Monthly Archives: June 2011

Counting the Days

Author: Kelly Porter O’Connor

Just this past week, I toured the 24 acre plot of land, soon to be Penn Park.  All I have to say is WOW!  I had viewed renderings and photos online, passed by the site while crossing the Walnut Street bridge, noted progress while sitting in traffic on the Schuylkill; but it wasn’t until I donned a hard hat and walked among the bulldozers and backhoes that I was able to realize the incredible scale of Penn Park.  Just imagine eight College Greens lined up in one area.  There are three large multi-purpose fields, including a softball stadium with built in seating for 200 fans, 12 tennis courts, and open fields throughout the park.

In addition to all these beautiful new green spaces coming to campus, there is a stunning skyline of Philadelphia that can only be viewed from the vantage point of Penn Park.  Soon to be an amazing addition to the University of Pennsylvania campus and the Philadelphia community!  I can’t wait to begin planning events there…

My colleague in event planning, ready to take on the park


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Filed under Campus Life, Kelly P.

Remember Penn

The University Archives Digital Image Collection, available through the Penn library system, allows you to pull up photos from yesteryear, including ones from alumni events. I love old photos–I love the clothes and the hair styles and wondering what happened to the people in the pictures.  I love that you can also search for particular photos. Here’s  one what a search for  “homecoming” yielded for me (btw, save the date for this year’s Homecoming Weekend featuring arts and culture,  November 4-6, 2011. Also, we again face the Princeton Tigers this Homecoming Weekend).

This football guide book was for the game on October 22, 1966.

Artist: Louise Day, October 22, 1966

And here’s the game book from November 2, 1957:

Artist: Robert Foster

Finally, one from November 15, 1952.

This photo was taken a Alumni Day, 1952. I imagine that one of the woman is saying to the other, “Oh, no, Margie, this t-shirt certainly won’t be too small on you.” If you can think of a better caption, please send it along.

Photographer: Mike Pearlman, 1952


Filed under Aimee L., Homecoming Weekend featuring arts and culture, Memories of Penn

Gorgeous Gorges

Author: Aimee LaBrie

In my next life, I believe I will be moving to Ithaca. My colleagues in Alumni Relations and I were just there for several days last week to attend Ivy+, a conference where alumni relation staff working from all the Ivies get together to share best practices (the “+” universities are MIT and Stanford).  This  year, Cornell University sponsored the conference and they did an excellent job making us feel welcome. So, for three days, I got to be around a bunch of very smart and very nice people who do a lot of the same things we do–plan reunions, work on getting alumni back for Homecoming or to join their local club, find new and improved ways to use social media to engage alumni.  And, on our off time, we were served delicious meals. Example:

A clock tower filled with white chocolate mousse. Sinful.

We had no trouble devouring it. Here is Lisbeth before she destroyed and devoured the tower.

Lisbeth and tower

On the last night, they hosted an outdoor BBQ with a tour of the gorges.

Penn people and our tour guide

And a short video capturing the beauty of the falls combined with the beauty of Marge, our GAN (Global Alumni Network) team member. Thanks, Cornell, for an awesome (and awe-inspiring) conference.

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Filed under Aimee L., Ivy+, Uncategorized

My Top Penn List: When the Students Aren’t Here

Casey R., C’95

There is something almost surreal about being on campus during the summer.  The campus is beautiful but it is a calmer version of itself than in the academic year.   In turn for the buzz, the campus gains serenity.  The idyllic images that one sees on the webpage of ivy growing on a building or the flag fluttering above a seated Ben in patina in front of a similarly green College Hall are now real, and not just great photographs that, by chance and patience, captured such a peaceful scene.

The summer affords me the opportunity to slow down and enjoy some of my favorite Penn activities without the frenetic bustle that we’re used to in the school year.  It’s the same campus that I love, but now it’s more mine than the students’.  It’s like being backstage at a concert and getting to play with the instruments and the props while the performers are still at the hotel.  I’ll be off the stage before the curtain time of September.  For now, though, I’ll enjoy having campus to myself.

Here is a list of my favorite things to do on Campus during the summer break.

10.          Visiting the ICA.  The Institute of Contemporary Art is one of the country’s leading museums dedicated to exhibiting the innovative art of the current day.  Having no permanent collection, the Institute hosts new exhibits that are shown three times a year and has featured the works of Andy Warhol, Laurie Anderson, Agnes Martin, and Robert Indiana. With fewer people on campus, the museum has a more pensive feeling to it where I can get lost in my thoughts inspired by the artwork I see.

Odili Donald Odita’s Third Space from his 2009 exhibition

9.            Checking out fiction from the Library. The Van Pelt Library of the Penn Library system has a wonderful collection of recent best-sellers and current fiction.  Now that school isn’t in session, students and faculty have less demand for books and I can check out the latest Dan Brown novel or other guilty pleasure for free.

8.            Ordering from Magic Carpet. The iconic long lines for the Magic Carpet, though still long, are noticeably shorter.  I get my favorite vegetarian meal, Bella Donna – a top-secret recipe of tofu meatballs (which everyone on campus calls Magic Meatballs) and red sauce on top of rice served with a salad.  I always order mine with cheese and extra hot sauce.

7.            Sitting on a bench in Blanche Levy Park.  When the weather is nice on campus, which is about half of the summer days, I enjoy my lunch, perhaps from Magic Carpet, on a bench on College Green or read my most recently borrowed library book.

Blanche Levy Park (College Green) in its summer green

6.            Working out in the evening.  During the academic year, I follow a schedule of morning workouts at the David Pottruck Health and Fitness Center since that is the best time of day to have access to all of the machines, weights and lockers without much of a wait. However, as the daylight hours grow longer, I sleep later in the morning knowing that I can run over to Pottruck and enjoy after-work workouts without spending more time there than I have to.

5.            Taking a moment for me in a roof top lounge. As staff members with Penn Cards, we can access the public areas of the College Houses, including McClelland Hall and the High Rises’ roof top lounges.  My favorite roof top lounge is the Heyer Sky Lounge of Harrison College House, which is great place to perch to get a great view of West Philadelphia and Center City, as well as, to read The Lost Symbol without anyone knowing what I’m reading.

Entrance to the Heyer Sky Lounge

4.            Strolling leisurely down Locust Walk. (n.b. Not this summer…) The site of the long stretching Locust Walk through the rather literal center of campus is a site that I remember from the Penn application brochure or some other admissions piece years ago.  However during my years as I student I never saw that view recreated.  It wasn’t until summers at Penn that I saw the real version of the picture I remembered in my mind.

Idyllic Locust Walk

3.            Riding the Penn Bus. The Penn Bus is one of the best perks that students, staff and faculty have.  Two Penn routes take members of the Penn community in to West Philadelphia as far as 48th Street and into Center City as far as 20th. Whether or not the students are in town, the ride is convenient for me since it’s practically door to door. However, in the summer, the usually standing-room only bus has plenty of seats.  With the air conditioning on, the bus is comfortable and I have some room to sit separately from others especially if I just came from the gym.

2.            Spending a few minutes in the Arthur Ross Gallery.  In addition to the ICA, the Ross Gallery is another University art space showcasing temporary art exhibitions.  This single-room gallery was established in 1983 to view the eclectic program of changing exhibitions in all fields of the visual arts and cultural artifacts from around the globe.  When I am limited on time, this is a wonderful gallery to get lost in for 15 minutes, then I take a peek at the Furness architecture of the Fisher Fine Arts Library before heading out.

Example of an exhibition in the Arthur Ross Galley

1.            Dining at Roosevelt’s.  This is a little bit of a cheat since Roosevelt’s isn’t on campus.  However, when I get off the bus to go home from an evening workout and I don’t feel like cooking, I have a place to go.  It’s great to walk into the pub, pony up to the bar, and order a $2 or $3 beer – depending on the happy hour special that day – and burger without having to wait for all the MBA students’ to get their food before me since they’ve been there since 4pm.


Filed under Casey R., Top Ten

Irvine Auditorium – Look at Those Pipes!

Colin Hennessy

During a recent shopping trip to Macy’s in Center City, I learned that the Wanamaker Organ is the largest operational pipe organ in the world. As I wondered the store listening to the organist, thinking how cool it is to listen to live music versus the thump thump of a top 40-radio station, I recalled another set of astounding pipes – those of the Curtis Organ on Penn’s campus.

A quick Google search shared loads of information on the renowned 1926 organ that would eventually make its home in the walls of Irvine Auditorium.  Named for Cyrus H. K. Curtis, a publisher, the Curtis Organ is one of the largest pipe organs in the world and has nearly 11,000 pipes.

Interestingly, the organ was not always destined to fill Irvine with music, but rather to take the stage at the Sesquicentennial Exposition of 1926. The Exposition was a world’s fair, set to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and hosted in Philadelphia. When the exposition went bankrupt, Curtis purchased the organ and donated it to the University to be built into Irvine Auditorium at the time of construction.

Pipe organs are fascinating instruments and much of what makes them sound the way they do is hidden from sight. When on display at the Sesquicentennial Exposition, the Curtis organ’s pressurized chamber under the pipes that is required for the organ’s mechanics was supposedly large enough to comfortably seat 100 for dinner.

I hope you’ll take an opportunity to listen to the Wanamaker Organ the next time you’re in Center City on a Saturday afternoon. In my opinion, there is no better way to shop than to enjoy live music on the largest operation pipe organ in the world. Also, keep a look out for the next screening of the classic silent movie The Phantom of Opera set to live music played on the Curtis Organ in Irvine Auditorium – you won’t be disappointed.

Information about The Wanamaker Organ can be found here.

Information about The Curtis Organ and Irvine Auditorium can be found here.

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Filed under Colin H.

My New (Second) Favorite City

Dan Bernick, SAS ‘14

It’s official – I love D.C.

There is an energy here that is infectious.  This is where it all happens.  Even if you have a lowly internship, you feel like you are in the middle of the action.

The city itself is fantastic.  When it is not scorching hot or raining, the weather is really nice – perfect for touring the national mall.  My favorite view is to look out from the top of the Lincoln Monument and see the National Mall at night.

Activities fill up the day and the night.  There is always something to do in the nation’s capital (especially if you are a nerd).  Nearly every day there is at least one free conference (which means free food!) where prominent national thinkers discuss our country’s biggest challenges.  At night, you can go to a National’s game, dine with friends, or participate in any of the Penn in Washington events; just last week we were able to meet with Ben Bernanke and hear about the Federal Reserve.

I have to go to work now (wow that feels good to say), but I’ll keep you updated on this amazing summer.  Spending the next three years in Philadelphia sounds great.  After that, who knows?  Maybe I’ll come to D.C.

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Filed under Academics, Daniel B.

Shopping for Penn Colors

By: Stephanie Y., C’08

Red and blue is the best color combination.  I am sure you all agree.  When I am shopping, I always keep my eye out for red and blue clothing because there is no such thing as too much red and blue.  I have seen (and purchased) red and blue striped polo shirts, red and blue argyle socks, and blue sweaters to match my red blouses. Today, I saw this pair of sunglasses on display:

I bought the same pair of sunglasses last month, but mine are solid black.  When I saw this pair in red and blue, I almost bought them.  I could use two pairs of sunglasses, right?  No, I do not need two pairs of the same sunglasses…but they’re PENN COLORS.  They are the same style as the pair I already own…but they’re PENN COLORS.  They are quite expensive…but they’re PENN COLORS (this argument usually wins).  I was tempted, but in the end, I decided to walk away from the sunglasses.  It’s too bad because I could really use a pair of red and blue sunglasses to go with my red and blue Penn running hat.


Filed under Campus Fashion, Stephanie Y.

Study Confirms: Stuffed Penn Teddy Bears Are Adorable

By: Leigh Ann Preston

In a recent study performed by scientists at the Penn Alumni Relations office, experts confirmed that when promised a chance at winning an adorable, cuddly Penn Teddy bear simply by registering for events online, Penn Alumni were 67% more likely to follow through and register for said online events.

“I never thought I could win a Penn Teddy bear.  It’s like all of my dreams are amalgamating into one soothing package of fluffiness.  And all I had to do was sign up for my reunion online?” says one Penn Alum, who chose to remain anonymous.

“Seriously, the Penn Alumni Relations people know what they’re doing,” added another alum.  “I’ve heard of prizes as motivators before, but at this point I really think a Penn Teddy bear would be the only thing that could get me to do anything.  I wish my employer would pay me in direct deposit Penn Teddy bears.”

“We’ve really never seen anything like it before,” says the Assistant Vice President of Prizes and Giveaways.  “We used to promise Apple products to randomly selected registrants, and we only saw a small increase in online registration.  Now that we’ve implemented the possibility of winning a Penn Teddy bear, registration has skyrocketed.”

This is an alum who is over the moon about winning a Penn Teddy bear. She is 49% happier now that she owns it.

After hours of questioning, this alum was determined to be 84% more content with life now that he owns a Penn Teddy bear.

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Filed under Alumni Weekend, Leigh Ann P.

Alumni Photos from Around the World

By Kiera R.

Each year, the Penn Alumni Travel program offers trips that send alumni all over the world. We often send a Penn representative on our trips, and ask our colleagues to take photos of the journey. Our travelers also bring their cameras as well. It’s always fun when you return from a trip to review your own photos as well as the other moments and scenes. This year we decided to ask our travelers for their favorite photos and enter our photo contest. The question was how to decide which photos were the best? Our Penn colleagues who have hosted trips in the past were asked to vote on their favorites. The categories were culture, nature, people and places.

We received some wonderful photos, and our judges enjoyed reviewing them, although they had a hard time picking their favorites.

Here are some of the entries in culture:

Katherine Converse, CW’63, CGS’95, submitted this photo from an Egypt trip

Ron, GR’70, and Marilyn, G’68, Slivka sent in this photo of culture:

Mark Whitcher, C’93, found some culture in Antarctica

Our judges selected Sue Endy’s photo of weaving from Lima, Peru as the winner in the culture category:

In our Nature category, Kate O’Neill recorded some bad weather in Rome

And Bruce Endy, C’66, caught a napping iguana in the Galapagos

But our judges couldn’t get over the zebras in the photo from Richard Vernick, C’63

In the places category, we enjoyed this photo from Adele Greenspun, ED’60, of the Pyramids and Sphinx in Egypt

Ron, GR’70, and Marilyn, G’68, Slivka sent in this photo from Morocco

But Rachel Wagman’s, C’93, photo from Tanzania took home the prize

In our people category, Sonya Fry entered this photo from the Danube River cruise last summer

Donna Glace included this group shot of Penn travelers at Peterhof Palace outside of St. Petersburg

And Penn professors Jennifer, C’91, and Joe, C’89, GR’96, Wegner sent in this photo of their son Alexander from Egypt

Peggy Weymouth won for her photo of this child in Petra, Jordan

Finally, Janelle Wiseley and I were tasked with choosing the grand prize winning photo. Our unanimous selection was this photo of Quito, Ecuador from Christine Turk.

You can see all of our prize winning photos and photo entries b y visiting our photo contest page here.

And, we will be asking for entries again for trips this year, so if you haven’t joined us on a trip yet this year, we hope you do. There are many beautiful pictures waiting to be taken! See our remaining 2011 trip schedule at

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

Front Row Seat

Author: Elise Betz

I had the best seat on Franklin Field for Commencement.  Why?  Because I acted as the “Stage Marshal.”

Here is why I have that honor year after year. In 2004, when Dr. Gutmann was inaugurated, I was asked to be a marshal at the formal inauguration ceremony in Irvine Auditorium.  It was a wonderful event and my job was to seat all of the visiting representatives from colleges and universities.  I did my job very well and caught the eye of the Commencement planners.  They were impressed with my seating skills, so since 2004, I have been assisting the “stage party” at Commencement.  The “stage party” includes Dr. Gutmann, the Trustees, Deans, VPs, honorary degree recipients and the Commencement Speaker. Eminent people walk by me every year – Bono, Jodi Foster, Jon Huntsman, Denzel Washington.  The perks include saving front row seats for my faculty friends…

…And also getting to see exactly where Denzel Washington will be sitting.

I  also had the opportunity to watch the Class Board carry the flags in and to take a great photo of them in front of the stage:

Here is the view of the stage from my seat:

The best part of my marshal job each year is having the perfect seat to listen to the Commencement speaker.  This year, Denzel Washington delivered a moving and poignant speech – my favorite line: “Remember this: You’ll never see a U-Haul behind a hearse.” A great reminder that we can’t take our possessions with us when we go…That what matters most are our day to day interactions with people.

The only thing I am taking with me are the memories. . . . many of which were made right here on this amazing University of Pennsylvania campus!

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Filed under Alumni Weekend, Commencement, Elise B., Memories of Penn