Monthly Archives: November 2011

Party Time: Sweeten Alumni House Style

Author: Leigh Ann P.

I started working at the Sweeten Alumni House a little over two years ago, and shortly after I started, I remember Marge Tinsley (she of Global Alumni Network fame) telling me: “This isn’t an office, this is a house, and we’re a family.”  I found this so touching and it has really stuck with me!

We are a relatively small group of about 30 people, which combined with the open layout of the heart of our office, makes it really easy to get to know everyone personally – even if you don’t ever get the opportunity to collaborate with them professionally.  But we always get to collaborate when it comes to party time!

You are probably familiar with the office party. Farewells, babies, weddings and holidays allow us to come together on these special occasions and give us an excuse to decorate our conference room and generally pig out.  Of course, our idea of “decorating on a dime” involves taping up photoshopped images of the honoree throughout the building.  Dwight Shrute provides a good example below of how not to decorate for an office party:

It’s always a creative challenge to come up with a theme, but these men and women are committed to imaginative partying.  In the past, we’ve had parties centered around “Glee,” karaoke, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” Island-Meets-Arctic (I guess you had to be there), or most recently, traditional Jewish food!

It will be fun to see what our colleagues come up with for our holiday party next month.  What does your workplace like to do to celebrate special occasions?


Filed under Leigh Ann P., The Sweeten Life

Morris Arboretum Brunch During Homecoming Weekend

Author: Kelly Porter O’Connor

There was no better way to wind down Homecoming than with a brunch and tour of the Morris Arboretum. It was a beautiful day to stroll the grounds of the Arboretum with the fall foliage at its peak. If you have never been, I highly suggest you make your way out there or plan to attend next year’s brunch and tour!

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy these photos taken during the event.



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Filed under Homecoming Weekend featuring arts and culture, Kelly P.

Midwestern charm meets the Ben Franklin Bridge: A Chicago Girl in Philly

Author: Mari Meyer, GSE,C’12

I love Philadelphia: the trolleys, the cheesesteaks, the tree-lined, cobblestone blocks and multicolored row homes—it is a one of a kind city and, without a doubt, one of the best places to live in the world.  But wherever I happen to live, I’ve generally found that my itch to explore has got nothing on my love for my hometown, Chicago.

It didn’t help that on my very first week here, I made the tragic mistake (which I now consider to be a significant rite of passage for any new driver in the Philadelphia area) of losing my way on these ravenous East Coast highways, ultimately finding myself on the Ben Franklin Bridge’s “Four Lanes to New Jersey,” without so much as a clue as to how I got there, where I was going, or how I might get back. Not to mention not realizing that they make you pay $5 just to essentially turn around.  Not the most heartfelt welcome, Philly, thanks!

That said, there’s something about this time of year here that has captured my heart.  There’s an old saying that Chicago has two seasons: winter and construction season.  Though summertime in Chicago is very clearly the reason why people stay through its unforgiving winters, I’ve never quite seen autumn really last long enough to enjoy it—it’s sunset-tinted leaves, it’s cool, dry air and never-ending sunny Saturdays at the farmers’ market—until coming to Penn.

I am also not the first to feel compelled to gush about Philadelphia’s food trucks, the art, the BYOB restaurants, the live music, the block parties, the bike lanes, the big city feel with the real community heart.  The locals are warm, the rent is cheap, and a whole new neighborhood to explore is only ever a short walk away. Even on campus, you can’t help but feel alive as you make your way down Locust Walk at lunchtime—the calls for participation, for activism, for learning, for joining in, for petitioning, for dancing, for debating—it sends a buzz through me every time I venture across campus.  That’s when I’m most aware of  how lucky we all are to be here as students, staff, faculty, alumni, and community members at this moment in time.  For anyone who watched the cheerleaders and pep band break it down on College Green during Quaker Fest at Homecoming Weekend, you have to admit that you couldn’t deny the energy surging through your body!

Still, there will always be things to miss about my Midwestern Mecca: deep-dish pizza, Lake Shore Drive when the sailboats are out, ordering a “pop” without the risk of being persecuted for the use of regional language, the “el” during express hours, Chinatown at Hanukkah, chairs in the street to mark your parking territory, garlic naan on Devon, the skyline at sunset, free comedy and BYOB improv, Wicker Park’s six corners on a Saturday night, Michigan Avenue when the Christmas lights go up, and access to killer Mexican food on at least every block til at least 3 AM, and then again for breakfast.

But for now, I am forever grateful to be here in West Philadelphia, walking to and from my classes, my neighbors saying “good morning” and “good evening” in each direction.  Philly is a gem of a place to call home, and my time at Penn is a gift.  Now, if I could only figure out a way to stay off these treacherous roads…


Filed under Homecoming Weekend featuring arts and culture, Mari M., Philadelphia, Student Perspective

Basketball is Back!

Author: Jonathan Cousins, SEAS’14

They say that you never know how much you miss something until it is no longer there.  Well, in the case of Penn Basketball, I realized just how much I had missed an hour before game time.  I realized that I was going to get to go to the Palestra, the cathedral of college basketball, and watch Penn and Temple in a Big 5 matchup.

That would have been enough, as I and many of the Penn fans felt we had no business being competitive in this game.  But, that’s why you play the games. Penn fought as hard as I have ever seen them against a bigger, more talented Temple team.  Tied at halftime, and with back and forth swings throughout the second half, the game had an atmosphere of spirited competition that was rarely there last year.  Last year’s Harvard game was amazing, but the Big 5 brings out something special in the Palestra.  There is nothing like having the arena split half and half, with every shot, miss, turnover, and foul drawing half praise and half objection.

Zack Rosen had another big game, scoring 27 points (Courtesy: University of Pennsylvania)

There was a strong internal temptation to make a statement about the officiating, especially at the end of the game, but I will let others do that, at least in public forums.  My focus is on the atmosphere.  The other night, the Palestra was loud and proud, and hopefully, the experience will keep Penn students coming back for more.  There is understandable disappointment after the loss, but, from my perspective, the atmosphere of Penn pride could not be beat.  Keep it up Penn students – we need your voices all season.

Looking forward, this game gives me hope.  Temple is a better team than Harvard, who everyone is predicting to run away with the Ivy League title.  Whether we end up winning or not, we can play with any team, and I hope to see good efforts in each and every game. This experience is what I have been missing ever since Spring Break last year. Finally, it is back.

Here’s to a good season. Go Quakers!

You can read more about the game here.

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Filed under Jonathan C., Student Perspective

University City High School Urban Garden

Author: Lisa Marie Patzer

After talking with the great staff at the Urban Nutrition Initiative, I decided to check out one of their gardens. The University City High School Urban Garden located at 36th and Filbert is a short walk from Penn’s campus.  Below are a few pictures I took on my visit.

University City High School Urban Garden

University City High School Urban Garden

University City High School Urban Garden

University City High School Urban Garden

University City High School Urban Garden

University City High School Urban Garden

University City High School Urban Garden

University City High School Urban Garden

University City High School Urban Garden

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Filed under Lisa Marie Patzer, Philadelphia, Photos, Uncategorized

Penn Haiku Contest

Squirrels hop and jump

Students crowd fair brick pathway

Must be Locust Walk!

-Author Unknown

Love Penn? Can you write a haiku? Did you miss your chance to pick up a beautiful Penn scarf this past Homecoming Weekend? If so, we’ve got you covered. Simply send in your best 5-7-5 verse (or verses…multiple entries accepted!) extolling the wonderfulness of our great university to (with subject “Penn Haiku Contest”) by 5:00pm EST on November 15 for a chance to keep toasty with this gorgeous piece of neck wear.  One winner will be chosen by our expert review board and notified via email shortly after the conclusion of the contest. Keep your eyes peeled because we will feature our favorite entries in a future blog post! Good luck and happy writing!

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Filed under The Arts

My Top Penn List: Memories of Homecoming 2011

Author: Casey Ryan, C’95

Homecoming this year was amazing.  The fall weekend was glorious with its bright light blue sky slightly dusted with clouds and the crispy cool air keeping any rain at bay.  The combination of great weather and engaging programming drew record numbers of alumni back home to Penn.  There is my list highlighting some of the incredible events from this past weekend.

10.          Pre-Game Coming Home Tribute: From Penn to Princeton — A Dedication to Lenape Land.

Penn and Princeton reside on Lenape soil and to pay tribute to their ancestors, the Association of Native Alumni and Natives at Penn came together for a touching ceremony honoring their land home.  The attendees found it poignant that this observance was held on the newest use of Lenape land, Penn Park.

9.            77th Annual Alumni Award of Merit Gala

The event to kick-off the Homecoming Weekend festivities, the Gala is the formal hallmark event of Homecoming.   President Amy Gutmann and Board of Trustees Chair, David Cohen, L’81, paid tribute to the following outstanding alumni, classes and club in a black and white game-themed party that accentuated the many years of love and appreciate that these alumni have for Penn.

  • Edward Anderson, C’65, M’69;
  • Susanna Lachs, CW’74, ASC’76;
  • Mae Agnes Pasquariello, CW’53, GRD’85;
  • Roy Vagelos, C’50; and
  • Paul Williams, W’67
  • Calvin Chen, C’97, W’97, Young Alumni Award of Merit
  • Catherine “Kaki” Marshall, CW’45, Creative Spirit Award
  • Class of 1986, Alumni Class Award of Merit
  • Class Award of Merit; Class of 2006, David N. Tyre Class Communications Award
  • PennClub of LA, Alumni Club Award of Merit.

    Festive decor at the Gala.

8.            Alumnus Stefan Fatsis, C’85, Celebrates the Creative Powers of Scrabble.

As Words with Friends takes over everyone smart phones, it’s refreshing to take a moment and recall the tiled game that started our love affair with making words.  Fatsis and follow alumni enjoyed a lively special discussion in celebration of the tenth anniversary release of his bestselling book, Word Freak: Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius, and Obsession in the World of Competitive Scrabble Players.

7.            Alumni Bacchanal/Platt Fifth Anniversary Party

Those in the performing arts at Penn recall the annual Bacchanal, the end of the year costume party, fondly.  Capturing those memories, the Platt Student Performing Arts House invited alumni back to revel in the boisterous Alumni Bacchanal to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Performing Arts’ newest home on campus.

Platt House 5 Years at the Alumni Bacchanal

6.            Free-at-Noon Concert featuring Frank Turner

WXPN’s weekly “Free-at-Noon” concert at World Cafe Live featured Frank Turner. Turner is an English folk/punk singer-songwriter from Meonstoke, Winchester and formally the lead vocalist of post-hardcore band Million Dead. His musical style seems to be counter to his upbringing – educated on a scholarship at Eton College and studied alongside Prince William. Yet, his current directions are now acoustic-based which have critics calling his work “a fearless venture for an artist with something interesting to say.”

For the “Free-at-Noon” concert in its entirety, visit NPR: here.

5.            Feature Film Screening: Thunder Soul Presented by the Penn Alumni Film Festival

The pinnacle of Penn’s newest Homecoming tradition, the Penn Alumni Film Festival, this feature film did not disappoint. Jamie Foxx’s rousing documentary tells the story of Conrad O. Johnson, a music teacher at a predominantly black high school in Houston. Johnson replaced the mundane standards that students of the Kashmere Stage Band were learning to play with contemporary funk, jazz, and original compositions. He not only got their attention and their active participation in class, he changed their lives forever.

A darkened auditorium watching Thunder Soul

4.            Old Guard Brunch

This is the perennial favorite event for those in Alumni Relations and alumni alike.  Our distinguished alumni who have passed their 50th reunion are invited to this buffet brunch.  Our staff is enchanted by the stories of the Woodland Avenue Trolley, Althea Kratz Hottel, the Mungermen, and Rowbottoms, told so vividly by our alumni that they could have happened yesterday.  Fellow alumni are always excited to see and catch up with old friends as welling as making a new one along the way.  The gathering always ends with festive singing and cheering before folks head over to the game.

Our revered alumni enjoying each other’s company

3.            QuakerFest

The weather couldn’t have been better on this perfect fall day.  Music filled College Green and tents for food and tables for groups to meet up dotted Blanche Levy Park.  Partnered with the Penn Alumni Arts Fair, QuakerFest was the place to be to tailgate before kickoff. In time for the game, the Quaker mascot joined the crowd to lead alumni and friends to Franklin Field!

College Green full of Penn Pride

2.            Taste of Penn: A Global Celebration

Taste of Penn is the flagship festival of the Penn Alumni Diversity Alliance. This year’s party was a tour de force celebrating Penn’s cultural diversity – accentuating its global scope.  Complete with a globe centerpiece with all roads leading to Philadelphia, alumni and friends danced to hip-hop, rock, reggae, salsa, and pop as well as enjoying the flavors from these rich cultural identities in savory entrees and refreshing cocktails.

Peruvian courtship dance by Cynthia Paniagua, who the subject of “Soy Andina,” directed by Mitch Teplitsky, W'80, and featured in this Homecoming’s Penn Alumni Film Festival

1.            Penn Football:  Homecoming Game vs. Princeton

We have a saying in Alumni Relations, “Homecoming isn’t just about the game, but it IS about the game.”  This is always the biggest draw for the weekend. Alumni and friends travel from New York, Washington, Boston, and beyond to be back in Franklin Field and cheer on our football team. The Quakers Homecoming victory over the Tigers continues to give Pennsylvania the chance of being Ivy Champs this year.  It was a thrilling match up, but thankfully, a definitive win, which fueled our hope for another Ivy Title.

Below, you can view for yourself the post game  press conference given by head coach Al Bagnoli, wideout Ryan Calvert, C’12, and linebacker Erik Rask, W’12,  held to celebrate the Quaker’s fifth straight win over Princeton.

Thanks to everyone who returned and we hope to see you back on campus for Alumni Weekend 2012, May 11-14!

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Filed under Alumni Perspective, Alumni Programming, Alumni Weekend, Campus Life, Casey R., Homecoming Weekend featuring arts and culture, Penn Park, Top Ten, WXPN