Author: Casey Ryan, C’95
It’s St. Valentine’s Day and I thought there could be no better use of my Top Penn List blog entry for today then an open love letter to the University.
Things that I Love about Penn:
10. Art. There is treasure trove of public art on campus as well as in numerous galleries (read more herein When the Students Aren’t Here). Places like ICA and the Arthur Ross allow staff, students, and visitors to take in some art during the work day.
A temporary exhibit at the ICA.
9. Van Pelt-Dietrich Library. As a current student or a staff member, one can take advantage of the impressive collection of novels ranging from current best sellers to the classics. However, there are some additional treats in Van Pelt, like movies, foreign language materials and very comfortable lounge chairs. Plus, you can even find places to get food and drink in the building.
8. Classes. There are so many classes on Penn’s campus that it’s difficult to choose. I’ve mused about the courses I would take if I had the chance again in my “Do Over” list.
7. Architecture. We work, go to school and live in the very large and dynamic University of Pennsylvania Campus Historic District, a district that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Many of our beloved buildings are noted on this list. My own office building, E. Craig Sweeten Alumni House (aka Delta Tau Delta) from 1914, makes the grade.
Furness Building, interior .
6. Intellectual Access. We try to capitalize on the educational opportunities here on campus. Why, just this very year, Sweeten staff members have started a book club. In fact, our first reading assignment came from the one featured by the Penn Reading Project for 2012-2013, John Patrick Shanleys’ Pulitzer Prize winning play, Doubt. The club has continued throughout the year featuring a variety of short stories selections and this year’s One Book, One Philadelphia selection, The Buddha in the Attic.
5. Sports. Penn’s NCAA and club sports make for great athletic viewing here in our corner of West Philadelphia. From Franklin Field to the Palestra (both also on the National Registry), from Dunning-Cohen Champions Field to Hamlin Tennis Center of Penn Park and beyond, there are many opportunities to watch Penn take on their collegiate foes in the battle for the bragging rights of being the best.
One of the very first iterations of the vision that is now Penn Park.
4. Ben Franklin. Speaking of bragging rights, we have Ben Franklin; Boston’s native son came to Philadelphia and he ended up adopting us. A printer by trade, a scientist by fame and a founding father, he gives 100 dollar bills their nickname and gave life to our great institution.
Our founder in front of College Hall (P.S. College Hall is on the National Registry).
3. Co-workers. I am really excited to have a cadre of colleagues who help make work not seem like so much work. You have read some of the stories from Kristina, Lisa Marie, Liz Pinnie, Aimee, and former staffers like Leigh Ann and Elizabeth. Their insight and funny stories can give you a little glimpse of how they make Sweeten seem like a home.
2. The Penn Museum. One of our biggest treasures on campus is the Penn Museum; I always find an reason to visit from the Crystal Ball to the temporary exhibits. The Arts and Crafts and Eclectic style building (which – surprise, surprise – lands it on the National Registry) houses our internationally renowned educational and research institution dedicated to the understanding of cultural diversity and the exploration of the history of humankind.
1. A Piano in the Office. Sweeten has a lot going for it – it’s located in the center of campus, it’s a converted fraternity house, it’s on aforementioned National Registry – but to me, the most noteworthy aspect of Sweeten is the piano in the main room. While it is a pretty discussion piece, any member of the Penn community can stop by to tickle the ivories during the 9-5 business day. Many times, I have come downstairs for a cup of coffee to find someone playing and brightening up the day with a Chopin étude, a Mozart minute or a good old-fashion song about Pennsylvania.
The inviting piano in Sweeten.
What are the top ten things you love about Penn? I send my best wishes to everyone out there for a very happy St. Valentine’s Day.