Monthly Archives: May 2011

Penn Fine Arts Abroad

Thanks to a generous gift by Howard A. Silverstein, W’69, and his wife, Patricia Belznak Silverstein, C’81, PennDesign students have been able to participate in the Howard A. Silverstein and Patricia Belznak Silverstein Studios Abroad. Offered every two years, these studios allow a number of undergraduates and graduates from Penn Design the rare opportunity to travel to an exciting, developing city and immerse themselves in its sights and culture.

In 2009, several friends of mine were able to go to Beijing, China where they lived and created work (and blogged). When they returned from the trip, jet-lagged and dazed, I was amazed by the stories, videos and images they shared as they unpacked all their equipment and files–it took every ounce of self-control I could muster not to feel terribly jealous. Several weeks later, I was equally floored at how quickly they were able to turn around work for the gallery show.

PennDesign in the Forbidden City, Beijing

East West South North - show card

The work was surprising, beautiful and inspiring.  The show received a review from the Philadelphia Inquirer, and Penn’s President Amy Gutmann viewed the show with commentary by the artists. Click here to view more photos from her visit to the gallery.

Student describing work to Penn President Amy Gutmann

This year, fourteen undergraduate and graduate students traveled to Mumbai, India to create work for Populous Flows. Again, I was floored by the beauty, color and life in the images and videos. Again, I could really only act like I wasn’t completely and utterly jealous that these students, faculty members and staff were able to experience Mumbai so closely.

Penn Design in Agra, India

The following images were created by a faculty member and a staff member–both of whom I truly admire and respect. The first image was taken with and iPhone and does the piece absolutely no justice. I apologize…

Image from Populous Flows

And amid the hustle and bustle of life and color in the students’ work–to me, this image rounded out the experience, and made it all seem just a bit more human:

Sam Belkowitz - from Populous Flows

Populous Flows is on view at Charles Addams gallery until July 12, 2011. Anyone can view the show 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. If you have any interest in photography, art or India, I strongly encourage you to visit!

Populous Flows - Mumbai trip show



Filed under Academics, Fine Art, Memories of Penn, The Arts at Penn, Travel

They Call It Summer Vacation

Author: Matt G., W’14

Finals are over; alumni weekend completed; graduation finished; so what’s next?

This thing they call “summer vacation.”

Summer vacation used to be exactly that: vacation. During the summer when I was a kid, we would spend summers hanging out with friends, swimming, watching time slip by. But when college hit, that all changed. Now, the word “vacation” has become a trick, a lie really. Summer is no longer for lying around, but rather it’s the time for a workplace change. Instead of sitting in a classroom taking notes, or studying in a library, we are on computers in offices or conducting experiments in labs. Or in my case, removing all the drywall in my home (internship doesn’t start for another couple weeks and my mom has put me to work).

Even though this is my first “college summer,” I think that I’m starting to understand why it’s so important to have a break from school. On top of the work experience and resume building, it reminds me of what I’m going to have to face in the real world. No matter how demanding school becomes, at the end of the day, it is still fun. These next three years will be the only three years for a long time, that I will be able to make mistakes without worry of being fired from a job.

But with all that said, the cliche still holds true at Penn: here, students work hard and play harder. No matter where we’re working, I’m sure we’ll all find a way to have a good time and…and somehow, to still have our summer vacation.

What I'm Doing for Summer Vacation

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Filed under Matthew G., Student Perspective

My Top Penn: Public Art

In 1959, Philadelphia passed a law that called for 1 percent of construction costs to be set aside for fine arts projects. Since then the University has acquired campus art that is displayed inside and outside many of the University building. Throughout campus there are many interesting pieces of art that are the part of the fabric of campus, and I wanted to share with you my favorite 10 outdoor pieces of Public Art.

10.          Quadrature #1 (T. G. Miller Plaza, Hamilton Walk, between HUP and Medical Education Building) – personally, I have likened it to the Medical School’s own Covenant.

9.            125 Years (Hill Square) – this public work has transformed the pathway diagonally crossing Hill Square, aka Hill Field.

8.            Tribute to Tuskegee (20-22 39th Street – South Wall) – one of the few murals that Penn has supported through this program.

Tribute to Tuskegee

7.            Column + Capital (Hayden Hall Rear Lawn) – this subtle and sometimes unnoticed piece of art is nod to engineering, highlighting the skill of the Greeks and Romans in the middle of Penn Engineering’s buildings.

6.            Solomon (36th Street Walk, South of Walnut street) – this legendary king of Israel both blends in with the grass and flora due to its a green patina and stands out due to its massive size.


5.            George Munger (Franklin Field) – Mungermen have left an indelible mark on the football program at Penn  and this homage to Coach Munger is a fitting tribute.

4.            Love (Blanche Levy Park) – this Robert Indiana classic has been a backdrop for many pictures, ranging from wedding save-the-dates to holiday cards.


3.            Ben Franklin – this is a cheat since there are 3 statues of Ben on campus: The prominent Franklin (Blanche Levy Park, in front of College Hall), young Ben Franklin (Weightman Hall on 33rd Street) and the life-sized Ben on the Bench (37th & Locust Walk, South East Corner).

2.            Covenant (Hamilton Village, spanning Locust Walk at 39th Street) – the given name to the large cheery-red sculpture of rolled steel that dominates Hamilton Village, aka Superblock.


1.            Spilt Button (Blanche Levy Park at Van Pelt Library) – this one needs no introduction.

To learn more about the Public Art at Penn, visit the PennCurrent article, here and to view a map of public art at Penn, visit Penn’s Facilities Map and check the “Public Art” box.  Are there pieces that you wished I included?  Which ones would you switch out from my list?

In addition, when on campus, art lovers or admirers can learn more about Penn’s outdoor art through the University’s free “Discover Penn” audio walking tour. Launched in 2008 by the Division of Facilities and Real Estate Services, this program provide a number to call, posted on a small, red ground-level sign posted at various sites around campus to hear a short narration about significant University buildings, sculptures, historical events and other points of interest.

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Filed under Campus Life, Casey R., Fine Art, The Arts at Penn, Top Ten

The Lull before September

After all the hustle and bustle of Alumni Weekend and Commencement, there is now an awkward silence amidst the campus. The first few weeks of May consisted of constant noise and excitement. There were massive tents and stages all over campus that took weeks to construct. Students were scurrying around campus like mice with the move out carts. (You only have an hour with the cart, so students were packing their entire dorm room into one trip!) Then of course the endless number of grads getting their photo taken along Locust walk. Campus was packed and amped with energy.

Just picture – a few weekends ago, there were over 4,000 students, alumni and families on campus enjoying the beautiful scenery. Everyone was enjoying each others company, and reminiscing about how things used to be, and what campus used to look like. Needless to say, the campus was flooded with red and blue.

Now, not a single flyer on the message board – just some rusty staples and paper scraps. Until September!

No fliers on the message board on campus.

Though there is a plus – much shorter lines at your favorite food trucks and lunch spots!

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Filed under Campus Life, Kelly P.

Looking Back…The Alumni Weekend Picnic

Author: Leigh Ann P.

For some reason, people often think that university staff members are awarded the same vacation time as professors and students.  As much as some of us may daydream about this myth becoming a reality, the truth is that we work hard all year long!  While we are recovering from Alumni Weekend 2011, we are certainly not resting.  There is still much to be done to wrap up what we have accomplished this year – and we have already long been planning for Alumni Weekend 2012!  Classes that end with a 7 or a 2 – you’re next!

We are enjoying taking the time to reflect on this past Alumni Weekend through the many wonderful pictures taken throughout the weekend.  These are just a few from Saturday’s picnic.  A little – or rather, a lot – of physically manifesting weather didn’t even stop our faithful alumni from coming out and chowing down on a hot dog… or five.

This future Quaker seems to be enjoying the rain more than us folks who worked at the registration tents.  It’s a good thing we had so many buckets full of Penn buttons to deter those leaky spots!

Enjoying the day despite the rain

A little red and blue cheer goes a long way

Our Quaker Mascot made the rounds at all the reunion tents

Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!

Proud Penn alumni from the enthusiastic Class of 2006

The Alumni Weekend Picnic was some good old family fun. We look forward to seeing everyone next year

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Filed under Alumni Perspective, Alumni Weekend, Campus Life, Leigh Ann P.

Yeah, I’m Excited

Author: Dan Bernick, SAS ’14

On Tuesday I start my new job. Well, I guess it’s not really a job, because I’m not paid (as my parents keep reminding me). I am an intern for the White House Council for Community Solutions in Washington, D.C.

When I chose Penn, I did so in part because of the Penn in Washington program and similar programs offered through the Fels Institute of Government and the Fox Leadership Center designed to help me make the most of opportunities like this. Thanks to Penn, my exciting internship will be an unforgettable learning experience.

The Penn in Washington Program, run by the wonderful Dr. Deirdre Martinez, is a way for Penn students interning in D.C. to connect with alumni and learn about the city. This program is amazing – I will have dinner with Ben Bernanke, go to lunch at the State Department, and meet with dozens of Penn alumni doing what I want to do.

Of course, the experience will not end when summer does. At Penn, I can take what I learn and apply it. I can be a better leader in Student Government, a more engaged learner in classes, and a more active member of the Philadelphia community. On Tuesday I start my job. Many people dread their first day of work, and even fewer
would do it for free. But me? Yeah, I’m excited.

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Penn Buttons

Author: Stephanie Yee, C’08

Alumni Weekend 2011 was a huge success! The rain held off for Saturday’s parade, and I partied the night away at the Class of 1971’s 40th reunion. I even set a personal record on Saturday: between the picnic, Taste of Penn, and the 40th reunion, I ate five types of mac ‘n cheese that day. All-around success!

As I toted around my blue and red Penn Alumni bag, I started collecting Penn Alumni buttons around campus. First, I got the “I Met My Best Friend at Penn” button. Since their debut, the “I Met My…” buttons have been a huge hit with the alumni. Everyone met a best friend at Penn, right? (Great idea, Elizabeth!)

Best Friend Button

I received two more buttons at the Penn Admissions Open House: a Button button (you know, the Button in front of Van Pelt-Dietrich Library) and a University of Pennsylvania Alumni Representative button. I started pinning the buttons to my name tag lanyard until I decided I would look silly with three buttons hanging around my neck (this coming from the same person who wore the Locust Walk Homecoming Run medal during all of Homecoming Weekend 2010. What can I say – I bleed red and blue, and I love medals). On Saturday, I picked up a Proud Penn Donor button at the picnic on Hill Field. Button count up to four.

Button Collection to Date

Now that Alumni Weekend is over, I need a creative way to display all of my Penn buttons. Any suggestions?


Filed under Alumni Perspective, Alumni Weekend, Campus Fashion, Campus Life, Stephanie Y.

Author: Amanda M. D’Amico, The Penn Fund

Ten days ago, the campus was alive – soon-to-be graduates marched down Locust Walk, parents and alumni watched with pride and Denzel Washington and President Amy Gutmann spoke to an exuberant crowd.

Commencement 2011

Since last Monday, the population on campus has drastically decreased – only staff, faculty members, and a fraction of the student population have stayed behind for the summer.

While some of our neighbors in West Philadelphia might be pleased that there aren’t hordes of students clogging up the sidewalks and slowing down the line at Fresh Grocer, without the students, the campus has lost a lot of what makes Penn Penn. The University’s  academic prowess is unchallenged – it is a world-class institution with outstanding faculty members and researchers. Every day, Penn makes strides towards new discoveries and inventions and towards building a better world. But what makes Penn truly a great place to be is the feeling on campus, and the students provide that.

Penn just isn’t the same without students lounging on College Green, rushing in and out of Van Pelt-Dietrich Library, and throwing a Frisbee around outside of their college house. Penn students make the campus more than offices and a business – they make Penn a home.

The Button

We’ll have to wait until Convocation for Penn to have that feeling again (and take advantage of the shorter lines at the food trucks in the mean time). I know that at least one staff member will be counting down the days until September 4, and I’d bet that most of the other staff members will be too.

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Filed under Alumni Weekend, Commencement

Penn Alumni Travel : South Africa Trip

In March, 2009, Penn Alumni Travel traveled to South Africa with alumni from Brown University. It was a truly wonderful trip.

Cape Town’s Table Mountain

Table Mountain as seen from Robben Island

We began our journey in Cape Town, staying at the historic Mount Nelson Hotel with views of the amazing Table Mountain. We spotted the film crew for the film Invictus, but unfortunately saw no signs of director Clint Eastwood or stars Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman who were also staying there.

We went to the top of Table Mountain – what a view!

Football stadium under construction for the 2010 World Cup

Our first day took us to Robben Island – site of the prison where Nelson Mandela spent many years in captivity. The guides were former prisoners and shared with us their experiences in the prison. I can still picture the limestone quarry where the men spent most of their day, picking and hauling the blindingly white stones in the heat of the sun.

Robben Island quarry

Penn travelers exiting one of Robben Island’s buildings

We also spent some time outside of Cape Town, visiting wine country and Boulders Beach, home to South African penguins. Of course we stopped at the Cape of Good Hope, the most south-westerly point on the continent of Africa.

Franschhoek wine country was beautiful

Travelers after tasting wine and lunching at one of the local vineyards

Penguins at Boulders Beach

The group at the Cape of Good Hope

Our next stop was Zambia, where we stayed at the Livingstone Hotel, right on the banks of the mighty Zambezi River. We could sit at a bar deck along the river and see the mist from Victoria Falls, just a few hundred yards away. We walked to the falls from the hotel, sporting rain ponchos, and were amazed by the power of the water continually flowing over the falls. For many travelers, this was their favorite location. From here, some of us spent a day traveling across the border into Botswana, an experience itself, where we took a boat ride along the Chobe River where we saw bathing hippos and then visited Chobe National Park where we saw lots of elephants.

The magnificent Victoria Falls in Zambia.

The mist from Victoria Falls

The magnificent Victoria Falls in Zambia.

We next traveled to Johannesburg, where we toured the city and visited the moving Apartheid Museum. We were fortunate to have a special tour of the Court and Justice Chambers of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, thanks to Penn alumna Yvonne Mokgoro, GL’90, HON’09. While there we encountered Justice Albie Sachs, who was active in the anti-apartheid movement, losing an arm in a bomb attack. He graciously agreed to stand in our photo. Justice Mokgoro then met us at our hotel for dinner, and we all were fascinated by her life story, her experiences at Penn, and her insights into the problems South Africa faces.

Hippos taking a bath

Elephant Mommy and baby in Chobe National Park – she didn’t want us getting close

Our trip ended with several days of safari in Kruger National Park. While I was excited to go on a safari, my first ever, I don’t think I realized how much I would enjoy it. We rose early every morning, to go on rides before the sun rose to spot the wildlife before the heat of the day set in. After a few hours, we returned for breakfast. Some of us then would go on safari walks with the guides, armed with rifles, as we tread through the bush. Our hearts really started racing when a rhinoceros was sniffing around right near us – to get out of his way we were instructed to stand behind a tree as they can’t turn quickly. After a restful afternoon, we would head out again in the late afternoon. What fun we had seeing many birds, giraffes, rhinos, wildebeest, gazelles, zebras, hippos, elephants, and lions. Our photos don’t quite capture the majest and beauty of these animals, nor of the country as a whole.

We are offering this program in October (Oct. 12 – 26), again partnering with Brown Travelers. Visit our website to see more details of this wonderful program.


Filed under Alumni Programming, Kiera R., Penn Alumni Travel, Penn Clubs, Photos, Travel

Penn on the Move

Author: Colin Hennessy

Have you ever wondered what Penn looked like 100 years ago or even 200 years ago? When you work at or attend one of the oldest institutions in the country, you can’t help but image what campus was like in the days of our founder, Benjamin Franklin.

Historical Drawing of Campus at Fourth and Arch in Old City

Fortunately, this Penn staffer had the opportunity to spend some time with the University archivist to get the inside story on Penn’s campus and its remarkable transformation over the years. As a non-native Philadelphian, I did not know that Penn’s history starts not in West Philadelphia, but rather at Fourth and Arch in Old City. A campus comprised of the Academy /College Building, built in 1740, with the dormitory following in 1762.

College Hall

It wasn’t until the 1870’s that Penn made the move to West Philadelphia. Thanks to some forward-thinking land acquisitions, Penn’s trustees began to build the iconic structures that represent Penn today. Beginning with College Hall in 1871, Cohen Hall, and buildings of the now medical complex, Penn’s infrastructure quickly took root.

Over the next 100 years, roads through campus would be closed, trolleys would go underground, and Penn would continue to reach to the West and North. The history of Penn’s physical plant illustrates a fascinating story of land use and resource stewardship as this campus rests on what was once “the poor house” of Philadelphia.

Campus Map, 1878

For more information about the history of Penn’s campus, complete with photos and commentary, visit the website of the University Archives.

For now, as you walk through campus, take a moment to ponder how much has changed and reflect on what Penn may look like 100 years from now as Penn continues to be on the move.

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Filed under Colin H., Historical, Library