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Danielle Bassett: Top Prize in Complexity Science

  • November 21, 2017
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caption:Danielle Bassett

Danielle S. Bassett, Eduardo D. Glandt Faculty Fellow and associate professor in the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, is the recipient of the 2017 Lagrange-CRT Foundation Prize. The prize, given by the Institute for Scientific Interchange Foundation in Turin, Italy, was created to encourage and honor researchers working in the field of complex systems.

Complex systems feature many interconnected parts whose individual behavior influences the outcomes of the whole. Examples include social media networks, ecological webs, stock markets, and in Dr. Bassett’s case, the brain. Her research maps and analyzes the networks of neurons that enable all manners of cognitive abilities, as well as how those networks evolve during development or malfunction in disease.

The prize came with an award of €50,000, or roughly $60,000. It was presented to Dr. Bassett at a ceremony in Turin last month. Dr. Bassett is the first woman to be the sole recipient of the prize since its inception in 2008. Lada Adamic won it alongside Xavier Gabaix in 2012.

“Dani Bassett epitomizes what it means to be an engineer in the 21st century,” said Vijay Kumar, Nemirovsky Family Dean of Penn Engineering. “Her innovative work combines knowledge from disparate fields and transforms it, giving us a new window into longstanding problems in neuroscience as well as potential solutions to them. This prize puts Bassett in elite company among pioneers of new fields of research, and I’m proud that she calls Penn Engineering home.”

Dr. Bassett, who has appointments in SEAS’s  departments of bioengineering and electrical and systems engineering, is a leading figure in the nascent field of network neuroscience. The highly interdisciplinary field draws from network science — itself a combination of physics, mathematics, computer science and engineering — and the biological and psychological principles involved in understanding the brain.

Using a technique known as quantitative a2isotropy, diffusion MRI scans of the brain can produce these “wiring diagrams,” which depict the strength of structural fibers connecting pairs of brain regions.

As a network neuroscientist, Dr. Bassett searches for activation patterns in the brain’s hundreds of thousands of neurons, correlating pairs and sequences of neural firings to various traits and abilities. Her research provides a deeper understanding of how the brain’s physical organization, the networks of connections between regions and individual neurons, can influence cognitive functions like learning, multitasking and even creativity.

Observing the reorganization of those networks as children become adults can help explain how we develop “executive function,” and potentially aid people with deficits in self-control. Changes in activation patterns that precede an epileptic seizure can likewise predict which parts of the brain will be affected; future implants may even be able to quell such seizures at the first sign of that abnormal activity. More broadly, a network-science lens into the brain may allow other engineering principles, such as control theory, to be applied, paving the way for neurological or psychiatric treatments with fewer side effects.

Dr. Bassett has also received a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, a Sloan Fellowship, an NSF CAREER Award, and was named one of the Popular Science “Brilliant 10” in 2016 for her work in this field.

Mark Goulian: Charles and William L. Day Distinguished Professor in the Natural Sciences

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caption:Mark Goulian

Mark Goulian, professor of biology and physics & astronomy, has been appointed Charles and William L. Day Distinguished Professor in the Natural Sciences. Dr. Goulian is a highly influential scholar of microbiology. His research, which focuses primarily on Escherichia coli (E. coli), explores the fundamental mechanisms of signal transduction and gene expression in bacteria. His work combines traditional approaches from bacterial physiology and genetics with single-cell studies and quantitative modeling. Dr. Goulian has served as chair of the Energy Cluster Search, the Penn Arts and Sciences Personnel Committee, and the department of biology’s Vision Committee, charged with strategic planning.

The Charles and William L. Day Distinguished Professorship was created in 1973 with funds from the estate of Charles Day; a gift from William L. Day in honor of his father, Charles; and memorial gifts in honor of William L. Day. William L. Day received Penn’s Alumni Award of Merit in 1967 and served as chairman of Penn’s Board of Trustees from 1968 until his death in 1973.

Paul Saint-Amour: Walter H. and Leonore C. Annenberg Professor in the Humanities

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caption:Paul Saint-Amour

Paul Saint-Amour, professor of English, has been appointed Walter H. and Leonore C. Annenberg Professor in the Humanities. A leading scholar of Victorian and modernist literature, Dr. Saint-Amour has been a fellow at the Stanford Humanities Center, the Center for the Humanities at Cornell, and the National Humanities Center. His book The Copywrights: Intellectual Property and the Literary Imagination won the Modern Literature Association’s Prize for a First Book, and his most recent book, Tense Future: Modernism, Total War, Encyclopedic Form, won the Modernist Studies Association Book Prize and the MLA’s first annual Matei Calinescu Prize. His articles have appeared in journals such as Critical Inquiry, Diacritics, Modernism/modernity, PMLA and Representations.

Dr. Saint-Amour has served as president of the Modernist Studies Association. At Penn, he has served as Graduate Director of English and as a member of the Committee on Academic and Related Affairs, the Critical Writing Committee, and the University Scholars Council.

The late Ambassador Walter H. Annenberg received Penn’s Alumni Award of Merit in 1991. He and the late Honorable Leonore Annenberg were both emeritus trustees of the University. The Annenbergs endowed many chairs in Penn Arts and Sciences and made countless generous contributions to the University. They also founded the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania in 1958.

Unpacking the Forces that Drive Health Disparities: November 29

  • November 21, 2017
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Four Penn Integrates Knowledge (PIK) Professors will discuss health disparities through an interdisciplinary lens. While these differences are sometimes attributed to variations in biology between groups, the reality is more complicated.

On Wednesday, November 29, from 4 to 5:30 p.m. in the Jordan Medical Education Center Law Auditorium, three PIK Professors, Karen Glanz (PSOM, Nursing), Dorothy Roberts (Law, SAS) and Sarah Tishkoff (PSOM, SAS), will participate in a panel discussion—moderated by a fourth PIK Professor, Ezekiel Emanuel (PSOM, Wharton)—to sift through the biological, social and even legal and regulatory forces that may either be supporting or working to dismantle these disparities. Provost Wendell Pritchett will offer introductory remarks, and each of the three speakers will give a brief talk before the panel is opened up for audience interaction.

“I think this event will be of interest to anybody who uses health care, who is a health care provider or might be one someday, anyone in public policy or who is affected by public policy. Really, this is aimed at a very general audience as these issues affect everyone. There is a richness that emerges from looking at major public policy and social issues through the lens of multiple disciplines,” Dr. Glanz said.

The discussion, Health Disparities: Integrating Knowledge from Genomics, Social Sciences and the Law, will be the second annual PIK Seminar organized and sponsored by the PIK Professors, a group of 22 faculty members whose expertise crosses disciplines and who have appointments in multiple schools at the University. Last year’s PIK Seminar, PIK-ing on the Brain, dealt with the subject of neuroscience and featured PIK Professors whose areas of focus ranged from mathematics, to ethics, to epigenetics, to brain science.

Register for the seminar at http://tinyurl.com/y9sbl2ww

Josiah McElheny: Keith L. and Katherine S. Sachs Visiting Professor

  • November 21, 2017
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caption:Josiah McElheny

Internationally acclaimed artist Josiah McElheny has been appointed Keith L. and Katherine S. Sachs Visiting Professor in the department of fine arts at Penn’s School of Design for the 2017-2018 academic year.

Through sculpture, writing, performance, and film, Mr. McElheny investigates the history of twentieth-century modernism in hopes of expanding on the dominant historical narratives of art, aesthetics, design, and architecture, and the criticality of our relationship to them. Recognized for his conceptually rigorous approach, and a physical mastery of materials such as glass, Mr. McElheny explores vastly-ranging topics from astronomical cosmology and the infinite to under-recognized artists or oeuvres, including the visionary abstraction of Hilma af Klint, Blinky Palermo’s wall paintings, and Robert Smithson’s crystalline sculptures.

At PennDesign, Mr. McElheny will be engaged with students pursuing their MFA through studio visits and reviews throughout the year, and teach a course, Imaginary Modernisms. The course will deal with the possibilities available to any artist today to participate in the constant rewriting and redefining of art history, culminating in a spring lecture at Rice University and related publication from the University of Chicago Press. Mr. McElheny will also give a public lecture at the ICA in the spring.

Mr. McElheny is a New York-based sculptor, performance artist, writer and filmmaker best known for his use of glass with other materials. He has exhibited widely including two major survey exhibitions, Towards a Light Club at the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio (2013), and Some Pictures of the Infinite at the Institute for Contemporary Art in Boston, Massachusetts (2012), as well as exhibitions at The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (2009), Henry Art Gallery, Seattle (2008), Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2007), Madison Square Park, New York (2017), and MoMA, New York (2007).

He has written for such publications as ArtforumCabinet, and Bomb Magazine. His book projects include: The Light Club published by the University of Chicago Press in 2010; Interiors, a reader co-edited by Johanna Burton and Lynne Cooke, published by CCS Bard and Sternberg Press in 2012; and Glass! Love!! Perpetual Motion: A Paul Scheerbart Reader, co-edited with Christine Burgin and published by Christine Burgin and the University of Chicago, 2014. In 2006 he was the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. He was the 2013 Teiger Mentor in the Arts at Cornell, a senior critic in sculpture at  Yale and continues as a mentor at Columbia.

Wharton Global Family Alliance: Partnering with Northern Trust

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The Wharton Global Family Alliance (Wharton GFA), a world-leading forum for engagement between major global families with substantial resources and preeminent Wharton faculty, is pleased to announce a unique collaboration with Northern Trust’s Global Family and Private Investment Offices Group.

As the Wharton GFA Global Industry Partner for Financial Services, Northern Trust will support Wharton research and programs focused on multi-generational, multi-branch families and their businesses. Northern Trust will provide financial support to enable new research that will foster the longevity, harmony, and prosperity of families and their businesses. Wharton GFA will widen its dissemination of research to those who have a vital stake in these issues. Key topics relevant to family offices include wealth management and transfer, philanthropy, governance, technology, communications, operations, and education.

“This exciting new collaboration with Northern Trust supports Wharton’s distinctive commitment to family business on a truly global level,” said Geoffrey Garrett, Dean and Reliance Professor of Management and Private Enterprise. “Family firms make a crucial impact on the worldwide economy, and we are thrilled to work together with Northern Trust to the benefit of global families and society.

“By collaborating with the Wharton GFA, Northern Trust will be able to provide our clients with the insights of leading global academics,” said David W. Fox Jr., president of Northern Trust Global Family and Private Investment Offices group. “We look forward to combining our shared focus on meeting the unique and complex needs of ultra-high net worth families and the family offices that serve them.”

Steven L. Fradkin, president of Northern Trust’s Wealth Management business added, “Wharton is one of the preeminent academic institutions in the worldwide business community. This relationship enhances our total Northern Trust client experience by providing our clients, across our overall Wealth Management practice, with access to industry leading research across multiple disciplines.”

“Northern Trust brings expertise and a unique perspective to the Wharton Global Family Alliance,” said Raphael (Raffi) Amit, Wharton’s Marie and Joseph Melone Professor and Professor of Management, who leads the Wharton GFA. “Together, we will enhance the marketplace advantage and the social wealth creation contributions of global families through thought leadership, knowledge transfer, and the sharing of ideas.”

Deaths

Robert Greenstein, Psychiatry

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Robert Greenstein, associate professor emeritus of psychiatry in the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine, died November 8 at the age of 76.

Dr. Greenstein earned a bachelor’s degree from Villanova University in 1962 and a medical degree from Thomas Jefferson University in 1966.

He joined the Philadelphia VA Medical Center in 1974 as a clinician and investigator in the Center for Studies of Addiction. He contributed to a study of opiate receptor antagonists in the 1970s and ’80s. At PSOM, he became assistant clinical professor in 1976; clinical assistant professor in 1979; and clinical associate professor in 1985. He was also director of HUP Outpatient Psychiatry Service in the late 1980s and ’90s. In this role, he trained many psychiatry residents.

He joined the 25-Year Club in 1998 (Almanac November 24, 1998). In 2003, he received the Blockley-Osler Award from the School of Medicine, which recognizes a faculty member for excellence in teaching modern clinical medicine (Almanac April 29, 2003).

He was named associate professor emeritus of psychiatry in 2005 (Almanac July 12, 2005).

He is survived by his wife, Erica, two daughters, Karen and Jane and four grandchildren. A memorial in Philadelphia is planned for March 19.

Kathleen McDonnell: Penn Law

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caption:Kathleen McDonnell

Kathleen A. McDonnell, a career counselor in Penn Law’s Office of Career Planning and Professionalism, died unexpectedly on November 13 at the age of 66.

“Kathy was a breath of fresh air to all who knew her,” said Ted Ruger, Dean of the Law School. “For a generation of Penn Law students interested in prosecutorial and other government positions, she has been guide, connector, and muse. Her positivity and zest infused all she did, making her an exceptional colleague and friend.”

Ms. McDonnell joined Penn Law in 2011 after serving as Chief of the Legislation Unit in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office from 2006-2011, where she had been Assistant Chief since 1987. Prior to 1987, she served Philadelphia as an Assistant District Attorney in the Appeals Unit. While at the District Attorney’s Office, she served as Chairperson for the Hiring Committee for 20 years until her departure, hiring a generation of ADA for the City. She also worked in the City Solicitor’s Office.  

Prior to her government service, Ms. McDonnell worked for Fox, Rothschild, O’Brien and Frankel and clerked for the Honorable Carolyn Engle Temin, L’58. She graduated summa cum laude in 1976 with a BS from the Temple University School of Social Administration and received her law degree from the Temple University School of Law in 1980.

“Kathy McDonnell was simply unique,” said Jo-Ann Verrier, vice dean for Administrative Services at Penn Law. “I first met her when I joined the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office in the Appeals Division, where she took me under her wing–and what a wing that was. When she agreed, after a decade of my pestering, to join Penn Law’s Career Planning Office, I rejoiced, knowing she would bring to the Office an optimistic energy and serve individual students with her forthright honesty and unflappable positivity. Kathy made people around her better at what they did. Under her wing, you put your aspirations to the test and, with her creating the draft, found yourself more than able. We will rely on what she has taught us as we miss her most dearly.”    

She is survived by her husband, Don Van Winkle, their son, Major Van Winkle, two sisters, Millie and Reenie, and a nephew, Jameson. Penn Law will plan a celebration of Ms. McDonnell’s life for January. 

Governance

University Council Meeting Agenda

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Wednesday, December 6, 2017
4 p.m.
Bodek Lounge, Houston Hall

 

I. Approval of the Minutes of October 25, 2017. 1 minute

II. Follow Up Questions on Status Reports. 4 minutes

III. Athletics and Extracurricular Activities. 40 minutes

IV. Open Forum. 70 minutes

V. New Business. 5 minutes

VI. Adjournment

Faculty Senate Executive Committee Agenda

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Wednesday, November 29, 2017
3–5 p.m.
Glandt Forum (3rd floor), Singh Center for Nanotechnology, 3205 Walnut St.

 

  1. Approval of the Minutes of November 1, 2017 SEC Meeting (1 minute)
  2. Chair’s Report (5 minutes)
  3. Past-Chair’s Report (5 minutes)
  4. Update from the Task Force on a Safe and Responsible Campus Community (45 minutes)
    • Discussion with Vice President of Public Safety Maureen Rush
  5. Moderated Discussion (59 minutes)
  6. New Business (5 minutes)

Supplements

Policies

Rules Governing Final Examinations

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  1. No instructor may hold a final examination nor require the submission of a take-home final exam except during the period in which final examinations are scheduled; when necessary, exceptions to this policy may be granted for postponed examinations (see 3 and 4 below). No final examinations may be scheduled during the last week of classes or on reading days.
  2. No student may be required to take more than two final examinations on any calendar day during the period in which final examinations are scheduled. If more than two are scheduled, the student may postpone the middle exam. If a take-home final exam is due on a day when two final examinations are scheduled, the take-home exam shall be postponed by one day.
  3. Examinations that are postponed because of conflicts with other examinations, or because more than two examinations are scheduled on the same day, may be taken at another time during the final examinations period if the faculty member and student can agree on that time. Otherwise, they must be taken during the official period for postponed examinations.
  4. Examinations that are postponed because of illness, a death in the family, for religious observance or some other unusual event may be taken only during the official periods: the first week of the spring and fall semesters. Students must obtain permission from their Dean’s office to take a postponed exam. Instructors in all courses must be willing to offer a make-up examination to all students who are excused from the final examination.
  5. No instructor may change the time or date of a final exam without permission from the appropriate Dean.
  6. No instructor may increase the time allowed for a final exam beyond the scheduled two hours without permission from the appropriate Dean.
  7. No classes or required class activities may be held during the reading period.
  8. The first examination of the day begins at 9 a.m. and the last examination concludes by 8 p.m. There will be one hour between exam time blocks.
  9. All students must be allowed to see their final examination. Exams should be available as soon as possible after being graded with access ensured for a period of at least one regular semester after the exam has been given. To help protect student privacy, a student should have access only to his or her own exam and not the exams of other students. Therefore, for example, it is not permissible to leave student exams (or grades or papers) in publicly accessible areas.
  10. Students may not be asked for their Social Security numbers. Instructors may not publicly display a student’s Penn ID or any portion of the Social Security number, nor use names, initials or any personally identifiable information to post grades. Even when an identifier is masked or absent, grades may not be posted in alphabetical order, to protect student privacy.
  11. Final exams for College of Liberal and Professional Studies (LPS) courses must be given on the regular class meeting night during the week of final examinations. No change in scheduling is permitted without unanimous consent of all students in the class and the director of LPS. LPS final exams may not be administered during the last week of class or on a reading day.

In all matters relating to final exams, students with questions should first consult with their Dean’s offices. Faculty wishing to seek exceptions to the rules also should consult with their Dean’s offices. Finally, the Council of Undergraduate Deans and Student Committee on Undergraduate Education (SCUE) urge instructors to see that all examinations are actively proctored.

—Wendell Pritchett, Provost

Honors

Aaron Beck: Fourth in ‘Most Influential Physicians’ List

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caption:Aaron BeckAaron Beck, emeritus professor in the department of psychiatry at the Perelman  School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and the director of the Aaron T. Beck Psychopathology Research Center was named fourth in a list of the “25 Most Influential Physicians in the Past Century” by Medscape.

Dr. Beck is known as “the father of cognitive therapy.”

Other physicians with Penn connections who made the list include Stanley Dudrick, 20th on the list, who conducted pioneering research on the development of total parenteral nutrition in the laboratory of Jonathan Rhoads while working as a research fellow and surgical resident at the School of Medicine; and Stanley Prusiner, C’64, M’68, 21st on the list, who is winner of the 1997 Nobel prize in physiology or medicine.

Amy Gutmann and Penn Leaders: Philadelphia Business Journal Power 100

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caption:Amy GutmannUniversity of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann took first place in the 2017 Power 100 list of the region’s most influential people by Philadelphia Business Journal. The Journal noted that Dr. Gutmann is set to become the longest-serving president ever at Penn.

In addition, the list included Penn Trustees Chair David L. Cohen, senior executive vice president of Comcast Corp. (#23); Penn Trustee Kris Singh, CEO of Holtec International (#47); Ralph Muller, CEO of the University of Pennsylvania Health System (UPHS) (#57); and Jane Golden, lecturer of fine arts and founder and executive director of City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Fund (#95).

Marwan Kraidy: Outstanding Book Award

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Marwan Kraidy, the University of Pennsylvania’s Anthony Shadid Chair in Global Media, Politics, and Culture and Director of the Center for Advanced Research in Global Communication, recently received the Robert P. Hart Outstanding Book Award from the National Communication Association (NCA) for his 10th book, The Naked Blogger of Cairo: Creative Insurgency in the Arab World. The book examines the use of the human body in rebellion and uncovers the creative insurgency at the heart of the Arab uprisings.

Dr. Kraidy is the first scholar to win the Hart Award twice, having first received it in 2011 for his book, Reality Television and Arab Politics: Contention in Public Life.

Andrea Mitchell: Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania

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caption:Andrea Mitchell

Andrea Mitchell, CW’67, chair of the Penn Arts & Sciences Board of Overseers and a University Trustee Emerita, was recently selected as a 2017 Daughter of Pennsylvania. She and the other honorees were recognized at a ceremony hosted by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and First Lady Frances Wolf.

Since 1949, the Distinguished Daughters of Pennsylvania and the Governor’s Office have recognized outstanding women for their extraordinary service and contributions to Pennsylvania. Distinguished Daughters honors women whose professional and philanthropic work has earned regional, statewide or national recognition and provides value to the public.

Ms. Mitchell is the Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent for NBC. She studied English at Penn, where she served as program director at WXPN. She began her professional broadcast career in Philadelphia at KYW Newsradio and she has been a correspondent for NBC since 1978.

She has remained engaged with Penn and is a frequent speaker at student and alumni events. She is a former chair of the Annenberg School for Communication Advisory Committee and a member emerita of the Trustees’ Council of Penn Women.

Ms. Mitchell and her husband, Alan Greenspan, are longtime Penn supporters. Their most recent gift endowed the Andrea Mitchell Center for the Study of Democracy (Almanac August 29, 2017).

Margaret Souders: Advocacy Award

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Margaret C. Souders, assistant professor of human genetics in Penn Nursing’s department of biobehavioral health sciences, received the Dr. Bertram A. Ruttenberg Award for her advocacy and service to children with neurodevelopmental disabilities and their families. Dr. Souders was given the award at The Center for Autism’s Awards Celebration and Fundraiser last month. She is also a pediatric nurse practitioner at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s department of child & adolescent psychiatry and biobehavioral health sciences.

Dr. Souders is interested in phylogenetics—specifically, the oldest genetic lines in our evolution—that play a role in circadian rhythms, and changes in these rhythms may put children at risk for autism spectrum disorder. Her expertise in sleep medicine and genetics allows Dr. Souders to create targeted interventions for children with autism. Researching the timing mechanisms that create and maintain sleep has given her greater insight into autism and other disorders. Early research on autism and schizophrenia grouped those conditions together, and she suggests the same type of genetic variant may be implicated in these problems and bipolar disorder.

The Center for Autism is the oldest specialized autism treatment center in the nation. Founded by Bertram A. Ruttenberg, the private, non-profit organization focuses on treating individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Antonia Villaruel: Hispanic Heritage ‘Pillar of Leadership’

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caption:Antonia Villaruel

Antonia Villaruel, dean of University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, was honored as one of the four “Pillars of Leadership” during the Hispanic Heritage Luncheon presented by AL DÍA in October in commemoration of Hispanic Heritage Month. The Pillars of Leadership are chosen for their contributions to the local Hispanic community in health, education, business and civic works.

Dr. Villaruel is a bilingual and bicultural nurse research who extensively researches and practices with diverse Latino and Mexican populations and communities, and conducts health promotion and health disparities research both in the United States and abroad. As part of her research, which focuses on developing and testing interventions to reduce sexual risk behaviors among Mexican and Latino youth, Dr. Villaruel developed the youth program Cuídate! She is the chair of the Institute of Medicine’s Roundtable on the Promotion of Health Equity and co-chair of the Strategic Advisory Council of the AARP/RWJ Center for Health Policy Future of Nursing Campaign for Action.

Trustees Council of Penn Women 6th Annual Advising Awards

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caption:Barbara Riegel caption:Karen Winey

The University of Pennsylvania Trustees’ Council of Penn Women (TCPW) presented its sixth annual Advising Award to two faculty members this year during their fall conference on November 2: Barbara Riegel and Karen Winey.

Dr. Riegel is Edith Clemmer Steinbright Professor of Gerontology, and a biobehavioral research collaborative facilitator in the School of Nursing.

Dr. Winey is TowerBrook Foundation Faculty Fellow, professor of materials science and engineering, chemical and biomolecular engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Science.

Beginning in 2012, to mark the quarter-century milestone of the TCPW, the 25th Anniversary Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Advising was established to recognize undergraduate advisors who have distinguished themselves in providing outstanding assistance and advice to their advisee students and who have made a significant impact on the academic experience of these students.

Penn’s Annual Alumni Awards

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The University of Pennsylvania honored seven distinguished alumni at the 2017 Alumni Award of Merit Gala on Friday, November 3.

Winner of five Emmy Awards and two Golden Globes, alumna, actress and author Candice Bergen received the 2017 Creative Spirit Award for her life-long commitment to and excellence in the arts. A member of the undergraduate Class of 1967 and a 1992 honorary doctor of laws degree recipient, Ms. Bergen’s passion for performing and interest in photojournalism blossomed at Penn.

As an award-winning actress of television series, motion pictures and Broadway plays, Ms. Bergen’s roles in Murphy Brown and Boston Legal garnered Emmy Awards and Golden Globes. She received a BAFTA prize for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for the 1982 film Ghandi, and her performance in Starting Over garnered Oscar and Golden Globe nominations. Ms. Bergen is also the author of the 2015 memoir, A Fine Romance and the 1984 memoir, Knock Wood.

Active in a broad range of philanthropic causes, she has established both endowed and term scholarships in her name at Penn.

Sharing the spotlight with Ms. Bergen were Gilbert Casellas, Kyle Kozloff, Egbert Perry, Alice Way Waddington and Sue Dreier Wishnow, who all received the Alumni Award of Merit, along with Louis Hornick III and Rohit Singh, who accepted the Young Alumni Awards.

Gilbert F. Casellas, a 1977 graduate of Penn Law has served as a leader on issues of inclusion and diversity. Since 2013, he has been co-chair of the James Brister Society, which aims “to improve the quality of the campus experience for students, faculty and administrators of color.” He has served tenures on the Board of Overseers of the School of Social Policy & Practice and the School of Nursing; He is a founding member of the Association of Latino Alumni and a member of the Penn Alumni Board of Directors. His engagement also includes support for financial aid, diversity initiatives, annual giving and the Penn Nursing Center for Global Women’s Health.

Kyle Kozloff, 1990 Wharton graduate,  comes from a long line of family members to graduate from Penn. A proud Quaker, he has for 14 years served as the emcee of the Alumni Weekend Parade of Classes. He is active in alumni causes and has served as president of the Class of 1990 for the past 17 years, as co-chair of the Southern California Regional Advisory Board and in the local alumni community in Los Angeles. He has also served as the Vice President for Alumni Programming for the Penn Alumni Board of Directors. A longtime member of the Alumni Class Leadership Council, he is currently co-chair of special programs, overseeing the Penn Reunion Leadership Conference and events bringing class presidents together.

Following a decade of service as a University Trustee, Egbert Perry was appointed to Emeritus Trustee in 2016. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Penn Engineering and a graduate degree from Wharton. His tenure as a Trustee has included terms as chair of the Facilities and Campus Planning Committee and of the Trustees’ Ad Hoc Committee on Diversity and service on numerous board committees. He has also served on the Board of Overseers of Penn Engineering, was instrumental in the shaping of the Penn Institute for Urban Research, as chair of its Advisory Board and is a former gift chair and current member of the Class of 1976 Gift Committee. In addition to his service, he has been a loyal supporter of Penn IUR, and in 2006, he and his wife, Renee, established the Percival and Margaret Perry Endowed Scholarship at Penn Engineering honoring his parents.

Earning her degree in education from the College in 1949, Alice Way Waddington has been a long-serving volunteer to the University and her class. She has served as a member of the Alumni Class Leadership Council, the Homecoming Host Committee and the Penn Alumni Council and, for more than a decade, has served as president of the Class of 1949. As co-president (with George Wills) of both the 60th and 65th Reunion Committees, she worked in partnership with Alumni Relations and Development staff to develop activities designed to appeal to her classmates, including a mural arts tour of the city. Credited with a thoughtful, inclusive leadership style, her efforts delivered a stunning turnout for the 65th Reunion.

Sue Dreier Wishnow is a devoted member of the Class of 1986 and has served as Class co-president for the past 10 years. In 2016, as outreach chair for the Class of 1986’s 30th reunion and a longtime member of the Gift Committee, she helped the Class earn the top spot for total giving to the University; raising  $28.5 million for The Penn Fund, a record for a 30th reunion and the fourth largest for any reunion class. In addition, she has served in key roles on the Penn Alumni Council, the Alumni Class Leadership Council and as a member of the Penn Alumni Board of Directors. While living in London, she chaired the Penn Alumni Interview Program for six years and was active in the Penn Club of the United Kingdom. Now a resident of the Garden State, she serves as an active member of Penn Club of Metro New Jersey.

Louis “Tripp” Hornick III is a 2002 graduate of the College and a fourth generation Penn grad. As an undergraduate his service to the Sphinx Senior Society, his fraternity, Phi Kappa Sigma, the Provost’s Alchohol Rapid Response Team and to Mask & Wig as secretary-treasurer earned him the 2002 Penn Alumni Student Award of Merit. As a member of the Mask & Wig Board of Governors since 2003, he has chaired both the House Committee and the Tour Committee. He currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Alumni Class Leadership Council, and was the first to hold the position of “young alumnus” on the Penn Alumni Board of Directors.

Rohit Singh is a 2002 graduate of the College and Wharton. Having spent a year as an undergraduate in Lyon, France as part of the Huntsman Program in International Studies & Business he supports and serves on the Huntsman Advisory Board and is the founding chair of the Huntsman Alumni Council. He has provided further leadership as co-gift chair for the Class of 2002 Gift Committee, as co-chair of the Libraries Orrery Society and an Ex-officio member of the Libraries Board of Overseers and volunteer for the Penn Alumni Interview Program. The Singh Family Endowed Scholarship supports an international Huntsman student and he established a Singh Family Fund for South Asian Studies.

In addition to the individual alumni awards, the Class of 1967 received the Class Award of Merit, the Class of 1972 received the David N. Tyre Award for Excellence in Class Communications and the Penn Alumni Club of Seattle received the 2017 Club Award of Merit.

Faculty Award of Merit

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caption:Peter Decherney

The 2017 honoree was professor of English and cinema & media studies Peter Decherney. He holds a secondary appointment at the Annenberg School for Communication and an affiliation with the Center for Technology, Innovation and Competition at Penn Law School. He is the faculty director of Penn’s campus-wide Online Learning Initiative and director of the Cinema & Media Studies Program.

He is the author or editor of six books including Hollywood’s Copyright Wars: From Edison to the Internet and Hollywood: A Very Short Introduction. He has directed two short documentary films: Filmmaking for Democracy in Myanmar and the virtual reality film Kalobeyei, about a refugee settlement in Kenya. Dr. Decherney is also a regular contributor to Forbes.

Dr. Decherney has been an Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Scholar, a fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies, and a U.S. State Department Arts Envoy to Myanmar. He is an award-winning teacher, whose free online course (a MOOC) on the history of Hollywood is available through the edX platform.

Call for Nominations: The Faculty Award of Merit Presented by Penn Alumni

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The Faculty Award of Merit Presented by Penn Alumni was established in 2014 by Penn Alumni and the Office of the Provost. It is presented annually to an individual or group of collaborators who have made an outstanding contribution to alumni education and engagement at Penn by sharing their unique scholarship work with the alumni community. Special emphasis is placed on faculty members who go above and beyond the call of duty by engaging Penn alumni with the University as their intellectual home and educate the faculty community about the alumni engagement opportunities available to them.

The award consists of a formal citation and will be presented during next fall’s Alumni Award of Merit Gala.

All Penn faculty, staff, and alumni are eligible to nominate a faculty member for this award. For more information about award criteria and eligibility, or to nominate a faculty member, visit www.alumni.upenn.edu/education Nominations are due by February 28, 2018.

AT PENN

Events

Human Resources: Upcoming December Programs

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Professional and Personal Development Programs

Open to faculty and staff. Register at http://knowledgelink.upenn.edu/

Designing Your Resume; December 1; 12:30-1:30 p.m.; PSOM; free. Resumes are critical to landing the right job. While the content is important, the resume’s design can also have a large impact.  In this course we will review tips for designing your resume.  Please bring a copy of your resume to class.

Penn Perks; December 12; 12:30-1:30 p.m.; free. You love the benefits you gain by working at Penn. But there is a good chance there are even more benefits than you knew existed. Be prepared to be surprised and delighted by more than 100 “hidden benefits” we will reveal in this session. Join us for this invaluable treasure hunt.

SMART Goals; December 14; 12:30-1:30 p.m.; Brown Bag; free. SMART is an acronym for the five characteristics of well-designed goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound. It’s a simple tool used to go beyond the realm of fuzzy goal-setting into an actionable plan for results. In this session, you will put yourself on the fast-track to success by learning how to apply the SMART principles to every project or goal on your plate.

Writing Series Session 4—Comparison of Business and Academic Writing; December 20; 8 a.m.-noon.; $75. All effective writing communicates something important clearly and concisely to its audience. At the same time, given the social-discursive-rhetorical nature of all writing, business writing does differ significantly from academic writing, insofar as, business organizations differ from academic organizations. This interactive workshop will compare business and academic writing.

This session is being offered as part of Business Writing Series. Classes can be taken individually or consecutively as a series.  Participants who choose to take the program consecutively will have the option of receiving coaching on their writing an hour prior to the session start time.

Writing Series Session 4—Comparison of Business and Academic Writing; December 20; 1-5 p.m.; PSOM; $75. See course description above.

Productive Work Habits; December 20; 12:30-1:30 p.m.; free. Productivity is not about quantity, it’s about quality. Productivity is creating high-impact work efficiently. Productivity is doing the right task at the right time. In this program you will learn how to increase your productivity by your improving work habits.

 

Quality of Worklife Wokshops

Open to faculty and staff. Register at www.hr.upenn.edu/myhr/registration

Time Management; December 8; 12:30-1:30 p.m; free. Each of us make major decisions and react to important situations based on our perceptions of time and its value to us. This session will guide you through the hallmarks of quality time management which include the ability to set reasonable time expectations and conservation strategies, knowledge of personal time perception strengths and weaknesses, sensitivity to time constraints and the ability to evaluate current goals based on them and respect for our own time and valuing the time of others.

Guided Meditation: Take a Breath and Relax; December 15; noon-1 p.m.; free. Practice mindful breathing that focuses your attention on the present moment with kindness, compassion, and awareness. Self-massage and gentle mindful movements that promote relaxation and reduce stress may also be included in the workshop. No experience necessary.

Mindfulness Monday: From Mind Full to Mindful; December 18; 12:30-1:30 p.m.; free. Mindfulness practice develops awareness of your present thoughts and feelings to help you manage different situations. In this once-a-month experiential workshop, you’ll see how mindfulness can help you become more engaged and effective both at home and in the workplace. No prior meditation experience necessary.

Emotional Composure—Remaining Unruffled and Dynamic Under Stress; December 19; 3 p.m.; free. Emotions are a healthy part of the human experience. Acknowledging emotions and understanding your personal stress style is the first step in beginning to control them. In this webinar, instructors from the Employee Assistance Program will discuss a selection of customary stressors as well as techniques for exercising control over them.

 

Healthy Living Workshops

Open to faculty and staff. Register at www.hr.upenn.edu/myhr/registration

Be in the Know Biometric Screenings; December 1. This is the last biometric screening for the fall term; free for benefits-eligible faculty and staff. Free on-campus biometric screenings provide you with key indicators of your health status, such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels and blood sugar. Participants receive immediate feedback on their results−plus points toward Be in the Know cash incentives. Visit www.hr.upen.edu/beintheknow for details about the 2017-18 Be in the Know wellness campaign.

Chair Yoga; December 13; noon-1 p.m.; free. Chair yoga is a more moderate form of yoga that’s done while sitting in a chair or using a chair for support. You get the same benefits of a regular yoga workout (like increased strength, flexibility and balance) but don’t have to master complex poses. Chair yoga can even better your breathing and teach you how to relax your mind and improve your wellbeing.

December Wellness Walk—Walk with a Future Doc; December 15; noon-1 p.m.; free. This community walking group brings together Penn medical students, Master of Public Health students and community members. The goal is to promote health and well-being through education and exercise, with something as easy as walking. Each walk starts with a student talking about a popular health topic and answering any questions. As the walk begins, students and participants continue to chat about health topics while walking at their own pace. The walk is one hour and participants can walk for as long as they would like.

ZUMBA; December 20; noon; free. Perfect for everybody and every body! Each Zumba class is designed to bring people together to sweat it on. We take the “work” out of workout, by mixing low-intensity and high-intensity moves for an interval-style, calorie-burning dance fitness party. Once the Latin and World rhythms take over, you’ll see why Zumba® Fitness classes are often called exercise in disguise.

—Division of Human Resources

Update: November AT PENN

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TALKS

27         Malleable Prices: Interactional Mechanisms and Inequality in the Housing Market; Max Besbris, Rice University; noon; rm. 103, McNeil Bldg. (Sociology).

29         The Materialist Ontology of the Neorealist Image; Filippo Trentin, University of Warwick; noon; rm. 330, Fisher-Bennett Hall (Cinema Studies).

30         Evaluations of Hecke algebra traces at the wiring diagram basis; Cage: Philadelphia Area Combinatorics and Alg. Geometry Seminar; Mark Skandera, Lehigh; 3 p.m.; rm. 3C6, DRL (Mathematics).


AT PENN Deadlines 

The December AT PENN calendar is now online at www.upenn.edu/almanac The deadline for the January AT PENN calendar is December 5. 

Almanac resumes weekly publication with issues on December 5, 12 and 19.

Crimes

Weekly Crime Report

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The University of Pennsylvania Police Department Community Crime Report

About the Crime Report: Below are the Crimes Against Persons or Crimes Against Society from the campus report for November 6-12, 2017. Also reported were 16 incidents with 1 arrest (11 thefts, 3 other offenses, 1 auto theft and 1 DUI). Full reports are available at: http://www.upenn.edu/almanac/volumes/v64/n14/creport.html Prior weeks’ reports are also online.—Eds.

This summary is prepared by the Division of Public Safety and includes all criminal incidents reported and made known to the University Police Department between November 6-12, 2017 The University Police actively patrol from Market Street to Baltimore Avenue and from the Schuylkill River to 43rd Street in conjunction with the Philadelphia Police. In this effort to provide you with a thorough and accurate report on public safety concerns, we hope that your increased awareness will lessen the opportunity for crime. For any concerns or suggestions regarding this report, please call the Division of Public Safety at (215) 898-4482.

 

11/07/2017    8:39 PM    3400 Spruce St    Complainant pushed boyfriend

11/08/2017    1:36 PM    3400 Spruce St    Offender sent harassing text

11/08/2017    10:17 PM    3400 Spruce St    Offender exposed himself/Arrest for probation violations

11/09/2017    7:55 AM    3900 Spruce St    Complainant assaulted by known offender

11/09/2017    12:38 PM    3737 Market St    Complainant punched by known offender

11/10/2017    3:22 AM    3600 Walnut St    Complainant’s wallet and bike taken by force/Arrest

11/12/2017    3:21 PM    3931 Walnut St    Unsecured tip jar taken & manager assaulted as offenders fled

11/12/2017    4:30 PM    4000 Sansom St    Confidential sex offense

 

 

18th District

Below are the Crimes Against Persons from the 18th District: 6 incidents with 1 arrest (2 domestic assaults, 2 rapes, 1 indecent assault, 1 robbery) were reported between November 6-12, 2017 by the 18th District covering the Schuylkill River to 49th Street & Market Street to Woodland Avenue.

 

11/06/2017    10:58 AM    200 S 41st St    Rape

11/07/2017    9:19 PM    3400 Spruce St    Domestic Assault

11/08/2017    11:21 PM    3400 Spruce St    Indecent Assault

11/09/2017    9:43 AM    3900 Spruce St    Domestic Assault

11/10/2017    3:39 AM    3600 Walnut St    Robbery/Arrest

11/12/2017    9:19 PM    4030 Sansom St    Rape

Bulletins

Human Resources: Moving

  • November 21, 2017
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The Division of Human Resources’ offices that are currently located at 3401 Walnut Street, including: Benefits, Records, Recruitment, Staff and Labor Relations, HR Information Management and the Office of the Vice President, will be moving on December 15 to 600 Franklin Building, 3451 Walnut Street. Quality of Work Life will also move, but to 3624 Market Street, Suite 1-A South. If you have any questions, call (215) 898-3539.

Wolf Humanities’ Call for Applications, 2018-2019

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The Wolf Humanities Center (formerly Penn Humanities Forum) invites applications for 2018-19 Research Fellowships on the topic of Stuff.

According to topic director Julie Nelson Davis, professor of history of art, “Stuff defines us. Whether we box it up or put it on display, fight over it or fawn over it, real or virtual—stuff is an ever-constant reminder of our humanity. Join us as we explore the integrity and the physicality of our cultural lives.”

Application deadline: March 20, 2018  See: https://wolfhumanities.upenn.edu/annual-topics/stuff

MLK Community Involvement Award Nominations: December 8

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The deadline for nominations has been extended until December 8 for the 22nd Annual Community Involvement Recognition Awards. In honor of the late Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s awareness that local engagement is essential to the struggle for equality, the awards honor members of the community whose local engagement and active service to others best exemplifies the ideals Dr. King espoused.

The 2018 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Involvement Recognition Awards will be presented to five individuals including Penn faculty, staff and students as well as members of the community. Individuals whose work most merits recognition should be nominated, so those most deserving get these awards.

Nomination forms should be submitted electronically at http://www.upenn.edu/aarc/mlk/award.htm or mailed to the African-American Resource Center, attn: Colleen Winn, 3643 Locust Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6230.

For more info: contact AARC at (215) 898-0104 or aarc@pobox.upenn.edu

One Step Ahead: Safe Shopping

  • November 21, 2017
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Another tip in a series provided by the Offices of Information Systems & Computing and Audit, Compliance & Privacy

Safe Shopping

The window for holiday shopping has expanded, and “holiday” deals are now available year-round. There’s also the day-to-day shopping we all do.

When shopping, don’t use your debit card. Debit cards don’t have the same consumer protections as credit cards. Although debit cards may have zero liability protections like credit cards, your bank account may be emptied before those protections apply. The debit card issuer may delay the return of your money while they investigate possible fraud.

Use your credit card instead.

Here’s how to keep your credit card information safer:

• Be wary of unfamiliar vendors or websites. Use Google to check the name of the company for possible complaints or problems.

• Don’t be fooled by shipping or invoice notifications you aren’t anticipating. Scammers often use these types of notifications to fraudulently gather your personal information when you respond to them. Instead, ignore these.

• Don’t supply your personal information unsolicited: be suspicious of attempts to “verify” your credit card information. Contact the merchant or vendor independently.

For additional tips, see the One Step Ahead link on the Information Security website: www.upenn.edu/computing/security/

Penn Safety Fair Raffle Winners

  • November 21, 2017
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Environmental Health and Radiation Safety (EHRS) and the Division of Public Safety (DPS) hosted the 8th Annual Penn Safety Fair in October. Along with DPS and EHRS, a variety of vendors and Penn offices shared valuable information and helped our research community to RAMP UP SAFETY!

The following are the winners of this year’s raffle:
Thuan Le, HUP Toxicology Lab—3M WorkTunes headphones
Judith Smith, Cancer Biology—3M WorkTunes headphones
Alan Wanicur, Infectious Diseases—EDGE safety glasses
Maureen Victoria, Otorhinolaryngology—EDGE safety glasses
Jie Wu, Hematology/Oncology—Safety lunch bag, water bottle sponsored  by Rainin, and Wawa gift certificate sponsored by Process Control Solutions
Kerry Roby, Cell and Molecular Biology—Safety lunch bag, water bottle sponsored by sponsored by Green Campus Partnership, and Wawa gift certificate sponsored by Process Control Solutions
Dao Leuong, Molecular Pathology—Safety lunch bag, water bottle sponsored by sponsored by Green Campus Partnership, and Wawa gift certificate sponsored by Process Control Solutions
Sylvia Dossick, HUP Lab—Safety lunch bag, water bottle sponsored by sponsored by Kimberly Clark, and Wawa gift certificate sponsored by Process Control Solutions
Tania Hanna, ULAR—Panera gift certificate, sponsored by The Baker Company
Xiaohui Peng, Ovarian Cancer Research Center—Panera gift certificate, sponsored by The Baker Company
Tina Xu, Pharmacology—Leather-bound journal, sponsored by Thermo Fisher Scientific
Caitlin Donnelly, HUP—Reusable lunchbox with utensils, sponsored by Green Campus Partnership

Winners can pick up their prizes at EHRS, 3160 Chestnut Street, Suite 400.

Please contact EHRS at (215)-898-4453 for directions or more information.

Penn’s Way 2018 Raffle

  • November 21, 2017
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Visit www.upenn.edu/pennsway for more information about the raffle and making a pledge. 

Entries must be received by 5 p.m. on the prior Friday for inclusion in a given week’s drawing. 

 

Grand Prize (Drawn November 28)

Penn Business Services—Grand Prize—iPad Pro Package (keyboard, cover, case, iTunes gift card) Value $1,000*

 

• Note: Prizes valued at over $100 are subject to state and federal tax. Winners will be notified and offered the option of refusing the prize.

 

Suspension of Normal Operations

  • November 21, 2017
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Although Penn normally never stops operating, emergencies such as severe weather conditions may sometimes result in the cancellation of classes and/or the full or partial closure of certain areas of the University. Decisions affecting work schedules and class cancellation are made by the Executive Vice President in consultation with the Provost. The University will announce a closing or other modification of work schedules through the following means:

  • the University’s emergency information number: (215) 898-6358 (215-898-MELT)
  • communications from the Division of Public Safety
  • KYW News Radio (1060 AM)
  • the UPennAlert Emergency Notification System (for University-related incidents & crises)

The University’s emergency radio identification code numbers (KYW News Radio) are “102” for day classes and schools/centers, and “2102” for evening classes. The message that accompanies the code number will provide the operating status of the University. Be sure to keep this information in a place you can easily access.

Even when Penn is officially closed due to an emergency, there are some essential services that must still be provided, such as Public Safety, Facilities, or Penn Dining. Staff members in essential positions are still required to work as normally scheduled under these circumstances.

For more information on suspension of normal operations, visit www.hr.upenn.edu/myhr/resources/policy/other/suspensionofnormaloperations

—Division of Human Resources

Talk About Teaching & Learning

Teaching Controversial Issues in the Age of Trump by Jonathan Zimmerman

  • November 21, 2017
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Suppose you’re a biologist or an anthropologist or a philosopher, and you’re teaching a class about human diversity. You make reference to theories of prejudice, which prompts a student to make a scathing comment about President Trump.

A few other people chime in, all heaping vitriol on Trump. One student calls Trump’s immigration orders “racist;” another mocks his pledge to “build a wall” between Mexico and the United States. You’re trying to move on, but someone in the back row has her hand up. You call on her; she clears her throat. “Hold on,” she says. “What’s wrong with trying to protect our borders?”

What do you do? How do you address controversy in your classroom?

The teaching of controversial questions is itself a controversial question, and I don’t pretend to have all of the answers to it. And it’s become even harder in the Age of Trump, which has witnessed massive political polarization in our electorate and a 24/7 slugfest of snark and invective on our airwaves. But I do think I can offer a few modest suggestions:

1. Don’t shrink from disagreement: Some professors have been reluctant to engage in discussions of Trump’s immigration policies—or, say, court rulings on same-sex marriage—out of fear that immigrant or gay students might be offended. But these people already know that their rights are at risk. We won’t do them any favors by pretending otherwise! Indeed, when sensitive subjects of this sort arise in class, I always preface the discussion by acknowledging that all of us come to these questions from different backgrounds and experiences; that some members of the class might be more directly affected by the issue under discussion than others; but that the only way we can teach others is by communicating across our differences.

2. Avoid questions that are not truly controversial: When the best-informed people agree on a subject, we shouldn’t debate it. So there’s no reason to discuss whether humans share an ancestry with other mammals, for example, or whether human activity has warmed the earth. (What we should do about climate change is heavily contested by informed people, by contrast, and of course it should be debated.) If a student insists that evolution or climate-change are hoaxes, it’s perfectly legitimate to explain that the expert consensus behind these theories is overwhelming; that the student is free to reject that consensus, if she chooses; but that we can’t use class time to debate a question that is, in fact, already answered. I recognize that some of my colleagues might see the issues of Trump’s proposed wall and same-sex marriage as equally settled. But surely there’s a vast epistemological difference between scientific claims and political or normative ones. Climate-change denial often collapses that distinction, of course, dismissing climatologists as political actors dressed up as scientists. We make a similar mistake in our classrooms if we pretend that a moral or normative statement—about immigration, marriage, or anything is—has the same status as a scientific one.

3. Advocate for the devil, if necessary: Given the overwhelmingly liberal cast of our elite universities, you might find yourself in a classroom where only one side of an important issue is represented. It’s incumbent upon you to take the other side, so our students see that not every good or reasonable person agrees with them. They’re also much more likely to learn if their preconceptions are challenged rather than simply confirmed. How can you argue for a position that you don’t share, or even one that you detest? It’s not easy, but—as with almost everything else—it starts with knowledge. I spend as much time as I can watching Fox News and reading the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, precisely because I know that I’ll encounter opinions other than my own. And that helps prepare me to represent these viewpoints in class, when I need to do so. 

4. Share your opinion, if you wish, but don’t impose it: We’re all political beings. Why pretend otherwise when the students are in the room? It’s perfectly okay for you to share your opinion in class . . . but only so long as your students understand that it is an opinion—and that they don’t have to agree with it. If you pretend that your own position is the gospel truth, which every right-minded person must share, you’re no longer an educator; you’re a propagandist. 

5. Provide other outlets for expression: Some of your students won’t be comfortable sharing their views in class, especially if they’re in the political minority. So set up a blog or chatroom, where the less vocal members might feel more emboldened to speak up. 

6. Enforce strict rules of decorum: We shouldn’t allow our students to imitate the nasty behavior that so many politicians and pundits have exhibited, from President Trump on down. My students are free to agree with Trump, as I often tell them; but they’re not allowed to act like him, insofar as he has demeaned his opponents as “dummies,” “losers,” and so on. In the classroom and on course blogs, we need to maintain environments where students listen to each other without mocking or denigrating each other. The best way to do that is to hold a discussion early in the semester about, yes, the rules of discussion. Often I’ll put two words on the blackboard—“civil” and “uncivil”—and ask the students what they mean. Then I’ll make an obviously uncivil remark and ask them to rephrase it in a more civil manner. Trump himself has provided a wellspring of rich examples, of course. But I also like to use some uncivil remarks that I’ve heard from his foes, especially “Trump voters are stupid” or “Trump voters are racist.” Students quickly get the point: you can’t have a civil discussion with someone if you start it by condemning their intelligence or decency.

To be sure, many of these rules are easier to state than to sustain. I struggle especially with the question of whether—and how—to divulge my own opinion on divisive political matters. I’m the authority figure in the room, after all, and I’m also responsible for giving everyone else a grade. Won’t my students gravitate to my point of view, either because they respect my experience or because they want to curry my favor?

Perhaps. But I do think you can stave off some of that danger by being honest and explicit when you choose to editorialize. And remember, pretending to float above the fray carries its own perils. The students won’t really get to know you—and vice versa—if you’re not being yourself. And you also forsake the chance to model a different kind of political discourse than they see on TV and the web, where people revile opponents instead of respecting them. 

The early 20th-century’s leading civil libertarian, Alexander Meiklejohn, implored teachers to share their own perspectives when controversies arose. Anything else would be a feeble ruse, he wrote, as well as a lost opportunity for dialogue and enlightenment. But none of that would work, Meiklejohn quickly added, unless teachers had the freedom to express their opinions in the first place.

And in many college classrooms, sadly, teachers still aren’t free. To be sure, our full-time faculty have won many more protections than they possessed in Meiklejohn’s time. But our own era has also seen the rise of adjunct faculty, who now outnumber the full-timers in the American professoriate: of 1.5 million people teaching in our colleges and universities, 1 million are adjuncts. And in many places, they can be dismissed for saying anything that their bosses—or their students—don’t like. [1]

So if you’re lucky enough to enjoy freedom in your classroom, as most Penn professors are, use it! Just remember that your goal should always be to help students develop their own point of view, not to get them to share yours. “Our teachers must be advocates, but they may never be salesmen or propagandists,” Alexander Meiklejohn wrote in 1938. “The very existence of democratic schools depends upon that distinction. [2]

He was talking about K-12 schools, not universities. But we professors have a role to play in our democracy, too. It will require us to embrace rather than eschew controversial issues. And it should redouble our commitment to insuring that all of our faculty have the same right to teach them. Anything less wrongs all of us.

 

[1] See Jonathan Zimmerman, “New Jersey professor fired for Fox News comments points to larger problem,” Philadelphia Inquirer, July 7, 2017.

[2] Alexander Meiklejohn, “Teachers and Controversial Questions” [1938], in Alexander Meiklejohn, Teacher of Freedom, ed. Cynthia Stokes Brown (Berkeley, CA: Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute, 1981), 210.

 

Jonathan Zimmerman is a professor of history of education; he teaches graduate courses in the Graduate School of Education and undergraduate classes in the School of Arts and Sciences’ department of history.

This essay continues the series that began in the fall of 1994 as the joint creation of the College of Arts and Sciences, the Center for Teaching and Learning and the Lindback Society for Distinguished Teaching. See https://almanac.upenn.edu/sections/talk-about-teaching-and-learning for the previous essays.