Category Archives: Alumni Benefits

Did you know that the Penn Bookstore has a rewards program for Alumni?

By: Jason S.

Well you do now. And the first perk is 25% off spirit gear for just signing up. So go out and get that Penn hat you’ve always wanted. It’s Friday and you deserve it.




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Filed under Alumni Benefits, Jason S.

Come back to campus this May 16 – 19, 2014

Author: Kelly O’Connor


Come back to campus this May 16 – 19, 2014 to catch up with friends and celebrate all things Penn!

Registration opens Monday, March 3rd.

Check the Alumni Weekend website for event details and updates.

New for 2014 – The Parade of Classes and Alumni Picnic will be held at Penn Park!


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Filed under 20th Reunion, 5th Reunion, Alumni Benefits, Alumni Perspective, Alumni Programming, Alumni Weekend, Campus Life, Class of 1993, Class of 1995, Commencement, Events, Family Programming, Kelly P., Memories of Penn, Reunions, Uncategorized

Open Learning Initiative at Penn: what are we doing and where are we going?

Author: Lauren Owens, Program Coordinator, Open Learning Initiative and C’ 08


Over the past year and a half, Penn has produced 24 courses for 1.8 million students, online, for free. Why?

“Penn’s mission, as a great research university, is to create and disseminate knowledge,” says Director for Open Course Initiatives and Senior Advisor to the President and Provost Edward Rock. “The internet is a place of learning and, as part of our core mission, a place where we need to be. That the internet allows us to share our teaching resources with the whole world, at a reasonable cost, is an opportunity that our faculty has enthusiastically embraced.”

Penn took a leap of faith as one of the four founding partners in the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) platform Coursera.  There are now over one hundred partner schools from all over the world participating. From Modern and Contemporary American Poetry, to Experimental Genome Science, to Introduction to Financial Accounting, Penn’s variety of courses has great appeal to a vast audience. As an SAS alumna, it’s incredible to read forum posts and survey reports expressing gratitude just for the opportunity to learn from a Penn professor. Bear in mind these courses are not for credit.

Participation standards and passing grades are set by the Professor and teaching assistants, and the remarkable community of students usually solves their own quandaries before one of us has a chance to notice. The global community of students, driven to take a Penn course because it’s a Penn course, or because of the subject matter, or just for fun, is what creates the learning environment. And that’s pretty remarkable.

The on-campus impact is also remarkable. Edward Rock: “Our partnership with Coursera is a piece of a much larger initiative for innovation in teaching here on campus. The internet changes everything it touches, and we are only beginning to understand how it changes how we educate students.” We are creating content for online consumption. But what happens when professors give the content to students before their on-campus classes, and spend class time on interactive activities? Researchers at Penn are working on exactly that.

In future blog posts I will discuss that research, interview faculty members teaching open courses on Coursera, and provide more updates and insights as this landscape continues to rapidly change.

For more information on the Open Learning Initiative at Penn, please see our website and follow us on twitter!


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Filed under Alumni Benefits, Alumni Perspective, Alumnni Education, Lauren O

A year later, Penn a ‘powerhouse’ in open learning

Penn Current

In June 2012, Penn opened its digital doors to students across the globe with the launch of the University’s Open Learning Initiative. A year later, there’s a lot to celebrate.


As the Initiative celebrates its first year, the numbers support Woods’ enthusiasm. In the past year, approximately 1.4 million students from more than 162 countries have enrolled in Penn’s Open Learning courses. So far, 19 faculty members have taught courses online, and as many as 45 unique courses are in currently in the pipeline.


Read more about the University’s Open Learning Initiative in the Oct. 3rd issue of the Penn Current.




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Filed under Academics, Alumni Benefits, Alumnni Education

Penn Alumni Insurance Program

Author: Kristina Clark

Did you know that Penn Alumni sponsors an Alumni Insurance Program as a service to our graduates?  The program offers a variety of attractively priced insurance products, most of which are available to alumni, students, faculty and staff, as well as their spouses, domestic partners, parents, children, and siblings:

  • Auto, Home & Renters Insurance  Special rates are available to alumni and family members living in the same household. 
  • Health Insurance  For those with a temporary or permanent need for coverage, such as the unemployed and recent graduates, and for special situations, including travelers and students.
  • Life Insurance  Long-term protection with great rates and fantastic features. Coverage is available from $50,000 to $50 million.
  • Long Term Care Insurance  Protect your assets from serious erosion while allowing access to quality care in the most appropriate and desirable setting.
  • Travel Insurance  Travel Medical and Trip Protection coverage is available for individuals or groups, for personal or business travel.
  • Pet InsuranceSimple, customizable dog and cat insurance plans are available.
  • Identity Theft Protection Protect yourself and your family against identity theft with a comprehensive solution you can count on.
  • Advisory ServicesA licensed insurance professional is available, at no charge, to answer questions and provide customized guidance.

For more information visit or contact the program administrator at 800-635-7801.

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Filed under Alumni Benefits, Kristina C.

Lunch-Time Learning

Author: Emilie C. K. LaRosa

This fall, use your lunch break (or your coffee break) to learn something new and interesting. Penn Alumni Office Hours is offering six great webinars on topics as varied as Burma, self control, and the benefits of pet ownership from renowned Penn faculty members. The best part? They’re all free! The second best part? They’re easy to access; it’s as simple as clicking on a web link. No special software, hardware, or downloads required.

Learn more about our Office Hours online webinar series here or check out our six sessions below. Registration for all webinars is required.

Penn Professor Carol Muller

Penn Professor Carol Muller

Teaching World Music Using New Technology (October 22, 2013 at 3 p.m. EST) With Penn Professor Carol Muller. This webinar will discuss the advantages and limitations of using new technologies–specifically online learning platform for teaching about music of the worlds peoples. This will include classes for conventional Penn students and those in MOOC (massively open online courses) style. You will hear a sampling of the music that students hear in Muller’s classes, from pygmy “hoots” to Australian aboriginal chanting, and think about how new technologies are reshaping the way we access knowledge from around the world.

Lisa and George travel through Burma.

Lisa and George travel through Burma.

Explore Exotic Burma (October 23, 2013 at 3 p.m. EST)  With Lisa Ellen Niver (C’89) and her husband George Rajna, founders of We Said Go Travel. Myanmar holds a special place in the hearts of Lisa and George. They met online because Lisa told George, “The Shwedagon Pagoda is my favorite place on the planet.”  Join them for a webinar on the highlights of this unique and unspoiled land. [Penn Alumni Travel will be visiting Myanmar in November 2014. Click here for more information.]

Amazing Machu Picchu in Peru.

Amazing Machu Picchu in Peru.

The Art and Culture of Peru (October 30, 2013 at 12 p.m. EST) With Larry Silver, the Farquhar Professor of Art History. Professor Silver will discuss the arts and culture of Peru and its extraordinary monument Machu Picchu. [Penn Alumni Travel will be visiting Peru and the Amazon in 2014. Click here for more information.]

Wharton Professor Katherine Milkman

Wharton Professor Katherine Milkman

The Science of Self Control (November 6, 2013 at 12 p.m. EST) With Wharton Professor Katherine Milkman. The obesity epidemic is just one example of a major societal problem that is driven in large part by self-control failures.  Other examples include under-saving for retirement, under-utilization of preventive medical care, and under-investing in education.  This talk will provide a short overview of past research on self-control as well as findings from a new branch of psychology and economics that are being used to help policy makers and individuals reduce the incidence of self-control failures.

Could these little pups increase your life expectancy?

Could these little pups increase your life expectancy?

The Effects of Pet Ownership (Is owning a pet healthy?) (December 3, 2013 at 12:00 p.m.) With Penn Vet Professor James Serpell. More than 30 years ago, the results of a single landmark study appeared to indicate that pet owners were more likely to survive for one year following a heart attack than non-owners. In the ensuing years, continued research has elaborated and expanded upon those original findings, as well as shedding light on some possible mechanisms that could account for the salutary effects of pet ownership on people. This presentation will provide an overview of this developing field and its implications.

Vintage cars in Cuba.

Vintage cars in Cuba.

The Art and Culture of Cuba (December 4, 2013 at 12:00 p.m.) With Penn Professor Ezekiel Dixon-Roman. Professor Dixon-Roman will discuss the history, culture, and economics of the Communist-run island nation of Cuba.

To register for any of these great webinars, simply click on the webinar’s title to be directed to the free registration page.

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Filed under Alumni Benefits, Alumnni Education, Emilie, Penn Alumni Travel, Penn Vet, Travel, Wharton

PENN Alumni Family Programming continues . . .

Author: Kristina Clark

Saturday, April 20, 2013

World Café Live
3025 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

11:00 am – DOORS OPEN
11:30 am – 1:00 pm – LUNCH & CONCERT

Bring the kids for a fun-filled afternoon at World Café Live!
The Peanut Butter & Jams concert series welcomes

The Peanut Butter and Jams concert series is about creating a fun and interactive live music experience for kids and parents. The Peanut Butter & Jams series is a guaranteed crowd pleaser.
A family friendly lunch buffet (all you can eat) is included in the cost.

$20 – Adults
$14 – Children


For additional information, please contact Kristina Clark
at or 215-898-9326.

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Filed under Alumni Benefits, Family Programming, Kristina C., Philadelphia, The Arts, The Arts at Penn, Uncategorized, WXPN

Good Fortunes: Interview Program Edition

Author: Liz Pinnie

Well folks, interviewing season for the Penn Alumni Interview Program has wrapped up, and we couldn’t be more thrilled with our inaugural year in Sweeten.  With the help of our fabulous volunteers and supportive co-workers (and lots and lots of coffee), we have managed to have a red letter year: over 22,100 applicants were offered interviews in all fifty states, as well as 123 countries.  We have over 2,440 new members, as well as ten new Virtual Interview Committees.  Interviewers have spent over 5,600 hours in Starbucks across the world and our longest participating interviewer just hit the 50 year mark! There is now a new Portal, our fancy new website is in the works, and trips are being planned to all corners of the earth to spread the interviewing word and provide training.


What does this mean?  This year, all over the world, Penn graduates and talented teenagers met to talk about Penn, and along the way had fascinating conversations about everything from Kafka to Cambodia, Fruit flies to Freakonomics, baking classes to Engineers without Boarders.  These conversations mean that more alumni are being engaged than ever before, more applicants have the chance to speak with an ambassador from Penn, and unique ideas and thoughts are being shared across generations and boarders.


One of our awesome chairs sent us the most giant fortune cookie ever- thanks Felix!

One of our awesome chairs sent us the most giant fortune cookie ever- thanks Felix!

While this has been a wildly successful year, we here in Interview Program Headquarters are not ready to rest (yet).  There is still (a lot!) of work to be done both on our end, and yours.  If you would like to help spread the word about Penn as an ambassador and member of the Penn Alumni Interview Program, please just sign up here.  If you are already a member, spread the word- we want to keep this momentum going to make this experience, for our alumni and prospective students, the best it can possibly be.


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Filed under Alumni Benefits, Interview Program, Liz P., Patrick B., Sweeten Alumni House, Volunteering


Author: Patrick Bredehoft

BenFranklinBench_000We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.

~Benjamin Franklin

I’d like to continue reflecting on some of the many reasons why people get involved in the Penn Alumni Interview Program.  With over 600 interview committees around the world, there’s no shortage of different motivations for people to join, but in each case, the opportunity to create a microcosm of the Penn community in some far-off place looms large.

To be sure, the Penn community is diverse: the Penn undergraduate population alone includes students from all fifty U.S. states, and more than 100 countries around the world.  Those students come to Penn as teenagers with unique backgrounds, opinions, and preconceptions, but they all leave with an essential commonality: they are all Penn alumni.  What’s astonishing is that this identity endures—it becomes an aspect of self, and that connection has the power to trump other aspects of one’s identity.  Whether you move to a new city, a new state, or a new country, the odds are good that there will be at least a handful of hopeful area students applying to Penn each year, and where there are Penn applicants, there’s also an opportunity to join an Alumni Interview Committee in that region. The Penn connection allows an alumnus to become an ambassador in any new place, and to meet other Penn graduates who likewise carry the banner of their educational experience with them wherever they go.

One challenge of being a Penn alumnus is that there are aspects of the university experience that are difficult to replicate after you leave campus.  Outside of the United Nations, it’s difficult to imagine finding a similarly diverse community outside of Penn—particularly one where an individual will almost inevitably encounter so many different people in the course of a single day (through classes, activities, meals, and residential life).  Alumni who join the Interview Program become a part of a community that is both local and global.  In meeting with prospective students, they’re also creating connections between past and future members of the university community.  So, while it’s probably sentimental to claim that the Penn community transcends space and time, it’s also accurate—serving as an Alumni Interviewer provides opportunities for our graduates to hang together.


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Filed under Alumni Benefits, Interview Program, Patrick B.

5 Things You May Not Know About Van Pelt-Dietrich Library

Author: Lillian Gardiner. GEd’11

You know there are libraries on campus, right? Well, there’s this big one called Van Pelt-Dietrich Library that I think you should check out the next time you visit Penn.  All you need to gain entrance is your Penn ID card. Obviously, the library houses an impressive collection of books, but it also offers so much more.

If you know where the “button” is, or the quad, or the LOVE statue, or even Dunkin Donuts, then you can find Van Pelt-Dietrich. Once you’ve found it, here are my top 5 ways to utilize this amazing, free resource:

5. Movies: With nearly 18,000 movies available on DVD, Van Pelt is bound to have something you want to watch. It may not have every title, but check here first and get your movie for free before Netflixing it or buying it off Amazon. Enjoy classics like The Princess Bride and Casablanca.

4. Periodicals: Not only does Van Pelt receive daily newspapers such as The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, it also carries regularly published journals from all over the world. Peruse the periodical section for specific subject matters in a number of different languages.

3. Foreign Language Magazines and Tools: You’ve been telling yourself for years that someday you’ll pick up your Spanish again. You’re not alone. Although I have yet to find a copy of People in Espanol, I’ve worked on my vocabulary and grammar skills by reading articles in Spanish and German. Just 10 minutes a day helps spark my memory.

2. Photo Archives: Search the vast database of image archives by artist, geography, or subject. This is particularly useful when there’s a painting you’ve seen but can’t recall the artist, or when you discover a genre that strikes you and you want to see what else has been created in that vein.

Max Schmitt in a Single Scull (The Champion Single Sculls).

Max Schmitt in a Single Scull (The Champion Single Sculls).

1. Very Comfortable Lounge Chairs: I’ve heard that Van Pelt offers the most comfortable chairs in certain pockets of the library, guaranteed to make you fall asleep. Not that I’ve ever done this. But if you feel the need to rest, there are numerous floors on which you may find a lone chair or quiet area to “rest your eyes” (and hopefully not awake with your mouth wide open).



Filed under Alumni Benefits, Alumni Perspective, Library, Lillian G.