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Speaking Out

The following letter was sent to President Rodin and to Almanac.

Enlightened Leadership

I received your faculty e-mail concerning your planned retirement at the end of June 2004 and while I am very happy for you for obviously having made a decision that's important in your life, your family and your career, it is nevertheless being viewed by Penn's family with a great deal of sadness.

As I stated several years ago when I received the Alumni Award of Merit, I have had an opportunity to know and work with Presidents Gates, Stassen, Meyerson, Hackney and yourself. I made it clear to the audience that you more than hold your own when compared to each of our distinguished past presidents.

It's rare that one can have a CEO who at one time is a distinguished scholar, tremendous leader, an entrepreneur, a planner and yes, a great achiever. You've not only had a big picture of Penn as it was and what it should be like in the future, but also you are able to handle thousands of details, which sometimes cannot be delegated, with respect to donors, faculty achievers, and other deserving individuals; providing each with thanks from the top echelon of the University community.

I myself have been involved in community relations in the West Philadelphia area ever since President Harnwell appointed me in the early sixties to chair a committee on the Science Center in University City. At that time, our relationship with the citizens of West Philadelphia was not as good as it should have been on the basis of neighborliness. Since my study in the early sixties, which was confirmed by the Penn faculty with a majority of only about 1%, there has been a steady integration of University plans and societal accomplishments in West Philadelphia with Penn as the nexus under your enlightened leadership.

I hope during the final year of your term of office that you will be able to execute even more real gains in the community relationships that were part of your earlier vision. I know I speak for many of my colleagues when we hope that you will continue to identify yourself as one of Penn's leaders for at least the next two decades.

My very best wishes and hope for good luck for you and your family.

--Edward B. Shils, George W. Taylor Professor Emeritus of Entrepreneurial  Studies

Dual Identity?

The altercation between "Name Withheld" and Lori Doyle/Communications in our May 13 Almanac over versus reminds me of a similar altercation I experienced and helped to solve at a faculty meeting about 30 or 40 years ago.

A group of our U.Penn faculty Ivy League scholars put forth a proposition that our University of Pennsylvania change its name to Benjamin Franklin University“to emphasize that we were built on a BF to Ivy League tradition and avoid our being confused with "not-as-academic" Penn State.

After considerable discourse and desiring to end the dispute, I rose with the suggestion that we count our blessings and leave things alone. Why? Well we had it both ways“as U.Penn we were Ivy League and very academic, while our sometimes being confused with Penn State gave us a semi-reputation of being a great "Football School" thus improving attendance at our sports events in Franklin Field. And my motion passed, leaving well enough alone.

        --F. Hilary Convoy, Professor Emeritus of History

Speaking Out welcomes reader contributions. Short, timely letters on University issues will be accepted by August 18 for the September 2 issue, subject to right-of-reply guidelines. Advance notice of intention to submit is appreciated. --Eds.


  Almanac, Vol. 50, No. 1, July 15, 2003