Category Archives: Colin H.

International Pay it Forward Day

Author: C. Hennessy, The Penn Fund

Hey, Penn community, did you know that today, April 26, is International Pay it Forward Day? In celebration of this philanthropic holiday, we would like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 20,000 alumni donors who have already given back to The Penn Fund this fiscal year. Your gifts help to fund the core priorities of a Penn undergraduate experience and make this campus one of the most vibrant and beloved in the Ivy League. Thank You!

Did you know that even the current senior class, the great Class of 2012, is paying it forward? With over 1,600 seniors giving back to date, the Class of 2012 is well positioned to be the first class in history to hit 1740 senior class donors. So today, on International Pay it Forward Day; join with us in supporting Penn. Your gift will directly fuel the fires of creativity, imagination, and innovation that make our students the best and brightest in the land.

Watch this quick video to learn more about what motivates the Class of 2012 to give back.

Make today – International Pay it Forward Day – the day you help to make a difference in the lives of undergraduates all across our Red and Blue campus.

On Pennsylvania!


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Filed under Colin H., The Penn Fund, Video, Videos

The Penn Fund Draft Honor Roll – Now Online!

By: Colin H.

I am proud to report that The Penn Fund Draft Honor Roll, a listing of all donors to The Penn Fund as of March 22, 2012, is now posted online! As Alumni Weekend quickly approaches, it is our honor to celebrate those who have made a commitment to their class and to the University of Pennsylvania in support of undergraduate education at Penn.

In the coming weeks, this honor roll will be updated regularly with new donor names. Therefore, I encourage all proud Penn undergraduate alumni to make their gift to The Penn Fund today!

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A Rockin’ Saturday Night at Penn

Author: Colin Hennessy

Are you looking for something to do this Saturday evening? If so, join me at the Penn Symphony Orchestra Concert at 8:00 PM in Irvine Auditorium. This free concert, for those with a Penn Card or $5 general admission, will feature a program including works by Liszt and Brahms.

Founded in 1878, the Penn Orchestra is an ensemble made up of musicians from throughout the University community, primarily non-music majors. The Orchestra rehearses for four hours each week and performs a diverse array of repertoire drawn from the Classic Period through the Twentieth Century.

This particular concert will feature the 2011 winner of Penn’s Hilda Nitzsche Concerto Competition, Ellen Hahm. Hahm, who grew up in Seoul, South Korea, is a senior Philosophy, Politics, and Economics major and began playing the piano at age 4. In addition to her studies in her major, she has spent the last 18 months studying the piano with Michael Sheadel, a College House Music Fellow in the Department of Music. She also spent the summer of 2010 honing her musical skills at the acclaimed Aspen Music Festival and School. On Saturday evening, she will perform the 80-minute Piano Concerto No. 1 by Franz Liszt. The epic Fourth Symphony by Johannes Brahms will conclude the concert.

I hope to see you this Saturday at Irvine!

Penn Symphony Orchestra
Saturday, 25 February 2012,  8:00 PM 

Irvine Auditorium

Liszt: Concerto for Piano no 1 in E flat major, S 124

Artist: Ellen Hahm (Piano)

Brahms: Symphony no 4 in E minor, Op. 98

Conductor: Brad Smith

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Penn Student Video

Author: Colin Hennessy

The significance of giving is not lost on Penn students. Every day, they pass the growing buildings, the new technology and stunning campus that are all made possible by the generosity of alumni giving. Most importantly, a large majority of Penn undergraduate students are on campus because of the student financial aid provided by gifts to The Penn Fund and undergraduate scholarship funds.

As a student worker for The Penn Fund, En Hao, C’13, knows a lot about the impact of annual alumni giving. That knowledge led him to create a Thank You video for all fiscal year 2012 donors to The Penn Fund. Sent earlier this month, En’s video is a delightful look at the appreciation that Penn students feel towards those who came before them and continue to give back.

Learn more about En.
Make your calendar year end gift to The Penn Fund.

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Happy Thanksgiving

Author: Colin Hennessy

As the University takes a break from the busy fall semester, we would like to share our thanks with each of you for reading and engaging with Penn through the Frankly Penn blog.

Thank you for reading, commenting, and share your stories with us – you are what we are most thankful for this season.

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Penn.

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Beware of Vampires

Author:  Colin Hennessy

October is here, and the season for tricks and treats and ghouls and ghosts is upon us. Halloween is an enjoyable time on any college campus, and while Twilight, True Blood and The Vampire Diaries have put the thirsty undead firmly in popular culture, there is another vampire that is perhaps even more dangerous. I am talking about vampire power [flash of lightening, crash of thunder!]

Vampire power is a serious threat for any larger organization including Penn. It may not seem like a big deal to leave your printer on at the end of the day, or even leave your cell phone plugged in for the afternoon, and in truth, the amount of power your equipment is drawing is minimal.

HOWEVER – When you consider the thousands of others on campus doing the same thing, the power draw can be significant. Vampire power or standby power is very common. More and more devices are able to reduce their power consumption when not in use; however, they are still drawing power – leaking power, consuming power.

Consider your office or dorm room. What is plugged in that doesn’t need to be? Each one of those devices is drawing power. Power that contributes to Penn’s overall footprint.

Penn has ambitious sustainability goals, and each of us play a role in helping Penn to achieve those goals. In the coming months join with your colleagues and fellow students in finding ways to reduce Penn’s energy consumption and start with vampire power.

Here are just a few simple things you can do to reduce your energy use:

  1. Unplug  your equipment when possible
  2. Dress for the weather vs. adjusting the thermostat
  3. Use daylight not lamplight
  4. Recycle
  5. Print less
  6. Use public transportation or walk
  7. Report problems
  8. Learn more – visit Penn’s Sustainability Website to get more information
  9. Encourage your friends to join you!

Let us all do our part to make Penn a greener place and keep the vampires out.

Happy Halloween.

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I Bike Philly

Author: Colin Hennessy

Philadelphia is a biker’s city. With more and more Center City streets making room for bike lanes, cyclists are able to traverse our city with increased ease and safety. Despite these advancements, what really excites me as a relatively new biker is the Schuylkill River Heritage Area Trail.

Each morning before work, well most mornings, my colleague and I meet and ride to the trail. Our morning routine includes a 10-mile journey to the Falls Bridge and back to the start of the trail near Spruce Street. The whole excursion takes about one hour (door-to-door). This bike friendly journey includes stunning scenery and views of the river. Long straight-aways provide many opportunities for sprinting, while one or two mild hills give that brief burning sensation in quad muscles. In addition, on the weekends we have extended our journey and ventured to Valley Forge.

The best news is the trail is minutes from Penn’s campus. All members of the Penn community are able to take full advantage of this trail. With the opening of Penn Park (today) the combined outdoor space in and around the Penn campus is extraordinary. Few urban schools can boast the amount of green space so easily accessible by their campus.

As late summer transforms to fall, I hope you will take full advantage of the moderate temperatures and lingering daylight that are made for long bike rides, riverside runs, or casual walks and talks. Philadelphia is a wonderfully accessible city and Penn is right at home here.

Make a plan to visit Penn Park and the Schuylkill River trail – before long your visits might become part of your daily routine, like mine.

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Filed under Colin H., Penn Park, Philadelphia, Sustainability at Penn, The Penn Fund

Paradise Found

Author: Colin Hennessy

How does the song go? “Pave paradise and put up a parking lot?” Well, not at Penn. We took 24 acres of concrete and asphalt and transformed it into a vast urban park. New sporting fields and walking paths combine to create a lush oasis on the eastern boarder of campus, an oasis this Penn employee cannot wait to visit – regularly.
I had the opportunity to take a tour of the still-under-construction park today and was thrilled with what I saw and learned. In addition to the vast amounts of new green grass and over 500 expertly-selected trees (thanks to our friends at the Morris Arboretum), the park has been constructed with sustainability and green land use in mind. Subterranean rain water collection cisterns will feed irrigation for the freshly planted trees and grasses, while accessible paths and access bridges allow easy admission to all members of the Penn community.

When I last wrote about Penn Park in April, the ground was still cold and the progress seemed sluggish. However, following my tour today I am very excited about the massive park that is literally coming out of the ground just a few strides from my office.

I invite you to come back to campus when Penn Park is complete in September, and take part in this beautiful redevelopment project that was built, in large part, because of generous alumni support. You can play tennis, bike around the park, or simply sit and daydream in the grass while enjoying a view of the beautiful Center City skyline. I promise you that Penn Park not disappoint.


Filed under Campus Life, Colin H., Penn in the Summer, Penn Park

Irvine Auditorium – Look at Those Pipes!

Colin Hennessy

During a recent shopping trip to Macy’s in Center City, I learned that the Wanamaker Organ is the largest operational pipe organ in the world. As I wondered the store listening to the organist, thinking how cool it is to listen to live music versus the thump thump of a top 40-radio station, I recalled another set of astounding pipes – those of the Curtis Organ on Penn’s campus.

A quick Google search shared loads of information on the renowned 1926 organ that would eventually make its home in the walls of Irvine Auditorium.  Named for Cyrus H. K. Curtis, a publisher, the Curtis Organ is one of the largest pipe organs in the world and has nearly 11,000 pipes.

Interestingly, the organ was not always destined to fill Irvine with music, but rather to take the stage at the Sesquicentennial Exposition of 1926. The Exposition was a world’s fair, set to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and hosted in Philadelphia. When the exposition went bankrupt, Curtis purchased the organ and donated it to the University to be built into Irvine Auditorium at the time of construction.

Pipe organs are fascinating instruments and much of what makes them sound the way they do is hidden from sight. When on display at the Sesquicentennial Exposition, the Curtis organ’s pressurized chamber under the pipes that is required for the organ’s mechanics was supposedly large enough to comfortably seat 100 for dinner.

I hope you’ll take an opportunity to listen to the Wanamaker Organ the next time you’re in Center City on a Saturday afternoon. In my opinion, there is no better way to shop than to enjoy live music on the largest operation pipe organ in the world. Also, keep a look out for the next screening of the classic silent movie The Phantom of Opera set to live music played on the Curtis Organ in Irvine Auditorium – you won’t be disappointed.

Information about The Wanamaker Organ can be found here.

Information about The Curtis Organ and Irvine Auditorium can be found here.

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Penn on the Move

Author: Colin Hennessy

Have you ever wondered what Penn looked like 100 years ago or even 200 years ago? When you work at or attend one of the oldest institutions in the country, you can’t help but image what campus was like in the days of our founder, Benjamin Franklin.

Historical Drawing of Campus at Fourth and Arch in Old City

Fortunately, this Penn staffer had the opportunity to spend some time with the University archivist to get the inside story on Penn’s campus and its remarkable transformation over the years. As a non-native Philadelphian, I did not know that Penn’s history starts not in West Philadelphia, but rather at Fourth and Arch in Old City. A campus comprised of the Academy /College Building, built in 1740, with the dormitory following in 1762.

College Hall

It wasn’t until the 1870’s that Penn made the move to West Philadelphia. Thanks to some forward-thinking land acquisitions, Penn’s trustees began to build the iconic structures that represent Penn today. Beginning with College Hall in 1871, Cohen Hall, and buildings of the now medical complex, Penn’s infrastructure quickly took root.

Over the next 100 years, roads through campus would be closed, trolleys would go underground, and Penn would continue to reach to the West and North. The history of Penn’s physical plant illustrates a fascinating story of land use and resource stewardship as this campus rests on what was once “the poor house” of Philadelphia.

Campus Map, 1878

For more information about the history of Penn’s campus, complete with photos and commentary, visit the website of the University Archives.

For now, as you walk through campus, take a moment to ponder how much has changed and reflect on what Penn may look like 100 years from now as Penn continues to be on the move.

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