The University lost one of its most revolutionary alumni ever on Saturday, when J. Presper Eckert -- one of the inventors of the world's first electronic digital computer, ENIAC -- died at the age of 76. Eckert, of Gladwyne, Pa. died on Saturday at Bryne Mawr Hospital after a long struggle with cancer. Unfortunately, this death came only six months before ENIAC's Fiftieth Anniversary Celebration at the University, for which Vice President Al Gore will be serving as an honorary Chairperson. Eckert, along with co-inventor John Mauchly, invented the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer in February 1946, which some experts believed to be the beginning and catalyst for the computer age. School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Dean Gregory Farrington knew Eckert personally, and called him a"truly engaging and fascinating man." "It was fun to be around him," he said. "His partnership with John Mauchly in creating ENIAC, is the stuff of legend, and ENIAC is widely credited with giving birth to the computer age and the now the information age. "While many creative people contributed to the development of computers, it was ENIAC that captured people's imagination and gave them a glimpse of the future," Farrington added. "From it, the computer industry began its exponential development, which continues to this day." Eckert began work along with Mauchly on ENIAC in 1943, as a 23 year old research associate at the University. The impetus for the gigantic computer was the U.S. army, who wanted to speed up calculations in order to aim their big guns. At the time it took about 12 hours to plot the flight of each projectile. But with the invention of ENIAC, a trajectory could be done in 30 seconds, 1,440 times faster. And on April 9, 1943, Eckert's 24th birthday, the Army gave the University $150,000 to start building the mammoth calculator. Two and a half years later, after 200 people spent sometimes 16 to 20 hours a day working on the project, it was finally completed on February 14,1946. The ENIAC weighed more than 30 tons and was comprised of 40 panels arranged in the shape of an 80 foot "U." The colossal machine contained 18,000 vacuum tubes, 500,00 soldered joints, 70,000 resistors and 10,000 capacitors. According to Paul Shaffer, curator of the Eniac Museum in the Moore Building , many scientists and engineers mocked the idea of using vacuum tubes. But, he added Eckert and Mauchly would not be dissuaded. "Eckert and Mauchly had the courage to proceed in what was obvious to many people at the time, a foolish task," Shaffer said. "They proved it could be done, and there was no turning back from there." Shaffer credits the ENIAC for the development of the space program and many other facets of people's daily lives. After ENIAC was completed, Eckert and Mauchly stayed at the University for a year before being fired over a dispute concerning the commercial rights of the machine. Later in 1946 the two founded the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation. In 1950 Remington Rand took over their company and eventually after a few mergers the company became known as the Unisys Corporation. Eckert, who was granted 87 U.S. patents, remained vice president of the Unisys Corp until 1989, when he retired. Some of the awards Eckert received over the years include the National Medal of Science awarded, which was given to him by Lyndon Johnson in 1969,the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University and the Howard N. Potts Medal of the Franklin Institute and the Philadelphia Award. Services were held yesterday at St. Christopher's Episcopal Church in Gladwyne. Burial followed at Valley Forge Memorial Gardens. Eckert is survived by his wife Judith and a daughter, three sons and 3 grandchildren.
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On May 19, Religious Studies Chair Ann Matter was awarded the inaugural Outstanding Teaching Award by the College Alumni Society -- the University's oldest alumni organization. In order to get candidates for this award, the organization sent surveys to members of Class of 1985, asking them to suggest a professor "whose knowledge, teaching style, philosophy, or advice really made a difference in their lives." In the words of one alumnus who filled out the survey, it was Matter's "immeasurable open-mindedness, depth and breadth of learning, approachability, and commitment to her student's success" that stayed with her even 10 years after graduation. Matter joined the faculty in 1976 as an assistant professor and was promoted to full professor in 1990. Consistently praised by students throughout her years at the University, Matter was awarded the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching in 1981. And this spring, Matter was one of five University professors to receive the Guggenheim Fellowship. Each year the Guggenheim Foundation grants $5 million to 200 researchers. The application process was comprehensive and competitive. To apply, each professor had to submit information on their research and careers. The foundation then contacted other leaders in the applicant's field for additional insight. Her research deals with the history of Christian culture, with emphasis on the Middle Ages. Some of her studies include the history of biblical exegesis, spirituality and mysticism, women's history and spirituality, music and the Christian tradition, and medieval textual studies. In addition to publishing various articles on these topics, Matter has published a book entitled, Voice of My Beloved: The Songs in Western Medieval Christianity. Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs in the College Kent Peterman described some of Matter's merits. "In conjunction with this substantial body of scholarship, her excellence as a teacher shines brightly indeed," he said. "This most recent recognition of her teaching demonstrates the impression she makes on her students endures years after they have left the University."
Three University students have died this week in unrelated incidents. College sophomore Emily Sachs died as a result of a heart attack triggered by an asthma attack early last Wednesday morning. Joseph Walters, a 40-year-old part-time student in the Computer Information Science masters program in the School of Engineering, also died after experiencing a cardiac arrest on Monday. And John Marshall, a PhD candidate in Bioengineering in the School of Engineering, died on Friday of natural causes. Sachs was visiting some friends on campus last Tuesday when she experienced an asthma attack, according to Assistant Vice Provost for University Life Barbara Cassel. Sachs had asked her friends to take her to the emergency room, where she was admitted and put on a respirator. During the course of the night, she suffered a cardiac arrest and could not be resuscitated. Her mother, Jo-Ann Sachs, said she is still trying to figure out why this happened. "I sent her off at a quarter to four last Tuesday perfectly healthy," she said. "And then she died the next day. There was nothing wrong with her except asthma." Walters was found dead in his hotel room in Cambridge, Massachusetts last Monday, where he was attending a class for his job. He was a senior systems programmer. Marshall had taken a medical leave from the University last fall. Cassel said she did not know what his illness was. Sachs was diagnosed with asthma at the age of two. But friends said she never let it get in her way. College sophomore Marla Snyder, who described her as "by far the most genuine human being I think I have ever met," said she never let her condition affect her life. "She accomplished more in 19 years than any of us could expect to accomplish in a lifetime," Snyder said. She said Sachs was always referred to as 'little Em' because she was only five feet tall. "But she was definitely not small in spirit," she added. Snyder said she had never been as close with anyone as she was with Sachs, adding that they often referred to each other as sisters. The two were planning to live together next year. "We couldn't wait to decorate and hold dinner parties," Snyder said. "Our house was going to be constantly open for permanent socialization." She said she will always remember Sachs's laugh, adding that "she made every situation light up with her laugh. "She was always giggling no matter what," Snyder added. "She had the cutest laugh. She had a very playful soul to her." Class of 1995 graduate Tracy Layland also remembered Sachs's joviality. "She was so happy," she said. "She made everyone else happy she was around. Layland described the first time she met Sachs. "I have this memory of talking to her before the beginning of her freshman year and she was so excited and loved Penn so much," Layland said. Sachs, who was a member of the Chi Omega sorority, was an accomplished dancer and singer. She won both the Miss Dance Pennsylvania title and the Miss Teen Dance New York City title. "To her, that was her greatest accomplishment, winning Miss Dance New York City," Snyder said. "She was determined to be on Broadway. And she would have been." Layland, who was in the Arts House Dance Company with Sachs, agreed that she was tremendously talented. "As a dancer she was just amazing," she said. "Probably one of the best dancers if not the best dancer we ever had." Sachs was scheduled to direct the dance program at a camp this summer. Services were held for Sachs on Friday at the Har Zion Temple in Trenton, New Jersey. So many people attended that it was standing room only. Sachs's family set up a memorial fund at the temple, where contributions in her memory can be sent. The address is 491 Bellvue Avenue, Trenton New Jersey 08618. Sachs is survived by her parents Jo-Ann and James and her 15-year-old brother Andrew. Services for Walters were held Saturday at the Wilde Funeral Home in Parksberg, Pennsylvania. He is survived by his wife Nicki and his three children. A memorial service for Marshall was held at his home in Haddon Heights, New Jersey on Tuesday.
While most students fled campus in mid-May, many remain on campus for the summer. "Everybody's gone," complained College junior Shannon Bisbee, who is staying around to take a course in underage drinking. And with a smaller number of students on campus, there are fewer activities available for them to engage in. Many students noted that fraternities, sororities and other organizations are less active over the summer. Yun Sheng Liu, a College freshman and member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity, said the social life during the summer is "somewhat boring [because] you don't have frat parties." But despite the diminished amount of activities, most students reported that they enjoy the University over the summer more than during the rest of the academic year. Wharton junior Paul Wylie agreed, adding that the course load during the summer is not as intense. "The summer is much calmer and less stressful, with a lot more free time," he said. With fewer people around, University students have come up with alternative ways to have fun over the weekends. Yaakov Mandelbaum, a recent graduate, said that during the summer he does "a lot more things in the open," such as dining on "the Green" and taking walks. He added that he has the time to regularly cook in his apartment, giving him the opportunity to sharpen his culinary skills. But some students reported that without friends around, the social life can get pretty boring. "It's kind of dead if you don't know people who live here during the summer," College of General Studies senior Susan Siegel said. "I don't bother taking time to find interesting things to do, night-life wise." And campus life can be different, even for students with established groups of friends. While College sophomore Nilam Patel and her friends do not "go clubbing" on weekends anymore, they find other ways to spend their time. "This weekend everybody cooked dinner together and little things like that," she explained. And the benefits abound if you are old enough to legally drink. Engineering School graduate Alex Gizis said he and his friends enjoy the summer because, "we've got the bars more to ourselves." "It's not so crowded and obnoxious," he said.
The doctor is in this summer at the University's Anonymous HIV Testing Site. Although campus activity slows down during summertime, the site -- which offers free HIV counseling and testing to the Penn community -- will operate on its regular schedule. Even in these months demand is steady, according to Kurt Conklin, a health educator in the University's Office of Health Education. Indeed, demand for the free services has been consistently high since the opening of the facility in October 1993. Since that time, the site has seen over 1,000 people, Conklin said. Project Coordinator Delores Solivan estimated that 15 to 25 people visit the center each Thursday. While the patients are mostly University students, the site is also frequented by faculty, employees and members of the surrounding community, Conklin said. While many patients visit the center in response to an experience such as sex, some visit the testing site out of routine regard for their health. "It is natural for a student to be worried about HIV, especially after an incident has happened that concerned them," Conklin said. "[However] many students are proactive about their health, just to get peace of mind." Solivan said patients are offered one-on-one counseling before being tested. "A counseling session involves reviewing HIV, what it means, asking the client why they want to be tested, and discussion concerning safer sex [and] drug use," she added. Conklin said this distinguishes the site from other testing centers, because "many places that do HIV testing do not offer any counseling." Although the facility is located in the Dental School, Solivan said it is not managed by the University, adding that the site is operated by the Women's Anonymous Test Site of Hahnemann University Hospital. "All Penn does is provide the space in the Dental School and some supplies," said Solivan. "The University has been really great so far in providing support for us." Because the service is anonymous, Conklin could not disclose whether any patients have been diagnosed as HIV-positive. However, he did insist that patient satisfaction is very high nonetheless. He said the feedback from an ongoing patient survey has been "overwhelmingly positive."
Harvard University was struck by severe tragedy last Sunday when a student viciously stabbed her roommate to death and then hung herself in the bathroom. Another student was also stabbed in the incident. Harvard junior Sinedu Tadesse stabbed her roommate, junior Trang Ho 45 times. Tadesse also stabbed Thao Nguyen, a 26 year old resident of Lowell, Massachusetts who was visiting Ho at the time of the stabbing. According to Martin Murphy, the first assistant district attorney of Middlesex Count, Ho woke up during the ordeal and tried to block the knife, as evidenced by wounds to her hands. Police have been trying to piece together this extremely violent crime, deemed the worst in "at least two decades" by the school newspaper, The Harvard Crimson. Some officials and Nguyen believe the attack may have been planned as evidenced by a cryptic note that was sent to the Crimson last Tuesday. Along with the note there was a photograph of Tadesse. "Keep this picture," the note said. "There will soon be a very juicy story involving the person in the picture." The Crimson received the note, which had no stamp or postmark. After the events of Sunday morning, the Crimson contacted the Harvard University Police Department, which dispatched investigators to search through a garbage dumpster outside the school newspaper's building. The police recovered the envelope and photo. One possible motive that family and friends have been speculating about is the recently soured relationship between the two roommates, who had lived together for the past two years in the Dunster House dormitory. The relationship tensed up when Ho decided that she wanted to room with someone other than Tadesse next year. A letter sent by Tadesse to Ho last month echoes backs this theory up. "I thought we were going to do stuff together, you'll always have a family to go to and I am going to have no one," Tadesse wrote, the Boston Globe reported. Both Ho and Tadesse went through intense struggles to finally get to Harvard as pre-med majors. Ho, a native of Vietnam, had fled Vietnam on a boat along with her father and older sister about ten years ago. And Tadesse, the daughter of provincial school administrator in the poverty-stricken Ethiopia, won a scholarship to attend Harvard. A 1993 Boston magazine article listed Ho as one of the "25 Who Can Save Boston."
After over four years of planning and discussion, the Institute for Advanced Science and Technology may actually become a reality. On Tuesday, Air Force Spokesperson Jane Knowlton confirmed that the Air Force had signed a Record of Decision that day, giving the University the last piece of government information it needs to demolish Smith Hall and begin the construction of the high-tech building. According to Vice President for Facilities Management Arthur Gravina, this means that the Air Force has evaluated all of the alternatives, and agreed that our siting for the IAST is ideal. As a result, they will release the funds necessary to build the first phase, which is the construction of the new building. While Gravina could not give an exact figure, as of March the Air Force had already allocated $23.75 million in grant money for the entire project, according to Associate Director for Federal Relations Carl Maugeri. It's total contribution could reach $35 million. Vice Provost for Research Barry Cooperman estimated in March that the construction phase of the project will cost between $44 and $50 million. Now that the University has financial commitments lined up, it has to obtain a demolition permit from the city to tear down Smith Hall. Gravina said if all goes well, Smith Hall will be demolished sometime this summer. The project began in 1991, when the federal government selected the University as the site for the IAST. The project was then turned over to the Department of Defense and subsequently to the Air Force. The building was slated to house space for the Chemistry Department, additional Chemical Engineering laboratories and research space for the Bioengineering Department. Three years ago, the Air Force began an Environmental Impact Study, analyzing the plan's historical and environmental significance, focusing specifically on Smith Hall. In March, the Air Force finally completed the EIS, deeming the site appropriate. And with the release of the Record of Decision, it is official. Phase two of the project consists of remodeling the Morgan Building and the Music Building and constructing a new wing that will connect the two buildings from the rear. For the third phase, the University will construct an engineering-science library in Hayden Hall. This will be expensive, and may take a long time to construct. The fourth and final phase of the project is the retro-renovating of space in both the engineering and chemical complexes. Because this phase is routine renovation work, its budget can be cut if the project gets too expensive. Gravina estimates that the entire project will take two years to complete.
The quality of academia is on the rise even in the early months of summer at the University. Phase one of the 21st-century Penn Undergraduate Experience was released in the Almanac last Thursday by the Provost's Council on Undergraduate Education. Phase one was given by PCUE which is comprised of nine subcommittees of students, faculty and staff and is chaired by Provost Stanley Chodorow. According to the Almanac, this was the first step towards planning a design which would deal both -- directly and indirectly -- with students' undergraduate experience at Penn. Chodorow said that the premise of phase one is to, "provide a basis for a process of of experimentation with curriculum, service learning, the expansion of research opportunities for undergraduates, and the development of collegiate communities." "I wrote most of it, approved all of it, and chaired the committee that prepared it," Chodorow added. However, some question Chodorow's enthusiasm concerning the plan. College senior and Undergraduate Chairperson Lance Rogers believed that although he saw potential in the phase one version, there were ambiguous elements in the document's semantics. "From my first look at it, it seems pretty broad, pretty extensive, and pretty vague," said Rogers. "There are some interesting ideas -- definitely some good ideas," Rogers added. "As to how they will be carried out, that remains to be seen." For instance, the plan outlines the ideas of changing the undergraduate experience by stressing research collaborations, redefining the boundaries of the schools and promoting community service, he said. Rogers said that he felt the ideas were good ones, but he questioned whether they were probable. "[Students and faculty as collaborators in the search for knowledge], that is a great idea and a great premise," said Rogers, "However , student and faculty still don't have places to go where both can get together to hang out in an informal setting. "One of the first things you should do is to make sure the professors speak English," added Rogers. In reading over the first copy of Phase one, Rogers noted that the plan was written that left more to be desired. "I would like to look at the specifics of this plan," said Rogers, "Right now it sounds like a lot of mumbo-jumbo although I'm sure it has a lot of potential and will benefit students in the future." Phase two will follow phase one and will organize and monitor the progress of the present committees. The Council of Undergraduate Deans will take over and become steering committee for the 21st-Century Project, which is chaired by the Provost.
Generally when things appear to be to good to be true, they are. And the University, like the 300 other organizations that stand to loose millions from the Foundation for New Era Philanthropy "ponzi" scheme, have also learned their lesson. Currently the University has a total of $1,550,000 invested in New Era, according to a letter written by Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Virginia Clark to alumni over the Alumni Weekend. The $1,550,000 is awaiting matching funds, which the University will never see since New Era filed for bankruptcy on May 15. Although the University, stands to loose over $1 million, compared to other institutions, the University sustained little damage. The University did not even appear on a list of New Era's twenty largest creditors. "From the beginning, it was clearly recognized that the New Era program was out of the ordinary," Clark wrote in the letter. "On a continuing basis, the University reviewed the foundation's track record with other institutions, its tax returns and available financial statements. "The experience of other institutions was quite positive," she added in the letter. "Even so, Penn's involvement was strictly limited – as was intended." In a new development, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported on Sunday that some of the money meant for charity went to the family of the organization's founder, John Bennett Jr. Bennett loaned his daughter and future son in law $227,000 less than a month before the bankruptcy so they could buy a new home, the newspaper said. And Bennett owned a $57,000 Lexus and took home about $27,000 a week this year in consultant fees, money that was earmarked for charity. New Era, which is based in Radnor, Pennsylvania, and has offices in London and Hong Kong, promoted itself as an innovative new charity capable of doubling nonprofit institutions' money by soliciting matching funds from a pool of anonymous wealthy donors who supposedly relied on the charity to find worthy causes. Along with the University, thousands of nonprofit organizations deposited their money with New Era, which said it would hold the funds for six months in brokerage accounts – rather than in escrow – and claimed to be investing it in certificates of deposit or treasury bills while finding matching donors. But according to New Era's attorneys, Bennett admitted to his staff that the anonymous wealthy donors, which were supposed to act as the source of funds for the charity, do not really exist. Bankruptcy Trustee John Carroll III verified last week that the anonymous donors never existed, estimating that the foundation had debts of $175 million to $200 million and assets of $30 million. The Pennsylvania Attorney General Office, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Philadelphia and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission are now investigation whether New Era is anything more than an elaborate pyramid scheme. Pyramid or "Ponzi" schemes promise victims huge returns on their investments and produce the illusion of financial success by paying off early investors with the money donated by later victims. The scheme eventually collapses when no more investors can be found – or the operator disappears with the pooled funds.
The play Arcadia by Tom Stoppard has been selected for this year's Penn Reading Project. According to Academic Programs in Residence Director Christopher Dennis, the text was chosen because of the wide range of topics it addresses. Dennis described Arcadia as "a play about the intersection of two groups of people separated in time by almost two centuries, but connected by blood, culture, science, mathematics, literature and even landscape into a common human situation." "It is a very fresh, very compelling text and one that I think our new students will find lively and interesting," he said. He added that the play is similar to some of the works chosen for the project in previous years. "Like Einstein's Dreams, it combines sort of a good vibrant narrative with some interesting approaches of science and issues of the time," he said. The book was chosen from a pool of approximately 200 works. William Shakespeare's The Tempest, Albert Camus' The Stranger and Charles Dickens' Hard Times were among the works that made the final cut. The Residential Faculty Council formed the core of the project's planning group, according to Dennis. There were also two student representatives from the Student Committee on Undergraduate Education involved in the decision. "The group met and narrowed selections," Dennis said. "And finally we got a book that we thought offered a lot of different attractions ? to people of many different disciplines." Arcadia was published two years ago, and was first produced in London. Dennis said the play "is widely identified as the most important work of one of the world's most distinguished living dramatic artists." The Penn Reading Project was introduced four years ago as an intellectual gateway for incoming students to the University. It is intended to introduce students to faculty members and each other. Previous years have featured such texts as Bacchae and Frankenstein. A copy of Arcadia has been sent to every incoming freshman. These students will be involved in discussion sessions with faculty members on September 3.
Provost Stanley Chodorow read the minds of many students sitting in Irvine Auditorium Saturday afternoon. "You may be asking yourself why would we invite the Secretary of Agriculture to speak at one of the nation's urban universities," he said in his introduction of Ivy Day speaker Dan Glickman. And, to the amusement of many audience members, he promptly answered this seemingly pertinent question. "Traditionally, a large part of our student body has been drawn from the vast potato fields -- of Long Island," he began. "Moreover, many of you are graduating from the Wharton School, which has a long promoted interest in soybean and wheat futures," he added. "It's no coincidence that Dan Glickman has served six years as chairman of a subcommittee on general farm commodities and as its predecessor a subcommittee on wheat, soybean and peach trees." After a more serious introduction, Glickman took over the podium and showed that he too could laugh at himself . "I think it was about 33 years ago that I either tried to get into Penn and applied, but was rejected, or I was told that my SAT scores were so bad that I shouldn't even try to get in," he began. "So I am honored that you either thought enough of me, or regretted not letting me in 33 years ago, to invite me here today." Glickman then added to the growing list of reasons why he is an appropriate speaker. "Some of you may not know that ivy is one of the leading agricultural commodities in this country," he explained. After entertaining the audience with his favorite chicken joke, Glickman proceeded to give the seniors some "gratuitous advice." But first, he assured the students that this speech would not be like his typical speeches. "Today, for the first time since I took the office of Secretary of Agriculture two months ago, I don't want to talk about the 1995 Farm Bill," Glickman said. "That will be something of a relief to me, and I know that will be a relief to you." In its place, he offered his top five list of adages by Ben Franklin, with his apologies to David Letterman, interspersing the Franklin quotes with humorous vignettes from his life. Glickman left his audience with a piece of sage advice. "Let me close by saying one final thing," he said. "Even he who sits on the highest throne, still sits on his own ass." Next on the Ivy Day agenda was an awards ceremony to recognize some of the outstanding members of the Class of 1995. This was followed by an Ivy Ceremony, led by acting Vice Provost of University Life Valarie Swain-Cade McCoullum, senior class president Loren Mendell and co-captain of the Football team Michael Turner. The three led students to the area between Logan Hall and Van Pelt Library -- the site chosen by the Class of 1995. "We unveiled the stone, and then Pup and Loren planted the ivy in the tree right next to the button," McCoullum said. The spot is significant because "it is at the crossroads of Penn," she explained, calling it "an essential and important locus of student life on the campus." McCoullum added that the class had originally considered putting their stone in Houston Hall. "But my understanding was that they wanted to give that honor to a subsequent class, particularly with next year's 100th anniversary," she said.
It is the end of an era for the University's Baccalaureate Ceremony. University Chaplain Stanley Johnson has been a part of every Baccalaureate ceremony since 1961. But this year marked his last opportunity to address the senior class in this manner, since he is retiring at the end of June. Over 2,000 students and their families packed into Irvine Auditorium to take part in this hour long spiritual ceremony. But before the man who Provost Stanley Chodorow introduced as "as much apart of Penn as this space we are in" made his final speech, the audience was treated to multiple religious readings by their peers-- including one by graduating Wharton senior and Quaker Guard Jerome Allen. Then University President Judith Rodin spoke to the students about the meaning of the ceremony. "What we do here today can be as important as any other aspect of your four years at Penn," she said. Rodin added that "coming together to think honestly and creatively is really what a University is all about." And since the purpose of a Baccalaureate is for its participants to stop and think, Rodin concluded by sharing her thoughts with the audience. "I want you to know that you know that you will all be in my thoughts, as I hope Penn will be in yours," she said. Before giving the microphone over to Johnson, Chodorow expressed his disappointment that the Chaplain would no longer be easily reached for service. "But I know that although he won't be in his office, I will be able to find him at a Penn football or basketball game," Chodorow said. "And maybe even at a Baccalaureate or Commencement or two." Johnson spent most of his speech discussing the three major changes that he has seen during his tenure that "have made Penn a much different community than I once knew." These included a change in demographics, a new attitude among students and an increased level of diversity. "These changes are mirrored in the world," he said. Afterwards there was a mixed reaction from students who attended the ceremony. College senior Dan Hurwitz said he thought "it was pretty nifty." "I was surprised how choked up I got at the end of the Chaplain's address," he added. But other students felt the event left something to be desired. "I thought the Chaplain's speech was honestly way too long," College senior Adam Morgenthaw said. "But I thought Judith's speech was excellent."
Alumni swarmed the University last weekend, visiting the place where they left their college days behind. And many left something different behind when they returned home-- a piece of their checkbook. According to Penn Fund Director Jerry Condon, the fund should end the fiscal year with $6.7 million in donations from classes. He said this is more than what his department raised last year, adding that this is encouraging considering that they were raising money in competition with the Campaign for Penn project. "In asking alumni to give to both campaigns, it is very good to know that they will continue to support their individual programs here," Condon said. He said the amount of Penn Fund donations have been growing over the last few years. He added that he attributes this increase to a number of factors, including University President Judith Rodin's ability to generate enthusiasm. Other factors Condon mentioned are the University's success in Ivy League athletics and the increased rating of the school. "I think people are very impressed with how Penn is doing," he said. Fourteen different classes convened on campus over the weekend to celebrate there quintenial reunions, Condon said. Although these classes will continue to raise money through the end of the fiscal year, they try to reach their predesignated goals by Alumni Weekend, he said, adding that most have "just about met their goals." "Some are short, but I expect they will do well by the end of their fiscal year," he said. The specific goal varies by the class. Condon said that alumni celebrating their 25th reunion, usually set the highest goal. This year, the Class of 1970 raised more than one million dollars, becoming the 11th straight 25th reunion class to do so, he added. The class slated $500,000 of its gift to go towards a commons area in the Perelman Quadrangle and $200,000 to endow a term chair to "support a faculty member who is either a woman or a minority." Condon added that the rest of the funds were donated by individuals to scholarships or other restricted purposes. But the Class of 1965 beat all other classes this year by raising over $2.2 million, which they donated towards an auditorium in the Perelman Quad.
Gall bladder surgery has been on the rise since a less evasive procedure for gall bladder removal was introduced in 1989, according to a new study done by University Medical Professor Jose Escarce. The study, published yesterday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, reports that gallbladder surgery has increased 22 percent since the new procedure was implemented in 1989. The procedure, called laparoscopic cholecystectomy, is less evasive because it uses a scope inserted into the abdomen, rather than an open incision. And the newer method is less expansive and less painful than the traditional surgery, allowing patients to recover faster. According to the article, the procedure is cheaper because the surgery is less expansive and the incidence of disease following surgery is greatly reduced. Escarce focused his research on Medicare claims for patients aged 65 years or older who lived in Pennsylvania and had their gall bladders removed between 1986 and 1993. "We found that cholecystectomy rates (rates of surgery for gall bladder removal) among elderly Medicare beneficiaries in Pennsylvania were stable in the years immediately preceding the introduction of laparoscopic cholecystectomy in 1989, but subsequently increased rapidly," the authors of the article wrote. "The 22 percent increase in the annual cholecystectomy rate is only slightly lower than that reported for younger populations." But the ease of the new technique has caused some patients to throw caution into the wind and opt for surgery when it is not necessary, an editorial in the journal warned. "It is important that physicians and patients not be tempted into doing surgery just because the surgery now seems easier and because the patient has some symptoms that 'might be related to gallstones," wrote David Ransohoff of the Department of Epidemiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Charles McSherry of the Department of Surgery at Cornell University Medical College. "We need to save the procedure for persons who can really benefit."
State high court refuses PILCOP appeal The long-standing Mayor's Scholarship controversy has finally ended after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of the case last Thursday. Michael Churchill, an attorney for the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia -- the group that has fought to gain more scholarships for Philadelphia students -- said he was very disappointed by the court's decision. "I think it's very unfortunate that the Supreme Court would not even hear a case that was obviously as important as this matter," Churchill said. "The concept that no-one except the mayor can seek to enforce a city ordinance seems to be a terrible rule that leaves no independent force to guard against corruption and negligence in an important public matter." University President Judith Rodin was happy with the court's decision. "We are pleased that the Supreme Court has finally resolved this matter, and that the legal position we and the city took upheld," she said. "What is critical now is that our strong commitment to Philadelphia be recognized. "As a measure of that commitment, we are aggressively implementing the mayor's scholarship program and we have intensified our recruitment of students from the community," she added. The case has been in litigation for over three years and it took an unprecedented three re-arguments before the Commonwealth Court ruled in December four to three in favor of the University and the City. According to an agreement signed in 1977, a set number of scholarships are to be awarded to Philadelphia residents by the University in exchange for 50 acres of rent-free land. Mayor's Scholars are selected by the Mayor's Scholarship Committee, whose members are appointed by Mayor Ed Rendell. The average Mayor's Scholarship package includes $18,806 in grants from the University. PILCOP sued the University in 1991, claiming that the 1977 agreement provided for 125 scholarships per year, for a total of 500 scholarships. But the the University contended that the 1977 agreement was for a total of 125 scholarships throughout the school, not for each incoming class. Judge Nelson Diaz ruled in favor of the University in February 1993, but also stated that the University must provide complete support for scholarship recipients. In PILCOP's appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court they asked the court to reverse the Commonwealth Court's decision "on its merits" and also to look into a possible conflict of interest on Chief Judge James Colins part in the four to three decision. PILCOP claims that Colins has a close relationship with both plaintiffs. Churchill alleges that Rendell appointed Colins to head his Riverfront Gambling Commission and that Colins attends all the Quaker home basketball games. Also, Colins has been active in University Alumni activities, according to PILCOP. PILCOP asked Colins to recuse himself because of his association with the University and the city, but Colins refused. But not everything Churchill said about the University was negative. "I'm heartened that the University has been making progress in rectifying the terrible record they had in early 1980's," Churchill said.
The Class of 1995 was unable to meet the challenge. As the graduating seniors gathered at Superblock around 9:15 Monday morning, preparing to embark on the traditional march to Commencement at Franklin Field, organizers challenged the mass to complete the journey in fifteen minutes in order to be on time for their own ceremony. Lined up by school, the seniors spilled out onto Locust Walk. Caught up in the moment, they took their time making their way to Commencement. The entire class had converged for only the third time in four years, and they would never be together again. Many seniors had taken the opportunity to personalize their mortarboards, as they thanked their parents, pleaded for jobs and paid homage to such diverse figures as Batman and Miss Piggy. By the time the last senior was seated, it was ten o'clock, but officials did not seem overly concerned with the lateness. In the opening remarks of her first Commencement as the University's President, Judith Rodin remarked on how the Class of 1995 would always occupy a special place in her heart. She continued by recalling her own graduation ceremony in 1966, marvelling at the changes the world had seen since that year. Most seniors listened attentively to her speech, cheering loudly. But a few members of the Wharton undergraduate division found it hard to contain their excitement, and began to bounce a beachball from person to person as Rodin spoke. Jane Alexander, an Emmy and Tony Award winning actress and the Chairperson of the National Endowment for the Arts, then took the podium to deliver the commencement address. After briefly congratulating the class on its achievements and commenting on the significance of the day, she launched into a plea for support for her agency. Alexander urged the audience to "believe in the power of the arts to help us think how we should live." "As we approach the millennium, let's celebrate ourselves through the arts, the humanities, and reinvigorate the sense of community that is the heart and soul of our American dream" she said. Overall, the class responded positively to Alexander's speech, although some questioned its relevance to the ceremony. And although a few students were irritated by the content of Alexander's speech, most agreed that nothing could spoil the meaning of the day. "It was one hell of a ceremony," said College senior Jason Strauss. "It was beautiful. I don't think the speech was applicable, and I know it really annoyed some Whartonites, but I still enjoyed it. It was great."
Their road to graduation may have taken a little longer, but for Wharton evening students graduation is just as sweet. And in celebration of their accomplishments, a reception was held at the Double Tree Inn in Center City on Sunday featuring speeches by Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell and Channel 10 anchor Renee Chenault. Approximately 85 parents, graduates and friends gathered on the third floor of the hotel to eat, drink and reminisce. Chenault told the graduates that she shares a certain "kinship" with them because she is a University alumna. She gave the audience some words of advice. "I'm here to congratulate you, but I'm also here to challenge," Chenault said. "It's important to give back." She also gave the students some background on her life, so they could see how she got to where she is today. After graduating from the University's Law School in the early 1980's, Chenault joined a New York law firm, but decided that law was not how she envisioned it. Growing up in the 1960's during the Civil Rights movement, Chenault wanted to be an agent for social change. She said she saw law as her opportunity to further that end. But after three years of practicing, she said that law was not accomplishing what she thought it would. So she went back to college, earned a degree in journalism and made a third of the salary she was paid as an attorney. But she said she had no regrets because she "absolutely positively loves" journalism and its ability to send important messages to the public. After Chenault's speech, Rendell briefly congratulated the Wharton students. He then switched the format of the event to a question and answer session. Topics raised ranged from Quaker basketball to Rendell's re-election campaign. At one point, he told the audience how he had recently been asked to be in a Top Ten segment of The Late Show with David Letterman. Mayors from all across the country were called upon to respond to New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani statement that "Our city can kick your city's ass." For Rendell's response, he stood in front of the Liberty Bell and said, "Ring this." Unfortunately, the bit never appeared on the show because of election rules limiting the air time a candidate can receive. After Rendell's question and answer session, graduates and guests were treated to a scrumptious brunch.
When artists join up with archaeologists, the results can be quite remarkable. Since 1990, more than 35 work-study students from the University have done just that. And the most recent product of this partnership can be seen on display at the University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. "Illuminating the Past: The Art and Artists of the Ban Chiang Project" focuses on technical drawings of artifacts such as pottery, jewelry and skeletons. The exhibit features more than 70 drawings -- each done in either pencil or pen and ink -- depicting artifacts, burials and cemeteries. According to Ban Chiang Project Director Joyce White, University student artists worked with archaeologists to understand and reproduce the artifacts. The artists would accompany the archaeologists to the sites and use the ancient objects or photographs discovered as models for their works. White, who is a research archaeologist for the museum, said she served as the intermediary between the archaeologists and the artists. "I worked to strengthen their partnership," she said. "The artists are the eyes and hands, and I am their interpreter." The illustrations reveal information about the meaning and internal structure of the artifacts, White explained. "In creating technical drawings, the artist can make choices of interpretation and show details that a photograph cannot," she added. Some of the student artists said they found the experience both challenging and rewarding. "Doing this kind of art is much more scientific and exact than what I had been used to doing," College senior Julia Wiland said. "You cannot use your imagination in producing an accurate representation of an artifact." Wiland, who also worked as a research assistant for the exhibit, added that a great deal of preparation went into the display. "The planning included a preliminary selection of the illustrations and five rounds of narrowing down which look best for display," she said. The drawings will be immortalized in scholarly reports on Ban Chiang, which will be published in archaeological books and monographs. This pleased many of the artists, including College senior Stephen Houghton. "I'm very proud to see my work exhibited for the first time," he said. "But even more important is the idea that, through publication, my work will be exhibited across the world for scholars." The first volume of a monograph series on the Ban Chiang research is slated to be published in 1997. The exhibit will be on display in the University Museum until August 31.
The Association of Alumnae announced its senior merit awards earlier this month at the organization's annual meeting. The Continuing Education Award was given to Elizabeth Wolf for her "high level of commitment to studies" in the Continuing Education Program of the College of General Studies, according to Binnie Donald, chairperson of the association's Awards Committee. Wolf, a 34-year-old social science major, worked part time through her education while raising two children. She has also applied to law school after achieving a 3.86 grade point average in her CGS classes. "Studying at Penn was beyond my wildest dreams," Wolf wrote in her application for the award. Engineering senior Shelly Bowers, four-year varsity starter for the women's basketball team, received the Fathers' Trophy, which is given to an outstanding female scholar-athlete. Bowers, who hails from Allentown, Pa., is graduating with a degree in bioengineering. She has served as a lab technician at the Institute for Environmental Medicine and developed a toy for cerebral palsy patients as part of her senior engineering design project, according to Ruth Fields, who presented the award to Bowers. On the court, Bowers was ranked fifth highest on the University's all-time scoring list with 1,083 points. She averaged 4.4 assists per game on this year's season and had a career scoring high of 24 points in a game. The Fathers' Trophy was created in 1945 by a group of fathers of female University students as a companion award to the Class of 1915 trophy, which goes to a male scholar-athlete. The Fathers' Trophy is on display in Weightman Hall. "Pennsylvania offered me the perfect niche between varsity athletics and top notch academics," Bowers wrote in her application for the Trophy. Both women were honored with silver plaques at the association's meeting May 9.
When graduating seniors first arrived at the University in 1991, scaffolding surrounded Logan Hall. But if the weather cooperates and all goes as planned, seniors will be able to get their first unobstructed view of the building's exterior just in time for Commencement. According to Physical Plant Executive Director James Wargo, all of the scaffolding surrounding the building should be completely removed by May 23. Plans also call for the tarp covering the front of College Hall to be removed in time for Alumni Weekend so visitors can see the progress being made on the building's ongoing renovation. But if rain or last minute problems plague workers, the Class of 1995 will have to wait for future alumni weekends to see the restored buildings. Vice President of Facilities Management Art Gravina said the finishing steps on the outside of both buildings would not be rushed in order to meet the time deadline. "While we want to show it off, we worked too hard and won't want it done in a mediocre way," Gravina said. "I don't want to have the scaffold down and then have to rebuild it." Logan Hall has undergone renovations since 1989, when University officials first decided to repair the building's aging roof. "Then we found the chimney was a disaster and and the whole building needed repair," Gravina said. "It became evident we couldn't do anything the way we originally approached it." After the renovation process was reevaluated, occupants of departmental offices and classrooms in the building were relocated. Renovation then began again. "It didn't go quite as planned," Gravina said. But now, six years after the renovations first started, Logan Hall's exterior is nearly complete. "The exterior of the building will be structurally sound and totally rehabilitated," Gravina said, adding that the reconstruction should provide another 50 years of life for the building before additional repairs will be required. Facilities Management is also working with the School of Arts and Sciences -- which had numerous departments originally housed in Logan Hall -- to determine how the interior will be designed, reworked and restored. These plans will depend on the design of the new Perelman Quadrangle, the construction of which affects Logan, along with Houston Hall, Williams Hall and Irvine Auditorium. At this point, the Perelman plans for Logan include restoring the building's "grand staircase" and skylight, as well as creating a "dramatic" entranceway. Officials are also planning to hasten the renovation of College Hall this summer by moving the History Department from the building in August, Gravina said. Other work to both buildings will be completed over the summer.