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Alumni Couple’s Gift to Fisher–Bennett Hall and
Grad Ed

Gary and Karen Rose

Alumni Karen and Gary Rose have given $1 million to SAS for its Fisher–Bennett Hall renovation project and teacher education program in Jewish Education offered in collaboration with GSE.

In announcing the gift, President Amy Gutmann said, “I am delighted that the Roses are joining with us to build one of the university’s most exciting new master’s programs and rebuild one of our most revered campus facilities.  Their wonderful support, which combines their personal interests in music and Jewish education with their love of Penn, speaks to the vital role our alumni play in moving this university forward.”

The Roses’ gift will create the Rose Recital Hall on the fourth floor of Fisher–Bennett Hall, which has been undergoing a $23 million renovation (Almanac November 9, 2004).

The renovation preserved and enhanced the architecturally significant details of the nearly 82-year- old building, including restoring a skylight that floods the grand staircase with natural light. The project has uncovered and transformed forgotten and underutilized areas, altering the fourth floor into a series of unusual, beautiful and functional spaces and reconfiguring the former Penniman Library into classrooms and an undergraduate study lounge with a soaring ceiling. The project has provided new rehearsal and teaching spaces for music and a home for the new Cinema Studies Program, include screening rooms.

Improvements throughout the building include technology-equipped classrooms, modernization of the air and heating systems, extensive soundproofing to block out distracting street sounds, and ample lighting in all spaces.

The Rose Recital Hall will provide performance, rehearsal and recording space with a grand piano and other instruments. It will also include a full array of the audio-visual equipment necessary for today’s teaching and learning. 

Fisher–Bennett Hall has been a campus landmark since1925 when it was built as a home for the education of female students. Since the English Department moved into the building in 1974, it has become one of the most widely used spaces on campus. It serves not only 500 English majors a year, but also many of Penn’s nearly 10,000 undergraduates, who take English and writing courses as part of their degree requirements. The building also houses the Cinema Studies Program and English Language Programs, and also has classrooms, practice rooms and performance space for the Music Department.  The opening of the Rose Recital Hall will be celebrated at a special dedication concert on March 30, featuring the Cassatt String Quartet.

“Karen and Gary have been tremendous friends to the School of Arts and Sciences,” said Dean Rebecca W. Bushnell. “Over the years, we have been able to count on them to support the critical needs of the school, including everything from faculty support and undergraduate financial aid to this latest gift for facilities and graduate education. We will always be grateful for their friendship and generosity.”

Their gift also will establish the Karen and Gary Rose Graduate Fellowship in Jewish Education. This fellowship is designed to support Penn master's students preparing for teaching careers in Jewish Education. The new Penn program will combine the vast Jewish studies resources of SAS with the pedagogical expertise of GSE to prepare its students for careers as teachers of Jewish studies with full certification at the elementary and secondary levels.

“This wonderful commitment from Gary and Karen certainly will make a difference in our efforts to establish this program. We’re tremendously grateful for their enthusiastic support and for their understanding of the needs and career aspirations of our students, who are eager to contribute to an ideal Jewish education for the contemporary world,” said GSE Dean Susan H. Fuhrman.

The Roses noted, “Great music elevates the listener as well as the performer. We strongly believe that the performing arts enrich the quality of student life at a school such as Penn, which places a high value on the quality of intellectual experiences. We hope that the Rose Recital Hall will provide a venue for many wonderful events.”  Regarding the fellowship, the Roses added, “As the challenge of educating our youth becomes more acute, support for important initiatives within the Graduate School of Education grows more critical. We are delighted that this graduate fellowship in Jewish Education will help prepare future educators to address one such need in society.”

Karen Bress Rose graduated from the College for Women in 1967 and GSE in 1968.  Gary Rose, a 1967 graduate of the College of Arts and Sciences, is a member of the SAS Board of Overseers and sits on its Executive Committee. They are longtime supporters whose other gifts have included the Rose Family Endowed Term Chair in SAS, the Karen and Gary Rose Term Chair and the Rose Family Endowed Scholarship Fund.



  Almanac, Vol. 52, No. 19, January 24, 2006


January 24, 2006
Volume 52 Number 19


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