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October Council Coverage

November 2, 2010, Volume 57, No. 10

In addition to the State of the University presentations at the October 20 University Council meeting (Almanac October 26), there was also a presentation on Faith-Based Initiatives and Groups on Campus by the University Chaplain Rev. Charles Howard. He said that the Office of the Chaplain has been in existence since 1932 when then-President Thomas Sovereign Gates established it.

Rev. Howard described some of the current areas of responsibility: performing ceremonial functions such as memorials and weddings; counseling, and crisis response. His office also works with other religious organizations on campus and connects the Penn community with the West Philadelphia religious community through such Penn groups as CHORDS and service learning projects. He also mentioned a service learning program that involved Jewish and Muslim students who went to New Orleans.

He noted that the Penn seal—which is composed of seven Latin books stacked on a slanted desk top—has Theolog on top, followed by Astronom, Philosoph, Mathemat, Logica, Rhetorica, and Grammatica.

Penn’s Newman Center is the oldest in the country, dating back to the 19th century. The Christian Association, which for many decades had been in the building now known as the ARCH at 36th and Locust, is now at 37th and Sansom. Penn’s Hillel is the largest in the US.

The Chaplain described campus interfaith life today as ‘dynamic’ with 1 in 3 undergraduates at Penn connected to a campus religious community according to a Chaplain’s survey from 2007-08; the national average is 1 in 4. There are nearly 40 religious groups on campus and numerous affiliations with local congregations.

In addition to the Office of the Chaplain, there is also a Religious Activities Common that was established in 2001 in the lower level of the Graduate Student Center. There are also a number of academic programs such as Religious Studies, the Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies and Chaplain’s programs such as PRISM (Programs in Religion, Interfaith, and Spirituality Matters), PRCC (Penn Religious  Communities Council) and CHORDS. 

There is a new Faith Fund and an Interfaith Dialogue in the College Houses. There will be an expansion of access to campus space and funding for all faith communities at Penn.


Almanac - November 2, 2010, Volume 57, No. 10