Penn Medicine Center for Digital Health

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caption:  Raina MerchantAcross the world, social media users leave a trail of clues about themselves each time they Tweet, post to Facebook, write a Yelp review and apply a filter or hashtags to their latest Instagram photo. Under the leadership of Raina Merchant, researchers and physicians at Penn Medicine are mining those clues to find what ails them – and how to fix it.
Dr. Merchant has been named an associate vice president for the University of Pennsylvania Health System and director of the newly created Penn Medicine Center for Digital Health.
“Connectivity and innovation are central elements of Penn Medicine’s strategic plan, and a large and increasing proportion of our patients engage with the world digitally,” said Ralph W. Muller, CEO of the University of Pennsylvania Health System. “Dr. Merchant’s visionary research is harnessing the power of this engagement to transform the way we deliver health care.”
The Center for Digital Health evolved from Penn Medicine’s Social Media Laboratory, led by Dr. Merchant since 2013. Her cultivation of partnerships from across the University—with Wharton, Annenberg and the School of Engineering and Applied Science—has mapped a strategy and process to systematically evaluate how social media platforms can affect health, and develop new ways for clinicians to improve care delivery through these channels.
Dr. Merchant, who is also an assistant professor of emergency medicine and has secondary appointments in general internal medicine and anesthesia and critical care, began her research career in emergency medicine focusing on cardiac arrest. In 2012, she led the MyHeartMap Challenge, a crowdsourcing contest that sent Philadelphians into the community to identify, photograph, and submit locations of lifesaving automated external defibrillators (AEDs). Using the data gleaned from contest participants, her team created a mobile app that maps AEDs throughout the city, putting them at the fingertips of bystanders who can act quickly to save a life when cardiac arrest strikes (Almanac January 17, 2012).
Dr. Merchant describes her team’s research as probing “the social mediome”—a way of collectively describing people or groups based on their digital data merged with their health record data. Her work has demonstrated the value of mining Yelp reviews for information about patients’ experiences in hospitals, mapped ways in which social media may be harnessed for emergency preparedness and response, and shown that information donated by patients from their Facebook accounts may be paired with their electronic medical records to yield new insights about their health. New areas of research for the Center for Digital Health include identification of factors linked to depression and obesity, and studying social media to trace language changes that may be associated with Alzheimer’s or other types of cognitive decline.
She earned her bachelors degree from Yale and completed medical school and residency in emergency medicine at the University of Chicago. She came to Penn as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Clinical Scholar, joining the faculty in emergency medicine in 2010. She has served as a policy scientist for the Assistant Secretary of Preparedness and Response (ASPR) in the DHHS. In 2012, she was named one of the top 10 national leaders in health care under the age of 40 by the RWJF, and she has been named by Philadelphia magazine as one of the city’s top doctors under 40.

Two Faculty Endowed Chairs in Penn Arts and Sciences

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Dean Steven J. Fluharty is pleased to announce the appointment of two faculty members in Penn Arts and Sciences to endowed chairs.

Camille Charles

Camille Charles

Camille Charles, professor of sociology, Africana studies and education, has been appointed Walter H. and Leonore C. Annenberg Professor in the Social Sciences. Dr. Charles is a distinguished scholar of the sociology of race and education. Her seminal book, Won’t You Be My Neighbor: Race, Class and Residence in Los Angeles, serves as a frequently-cited resource for scholars and students of racial residential segregation. Her coauthored works, The Source of the River: The Social Origins of Freshmen at America’s Selective Colleges and Universities and the follow-up study, Taming the River: Negotiating the Academic, Financial, and Social Currents in Selective Colleges and Universities, examine the educational origins of inequality and the possibilities for higher education to counteract social disadvantage.  Her expertise as a quantitative researcher has positioned her to advise institutions of higher education on issues of inequality and its metrics. 

Dr. Charles has served as chair of the University Faculty Senate and the department of Africana studies, as the director of the Center for Africana Studies, and as a member of the Provost’s Faculty Council on Access and Achievement and the Penn Arts and Sciences Planning and Priorities Committee, Diversity Council and Africa Planning Group.

The late Ambassador Walter H. Annenberg received Penn’s Alumni Award of Merit in 1991. He and the late Honorable Leonore Annenberg were both emeritus trustees of the University. The Annenbergs endowed many chairs in Penn Arts and Sciences and made countless generous contributions to the University. They also founded the Annenberg School for Communication at Penn in 1958.

Angela Duckworth

Angela Duckworth

Angela Duckworth has been named Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Psychology. Dr. Duckworth is an internationally-recognized scholar of positive psychology and the psychology of achievement.  She is widely known for her role in developing and advancing the concepts of grit—the ability to maintain effort toward long-term goals—and self-control as factors in the pursuit and attainment of valued goals. Dr. Duckworth’s own passion is to use psychological science to help children thrive. She is a prolific author whose research is published in leading scientific journals, including the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Proceedings of the National Academy of Psychology, and the Journal of Positive Psychology. Her first book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, debuted as an immediate New York Times bestseller, reaching No. 1 on both the Education and Business lists.

Dr. Duckworth is a recipient of a MacArthur “genius grant” fellowship (Almanac October 1, 2013). She is also founder and scientific director of the Character Lab, a nonprofit located on Penn’s campus whose mission is to advance the science and practice of character development. 

This chair was created by a gift from Christopher H. Browne, C’69, who served Penn as a trustee and chairman of the Board of Overseers in SAS. The Browne chairs recognize faculty who have achieved an extraordinary reputation for scholarly contributions, who have demonstrated great distinction in teaching, and who have demonstrated intellectual integrity and unquestioned commitment to free and open discussion of ideas.

From the President: Penn Will Not Bend

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President Trump’s recent Executive Order is injurious to our work and inimical to our values. The damage already done to the lawful freedoms and opportunities of our students and colleagues, here and around the world, is undeniable and indefensible. This Order will weaken the promise of educational opportunity, intellectual discovery, and global engagement that so distinguishes American universities. 

I am the daughter of a Jewish immigrant who fled Nazi Germany. My grandfather was an immigrant. My son-in-law is an immigrant. My family’s story is part of a proud and productive American story, as is yours.

Immigration strengthens the fabric of this nation and our University. Immigrants spark innovation, launch new businesses, and enrich our culture and arts. They are a precious national resource and invaluable to Penn. 

We must stand together, united in our support of beloved colleagues, students, friends, and families who, no matter where they come from or how they worship, have contributed so much to our University community and to this country.

We are heirs to Penn’s heritage as the nation’s first secular university, where all religions are welcome. We are heirs to the genius and humanity of Ben Franklin.

As such, we must not and will not remain silent.

We stand for open-hearted compassion and open-minded opportunity. We will remain unyielding in our allegiance to our fundamental principles and to each other. Penn will not bend.

Staff across the University are right now assisting our affected community members with legal counsel and other resources.

In addition to those efforts, we will do everything in our power, speak to every friend and ally, and leave no stone unturned in our efforts to urge President Trump to change course and rectify the horrible damage this Order has caused. 

—Amy Gutmann, Penn President

Related: Letter About Immigration From College and University Presidents

Letter About Immigration From College and University Presidents

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Penn President Amy Gutmann expounded upon her recent condemnation of the United States President Donald Trump’s immigration ban by adding her name to this letter critical of the ban. Christopher Eisgruber, Princeton’s president, wrote the original draft of the letter with Penn’s President Gutmann and then asked others to sign on. It was signed by 46 other college and university presidents and chancellors including three who have had Penn ties.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

President Donald J. Trump 
The White House 
United States of America

Dear President Trump:

We write as presidents of leading American colleges and universities to urge you to rectify or rescind the recent Executive Order closing our country’s borders to immigrants and others from seven majority-Muslim countries and to refugees from throughout the world. If left in place, the Order threatens both American higher education and the defining principles of our country.

The Order specifically prevents talented, law-abiding students and scholars from the affected regions from reaching our campuses. American higher education has benefitted tremendously from this country’s long history of embracing immigrants from around the world. Their innovations and scholarship have enhanced American learning, added to our prosperity, and enriched our culture. Many who have returned to their own countries have taken with them the values that are the lifeblood of our democracy. America’s educational, scientific, economic, and artistic leadership depends upon our continued ability to attract the extraordinary people who for many generations have come to this country in search of freedom and a better life.

This action unfairly targets seven predominantly Muslim countries in a manner inconsistent with America’s best principles and greatest traditions. We welcome outstanding Muslim students and scholars from the United States and abroad, including the many who come from the seven affected countries. Their vibrant contributions to our institutions and our country exemplify the value of the religious diversity that has been a hallmark of American freedom since this country’s founding. The American dream depends on continued fidelity to that value.

We recognize and respect the need to protect America’s security. The vetting procedures already in place are rigorous. Improvements to them should be based on evidence, calibrated to real risks, and consistent with constitutional principle.

Throughout its history America has been a land of opportunity and a beacon of freedom in the world. It has attracted talented people to our shores and inspired people around the globe. This Executive Order is dimming the lamp of liberty and staining the country’s reputation. We respectfully urge you to rectify the damage done by this Order.


Robert L. Barchi, President, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Joanne Berger-Sweeney, President, Trinity College 
Lee C. Bollinger, President, Columbia University 
Robert A. Brown, President, Boston University 
Ronald J. Daniels, President, Johns Hopkins University 
Nicholas B. Dirks, Chancellor, University of California, Berkeley 
Adam F. Falk, President, Williams College 
Patrick Gallagher, Chancellor, University of Pittsburgh 
Amy Gutmann, President, University of Pennsylvania 
Philip J. Hanlon, President, Dartmouth College 
Ralph J. Hexter, Interim Chancellor, University of California, Davis 
Kimberly W. Benston, President, Haverford College 
George Blumenthal, Chancellor, University of California, Santa Cruz 
Richard H. Brodhead, President, Duke University 
Kimberly Wright Cassidy, President, Bryn Mawr College 
John J. DeGioia, President, Georgetown University 
Christopher L. Eisgruber, President, Princeton University
Drew Gilpin Faust, President, Harvard University
Howard Gillman, Chancellor, University of California, Irvine 
Andrew Hamilton, President, New York University 
Sam Hawgood, Chancellor, University of California, San Francisco 
Rev. John I. Jenkins, President, University of Notre Dame 
Pradeep K. Khosla, Chancellor, University of California, San Diego 
David W. Leebron, President, Rice University 
Wallace D. Loh, President, University of Maryland, College Park 
David Oxtoby, President, Pomona College 
Daniel R. Porterfield,  President, Franklin & Marshall College 
Hunter R. Rawlings III, Interim President, Cornell University 
Peter Salovey, President, Yale University 
Mark Schlissel, President, University of Michigan 
Barbara R. Snyder, President, Case Western Reserve University 
Samuel L. Stanley Jr., President, Stony Brook University 
Claire E. Sterk, President, Emory University 
Marvin Krislov, President, Oberlin College 
Ron Liebowitz, President, Brandeis University 
Anthony P. Monaco, President, Tufts University 
Christina H. Paxson, President, Brown University 
Carol Quillen, President, Davidson College 
Clayton Rose, President, Bowdoin College 
Michael H. Schill, President, University of Oregon 
Valerie Smith, President, Swarthmore College 
Debora L. Spar, President, Barnard College 
Sonya Stephens, Acting President, Mount Holyoke College 
Marc Tessier-Lavigne, President, Stanford University 
Satish K. Tripathi, President, University at Buffalo 
Henry T. Yang, Chancellor, University of California, Santa Barbara 
Mark S. Wrighton, Chancellor, Washington University in St. Louis 
Nicholas S. Zeppos, Chancellor, Vanderbilt University

Related: From the President: Penn Will Not Bend

Penn Global Calls for Proposals 2017

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Penn Global is excited to announce the 2017 Call for Proposals for the Penn China Research & Engagement Fund and the Global Engagement Fund.

The Penn China Research & Engagement Fund (Penn CREF), launched in March 2015, is a five-year, $10 million competitive matching program designed to stimulate and support activity in China and engagement with the Penn Wharton China Center. All Penn faculty and senior administrators are eligible to apply. Proposals for Penn CREF are due by April 17, 2017. For additional details about and submission instructions for Penn CREF, please visit our website at:

The Global Engagement Fund (GEF) Annual Program seeks to seed creative projects that will further Penn’s global initiatives in the key regions of India, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. All Penn faculty and senior administrators are eligible to apply. Proposals for the Global Engagement Fund are due March 17, 2017. For additional details about and submission instructions for GEF, please visit our website at: 

We strongly encourage faculty and administrators who are interested in applying for either fund to contact with any questions and/or requests to schedule a brief meeting to further discuss your ideas. We also strongly encourage you to share this notification with other faculty and staff who may be interested in these opportunities.

We look forward to learning of your ideas and working with you in the coming months. Please email with any questions.

—Zeke Emanuel, Vice Provost for Global Initiatives

—Amy E. Gadsden, Executive Director, Penn Global and Penn-China Initiatives

Jacob Levernier: Bollinger Fellow in Library Innovation

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The Penn Libraries announces the selection of Jacob Levernier as the new Bollinger Fellow in Library Innovation. The Fellow helps the Penn Libraries by thinking creatively about their future and recruit some of the most talented recent graduates with interests in a wide array of topics that intersect with libraries.

Dr. Levernier, a recent University of Oregon PhD graduate, is a psychologist well versed in the study of cognition, with undergraduate minors in neuroscience, philosophy and classical studies. He has a vested interest in the future of libraries and data management. Dr. Levernier’s current research interests include morality mining, data management education, moral advancement throughout the lifespan, open-source and open-access development and education, and the evolution of imagination.

Dr. Levernier will carry these interests into his work with the Libraries’ Technology Services division. Here, he will collaborate with collection curators, metadata specialists, business analysts and IT developers to study fundamental challenges in discovery, content delivery, assessment and information presentation. Joe Zucca, Penn Libraries’ director of strategic initiatives & library technology services, said “The Penn Libraries host a vast archive of data that reveal the interactions of scholars with information, that provide a unique lens on the research interests and behaviors of information consumers. The job of the Bollinger Fellow will be to mine these data for signals and patterns that inform acquisitions, service provision, and new strategic directions for the Library.”

During his two-year fellowship, Dr. Levernier will be uniquely positioned to interact with Penn Libraries’ systems, users and vast archives of data. These interactions will lead to applied research that may influence catalogs and cataloging practice, researcher profiling systems, human interface design, repository tools and the use of social media to understand information-seeking behavior and the use of data.


University of Pennsylvania Winter Trustees Meetings February 16-17, 2017

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Penn Trustees’ meetings will be held at the Inn at Penn. Observers are asked to call (215) 898-7005.

Thursday, February 16

8:30-10 a.m.: Local, National, & Global Engagement Committee

10:15-11:45 a.m.: Joint Meeting: Ad Hoc Committee on Diversity and Academic Policy Committee

10:15-11:45 a.m.: Facilities & Campus Planning Committee

2-3:30 p.m.: Student Life Committee

3:45-5:15 p.m.: Budget & Finance Committee

Friday, February 17

11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: Stated Meeting of the Trustees

From the Senate Office: SEC Agenda

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The following agenda is published in accordance with the Faculty Senate Rules. Any member of the standing faculty may attend SEC meetings and observe. Questions may be directed to Patrick Walsh, executive assistant to the Senate Office, either by telephone at (215) 898-6943 or by email at

Faculty Senate Executive Committee Agenda

Wednesday, February 15, 2017
3-5 p.m.
Van Pelt-Dietrich Library, 2nd floor Meyerson Conference Room

  1. Approval of the Minutes from the SEC Meeting of January 18, 2017 (1 minute)
  2.  Chair’s Report (3 minutes)
  3. Past-Chair’s Report on Academic Planning & Budget, Capital Council, and Campaign for Community (3 minutes)
    1. C4C applications are being accepted now at
  4. Update from the Office of the Provost (45 minutes)
    1. Discussion with Provost Vincent Price
  5. Ballot: 2017 Senate Committee on Committees Membership (5 minutes)
  6. Discussion of the 2016-17 Economic Status of the Faculty Report draft (30 minutes)
    1. Discussion with Susan Margulies (SEAS/Bioengineering) & Robert Stine (Wharton/Statistics), Co-Chairs of the Senate Committee on the Economic Status of the Faculty
  7. Discussion of Senate Strategies in View of the Federal and State Political Climates and their Uncertain Impacts at Penn (30 minutes)
  8. New Business (1 minute)

Council Coverage: February 1 Meeting

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Penn President Amy Gutmann spoke at the University Council meeting about how she and Provost Vince Price joined faculty, staff and students on Monday night in front of College Hall to express their views about the recent Executive Order concerning immigration (see her comments here). The Provost echoed her sentiments and stressed that Penn is offering support and assistance to those from the parts of the world that are impacted by the Executive Order. See

The representative from the Muslim Students Association expressed his members’ thanks to the University for the proactive steps that have been taken to address their concerns, saying that they are delighted and heartened.

Vice Provost for Education Beth Winkelstein  led a presentation on academic and personal integrity. She covered rights and responsibilities, as outlined in the Code of Academic Integrity and the Code of Student Conduct. Jessica Mertz discussed the role of Penn Anti-Violence Educators (PAVE) and the importance of bystander education to encourage intervention when witnessing harmful behaviors. Hikaru Kozuma discussed personal integrity. Christopher D’Urso, C’18, from the Honors Council, described its efforts. 

Related: From the President: Penn Will Not Bend


Shyamkrishna Balganesh and James Feldman: American Law Institute Election

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Shyamkrishna Balganesh, Penn Law professor, and James A. Feldman, Penn Law adjunct professor, are among the 58 lawyers, judges and law professors recently elected to the American Law Institute (ALI).

The ALI produces scholarly work to clarify, modernize and improve the law. Its 2,900 elected members include eminent lawyers, judges and academics.

Mr. Balganesh’s research focuses on understanding the ways in which intellectual property and innovation policy can benefit from the use of ideas, concepts and structures from different areas of the common law, especially private law. Most recently he has focused his research on understanding authorship in copyright law using ideas and principles from the common law of causation.

Mr. Feldman, an attorney with a solo practice in Washington DC, is a lecturer for Penn Law’s Supreme Court Clinic. He specializes in Supreme Court litigation.

Along with Mr. Balganesh and Mr. Feldman, the ALI also welcomed Law School alumni Ron Eisenberg, L’81; Heath Tarbert, L’01; and Alice Beck Dubow, L’84.

Lucy Chai: Churchill Scholarship

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University of Pennsylvania senior Lucy Chai of Acton, Massachusetts, was awarded the Churchill Scholarship from the Winston Churchill Foundation. The scholarship is awarded annually to American students to fund a year of master’s study in science, mathematics and engineering at Churchill College at the University of Cambridge. Ms. Chai will graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Penn’s School of Engineering & Applied Science.

Ms. Chai has conducted research on network neuroscience approaches to studying cognitive functions, focused on dynamic brain networks during language processing and cognitive development in youth.

She is a member of the Rachleff Scholars Program in Engineering.

Andrew D’Aversa and Aaseesh Polavarapu: Keedy Cup

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Students Andrew D’Aversa, L’17 and Aaseesh Polavarapu, L’17 were named the winners of this year’s Edwin R. Keedy Cup, Penn Law’s internal moot court competition. In addition, Andrew Steinmetz, L’17 was named Best Oralist.

Mr. D’Aversa and Mr. Polavarapu won after arguing Bank of America Corp. v. City of Miami, a pending U.S. Supreme Court case, against two other finalists. The case will determine whether the Fair Housing Act authorizes city governments to sue banks for mortgage lending practices that allegedly discriminate against borrowers on account of their race. Mr. Steinmetz and Jack Wray, L’17, argued for the petitioner while Mr. D’Aversa and Mr. Polavarapu argued for the respondent.

This year’s Keedy judges were the Honorable Steven Colloton of the US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, the Honorable Raymond Lohier of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and the Honorable Patty Shwartz of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Daniel Koditschek: Heilmeier Research Award

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The University of Pennsylvania School of Engineering and Applied Science has awarded Daniel Koditschek, the Alfred Fitler Moore Professor in the department of electrical and systems engineering, with the Heilmeier Research Award. The award recognizes scientifically meritorious work that also had high technological impact and visibility.

Dr. Koditschek was chosen for pioneering contributions in robot motion planning and legged locomotion.

The award is named for the late Penn alumnus George Heilmeier, who developed liquid crystal displays and served as director of DARPA.

Anna Protopopova, Marco Ruella and Vikram Paralkar: America Society of Hematology Scholar Awards

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Two Penn research fellows and a junior faculty member were recipients of Scholar Awards from the American Society of Hematology at a recent conference. The Scholar Awards are meant to enable awardees to transition from training programs to careers as independent investigators.

The recipients included basic research fellows Anna Protopopova, of the department of cell & developmental biology, and Marco Ruella, of the Translational and Correlative Studies Laboratory; and junior faculty member Vikram Paralkar, an instructor of medicine.

The Scholar Awards provide up to $100,000 for fellows and up to $150,000 for junior faculty.

Megan S. Ryerson: Fred Burggraf Award

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The University of Pennsylvania’s Megan S. Ryerson has received the Transportation Research Board’s 2016 Fred Burggraf Award. The international award recognizes the year’s best research paper by researchers 35 years of age or under.

Dr. Ryerson, assistant professor of city and regional planning and electrical and systems engineering at Penn, and faculty fellow at the Penn Institute for Urban Research (Penn IUR), received the award for her paper “Building Air Service Sustainability: Analytical Approach to Documenting Air Carrier Incentive Programs in Airport Sustainability Plans.”

“I’m incredibly honored to have my research recognized in this way by the TRB,” said Dr. Ryerson. “As cities contemplate how to build economic development through air service, I’m glad to see my work investigating the cost and efficacy of air service incentive programs having an impact on the community.”

In the paper, Dr. Ryerson examines the emergence of air carrier incentive programs through which major airports use their revenue to provide subsidies and incentives for airlines to launch routes to new destinations. She found that some of the busiest airports in the country provided over $10-20 million in incentives from 2012 to 2015, while many other airports in medium to large cities provided $500,000-$5 million over the same time period. The paper investigates the role these incentives play in generating regional economic development, and compares these costs with existing airport-based economic development initiatives.

The Burggraf Award was established in 1966 to stimulate and encourage young researchers to contribute to the advancement of knowledge in the field of transportation. The award was named in honor of Fred Burggraf, who served as TRB’s executive director from 1951 until his retirement in 1964.

Kent Smetters: Paul A. Samuelson Award

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The TIAA Institute has awarded Kent Smetters, Boettner Professor in the department of business economics and public policy at the Wharton School, and Felix Reichling of the Congressional Budget Office, with the 21st annual TIAA Paul A. Samuelson Award for Outstanding Scholarly Writing on Lifelong Financial Security.

The Samuelson Award recognizes outstanding research that can be used to improve Americans’ financial well-being through both public and private sectors. The researchers were awarded for their paper, “Optimal Annuitization with Stochastic Mortality and Correlated Medical Costs,” which examined how households should consider potential health events when planning for their lifelong financial well-being.

“I want to congratulate Felix Reichling and Kent Smetters on compiling an outstanding piece of research and data that will help Americans plan for retirement,” said Stephanie Bell-Rose, senior managing director and head of TIAA Institute. “This thorough analysis will be a useful tool for financial advisors and other stakeholders in helping their clients pick the best option for lifelong financial security. We believe that lifetime income products, like annuities, are essential for many individuals to achieve a financially secure retirement.”

Penn: WorldatWork Work-Life 2017 Seal of Distinction

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The University of Pennsylvania has earned the WorldatWork Work-Life Seal of Distinction for 2017. The award honors leading organizations for their successful and innovative work-life integration programs and policies. This is Penn’s second consecutive year as a recipient. Penn is one of 160 organizations in the United States and Canada, including 19 other universities, to be honored with a seal this year.

The Seal of Distinction measures the overall strength of organizations’ work-life portfolio and success in creating positive work environments. Applicants are evaluated on work-life programs, policies and practices that meet the needs and challenges facing employees today, such as caring for dependents; health and wellness; flexibility; financial support and education; paid and unpaid time off; community involvement; and workforce experience and engagement.

Visit for more information about Penn’s outstanding work-life benefits.

Benjamin Voight: PECASE

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Benjamin F. Voight, an assistant professor of systems pharmacology and translational therapeutics and of genetics in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, has received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE).

“It is an incredible honor to be selected for this award in recognition of the importance of our work to develop computational methods to identify genetic risk factors and genes associated with type-2 diabetes,” Dr. Voight said.

This award is the highest honor given by the United States government to scientists and engineers during the early stages of their independent research careers.

In early January, former President Barack Obama named 102 recipients of the PECASE award based on recommendations from participating federal agencies. Dr. Voight was among the recipients put forward by the US Department of Health and Human Services. According to the White House press release, the recipients are selected for their “pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and for their commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education, or community outreach.” The PECASE award was established in 1996.

Dr. Voight, a human geneticist and computational biologist, studies the influence of DNA sequence variation on complex human disease. His recent work has focused on mapping risk alleles for type-2 diabetes and heart attacks.

Douglas Wallace: Franklin Medal in Life Sciences

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Douglas C. Wallace, professor of pathology & laboratory medicine at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine and the Michael and Charles Barnett Endowed Chair in Pediatric Mitochondrial Medicine and Metabolic Disease at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, was named the 2017 recipient of the Franklin Medal in Life Sciences from the Franklin Institute.

Dr. Wallace was honored for his work with mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) in humans. His work has demonstrated the maternal inheritance of mtDNA in humans, reconstructed ancient human migrations using mtDNA variations, identified the first mtDNA mutation associated with an inherited disease and shown that mutant mtDNA can profoundly affect the nuclear genome and cause complex diseases. This has led the way to therapies for those diseases and for the aging process.

The Franklin Medal was established in 1824. Past recipients have included Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Stephen Hawking and Marie Curie. More than 100 Franklin Medal laureates have also received Nobel prizes.

Karen Glanz: NHLBI Advisory Council

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Karen Glanz, the George A. Weiss University Professor in the department of biostatistics & epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania and director of Penn’s Center for Health Behavior Research, has been appointed to the advisory council for the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Dr. Glanz will serve a four-year term.

The NHLBI advisory council advises the secretary of Health & Human Services; the assistant secretary for health; the director of the National Institutes of Health; and the NHLBI director on issues relating to the causes, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the blood, blood vessels, the heart and the lungs.


Landscape/Soundscape Exhibition Pairs Landscape Photography with Soundscapes Through March 26 at the Arthur Ross Gallery

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Some photographers capture landscapes so vividly that the images visually convey a sense of sound. In the same regard, sound artists have the capacity to create audio works that evoke a sense of place. The exhibition Landscape / Soundscape explores this desire to unite image and sound through compelling pairings of photography and soundscapes. Within the context of the exhibition, landscape is used in its broadest sense, from sweeping natural landscapes to cityscapes to abstractions. Likewise, the corresponding soundscapes are commissioned from a broad spectrum of sound artists and musicians, from those working with field recordings and electronics to noted instrumental performers. 

Photographs in the exhibition represent a range of landscapes, from expansive natural vistas to cityscapes. The following photographers are included: Lucien Clergue, Elliott Erwitt, Ralph Gibson, Clarence John Laughlin, Erica Lennard, Andrew Moore, Eliot Porter, Karen Riedener, Jerry Uelsmann, and Minor White. In tandem with Landscape / Soundscape, a juried selection of student projects will be presented on the Gallery’s digital interactive kiosk.  

A diverse selection of accomplished sound artists from throughout the United States and UK were invited to create soundscapes in response to photographs from Penn’s University Art Collection. These sound artists include: Sarah Angliss, Michael Roy Barker, Olivia Block, Nadia Botello, La Cosa Preziosa (Susanna Caprara), Marinna Guzy, Eugene Lew, Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe, Christopher Sean Powell and Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith. 

Heather Gibson Moqtaderi, associate curator and collections manager at Penn’s University Art Collection, has curated Landscape / Soundscape along with Eugene Lew, director of sound & music technology and lecturer in electronic music & recording at the University of Pennsylvania.

The exhibition at the Arthur Ross Gallery will be there until March 26. The Gallery is located at 220 South 34th Street, Philadelphia, and is free and open to the public. Hours: Weekdays 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; weekends noon-5 p.m. Closed Mondays.

To reserve a group tour please contact Arthur Ross Gallery at or (215) 898-3617. Additional information is available at or (215) 898-2083.

caption:Eliot Porter, Clouds Forming over Mount Baker, Washington, July 30, 1975, chromogenic print, 20” x 24”

Lecture & Performance: Photographer Andrew Moore and Sound Artist Michael Roy Barker

February 8, 5:30 p.m. at the Arthur Ross Gallery

In conjunction with the Arthur Ross Gallery’s latest exhibition Landscape / Soundscape, photographer Andrew Moore will lecture on his powerful images of locations throughout the US and beyond, including never-before-seen photographs from his latest series on Alabama. Following Moore’s illustrated lecture, sound artist Michael Roy Barker will perform on modular synthesizer and electronics, with oscillographic laser projections of the sounds created.

This pairing of photographer and sound artist is inspired by the exhibition Landscape / Soundscape, in which Michael Roy Barker created a soundscape to accompany Andrew Moore’s photograph Imagination Station.

A video for Andrew Moore’s Dirt Meridian

Other Related Programs at Arthur Ross Gallery:

March 1; noon: 12@12 : A Tasty Art Nugget in 12 Minutes Flat

March 13; 6:30 p.m. Daedelus Quartet performs Fred Lerdahl’s Chaconne and Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata

March 15, 5:30 p.m.: Performance by Philly beat-maker Christopher “Pow Pow” Powell

caption: Lucien Clergue, Sicilian Botanic Garden, Palermo, 1988, chromogenic print, 12” x 32”


First-of-its-kind Study on Injury Recovery Takes the Trauma Patient’s Point of View

  • February 7, 2017
  • vol 63 issue 22
  • Research
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A research partnership between the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing (Penn Nursing) and Griffith University School of Nursing & Midwifery in Australia recently led one of the first studies to examine the priorities in recovery for trauma patients from multiple perspectives.

The study, “Indicators of Injury Recovery Identified by Patients, Family Members and Clinicians,” is published in Injury.

“While it is recognized that focusing on what patients envision to be good outcomes is an important part of patient-centered care, asking trauma patients and their families what they consider to be the priorities of care and recovery has been neglected,” said Therese S. Richmond, the Andrea B. Laporte Professor of Nursing and Associate Dean for Research & Innovation. Dr. Richmond and study’s lead author Leanne M. Aitken, professor of nursing, now at the City, University of London, conceived the research while Dr. Aitken was undertaking a Fulbright Senior Scholarship at the University of Pennsylvania.

The researchers wanted to learn what patients, family members and clinicians considered to be the indicators of successful recovery from an acute hospitalization after traumatic injury and understand whether these indicators differed between these groups of stakeholders or changed over time, from during hospitalization to three months after discharge. They recruited 33 trauma patients, 22 family members and 40 clinicians from trauma departments in two Australian teaching hospitals.

The study identified five specific indicators of recovery: returning to work, resuming family roles, achieving independence, recapturing normality and achieving comfort. Perceptions of the indicators of injury were shown to change over time for some patients over the three months after they were discharged. The three broad groups of changed perceptions included increasing recognition that activities of daily living were important; increasing realization of the impact of the injury; and unfolding appreciation that life could not be taken for granted. These results have implications for the way hospitals provide education and support, according to Dr. Richmond.

“As patients and family members change their expectations over time, appropriate care needs to be provided across the care continuum,” she said.

“It is expected that understanding what matters to patients and family members will help us empower patients to be active participants in the health care process and will underpin development of patient-reported outcomes that should be used in practice and research in trauma care,” said Dr. Aitken. “This information will also inform future trauma outcome research to ensure these priority areas are appropriate for a broader range of participants.”

Fat Shaming Linked to Greater Health Risks

  • February 7, 2017
  • vol 63 issue 22
  • Research
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A Penn study of body shaming — a form of prejudice that can stereotype people with obesity as lazy, incompetent, unattractive, lacking willpower and to blame for their excess weight — found it may take a toll on health and even increase risk of cardiovascular and metabolic disease. The results of the study, led by a research team from the Perelman School of Medicine, are published in Obesity, the journal of The Obesity Society.

The team led by Rebecca Pearl, assistant professor of psychology in psychiatry and colleagues from Penn’s Center for Weight and Eating Disorders found that, in addition to the effects of body mass index (BMI) and depression, higher levels of weight bias internalization were associated with increased risk for cardiovascular and metabolic disease.

“There is a common misconception that stigma might help motivate individuals with obesity to lose weight and improve their health,” Dr. Pearl said. “We are finding it has quite the opposite effect. When people feel shamed because of their weight, they are more likely to avoid exercise and consume more calories to cope with this stress. In this study, we identified a significant relationship between the internalization of weight bias and having a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome, which is a marker of poor health.”

The team examined 159 adults with obesity who were enrolled in a larger clinical trial testing the effects of weight loss medication. The participants completed baseline questionnaires measuring depression and weight bias internalization — which occurs when people apply negative weight stereotypes to themselves, such as believing they are lazy or unattractive, and devalue themselves because of their weight — before any intervention was given. Participants also underwent medical examinations to determine any obesity-related health problems.

At first the research did not show a relationship between weight bias internalization and metabolic syndrome when controlling for participant demographics, such as age, gender and race; however, after patients were separated into groups of “high” or “low” levels of weight bias internalization, those with high internalization were shown to be three times more likely to have metabolic syndrome, and six times more likely to have high triglycerides as compared to participants with low internalization.

“Health care providers, the media, and the general public should be aware that blaming and shaming patients with obesity is not an effective tool for promoting weight loss, and it may in fact contribute to poor health if patients internalize these prejudicial messages,” said co-author Tom Wadden, professor of psychology in psychiatry and director of Penn’s Center for Weight and Eating Disorders. “Providers can play a critical role in decreasing this internalization by treating patients with respect, discussing weight with sensitivity and without judgment, and giving support and encouragement to patients who struggle with weight management — behaviors everyone should display when interacting with people with obesity.”

What Causes Sleepiness When Sickness Strikes

  • February 7, 2017
  • vol 63 issue 22
  • Research
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A study of a microscopic roundworm is lending insight into the phenomenon of sleepiness that often accompanies sickness. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine found that a single nerve cell called ALA coordinates an organism-wide response to sickness in worms.

The study is published in eLife.

When cells undergo stress during sickness, organisms can experience sleepiness, which promotes sleep to recover from the stress.  The study showed that for the worm, the sleepiness comes from a release of FLP-13 and other neuropeptides (chemicals which send signals between brain neurons) from the ALA neuron.

“Sleep is vitally important in helping both people and animals to recover during sickness,” said senior author David M. Raizen, an associate professor of neurology and a member of the Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology. “Similar signaling may operate in humans and other animals to regulate sleep during sickness. These findings create a launching pad toward future research into the mechanisms for illness-induced sleepiness in humans and other organisms.”

The research showed that FLP-13 causes sleep by reducing activity in the nervous system cells which can help keep the organism awake. By examining genetic mutations, the researchers were able to determine which genes cause the worms to fall asleep when FLP-13 is released. Because worms that lacked the receptor protein DMSR-1 on cell surfaces did not become sleepy in response to FLP-13, they deduced that DMSR-1 is essential for FLP-13 to trigger sleep.

Next, the researchers will work to determine whether illness-induced sleepiness in humans and other mammals has the same trigger. This information could help in the development of drugs to treat human fatigue associated with sickness and other conditions.

Gun Violence in PG-13 Movies Continues to Climb Past R-Rated Films

  • February 7, 2017
  • vol 63 issue 22
  • Research
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An analysis of movies from 1985-2015 showed the amount of gun violence in top-grossing PG-13 movies continues to surpass the gun violence in the biggest box-office R-rated films. The study is published in Pediatrics.

Researchers at Annenberg Public Policy Center built upon a previous Annenberg study of movies from 1985-2012 by examining movies from 2013 to 2015. The earlier study found that gun violence in top-grossing PG-13 movies had begun to exceed that of comparable R-rated movies by 2012. The new study showed a continuation of that trend.

“The increasing trend of gun violence in PG-13 movies that we detected in 2012 continues unabated,” said Dan Romer, research director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center and lead author of the article. “We were interested in seeing if the trend might have stalled or even reversed.  Our findings suggest that Hollywood continues to rely on gun violence as a prominent feature in its highly popular PG-13 action-oriented films.”

The new study reviewed a half-sample of 30 top-grossing movies at the domestic box office as tracked annually by Variety. A list of the films is available at Coders counted the number of five-minute segments in each film that showed a character fire a gun and hit a character. 

The researchers found that PG-13 movies featured a higher frequency of gun violence; an erase of any consequences; and a greater likelihood that violence was perpetrated by or on comic book-inspired heroes and antiheroes, which has been described as “less realistic” by the director of the ratings board of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). While PG-13 violence is usually bloodless, it can be extensive.

While R-rated movies are restricted to viewers age 17 or older unless accompanied by an adult, PG-13 movies simply note that parents are “strongly cautioned” that “some material may be inappropriate for children under 13,” leaving them open to all ages. At the same time, PG-13 movies have come to lead the box office while the popularity of R-rated movies declines.

Because not much is known about the effects of repeated exposure to gun violence on young people, the researchers concluded pediatricians should consider encouraging parents to use caution with PG-13 movies that contain gun violence. In addition, they called for research into the idea of bloodless “comic book” gun violence being less harmful to viewers.


Spring Series of PHOS Workshops

  • February 7, 2017
  • vol 63 issue 22
  • Events
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Penn Home Ownership Services (PHOS) launches its spring series of informative educational workshops in February with two events.

On Friday, February 17, attendees will gain insight about Benefits through the PHOS Program from presenters from PHOS and its lending partner Santander; 12:30-1:30 p.m.,  Learning and Development, 3624 Market Street, Suite 1A South.

Managing the Homebuying Process will be the topic of the session on Tuesday, February 21. At this workshop in room 209, Steinberg Hall-Dietrich Hall noon-1 p.m. representatives from Trident Mortgage Company will address questions from the audience.

Lunch will be provided. Due to the popularity of these sessions, both events require advance registration; see

The Mask and Wig Club: No Place Like Rome!

  • February 7, 2017
  • vol 63 issue 22
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Friends, Romans, Countrymen, are you not entertained? Then strap on your sandals, put on your finest toga, and journey down to the Mask and Wig Clubhouse at 310 S. Quince Street. Don’t worry about getting lost on the way, because all roads lead to Rome! Back in the day, Rome was a small college town obsessed with gladiator fighting. Each year, students hack each other to bits to win the annual Gladiator Tournament. A Greek international student, Victoria, has been preparing for the tournament for her entire life, while the Emperor’s weakling son, Scrawnius, will do anything he can to get out of it. Will Victoria be able to take down her nemesis and survive the movement to kick Greek life off campus? Who’s going to perform at the Gladiator Half-Time Show? And what’s so funny about that thing that happened on the way to the Forum? Come find out at Mask and Wig’s 129th Annual Production: No Place Like Rome!

For show dates visit Tickets are available online and on Locust Walk. Now through early April, shows are on most Friday and Saturday evenings, as well as a Thursday evening show on March 30. Email or call (215) 716-7378 for group rates and more information. Tickets are $15 for students, $30 for adults ($35 for shows after March 17), and $70 for dinner shows.

SP2 Penn Top 10 Talk A Series on Social Impact

  • February 7, 2017
  • vol 63 issue 22
  • Events
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On Wednesday, February 15, from 12:30-2 p.m., the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2) Dean John L. Jackson, Jr. will lead a panel of experts as they examine child welfare and explore methods and means to ensure the prosperous future of our youth.

The panelists include:

• Cynthia Figueroa, commissioner of the Philadelphia Department of Human Services

• Debra Schilling Wolfe, founding executive director of the Field Center

• Ezekiel Dixon-Román, associate professor at SP2

The event—SP2 Penn Top 10 Talk: A Speaker Series on Social Impact—will take place at the University Club at Penn. It will be moderated by Dean Jackson and will also feature a Q&A session. Though the event is exclusive to Club members, it will be livestreamed and accessible to anyone interested in the discussion in real time; log in to

Lunch is encouraged and will be available for University Club members to purchase from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

To reserve space, register at

University Club members are permitted to bring one guest.

Update: February AT PENN

  • February 7, 2017
  • vol 63 issue 22
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11 29th Sadie T.M. Alexander Conference: Social Media and the Law; three panels, a workshop and a career fair; 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.; Penn Law; info.: (Penn Law’s Black Law Students Association).


15 Morton Subotnick & Lillevan; light and sound duet; 8 p.m.; Annenberg Center; tickets: (Annenberg).


15 The U.S. and China: Where We Go from Here; Jon M. Huntsman, Jr., chairman of the Atlantic Council; 4:30 p.m.; Ambani Auditorium G06, Jon M. Huntsman Hall (Perry World House)


AT PENN Deadlines:

The February AT PENN calendar is here. The deadline for the March AT PENN calendar is February 14.

Info. is on the sponsoring department’s website; sponsors are in parentheses. For locations, call (215) 898-5000 or see



Weekly Crime Reports

  • February 7, 2017
  • vol 63 issue 22
  • Crimes
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The University of Pennsylvania Police Department Community Crime Report

About the Crime Report: Below are all Crimes Against Persons, Property and Crimes Against Society from the campus report for January 23-29, 2017. View prior weeks' reports. —Ed.

This summary is prepared by the Division of Public Safety and includes all criminal incidents reported and made known to the University Police Department between the dates of January 23-29, 2017. The University Police actively patrol from Market Street to Baltimore Avenue and from the Schuylkill River to 43rd Street in conjunction with the Philadelphia Police. In this effort to provide you with a thorough and accurate report on public safety concerns, we hope that your increased awareness will lessen the opportunity for crime. For any concerns or suggestions regarding this report, please call the Division of Public Safety at (215) 898-4482.

01/24/172:19 PM3900 Walnut StSex offenseConfidential
01/25/177:28 AM3400 Spruce StOther offenseUnauthorized males (2) in building/Arrest
01/25/1711:20 AM4100 Chestnut StSex offenseConfidential
01/25/173:32 PM3945 Chestnut StTheftUnsecured packages taken
01/25/176:41 PM4212 Walnut StTheftSecured bike taken
01/25/1711:10 PM100 S. 31st StDrunkennessIntoxicated male/Arrest
01/25/171:10 AM4200 Chestnut StSex offenseConfidential
01/26/1711:40 AM3400 Spruce StTheftThink station computer tower taken
01/26/175:10 PM3925 Walnut StTheftMerchandise taken without payment/Arrest
01/26/178:32 PM3960 Pine StFraudFraudulent email used on PayPal
01/27/176:59 AM4112 Spruce StBurglaryBurglary
01/27/1712:32 PM3934 Spruce StTheftCurrency taken from vehicle
01/27/176:34 PM220 S. 40th StAssaultUnknown male threw item at complainant
01/27/1710:53 PM51 N. 39th StTheftDebit card taken from handbag
01/28/176:23 PM3400 Spruce StTheftiPhone taken
01/28/178:47 PM210 S. 40th StTheftiPhone taken from handbag
01/28/1711:39 PM3420 Walnut StTheftTheft

18th District Report

Below are the Crimes Against Persons from the 18th District: 16 incidents with 0 arrests (7 robberies, 2 assaults, 2 indecent assaults, 2 rapes, 1 aggravated assault, 1 domestic assault and 1 homicide) were reported between January 23-29, 2017 by the 18th District covering the Schuylkill River to 49th Street & Market Street to Woodland Avenue.

01/23/173:55 AM4600 Walnut StHomicide
01/23/174:25 PM3900 Blk WalnutRape
01/24/175:22 PM4725 Pine StRobbery
01/24/177:04 PM47th & Spruce StAggravated Assault    
01/25/1712:00 AM241 S 47th StDomestic Assault
01/25/171:10 AM4200 Blk Chestnut StRape
01/25/171:13 PM4133 Chestnut StIndecent Assault
01/25/177:57 PM4800 Kingsessing AveRobbery
01/25/1710:07 PM47th & Hazel AveRobbery
01/26/177:42 PM4899 Trinity StRobbery
01/27/174:02 AM46th & Baltimore AveRobbery
01/27/174:39 AM2930 Chestnut StAssault
01/27/178:19 PM220 S. 40th StAssault
01/27/178:28 PM4830 Sansom StRobbery
01/28/178:14 AM920 S. 46th StRobbery
01/29/1712:36 AM414 S. 44th StIndecent Assault


Commencement Invitation to Penn Community

  • February 7, 2017
  • vol 63 issue 22
  • Bulletins
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You are cordially invited to attend the University of Pennsylvania’s 261st Commencement on Monday, May 15, 2017. I do hope that you will join us in celebrating this momentous occasion as we commemorate this year’s honorary degree recipients and graduates. For more information on this year’s honorees, please see last week’s issue (Almanac January 31, 2017) . US Senator Cory A. Booker (NJ) will deliver this year’s Commencement address and will receive an honorary degree.

Commencement will be held rain or shine. Additional information can be found on the Commencement website, or by calling (215) 573-GRAD.

You also are invited to attend one of the Baccalaureate Ceremonies which will take place in Irvine Auditorium on Sunday, May 14. The Baccalaureate Ceremony is a 50-minute interfaith program that includes music, readings and prayers. In order to accommodate all those who wish to attend, there will be two consecutive ceremonies at 1:30 and 3 p.m. Tickets and academic regalia are not required.

I hope you will join us in the pageantry and tradition as we honor this year’s graduating classes.

—Leslie Laird Kruhly, Vice President and University Secretary

Correction: Tax Forms For 2016

  • February 7, 2017
  • vol 63 issue 22
  • Bulletins
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In the January 31 issue, on the back page pertaining to the Tax Forms for 2016, in the section on 1095-C Information, the phone number for the Equifax Call Center was incorrect. The correct number is 1-(855)-823-3728—Eds.