Monthly Archives: November 2011

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

I Remember…Music Class

Author: Elizabeth Kimmelman-Schwartz, C’04

Today, I got an email from the Philadelphia Orchestra (nerd alert – I’m on their mailing list!) advertising a visiting orchestra coming to town and the fact that they’d be playing an all-Beethoven program, including my two favorite symphonies – Eroica and the 5th.  I had a major, all-out nerd attack.  In the span of two minutes, I called my husband, made sure that he was on board with the ticket purchase, ordered us two seats (after memorizing the seating layout in the Kimmel Center, including doing some Google image searches, to make sure the seats were acceptable), and exuberantly ran into another employee’s office telling her about my AMAZING purchase.   Let’s just say that her reaction did not come close to matching my level of enthusiasm.  I’m a classical music nut and I’m proud of it!  I owe almost all of this love to the University of Pennsylvania’ s Department of Music.

As a freshman at Penn, I signed up for a first year seminar called “History of the Symphony.”  I was intrigued by the title and thought it might be a good chance to learn something new.  I sang in select choirs all through high school and was in the shows, plus I enjoyed musical things like Broadway.  My dad is a classical music fan, and I’d always have to listen to classical music in his car when he’d drive me places.  He give me the choice of riding with no music and actually…gasp…talking, or listening to classical music and, to me, the choice was clear.  I’d pretend to hate it, but deep down, I thought it was beautiful.  I liked how listening to classical music stirred my imagination, painted a mood for me, and let me be peaceful and reflective.  I didn’t get to take any classes about classical music in high school, so when I got to Penn, it made sense to me to learn more about it.  I loved my symphony class and before I graduated I took two more music classes, including a music history course and a course entirely on Beethoven.

I’ve talked in this blog before about how Penn is very pre-professional and how I was constantly worried that I didn’t know what I was going to do for the rest of my life.  That’s true – except for the time I spent in music class.  In music class, my fears about what would happen to me, my worries that what I was learning wasn’t applicable to the real world at all, faded away.  I would watch my professor map out a symphony, feeling like I was learning a secret, beautiful code.  I learned what motivated Beethoven to write such deeply meaningful pieces.  I spent hours in the music library, learning how to identify parts of the symphony like the introduction, recapitulation, bridge and coda.  Soon, I was mapping symphonies on my own.  By the end of my classes, I could hear a few seconds of any Beethoven symphony, at any point, and correctly name it.  It was amazing.  I didn’t care how or when I used this knowledge, but for one of the only times in my life I was learning for the joy of learning.  And I was happy.

I didn’t become a music major or even a minor.  I never worked for a symphony or played for one.  But what I gained from my three music classes was so valuable.  I gained a love and knowledge of a true art form, which I will carry with me throughout my entire life.  I learned the power of music to inspire true creativity and emotion.  In learning this, I really think I became a better, more well-rounded person.  When it comes down to it, I think that’s what a good college education should be about.

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Filed under Academics, Alumni Perspective, Elizabeth K., Fine Art, Memories of Penn, The Arts, The Arts at Penn

Adventures in Spain & Portugal

Author: Emily Siegel

I was recently one of the fortunate Penn Alumni Relations staff to accompany one of our Penn Alumni travel tours, Paradores & Pousadas: Historic Lodgings of Spain & Portugal.  It’s a bit daunting to think about what is blog-worthy, or for that matter, interesting to those who weren’t able to go on the trip with us.  Sure, I could post pictures and tell you about all the neat places we went, but that just won’t capture how special this trip truly was.  The dynamics of the group on this tour were just fantastic – everyone looked out for one another and took the time to get to know each and every one of their traveling companions.  The group became so tight, that by the third day of the tour it was declared that we would gather for happy hour every evening before our scheduled dinner.

When I returned home from our two-week extravaganza, I was reflecting on whether or not I’d be interested in doing this all again.  Sure, the easy answer is YES – who wouldn’t want to explore more of the world?  But truth be told, I hesitated a bit at first. The group of people on this tour made it the special tour that it was, and I’m just not sure I could ever re-create an experience as wonderful as the one we had.  But as cheesy as this may sound, I then remembered I’d be traveling with our Penn Alumni and friends, and I’m certain that it would again be its own uniquely special trip!

So, for those who want “the details” on where we went and what we saw, some pictures for you to enjoy.

We started off our trip in the vibrant city of Lisbon, Portugal.  We spent our days sight-seeing monuments, monasteries, and royal summer homes, and in the evenings we enjoyed delicious meals and even a Fado show!

After Lisbon, we were off to the small town of Monsaraz for a quick day trip.  The town only has a population of 150 – isn’t the cutest town you’ve ever seen?

Before we knew it, our time in Portugal was over and we were off to Spain.  First stop, Merida – a town with some of the most well-preserved Roman ruins.

Did I mention we had a group of alumni from Puerto Rico with us on this tour?  I didn’t?  Well, they were such a fun bunch, they deserve a pic!

One of my favorite sightseeing days in Spain was visiting Seville, where we had plenty of time to explore and soak up the architecture and culture.

While I loved Seville, Ronda was hands-down my favorite city that we visited in Spain.  We stayed at the top of a gorge, and I was lucky enough to find a friend on our tour who was just as interested in hiking and exploring as I was:

As I mentioned up above, our group was serious about their happy hours.

The final leg of our trip took us to Granada where we visited the famous Alhambra.

Before arriving at our final stop in Madrid, we popped into Toledo for an afternoon tour and we were able to catch a great shot of the city on our way out.

We ended our trip with a bang in Madrid where we spent our days exploring palaces, museums, and enjoying tapas in Plaza Mayor.

And of course, no Penn Alumni Travel trip is complete without a picture with our Penn Alumni banner:

Such a good looking group!  I would travel anywhere, anytime, with these folks again. And  if you’re interested in getting in on the fun, check out our upcoming Penn Alumni Travel Tours.

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Filed under Alumni Programming, Emily S., Events, Penn Alumni Travel, Photos, Travel

Homecoming Weekend Recap (in Video!)

Author: Raymond R.

What a great Homecoming Weekend! I walked around campus with my iPhone and the video below captures what happened. Call it a “handheld homecoming” — a quick, pocket-sized excursion through the weekend that alums might like to share.

So much was happening, right from the start! The black-tie glamour of Friday evening’s Alumni Award of Merit Gala…The peaceful, early morning solemnity of the Lenape Land dedication ceremony at Penn Park…

Throughout the weekend, I was struck again and again by how warm and connected our alumni are, and how enthused they feel about tapping into the “real life” at Penn — all  of the great things that are available on campus every day: our history, traditions, and diversity, our brilliant faculty and professionals, daily illuminating lectures, expressive arts, and a beautiful urban campus of architectural masterpieces as well as Penn Park. In addition, we share a genuine sense of community and service, always remain energized and forward-looking, and, of course, we get to interact with students, students, students!

No wonder we call this place (one that unites us like family) “home”…

If you returned to campus last weekend, you might already feel a bit nostalgic… If you weren’t here, perhaps this short peek at what turned out to be our best attended Homecoming Weekend ever will inspire you to come back to Penn next fall — or maybe even next week!

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Filed under Alumni Programming, Campus Life, Events, Homecoming Weekend featuring arts and culture, Penn Park, Philadelphia, Raymond R., Video, Videos

SPEC Connaissance: James Franco Edition

Author: Stephanie Y., C08

Thanks to SPEC Connaissance and my PennCard, I spent yesterday afternoon sitting in the 4th row of Irvine Auditorium listening to James Franco talk about his acting and academic careers. Each year, SPEC Connaissance brings an array of public figures to address the Penn community. Past speakers include Anderson Cooper, Madeline Albright, Henry Kissinger, Whoopi Goldberg, Peyton Manning (I attended), Billy Joel, Ben & Jerry, and Ellen DeGeneres (wait – when did ELLEN come? How did I miss that?) Tickets to the James Franco event were only available to PennCard holders. Hooray for working at Penn!

James Franco in Irvine Auditorium (photo credit: The Daily Pennsylvanian)

In addition to being a huge Hollywood star, Franco holds multiple advanced degrees (from UCLA, Columbia University, and New York University), and he is currently enrolled in a PhD program at Yale University. I have always been impressed with his CV, but I still wondered whether he was admitted into these programs based on merit or his name. During the interview, Franco admitted he receives special treatment for being famous, but the talk confirmed that he is brilliant, and he can certainly hold his own in an academic setting. The man is a true scholar in addition to being a super dreamy Hollywood star.

Here are a few fun facts from the talk:

  • Franco watches the Twilight movies because he is interested in why teenage murder is ok if the teenagers are vampires (good point…)
  • He spent 3-4 months cooped up in his apartment, reading about James Dean, isolated from his friends and family, and smoked two packs of cigarettes per day to transform into his character.
  • There are three movies he regrets making because he was disappointed with the final product (hmm three movies? Spiderman series, anyone?)

Thanks, SPEC Connaissance! I can’t wait to see who you bring to Penn next time.

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Filed under Alumni Programming, Alumnni Education, Campus Life, Stephanie Y., The Arts, The Arts at Penn

Travel to the Dalamatian Coast

Author: Kiera Reilly, C’93

In July, Penn Alumni Travel is once again offering Coastal Life Along the Adriatic Sea, a cruise along the beautiful Dalmatian Coast. Beginning in Venice, the trip makes stops in Sibenik, Split, Hvar, Korcula, Pula, Rovinj, and Dubrovnik, Croatia; Kotor Montenegro; and Boznia-Herzegovina. The featured guest speaker on the trip is Gen. Wesley Clark, (ret), NATO Supreme Allie Commander Europe, who led military operations during the Kosovo War.

The Dalmatian Coast is a beautiful coastline – with limestone buildings, palm tree-lined streets, and glistening blue water of the Adriatic.

Here are some photos from my trip there in 2008. This series is from Dubrovnik.

This photo was taken in Hvar, Croatia.

And finally,  Korcula.

You too can experience and wonder for yourself next July.

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

Hurry, Hurry, Homecoming is Here!

The tents are popping up along Locust Walk, Sweeten House goodies are being set out, and staff stand poised to begin registration at 11 AM on College Green. If you haven’t already registered, that’s okay–walk-on registrations are more than welcome.

Need more persuasion? Download the free Homecoming Weekend mobile app diretly to your smart phone by typing into your mobile web browser to see all of the excellent programming and to search our Look Who’s Coming list. You can also visit the website to view events and attendees here.

Finally, if you need visual evidence and inspiration, check out this countdown video highlighting some of the key events.

And, if you do attend, consider using our Twitter hashtag (#PennHW2011) to send us status updates. We want to know what you’re up to.

Hope to see you back on campus in the next 24 hours. Go Quakers!

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Filed under Alumni Programming, Campus Life, Homecoming Weekend featuring arts and culture