Monthly Archives: March 2014

My how you’ve grown!

By: Jason S.

For being a mere 254 years young, Penn is a pretty big place and continues to grow each day. While this interactive map provided by University Archives might not be the most comprehensive (no street names, no Penn Park), it still provides a very interesting glimpse at the university’s expansion since moving to West Philly in the late 19th century. Want to compare land acquired in the early aughts to that of 1870? Click away, my friend.


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It’s Cold Outside!

By Kiera Reilly, C’93  @kierareilly

I work in Penn’s Los Angeles office, and I always enjoy returning to campus for some seasonal weather. When I was back on campus the last week in February for campus meetings and the annual Penn Alumni board retreat, I was treated to a real winter blast.

I left this in Los Angeles….

Sunny and warm in California (Manhattan Beach, CA)

Sunny and warm in California (Manhattan Beach, CA)

And arrived for a week of cold weather and some snow!

Snow falling as seen from my temporary office in the Sweeten Alumni House

Snow falling as seen from my temporary office in the Sweeten Alumni House

My Sweeten House colleagues were less than excited to see more snow given the harsh winter this year, but I couldn’t have been more thrilled. I even enjoyed bundling up in all my winter clothes that I never get to wear in Los Angeles, especially on Friday, when the temperatures were in the teens.

Cold temperatures!

Cold temperatures!

Bundled up in a sweater, a down jacket, a hat, a scarf and gloves! Brrr!

Bundled up in a sweater, a down jacket, a hat, a scarf and gloves! Brrr!

College Green looking magical in the snow.

College Green looking magical in the snow.

The next time I’m on campus, for Alumni Weekend, campus will be lush and green and in bloom for spring.


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Filed under Kiera R., Photos, View from Sweeten, West Coast Regional Office

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

Author: Liz Pinnie

Yesterday a friend from Admissions stopped by the Interview Program Office for a cup of coffee during his break from sitting in committee (yes, it’s that time of year!).  As he melted into a chair and took a slug of his coffee, we started to chat about his impressions on reading hundreds upon hundreds of interviews.

What has recently struck J. about interview reports is the ability of interviewers- of all Penn class years and schools- to touch upon those certain qualities that makes Penn Penn, and a Quaker a Quaker.  Interviews took place via skype, phone, and in person conversation all over the world this year- from Dubai to Detroit, from Slovakia to Santa Monica- from alumni ranging in age from 22 to 85.

In 64 years, there have been a few changes at Penn- a transition from typewriters to computers to tablets, the conversion from Penn-specific building to community oriented growth in West Philadelphia, the evolution from weekly letters home to dorm hall phone calls to texts, the creation of Locust Walk as a pedestrian thoroughfare, the full integration of women to the University, and growth through eight different Presidents (among a few other changes- The Arch, anyone!?).

However, what we’re seeing from interview reports is that the more things change, the more they stay the same.  Throughout Penn’s past, a passion for activity both inside and outside of the classroom has remained, along with a desire for growth in knowledge, a hunger for integration, and excitement for innovation.

Over 12,000 of your fellow alumni are discovering students with these indelible Penn qualities from all over the world through interviews- if you’d like to help, join the Interview Program by clicking here, and share with us what you think makes a Quaker a Quaker.


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Filed under Campus Life, Historical, Interview Program, Liz P., Memories of Penn, Uncategorized, Volunteering

Penn Alumni Travel: Cuba 2

Author: Professor Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw, Department of Art History

From the moment that our plane landed at José Marti Airport in Havana I knew that this Penn Alumni Travel trip would be very different from ones that I had accompanied previously to places such as France, Spain, Argentina, and Chile.  After having successfully passed through immigration and while waiting for our luggage, my husband and I were waylaid as a young women in an official brown uniform began to interview him about his reasons for traveling to Cuba.  She wanted to know what he planned to do while there and what things he had brought with him.  The questions were not particularly invasive, but they did seem to be endless.  As he submitted to this plodding interrogation in the middle of the baggage area, we waited and waited for our suitcases to come off the carousel.

The José Marti Airport in Havana

The José Marti Airport in Havana

After about 20 minutes, the airplane’s cargo began to slowly emerge from the behind the black rubber flaps of the handling area and onto conveyor.  Typical of many flights that I have taken to Latin America and the Caribbean, they included a large number of items that were swathed in the bright blue plastic wrap on offer at most international airports as cheap protection against both spillage and curious fingers.  In this case, rather than swaddling mostly soft-sided suitcases and duffels that are not easily locked, the plastic also covered all sorts of odd-shaped packages.   Some of these had funny protrusions that I soon began to recognize as canned food and other grocery items.  This piqued my interest and the novelty of it quickly distracted me from the banal questions with which the official was peppering my husband.  I began to look a little harder at the things that my fellow travelers were bringing into Cuba from Miami.

While we waited for our luggage to emerge, I saw several doors, a 60-inch television, countless boxes, and many enormous suitcases drop down on the conveyor. Most of the items that had once been wrapped tightly in the blue plastic had now been cut open so that the curiosity of the Cuban officials — or perhaps the United States officials back in Miami — could be satisfied that their contents were permissible.  As remarkable as this display of highly eclectic consumer activity was to me, it soon made sense when we arrived at our hotel in Central Havana and began to explore the immediate neighborhood.  There were only a few shops and the ones that we ventured into hardly had anything for sale on their shelves.

A shop in Havana

A shop in Havana

Street commerce

Street commerce

In the weeks leading up to our trip, I had asked friends and colleagues who had been to Cuba in the past few years about how much money they recommended I bring on the trip.  I was curious about this due to the financial restrictions that travelers from the United States encounter.  Under the current embargo, the Cuban government is not permitted to do any business with US banks — ATMs and credit cards issued by US banks will not work there — so one must bring cash in hand when traveling to Cuba. In addition to the query about money, I also asked people what sorts of things they had brought home.  They all remarked that they had purchased very little as there simply was not very much to buy, regardless of whether or not the items were “permitted” under the embargo (more on this farther down).  I did not fully understand what they meant until I saw the many, many empty shelves in the Havana shops. It was then that I began to understand the impact of the US embargo, what the Cubans call el bloqueo or the blockade, which not only makes everyday life incredible difficult for the average Cuban.  Unless Cubans have access to international travel and foreign currency, it is nearly impossible for them to buy many of the simple things that they need, such as the doors and canned food that I saw sticking out of those blue plastic wrapped packages at the airport.

Blockade sign outside Havana

Blockade sign outside Havana

One of the highlights of the trip for me was a guided walking tour of the UNESCO World Heritage site centered in Old Havana.  There we saw the city’s incredible colonial architecture, which dates back to the 1500s and is currently being restored by Habaguanex.  A national company run by the Cuban government, Habaguanex uses the profits from a group of hotels that it runs in Old Havana and Central Havana to fund the restoration and reconstruction of various buildings in the historically significant parts of the metropolitan area.  Prior to receiving the UNESCO designation and the accompanying funds it provided, many of the buildings in this part of the city were disintegrating into the barely functional ruins that today characterize much of the once-spectacular Cuban architectural landscape.

Detail of Old Havana architecture.

Detail of Old Havana architecture.

The key element in the spiraling disintegration of Cuban architecture, which began following the Revolution over 50 years ago, has been the arcane rules governing property in the communist state. The communist real estate laws that govern multi-family dwellings, which include most of the three and four storey apartment buildings in Havana, seem to make little practical sense (to me at least).  Under Cuban law, families are responsible for the upkeep of their own apartments, but nobody (except for the State, perhaps) is responsible for the upkeep of the building.  Therefore, unlike with co-ops or condominiums in the US, there are no superintendents on duty and little that goes wrong in the common areas, with the façades or the exteriors of buildings, is repaired.  While this is the situation throughout the island, its toll has been particularly acute in Havana, where an average of 3 buildings collapse each day.  This terrible situation makes the recent intervention of UNESCO both timely and welcome to both those who live there and to those of us who visit.  Since its founding in 1994, Habaguanex has facilitated the restoration of Old Havana using a two-pronged approach: 1) it trains youth in traditional construction and decoration techniques that have all but disappeared from practice, and 2) the renovations create a desirable tourist area, which in turn enables the process of restoration to proceed through the production of much-needed funds.  A win-win situation.

Buildings disintegrating

Buildings disintegrating

On the Malecon in Havana.

On the Malecon in Havana.

On our last night, after a week in Cuba, I began to repack my suitcases, neither of them were as large or unwieldy as the strange things I had seen coming off the belt when we arrived.  I had only a few books bought at the National Gallery, a couple of vintage posters from the used book market, and some CDs recorded by musical groups we had heard.  Unlike my experiences on other trips, where I sometimes have had to purchase an extra bag for my purchases (for example the Paris to Normandy cruise I took with Penn Alumni Travel in June of 2013 where a new summer wardrobe and several bottles of aged Calvados were acquired) this time it was pretty easy to fit these things in.  Such “informational materials” are the only items that one is permitted to legally bring back to the United States, and as the faculty host I was “playing it safe,” having resisted the lure of the myriad Che Guevara t-shirts and Cuban flag-adorned aprons and bric-a-brac.

At a contemporary dance workshop in Havana

At a contemporary dance workshop in Havana

Cuba is simply not the place to visit if you want to go shopping — Bermuda or the Caymans are the places for deals on Swiss watches and designer sunglasses.  However, if you are interested art, music, dance, and architecture, then Cuba is a revelation.  Thanks to the experts at Academic Arrangements Abroad, who organized our trip on behalf of Penn Alumni Travel, during our week in Cuba we experienced the very best of these things that the island had to offer.  I will leave it to Alyssa D’Alconzo, Director of Alumni Travel and Education at Penn, who also traveled on my departure to discuss more of the amazing activities we experienced. (Look for Alyssa’s blog on March 27th.)  Now, less than a month later, I am actively making plans to return to Cuba soon (perhaps with some Penn Art History students in tow) and see more of this complex and marvelous country.

Penn alumni and friends at the Havana cathedral.

Penn alumni and friends at the Havana cathedral.

[Interested in travel to Cuba? Penn Alumni Travel will be returning February 14-21, 2015. Email Emilie C. K. LaRosa at to be added to a priority reservation list.]

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Filed under Faculty perspective, Penn Alumni Travel, Travel

Open House

Author: Michelle Ho, ENG’14

Recently I was given the opportunity to be the student speaker at the Collaborative Classroom Open House.  The Collaborative Classroom is a new classroom on the first floor of Van Pelt Library, off the hallway leading to Weigle Information Commons.  From the way the classroom furniture is arranged to the cutting-edge technology in the room, the design of the Collaborative Classroom aims to facilitate active learning.  In the classroom, active learning can take the form of problem solving in teams, peer reviewing written work, or delving into a case study, among other activities.  To help facilitate these activities, students sit at round tables and face each other, instead of in rows where they face the professor.  Each table has its own dedicated projector system where students can plug their own laptop or tablet and display what they are working on.  The walls on the classroom also double as whiteboards and projection screens so you can annotate directly over what you are projecting.  This semester there are nine courses such as social policy and practice, geology, and writing seminar being held in the Collaborative Classroom.  Imagine how much more interactive writing seminar could be if you edited a piece by projecting it on the wall and having classmates take turn making edits by writing over it for the table to see.

OPENNed blog1

So how did I get to become involved with this?  Well, the Collaborative Classroom is actually a joint project between the Penn Libraries and the Student Committee on Undergraduate Education (the branch of Penn Student Government that I am a member of).  The idea for the Collaborative Classroom came from two previous SCUE Chairs, Scott Dzialo and Joyce Greenbaum.  Together, they envisioned that having a space like the Collaborative Classroom on campus would allow for SCUE initiatives such as problem solving learning (PSL) and the flipped classroom to be possible.  Unlike previous SCUE projects like building Penn Course Review, instituting Fall Break, and implementing pass/fail grading, there were physical roadblocks – in terms of finding and configuring space – in addition to administrative and policy roadblocks.

After meeting with people across campus, the construction for the classroom was made possible by two Penn alumni, Larry Bass (W’67) and Chuck MacDonald (W’81).  As one of the founding members of SCUE, the Bass family embraced the idea of the Collaborative Classroom and saw it as a way to commit to SCUE and the Penn Libraries.  The MacDonald family matched this gift and also made possible an Innovation Fund to support the classroom.  The Open House was a way to thank the donors and also show off the classroom to faculty and students.  As Mr. Bass and his family were able to attend the Open House, it was a fantastic opportunity for SCUE members to meet one of the founding members of our organization and get a front-row perspective about the history of our organization.  The generosity and input of the Bass family has shown that participation in any extracurricular opportunity at Penn doesn’t have to end with graduation.  At SCUE in particular, we have been inspired to start an Alumni Newsletter and plan alumni get-togethers.  Moving forward, we are excited to collaborate with the Library and also faculty members to develop more courses for the Collaborative Classroom.  Of course, we are also looking forward to working more with our alumni!

OPENNED blog2OPENNed blog3

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Filed under Academics, Alumni Programming, Campus Life, Michelle Ho, Student Perspective, Uncategorized

A Marshmallow Squared Donut? Yes, Please.

Author: Emilie C. K. LaRosa

There are many great restaurants in University City: White Dog, Distrito, POD, etc. The list is always growing, but if you’re looking for a quick and delicious breakfast or a mid-afternoon sweet stop, then the choices are quite slim. Sure, there’s a Dunkin’ Donuts on Walnut and 34th, and Insomnia Cookies is just across College Green, but when I’m looking for a gourmet sweet experience–a truly melt-in-your-mouth fried ring of batter–I now have a place to turn. Federal Donuts on Sansom Street between 34th and 36th streets.

Federal Donuts on Sansom Street- It's open!

Federal Donuts on Sansom Street- It’s open!

The shop opened today and, as conscientious alumni relations personnel, we felt it was our duty to try it out immediately. Now, we can personally recommend this new donut and fried chicken shop to visiting alumni.

Alumni relations staff pose with the new store front.

Alumni relations staff pose with the new store front.

Inside, the shop was busy but the wait was not long. The menu included “fancy donuts,” “hot fresh donuts,” and “fried chicken.” If you’ve never tried a hot fresh donut from Federal Donuts, I suggest you do. They fry them to order which means they come out hot, soft, and irresistible.

Federal Donuts menu.

Federal Donuts menu.

Nicole and Molly enjoy a warm donut.

Nicole and Molly enjoy a warm donut.

In the end, I decided on a Marshmallow Squared donut.



It was lightly fried, covered in a marshmallow glaze, and topped with actual toasted marshmallows. It also didn’t last long. Luckily, I know where to find more!

If you find yourself at Federal Donuts this year, let us know what donut is YOUR favorite. I’ll be keeping an eye on the comment section below. Happy University City eating!




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Spring Break in Philadelphia!!


This will be my first time in my whole academic career that I’ve never gone home for Spring Break. I’m used to running away from the cold to sunny Las Vegas’s upper 60 degree. This year, I will be staying put. I’ve survived some crazy snow storms and my master’s comprehensive exam these past few weeks. Now, I’m crossing my fingers it doesn’t snow while I’m on spring break. Although it’s only a week, it feels like I have an enormous amount of time on my hands! What should I do to fill in that time? Sleep in? Order out? Watch Netflix non-stop? Ah, that’s what the weekends are for!

I’m debating where to go and what to check out in the city.  I’ve recently received 2 free tickets to the Barnes Museum which I plan on exploring. I also have a curiosity to check out the Philadelphia Flower Show currently going on. Here’s a list of possible places I might go to:

Reading Terminal – what treasures does it hold?

The Penn Museum– it’s free for Penn students!

The Edgar Allan Poe House – I hear admission is free

The Liberty Bell Center – I figure this should be on my to do list

Love Park– It’s iconic. It’s as must.

The Philadelphia Zoo– taking a break from school work and watching animals be animals sound appealing

King of Prussia Mall– because a girl’s got to do some window shopping on a graduate school budget

Attend a Pacer’s game – because I can’t live in Philly without actually experiencing a sporting event

I’m also searching for the best cheesesteak hoagie in town. This might take some in depth research. Any suggestions would be great!

If anyone is attending NASPA’s  (Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education) Annual Conference in Baltimore on March 17-19th please let me know. I would love to connect with Penn Alumni.

Count Down to Graduation:  71 Days!!!

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Filed under Campus Life, Edna G, Philadelphia, Student Perspective, Uncategorized

ARTiculture: Philadelphia Flower Show 2014

by Nicole C. Maloy, W’95

My interest in art has been rather well documented. So, though flowers may be pleasant enough on their own, the Philadelphia Flower Show became doubly appealing thanks to its 2014 theme: “ARTiculture: where art meets horticulture.” What does this mean? It goes a little something like this:

For fans of Piet Mondrian.

And this:

Inspired by Claude Monet’s garden at Giverny.

And that is just a taste. Beyond the fabulous, large displays, which I expected, I encountered something entirely new to me. Did you know that pressed flower art is a thing? I did not, but it turns out there are societies and guilds devoted to it. And I don’t mean pressing a flower and framing it. I mean taking pressed flowers and turning them into something else. A new creation. A work of art. For example:


I truly thought this was a painting at first. Surprise! It’s pressed flowers! If only Soylent Green had been pressed flowers.

I had never seen anything quite like this. Scroll down to see more, and enjoy! For an even better view of these, and all of the fascinating plant life that you would expect from the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society (including herbs, hairy cacti, and yes, FLOWERS EVERYWHERE), get thee to the Philadelphia Convention Center by this Sunday, March 9 and celebrate one of Philadelphia’s most beautiful traditions.

P.S. I bought a bonsai tree at the show! It lives in my office at Penn now, so I have named it BENsai. 🙂

And now for more stunning pressed flower art:




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Filed under Fine Art, Nicole M., Philadelphia

Locust Walk Talk: Road Tripping with Craig Carnaroli, W’85 (preview)

Author: Casey Ryan, C’95

Twenty years ago, I went on an epic road trip to New Orleans, where I happened to turn 21.  It was a  26 hour drive from Philadelphia through the South, including Atlanta which was two years away from the Centennial Olympic Games. The week was full of discovery, highways and laughter.


Oh yea, between Austin and San Antonio there’s a stretch of highway where the legal limit is 85 mi/hr

This year, to engage our alumni in Texas, we are visiting the Lone Star State to bring a Penn update to our outstanding alumni there.  Yes, Craig Carnaroli,W’85, the Executive Vice President; Tara Davies, Director of Regional Clubs and I are driving through the great state of Texas!

The Highway in Austin

This epic trek starts on Sunday, March 9 and runs until Thursday, March 13, hitting Houston, San Antonio, Penn Austin and Dallas.  During our trip, Craig Carnaroli will meet with our proud Penn family to discuss the University’s position in the current environment of higher education as well as new and exciting ventures happening on campus.

I’m taking requests for souvenirs

If you are in the area, please join us at one of our stops in Texas:

  • Houston – March 9, 5:30 – 7:30 pm hosted by Kathleen Kopp, CW’74, PAR’16, and Alfredo Perez, PAR’16
  • San Antonio – March 10, 7:00 pm at Paesanos Lincoln Heights
  • Austin – March 11, 7:00 pm  hosted by Jay Srinivasan, WG’96, and Jakes Srinivasan, WG’94
  • Dallas – March 12, 6:00 – 8:00 pm This event is at capacity.

I look forward to the stories from the road in later entries.

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Filed under Casey R., Locust Walk Talk, Penn Clubs, Travel

Penn colleague, alumni volunteer and ARTIST . . .

Author: Kristina Clark

Nicole Maloy, W’95, is one of my colleagues in Alumni Relations. She is the Director of the Multicultural Outreach program. I thought I’d share a post about her simply because she is interesting!

Nicole not only works in Alumni Relations, she is a very active volunteer on Penn’s Association of Alumnae Board, members with whom I work closely. This post is not about Nicole’s role as an employee or as an alumna however, this is about Nicole’s personal creativity. For example and most recently, Nicole taught a few of her Alumni Relations colleagues how to knit. She is a patient teacher (for which we are most grateful) and now my ten-year old daughter wears a beautiful purple knit hat that I finished last month. Nicole has many talents — she’s a dancer, a singer, an athlete, and most certainly an artist, as confirmed by being chosen last week to exhibit her portrait drawing at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. This honor is what I wanted to share with you.

Here’s the story . . . Nicole once wrote a Penn Alumni Blog post about exploring art resources in Philadelphia (includes a photo of her at age 17 with several jean jackets that she painted for her high school classmates in the late ’80s and early ’90s). One resource that she had not yet taken advantage of is the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA), the first school of fine arts in the United States. Its origin dates from 1791, when Penn was still located at 4th & Arch Streets.

In fall 2013, Nicole took a weekly evening class called “Intermediate Portrait Drawing” through PAFA’s Continuing Education program. Students who had been enrolled in CE classes or workshops from spring 2013 through spring 2014 were invited to submit artwork for the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts Continuing Education Programs Annual Juried Student Exhibition.

PAFA received nearly 180 submissions, and 80 were accepted. Among them is Nicole’s piece, a portrait in charcoal entitled “Waiting,” which was drawn from a live model in class. If you would like to see it, along with the other 79 drawings, paintings, and sculptures, the exhibition runs from February 28 – April 6 in Gallery 128, Hamilton Building, 128 North Broad Street, at PAFA.

Congratulations, Nicole!


Filed under A Day in the Life - DAR, Alumni Profile, Association of Alumnae, Kristina C., Multicultural Outreach, Nicole M., Philadelphia, Sweeten Alumni House, The Arts, Uncategorized