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Speaking Out

To the Editor:

As dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, I have received many letters from Clifton Cherpack.  His letters are always a pleasure to read.  Marked by wit, style and sarcasm, a Cherpack letter is sure to brighten the day and lift the spirits.  While Professor Cherpack’s latest missive (January 24 issue of Almanac) is, indeed, Cherpack at his stylistic best, it is also a letter in serious need of correction.

Contrary to Dr. Cherpack’s claim, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Office, and not individual FAS departments, pays for supplements in Almanac.  Moreover, FAS Reports, as our profiles are called, require a substantial amount of staff time and effort as well as cash resources.  We have never asked, nor will we ask, a department to contribute any money to this effort.  All we request is that faculty members willingly give of their time to talk about their research and academic interests.

It is also worth noting that thus far only one of our issues has focused on an individual department—the department of physics.  Most FAS Reports have highlighted interdisciplinary programs that span departments and even schools within the University.  To date, we have produced profiles on the ethnohistory program, East Asian studies, work done at Pennsylvania on the biological basis of behavior, the College of General Studies and the Cognitive Science Group.  We have also published a general issue which includes articles on the Penn Papers, visiting scholars from the Soviet union, the Center for the Study of Democratic Politics, and work done by the director of the University Museum, and by members of the departments of religious studies, and history and sociology and science.  As this list makes clear, it has not been “only affluent, probably grant-swollen, departments” that have been featured in Almanac.

While I sincerely hope that this letter of clarification discourages Professor Cherpack from reading “selected sections of…[his] dissertation through a bullhorn” during a personal sit-in in my office, I do hope that he continues to write me memos of “coruscating prose.” I just enjoy them too much—especially when they are accurate.

Robert H. Dyson, Jr., Dean, FAS


Originally published in Almanac January 31, 1980




Cherpack Letters Index: