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Penn Vet’s Ryan Hospital: New $2.7 Million Richard Lichter Emergency Room

  • April 23, 2019
  • vol 65 issue 32
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caption: Richard Lichter and Dean Andrew Hoffman cut the  ribbon at the dedication of the new ER at Ryan Hospital.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony on April 16 celebrated the opening of Ryan Hospital’s Richard Lichter Emergency Room at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet). The project was generously funded by Richard Lichter, a member of Penn Vet’s Board of Overseers and co-chair of The Power of Penn Vet campaign. His gift was made in memory of his beloved golden retriever, Cosette.

The Richard Lichter Emergency Room at Ryan Hospital more than doubles the amount of clinical space of the former emergency room, which opened in the early 1980s. The 2,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art expansion includes designated areas for canine and feline patients, including species-specific oxygen cages. The Richard Lichter Emergency Room gives Penn Vet the opportunity to elevate animal care in a significant way; the previous number of patient care areas doubles, increasing from 13 to 27. The facility also includes four additional large dog runs that provide comfort and security to patients who are being treated for the most complex cases.

“The emergency room expansion represents the first phase of a $14 million investment in our commitment to cutting-edge emergency and critical care for our patients and their families,” said Michael Mison, Ryan Hospital’s chief medical officer. “Mr. Lichter has a long history of saving animal lives and supporting the welfare of companion animals throughout the Philadelphia region. On behalf of the faculty, clinical staff, nurses and all of the Penn Vet family, we are incredibly thankful to Richard for his transformational gift.”

The need for life-saving, veterinary emergency services is growing. According to the American Pet Products Association, 86.4 million households had pets in 2018, up from 72.9 million households in 2012. As the number of companion animals grows, so does the need for progressive emergency and critical care.

Constructed 38 years ago, Ryan Hospital was built to accommodate 19,000 animal patients annually, with 6,000 of those cases originating in the emergency service. Today, the hospital now treats more than 36,000 patients each year, with 10,000 of those cases admitted through the emergency service. To accommodate this growing demand, the hospital is undergoing a modernization plan to transform its facility into a novel veterinary health system for the Philadelphia region. Future phases of the multi-phased project include enhancements to Cardiology, Radiology, as well as a state-of-the-art Emergency and Critical Care Center.

“Contributing to Penn Vet’s Ryan Hospital was important since I have witnessed first-hand the role their veterinarians play in saving the lives of animals who come to Ryan in dire circumstances,” said Mr. Lichter. “It was natural for me to want the hospital to have the most modern and state-of-the-art emergency care facility. Through my charitable foundation, I have had the opportunity to provide care, comfort and protection for dogs in their time of maximum need.”

With one of the largest emergency caseloads in the field, Ryan Hospital is home to world-class medical and critical-care specialists, with extensive experience in trauma, shock and other emergency conditions. In 2013, Ryan Hospital was the first university-based hospital designated a Level 1 Facility by the Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society (VECCS). The designation reflects the highest level of patient care, based on specialist and technician staffing, emergency capabilities, and diagnostic capability. That same year, the American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care (ACVECC) designated Ryan Hospital a Veterinary Trauma Center, reflecting the comprehensive depth of resources available to small animal patients suffering traumatic injuries.

“We are absolutely committed to helping pets and pet parents, and to building a world-leading, state-of-the-art facility for emergency and critical care,” said Oliver Garden, chair of clinical sciences and advanced medicine at Penn Vet. “We have a bold and innovative vision to expand Ryan Hospital. It is through the wonderful generosity of Mr. Lichter, and our other donors, that we are seeing our dreams come to fruition. These are exceptionally exciting times for Penn Vet!”

Gary Althouse: Penn Vet’s Associate Dean of Sustainable Agriculture and Veterinary Practices

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caption: Gary AlthouseThe University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet) announced the appointment of Gary Althouse to associate dean of sustainable agricultural and veterinary practices. The appointment was effective April 1.

In this newly created role, Dr. Althouse will leverage Penn Vet’s and the University’s distinctive resources to address the complex interplay between agriculture and the environment. He will seek interdisciplinary approaches to improve agricultural productivity, reduce environmental impact of livestock and poultry production, and enhance the broader practice of veterinary medicine. Dr. Althouse will also serve as a leading advocate for agriculture within Pennsylvania.  

“The vision of this new leadership at Penn Vet is to address the major challenge of true agricultural sustainability in the 21st century. It is our responsibility as an institution to address the increasing demand for protein among a burgeoning human population, and in parallel, to foster farms of the future that are not only highly productive and profitable, but that embrace best practices in animal health and welfare,” said Andrew Hoffman, Gilbert S. Kahn Dean of Veterinary Medicine. “At the same time, we must evaluate viable solutions and approaches to agricultural production that generate little or no ecological impact. I’m delighted that Dr. Althouse will play a key part in elevating veterinary medicine’s role in developing a sustainable future for both small and large scale farming.”

Dr. Althouse served as chairman of the department of clinical studies at Penn Vet’s New Bolton Center from 2007 to 2017. In 2011, he was named to the Marion Dilley and David George Jones Endowed Chair in Animal Reproduction. A professor of reproduction and swine herd health, his primary areas of research include comparative theriogenology; swine production medicine; andrology; and spermatology. He specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders which have an effect on individual and herd reproductive performance. Dr. Althouse is also the founder and director of the Reference Andrology Laboratory, which provides critical and quality control semen analysis services for swine, cattle and equine. A diplomate in the American College of Theriogenologists, Dr. Althouse earned his PhD and veterinary degree from Iowa State University. 

“As Pennsylvania’s only veterinary school, Penn Vet does much more than produce future veterinarians,” said Dr. Althouse. “We serve as a key partner in supporting the agriculture sector through our many clinical, diagnostic and educational outreach services, and with timely research that addresses critical challenges facing the industry. It is a tremendous honor to serve both Penn Vet and our external partners in this new role of associate dean.” 

PPSA Presents: Panel Discussion on Diversity Issues at Penn

  • April 23, 2019
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Earlier this year, PPSA surveyed its membership to identify questions and concerns about diversity and inclusion, as experienced by staff at Penn. On Thursday, May 2, noon-1 p.m. PPSA is hosting a panel discussion to address some themes identified in this survey. Panelists will be Joann Mitchell, Senior Vice President for Institutional Affairs and Chief Diversity Officer and Lisa Lewis, Assistant Dean for Diversity and Inclusivity, School of Nursing.

The discussion will take place at Cafe 58, Irvine Auditorium (light lunch will be served). Register: https://ppsa.upenn.edu/events/ppsa-presents-panel-discussion-on-diversity-issues-at-penn/

Deaths

Donald Stewart, SAS Associate Dean, CGS Director

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Donald M. Stewart, former associate dean of the School of Arts & Sciences at Penn, director of continuing education, and assistant to Penn’s president who went on serve as Spelman College president, died on Sunday in Chicago of a heart attack. He was 80.

Dr. Stewart was born in Chicago and graduated from Grinnell College in Iowa in 1959 with a BA in political science; he was the first in his family to complete college. He went on to earn a master’s in political science from Yale and a master’s and doctorate in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

Dr. Stewart joined the staff at the University of Pennsylvania in 1970 as an executive assistant to President Martin Meyerson. He went on partial leave in 1972 as the recipient of a Ford Foundation Study Award that supported a major study of the ways higher education relates to government. During that time he retained ties with the Office of the President and the Fels Center of Government, where he served as a lecturer and staff member. He went on to hold several positions at Penn, including the Fels Center’s coordinator of continuing education and director of the Higher Education Research Project, instructor in public policy analysis, and assistant professor in the department of city and regional planning. In 1975, he took office in a joint reporting structure as associate dean of FAS (now SAS) and director of the College of General Studies (CGS, now LPS), and as an assistant/counselor to the provost for continuing education. In 1974, Dr. Stewart chaired a task force refining proposals for the restructure of continuing education at Penn.

He left  Penn  in 1976 to become president of Spelman College, the historically black women’s college in Atlanta, a position he held for the next 10 years. His appointment was opposed by students who had wanted the school’s trustees to choose a black woman as president, but his tenure was incredibly successful, including growing the endowment dramatically, increasing student enrollment, and creating a chemistry department, a comprehensive writing program, and a Women’s Research and Resource Center.

After Spelman, Dr. Stewart took over the College Board, the non-profit private organization that administers the SATs and a scholarship service, turning down an offer to become assistant secretary of education. During that time, in 1995, he came back to Penn to speak at the CGS graduation ceremony. Dr. Stewart was a director of The New York Times Company from 1986 to 2005. After retiring from the College Board in 1999, he was a special adviser to the president and senior program officer in the education division of the Carnegie Corporation of New York. From 2000 to 2005, he was chief executive of the Chicago Community Trust, where he supported a charter school initiative called Urban Prep Academies. Dr. Stewart was a visiting professor at the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy from 2005 to 2011. In 2010, he was appointed to the Commission on Presidential Scholars by President Barack Obama.

Dr. Stewart is survived by his wife, Isabel Carter Johnston; sons, Jay Ashton Stewart, Carter Mitchell Stewart and Gojeb Frehywot; and eight grandchildren.

To Report A Death

Almanac appreciates being informed of the deaths of current and former faculty and staff members, students and other members of the University community. Call (215) 898-5274 or email almanac@upenn.edu

Governance

From the Senate Office: SEC Actions

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The following is published in accordance with the Faculty Senate Rules. Among other purposes, the publication of SEC actions is intended to stimulate discussion among the constituencies and their representatives. Please communicate your comments to Patrick Walsh, executive assistant to the Senate Office, either by telephone at (215) 898-6943 or by email at senate@pobox.upenn.edu

Faculty Senate Executive Committee Actions

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Chair’s Report. Faculty Senate Chair Jennifer Pinto-Martin reported the Wellness Big Idea Pitch Event, which will be held at Houston Hall’s Bodek Lounge on Thursday, April 25, 4:30-6 p.m.  Fourteen semifinalists will be given three minutes each to pitch their ideas. The audience will use an app to vote live during the session. The judging panel will announce the finalist(s) at the end of the event. For a complete list of semifinalists and to register to attend the event, please visit https://bigidea.pennmedicine.org/wellness

Past Chair’s Report. Faculty Senate Past Chair Santosh Venkatesh reported on the work of the Provost’s Academic Planning and Budget Committee.

Update from the Office of the President. President Amy Gutmann discussed a recent panel discussion she moderated at a gathering of the Association of American Universities on ethics in college admissions practices. Dr. Gutmann described her fundraising priorities as part of the Power of Penn campaign, services to be offered to first-generation and low-income students by the newly established Office of Penn First Plus Students, and the forthcoming launch of the Paideia, a five-year pilot program underwritten by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation that will foster programming in civil discourse, civic engagement and leadership for undergraduate students.

Moderated Discussion. Following a number of revisions to its wording, SEC members voted to endorse a statement on gender-neutral campus bathrooms. The statement will be forwarded to University leadership together with a note of endorsement from the Senate Executive Committee that encourages the University to adopt the statement as policy.

SEC members also discussed a proposal to develop and maintain an “Engaging Ideas Program” within the Senate in order to develop programs or promote existing programming in an annually identified theme area (e.g., climate change and sustainability). The purpose of the Program would be to improve the flow of information about vital issues between the University and the community sector and to create opportunities and favorable conditions for University-based contributions to the greater community.

Supplements

Policies

Of Record: Rules Governing Final Examinations

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The Rules Governing Final Examinations govern final examinations at the University of Pennsylvania. These rules are published each semester as a reminder to the academic community. This year, Ramadan begins on Sunday, May 5, 2019 and continues through Tuesday, June 4, 2019. Students are encouraged to contact their faculty and advisors as early as possible to discuss any potential conflicts between their academic work and their observance of Ramadan. The Office of the Chaplain is an important resource for all members of the Penn community. Our Chaplains can offer support and respond to any questions or concerns concerning Ramadan.

Additional information regarding Ramadan can be found at https://chaplain.upenn.edu/worship/ramadan/

  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

Sonali Deliwala, Isami McCowan: Travel & Research Grants

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Sonali Deliwala and Isami McCowan have each received Terry B. Heled Travel & Research Grants from the Kelly Writers House.   

Supported financially by this grant, Ms. Deliwala will research a profile piece on the Valsad tribal members, a nomadic community currently near Mumbai, India. Ms. McCowan will travel to the Izu Islands of Japan to research and write about the social, cultural and political contexts in which her grandmother lived in the 1960s.

Ms. Deliwala and Ms. McCowan will present the results of their research—and the writings that come of it—next year at the Kelly Writers House.

As a way of remembering her mother, Terry B. Heled—and of honoring the students of her alma mater in gratitude for the encouragement her own research and writing received while she was at Penn—Mali Heled Kinberg (C’95) created this endowed fund at the Writers House that, each summer, enables students to travel for the purpose of conducting research leading to a significant writing project.

Sharon Irving: Nutrition Support Nurse Service Award

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Sharon Y. Irving, assistant professor in the department of family and community health in Penn’s School of Nursing, has been awarded a Distinguished Nutrition Support Nurse Service Award from the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (ASPEN).

This award is given to the nurse member who has made exceptional leadership and practice contributions that have furthered the vision and mission of the society over a sustained period of time. Recently, Dr. Irving served as lead author on the first set of recommendations on feeding tube location verification in pediatric patients and also was a co-author of new guidelines for nutrition therapy in critically ill children. Both guidelines are endorsed by ASPEN’s Board of Directors.

Dr. Irving practices as a pediatric nurse practitioner at CHOP, where she provides patient care in the pediatric intensive care and pediatric progressive care units. She co-founded and led a multi-disciplinary ICU-Pediatric Nutrition Team (ICU-PNuT) in designing and implementing the first nutrition pathway to improve nutrition delivery to infants and children during and immediately following critical illness. The pathway includes ensuring timely initiation of nutrient provision to attain appropriate caloric and protein intake, using the most appropriate mode for delivering nutrients: the gastrointestinal tract or intravenous. The ICU-PNuT includes physicians, registered dieticians, advance practice and clinical nurses and a clinical pharmacist.

Louis Lin, Ángel Ortiz-Siberón: Truman Scholars

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Two Penn juniors, Louis Lin and Ángel Ortiz-Siberón, have received Harry S. Truman Scholarships, a merit-based award of as much as $30,000 for graduate or professional school to prepare for careers in government or public service. Mr. Lin and Mr. Ortiz-Siberón are among 62 Truman Scholars selected this year from 840 candidates nominated by 346 colleges and universities.

caption: Louis LinMr. Lin is a double major in political science and health and societies in SAS and is pursuing minors in Asian American studies, education policy and environmental studies. Mr. Lin is also in the BA/Master of Public Health program. He plans to pursue a law degree, focusing on health law, and a master’s degree in education policy, with the hope of creating a career addressing disparities in children’s health and education in the United States. The son of immigrant parents from China, he is focused on health and education policy, specifically equity, access and quality for low-income immigrant communities. He is a fellow on the board of the student organization Penn First and the chair of the Theatre Arts Council. In 2017, he was elected to a four-year term as a judge of elections on his precinct’s Election Board in Philadelphia, and in 2018 to a four-year term as committeeperson on the 27th Ward Democratic Executive Committee. Mr. Lin also works as a management and program analyst for the Office of the Chief Counsel at the Federal Aviation Administration.

caption: Ángel Ortiz-SiberónMr. Ortiz-Siberón is majoring in sociology in SAS. He is a Mellon Mays Fellow, and his current research aims to create a socioeconomic profile of Puerto Ricans on the US mainland, with a focus on poverty, homelessness and social mobility. With an interest in increasing access to education and empowering low-income Puerto Rican communities, Mr. Ortiz-Siberón intends to pursue a PhD in sociology and social policy with the goal of becoming a professor and public servant. Mr. Ortiz-Siberón is a member of the Puerto Rican Institute of Music in Philadelphia and has tutored and mentored low-income Latinx students. He has been an active participant in local relief efforts for those affected by hurricanes Irma and María in Puerto Rico. He was a loan director for the Bentley University Microfinance Group in Waltham, Massachusetts, working to increase access to financing for small-business owners.

Maureen Maguire: Lawrence J. Singerman Medal

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caption: Maureen MaguireMaureen G. Maguire, the Carolyn F. Jones Professor of Ophthalmology in the Perelman School of Medicine, is the recipient of this year’s Lawrence J. Singerman Medal, awarded by the Macula Society. This award is given annually to recognize outstanding Macula Society members for their contributions to the advancement of science through retinal clinical trials. Dr. Maguire is the principal investigator of the coordinating center for several multi-site clinical trials for the prevention and treatment of age-related macular degeneration.

Diana Mutz: AAPOR Book Award

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Diana C. Mutz, the Samuel A. Stouffer Professor of Political Science and Communication at the Annenberg School and SAS, was recently named the winner of the 2019 Book Award from the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) for her book Hearing the Other Side: Deliberative versus Participatory Democracy. Her book examines how and with what consequences Americans interact with those whose political views differ from their own.

She will be recognized at AAPOR’s 74th Annual Conference, held in Toronto next month. The AAPOR Book Award recognizes books that have influenced our understanding of public opinion or survey methodology. To be eligible for the award, a book must have been published at least three years prior. Hearing the Other Side was selected unanimously by the Book Award committee and is being honored for the way it grapples with tough issues and uses data to illuminate problems and contradictions.

Dr. Mutz researches public opinion, political psychology and mass political behavior, with an emphasis on political communication. She is the recipient of a 2017 Carnegie Fellowship, a 2016 Guggenheim Fellowship and a 2011 Lifetime Career Achievement Award from the American Political Science Association. She has published six books and received numerous book awards.

Trevor Penning: ACS Founders’ Award

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caption: Trevor PenningThe Division of Chemical Toxicology of the American Chemical Society (ACS) has given Trevor Penning, the Thelma Brown and Henry Charles Molinoff Professor of Pharmacology and the director of the Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology, the 2019 Founders’ Award. Dr. Penning will be honored at the ACS annual meeting in San Diego in August with a symposium in his honor.

He is also a professor of biochemistry and biophysics and of obstetrics/gynecology. Dr. Penning has performed research in the areas of chemical toxicology and environmental science with over 500 publications. He studies the role of aldo-keto reductases (AKR) in hormone biosynthesis as it relates to prostate and breast cancer, as well as the development of inhibitors for AKR enzymes as chemical probes and therapeutics.

Dr. Penning is cited for providing outstanding and sustained service to the ACS for his many professional volunteer positions, such as chair of chemical toxicology division, a member of the executive committee and an ACS symposium organizer and regular speaker. He has also been a member of the Cancer Etiology Study Section at the National Institutes of Health and a senior editor for Cancer Research for Population and Prevention Science, as well as a member of two working groups at the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which re-assessed the cancer-causing properties of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and diesel exhaust.

Marco Ruella: ASPIRE Award

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Marco Ruella, assistant professor of hematology-oncology and a member of the Center for Cellular Immunotherapies, was among the recipients of this year’s ASPIRE Awards from The Mark Foundation. The $3.4 million grant program funds high-risk, high-reward approaches to solving complex problems in cancer research that tend to fall outside the scope of other funding opportunities. As the principal investigator, Dr. Ruella and his team, including Sara Cherry, a professor of microbiology, and Igor Brodsky, an assistant professor of pathobiology in the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, are working to develop combination strategies that will improve outcomes for cancer patients treated with the adoptive cell transfer approach called chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy.

Lynn Schuchter, Lawrence Shulman: ASCO Awards

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caption: Lynn Schucter     caption: Lawrence ShulmanThe American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and ASCO’s Conquer Cancer Foundation have announced that two of their top prizes will honor two members of the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania. Lynn M. Schuchter, chief of hematology-oncology, will receive the Hologic, Inc. Endowed Women Who Conquer Cancer Mentorship Award, and Lawrence N. Shulman, professor of medicine, deputy director for clinical services and director of the Center for Global Cancer Medicine, will receive the Humanitarian Award.

The Mentorship Award recognizes extraordinary female leaders and role models who have excelled as a mentor and who have demonstrated outstanding commitment to the professional development of female colleagues as clinicians, educators and researchers in oncology. Dr. Schuchter is the C. Willard Robinson Professor of Hematology-Oncology and the program leader for the Melanoma and Cutaneous Malignancies Program. Her clinical research focuses on melanoma, with particular interest in novel therapies for advanced disease. She has a strong commitment to and passion for mentorship, especially for women. She has worked to promote and pave the way for women at Penn and for women and men in oncology.

The Humanitarian Award recognizes an oncologist who personifies ASCO’s mission and values by going above and beyond the call of duty in providing outstanding patient care through innovative means or exceptional service or leadership in the US or abroad. Dr. Shulman is a specialist in the treatment of patients with breast cancer. His research includes development of new cancer therapies and implementation of cancer treatment programs in low-resource settings. He also serves as senior oncology advisor to Partners In Health, where he plays a leadership role in the establishment of national cancer treatment programs with the Ministries of Health in Rwanda and Haiti. He sits on the Vice Chancellor’s Advisory Council for Rwanda’s University for Global Health Equity, and he is involved in the development of the national oncology program in Botswana through the Botswana-UPenn Partnership.

Christina Steele: Beinecke Scholarship

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caption: Christina SteelePenn junior Christina Steele has been awarded a Beinecke Scholarship to pursue her graduate education. She is the 12th Beinecke Scholar from Penn since the award was first given in 1975.

A psychology major in the College of Arts and Sciences, Ms. Steele is among 18 Beinecke Scholars from throughout the United States chosen this year. Each scholar receives $4,000 immediately prior to entering graduate school and an additional $30,000 while attending graduate school.

Ms. Steele plans to use the scholarship funds to pursue a PhD in psychology and further her interest in studying how problems in the family environment can disrupt and interfere with healthy relationships and well-being. She also intends to research the factors that contribute to cycles of conflict within friend relationships and other social networks outside of the family. Her goal is to develop evidence-based interventions to help people build happier and healthier relationships in society.

Daniel Wagner: Gates Foundation Grant

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Dan Wagner, UNESCO Chair in Learning and Literacy at Penn GSE, director of the International Literacy Institute and director of the Program in International Educational Development,  received a $50,000 grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for “Learning Equity: Translating measurement into outcomes.” Improvement in learning outcomes will require significant innovation in the measurement and achievement strategies that are required to directly address the UN Sustainable Development Goal on Education. The grant is designed to lay out an approach to remedy current limitations and includes three steps to improve learning among those most in need in developing countries by building new metrics and tools, pilot testing and refining these metrics and tools and implementation of learning equity strategy.

Amir Yaron: Stephen A. Ross Prize

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caption:Amir YaronThe Foundation for Advancement of Research in Financial Economics (FARFE) has awarded its sixth $100,000 Stephen A. Ross Prize in Financial Economics to the paper “Risks for the Long Run: A Potential Resolution of Asset Pricing Puzzles,” written by Amir Yaron, professor of finance at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and Ravi Bansal, J.B. Fuqua Professor of Finance and Economics at Duke University. The paper was published in the Journal of Finance in 2004. The paper and subsequent literature show the key role of changes in long-run consumption growth rates and volatility in determining asset prices.

Susan Yoon: ISLS Fellow

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Susan Yoon, a professor in the teaching, learning and leadership division of Penn GSE, has been inducted as a 2019 Fellow of the International Society of the Learning Sciences. The ISLS Fellows program recognizes highly accomplished scholars who have made major contributions to the field of the Learning Sciences since its inception nearly three decades ago.

Dr. Yoon’s research uses multiple theoretical lenses to study learning and interaction in designed interventions. She studies how student and teacher populations can improve understanding and instruction about complex systems in middle and high school science courses. She also examines educational system affordances and constraints (e.g., teacher learning trajectories, professional development, school-level contextual factors) that enable or impede adoption of progressive learning tools and approaches.

Center for Media at Risk: Craig Newmark Grant

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The Center for Media at Risk at Penn’s Annenberg School for Communication has received a grant from Craig Newmark Philanthropies to bolster its mission of addressing the increased intimidation of media practitioners.

The Center for Media at Risk is a hub for strategizing around the political intimidation of practitioners in journalism, documentary, entertainment and digital spaces. It aims to enhance awareness of the growing global prevalence of political threat against the media and to share knowledge about the existing and emergent ways of resisting its penetration.

“A vigorous, trustworthy press that has the right to communicate freely is key to a healthy global society,” said Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist and Craig Newmark Philanthropies. “It keeps people informed and helps give them a voice, and that’s precisely why the Center for Media at Risk stands up for media folks who are at risk of being silenced.”

Six PSOM Physician-Scientists: Assoc. of American Physicians

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Six physician-scientists from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have been elected to the Association of American Physicians, one of the nation’s most prestigious medical organizations whose members include Nobel laureates and members of the National Academy of Science and the Institute of Medicine. The Penn Medicine inductees are part of the 2019 class of 60 new members.

The Penn inductees are: Zoltan Arany, a professor of cardiovascular medicine; Susan Domchek, executive director of the Basser Center for BRCA; Scott Halpern, a professor of medicine, epidemiology, and medical ethics and health policy, and a practicing critical care physician; David Margolis, a professor of dermatology and epidemiology, and a practicing dermatologist; Maria Oquendo, the Ruth Meltzer Professor of Psychiatry and chair of the department of psychiatry; and Drew Weissman, a professor of infectious diseases and an allergist-immunologist.

Events

Morris Arboretum’s Multimedia Program to Raise Awareness of The Spotted Lanternfly

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caption: The Spotted LanternflyOn Sunday, April 28, 10:30 and 11:30 a.m., Morris Arboretum hosts a program of music and dance to raise awareness of an invasive pest that is a threat to trees. The Relâche Ensemble, dedicated to the creation and performance of new music in Philadelphia, in partnership with Almanac Dance Circus Theatre, present a multimedia program of music and dance celebrating the natural world and raising awareness about environmental issues impacting southeastern Pennsylvania.

This program of two, 25-minute performances is centered around The Spotted Lanternfly, a new piece by Philadelphia composer Erica Ball, and will also feature the audience participatory work Rock Piece by Pauline Oliveros. The performances will take place at the grassy area next to the Summer House below the Rose Garden, pictured below.

caption: The grassy area next to the Summer House below the Rose Garden at Morris Arboretum.

Update: April AT PENN

  • April 23, 2019
  • vol 65 issue 32
  • Events
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On Stage

25    Next to Normal; Front Row Theatre Company rock musical; 5:30 p.m.; Harold Prince Theatre, Annenberg Center. Also April 26, 5:30 p.m. & April 27, 2:30 and 9 p.m.

Talks

29    Non-Revolutionary Rebels: Disobedience and Civic Consciousness in Late Nineteenth-Century Russian Secondary Schools; Alex Valdman, history; 6 p.m.; rm. 209, College Hall (History).

AT PENN Deadlines

The April AT PENN calendar is now online. The May AT PENN calendar will be published April 30. The deadline for Summer  AT PENN is May 14.

Institute of Contemporary Art Spring Opening Celebration: April 26

  • April 23, 2019
  • vol 65 issue 32
  • Events
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The ICA will celebrate the opening of the Spring 2019 exhibition season, comprised of the exhibitions Introducing Tony Conrad: A Retrospective, Deborah Anzinger: An Unlikely Birth, Colored People Time: Quotidian Pasts, and Open Video Call, during a reception on April 26 at 6:30 p.m.

Introducing Tony Conrad: A Retrospective marks the first large-scale museum survey devoted entirely to pieces originally presented by the artist in museum and gallery settings. A pioneering artist who helped define American avant-garde in the 1960s and challenged barriers between different mediums through radical deconstruction and experimentation, the exhibition offers a unique opportunity to experience six decades of his work. Exhibiting a wide range of seminal pieces, the presentation will expand and deepen an understanding of his experimental and ground-breaking practice, which is primarily associated with his contributions to minimal music and structural film in the 1960s. Bringing together sculpture, painting, film, video, performance, and installation, Introducing Tony Conrad will create a sensory experience that invokes the participatory and performative approach of the artist.

Deborah Anzinger, An Unlikely birth, 2018, Acrylic, mirror, and synthetic hair on canvas and polystyrene 80 X 131 inches

The first US solo museum exhibition of the Jamaican artist Deborah Anzinger, An Unlikely Birth brings together sculpture, video, painting and installation, combining both synthetic and living materials, to consider geographical, ecological and spatial paradigms. The exhibition reveals how the artist disrupts existing relationships and hierarchies as they pertain to the politics of land, the body and space. Working at the intersection of black feminist thought, geography, and space while coalescing concerns Ms. Anzinger has long held, An Unlikely Birth explores a plethora of issues urgently facing our civilization—the environment, the economy, and human rights—and their aggressors, capitalism and globalization.

In the Quotidian Pasts exhibit, W.O. Oldman with masks and headdresses, c. 1920, gelatin silver print, 8 X 10 inches

Quotidian Pasts, the second chapter in the three-part exhibition series Colored People Time, reconsiders the trafficking of blackness through the colonial practices of collecting, commodifying, and exhibiting people and objects from the African continent. This exhibition, produced in collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, turns its lens toward early 20th-century anthropological displays. The long history of the exploitation of both African people and their cultures is told through the configuration of a few small objects—a photograph, a journal entry, a letter. Featuring a newly commissioned work by the artist Matthew Angelo Harrison, Quotidian Pasts questions: What confers authenticity? How does an object change when dislocated from its time and place within the context of the museum?

Open Video Call includes new selected works on video by Philadelphia-area artists and filmmakers. Open Video Call is organized by ICA assistant curator Meg Onli.

HR: Upcoming May Programs

  • April 23, 2019
  • vol 65 issue 32
  • Events
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Professional & Personal Development Programs

Open to faculty and staff.

Register at http://knowledgelink.upenn.edu/

Behavioral Interviews; 5/8; 12:30-1:30 p.m. This interview approach to hiring can make all the difference when looking for the right candidate for your department. A bad hire can contribute to several negative consequences including: lost productivity, time required to hire and train another person, decreased department morale and legal issues. Give this method a try while interviewing for your department’s next open role.

Getting Work Done; 5/16; 12:30-1:30 p.m. Throughout a normal workday, there are multiple distractions that can get many of us off task and behind on our to-do lists. In this course, we’ll review tactics to help you stay on target with the many moving pieces of your role. You’ll identify your biggest time sponges and ways to manage them, create priority lists, understand ways to delegate when not in a position of authority and learn ways to achieve an acceptable work-life balance.

Managing Teams; 5/23; 9 a.m.-noon. Whether you’re a seasoned manager or leading a department project, knowing how to effectively manage teams is an essential skill in today’s workforce. Understand ways to manage teams by learning the various aspects of team leadership such as establishing groups, clarifying roles, facilitating meetings, handling conflict and rewarding accomplishments.

Why We Struggle with Tough Decisions; 5/29; 12:30-1:30 p.m. Knowing how to make a high-impact decision that is effective, practical and successful can be a challenging feat. During this course, we will look at how you can enhance your confidence and skill at making–and implementing–tough decisions by allowing you to increase your value to your organization and actively contribute to its success.

Work-life Workshops

Open to faculty and staff.

Register at www.hr.upenn.edu/registration

Guided Meditation; 5/1 and 5/28; 12:30-1:30 p.m. 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.

Thinking About Retirement; 5/7; 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Thinking About Retirement is a special program for staff who are approaching retirement soon. These information sessions feature expert guest speakers and Penn Benefits specialists. Each concurrent Thinking About Retirement information session focuses on one of these topics: Retirement Plan Income, Social Security, and Penn Benefits & Medicare. At Retirement Plan Income, a retirement plan counselor from Vanguard will discuss retirement plan distributions. At Social Security, a representative from the Social Security Administration will share valuable details about this program. At Penn Benefits & Medicare, representatives from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, along with Benefits Specialists from Human Resources, will explain your retirement healthcare options. Penn Benefits Specialists will also be available throughout the event to answer your questions about retirement savings, health care and other aspects of retiree benefits for you and your dependents.

Important Resources for Family Caregivers; 5/7; 1-2 p.m. As family caregivers, we are often confronted with a confusing array of choices. How can you sort out the various senior living arrangements, in-home services and care options, so you can determine what’s best for your loved one? How do you find the right support for yourself so you can handle your caregiving responsibilities along with everything else? Learn about the long-term care landscape including resources and costs so that you can be an informed and proactive caregiver.

Mindfulness; 5/17; 12:30-1:30 p.m. This monthly workshop will offer participants an opportunity to practice awareness activities adapted from Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. During the first part of our practice, we will begin with a guided meditation focusing on the breath. The second half of our session will focus our attention on a guided exploration of the body, bringing awareness to the different areas of the body and allowing ourselves to experience how each part feels, without trying to change anything. No experience necessary. All warmly welcome.

Strengthening Your Relationship; 5/30; 12:30- 1:30 p.m. We all want a strong, loving relationship, but why can it be so difficult to keep it that way? This workshop reviews what goes wrong in relationships and explores the destructive patterns that can interfere. Participants will gain a greater understanding of how to sustain a loving, healthy, and long-lasting relationship.

Penn Healthy You Workshops

Open to faculty and staff.

Register at www.hr.upenn.edu/registration

Chair Yoga; 5/2; noon-1 p.m. Interested in trying yoga but don’t know where to start? Join us for a wonderful class of chair yoga. 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 well-being.

Be in the Know Biometric Screenings; 5/9; 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Participate in this year’s Be in the Know campaign with a free and confidential biometric screening, which measures your blood pressure, blood sugar (glucose), and non-fasting total and high-density lipoproteins (HDL) cholesterol. You may also choose to fast to include low-density cholesterol (LDL) and triglyceride results. If you did not complete a screening at an on-campus event last fall or winter, or submit personal results to AREUFIT, Human Resources is offering these last chance on-campus screening dates for this campaign year. At our on-campus events, you’ll receive a biometric screening from AREUFIT and earn 50 points toward the first $100 Be in the Know cash incentive.

Gentle Yoga; 5/9 and 5/23; noon-1 p.m. Let your body reward itself with movement! Join us for this Gentle Yoga session and explore the natural movements of the spine with slow and fluid moving bends and soft twists. During this session, you will flow into modified sun salutations that loosen those tightened muscles and joints of the lower back, neck, shoulders and wrists. And as an added bonus, you’ll get a workout in the process. Mats and props will be provided.

Spin; 5/13; 11:30 a.m-12:15 p.m. Pedal your way to a fantastic workout indoors! With the use of stationary cycles, each class is led on a “virtual” outdoor road, complete with a variety of exercises. This class will give you an energizing, calorie-burning, fun workout and it is great for all fitness levels because you will always ride at a self-directed pace.

Sugar Detox Workshop; 5/21; noon-1 p.m. Sugar has been receiving a tremendous amount of negative media attention, so join us to learn why. A Family Food Registered Dietitian will help you identify hidden forms of sugar, consider ways to reduce the amount of added sugars you consume and explain which sugars to avoid.

May Wellness Walk; 5/31; noon-1 p.m. Spring has sprung, so let’s get outdoors and do some walking! Our wellness walks encourage participants to increase their physical activity by stepping outside to pump up their heart rate by walking through Penn’s beautiful campus. What better way to get motivated and gain energy for the day! Meet the Center for Public Health Initiatives staff at noon in front of College Hall by the Ben Franklin statue. The walk will be approximately 2 miles and we will inform you when we have reached the 1-mile mark in the event that you need to exit the walk early. We hope you will be able to join us. Bring your water bottle and don’t forget to bring along a colleague and your sneakers!

—Division of Human Resources

Crimes

Weekly Crime Reports

  • April 23, 2019
  • vol 65 issue 32
  • Crimes
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The University of Pennsylvania Police Department Community Crime Report

Below are the Crimes Against Persons, Crimes Against Society and Crimes Against Property from the campus report for April 8-14, 2019. View prior weeks' reports—Ed.

This summary is prepared by the Division of Public Safety and includes all criminal incidents reported and made known to the University Police Department for the dates of April 8-14, 2019. The University Police actively patrol from Market St to Baltimore and from the Schuylkill River to 43rd St 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.

04/09/19         6:19 PM          268 S 38th St                           Male causing hazardous conditions/Arrest

04/09/19         7:01 PM          268 S 38th St                           Unauthorized male on property/Arrest

04/09/19         10:01 PM        3900 Walnut St                         Males grabbed and spit on complainant

04/10/19         6:55 PM          4200 Sansom St                       Sunglasses and currency taken from vehicle

04/10/19         7:40 PM          201 S 34th St                            Google cards purchased under false pretense

04/11/19         1:08 AM          3400 Civic Center Blvd            Unauthorized charges made on account

04/11/19         9:49 AM          3400 Civic Center Blvd            Unsecured canvas taken

04/11/19         10:49 AM        3160 Chestnut St                     Laptop taken

04/11/19         1:53 PM          4210 Chestnut St                     Various tools taken from property

04/11/19         3:08 PM          3409 Walnut St                         Unsecured wallet taken

04/11/19         4:20 PM          4100 Walnut St                         Offender under 21 in possession of alcohol

04/11/19         4:30 PM          4100 Walnut St                         Underage drinking citation

04/11/19         5:28 PM          3411 Chestnut St                      Backpack containing electronics taken

04/12/19         3:32 PM          4001 Walnut St                         Suspects cited for smoking marijuana

04/12/19         3:40 PM          4012 Spruce St                        Money sent to fraudulent supplier

04/12/19         8:54 PM          3731 Walnut St                        Unknown male attempted to take phone and charger

04/12/19         8:58 PM          3600 Chestnut St                    Complainant was maced by offender

04/13/19         12:35 PM        125 S 40th St                          Tablet and money from cash registers taken

04/13/19         2:40 PM          4100 Spruce St                       Offender drinking underage/Arrest

04/13/19         2:40 PM          4300 Walnut St                       Offender drinking underage/Arrest

04/13/19         2:40 PM          4100 Spruce St                       Offender drinking underage/Arrest

04/13/19         2:45 PM          4300 Walnut St                       Offender drinking underage/Arrest

04/13/19         7:00 PM          3337 Walnut St                       Chair and bottle thrown through window

04/13/19         10:31 PM        3200 Market St                       Aggravated assault by male/Arrest

04/14/19         3:50 AM          4000 Walnut St                       Complainant struck in face by unknown male

04/14/19         8:59 AM          3960 Pine St                           Offender struck complainant/Arrest

04/14/19         1:35 PM          4000 Spruce St                      Male cited for underage drinking

04/14/19         6:16 PM          204 S 42nd St                        Complainant left his phone unsecured in the back of an Uber

04/14/19         7:23 PM          4012 Spruce St                      Unsecured backpack taken

04/14/19         8:00 PM          4000 Locust St                      Complainant struck in the face

04/14/19         8:00 PM          4000 Locust St                      Complainant struck in the face

04/14/19         8:00 PM          4000 Locust St                      Complainant struck in the face

04/14/19         8:00 PM          4000 Locust St                      Complainant struck in the face

04/14/19         8:24 PM          4200 Spruce St                     Complainant struck in the face

04/14/19         11:19 PM        4200 Delancey St                  Unknown male pointed a gun at complainant

18th District

Below are the Crimes Against Persons from the 18th District: 14 incidents (1 indecent assault, 1 robbery, 2 domestic assaults, 3 aggravated assaults and 7 assaults) with 3 arrests were reported from April 8-14, 2019 by the 18th District covering the Schuylkill River to 49th Street & Market Street to Woodland Avenue.

04/09/19         10:47 PM        3900 Walnut St                    Indecent Assault

04/10/19         7:23 PM          4828 Cedar Ave                   Domestic Assault/Arrest

04/12/19         12:00 AM        3921 Ludlow St                    Assault

04/12/19         8:58 PM          3600 Chestnut St                Domestic Assault

04/12/19         1:44 PM          4438 Chestnut St                 Robbery

04/14/19         12:05 AM        3200 Market St                    Aggravated Assault/Arrest

04/14/19         12:45 AM        3400 Civic Center Blvd        Assault

04/14/19         4:05 AM          40th and Walnut Sts            Assault

04/14/19         9:01 AM          3960 Pine St                        Aggravated Assault/Arrest

04/14/19         8:34 PM          4000 Locust St                    Assault

04/14/19         8:34 PM          4000 Locust St                    Assault

04/14/19         8:35 PM          4000 Locust St                    Assault

04/14/19         11:38 PM        4000 Locust St                    Assault

04/14/19         11:50 PM        4100 Pine St                       Aggravated Assault

Bulletins

Extended Deadline and New Discount for Summer KWHS Global Young Leaders Academy

  • April 23, 2019
  • vol 65 issue 32
  • Bulletins
  • print

Due to positive response from staff, Penn faculty and staff with children who wish to attend this summer camp can now receive a 5% discount with code PENN5. Deadline for faculty/staff applications has also been extended to May 15 (original deadline of April 30 still applies to non-staff). For more detail about the camp, see the Almanac Summer Camps supplement in the January 29 issue. Apply: http://kw.wharton.upenn.edu/gyla-finance/apply-now/

Talk About Teaching & Learning

Social Belonging in Introductory Calculus

  • April 23, 2019
  • vol 65 issue 32
  • Talk About Teaching & Learning
  • print

One of the courses in my regular teaching assignment that I enjoy most is Math 104, Penn’s largest entry-level calculus course. People who know the course are usually surprised when I say this because there are a host of challenges in 104 that are much easier to face in more advanced courses. Most students in 104 are freshman Wharton, Engineering or College students; many experience 104 as a “gateway course,” which can seem mainly like an obstacle to overcome on the way to some preferred course of study. Grading across all sections is curved to roughly 30% As, and most sections are rather large compared to a typical high school class. In practice, this means that students experience substantial academic and personal growing pains during the semester. For instructors, there is a constant threat of triggering quick frustration in the face of challenges, skepticism around the value of new ideas, grade anxiety or resistance to raised expectations; this threat means that far more of the instructor’s mental energy is devoted to finding ways to increase engagement and manage expectations than to the actual “content” of the course. It’s also expected that an instructor’s effort on this front be “seamless,” i.e., effectively invisible to the students. In spite of all this, I still find it rewarding to be among the first Penn faculty members to engage with incoming students and to show them new levels of intellectual rigor and depth in material that is deceptively familiar to many of them.

In recent years, I have been teaching my section of 104 in an active learning (SAIL) format, which, in practical terms, means that I do very little lecturing and instead reserve nearly all class time for students to work on structured group activities. My experience has been that this makes it much easier for me to quickly and thoroughly assess student progress than I could in a traditional lecture. One thing I learned about my own teaching after switching to SAIL was that I was not doing as well as I thought to foster the development of critical and reflective thinking skills or to create a cooperative learning environment. There are, of course, many forces in the classroom that make it hard for students to think deeply and work cooperatively, but this semester, influenced heavily by the Center for Teaching and Learning’s Inclusive Teaching Seminar and the article “Psychological insights for improved physics teaching’’ by Aguilar, Walton and Weiman (Physics Today 67, 5, 42 (2014)), I decided to work on student feelings of social belonging in the classroom.

There is substantial research to support the idea that students belonging to negatively-stereotyped groups (in math, there are prominent stereotypes directed against women and non-Asian ethnic minorities) face extra stress and distraction because of stereotypes, which can substantially impede classroom performance. However, research also suggests that there are relatively simple and effective ways to work against negative stereotypes. The main activity I used this semester to help put students more at ease was a simple, short writing assignment based on an activity described by Aguilar et al. In late October, just after the second midterm, I asked students to reflect on their growth in the class for the purpose of using these reflections to help others. The prompt I used was the following:

Many new students in Math 104 find themselves facing anxiety about things like their previous academic preparation, difficulty feeling like they belong in the course, shifting understandings of grades and academic standards, or concerns about keeping up in such a fast-paced course. As time goes on, most find that such anxieties are far more common among peers than it initially appeared and that there is a natural adjustment period during which they come to feel more capable and confident in their own ability to succeed.

The purpose of this assignment is to use your unique perspectives as recently new students to generate meaningful, personal insights that can be compiled and shared as a valuable resource for next fall’s incoming Math 104 students.

Reflect your own personal experience in Math 104 so far and write about the ways that you see it illustrating the general processes of intellectual growth, learning to understand and manage obstacles and anxieties, and gaining confidence in your own abilities.

You should aim to keep responses relatively short (1-2 paragraphs maximum). Submissions will be graded anonymously in Canvas. All submissions received before the deadline will receive full credit. 

Normally such an assignment would clearly stand out as unusual in 104 and consequently fail the seamlessness test; in this case, I relied on having already established a pattern since I had also asked students to reflect on their performance after the first midterm, albeit in a more academic, impersonal way. I received a truly impressive number of deeply thoughtful responses. Two in particular that stood out are as follows:

“When I started this course in August, I was very nervous about how I would do in the class. I had taken AP Calculus AB in high school but I quickly found out that many of my classmates had taken Calculus BC instead, which made me think that I was not as prepared as they were for the class. In addition, I unknowingly registered for a SAIL class, so the format was very unfamiliar to me and there was definitely a bit of a learning curve associated with that. After the first midterm, I was very upset because I had never gotten below a C on a test, and I briefly considered dropping down to Math 103. However, as the semester continues I am getting used to consulting outside resources (Nakia Rimmer’s Math 104 video lectures are a lifesaver) and teaching myself the material and then reinforcing it in class. In a way, teaching myself the material instead of relying solely on a professor has made me more confident in the class over time. There are still times when I doubt myself and my abilities in this class, but my advice is to always take a step back and look at the bigger picture. You are at this university because you belong here, and one low grade will not ruin your life or even your GPA. This class is not an easy class, but if you have enough patience to work through the struggles and challenges then you will be fine.”

“Based perhaps a little too much on my diagnostic test score, my advisor urged me to try math 114 for my first semester at Penn. Looking at the 104 syllabus, though, I noticed that there was plenty of material I had never encountered before. I needed—and wanted—a better foundation in math, partly as a way of challenging myself. Plus, as someone who gravitates more towards the humanities or at least fields that aren’t math-heavy, I did not feel confident in my knowledge and skillset. During the first few weeks of 104, I experienced some highs and lows: I found the material engaging, the class format refreshing and the new ways of thinking a good step outside what I have been used to. But I also had some struggles—among them getting a much lower score on the first midterm than I would’ve hoped. I wasn’t as organized or as disciplined as I could’ve been beforehand, catalyzing my anxiety to the point where I suddenly freaked out during it. But it got better: I took a step back and realized this isn’t a crazy battle I’m fighting. It’s just something I have to really dig into and stay focused on.  

The class can feel like a really competitive, high-stakes environment at times (I guess it is to some extent), but that doesn’t change the fact that we’re here to learn, here to explore the language and reasoning of math together. The help and resources (e.g., great minds and great practice problems) are here for us, so we just have to make use of them! (How else would you get the maximum output you want from the class?) And here’s a final word of advice: do not be afraid to ask questions when you’re stuck—it’s the only way you can truly put your own abilities into context and improve.”

One theorized benefit to the students of an exercise like this is that it increases feelings of social belonging inside the classroom, which then decreases the mental obstacles present during learning. There was such widespread thoughtfulness to the responses I received that I find it reasonable to suspect that there was at least some temporary benefit of this kind for my students. It was also encouraging to see that my students did very well on the final exam this year, with more than half earning an A. As an instructor, I felt like it was also extremely beneficial to me to hear directly from students about their concerns and the ways in which they have (or have not yet) managed to overcome them; in 104, people don’t expect to talk about feelings, so I don’t get many opportunities for this kind of feedback. My plan for next time in 104 is to share these student-generated insights with the new class early in the semester. I hope that these future students get a head start on reinforcing the ideas that everyone belongs and that early setbacks are common and can be overcome with time and growth. By giving my students this head start, I hope to be able to devote more of my class time to new challenging classroom activities.

Philip Gressman is professor of mathematics in SAS.

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/talk-about-teaching-and-learning-archive for previous essays.