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21st Century Buildings: The New Faces on Penn’s Campus

By: Jorge Penado, C’19
International Relations Major
Work-Study Student, Sweeten Alumni House

Source UPenn Facilities and Real Estate Services

Perelman Center for Political Science & Economic, Source: Penn’s Facilities and Real Estate Services

When one thinks about Penn and the buildings that define it College Hall, built in 1871, and Fisher Fine Arts Library, built in 1890, stand out as notably beautiful staples of campus. However, one common feature that these buildings have is that they were all built before the 21st century. Now, this begs the question of what new and innovative buildings has Penn invested in the current century and how has this shaped and influenced the landscape that Penn students have become accustomed to. Some notable new additions to the family of buildings include Huntsman Hall and Perry World House, but there are still so many other interesting additions to Penn’s campus.

Within the first decade of the century, Penn had already celebrated the opening of various buildings or centers around campus. As mentioned above, Huntsman Hall has now become such a staple of Wharton, established in 1881, that it’s interesting to realize that it was opened in 2002. It is considered one of the largest new projects the university has engaged in with an estimated cost of $140 million and 300,000-square-feet. It’s red exterior and circular shape at the corner of Walnut St. and 38th St. has definitely defined the university’s landscape. In addition to Wharton, but on a smaller scale and on 37th St. and Spruce St. there lies the Platt Student Performing Arts House opened in 2006 which has become a center of the arts community at Penn. The center has six state-of-the-art rehearsal rooms, storage, and six administrative offices in the basement of Stouffer College House. While at one point it was the Stouffer Dining Hall, it now holds a much-needed expansion of space for performing arts students. The center is named after Marc Platt, a Penn alumnus who was involved in the Glee Club but is now known for producing shows like Legally Blonde and Broadway’s Wicked, gifted the university with $1 million to help the arts at Penn. Both of these buildings have been vital in centralizing two different communities and helping students improve their time at Penn.

On another hand, Penn has also invested in further expanding the campus outwards, farther from Locust, with the FMC Tower and the Pennovation Center. The FMC Tower, opened in 2016, lies on the corner of Walnut St. and the Schuylkill River and is part of a new three-building project, Cira Centre South, which is meant to host office, retail and residential spaces. The university owns the plot of land and signed a 20-year lease which allows the university to use 100,000 square-feet of office space, currently used by the Office of Investments, Development and Alumni Relations office, the Office of General Counsel and the Office of Risk Management. As an introduction of skyscrapers into University City, the FMC Tower definitely draws attention westward as the seventh tallest building in Philadelphia and viewable from anywhere on campus. On another end of campus, the new Pennovation Center was opened in 2016 south of campus and across the Schuylkill River on Grays Ferry Avenue. This building is a part of a larger campus of buildings, “The Pennovation Works,” which consists of a 23-acre property meant to provide students and faculty with offices, labs and production space. The center is meant to be a hub for the connection between intellectual and entrepreneurial projects on Penn’s campus and has hosted various startups. Both of these buildings redefine what Penn’s campus is by physically extending the area but also introducing new ways to interact with the world outside of Penn.

Then, we have two relatively new buildings with a focus on advancing academics at Penn, the Perry World House and the Singh Center for Nanotechnology. Perry World House, opened in 2016, lies on the corner of Locust Walk and 38th Street, next to Kelly Writers House, and is meant to offer an international community of students, provide space for educational public forums and host global innovation programs, fellowships, and Penn’s own think tank. As someone personally interested in this field, I’ve been able to attend events hosted by the center such as a Conversation with Madeleine Albright or an Event with Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj. Similarly, but in a different field, the Singh Center for Nanotechnology, opened in 2013, is a collaborative building between the College and Engineering meant to merge “traditional approaches to nanoscale development with unique state-of-the-art equipment, materials, and ideas.” Similar to Perry World House, this center is a hub for scientists and researchers meant to be leaders in the growing nanotech field. It also doesn’t hurt that the building is particularly impressive and unique as compared to other campus buildings. Both of these buildings are actively promoting advancements in their respective field by engaging with research and the world to place Penn on a track forward.

Screen Shot 2018-03-02 at 4.44.11 PM

Source: Penn’s Facilities and Real Estate Services

Ultimately, while Penn has a long architectural history dating back to the colonial era, we’re lucky to see the campus continue to grow. Even now, there are various projects in the works like the Perelman Center for Political Science and Economics on the corner of 36th St. and Walnut St. meant to unite these two fields under one roof. The university continues to grow and as long as it promotes the values of the university and respects all of the history and communities around us, the future is welcomed with open arms at Penn.


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Smokes – the Pennstitution

By Mark Sullivan, C’93

Here are some of my memories of Smokes.

Smokey Joe's Smokes at Penn

The inside of Smokey Joe’s, photo courtesy of Mark Sullivan

Raid by the Liquor Control Board (LCB)

During the first semester of our freshman year, it was still possible to get into Smokes with a Penn student ID and other questionable forms of identification. The Pennsylvania liquor control board began to crack down, and so we had to be tougher with ID’s. I began bouncing at the end of my freshman year. Members of the wrestling team/ATO had proven to be adept at handling the imposing Penn student population. As you may recall, the uniform for all Smokey Joe’s employees – bartenders, wait staff and bouncers – was a long sleeve oxford with a tie that was tucked in. Many a night, someone would show up without a tie, so there were extra ties (many of them very ugly) that were kept behind the upstairs and downstairs bars. One night during our sophomore or junior year, the LCB raided Smokey Joe’s. They blocked the front and back doors, made everyone exit one by one and checked their ID’s. Some enterprising (and underage) patrons put on some of the extra ties that were behind the bar and tried to pass themselves off as employees. Unfortunately, they wore the ties over polo shirts, baggy sweaters or sweatshirts, and the LCB was not convinced.

Joe Whelpy at Smokes

Joe Whelpy at Smokes, photo courtesy of Mark Sullivan

Erin Express

The Erin Express is a pub crawl held around St. Patrick’s day throughout University City and Center City. School buses drive a loop to each bar that participates in the Erin Express. One year, one of the buses pulled up to Smokey Joe’s and the bus driver went in to use the restroom. One of the passengers grew impatient and drove the bus to the next bar.

Smokey Joe's owners Pat and Paul Ryan

Pat and Paul Ryan, owners of Smokey Joe’s, photo courtesy of Mark Sullivan

21st Birthday Celebrations

I learned the real names of several of our classmates on their 21st birthdays. Most of the birthday celebrations were benign, but a few got out of hand, including one male celebrant who ended up riding a bicycle naked in the downstairs bar at the end of the night.

Sink or Swim flyer for Smokey Joe's Smokes

Sink or Swim flyer photo courtesy of Mark Sullivan

Nearby Shooting

By our junior year, Smoke‘s had installed the video camera and microphone to prove that each person admitted had been carded and stated their name and date of birth. Very late in the Spring of that year, I was working the door with another bouncer (who shall remain nameless). It was a very warm evening and the windows and front door were open. Smoke‘s was pretty empty – it may have even been the week of final exams. Just as the other bouncer and I were carding two women who walked in together, gun shoots rang out on the corner of 40th and Walnut just outside of McDonald’s. The other bouncer and I could see some flashes of light and the car with the shooter speed away. I remember the strong smell of gunpowder lingering in the humid air. The other bouncer and I excitedly recounted the events to everyone inside Smoke‘s. We explained how brave we had been and how we had sprung into action and protected the two women who we were checking for ID by removing them from harm’s way. The only problem was that the video recorder had been running and when they played back the tape, it showed the other bouncer and I cowering behind the two women patrons when we heard the gunshots and using them as human shields. Management played that tape every night for the following week to everyone else’s amusement.

Smokey Joe's the Pennstitution

The Pennstitution – photo by Mark Sullivan

Ken Kweder at Smokey Joe's

Ken Kweder plays at Smokes, photo courtesy of Mark Sullivan

What was your favorite bar on campus? Do you remember hanging out at Smokes? If you have memories, share them in the comments below.

Penn Class of 1993 25th Reunion Countdown

The weekend of December 22 – 23, marked 20 weeks until the 25th Reunion of the Penn Class of 1993 (May 11 – 14, 2018)! Meet us at the Button!

Register NOW to attend our 25th Reunion!

Join us we count down the weeks to our reunion #93tothe25th:

  • Do you have old photos or mementos from our time at Penn? Photos of Spring Fling? Football at Franklin Field? Classes at DRL? We are taking a trip down memory lane and would love for you to share your memories with our class in a future post. Please email us!
  • Follow us on Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram.
  • Classmates are invited to join our Facebook and LinkedIn groups.
  • Donate to The Penn Fund in honor of our reunion! We want to break the 25th reunion participation giving record and every gift matters!

Book Your Hotel Room for Alumni Weekend NOW!

The Marriott Downtown (where we had a Penn 1993 and a Penn Alumni room block) is sold out for Alumni Weekend. There are alternative hotels near by. We recommend booking ASAP! Please see our class website for additional details.

Penn Class of 1993 25th Reunion #93tothe25th


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The Revolutionary Quaker: The Unheard History of Penn’s Mascot

By: Jorge Penado, C’19
International Relations Major
Work-Study Student, Sweeten Alumni House


Source: University of Pennsylvania Flickr

The Fighting Quaker? A term most people at Penn have become so accustomed to identifying with our mascot that we rarely question it or its history. However, anyone who is even slightly aware of the Pennsylvania-centered Quaker religious movement may wonder how a phrase so paradoxical in nature could end up becoming the well-known mascot of our own Penn. Even further, most people could also mistakenly associate Quakerism with the most famous figure in Penn’s history, Benjamin Franklin. Nonetheless, people will soon realize that Franklin was not a Quaker, himself, and that the university has never had any direct connection to Quakerism. But, even the paradoxical phrase, Fighting Quaker, does have some ground in history and became realized in the university’s athletics due to coincidental nature and geographic location.

In colonial America, the Quaker religion originally grew in prominence in New England. In the mid-17th century, Quaker missionaries traveled to North America in order to preach their religious movement that originated in England. However, they would soon enough face discrimination in New England as people considered them heretics and began to banish them from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. This persecution would lead Quakers in North America to migrate southwards where they would establish thriving communities in the Delaware Valley, particularly Philadelphia. William Penn, the namesake, and founder of the state would find Pennsylvania in 1682 and would run the commonwealth under Quaker principles. Quakers would maintain their beliefs of pacifism and pursuit of the “Inner Light,” which would be internally challenged during the American Revolution. As Philadelphia had become one of the largest cities and busiest trading ports in British America, there was a significant movement in the city that supported the revolution, even amongst the generally peaceful Quakers. In 1781, the Religious Society of Free Quakers, or more simply known as Free Quakers, would be established by expelled members of the Quaker community who failed to obey their pacifist nature n order to support the American Revolution. Hence, the term, Fighting Quaker, may not be such a historical anomaly as there actually did exist a Quaker sub-community that supported fighting for American Independence.

However, this still doesn’t answer the question of how Quakerism and Penn became associated, and the association wouldn’t directly emerge for another hundred years. As one of the oldest institutions in America, Penn has a lengthy history, and one of the many eras in its history would have to be its prominence in athletics in the late 19th century. In the early 19th century, student athletics had taken universities by storm as various organizations and teams were established. Penn’s first sports organization consisting of Penn students, the Junior Club, was founded in 1842. It wouldn’t be long before intercollegiate athletics would become a staple of college life.

Penn didn’t actually substantially enter intercollegiate sports until the 1880s and 1890s after Harvard, Yale and Princeton had begun to organize early intercollegiate athletics. Penn would set their foot with the establishment of Franklin Field in 1894. Once intercollegiate athletics picked it, it was sports writing that would serve as the definitive influencer on Penn’s mascot. Since Philadelphia was known as the “Quaker City,” it became easy for sportswriters to associate the university with the city and thus, the predominant Quaker religion and then call Penn’s athletic teams Quakers. This emerged much like the term “Ivy League” which began in New York sports writing to identify the colleges along the northeastern coast and as a reference to the custom of planting ivy on these college campuses. At the end of the day, the Penn Quaker was referenced enough that it eventually stuck and would soon enough be used in the 20th century and depicted on various pennants.


Source: University Archives Digital Image Collection

Once the Quaker was accepted, it would undergo various changes and enhancements. Quite recently in 2004 and 2006, the mascot would be refurbished and reintroduced after a previous version was criticized by many. Interestingly enough, on February 28, 2006, the Daily Pennsylvanian would run a story about the negative reaction to the new-look Quaker as people at a men’s basketball game reacted with “curious murmurs” about the new mascot that was believed to appear too menacing. Luckily, the new Quaker mascot has been accepted by the Penn community as he makes regular appearances at sporting events throughout the year. While the university is not a Quaker institution and has minimal interaction with the Quaker community, its location in the city of brotherly love would soon enough informally secure its mascot as the one and only, the Fighting Quaker.

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What can you do with a Women’s Studies Degree?

By: Lisa Niver, C’89

“I am a travel hack,” I thought to myself during a Branded Content workshop in November 2015. I was listening to esteemed speakers and judging myself against everyone in the room. “They are real journalists,” was the chant in my head. “They went to “J” (Journalism) school and work for real papers. I would never get the jobs they are talking about.”

Later in the day, there was a travel speaker who discussed income, exposure, and experiences. Sometimes he was paid $1 or $2 a word and sometimes he just wanted to take the trip. In 2016, I was invited on a two-week luxury trip to Italy. Maybe I could pick my self-esteem up off the floor. I was making progress on my website, We Said Go Travel, and had just been hired for my first Instagram take-over, something most people in the room were shocked to learn was an actual job.

During that same year, I attended six different conferences to learn about writing, social media, and destinations. I was willing to soak up any advice and take any suggestion. I worked with a media coach and made a sizzle reel. I focused on asking for help. I used my University of Pennsylvania network and dedicated full days to my work, starting early every day and working late into the night. An editor told me, “Just be undeniably good. Whatever you do, do your best and eventually, people will notice.”

This advice was echoed at the Penn Women’s LA Career Networking Event 2017, “Women in Entertainment.” The entertainment industry panel included Meredith Stiehm (C’90), Alison Hoffman, Veena Sud, Allison Schroeder and Jennifer Gwartz (C’90). Moderator Fielding Edlow’s (C’95) questions made for a phenomenal event and included how to approach a mentor, what would you tell your 22-year-old self, how to deal with sexism and how to get an agent.


Penn Women in Entertainment

Penn “Women in Entertainment” Event 2017

This incredible award-winning panel included the screenwriter for Hidden Figures and the creator of Cold Case and Homeland. What did all of these women have to say? “Be kind to yourself. Don’t give up. Create a network. Add value. Know that you will get there.” I sat up in my chair and thought this is what I do. I am working hard every day. Maybe someday I will get to sit in a chair on a panel like this and say, “I actually did it.”

Jennifer Gwartz (C’90) told us: “There is no wrong path. There are no wrong jobs. No wrong experiences. Everything you do will enrich your storytelling. Have experiences, relationships and remember to be kind to yourself. Most of all, have fun.” I have not always believed in myself or that I would ever get anywhere, but I have kept going.

Listening to Allison Schroeder talk about a year where 44 pitches were rejected but then she went on to write Mean Girls 2 and Hidden Figures and be nominated for an Academy Award was inspiring. All of the women spoke about rejection, the need for a thick skin and perseverance.

The Penn motto, “Inveniemus viam aut faciemus—“We will find a way or we shall make one,” has been a mantra for me since my years at Penn. While I was a student, I co-founded a magazine and was active in student organizations. There were paths that seemed to be dead-ends but somehow I persisted. At Penn and after, I was often asked to defend my choice of a Women’s Studies Major. “What can you do with that?” was usually the question. My answer? “The goal of a liberal arts education is not to memorize facts but to find solutions to problems that do not yet exist. This interdisciplinary major is teaching me to think.” My coursework led me to USCF Medical school, but I chose to leave and teach science instead. After working for years in education and earning a Masters Degree, I spent seven years traveling the seven seas by ship as I worked for three cruises lines.

Traveling to nearly 100 countries, I have seen history come to life in the pyramids, Angkor Wat and Guadalcanal. In March 2017, I reached one million views on Roku, Amazon, and YouTube. In April 2017, I was named Adventure Correspondent on The Jet Set TV talk show. In May 2017, I was named a finalist in two categories for the Southern California Journalism Awards. I was invited to be a Facebook Live host for USA Today 10Best. In June 2017, I received an award from the Los Angeles Press Club, along with Andrea Mitchell (C’67), who received The Joseph M. Quinn Award for Lifetime Achievement. In November 2017 and February 2018, I had my first two travel segments on KTLA TV.


Lisa Niver Andrea Mitchell

Lisa Niver, C’90 and Andrea Mitchell, C’67



Adventure correspondent TheJetSET TV

Lisa Niver, Adventure Correspondent, The Jet Set TV

During the Penn networking event, Allison Hoffman from Starz told us, “Careers are not linear.” I know for certain my path has been circular and full of stops and round-a-bouts. I realized I had closed the door on medicine and teaching but had found a window into the wild west world of media. I am a travel journalist and an explorer.

I realized what you can do with a Women’s Studies Degree from Penn: anything you can dream!
Lisa Niver (C’89), founder of We Said Go Travel, walked in graduation for her 25th reunion in 2014 with her college roommate. She has contributed to Frankly Penn, Wharton Magazine and created events for PennClubLA and is planning with her classmates for her 30-year reunion in 2019. Find more of her adventures at We Said Go Travel.

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Trouble in the Library: The History of Fisher Fine Arts

By: Jorge Penado, C’19
International Relations Major
Work-Study Student, Sweeten Alumni House


Source: National Register of Historic Places

Gargoyles, Shakespearean-inspired writing on windows and a German-English architectural feud on Penn’s campus? The history of the famous Fisher Fine Arts Library holds a complicated yet interesting past that many of its students and alumni may not be aware of. While nowadays the library is regarded as one of Penn’s most unique buildings, on par with College Hall and The Quad, it wasn’t always accepted as that. Soon after its completion in the late 19th century, a transition in leadership in the university led to a complete re-evaluation of the architectural legacy of Penn. This shift would challenge the very existence of the building until it grew to be appreciated as a staple of campus a generation later.

Frank Furness (1839-1912), the Victorian architect of the library and native Philadelphian, entered the world of architecture early on in his life in 1857. After returning from serving in the Union in the Civil War, he eventually found himself back in Philadelphia where he began his own career through various architectural partnerships. After working on other famous projects like the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, his company was eventually hired to construct Penn’s first university library in 1888. Furness would invoke various unique designs in the construction of the library such as the interconnected nature of the five stories through the tower’s staircase or inscriptions on the windows chosen by Furness’s brother, Horace Howard Furness, a Shakespearean scholar and Penn faculty.  The library was completed and dedicated in 1991 but would soon face various obstacles to its continued existence.


Source: University of Pennsylvania Fine Arts Library Image Collection

Furness’s architectural style, which aligns closely with a German-model focused on graduate studies and technical scientific research with expansive room instead of the English-model focused on undergraduate education and socialization, would lead to some controversy. Furness’s greatest supporter, then-Provost William Pepper Jr., was in the German-model camp and actively supported Furness and similar projects like the School of Engineering and the Wharton School. However, once Provost Pepper retired, his successor, Provost Charles Custis Harrison, was much less supportive of the German-model and preferred the English-model as seen with his construction of The Quad. Provost Harrison would challenge the design of the library by even questioning the “historically-incorrect gargoyles,” on the exterior of the library. This clash of visions would lead to Provost Harrison cancelling Furness’s future architectural projects and would even label the library an embarrassment to Penn, seriously considering cloaking the building in a different style.

Lucky for us, the library was never cloaked and was actually listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 and declared a National Historic Landmark in 1985. The building would be restored and expanded from 1986 to 1991 with the primary benefactors being Anne and Jerome Fisher to whom the building is now dedicated. Through a turbulent history, the Fisher Fine Arts Library fortunately still stands on the east side of College Green with its red sandstone and Venetian Gothic architecture being a definite landmark of Penn’s campus.


Source: University of Pennsylvania Flickr Account

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The Origin of the Split Button: Separating Fact From Fiction

By: Nina McManus, W’21, Work Study Student, Sweeten Alumni House 

Constructed in 1981 by Swedish sculptor Claes Oldenburg, the “Split Button” is seated in front of Van Pelt Library. The aluminum sculpture weighs 5,000 lbs. and is sixteen feet in diameter. The total cost of the sculpture, including transportation and installation, was $100,000. The funds were generated by the University, private donors and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. It has become one of the most popular landmarks on Penn’s campus and is a common meeting point for students. However, the sculpture has not always been so beloved.  

At the time of its creation, there was much controversy surrounding it. At the unveiling, the Button created controversy on campus, with critics calling it “a poor addition to College Green.” Students felt that the sculpture was intrusive and out of place with its surroundings. Others couldn’t find the significance of the button and where it was placed. Today, however, it serves as a landmark and a focal point of Penn’s campus. 

There is also a popular myth surrounding the Button. It is said that when Ben Franklin sat down in his chair atop the statue in front of College Green, his button popped off his vest, rolled away, and split in two where it landed in front of Van Pelt Library. However, Oldenburg, the sculptor’s creator, gave an interview to The Philadelphia Inquirer on June 9, 1981, in which he said that the crack in the button represents the Schuylkill River and it divides the button into four regions: a nod to William Penn’s original design of Philadelphia as centering around four symmetrically placed parks. Whichever interpretation you prefer, the Button is an important part of Penn’s campus culture. 



The Split Button after its 2017 restoration. Photo: Rebecca Elias Abboud. 


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’68 Penn Heavyweight Crew

By Phil McKinley Captain ’68 Penn Heavyweight Crew & Nick LaMotte ’68 Penn Heavyweight Crew


Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) Champions – 1967 University heavyweight varsity crew. Left to right: John Ferris, C’69, Bill Purdy, C’68, Stephen Cook, C’68, Austin Godfrey, C’68, Howard Greenberg, ME’67, L’73, Phil McKinley, C’68, Captain Nicholas Paumgarten, C’67, kneeling, Arthur Sculley, W’67. Click here to read the entire story from The Daily Pennsylvanian, 13 September 1967.


There are few superstars in a University eight oared shell. Some oarsmen may be better in some ways than others but all have to pull together in great precision to win a race let alone a national championship. In the fall of 1967 the Pennsylvania Heavyweight Crew came from the previous season with great optimism having won the Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships the previous summer on Lake Onondaga only losing the JV race due to a freak storm that came up during the race.

The members of the University of Pennsylvania Class of ’68 who were members of the Penn Heavyweight Crew returning in the fall of 1967 were David W. Carroll, W’68, Stephen A. Cook, C’68, Austin E. Godfrey, C’68, Francis H. Gehman III, W’68, Michael M. Howard, C’68, Nicholas H. LaMotte, C’68, WG’72, Henry H. Livingston III, C’68, Philip H. McKinley, C’68, and William K. Purdy, C’68. The Penn returning seniors and underclassmen were considered the favorites to repeat a national championship and perhaps represent the United States in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Penn had always had a long and venerable rowing tradition. For years now college oarsmen from any class may be in the varsity or JV boat whereas in 1968 we had a separate freshman boat that competed against other freshmen teams. In 1967 Penn had a superb freshman coach Ted Nash, who had won the gold in the four without coxswain in the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome and then bronze in the four with coxswain at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Ted had begun his coaching career the year the ’68 oarsmen were freshmen and thus spent a year coaching sequentially the ’69, ’70, and ’71 oarsmen who made up the ’68 crew. Ted was a very enthusiastic coach firing up our imaginations and often reminding all of us that this was an Olympic year and we should chase that Olympic sweatshirt all the way to Mexico City.



Joe Burk

Our varsity coach Joe Burk, with whom the seniors, juniors and sophomores spent countless hours on the Schuylkill averaging about 100 miles each week, was the Sullivan Award winner for the best amateur athlete in the U. S., Diamond Scull winner at the Henley Royal Regatta and a World War II PT boat hero who had won the Navy Cross. He rowed for Penn and was Varsity captain. He was a man of few words, kept himself in great shape, always in control, and tough as a titanium rigger. When he asked us to row 24 miles in practice, as we did on Saturday mornings, We never doubted that at 55 he was perfectly capable of doing so in a single perhaps even at a faster pace and certainly at a higher stroke rate than we could. By the calculations of Reed Kinderman, class of ‘67 who is Joe’s unofficial biographer, the ’68 Varsity crew rowed over four thousand miles on the Schuylkill in practice during the fall of ’67 and the spring of ’68.

Our race lineups were based on a demonic random system of employing playing cards with each rower’s or coxswain’s name on a different card. The cards would be shuffled and dealt making up 3 practice boats. Points earned in inter-squad races during practice determined the intercollegiate race boat lineups. Oarsmen had the opportunity to move up if they were in boats that won practice races or down if they lost. Therefore theoretically any member of the crew could be in the JV’s or Varsity at any race. This separated the racers from the rowers and identified those oarsmen who were improving, or not, more readily.


Heavyweight crew practice-rows on Schuylkill River. The crew later won the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) Regatta.
Click here to read the entire story from The Daily Pennsylvania, 25 August 1967.

In 1968 the freshman crew swept away all adversaries. The JV crew who had lost to Harvard in a dual meet came back to beat them in the Eastern Sprints and the Varsity lost only to Harvard. In June 1968 the Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships again took place on Lake Onondaga. This year it was a 2000 meter race, the Olympic distance, instead of the 3 mile race the previous year. Penn was ready. Again the freshmen triumphed, and this year, without a storm to stop the JVs, they almost coasted to their victory. It was the Varsity’s turn. Coming off the start at 44 strokes per minute we were well ahead but fell back. Slowly over the next 1500 meters we steadily pulled up on the lead boats and passed them winning by a half-length of open water over the second place Washington University Huskies.

Since Harvard and Yale had their special race on the same weekend as the Intercollegiate Rowing Championships the question was raised as to who should represent the United States in the 8 oared shell competition in the Olympics in Mexico City. An Olympic Trials was arranged between Penn and Harvard in Long Beach California later in the summer. The lineup in the Penn boat was changed hopefully to increase its speed by displacing myself and another senior oarsman, Nick LaMotte, who had been drafted the day of the national championship IRAs but thanks to the efforts of Joe Burk was able to return under the Army sports program. We were replaced with two underclassmen, Luther Jones and Gardner Cadwalader. The Olympic Trials Race was held under perfect conditions with both boats bow to bow rowing hard down the course. The only way of telling who won was the photo taken at the finish. After some deliberation it was declared that Harvard won with less than a 4/100s second lead over Penn, the length of the bowball.

After the loss in the eights, several of the members of the Penn crew decided to continue training and try out for the small boat Olympic Trials several weeks later. After training in a 4 with coxswain a group of our own  Penn superstars, Luther Jones ’71, Bill Purdy ’68, Tony Martin ’69, Gardner Cadwalader ’70,  and coxswain John Hartigan, an alumnus coxswain (Penn ’63), won the Olympic small boat trials. They represented Penn extremely well in the ’68 Mexico City Olympics making the finals but coming up short of a medal. Indeed 1968 had been an extremely good year for Penn Heavyweight Rowing.


Penn’s Olympic Oarsmen (left to right: Luther Jones, W’71, Bill Purdy, C’67, Tony Martin, ’69, Gardner Cadwalader, C’70, GAR’75 – not pictured: cox John Hartigan, C’63, WG’65). Ready to shove off for a practice session on the Schuylkill.

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