Category Archives: Sweeten Alumni House

Happy Holidays from Classes and Reunions.

Author (and Photoshop Artist): Kelly O’Connor


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See’s Candy Fundraiser . . .

See’s Candy is here!  Each holiday season, the Association of Alumnae hosts an annual See’s Candy Fundraiser.

Fundraising profits help the Association of Alumnae to sponsor programs for women, such as the recent Colloquium in honor of the 100th Anniversary of the Association of Alumnae.  The funds also help to sponsor several awards, including the Continuing Education Award for an outstanding woman who has returned to college, the Fathers’ Trophy for a woman athlete and the Robert J. Alig Award for a student leader.  In addition, the Association funds the Rosemary D. Mazzatenta Scholars Awards for women students’ internships or research during the summer, and has funded the student computer kiosks in the renovated Fisher–Bennett Hall.

If you don’t want to miss out on this delicious fundraising effort next year, send an email to and we’ll be sure to add you to the list!
Candy 001

Happy Holidays!

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Filed under Association of Alumnae, Awards, Kristina C., Sweeten Alumni House, Uncategorized

Senior Year

Author:  John Mosley, C’14

I literally cannot believe that it has been almost four whole years since I first stepped into the Sweeten Alumni House to begin my work-study. Since then, I have been given the opportunity to work on a plethora of Penn Alumni projects, including this great blog and the first annual meeting of the class presidents. I also refuse to believe that I have almost completed my undergraduate studies here at Penn. It feels like no more than a year ago I was a wide-eyed freshman excited for the intellectual journey that awaited me. Now I’m just a dead-eyed senior waiting for it all to be over….


Just kidding (of course)!! I still love Penn as much or more than I did when I first arrived here in the fall of 2010. Now I’m just very sad to see my four years come to an end. I have learned so much from the teaching staff. Now I can confidently convey my opinions and findings in both an academic and a conversational context, and I can more succinctly synthesize new information into my current understanding of a wide variety of subjects. Penn has not just taught me a bunch of facts to help me pass some tests—Penn has taught me how to learn. And I love to learn. Also, as I transition from student to alumnus, having worked closely with the staff at Sweeten House, I know that I am in great hands. I have learned firsthand that Penn takes care of its alumni. I am both greatly enthused and incredibly terrified of what the future may hold (a topic I will get into in a later blog entry), but I know with certainty that I could not be happier with my higher education at Penn thus far.

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Filed under Campus Life, Commencement, John Mosley, Student Perspective, Sweeten Alumni House, Uncategorized

Penn Alumni Club of Philadelphia Board Open House

Author: Stephanie Yee, C’08

The Penn Alumni Club of Philadelphia is hosting an open house on Tuesday, September 10th at Sweeten Alumni House on Penn’s campus.

sweeten_alumni_house_e _craig_sweeten

We will be meeting at beautiful Sweeten Alumni House.

We invite you to join us for wine and Insomnia Cookies to mingle, provide feedback, and share ideas! BTW did you know that Insomnia Cookies was founded by Seth Berkowitz in 2003 from his dorm room while attending Penn? Now there are more than 30 store locations nationwide. Hooray for Penn alumni baking up tasting treats!

Insomnia Cookies. Need I say more?

Insomnia Cookies. Need I say more?


The Penn Alumni Club of Philadelphia is always looking for new alumni volunteers who are interested in planning social events and volunteer projects. The open house will be a great way to get involved with the club, meet other alumni, and have fun. Feel free to bring ideas for activities or projects to share, or just come and network.

Sign up for our open house here! How can you say no to Insomnia Cookies?

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Filed under Alumni Perspective, Clubs, Penn Club of Philadelphia, Penn Clubs, Stephanie Y., Sweeten Alumni House

Home Sweet Home

Author: Janell Wiseley

I have worked at Penn, more specifically the E. Craig Sweeten Alumni House for over 10 years, and every day I’m thankful that I do not work in your typical nine to five office building.   Sure, we have desks and a conference room, but we also have a fire place in the living room and comfy couches in the lounge.  It’s also been a part of the Penn campus for a long time…

In 1897 two events took place at the University of Pennsylvania which would culminate 85 years later in this building.

During that year the General Alumni Society filed its papers of incorporation with the County of Philadelphia, and the Delta Tau Delta fraternity established its Delta chapter at the University of Pennsylvania in a row house at 3533 Locust Street.

Woodland Avenue at the intersection of 36th and Locust Street

Woodland Avenue at the intersection of 36th and Locust Street

In 1914, Delta Tau Delta decided to rebuild its premises and acquired the two adjacent houses, 3535 and 3537, the latter having been briefly the home of the Lenape Club. The three structures were thrown together.  The firm of two young architectural alumni was retained for the new commission: Bissell, Sinkler &Tilden (E. Perot Bissell 1893 and John D.E. Sinkler 1898): the cost was $24,000. The house was occupied in May 1915.

The campus neighborhood in which the fraternity house stood was improved by the University’s post-World War II development programs.  The most dramatic change came in the mid 1950’s when the College Hall Green was created with the closing of Woodland Avenue and the construction of a subway system to carry the trolley cars that once crisscrossed the campus.

Further demolition in the area left the Delta Tau Delta House with a clear view of the Green, which was dramatically landscaped in 1979 as part of the Blanche Levy Park project.  In 1972 the office of the Dean of Students moved into the house when the fraternity closed its local chapter.

Nine years later the house was designated to be the new home of the alumni program.  The architectural firm of Dagit, Saylor, (Peter Saylor, AR’63) was commissioned to plan the renovations and refurbishing.

All of the funds for the renovation and refurbishing were contributed by Trustees, alumni, friends, classes and associations of the University.

E. Craig Sweeten Alumni House

E. Craig Sweeten Alumni House

On June 19, 1981, the Trustees approved a resolution naming the new Center in honor of Senior Vice President for Development and University Relations, E.  Craig Sweeten a member of the Class of 1937. On May 14, 1982, at the opening of the Class of 1937 45th reunion program, Mr. Sweeten raised the flag, officially opening the new Alumni Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

The alumni office had been one of the most peripatetic of the University departments.  Originally located in offices in downtown Philadelphia, the General Alumni Society moved to Irvine Auditorium on campus prior to World War II.  In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s there was a series of five moves that ended with the General Alumni Society and the Department of Alumni Relations in Eisenlohr Hall.

The new Sweeten Alumni House brings together under one roof the offices of Penn Alumni, the Regional Alumni Clubs, Multicultural Outreach, Classes and Reunions, the Alumni Interview Program and many other alumni programs.  It also provides facilities for alumni and student meetings and a reception area for returning alumni.

Text and pictures courtesy of University Archives.

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Filed under Historical, Janell W., Photos, Sweeten Alumni House, View from Sweeten

For Basketball Beckons*

Author: Liz Pinnie

Though March is now behind us, the Madness is not quite over yet.  This Saturday, the Final Four will face off to see who will go to the finals, and Liz Pinnie will find out if she wins her NCAA pool (it’s looking good people).

Now, I’m all for a little casual March Madness betting.  However, this year my pure enjoyment was a bit spoiled by a discussion we had in my “Diversity in Higher Education” Class (hey, GSE!).  Last week we discussed the ins and outs of Division One Athletics, and I began to realize what a twisted world they have become.

Articles that I read for class reinforce my belief that being an athlete in the U.S. has become an all or nothing proposition.  The focus for Division One Athletes, like the ones you are watching on TV during March Madness, becomes their sport.  If they don’t perform, they don’t play.  If they don’t play, they will often lose their scholarship.  This includes athletes who get injured while playing their sport.  Ever hear of Kevin Ware?  What will happen to him now that he is unable to play?  Forbes wrote an interesting article about this here.

In addition to losing financial support, there is a strong chance that these athletes will lose their sense of self- because their self has been defined by their sport, which they dedicated their lives to.

In collegiate athletics, life becomes a sport, which, for 98% of individuals involved will end when they (hopefully) graduate with a degree.

In thinking about my personal experiences and watching players bring in million dollars’ worth of revenues for their schools during March Madness, it reinforces my belief in two things: One, both parents and their children pursuing the very American dream of playing collegiate athletics need to consider to what end are they participating in the game, because they can be forced from it at any moment.  And two- we need to re-evaluate the experiences of student athletes, and the financial structure that supports (or doesn’t support) them, while they make money for their schools.

As we in the office take in games and root for a victor (and I prepare to win money for my selections), I think it’s important to start thinking about the actual players, and not just the game.  While Temple’s Khalif Wyatt might make the pros (if he continues to perform and stays healthy), what happens to his teammates?  I hope that they have found time to study and are on track to graduate, because now that March Madness is over for them, and their time at school is done, they will need a backup plan.

So there you have it- a bit of a downer, but certainly some food for thought.  I’ll leave you with a portion of Henry Van Arsdale Porter’s poem* that gave birth to the phrase “March Madness”.  It harkens to a time when the game was a game.  Maybe we should work on getting back to that place.

The gym lights gleam like a beacon beam
And a million motors hum
In a good will flight on a Friday night;
For basketball beckons, “Come!”
A sharp-shooting mite is king tonight.
The Madness of March is running.
The winged feet fly, the ball sails high
And field goal hunters are gunning.
With war nerves tense, the final defense
Is the courage, strength and will
In a million lives where freedom thrives
And liberty lingers still.
Now eagles fly and heroes die
Beneath some foreign arch
Let their sons tread where hate is dead
In a happy Madness of March.

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Filed under Academics, Athletics, Liz P., Sweeten Alumni House

Dear, Sweeten –

Author: Lisa V., C’02, GeD’10

Eight years is a long time.  It’s long enough to witness four Olympic games; long enough to get a bachelor’s degree – twice; long enough to become a doctor – medical school, residency and all.  For me, the past eight years have been long enough to grow up from an unpolished post-grad looking for any old job to a professional woman with what one might actually categorize as a “career.”  How did this happen?

In May 2005, I came back to Penn for the first time since graduating in May 2002, this time not as a student but as a staff member.  I remember walking through campus that fall during move-in, feeling as though I could relate much more to the incoming students than my colleagues or fellow alumni.  It was much like coming home from college for your first Thanksgiving, unsure whether you should sit at the kids table or the grown up table.  Lucky for me, I wasn’t forced to choose.

How it all started

How it all started

In the ensuing years, I received a true education.  I learned how to work hard, and play even harder.  I learned that the art of building relationships is the key to success – both professionally and personally.  I learned that impromptu dance parties are the best remedy for a long, hard day of work – and just about anything else.  I learned – by example – what it means to be a mentor, a leader, a team player.  I learned that work-life balance is a journey, not a destination – but it’s a journey made far less arduous when accompanied by amazing friends and colleagues.

Playing hard

Playing hard

Team building

Team building

Penn has always been a special place for me.  As an undergraduate, it’s where I met my very best friends and received an education that opened my eyes to the world’s possibilities.  But I’d be lying if didn’t say that the past eight years have been as – if not more – transformative.  My Penn family – stand-in moms and sisters and brothers and aunts and uncles – have guided and supported me through marriage and moves and babies and second degrees.  They’ve made me laugh when I felt like crying.  They’ve talked me off the ledge, and been there to catch me when I still managed to fall over it.  They’ve celebrated my successes as if they were their own, and reassured me that my failures were merely stepping stones.

Growth and expansion

Growth and expansion

Eight years is a long time.  It’s long enough to acquire a second family; long enough to build relationships that will endure well beyond my tenure here; and long enough to know that I will never again find such an amazing group of passionate, loyal, creative colleagues.

Thank you, Sweeten, for eight tremendous years.   It’s a sin that it has to come to an end – but I know you will all be part of the next chapter of my life in your own ways.




Filed under Leaving Penn, Lisa V., Memories of Penn, Photos, Sweeten Alumni House, The Sweeten Life

Breakfast at Sweeten

Author: Emilie Kretschmar

Last week Sweeten was treated to its own wildlife adventure. A very large hawk decided to perch atop a neighboring building and have breakfast.


He was a beautiful animal and didn’t seem to mind when us Sweeten folk came out onto the balcony to photograph him. Breakfast was his main concern.

Lisa Marie captures the action for social media.

Lisa Marie captures the action for social media.

Upon further investigation—googling “hawks of Pennsylvania”—I discovered that we were watching a red-tailed hawk, also known as a chickenhawk. Although they rarely prey on standard-sized chickens, they do love squirrels and pigeons of which there are many in Philadelphia. The specie also seems to be unfazed by human activity so, unlike many of their fellow birds-of-prey, these hawks are often found in cities like our own Philadelphia.

Watching animals up close is a fascinating thing. It can be both beautiful and repellent at the same time, which is an unusual combination. Last year on safari, Penn alumni and I experienced a similar sensation. Lions on the hunt is a beautiful spectacle, but also nerve-racking as you wait for something gruesome to happen (or not happen, in our case). If animal watching is of interest to you, join us this fall on our alumni tour of East Africa.

My favorite shot from the lion hunt in the Ngorongoro Caldera. The buffalo win this round.

My favorite shot from the Ngorongoro Caldera lion hunt. The buffalo win this round.

But if Africa is a little too far for your taste (or your wallet), make sure you look upwards next time you’re in Philadelphia or on campus at Penn. Perhaps you’ll spot another red-tailed hawk!

Our red-tailed friend.

Our red-tailed friend.

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Filed under Emilie, Squirrels, Sweeten Alumni House, The Sweeten Life

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

My Top Penn List: I <3 Penn

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).

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.

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.

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Filed under Alumni Perspective, Ben Franklin, Campus Life, Casey R., Penn Museum, Philadelphia, Sweeten Alumni House, The Sweeten Life, Top Ten