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January 17, 2012, Volume 58, No. 17

Dr. Rosato, Surgery


Dr. Ernest F. Rosato, professor of surgery and former chief of the division of gastrointestinal surgery in the Perelman School of Medicine, died January 6 at age 75.

Dr. Rosato was selected to be the speaker at the school’s annual White Coat Ceremony in 2009; he was one of Penn Medicine’s most respected professors, widely known for his surgical mastery, his teaching skills, and his readiness to be a mentor to medical students, residents, and junior members of the faculty. Indeed, as Dr. Rosato made clear in his White Coat remarks, he was very proud to have entered his “second half century” at the Perelman School of Medicine. On that occasion, he spoke about the importance of tradition and evoked a few of the towering figures in Penn’s past who had influenced him and had made him a better surgeon and teacher.  The School celebrated Dr. Rosato and his long and illustrious career last February, at the Academy of Natural Sciences.

Dr. Rosato graduated from St. Joseph’s University in 1958. In 1995, his alma mater honored him with the Reverend Clarence E. Shaffrey, S.J. Award, presented in recognition of service and outstanding achievement in the medical profession. After earning his MD degree from Penn in 1962, Dr. Rosato completed his medical training at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in 1968. From that point on, he remained at Penn. During his last year as a surgical resident, Dr. Rosato had also been a Clinical Fellow of the American Cancer Society. Many years later, the Friends of the American Cancer Society honored him with its first Humanitarian Award, recognizing his more than 30 years of clinical and research achievements in the field of surgery. Beginning as an assistant instructor in surgery at HUP, Dr. Rosato rose through the ranks. He was named associate professor of surgery in 1972; professor three years later; and chief of the division of gastrointestinal surgery in 1988. He served as chief until 2004.

Widely known as “the master surgeon of last resort,” Dr. Rosato was particularly interested in gastrointestinal cancer, with a special expertise in esophageal, rectal, and pancreaticobiliary cancer. He was also an expert in surgery for breast cancer and was one of the authors of Breast Cancer Treatment: A Comprehensive Guide to Management (1991).

Over the course of his career, he published some 200 articles and was a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and a member of the American Surgical Association, the Society of University Surgeons, the Society of Surgical Oncology, and the Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract. Dr. Rosato was also honored by nonspecialists: He was frequently included among the “Top Docs” in Philadelphia Magazine and was recognized by Best Doctors in America and by America’s Top Doctors, the latter as recently as 2010.

His teaching abilities resulted in an unprecedented array of teaching awards. In 1977, Dr. Rosato received the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching. In 2008, he was named the recipient of the I. S. Ravdin Master Clinician Award, one of the School’s Awards of Excellence. The award recognizes “a skillful, compassionate practitioner with a long and consistent record of contributions to our school.”

Dr. Rosato learned from and worked with Dr. Ravdin, one of the most famous former chairs of Penn’s department of surgery. Dr. Rosato noted in his White Coat remarks that, despite some paternalism and brusqueness on Dr. Ravdin’s part, “everybody loved Rav because he loved his students and believed in them.” Dr. Rosato shared that same belief in his students—and they clearly recognized his commitment to making them better doctors.

Since 1985, he received the William Y. Inouye Faculty Award 18 times, an award selected by the chief residents of the department of surgery.

Dr. Rosato is survived by his wife, Geraldine; and his children, Ernest F., Jr. (Susannah), William J. (Susan), Rafael F. (Francie), Anthony G. (Kathryn), Gerard M. (Danielle), Philip R. (Michelle), Catherine J. Reilly (Lt. Col. Brendan Reilly, USMC) and David A. (Amy).

Memorial donations may be made to: The Ernest F. Rosato Professorship of Surgery, c/o Penn Medicine Development, 3535 Market St. Suite 750, Philadelphia, PA 19104.

Dr. Tyng, Architecture


Dr. Anne Tyng, a lecturer in GSFA, now known as the School of Design, from 1969 to 1998, passed away December 27 at age 91.

Born in Jiangxi, China to Episcopal missionaries, Dr. Tyng graduated from Radcliffe College in 1942. She graduated from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design in 1944, where she was among one of the first women to be admitted. She received her doctorate from Penn in 1975.

Known for her ties to famed architect and Penn professor Louis I. Kahn, Dr. Tyng joined Stonorov & Kahn in 1945. After Professor Kahn left the firm, she remained on the staff until 1964, where she was influential in the designs for the Yale Art Gallery and Trenton Bath House.

Dr. Tyng’s work was on display at the Institute of Contemporary Art early last year. Anne Tyng: Inhabiting Geometry; the book documenting this exhibition is forthcoming this February. In addition, Penn’s Architectural Archives holds her collection.

Dr. Tyng is survived by her daughter, Alexandra; two grandchildren; and two brothers, William and Franklin.

Contributions may be made to the Friends of the Architectural Archives and sent to: William Whitaker, The Architectural Archives, University of Pennsylvania, 102 Meyerson Hall, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6311.


Dr. Wilf, Mathematics


Dr. Herbert S. Wilf, Thomas A. Scott Emeritus Professor of Mathematics, died at the age of 80 from a progressive neuromuscular disease on January 7.

Dr. Wilf was an innovative mathematics researcher, teacher, writer and journal editor. He was the author of six books and more than 160 research articles. From the 1950s, he was a pioneer in the mathematical programming of early computers, beginning with his work at Nuclear Development Associates, which led to his book Mathematical Methods for Digital Computers, written with A. Ralston. From 1959 to 1962, he taught at the University of Illinois. His early work focused on numerical analysis and complex analysis, and led to numerous research papers as well as a textbook, Mathematics for the Physical Sciences.

Dr. Wilf taught at the University of Pennsylvania from 1962 until his retirement in 2008. For him, teaching and research were deeply intertwined, and he was recognized throughout his career for exemplary teaching. In 1973 he received the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching. In 1996 he received the Deborah and Franklin Tepper Haimo Award for distinguished teaching of mathematics, from the Mathematical Association of America.

In the 1960s, Dr. Wilf became interested in the newly developing field of combinatorial analysis. He wrote fundamental research papers, forming the foundation of today’s work in discrete mathematics with its applications to computer algorithms and its close interconnections with the mathematical fields of algebra and probability theory. He did path-breaking work with D. Zeilberger of Rutgers on a theory of computerized proofs for combinatorial identities. For this work they were awarded the Leroy P. Steele Prize of the American Mathematical Society for Seminal Contributions to Research in 1998. Overall, he contributed over 135 papers in combinatorics and wrote four influential books, including generating functionology and A = B, the latter with M. Petkovsek and D. Zeilberger. In 2004 he was awarded the Euler Medal for Lifetime Contributions by the Institute for Combinatorics and its Applications. He supervised 26 PhD students in combinatorics at Penn.

Dr. Wilf was a pioneer advocate of the open electronic publishing of books and journals. Many of his books are available for free download on his webpage, math.upenn.edu/~wilf, which registered 350,000 downloads last year. He co-founded two major journals, The Journal of Algorithms in 1980 with D. Knuth, and The Electronic Journal of Combinatorics in 1994 with N. Calkin. From 1987 to 1992 he also served as editor-in-chief of The American Mathematical Monthly, a leading journal that aims for expository and readable dissemination of mathematical work for teachers and researchers. Dr. Wilf spoke widely at colleges, universities, and mathematics conferences throughout the world. He was an avid amateur pilot, and often flew himself to these occasions in his private plane.

Over his long career, Dr. Wilf co-authored research papers with more than 60 mathematicians. His final papers were as influential as his early ones, including “There’s plenty of time for evolution” with W. Ewens, which appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2010. Dr. Wilf’s wit shone through in some of his whimsical paper-titles, such as “The ‘Snake Oil’ method for proving combinatorial methods,” and in his appreciation of articles written about his work such as B. Cipra’s “How the Grinch stole mathematics.”

Dr. Wilf was born on June 13, 1931 in Philadelphia. He received a BS from MIT in 1952, and a PhD from Columbia in 1958, both in mathematics. He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Ruth Tumen Wilf; a daughter, Susan; two sons, David and Peter; and six grandchildren.

Donations to establish an award recognizing outstanding student achievement may be sent to: Herbert S. Wilf Award Fund, Department of Mathematics, University of Pennsylvania, 209 33rd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6395.



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 - January 17, 2012, Volume 58, No. 17