trustees meeting in early November. Harvard's high return came in a year where the S&P; 500 -- an index of 500 blue-chip stocks -- increased only 7.3 percent. Harvard's endowment growth was largely driven by a high return in private equity funds, which constitute 15 percent of the university's portfolio. Carnaroli said he did not think Penn would be reporting growth parallel to Harvard's. "We don't expect to report as robust returns largely because what's fueling the growth of returns is private equity investment that our peers have," he explained. Penn has only 1 percent of its endowment in venture capital funds. However, the University hopes to bring that number to around 10 percent over the next several years. "The real thing separating Harvard's returns versus ours is really the venture capitalist piece," Carnaroli said. "This is the year where taking the risk really paid off." Penn's performance has lagged the S&P; 500 and other college endowments in recent years. Harvard Management Company -- which was created in 1974 to manage Harvard's endowment -- divides the university's 8,600 different investment funds into 11 asset classes and sets benchmarks for each. In the fiscal year ending June 30, nine of the 11 categories had outperformed the benchmarks set for them. "Venture capital drove our return this year, but we performed well in all asset classes," HMC President and Chief Executive Officer Jack Meyer said in a statement. In the past five years, private equity funds have performed exceedingly well, Carnaroli said, partly because of the growth of high technology and accompanying dot-com start-ups. Harvard's portfolio is more diverse compared to Penn's because of the sheer size of Harvard's endowment. "When you get to be the size of Harvard, you've got to look at every diversification tool," Carnaroli said. But the university also benefited greatly from the success of a seven-year capital campaign that ended in December 1999. The capital campaign set a record in higher education by raising $2.6 billion. Endowment income provided around $600 million of Harvard's operating budget of around $2 billion in FY 2000. Penn's endowment provided far less than $100 million of its $1.4 billion academic budget, which excludes the Health System.
A new corporation on campus is going to help students bring their business ideas to the commercial world. At its last meeting, the Executive Committee of Penn's Board of Trustees approved the creation of a not-for-profit corporation, P2B. The new company will help students, faculty or staff with business ideas and assist them in finding corporate support through four subject-specific incubators that are currently in development. "Like other institutions, there's so much intellectual capital here, and we've now created a frame around it that would help both the outside and our own faculty and students and staff to get the resources that they need," University President Judith Rodin said. Under P2B, there will be four main incubators -- infotech, biotechnology, distance learning and e-commerce. Each will work in conjunction with other companies to help create businesses. Bringing new businesses to University City is another goal of the program. One of the incubators is already underway. This summer, Penn found a partner for the infotech incubator that will support the development of fledgling computer companies. The RedLeaf Group, a technology operating company, announced in August that it would partner with Penn to create PenNetWorks. PenNetWorks will be located at an interim facility at 3535 Market Street and will be operational in October. Executive Vice President John Fry said the necessary resources for P2B would be minimal -- P2B will refer those with ideas to the incubators, where the bulk of investing and business development will occur. "The space is not going to be all that material," he said. "It'll be a pretty modest staff." Fry said he hoped to have P2B staffed by late November or early December, though he noted that work has already begun due to the partnership with RedLeaf. "In effect, it's already started," he said. Fry also said P2B is currently looking for partners for the other incubators. Because most of the actual business development work will be done within the subsidiaries, Fry said the main job of P2B will focus on three things -- telling people where to go with their ideas, creating new incubators and filling in the gaps for projects that don't neatly fit into one of the four subsidiaries. But, he added, this allows P2B to be flexible to the changing business world. "This isn't all down, tied and buttoned up," he said. "This is going to evolve." To cue students, faculty and staff into the development of the new business venture, the University intends on embarking on a P2B marketing campaign in the coming weeks, Fry said. "We're going to try and blanket the campus with this thing," he added. Penn's plan coincides with a trend in higher education to help ideas from within universities become businesses -- especially in the infotech sector. Stanford University, for example, is affiliated with e-SKOLAR, an Internet spin-off that caters to the professional medical community. And Open Channel, a University of Chicago affiliate, looks to provide technical support for open-source software. Fry said that the already advanced work of Penn's peer institutions -- like Stanford and Cornell universities -- helped provide an extra push to put P2B together. "We felt that we had had a little bit of a delayed response to what was going on," he explained. "Now some people will say that was a very good thing." Rodin will act as the founding chairwoman of P2B, while Fry will be the president of the company.
It looks like basketballs will soon be bouncing on a new court on campus after all. Construction was given the go-ahead on the new outdoor basketball court on the roof of a parking garage at 38th and Spruce streets yesterday after the University received the city's permission on Tuesday. The courts were supposed to be completed by the start of classes two weeks ago, but Penn could not secure a city zoning permit until now. "The issue was obtaining permits and having the permits go through the city process," Provost Robert Barchi said, adding that there were a few "technical issues that needed to be ironed out." But after the city's Department of Licenses and Inspections granted Penn's third request, Barchi notified the Undergraduate Assembly Executive Board that construction could finally begin. Barchi said he expects the courts will be completed by the end of October. And that, he said, is a "liberal" projection of how long it will take to build the court. "We think we can do it in a shorter time period," UA Chairman and College senior Michael Bassik said, explaining that the UA had been told it would only take four weeks to construct the court. Now that construction is underway, Barchi said he doesn't think the project will face any delays. "The project itself is fairly straightforward," he said. The new basketball court is a joint effort of the UA and the administration, which agreed in May to build the court on the roof of the parking garage. Early last year, a survey of students showed a need for more outdoor recreational spaces, prompting the UA to start discussing the possibility of new courts. The need became more apparent as further surveying revealed that the campus' existing basketball courts were consistently overcrowded and did not meet the needs of the University community. Construction of the court will cost the UA and the University between $80,000 and $100,000. In January, the UA raised $500 to kick in toward the project, and also used $30,000 of their budget to help see that the court gets constructed. The Development Office put $20,000 toward the court. Barchi had said that if the group secured $30,000 in funding, the administration would secure the rest. Bassik commended the work of the administration in helping see that the basketball court gets built. "This was not any fault of the administration, for the delay," he said. "The administration has kept their promise to the UA to build the court." Bassik said he was never frustrated with the permit process despite the fact that it took the University three tries to get a permit. In fact, he said, it was "much quicker than expected." Bassik added that he hoped to celebrate the opening of the court by pitting three UA members against three members of the administration -- including Barchi.
In the sports world, teams steal each other's superstars all the time. But academia could see a similar switch as Harvard University searches for a new president -- and perhaps steals a top Penn player. University President Judith Rodin, as one of the most respected college presidents in the country, seems to be a natural contender for the job. But the Penn alumna has rejected the notion that she would leave to run the Cambridge, Mass. institution. "I have no interest in being named the president of Harvard," she said. "I think Penn is a more exciting place, with a much more entrepreneurial spirit, and I would not leave here for Harvard." Harvard President Neil Rudenstine announced his decision to resign in May and will officially step down next June. "I think [Judith Rodin] would be an obvious candidate," School of Arts and Sciences Dean Samuel Preston said. Still, Preston added, "I think it's unlikely that Judith would leave Penn for another university presidency." Engineering Dean Eduardo Glandt said Harvard is liable to look for the same things in its new president as Penn typically has. "I would imagine that they would want to see the same thing in that person as we would want to see at Penn," he explained, citing vision, scholarship and strategic thinking as crucial. "This is exactly what we want," he added. Last fall, Rodin signed a non-binding "letter of agreement" that indicated her intention to remain at Penn for at least the next five years. After the 1996 election, she was mentioned for various top government appointments, and it's likely that her name will pop up again after November's elections. Rodin is currently in her seventh year at the University, the average tenure for college presidents nowadays. The Trustees have raised her salary every year since she took the job, and Trustees Chairman James Riepe has attributed that to her consistently strong performance at the top of Penn's administration. The Harvard search is still in the early stages. In mid-July, the six-member Harvard Corporation, along with three overseers, was charged with identifying Rudenstine's replacement. "The search is absolutely wide open at this point," Harvard spokesman Joe Wrinn said last week. Wrinn added that the Harvard Corporation has not yet identified a top list of contenders, nor have any possible candidates been officially notified. The committee sent 300,000 letters to Harvard faculty, students, staff and alumni to get the Harvard community's take on who the next president should be. According to Bruce Alton, the senior consultant at the academic headhunting firm Academic Search Consultation Service, these searches typically last around six months -- and are just as likely to yield an internal candidate as an external one. "Anything's a possibility," he said. "It all depends on the person." In the past, many of Harvard's presidents have both come from within the university and graduated from Harvard, though Wrinn cautioned that a Harvard background was not a requirement. "It is not technically a requirement to have attended Harvard," he explained. "In recent memory, however, most have had some affiliation to Harvard." Speculations that the current provost, Harvey Fineberg, might be called upon for the job have already arisen. "I have no idea who the Ocandidates' are, but Provost Fineberg would naturally be mentioned; he has been very successful as Provost and is widely liked and respected," Harvard Assistant Provost Sarah Ward said in an e-mail. Whoever Harvard's president may be, Wald said they need to have vision and a proven record. Preston said that aside from the obvious qualities of diplomatic skills and vision, Harvard needs to look for a president with stamina. "Maybe one of the significantly most important elements is makeup," he said. "It's an extremely grueling job." "What's unique about Harvard is you are more in the spotlight than elsewhere," Preston added. And Alton summed up the candidates for Harvard's presidency as "God on a good day."
In recent years, Penn's campus has expanded west and east, to the north and to the south. And the University's influence is now being felt overseas in Singapore. Last week, Singapore Prime Minister Goh Tok Chong met with University President Judith Rodin to talk about various ways the University can work with Singapore's developing industries. "It is very clear that people are recognizing that American industry is developing from the research engines in our University, and that fuels our economy," Rodin explained. This summer, a two-year long partnership between Penn and Singapore came to fruition when the new Singapore Management University admitted its first class. SMU's undergraduate business curriculum is largely modeled on Wharton's own course load, and its president is a former Wharton deputy dean. "They were very pleased with the cooperation they've gotten from Wharton," Rodin said of Singapore. But she said it is too soon to tell whether the program is an overall success. "We'll see after the first class how much they were able to develop the entrepreneurial business curriculum they were aspiring to," Rodin noted. Next on the agenda for Singapore and Penn: the life sciences. Rodin said on Thursday she and Goh discussed various ways the University could collaborate with the developing country. "We're still exploring what that collaboration might be," she said, noting that it could be anything from a greater number of students traveling to Singapore to joint ventures in research. "They're very eager to get up to speed in the life sciences," Rodin said. In Goh's day at Penn, he visited both the University City Sciences Center on Market Street and the Biomedical Research Building II/III laboratory -- all to familiarize himself with Penn's investment in the life sciences. Penn's involvement in the field of functional genomics grabbed the attention of Singapore, Rodin said. "They're very interested in functional genomics, which is something we've made a push in," she noted. But Rodin cautioned that nothing was decided yet. "We're still at an early stage," she said. To help plans move forward, the head of the Singapore Economic Development Board is expected to visit this fall. And the small South Asian archipelago nation has asked that Provost Robert Barchi take a Penn delegation to Singapore. While a partnership with Singapore will likely focus on helping the developing country catch up to the world's leading industrial countries, Penn has a few things to gain as well. "It helps us by exposing us in that part of the world," Wharton Vice Dean on Executive Education Robert Mittelstaedt said. And Rodin said that international partnerships expose the University to resources they might not already have, as well as get Penn's name out to more and more people. The University is likely to explore similar partnerships with other countries. "We're exploring some things with Great Britain; we're exploring some things with other countries," Rodin said. As to the possibility of students in Singapore waking up to find a University of Pennsylvania campus in their neighborhood, Rodin said it is not in Penn's plans. "Building a Penn somewhere else is probably not something we are going to do," she said.