Monthly Archives: June 2013

Goodbye to Our Ivy Plus Friends

Author: Aimee LaBrie

Today was the last day of the Ivy Plus conference, and we wish all of our visiting travelers safe journeys home. I learned so much over the last three days during the panels and in just casual conversations over drinks or lunch. I don’t want to lose that connection with all of these very smart, creative, and friendly people. I hope that you will all stay in touch throughout the year.

One of our final moments was to present the Ivy Plus awards for Alumnipics 2014. Each winner received a bronze (Cornell), silver (Princeton), or gold (Dartmouth) Quaker bobblehead.

BobbleHeads (2)

Let’s continue the conversations, the competitions, and the collaborations as we continue on throughout the year and start to look forward to Ivy Plus 2014 at Brown University (#IvyPlusAR).




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My Ten Penn List: Ivy Plus at Penn

Author: Casey Ryan, C’95

Last year I shared with you some insider knowledge about our Alumni Relations peer conference, Ivy Plus, which Dartmouth hosted.  This year, we are the hosts welcoming the Alumni Relations Offices from the 7 other Ivies, Stanford and MIT.

This conference provides fantastic career training with sessions like Changing the Status Quo, discussing the numerous challenges alumni relations offices face in promoting programs and events to a wide population of alumni; Collaboration: Breaking Down Silos within Alumni Relations, focusing on the working within our universities as well as our own departments for programming opportunities; and How do You Measure Success and Engagement? Setting and Measuring Program Goals, tackling the vague science of quantifying alumni engagement in a purposeful way.  On the other hand, we are in the business of connecting people to each other and their almae matres, so we also know how to have some serious fun, too.

Here are my top ten photos from the conference, albeit some are candids and others were tweeted, instagrammed or facebooked.  (note: the opinions and views expressed through these Twitter, Instagram or Facebook accounts are the opinions of those individuals and do not reflect the opinions or views of the University or myself).


 @amywolf A sultry summer evening at @Pennalumni’s #IvyPlusAR… just the right kind of night for quizzo!


irishwombat Talking about culture with Prof. Jackson #IvyPlusAR.


Teamwork with the last minute prep for Ivy Plus. (photo, Ivy Plus facebook page)


@emilieckl Filing into the Barnes. #ivyplusAR @IvyPlusAR



A candid of some of the directors, deep in discussion.



Some of our Ivy Plus colleagues on the Early Bird Tour of the Penn Museum. (photo, Ivy Plus facebook page)


@krl67  #ivyplusar, Philly market tour…I’m in heaven!


@jenlynham Everyone else is in the wrong session: mimosas at class benchmarking! #ivyplusar


Yea, we can have some serious fun, too.

ebetz Lisbeth rocks! #ivyplusar @uofpenn @pennalumni


Delco is short for Delaware County, the Philadelphia southwestern suburbs from which several of our staff hail. It IS quite an honor to be accepted and loved by these ladies. (photo, Kiera Reilly)

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Great Preparations

Author: Patrick Bredehoft

As was reported in yesterday’s post, Penn is hosting the annual Alumni Relations Ivy Plus Conference, which is a gathering of AR staff members from the eight Ivy League schools, along with Stanford and MIT.  Over a hundred staff members from other institutions are joining us for three days of workshops, guest speakers, and social events.

Part of Penn’s duties as host include ensuring that our many guests feel welcome on campus, which means goodie bags for everyone. On Monday morning, the Sweeten staff gathered together to create “Welcome to Penn” kits, including snacks, towels, and t-shirts for each participant.  Of course, as hosts, this means we also get to outfit our colleagues from other universities in a complete line of Penn gear: we have already started to see a few extra Penn shirts throughout the conference this week…

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Penn Alumni Welcomes Colleagues for Ivy Plus

Author: Nicole Svonavec, GEd’09

Penn Alumni Relations is so excited to host our AR colleagues from schools across the country at the annual Ivy Plus Conference, which starts today!  We’re ready to learn, share, connect, and party!  Sweeten looks like a whole different building today – we’re showcasing our Penn pride and, for one week only, celebrating our colleagues’ school traditions.  Check it out!

Hurrah for the Red and the Blue!

Hurrah for the Red and the Blue!

And our colleagues too!

And our colleagues too!

Even Freddie Mercury is dressed-to-kill in his Penn red, reminding us that we’re still the champions (of Philadelphia)!

Even Freddie Mercury is dressed-to-kill in his Penn red, reminding us that we’re still the champions (of Philadelphia)!


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The Art of…the Public Restroom?

Author: Josh Durando

Last week, I was down in Washington D.C. assisting on one of the Time to Shine campaign tour events. In addition to this trip being my very first travel event at Penn, which was a cool learning experience for me, it was also great to see how another planner handles pulling together an event.  When we could spare the time, we’d walk around the city.

My favorite night (other than event night, of course) was when we went to Jaleo, a tapas-style restaurant by acclaimed Spanish chef Jose Andres. Aside from the great food (quail and liquid olives, for example), what I remember most vividly about the restaurant was the bathroom.

Allow me to explain. In my 27 years as a traveler across the country and the world, I’ve seen my fair share of public restrooms. Some were delightful—pleasing decor, spotlessly clean, and maybe even an orchid on the sink that I am tempted to steal.  Others…Let’s just say, they left something to be desired.

But the public bathroom at Jaleo was like none I’ve ever seen.  When you looked down in this bathroom here is what you saw:


An army of people who are apparently super excited you are going to walk on their faces.

I’m not entirely sure what the message is—I think it’s more about branding the place as cool, funky, and above all, full of people who love you.

When I returned from DC, I found myself paying a little more attention to bathroom “art” found at Penn. While I haven’t been scientific about my research, I feel comfortable saying the graffiti art ranks among my favorite so far.


In this very same bathroom stall just a few inches over from the “look right” bandit you would find this:


Though the message is a little antiquated, the intention is not, and that brings me to my final point: the people at Penn are smart. They’re also engaged and witty, and have the creativity to give even bathroom graffiti a political slant.

I’ll keep paying attention to what I see on campus in unexpected places and give you updates and things arise.

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Every Donor Counts!

Author: Max Gaines


This fiscal year, The Penn Fund is striving to reach an ambitious goal 27,000 alumni donors. Every donor counts! To date we’re just under 3,873 away from reaching our goal before June 30, 2013.

Why is giving so important at Penn you ask? Because it provides:

  • · Student financial aid
  • · Faculty support
  • · Improved residential life
  • · Innovate classroom technology
  • · Support student activities and clubs
  • · Make campus improvements possible
  • · Establish labs for innovative research

Be a part of the 27,000 standing behind Penn students today. Giving is easy. You can return the attached pledge card, call The Penn Fund at 800.237.2655 or visit our secure online giving site at

Thank you in advance for being counted as a Proud Penn Donor!

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Penn Summer in D.C.

Author: Gabriela Coya, C’13

For the summer, I’ve left the former capital of the U.S. to intern at the current capital – Washington, DC.

While I’ll always be partial to Philly, these past three weeks in DC have been a blast and I can’t wait to fully explore what this city has to offer.

So far, I’ve gotten to opportunity to meet fellow Penn students in DC through Penn in Washington and the Annenberg Summer Washington Internship Program (which I’m a part of), as well as alumni who’ve already made their mark at places such as The Washington Post and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Although I’m still figuring out where I want to end up after graduation, it’s certainly nice to know that I’ll have good company if I do end up calling DC my home.

For now, though, I’m focusing on learning lots, visiting tons of museums, and meeting Bo Obama (and people too, I suppose).

Union Station. I indulged a little and Instagrammed this.

Union Station. I indulged a little and Instagrammed this.

The White House on a hot summer day.

The White House on a hot summer day.


I was hoping Bo Obama might make an appearance. No luck yet, but I’ll keep you posted.

I was hoping Bo Obama might make an appearance. No luck yet, but I’ll keep you posted.

Penn-in-Washington meet and greet.

Penn-in-Washington meet and greet.

I also experienced a derecho while in Bethesda. This was the aftermath of the thunderstorm.

I also experienced a derecho while in Bethesda. This was the aftermath of the thunderstorm.

Stay tuned for more adventures in D.C. over the course of the summer…

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Penn Alumni Travel: The Waterways of Holland & Belgium

Author: Professor Simon Richter (Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures)

Seven days below sea level—and we hardly got wet! Fifteen Penn alumni and friends joined me on the M.S. AmaLyra for a river-based tour of the major waterways and a sprinkling of medieval and Golden Age cities and towns of the Netherlands and Belgium. With the exception of a very wet day in Antwerp, the weather gods were unusually kind to us, but not perhaps without exacting a price. What that price was, I’ll reveal at the end of this blog. If you were with me on the tour, you know what I’m talking about.

Penn Alumni at the Keukenhof Gardens

Penn Alumni at the Keukenhof Gardens

One of the points that the tour through the Low Countries drives home is that culture and geography are inextricably linked. So much of the Dutch mentality is based on centuries long experience with the threat of water inundation, the boon of maritime trade, the engineering successes that claimed arable and habitable land from the sea, and the memory of fatal flooding. From a promontory (if you can call it that!) in the city of Nijmegen, we saw where the Waal River, a tributary of the Rhine, has a dangerous crook in it, which invariably leads to flooding in the old part of the city when the river is high. Our guide told us about the Dutch “Room for the River” project, which restores flood plains and creates additional channels in order to ease the annual and increasing threat of high waters. In Zeeland on the artificial island of Neeltje Jans, we saw that impressive monument of engineering, the Eastern Scheldt Storm Surge Barrier, part of the Delta Works. The amazing thing about this barrier is that it only closes in the event of high water associated with a major storm. The fishing industry and the ecology of the delta were not destroyed. In Kinderdijk we went inside a still functioning windmill, one of many arrayed along the dike that enclosed the Alblasserwaard and worked constantly in order to keep the polder dry. In Amsterdam and in Bruges we got onto boats specially designed for tours of the canal networks. In Antwerp we moored right by the old city and in Arnhem we could see “the bridge too far,” where Allied troops died in an attempt to penetrate beyond the Rhine. Water, water everywhere!


Our Gohagan tour manager was Wim, a tall (who isn’t tall in the Netherlands?!), well read and sardonic individual. He had a knack of interweaving deep cultural and historical insight with quirky confessional accounts about his own occasional bad behavior. In Nijmegen he took a group of Wisconsin alums into a coffee shop to chat with the proprietor and discuss the product! Wim was laidback and very competent—a rare and pleasant combination. As we were shuttled on a bus through a riparian landscape he explained the Dutch culture of tolerance through an allegory of the dikes. There are always two dikes along a river, the summer dike and the winter dike. If the water is behaving it stays within the confines of the summer dike. If it gets unruly it may flow over the summer dike but be held in check by the winter dike. If the range between the summer dikes is lawful behavior, then flowing over into the space between the winter and summer dikes is a matter of tolerance—for recreational drug use, for prostitution, for euthanasia. Not legal, but tolerated up to a point. Cross the winter dike and you have a catastrophe on your hands. Break the law past the limit of what is tolerated and you go to prison.

The Delta Water Works in the Netherlands

The Delta Water Works in the Netherlands

For my part, I was captivated by the raging debate in Dutch society about the song that had been commissioned for the inauguration of the new Dutch king, William Alexander. The Dutch said that the song had been “poldered.” What they meant was this: the Dutch take pride in their level society, where ostentatious wealth and stratified social difference are avoided at all cost. Society is like a polder. People have to work together, without regard for difference, like the pumps and the Delta Works system that keep so much of the Netherlands dry. An unfortunate side effect, however, is that this sometimes means playing to the lowest denominator or being inclusive—of styles of music, means of expression, types of voice and demographic variety—at the cost of aesthetic value. A vocal minority abhorred the song. It sounded like a bad Walt Disney anthem. But William Alexander took the controversy in stride. Like his mother Queen Beatrix before him, he too will be driven around not in a Rolls, a Bentley or a Daimler-Benz. He’ll be satisfied with his Ford.

Is water all we saw? Of course not. I have strong memories of the newly opened Rijksmuseum and the brilliant Dutch master paintings we saw there. The next day we were in the Kröller-Müller Museum, a little known, out of the way gem, with an amazing and large Van Gogh collection. One of the highlights for me was the day we spent in Bruges, an intact medieval city (with more than a thousand buildings constructed during the middle ages). Astonishing cityscapes everyway we looked, celebrity chocolate with funky flavors (fried onion, wasabi, cannabis!), and a lovely luncheon with five of the wonderful Penn alums. The Belgian stew made with the local beer warmed us because, yes, it was cold!

Picturesque Bruges

Picturesque Bruges

And this is where the weather gods come into the picture again. Many of my fellow travelers told me the major reason for joining the tour was to see the tulips in Keukenhof. Normally they would be at their peak. But it had been a cold spring and the flowering bulbs were off by about four weeks. We did see massive beds of lilacs and daffodils and other early bloomers and there were—some consolation—many blooming tulips in the pavilions. I could sense the disappointment, but I have to say that we bore it with equanimity. Back in Amsterdam that afternoon, a number of us joined a group of younger alumni now residing in the Netherlands, members of the Dutch Penn Club, on a rooftop lounge overlooking the city, the harbor and our boat. It was the night before the inauguration and the city was awash in orange, the color of the royal house.

Just beginning to bloom: the gardens in Keukenhof.

Just beginning to bloom: the gardens in Keukenhof.


My fellow Penn travelers were great companions. I enjoyed many long and substantive conversations about history, culture, ecology and many other topics. We also had a lot of fun. Our redoubtable Wim pulled out a Don MacLean CD as we left the Kröller-Müller Museum and fed it into the bus’s player so that we could hear MacLean’s lament for Vincent.  It took us back to the early 1970s and before long a number of us were singing “Bye, bye, Miss American Pie, took my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry.” Not where we were, Mr. MacLean. There wasn’t anything dry.


(If you’re interested in learning more about Penn Alumni Travel and our 2013/14 tour schedule, please click here.)

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Penn Co-Rec Intramural Summer Softball

Author:  Stephanie Yee, C’08

Penn co-rec intramural summer softball is back! Penn Park is a beautiful place to play softball, but sometimes the Philly weather doesn’t cooperate. Check out the photos below from the Tuesday and Thursday games last week.

A beautiful day in Penn Park on Tuesday

A beautiful day in Penn Park on Tuesday

Playing softball on a rainy Thursday
Playing softball on a rainy Thursday
Rainy, cloudy, and gloomy on Thursday. Do you see the umbrella?

Rainy, cloudy, and gloomy on Thursday. Do you see the umbrella?

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Locust Walk Talk: Representing Penn – In the Neighborhood

Author: Casey Ryan, C’95

I had the opportunity to go represent Penn as a delegate at the inauguration of Dr. Helen F. Giles-Gee, CW’72, GEd’73, GR83, as the 22nd president of the University of the Sciences (USciences) on April 19, 2013.

The start of the ceremony

It is so easy to take for granted the pomp and circumstance that I see on a regular basis: convocations, baccalaureates, graduations and commencements. Those of us here in Alumni Relations tend to work these events and often we lose sight of the ritual of celebrating education. So it was an exciting chance to be a part of another school’s traditions. It also helped that former colleagues of mine from my Wharton days including Nancy Shils, C’77, G’86, GEd’98, GEd’01, GRD’08, were behind the scenes to ensure a wonderful day for all involved.

Presidential Inauguration Ceremony was the climax of the week-long celebration which centered on Dr. Giles-Gee’s tenure of “A New Era of Opportunities: Teaching, Service, and Student Research” for USciences.

Officially installing Dr. Giles-Gee as the 22nd President of USciences

Complete with pageantry and Edward Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1, students, alumni, delegates, and faculty marched into the USciences’ Athletic/Recreation Center. The program – about the future of the institute without forgetting its rich past – featured Congressman Chaka Fattah, G’86, City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, students speakers both undergraduate and graduate, and honored staff and faculty to welcome Dr. Giles-Gee to her new role.

According to S. Rogers Wetherill, President, University of the Sciences Alumni Association, USciences began when 68 Philadelphia apothecaries met in Carpenters’ Hall in 1821 because Penn didn’t know what to do with them. At that meeting, the group wanted to establish improved scientific standards and to train more competent apprentices and students to enhance their vocation and to protect the public. The following year, they organized and incorporated the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy (PCP), the first college of pharmacy in the nation and the founding institution of USciences. Today, USciences is a leader healthcare and has taught the founders of six of the world’s pharmaceutical companies and instructed other alumni who have made significant contributions in fields beyond pharmacy, from pioneering the use of X-rays to motor oil additives to rechargeable batteries. The phrase, “Where healthcare and science converge” is more than a tagline, it is the School’s mantra.

Dr. Giles-Gee’s Address

“Today is both a joyful and momentous occasion for this University. A search committee comprised of a diverse representation of stakeholders articulated the attributes for the ideal leader; the resulted in the most comprehensive examination to find just the right person,” Marvin Samson, Chairman of the Board Trustees, University of the Sciences touted, “You, Dr. Helen F. Giles-Gee, met and exceeded the rigorous standards that were established.”*

Dr. Giles-Gee delivered an exciting and engaging address about the role of UScience in the regional and the country, promising to ensure a bright future to its graduates. Ending her speech, she simply stated, “I love what I do and I have a passion for higher education and I’m excited to be here at the University of the Sciences.”*

Welcome back to the neighborhood, Dr. Giles-Gee.

The recessional, albeit a little blurry.

* Lee, N. (2013, April 22). Dr. Giles-Gee – the 22nd President of USP. University City Review, p. 1. Retrieved from

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