Monthly Archives: August 2012

Locust Walk Talk: Book Club

Author: Casey Ryan, C’95

As a member of the Class of 1995, I am part of the inaugural Penn Reading Project (PRP) class. During the summer of 1991, I received a book in mail from Penn and I put it aside to save as the reading for my flight to San Francisco for our “last family vacation” before I left for college.  After settling into my seat for the transcontinental flight, I opened the envelope which revealed The Bacchae by Euripides.


This Greek tragedy, based on the mythological story of King Pentheus of Thebes and his mother Agauë, whom god Dionysus punished for their refusal to worship him, was to be our class’s first shared educational experience in college.  This common experience did, in fact, resonate with us.  We incorporated the Greek theme into our 15th reunion party.


The Class of 95’s Greek Bacchanalia 15th reunion

Now in its 21st year, the PRP returned to its roots with Doubt: A Parable by John Patrick Shanley as this year’s book.  Since 2007, The Penn Reading Project has been incorporated as part of the larger Academic Theme of the year.  This initiative is sponsored by the Provost’s office to develop a series of year-long events around a theme chosen by faculty, staff and students.  This year’s theme is the Year of Proof, which charges us to investigate how we know that what we know is true and discover our search for proof.


As a nice professional development exercise, we in Sweeten attended our own private PRP discussion group at lunch.  Several of us on staff have read Doubt and eagerly talked about the play framed within the structure of the students’ PRP discussions which are facilitated by a faculty or staff member.  Our own Lisa Vaccarelli, C’02, GED’10, Director, Alumni Education, Alumni Travel & Career Networking, moderated our talk – pushing us to address both absolute proof and the varying degrees of doubt with working in tandem can either distort or illuminate the truth.

Lisa provided us with some questions in advance:

•             Did you like any of the characters in the play? If so, did your personal feelings for this character change in the course of the story?  Why?

•             Did you identify with any character in the film? If so, with whom and why? If not, why not?

•             Father Flynn said, “The truth makes for a bad sermon. It tends to be confusing and have no clear conclusion.” What do you think he meant by this? Do you agree with him?

•             Sister Aloysius remarked to Sister James, “In the pursuit of wrongdoing, one steps away from God.” What do you think she meant by this? Do you agree?

As well as creating questions on the fly:

•             In reference to the opening sermon, how is doubt isolating?  Unifying?

•             Who are the moral guardian’s in our society?

•             The subtitle for the play is “Doubt: A parable”.  How is the play a parable?

The conversation was heated and passionate; it encouraged about twenty of us to analyze and articulate our own beliefs on the actions in the play. It was invigorating to have such an exchange among a group of well-read colleagues.

Hopefully, this little exercise in our office may inspire you to seek out the current and former PRP books to add to your reading list. Or, if you are a class, club, diversity alliance leader or alumni volunteer, feel free to work with us in Alumni Relations to vet the ideas of how you can host a small book club and discussion group event for your fellow alumni on your own.


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Rocky Mountain National Park

Author: Stephanie Yee, C’o8

As a West Coast native, I love being surrounded by mountains. Even though I am a self-proclaimed “city girl,” there’s something special about being 11,000 feet above sea level surrounded by mountains as far as you can see. I recently visited the Rocky Mountain National Park for the first time. The trip reminded me how important it is to take a break from city life to enjoy and appreciate nature. If you are interested in visiting some National Parks this year, you are in luck. The Penn Alumni Travel Program is hosting a Southwest National Parks tour in May 2013. This tour does not include Rocky Mountain National Park since it is not in the Southwest, but you will visit Grand Canyon National Park, Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Dead Horse Point State Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, and Zion National Park. Sign up today!

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Filed under Alumni Perspective, Penn Alumni Travel, Travel

Penn Connects 2.0

Author: Jason S.

Although we are still a week away from welcoming the newest members of the Penn community to campus, areas from Locust Walk to Shoemaker Green are abuzz with activity, working towards fulfilling the vision set forth by the Penn Connects plan when it was first introduced in 2006. 2012 brings us exciting new construction projects like the renovation of the ARCH, as well as much progress on the Singh Center for Nanotechnology, both of which are slated to be completed sometime in 2013. To read more about the second phase of this initiative and to view a high resolution version of the map above, visit the Penn Connects website.

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The Search for a Superband

Author: Lisa Marie Patzer

Are you a Penn alumnus or student with musical talent waiting for your American Idol moment? Well here it is.

Penn Alumni invites all Penn musicians to enter the first ever Blutt Band Slam! All musical genres are welcome. Simply visit the Blutt Band Slam website for contest details and to enter your group.  Selected acts will perform live on College Green during Homecoming Weekend and compete for over $1500 in cash prizes.


Submission Deadline (entry form): September 21st
Performance Date/Time: October 27, 2012,
4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Not sure your musical talents will hit a high note with our judging panel? No problem – we still need your support. Cheer on all the musical performers by attending Homecoming and see who will be crowned the first Blutt Band Slam champion!  For ongoing information about the event, follow us on twitter with the hashtag #bbandslam.

This event is made possible by the generosity of Mitchell Blutt, C’78, M’82, WG’87.

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Filed under Homecoming Weekend featuring arts and culture, Lisa Marie Patzer, The Arts, The Arts at Penn

Get Ready to Come Home (to Penn)!

Author: Lisa Vaccarelli, C’02, GED’10

You’ve saved the date (October 26-28).  Now, take a look at all the great programming taking place over Homecoming Weekend featuring Arts & Culture.  The website is up and registration is open – space is limited for some events, so sign up now to save your space.  For those who need a cheat sheet, here are a few events not to miss.

Get back in the classroom and participate in dynamic discussions with faculty and fellow alumni at one of these Classes without Quizzes: [ARTHUR ROSS GALLERY IMAGE and/or CLASS IMAGE]

  • Frank Furness and the Evolution of the Modern Library (Saturday)
  • The Power of Suggestion/The Pleasure of Groove: New Developments in Contemporary Jazz (Saturday)
  • Masters of Light: French and California Impressionists (Saturday)

Tour Penn’s Architectural Masterpieces with Dr. David Brownlee, Frances Shapiro-Weitzenhoffer Professor of the History of Art:

  • 19th Century Architecture (Friday)
  • 20th Century Architecture (Saturday)

Explore the beautiful grounds of the Barnes Foundation, recently relocated to Center City Philadelphia, with renowned landscape architect and PennDesign professor Laurie Olin (Sunday).

Kids of all ages are invited to Morris Arboretum’s Bloomfield Farm Day, with tours of a working 18th century grist mill and plenty of family-centered entertainment (Sunday).

And finally, be ready to cheer the Quakers on the certain victory against the Brown Bears. Can’t wait to see you there!

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Filed under Alumni Perspective, Alumni Programming, Events, Homecoming Weekend featuring arts and culture

Baltimore Ave Dollar Stroll 2012

Author: Kelly O’Connor

Looking for something to do near Penn’s campus this summer?

Head over to the Baltimore Ave Dollar Stroll tomorrow, August 16th from 5:30 – 8:30 PM. More than 25 local business and vendors will be setup from 42nd to 50th Streets with $1 deals. Check out what there is to offer while enjoying live music and performances.

For more information, check out University City District’s Website.

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“I road my bicycle past…”

Author: Lisa Marie Patzer

In 2006, when I moved to Philly from Denver, I decided to sell my Subaru and see if I could get by without a car.  I relied on SEPTA, Philly Car Share, and my two trusty bicycles for transportation.  Since then, I’ve developed a new appreciation for what people do with bikes.  This first picture is of a 1988 Pinarello Montello and is very similar to the bike I ride around town.  A very average bike.

Pinarello Cherry Red

Cherry Red Pinarello

But then there is this guy.

Wash Cycle Laundry

Wash Cycle Laundry

He works for Wash Cycle Laundry, Philadelphia’s sustainable laundry and linen rental service.  They haul tons of laundry every week using bicycles and trailers. Bilenky Cycle Works, (BCW) is a specialty bicycle shop in North Philly dedicated to making custom bicycles “one frame at a time.”  They can make you a pizza delivery bike similar to this one if you want.

Bilenky Cycle Works

Pizza Delivery Bike by Bilenky Cycle Works

In October of 2010, BCW organized the first ever Philly Bike Expo, bringing together bicycle makers and enthusiasts from around the country.  Here are a couple of my favorite photos from that event.

Wooden Bike Sculpture

Wooden Bike Sculpture

Fixed Gear Display

Fixed Gear Display

Pink Cargo Bike

Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby piece in reception area.

Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby display

The University of Pennsylvania has it’s own history with the bicycle.  This photo, made available by the University Archives Digital Image Collection, was taken in 1914 in front of College Hall.  I would like to see the woman in the white dress and big hat riding one of those bikes.

College Hall, 1914

College Hall, 1914

And this was taken in 1963 in front of Annenberg Center.

Annenberg Center, 1963

Annenberg Center, 1963

This illustration is from the University Calendar, September 1905, and below it is a black and white drawing by Morton Livingston Schamberg, circa 1900.

University Calendar, Illustration, September 1905

University Calendar, Illustration, September 1905

Illustration by Morton Livingston Schamberg, 1900

Illustration by Morton Livingston Schamberg, 1900

And here is a photo I took today on campus.

Schwinn Seat - Photo from 8/14/12 on Penn's Campu

Schwinn Seat

Old and new, bicycles are a part of the Philadephia experience and life on campus.  For more information about bicycling in Philadelphia, check out The Bicycle Coalition of Philadelphia web site.

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