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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