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Mrs. Friedman, The College

Mariann Freedman

Mrs. Marion Friedman, retired administrative assistant in the College, died December 28 at the age of 81.

Mrs. Friedman initially came to Penn as a student in 1960 taking a course in German in order to communicate with a resident in her father’s nursing home.  

In 1966 she became a secretary in the chemistry department, while she continued her education at Penn over her lunch breaks. About 10 years later, she transferred to the College’s advising office, where she processed transfer credits. In 1981, after 21 years of pursing her education, she earned an A.B. in German from the College of General Studies.

During her time at Penn, Mrs. Friedman helped organize Penn’s Ice Skating Club–before the University started one officially. In addition to participating in sports groups, she was active in community relations and employee organizations, and served on the Open Expression Committee for four years in the 1980s. She was also a participant in the Big Sister Program, and was vice president of Beauty Without Cruelty, an organization of animal activists.

After being at Penn for nearly 30 years, Mrs. Friedman retired in 1995.

She was known for her punch lines and her demonstrated agility in the office. “Marion was an inspiration and well-respected by all who  came in contact with her while working at the College office. We will never forget her cartwheels,” said Linda Kaelin, manager of administration and finance at the Wharton School.

She is survived by her sister-in-law, Barbara; brother-in-law, Henry; nephew, Joshua; and niece, Melanie.

Contributions in her memory can be made to the Jewish Foundation of Southern NJ, 1301 Springdale Road, Suite 200, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003 or any animal welfare association.

Dr. Gerbner, Dean Emeritus of the Annenberg School for Communication

George Gerbner

Dr. George Gerbner, dean emeritus of the Annenberg School for Communication and professor emeritus of communication, who was a prominent leader in the study of television’s effect on society, died of cancer December 24 at a retirement residence in Philadelphia. He was 86. His wife, Ilona Kutas, a retired lecturer in the Theatre Lab, died December 8 (Almanac December 20, 2005).

Dr. Gerbner was born in Budapest, Hungary. Fleeing from the Nazis, he migrated to the U.S. in 1939. He earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of California at Berkeley in 1942, and his master’s and doctorate degrees in journalism from the University of Southern California, in 1951 and 1955 respectively. Dr. Gerbner also served in the U.S. Army during World War II in the Office of Strategic Services, where he was awarded a Bronze Star.

Dr. Gerbner became dean of the Annenberg School for Communication in 1964, only five years after its establishment. He “spearheaded efforts to make the Annenberg School a national leader in communication research by developing the school’s Ph.D. and undergraduate programs, and by building a world-class research and teaching facility.”

During his tenure as dean, Dr. Gerbner landed the Annenberg School the leading publication in the field, the Journal of Communication, which he served as editor and executive editor; he created the Oxford-Penn project to publish a world encyclopedia of communications, and established the Washington communications project.

Dr. Gerbner founded and headed the Cultural Indicators Project to track changes in television programming and study how television influences American’s view of society. The project’s database has gathered over 3,000 television programs and 35,000 characters.

Dr. Gerbner received many honors and was a member of several advisory committees and research commissions in communications. In 1979, he was named an ICA Fellow by the International Communication Association. In 1986 he was named chair of the Subcommission on Communications and Society of the Commission on the Social Sciences of the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS). Former President Sheldon Hackney and former Provost Michael Aiken honored  Dr. Gerbner by establishing an annual lecture series in 1988, known as the George Gerbner Lecture in Communications.

In 1989, after 25 years of service and being the University’s longest serving dean, Dr. Gerbner stepped down as dean but continued to teach undergraduate and graduate courses in analysis of mass media, and conduct research at Penn. He retired from Penn in 1994.

Dr. Gerbner wrote and edited many books and authored many articles in scholarly journals including  Invisible Crises: What Conglomerate Media Control Means for America and the World,  and The Global Media Debate: Its Rise, Fall, and Renewal.  His  most recent publication was a book of poems, Moods and Modes: Rhythm and Rhyme, which was published only two days after his death. Dr. Gerbner wrote, “All my life I wanted to be a poet. Poetry is the distillation of all arts. It has rhythm, it has rhyme, it sings, it paints pictures. I hope that reading my poems will give you both pleasure and renewed appreciation of Homo Sapiens’ unique gift, the power of words.”

Dr. Dell Hymes, the former dean of GSE said, “George was even far more gifted than I had realized at Pennsylvania. Only now do I begin to fully realize how remarkable a person he was. Deans tend to see other Deans in terms of their role. But George was far more than that, and as his life becomes more fully recognized to some of us, we can more fully appreciate what an outstanding person we were privileged to know.”

“I am blessed to have known him as I did. George Gerbner was many things to me: a professor, a mentor, a friend, a great intellect, a truly great man,” said Dr. Mariaelena Bartesaghi, ASC ’04.

In 1997, Dr. Gerbner joined Temple University as the Bell Atlantic Professor of Telecommunications.

He is survived by his sons, John and Thomas; and grandchildren, Katharine, Elizabeth Ilona, Emily, Zachary and Jacob.

Contributions can be made in support of the Annenberg School for Communication, sent in care of Julie Sheehan,  3620 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6220.

The Annenberg School for Communication is planning a memorial service for Dr. Gerbner to be held at a later date. Details will be posted on their website and printed in Almanac.



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.

However, notices of alumni deaths should be directed to the Alumni Records Office at Room 545, Franklin Building, (215) 898-8136  or e-mail record@ben.dev.upenn.edu.

  Almanac, Vol. 52, No. 17, January 10, 2006


January 10, 2006
Volume 52 Number 17


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