2017 Lindback Awards for Distinguished Teaching

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Teaching Award Reception: April 25

All members of the University community are invited to a reception honoring the recipients of the 2016-2017 Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation Awards for Distinguished Teaching, the Provost’s Award for Teaching Excellence by Non-Standing Faculty and the Provost’s Award for Distinguished PhD Teaching and Mentoring Tuesday, April 25, 2017, 5-6:30 p.m.
Class of ‘49 Auditorium, Houston Hall, 3417 Spruce Street.
This year, the citations will not be released in advance of the event.

This year’s Lindback recipients are:
Mary Beth Callan (SOVM)
David Christianson (Chemistry, SAS)
Sanjeev Khanna (CIS, SEAS)
Jennifer Kogan (Medicine, PSOM)
Beth Linker (History & Sociology of Science, SAS)
Muralidhar Mupparapu (Oral Medicine, SDM)
Alejandro Ribeiro (Electrical & Systems Engineering, SEAS)
Frank Silvestry (Medicine, PSOM)

The recipients of this year’s Non-Standing Faculty Award are: 
Lorene Cary (English, SAS)
Susan Renz (SON)

The recipients of this year’s PhD Teaching and Mentoring Award are:
Madeleine Joullie (Chemistry, SAS)
George Pappas (Electrical & Systems Engineering, SEAS)

Non-Health Schools









Health Schools

Provost's Awards


For Teaching Excellence by Non-Standing Faculty


For Distinguished PhD Teaching and Mentoring

Joann Mitchell: Senior Vice President for Institutional Affairs and Chief Diversity Officer

  • March 28, 2017
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Joann Mitchell has been named Senior Vice President for Institutional Affairs and Chief Diversity Officer, Penn President Amy Gutmann announced last Wednesday. The president noted that this appointment recognizes “not only Joann’s exemplary service to Penn and her distinguished leadership across a broad range of domains, but also our elevation and extension of Joann’s campus-wide leadership role in making Penn a preeminent leader in diversity and inclusion.”

The Penn Compact 2020 vision begins with inclusion and access. Ms. Mitchell has been and will continue to be a key partner to Dr. Gutmann in expanding and strengthening Penn’s diversity initiatives. Her accomplishments span policies, programs, compliance and outreach. Since 2013, she has served as an ex-officio member of the consultative committees on dean appointments and reviews. Her expanded service has helped to bring an increasing number of diverse appointments to Penn’s senior-most ranks. Ms. Mitchell also has been a principal coordinator with the Vice Provost for Faculty in advancing Penn’s Action Plan for Faculty Diversity and Excellence. This initiative has enabled Penn to recruit, retain and mentor an ever more eminent and diverse faculty. Ms. Mitchell also serves as an administrative liaison to the Trustees’ Ad Hoc Committee on Diversity, which has been avid in its support for Penn’s diversity initiatives.

Ms. Mitchell was instrumental in creating the Office of the Sexual Violence Investigative Officer, which reports to her. She also oversees Penn’s continued compliance with the letter and spirit of Title IX and other regulations. She oversees the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Programs and the African-American Resource Center, which provide important services to advance Penn’s inclusion and diversity efforts. On March 17, she received the Outstanding Legacy Award from the Women of Color at Penn on the occasion of their 30th annual awards luncheon. A consummate Penn citizen, Ms. Mitchell has provided expert leadership as vice chair of both the Task Force on Student Psychological Health and Welfare and the Commission on Student Safety, Alcohol and Campus Life. She is a member of Penn’s Task Force on a Safe and Responsible Campus Community, and she helped lead Penn’s decennial reaccreditation process for the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. In addition, she oversees a host of other essential Penn offices, including the Office of Institutional Research and Analysis, Almanac, the Office of the Ombudsman and the University Archives and Records Center.

Before returning to Penn in 2004 to work in the President’s Office, she held a series of progressively responsible positions at Princeton University. Prior to that, she served as director of Penn’s Office of Affirmative Action, the assistant director of the Opportunity Development Center at Vanderbilt University, and an attorney in private practice. She is chair of the Board of Directors of the Women’s Law Project, a member of the Board of the Philadelphia Education Fund, an ex-officio member of the Board of Overseers for the Annenberg Performing Arts Center, a member of the Board of Visitors of Davidson College, and an honorary trustee of the McCarter Theatre Center. 

Rebecca Stein: Executive Director of the Online Learning Initiative

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Rebecca Stein has been appointed Executive Director of the Online Learning Initiative, beginning June 1, 2017.

Dr. Stein is an acclaimed and innovative teacher who has taught at Penn since 1998 and currently serves as director of the microeconomics principles program in the School of Arts and Sciences. A health economist and Senior Fellow of the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, she teaches large sections of introductory microeconomics to almost 1,000 students each year and has received multiple Penn teaching awards, including the Provost’s Award for Teaching Excellence by Non-Standing Faculty, and the SAS Dean’s Award for Distinguished Teaching by Affiliated Faculty.

On the Coursera open learning platform, she has developed highly popular courses on Microeconomics: The Power of Markets and Microeconomics: When Markets Fail. She earned a PhD (1998) and MA (1993) in economics from Northwestern University and a BA cum laude (1992) in economics from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

“Penn is strongly committed to advancing new forms of teaching and learning, both online and on campus,” said Vice Provost for Education Beth Winkelstein. “Rebecca Stein is one of our most creative and successful teachers in both arenas, and she will be an ideal partner to help us shape the future of online learning, working closely with the Online Learning Faculty Council, the dynamic staff of the Online Learning Initiative, and the outstanding faculty members across campus who are leading our engagement with online learning.”

The Online Learning Initiative began in 2012, when Penn became one of the founding university partners in Coursera, the pioneering online learning platform. Penn now offers more than 80 courses on Coursera—with 22 million learners around the world in disciplines that encompass all 12 Penn Schools—while expanding to include the non-profit edX platform and a wide range of other new and advanced educational programs. The work of Penn faculty in online learning has also spurred numerous educational innovations on campus, especially through the Structured Active In-Class Learning (SAIL) Initiative.

A Brief Update Regarding the Federal Budget Proposal

  • March 28, 2017
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Monday, March 20, 2017

Like many in the higher education community, we are concerned about the initial budget proposal released last week by the Trump Administration, which proposes to slash or eliminate federal support for scientific research, the arts, humanities, our environment and education (to name only some of the major areas that are threatened).

This is just the beginning of the budget negotiation process. As that process plays out, please know that Penn’s Office of Government and Community Affairs is actively advancing Penn’s interests in federal policy discussions through direct meetings with members and staff from our local Congressional delegation and through leadership positions in our nonpartisan advocacy organizations, including AAU, COFHE, NAICU, the Science Coalition, and United for Medical Research.  OGCA personnel are available for consultation with Penn constituencies to assure an understanding of the process and the current challenges at the federal level.

As we work to support the core values of Penn and American higher education, we wanted to share with you several messages regarding the proposed budget, which may help inform you on the issue. Below is a very thoughtful note from SAS Dean Steve Fluharty regarding the proposed cuts to the Humanities and relevant links.

—Amy Gutmann, President
—Vincent Price, Provost
—Craig Carnaroli, Executive Vice President
—Larry Jameson, Executive Vice President, UPHS and Dean of the Perelman School of Medicine

Regarding the Proposed Cuts to the Humanities

President Trump’s newly-released proposed budget calls for the elimination of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), as well as several other federal agencies, centers and programs that fund arts, culture and international education initiatives. Most of us in the Penn humanities community have benefited either directly or indirectly from the support of the NEH. The School of Arts and Sciences affirms its unwavering support for the NEH mission, and indeed of the enduring value of the humanities that form part of the School’s own mission.

In anticipation of this announcement by the Trump administration, SAS has already been discussing strategies to combat the closing of the NEH (and the National Endowment for the Arts, and elimination of Title VI funding) with Penn’s governmental affairs office in Washington, DC, and we will ramp up our efforts in the coming weeks. Penn is also an institutional member of the National Humanities Alliance (NHA), a leading Washington-based coalition that will be undertaking its own advocacy efforts.

If you are concerned about the proposed elimination of the NEH, please communicate with your members of Congress to let them know your opinions. The NHA link below is a very easy way to accomplish this.

Nothing better captures the importance of the NEH to our basic educational values than the act of Congress that created it some half-century ago.  If you haven’t read this, we urge you to do so:

—Steve Fluharty, SAS Dean

Information from National Humanities Alliance:

Statement from AAU President Mary Sue Coleman:

Statement from United for Medical Research: 

Penn Benefits Open Enrollment: April 17-April 28

  • March 28, 2017
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Benefits Open Enrollment is your annual opportunity to make changes to your healthcare elections.

This year, Open Enrollment is Monday, April 17 through Friday, April 28. Penn Benefits provides you with a valuable range of options to help meet your particular needs. Now is a great time to begin considering if you want to make changes to your current healthcare coverage and which options will work best for you in the coming plan year. Please note that this information applies to active full-time or part-time benefits-eligible faculty and staff only.

Plan Changes as of July 1, 2017

Penn Is Doubling the Health Savings Account Seed Money

Effective July 1, 2017, Penn will double the employer contribution (seed) amount for Health Saving Account (HSA) enrollees in the Aetna High Deductible Health Plan.

The seed money will increase from $500 to $1,000 for the single tier, and from $1,000 to $2,000 if any dependents are covered. This money will fund your HSA account whether or not you decide to make additional contributions on your own. The deductible will remain the same under the single and family tier. This means that there will be more dollars for you to use, invest and/or save for future health expenses.

There will be presentations on the High Deductible Health Plan and the Health Savings Account on April 12 and April 24.

Copay Changes for PennCare/Personal Choice PPO, Aetna POS II, and Keystone/AmeriHealth HMO

Lower Retail Clinic Copays

Effective July 1, 2017 the retail clinic copay will decrease. Under the Personal Choice tier, the retail clinic copay will decrease from $30 to $25. The Aetna POS II retail clinic copay will decrease from $40 to $30, and the Keystone HMO retail clinic copay will decrease from $35 to $25.

Specialist Copay Changes

Effective July 1, 2017, the specialist copay will increase. Under the PennCare tier, the specialist copay will increase from $30 to $40. Under the Personal Choice tier, the specialist copay will increase from $40 to $50. The Aetna POS II specialist copay will increase from $40 to $50 and the Keystone HMO specialist copay will increase from $35 to $45. This change also impacts spinal manipulations for all three plans, as well as routine x-ray/radiology for the Aetna POS II plan.

Laboratory/Pathology Copay Change for PennCare/Personal Choice PPO Plan and Keystone/AmeriHealth HMO Plan

Effective July 1, 2017, a $25 copay will apply to laboratory/pathology under the PennCare/Personal Choice PPO Plan and the Keystone HMO plan.

New Health Care Flexible Spending Account Limit

The IRS has increased the limit from $2,550 to $2,600. A flexible spending account is a special account you put pre-tax money into that you use to pay for certain IRS eligible out-of-pocket healthcare costs.

Introducing Penn Care Connects

University of Pennsylvania employees now have easy access to new patient appointment scheduling through a concierge line. Find a Penn Primary Care Physician closer to work or home with an appointment time that meets your needs. Appointments are available within two weeks. Call (267) 414-2208.

Part-Time Healthcare Benefits

Regular part-time faculty and staff are eligible for the same healthcare plan offerings as full-time faculty and staff. The entire cost is paid by the member. Effective July 1, 2017, current part-time faculty and staff will also be eligible to enroll in the ACA plan. Administered by Aetna, Penn’s ACA plan doesn’t require a primary care provider or referral. The plan has in-network or out-of-network coverage. The individual deductible is $900 and the family deductible is $2,000.

It is important to note that the cost of the single coverage ACA plan is partially subsidized by the University. The cost of all other plans for part-time employees will still be paid by the member.

Specialty Medication

In addition to CVS Pharmacies and CVS Specialty Mail Service, specialty drug prescriptions can also be filled at the Hospital of University of Pennsylvania Pharmacy, Penn Presbyterian Medical Center Pharmacy, Pennsylvania Hospital Pharmacy and Penn Medicine at Radnor Pharmacy.

Surgery Coverage

Sexual reassignment surgery coverage is available under all plans effective July 1, 2017.

When Are Changes Effective?

Changes made during Open Enrollment will be effective as of July 1, 2017. New rates for all plans will be reflected in your July 2017 paycheck.

Attend a Presentation

Learn details and ask questions at one of the upcoming presentations. Presentations will run for 45 minutes, followed by a Q&A session. The April 12 and April 24 sessions will include information about the High Deductible Health Plan and the Health Savings Account.

Wednesday, April 511a.m.-1 p.m.Houston Hall, Golkin Room
Tuesday, April 11noon-2 p.m.The ARCH, Room 108
Wednesday, April 12noon-2 p.m.Perelman School of Medicine, Blockley Hall, Room 118C 
Wednesday, April 19 noon-2 p.m.Irvine Auditorium, G-16 
Thursday, April 2011a.m.-1 p.m.Irvine Auditorium, G-16
Monday, April 2411a.m.-1 p.m.Houston Hall, Hall of Flags
Tuesday, April 2511a.m.-1 p.m.Houston Hall, Golkin Room

Attend a Fair

Representatives from Penn’s healthcare providers and administrators will be onsite to share information. Learn about medical plans, prescription drug coverage, dental plans, vision coverage, flexible spending accounts and the Penn Benefits Center.

At the Open Enrollment and Wellness Fair at Houston Hall on Tuesday, April 18, you can also take advantage of free health screenings and other wellness activities.

A Focus On Wellness

Be in the Know, Penn’s Wellness Campaign

Penn’s Be in the Know wellness campaign supports you in reaching your health and wellness goals. Participants earn points toward cash incentives when they complete the Core Actions (a biometric screening and online health assessment) and Bonus Actions. The more you do, the more points and cash you’ll earn—up to $200 (less applicable payroll taxes). Visit for more information.

Penn’s Behavioral Health Benefits

Penn’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provides eligible faculty and staff and their immediate family members access to free, confidential counseling and referral services for personal and professional life issues. EAP services are available by phone, online and through face-to-face sessions. Call Penn Behavioral Health 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-321-4433, or visit the EAP website.

Health Care Rates for 2017–2018

Weekly Paid
Monthly Paid
 Single CoverageEmployee & SpouseEmployee & Child(ren)Employee & FamilySingle CoverageEmployee & SpouseEmployee & Child(ren)Employee & Family
PennCare$ 47.08$ 117.46$ 79.15$ 146.08$ 204.00$ 509.00$ 343.00$ 633.00
Aetna Choice POS II$ 32.31$ 83.08$  54.69$ 103.15$ 140.00$ 360.00$ 237.00$ 447.00
Aetna HDHP$ 21.00$ 54.92$ 35.31$ 68.77$ 91.00$ 238.00$ 153.00$ 298.00
Keystone HMO$ 22.15$ 59.31$ 37.38$ 73.38$ 96.00$ 257.00$ 162.00$ 318.00
PFPP$ 8.39$  16.46$ 18.56$ 26.18$ 36.35$  71.32$ 80.41$113.43
METLIFE$ 5.98$ 11.95$ 13.16$ 17.94$ 25.91$ 51.80$ 57.02$77.74
Davis Vision$ 1.09$ 2.36$ 1.77$ 3.00$ 4.73$  10.22$ 7.65$13.01
VSP$ 1.51$ 3.27$ 2.46$ 4.17$ 6.56$ 14.17$ 10.66$18.07


COUNCIL State of the University

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In accordance with the University Council Bylaws, the March 22 Council meeting included “extended reports by the President, the Provost and other administrators covering budgets and plans for the next academic year.” 
The remarks on these pages were adapted from the presentations given.
There was also a progress report on advancing faculty diversity and inclusion at Penn; see the recently published Action Plan for Faculty Diversity and Excellence (Almanac March 21, 2017).

Coverage of March 22 University Council Meeting

Report on the Budget

Bonnie Gibson, Vice President for Budget and Management Analysis

I will be reviewing the FY17 current year budget. The FY18 budget is still under development, and will be presented to the Trustees for approval in June. I will discuss our undergraduate total charges for FY18.

For FY17 we have budgeted $3.47 billion dollars in revenue (Below left). This chart shows the multiple components of revenue, but the easy way to think about our revenue sources is in thirds. The first slightly over-weighted third is tuition and fees. It represents over $1.25 billion or 36% of our operating revenue. This category includes undergraduate, graduate and professional and other tuition. The second slightly underweighted third is sponsored programs, or research, representing $928 million or 27%, of our revenue. The final third is everything else. It represents $1.3 billion or 37% including the income from our endowment, gifts, other income—which is mostly sales and services, transfers and support for the Vet School from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. So as you think of our revenue sources, remember thirds.

Our expenditures also total $3.47 billion (Below right). Fifty-three percent of that total is compensation, including salaries and benefits, totaling $1.8 billion. Current expense makes up 24% of our expenditures, with capital and student aid representing the final 22%. (Those of you who can add quickly in your heads will note that this totals 99%, due to rounding).

School spending represents almost $2.4 billion, or 68%, of our total expenditures, and our three largest schools make up 74% of that total. The next largest component, administrative centers, including Finance, HR, Public Safety, Information Systems and other administrative units, is $436 million or 13% of the total. The cost of our space is $177 million. But 75% of the space costs are actually for school space, so if we move those costs to the school segment, school expenditures would increase to 72% of the total.

Our total aid budget for FY17 is $471 million. That was a 4% increase over FY16. Graduate and professional aid, including stipends, is $256 million, while undergraduate aid is $215 million. These numbers represent direct financial aid to individual students, but in fact the cost of a Penn education is subsidized for all students.

Our audited financial statements show that tuition and fees cover 70% of the cost of a Penn education, with gifts and endowment income covering the balance.

For FY18 the Trustees have approved a 3.9% increase to undergraduate total charges, with tuition, fees, room and board at $68,600 next year. Room and board are based on the average standard room, and the freshman meal plan. Over the past 10 years Penn’s increase in total charges has been at the average for our peer group: it has never been the highest, and it has never been the lowest.

This is the ninth consecutive year that we have held the rate of increase below 4%. Only once in the last 38 years has the rate of increase been lower than it has been for the past nine.

This increase in total charges generates net incremental revenue of $14.9 million after the application of $9 million to the financial aid pool, with $9.7 million of that in net tuition revenue. Net tuition after aid grows by 2.9%.

The undergraduate aid budget is projected to increase to $224 million for FY18, and that is up 4% compared to FY17.

Since 2008 the financial aid budget has increased 122%, with an an average annual growth rate of 8.3% per year, which is more than twice the growth rate of total charges. Since 2004, when Dr. Gutmann became President, it has grown by 184%.

Now I’ll review our undergraduate financial aid program. We are keeping a Penn education affordable and accessible. The average aided freshman actually pays $2,224 less in constant 2007 dollars than that individual would have paid in FY07. This is 11% lower than it was in FY07, again in constant dollars.

Regarding the income distribution for the aided class that entered in the fall of 2016, 47% of our aided students come from families with incomes of under $100,000. It is also important to note that 30% of aided students come from families with incomes of over $150,000. So we are aiding the neediest of our students but we are also aiding students with families with middle incomes.

Reagarding the distribution of traditional undergraduate grants by size for both the freshman class and the overall aided population, 75% of our aided students received grants of $35,000 or more, 48% received grants of $50,000 or more, and 24% received grants of $60,000 or more. 46% of traditional undergraduate students actually receive aid, and the average freshman grant this year  is $45,368.

The percentage of total charges that are covered by our aid program looks at the median grant and the median grant as a percent of total charges. Not only has the median grant increased significantly over the past eight years, but as a percent of total charges it has grown from 67% and 69% to 74% and 76.5% respectively. This means that our aid is actually growing more than our total charges, covering a larger percentage of the costs.

I’m going to move on now to PhD & graduate & professional students.

In 2016, the last completed fiscal year, we had over 3,000 PhD students from nine different schools. Almost all of our PhD students are fully funded for four to five years. Full funding includes tuition, fees, health insurance and a stipend. Beginning in FY18 fees will include access to Penn’s fitness facilities. For an SAS Humanities PhD student entering in the fall of 2017, the standard five-year funding package is worth over $350,930 in constant FY18 dollars.

PhD tuition and the research master’s tuition will increase at the same rate as undergraduate tuition. Professional tuition is set by the schools based on their specific needs and markets. The distribution of PhD students and expense by school and category, shows Arts & Sciences has the largest number of PhD students and the largest expenditures: over $73 million in FY16.

This concludes my presentation. I would be happy to answer any questions.

For more info see:

Reports on Transforming the Arts at Penn

Anita Allen, Vice Provost for Faculty and Chair, Provost’s Arts Advisory Council

Our President and Provost have elevated the arts at Penn. Through the arts, we explore our cultures and histories, and confront the conflicts and struggles that characterize contemporary life. The arts train creativity, experimentation, perception and self-expression. They often celebrate the best of the human spirit. The arts are a crucial component of a liberal arts education.

Dr. Gutmann’s Compact 2020 includes the arts as a vehicle of innovation. The Provost has created an Interdisciplinary Arts Fund and a standing Provost’s Arts Advisory Council, established in 2015 following a successful three-year Arts Initiative. The Sachs Arts Innovation Program announced in 2016 will further advance the arts at Penn.

Penn invests more than $60 million annually in its libraries and another $14 million in subvention to its arts centers.  More than $80,000 was allocated in FY17 for Interdisciplinary Arts grants for Penn Faculty with projects that engage students.  The recent gift to the arts by alumni and noted art collectors and philanthropists Keith L. and Kathy Sachs will create the Sachs Arts Innovation Program, transforming the arts at Penn by providing additional grant support for student, faculty and arts center projects. The pillars of the grant program are: reimagining pedagogy, resourcing faculty artists and arts scholars, engaging new audiences for the arts, and creating the Sachs Arts Innovation Hub. To be located within the Annenberg Center, with its own executive director, the Sachs Arts Innovation Hub is the brand new way Penn will centrally communicate, coordinate, and catalyze arts innovation.

The arts are alive and thriving at Penn. Every genre is represented—the visual arts, music, theatre, dance, spoken word and literature, with many forms of each. There are more than 80 student performing arts groups and campus arts centers including the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, the Morris Arboretum, the Arthur Ross Gallery, WPXN, the Penn Museum, the Institute of Contemporary Arts and Kelly Writer’s House. New leadership from Executive and Artistic Director Chris Gruits heralds a revived program for Annenberg Live. Nearly every day, important arts events enhance our campus, such as the March 22 inaugural Susan Marx Lecture by Dr. Johnnetta Cole, director of the National Museum of African Art. The exhibitions on view at the ICA and the Arthur Ross Gallery today represent truly interdisciplinary curatorial work that bears visiting.

The Monument Lab, curated by Professor and Chair of Fine Arts Ken Lum and collaborators, is a splendid example of arts leadership at Penn and the kinds of projects the Sachs Arts Innovation Hub will seek to support. The Monument Lab involves the construction of temporary monuments around the city of Philadelphia by an international roster of artists that includes Penn Professors Sharon Hayes and David Hartt. The project will explore the theme of why certain people and events are memorialized and others are not.  Endorsed by Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney at a recent launch and significantly supported by the William Penn Foundation, the Monument Lab will employ and involve about two dozen Penn students who will help in the fabrication and interpretative work of this unique undertaking.

Ken Lum, Chair & Professor of Fine Arts, School of Design

Thank you, Dr. Gutmann, Dr. Price and Dr. Allen. Thank you for the opportunity to present to you a project I’ve been working on now for over three years. Just to put that in perspective, I only arrived at Penn four years ago. It came out of being here a year, falling in love with Philadelphia, but being interested in the troubles I saw in the city, because I’m in the design field. I noticed near where I lived in South Philly at the time, a plaque to the great Billie Holiday.  I wondered where the statue for Billie Holiday was, and found out there’s no statue to her. In fact, soon there will be the first full-figure statue to an African American on the grounds of Philadelphia City Hall, to Octavius Catto—the first.

I don’t see this project as a kind of redress project, but I was interested in those kinds of questions. That same afternoon, after noticing the plaque about Billie Holiday, I walked to the City Hall and noticed a full-figure statue of John Wanamaker, and I wondered who he was. I found out he was a distinguished business person associated with a department store located where the Macy’s building is. Nothing against Mr. Wanamaker, but I thought, wow, you get a statue but Billie Holiday does not get a statue? So that led to my questioning the criteria. What are the stratifications relating to  why some people get remembered more officially than others and why other ones less so? So I came up with this question and I met some people in urban studies, especially Elaine Simon. Dr. Simon said I should meet Dr. Paul Farber, a Penn graduate who was asking the same questions.  So Paul and I have gotten together and worked very hard. We have tried not so much to answer this question but to lay this question out: why do certain people get monumentalized and others do not? We tried to think about it in terms of a city-wide public art project. City-wide public art projects are fairly common in the form of biennials. They recur over and over in many cities.

What distinguishes Monument Lab is that it retains a very important socially interactive as well as intellectually investigative component. Across 10 sites throughout the city, starting with the five squares, the courtyard, City Hall, representing the no longer existing Center Square, and five other sections of the city that represent Northeast, Southeast, West Philly and Southwest, we will be having major artists from around the world—most of them, if not all, having some historical affiliation or biographical affiliation with Philadelphia—ask the question of what is an appropriate monument for the current city of Philadelphia?

In addition to the public art component, which they will realize, there will be what we call a Monument Lab component. It’s basically a glorified container that’s being converted into a kind of office in which events will take place. We will have seating around this container, and we will have speakers that deal with problems that are city-wide or national, even. Particular questions relating to the particular precincts that that lab will represent geographically. There was a first iteration of Monument Lab, opened two years ago in the courtyard at City Hall, which we began with the work of the late Terry Atkins, who was a distinguished professor here in the PennDesign department of fine arts. His work was called a prototype monument for Center Square. It’s actually based on Joseph Lancaster’s hand drawn configuration for a model school room for poor children in the 19th century. The first iteration was extremely successful. Because of that success, the William Penn Foundation contacted us to come give a presentation. We were going to contact them, but they preempted us by contacting us and saying, “Hey, we’re really interested in this and possibly funding something if you have an idea for a city-wide one,” and we said, “Well, it just so happens we do.”

So my slides preview what will be taking place in the fall 2017. Some of these artists, like Tyree Guyton, have no affiliation with Philadelphia, but he’s a very distinguished, important figure in Detroit. He’s the progenitor of the Heisenberg Project. He basically transformed an entire decimated area of Detroit, where his mother actually still lives, and kind of turned it into a major art enterprise and has revived the entire area as a result. Now it is one of the most important tourist sites in Detroit. Most of the other artists—like Hans Haacke, who is a very distinguished German American artist—emigrated to the United States and moved to Philadelphia. All the artists generally have some relationship to the city. We are curating it with a focus on demanding that the artists deal with this question from the perspective of equity, difference and politics.

It will be the biggest outdoor art exhibition in the history of Philadelphia, with a budget at almost $2.25 million. That is the Monument Lab.

At each of these labs, we will be engaging with the local communities and asking them the same question: What is an appropriate monument for the current city of Philadelphia? And they fill out their drawings or even textual description of their proposed monument. All that data will be input into a large computer map, resulting in a book of the data but also including major essays by leading scholars on the state of Philadelphia today. I will also be contributing an essay.

Here are some of the proposals from the earlier Monument Lab, a prototypical one. My favorite was a monument of Robert Indiana: Not Love But Like.

At every lab there will be at least one to two students from Penn who will be associated with the lab. We are starting to hire them now, so there are summer employment opportunities for 22-23 Penn students of every level. Graduate MFA students and other architectural students will be helping with install, at the labs themselves; the input of data interpretations will involve students from pretty much all the schools.

2017 Call for PPSA Board and Committee Nominations: April 28

  • March 28, 2017
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The Penn Professional Staff Assembly (PPSA), a voluntary organization comprised of professional (monthly-exempt) staff members, is accepting nominations for the Executive Board and University Committees for the 2017-2018 academic year. The mission of PPSA is to support and focus staff engagement and collaboration within the University of Pennsylvania community and to act as a productive resource for all of our members. Being a member of PPSA allows you to network with your colleagues through numerous workshops and events that enhance your professional development and work life at Penn.


  • Provides a forum through which staff can engage in dialogue about issues facing the University and higher education;
  • Collaborates in University governance through University Council and other committees and task forces;
  • Serves as an informational network to promote seminars and programs that enrich the quality of experience and work life for professional staff;
  • Provides a supportive network to assist the University in achieving its goals and objectives.

If you are not a member of PPSA and are a monthly-paid employee please consider joining by going to the webpage.  If you are a member, please consider nominating yourself or a colleague for a Board or Committee position. Board members attend monthly meetings and assist with program development and coordination. Committee members meet monthly and are expected to report to the Executive Board twice a year. Although there is a time commitment, the experience is rewarding and enjoyable. It is a wonderful opportunity to meet colleagues from across the University who will help to enrich your association with Penn.

Executive Committee Nominations

To nominate, please fill out the form available from the PPSA homepage:  The following positions on the PPSA Executive Board will be available for the coming year:

Chair-Elect: The Chairperson is the principal executive officer who calls meetings, prepares agendas, presides over meetings and provides leadership and representation at the University Council and other meetings. After one year, the Chair-Elect automatically succeeds to the office of Chairperson.

Members at Large: (Four positions are available, each for a two-year term): The Members at Large participate in Executive Board meetings, take on special projects, and serve on other University committees.

University monthly-paid professional employees are welcome to self-nominate or submit names for consideration using the online form by no later than Friday, April 28, 2017. All Executive Committee individuals nominated will receive information on completing a candidate bio and personal statement. A list of candidates will be prepared and distributed to the PPSA membership prior to the election.

The 2017-2018 election for officers will occur after the annual meeting which will take place on Thursday, May 25, 2017 at noon in the Bodek Lounge, Houston Hall. The election meeting speaker is Dean John L. Jackson, School of Social Policy and Practice.


Linda Aiken: ICN Christiane Reimann Prize

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Linda H. Aiken, the Claire M. Fagin Leadership Professor in Nursing, professor of sociology and director of the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and senior fellow of Penn’s Leonard Davis Institute for Health Economics, is the 2017 recipient of the International Council of Nurses’ (ICN) Christiane Reimann Prize, named for ICN’s first full-time executive secretary and funded by a trust reserve established through her will.

The ICN presents this award every four years to a nurse who has made a significant impact on the nursing profession internationally, or through the nursing profession for the benefit of humanity. Dr. Aiken will receive the award in May at the ICN Congress in Barcelona, Spain. She will also provide the keynote speech, focusing on her research to improve the quality and safety of hospital care and patient outcomes.

“Dr. Linda Aiken is well deserving of this recognition for her world-wide contributions to nursing, healthcare and policy,” said Penn Nursing Dean Antonia Villarruel. “Her scholarship has shaped policy to create healthcare environments that allow nurses to provide the highest quality care and which ensure the best health outcomes for patients. Dr. Aiken has illuminated the critical role of nurses in patient care, research and health policy.”

Dr. Aiken’s research has shown the importance of nurses caring for fewer patients each; of most nurses holding a bachelor’s degree or higher qualifications; and of improving the work environment for nurses.

Kathryn Bowles: International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame

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Kathryn H. Bowles, the vanAmeringen Chair in Nursing Excellence and a professor in the department of biobehavioral health sciences at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing was chosen for induction into the International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame by Sigma Theta Tau International.
The STTI Hall of Fame was developed to recognize nurse researchers for their lifetime achievements in and contributions to research and to mentoring future nurse researchers.

“My research team and I are deeply honored to receive this prestigious award. As a nurse researcher, I am grateful to my team, the patients, clinicians, and students who have participated in this journey,” said Dr. Bowles. “I am fortunate to have the leaders and members of Sigma Theta Tau as role models over the last 25 years and I am so thankful for the support and nomination from three highly successful leaders, Dr. Norma Lang, Dean Louise Fitzpatrick and Dr. Penny Feldman, who are inspirational mentors.”
Dr. Bowles’ research career has focused on the use of information technology and health informatics to improve health care for at-risk older adults and support health care providers’ efforts to improve planning and provide transitional care following hospital discharge, thereby reducing hospital readmissions.

Penn Made President Marc M. Camille: Albertus Magnus College

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Marc M. Camille, a University of Pennsylvania alumnus, was appointed president of Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, Connecticut, effective June 30, 2017. Dr. Camille, who holds an EdD in higher education management from Penn, is currently vice president for enrollment management and communications at Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore.

“Dr. Camille’s compelling articulation of his personal connection to our rich history, built upon Catholic values and traditions and grounded in our Dominican charism, resonated deeply with the Search Committee and Board of Trustees,” Jeanne M. Dennison, chair of the College’s Board of Trustees and chair of the Presidential Search Committee, said. “Dr. Camille has demonstrated strong leadership throughout his nearly 28-year career at private and Catholic institutions, merging his commitment to the liberal arts tradition with the discipline of vision and administrative expertise.”

M. Grace Calhoun: NCAA Division I Council

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M. Grace Calhoun, director of athletics and recreation at the University of Pennsylvania, has been appointed to the NCAA Division I Council, a group of 40 members responsible for day-to-day decision making for Division I. The council includes a representative from each of the 32 Division I conferences, four commissioners, two student-athletes and two faculty athletics representatives. Dr. Calhoun’s appointment begins on July 1, 2017 and runs until 2021.

“I am honored to serve as the Ivy League’s representative on the NCAA Division I Council,” Dr. Calhoun said. “There have been very few periods of more rapid change in the college athletics landscape than right now, making this a pivotal time in the strategic leadership of, and policy development for, Division I. I am passionate about the holistic development of young men and women through athletics participation, and am a firm believer that the educational value of college athletics must remain at the forefront of decision-making.”

Dr. Calhoun previously served the NCAA as chair of the Awards, Benefits, Expenses and Financial Aid Cabinet, chair of the Research Committee and vice chair of the Olympic Sport Liaison Committee. In addition, she has been a member of the former Committee on Academic Performance as well as the Track and Field Committee.

Anna Doubeni: Pennsylvania Family Physician of the Year

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Anna Doubeni, an associate professor of clinical family medicine in family medicine and community health at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, was named Family Physician of the Year by the Pennsylvania Academy of Family Physicians (PAFP). Doubeni shares the honor with Mary Fabian, of St. Luke’s University Health Network, as PAFP’s 2017 co-Family Physicians of the Year.

Dr. Doubeni, who also serves as the director of population health management for the department of family medicine and community health, was chosen for her demonstrated commitment to high quality patient care and community engagement, her service as a role model to patients and colleagues and her devotion to making the world a better place as a family physician.

Dr. Doubeni is board certified in both family medicine and general preventive medicine, and her work focuses on addressing the needs of medically and socially disadvantaged patients, as well as tackling access to care and global health issues. Before coming to Penn, she was the associate program director of the preventive medicine residency program at the University of Massachusetts and the coordinator of global health in the UMass department of family medicine and community health.

She is the lead physician for the Penn Family Care home visit program and led the Penn Family Care superutilizer working group’s development of the Priority Access Program, a concierge care service for patients who make frequent visits to the emergency room and are readmitted.


Unsung Women Pioneers at Penn Who Paved the Way for the Future

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The University of Pennsylvania has had an impressive array of accomplished women among the faculty and staff, and honorary degree recipients, some like these, who were the first to teach in their field or get tenure or hold a particular position in the administration. In honor of Women’s History Month, Almanac presents a sample of such stellar and trail-blazing women from the University’s Archives. For more pioneers, see Women at Penn: Timeline of Pioneers and Achievements.


Emily Lovira Gregory (1841-1897): Penn’s first woman faculty member as well as one of the earliest to give instruction at any but a women’s college. She taught school until the age of 35, when she entered Cornell, where she earned a BA in 1881. In 1888, Penn’s department of biology appointed Dr. Gregory to the position of teaching fellow after she had returned from Europe, where she had earned a doctorate in botany at the University of Zurich. After her year at Penn, she was appointed lecturer at Barnard College. There she played an active part in championing the cause of grad students and encouraged lab assistants by paying them out of her own funds. She died at the age of 56, two years after becoming the first woman to win promotion to a full professorship at Barnard.



Sara Yorke Stevenson (1847-1921): She was the first woman to be awarded an honorary degree from Penn (1894) and the first woman to serve as president or chair of the University Museum Board of Managers. She was a founding member of the Archaeological Association of the University of Pennsylvania (1889), curator of the Egyptian and Mediterranean sections of the archaeological department (1890-1905), and prominently associated with raising funds to build the Museum. She was one of seven women to serve Penn as overseers of the Museum. Born in Paris, she lived in France and Mexico before settling in Philadelphia. Author of numerous articles on archaeology, she also wrote a book entitled Maximilian in Mexico (1899), and was literary editor of the Public Ledger. The Trustees granted her the honorary degree of Doctor of Science in recognition of her founding role in the Museum.


Fanny Rysam Mulford Hitchcock (1851-1936) in addition to being the first woman to receive a PhD in chemistry from Penn (1884), was the first Director of Women Students and in 1898 she had an office in Room 102 of College Hall.

Agnes Irwin


Agnes Irwin (1841-1914): At the Commencement held on June 8, 1898, Agnes Irwin became the second woman recipient of an honorary degree at Penn and the first to be celebrated for advancing the cause of women in higher education. The Trustees granted her the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters in recognition of her accomplishments as the founder of a distinguished college preparatory school for women in Philadelphia and from 1894-1909, dean of Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She was the first woman to be awarded the honorary LittD degree at Penn.


M. Kelly

Margaret Majer Kelly (1899-1990): First coach of women’s teams at Penn (and an instructor of physical education for women). In 1921, she organized and trained a women’s basketball team and scheduled the first intercollegiate competitions for women. After only three years at Penn, her achievements brought her well-earned celebrity as the founder of women’s athletics at Penn. She was the mother of actress Grace Kelly.


Jean W. McPherson: Held senior administrative and academic administrator positions at the University Hospital in 1901. Jean W. McPherson combined both functions in a single position, serving simultaneously as superintendent of the Hospital and directress of nurses. As superintendent, she was responsible for one of the largest budgets and largest payrolls on campus; as directress, she was the chief academic officer of the Training School for Nurses. HUP admitted more than 2,600 patients in 1901 and treated another 13,200 on an out-patient basis. She managed annual expenditures of $142,000, which included a payroll of $33,000. No other woman at Penn held an administrative position remotely approaching the authority of the superintendent of the Hospital.

Cecilia Beaux: The first woman to be awarded the honorary LLD degree at Penn.  At the celebration of University Day, held on February 22, 1908, Cecilia Beaux, the celebrated Philadelphia artist, became the fourth woman recipient of an honorary degree at Penn. The Trustees granted her the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws in recognition of her achievements in the field of portraiture.

Louise Hortense Snowden (1864-1931): The first Advisor of Women.The University established the position of Advisor of Women in 1920, the first administrator at Penn responsible for women’s student life. Louise Hortense Snowden, an alumna who had earned a BS in biology with honors in 1898, was named the first Advisor. The editors of Women’s Undergraduate Record for 1921 noted, “The girls feel they have a friend who is their very own.”

Edith Baer: The first woman to serve as an Officer of Instruction in the School of Education and the first woman to be a member of the standing faculty at Penn. The School of Education appointed Edith Baer, who had a bachelor of science degree, to the faculty position of assistant professor of home economics in 1921.

Harriet Jean Crawford: In October 1925, Provost Josiah Penniman named Harriet Jean Crawford the first Directress of Women at Penn. She was a 1902 graduate of Bryn Mawr College and “director of halls” at Vassar College at the time of her appointment at Penn. She agreed to live in Penn’s Sergeant Hall (now demolished) and to direct the women’s Bennett Club, as well as “the activities of women students outside the classroom.”

Anne Bezanson: First woman to join the standing faculty in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. She was also the first woman to earn tenure in that School or in any School of the University and the first to hold a senior professorship at Penn. In March 1921, she helped found the industrial research department of the Wharton School and became its associate director. She served as special lecturer on industrial management for the academic year 1924-1925 and lecturer on industry for the year 1928-1929. In 1929, she earned a PhD from Radcliffe College and was then was appointed to the faculty position of research professor in industry.

Florence Barbara Seibert (1897-1991): She was the first woman to join the standing faculty in the School of Medicine and to earn tenure. The School of Medicine appointed her to the faculty position of assistant professor of biochemistry in the Henry Phipps Institute in 1932. In 1937 she was promoted to associate professor and became the first woman to earn tenure in the School of Medicine. In 1945 the University awarded her an honorary Doctor of Science in recognition of her extraordinary discoveries on the detection and cure of tuberculosis. In 1955 she was promoted to professor of biochemistry, the first woman to hold a senior professorship in the School of Medicine. In 1959 she retired and was appointed Emeritus Professor of Biochemistry in Penn’s Phipps Institute.

Adelaide Thomas Illman: First woman to be awarded tenure in the academic discipline of education and the first woman to hold a senior professorship in that discipline. In 1936 she joined the School of Education as standing faculty in the academic discipline of education.

A. K. Hottel

Althea Kratz Hottel (1908-2000):First woman at Penn to hold the title of Dean. Dr. Hottel was a noted champion of higher education and education for women. At Penn she served as lecturer of sociology, 1936-1959, directress of women from 1936-1943, dean of women 1943-1959 and was a Trustee from 1959-1969. She earned a BS in education in 1929.  As an undergraduate here she was president of the Women’s Student Government Association and during her senior year she was voted by her classmates as most popular, hardest working and best “all-around girl.” She subsequently earned an MA in sociology in 1934 and a PhD in sociology in 1940, both from Penn. In 1936 she became directress of women and after the elimination of that position in 1943 she was named dean of women, becoming the university’s first female dean. Her association with Penn did not end after retirement as she was then elected to the Trustees, only the second woman trustee in Penn’s history. 

Mary Josephine Deubler

Mary Josephine Deubler: First woman to join the standing faculty in the School of Veterinary Medicine. In 1945, the School  appointed her to the position of assistant professor of veterinary pathology. She was also the first woman to earn the VMD degree at Penn, in 1938.

Joyce Michell: First woman to join the standing faculty in the School of Fine Arts, in 1946 as associate professor of music and the first to earn tenure in that School.

Elizabeth Farquhar Flower

Elizabeth (Betty) Farquhar Flower (1929-2001): First woman to join the standing faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences in 1947 (assistant professor of philosophy). In 1956, she was promoted to associate professor and became the first woman to earn tenure in the College of Arts & Sciences. She then was promoted to full professor in 1974. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. audited Dr. Flower’s course on ethics and the history of philosophy while he was enrolled at Crozer Theological Seminary in 1949. Fifteen years later, Dr. King met Dr. Flower again during a one-day seminar.

Virginia R. Park: Second woman to earn tenure at the School of Dental Medicine and the first woman dentist to earn tenure in that School  as associate professor of restorative dentistry in 1942.

Mary Hoskins Easby: First woman to join the standing faculty in the Graduate School of Medicine (assistant professor of cardiology), in 1945.

Dorothy Swaine Thomas (1929-1977): First female professor in The Wharton School (research professor of sociology) in 1948.

Elizabeth Wallace: First woman to serve as an officer of instruction in The Wharton School (1946); she was an instructor in the department of Finance.

T. Lynch

Theresa Inez Lynch: First woman to be appointed an academic dean at Penn, in 1950 (professor of nursing and dean of the School). Prior to this appointment she had held the academic administrator position of directress of nurses at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania since 1942 and had subsequently succeeded Katherine Tucker as director of the department of nursing education in the School of Education.

J. Crockett

Jean A. Crockett: First woman to join the standing faculty of The Wharton School in one of its departments of business education and first woman to earn tenure and the first woman to hold a senior professorship in one of the departments of business education at the Wharton School. The School appointed Dr. Crockett to the faculty position of assistant professor of finance in 1954. In 1959 the School promoted her to associate professor of finance and in 1966 to full professor of finance. She was elected Chair-elect of the Faculty Senate. She was also the first woman to chair the Faculty Senate at Penn and was elected Chair-elect of the Faculty Senate in 1971.

Ruth Elizabeth Smalley (1903-1979): First woman to be appointed dean of School of the Social Work in 1958. She was the second woman to be named an academic dean at Penn.

R. Brownlee

Rebecca Jean Brownlee (1911-1995): First woman to be appointed dean of the College of Liberal Arts for Women. In February 1960, the University appointed Rebecca Jean Brownlee to the academic administrator position of dean of the College of Liberal Arts for Women. She was  the third woman to be named an academic dean at Penn.

Alice (Tish) F. Emerson: Was Penn’s dean of women from 1966-1969 and the first woman at Penn —and the first woman at an Ivy League institution —to be dean of students. As dean of students, she was Penn’s chief student affairs officer and her responsibilities were equivalent to those of the present-day vice provost for University Life. She served the University as dean of students for six years, until she was elected president of Wheaton College in Massachusetts, the first woman president of Wheaton College (1975-1991). In 1975, her final year at Penn, the dean of students was responsible for the management and performance of 12 distinct offices of student affairs at Penn.

Patricia Ann McFate: First woman to hold the position of Vice-Provost at Penn (VPUL). In September 1975, Provost Eliot Stellar appointed Patricia Ann McFate to the senior academic administrator position of vice-provost for Undergraduate Studies and University Life. She was the first woman to hold the position of vice-provost at Penn. The University simultaneously appointed Dr. McFate to the faculty positions of professor of technology and society in the College of Engineering and Applied Science and associate professor of folklore, with a secondary appointment of associate professor of English.

Stanislawa Nowicki: First woman to hold a senior professorship at the School of Fine Arts. The School promoted her from the faculty rank of associate professor to that of professor of architecture in 1958, making her the first woman professor in the School of Fine Arts (now the School of Design).

P. Leboy

Phoebe S. Leboy (1936-2012): First woman to earn tenure at the School of Dental Medicine. The School promoted  Dr. Leboy from assistant professor of biochemistry to associate professor of biochemistry in 1971. In 1976 she was promoted to professor of biochemistry, the first woman to hold a senior professorship at the School of Dental Medicine.

Janis Irene Somerville: First woman to hold the position of secretary of the University and the first woman to serve as one of the Statutory Officers of the University. In September 1977 President Martin Meyerson appointed her to the senior administrative position of secretary of the University. She was the first woman to hold the position of secretary of the University and the first woman to serve as one of the Statutory Officers of the University. Prior to accepting her appointment at Penn, Dr. Somerville had been secretary of the Graduate Record Examinations Board of the Educational Testing Service in Princeton, New Jersey.

Linda Bradley Salamon: First woman to hold the position of director of the Office of the President in 1977.

H. O'Bannon

Helen B. O’Bannon (1939-1988): First person (and first woman) to hold the title of Senior Vice President at Penn (the position was created in 1983).The position of the EVP was created by the President Sheldon Hackney under the title of Senior Vice President. The role of was to be the top administrative assistant to Penn’s  President. The title was changed to EVP in 1992. Ms. O’Bannon was the first woman to hold any vice presidency at the University of Pennsylvania.

Cultures in the Crossfire: Stories from Syria and Iraq

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Cultures in the Crossfire

(At left) Limestone mortuary portrait of a woman, 1st to 2nd centuries BCE, Palmyra, Syria, from the Penn Museum collection, in the new exhibit. (At right) Lost, 2016, Issam Kourbaj. Repurposed clothes dipped in plaster with text in Arabic and Greek. Highlighting the atrocity of refugees from war-torn Syria and Iraq trying to cross the Aegean Sea to reach Lesbos, Greece, the pieces of Lost, including this one, are made from children’s clothing. The text on this piece reads: Unknown Boy, 7 years old, Checked shirt.

Nimrud. Aleppo. Palmyra. Ebla. These ancient sites and many others in Iraq and Syria have found their way to the top of international news today, as the destruction of cultural heritage becomes both a by-product and a tactic of ongoing war throughout the region.

What is really at stake? Why does it matter? What is the human story that accompanies this unprecedented loss? And what is being done to prevent further loss of the material culture, vast human history  and diverse cultural identities in the region of the world long known as the “cradle of civilization”?

Cultures in the Crossfire: Stories From Syria and Iraq, a new special exhibition at the Penn Museum opening April 8, considers these questions. Developed in conjunction with the Museum’s Penn Cultural Heritage Center, the exhibition explores the rich cultural heritage, human diversity and achievements—as well as the movements and displacements of people and objects caught in the crossfire—through more than 50 objects from the Museum’s exceptional Near East and Mediterranean collections, as well as a range of Arabic manuscripts from the University of Pennsylvania Libraries, music and sounds and documentary film clips. Contemporary artwork from Syrian artist Issam Kourbaj, interwoven throughout the exhibition, provides an art intervention—a modern-day response to the artifacts and exhibition themes.

The exhibition puts the spotlight, too, on current work being done by the University of Pennsylvania and the Smithsonian Institution in conjunction with individuals and groups in the Middle East to help combat the loss of irreplaceable cultural heritage. The exhibition runs through November 26, 2018.

An Opening Celebration and a Look at International Law Perspectives

The exhibition opens Saturday, April 8 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 11 a.m. and a special celebration—free with Museum general admission—of Syrian and Iraqi culture, including regional folk music, talks and more.

The Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, in collaboration with the Penn Museum and the Museum’s Penn Cultural Heritage Center, hosts an international, by-invitation-only conference for international experts on The Preservation of Art and Culture in Times of War at the Museum. The keynote panel discussion, New Frontiers in the Protection of Cultural Property, is open to the public Tuesday, April 4, from 5 to 6:30 p.m.

Exploring Identities, Scholarship, Daily Life, and the Movement of People

The exhibition surveys the cultural diversity of the region through the millennia, where Arabs, Kurds, Arameans, Assyrians, Armenians, Circassians, Turkmens, Sunnis, Shias, Druze, Ismailis, Christians, Jews and Yazidis are among the many peoples with unique histories and claims for the preservation of their heritage. The region has rich diversity—and much of the ethnic targeting and cultural heritage destruction has been sectarian in nature. Palmyrene funerary reliefs, a Hebrew tombstone, an eye idol, incantation bowls and a manuscript page from a Qur’an provide tangible evidence of a long history of religious and ethnic diversity in the region.

Unfathomable to many Americans, in the Middle East people go about their daily lives alongside ancient ruins, inhabit cities that date back millennia and value their historic neighborhoods and markets because of their association with the past. Everyday items, some thousands of years old, speak to traditions handed down from generation to generation: a drum, a rattle, a pot, a bowl and a ladle, a lute and a trumpet, a Kurdish doll. These items provide insight into the continuity of household and family life.

The fertile crescent has played a key role in intellectual developments for more than 5,000 years, and the exhibition highlights the development of writing and literature, advances in education, mathematics, astronomy, and medicine, philosophy and the arts. A clay tablet bearing early writing, and ancient cylinder seals and stamps for signing documents, are among the Penn Museum collection objects that tell this story. From the University of Pennsylvania’s Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, a selection of illustrated manuscripts on complex mathematics, botany, medicine and surgery, music theory, astronomy and more, bear witness to the intellectual flourishing in the region.

Long a land of cross-cultural interactions, the region that is now Iraq and Syria has experienced waves of migrations of people and been a trading center throughout history. Gold ornaments, ivories, coins, glass pitchers and containers, and a mosaic panel are among the ancient materials that speak to a long history of cultural interaction, trade, influence and migration under the rule of multiple empires.

A Contemporary Perspective: Through the Art of Issam Kourbaj

Syrian-born artist Issam Kourbaj offers an “art intervention” via stand-alone artworks installed throughout the exhibition. Taken together, the seven works create a space to contemplate the tragic current events in the region. From Strike i, ii, and iii, a series of video installations featuring a performance of burning matchsticks, to Dark Water, Burning World (2016), an installation of boats repurposed from old bikes’ mudguards and inspired by 5th century BCE Syrian boats, to Seed (2016), an installation of a soft children’s toy caught in a hand grinder clamped to a tall stand, with seeds below, Kourbaj’s works reflect upon the human suffering, despair, struggle—and hope—in his native land.

Mr. Kourbaj’s work has been widely exhibited internationally. Sound Palimpsest, a collection of his sketches, inspired in part by the Epic of Gilgamesh and also by language, war and memory, was acquired by the British Museum in 2008. His current traveling installation, Another Day Lost, based on Syrian refugee camps, was exhibited in London, New York City, Dubai, Cambridge, the UK, Budapest and Philadelphia, in 2015 and 2016. He was trained at the Institute of Fine Arts in Damascus, the Repin Institute of Fine Arts in Leningrad (St. Petersburg), and at Wimbledon College of Art (London).

Taking Action

The Museum’s Penn Cultural Heritage Center has been involved in a number of projects over the years, working closely with Syrians and Iraqis to identify, monitor and find ways to preserve cultural heritage of importance to local communities and at risk of destruction. It is not an easy task. Woven throughout the exhibition are stories of some of this work: at Ebla in Syria; at Erbil, and Dohuk in Iraqi Kurdistan; at a mosaic museum in Ma’arra, Syria; and with a refugee community in northern Syria.

Stewardship of Museum collections is another kind of action to preserve cultural heritage; in the gallery adjacent to Cultures in the Crossfire, the Museum reopens its popular In the Artifact Lab conservation exhibition and program with a new name and an expanded focus: The Artifact Lab: Conservation in Action. Beginning April 8, Museum conservators will concentrate on ancient art and artifacts of the Middle East, working on objects in a lab behind glass, with open window times when guests can ask questions several times each day.



Brownlee Lecture: April 3 Drone Imaginaries:The Techno-Politics of Visuality in Postcolony and Empire

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On Monday, April 3, at the Perry World House, from 5-6:30 p.m., the R. Jean Brownlee Lecture will feature Inderpal Grewal, professor of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies; ethnicity, race and migration studies at Yale on Drone Imaginaries.

While much of the debate around drones in the US concerns their use by the military, the power of privatized capital and corporations in this new century suggests that entities other than the state are developing and profiting from these technologies. The consumption and production of these drones raises serious concerns. In the militarization of everyday life, the military and the consumer product are entangled in the politics of visuality and its ability to address the violence of empire and postcolony.

Morris Arboretum in Motion: The Kinetic Sculptures of Lyman Whitaker Opens April 1

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Kinetic Sculpture

Dozens of wind sculptures like the ones shown above are featured in the exhibit, Morris Arboretum in Motion: The Kinetic Sculptures of Lyman Whitaker, which debuts on April 1. Photograph courtesy of Lyman Whitaker.

Morris Arboretum is opening a new exhibit on April 1, Morris Arboretum in Motion: The Kinetic Sculptures of Lyman Whitaker, featuring more than 50 kinetic wind sculptures that will be on display in the garden through Columbus Day, October 9.

At the grand opening celebration on Saturday, April 1, from 1-3 p.m., Arboretum visitors will have the opportunity to meet Mr.Whitaker and watch as he creates a sculpture with the help of W. B. Saul High School students. The sculpture will be donated to a local nonprofit organization.

At 11 a.m. that day, visitors may experience a live performance of the “The Morris Arboretum Suite,” eight musical compositions created specifically for the Arboretum’s Creative Expressions online and mobile tour. Composer and musician Nicholas Escobar, a Penn junior, will play the keyboard accompanied by a seven-piece string ensemble of Penn student musicians. The group will also play “St. Catherine’s Hill,” a classical piece Mr. Escobar composed for the Landscape / Soundscape exhibit at the Arthur Ross Gallery.

Lyman Whitaker is an American artist working in southern Utah who has been a working sculptor for more than 40 years. Since the early 1980s, Mr. Whitaker has focused on kinetic art, creating “Wind Sculptures”—artworks driven by the wind. His constructs are organic in nature and dependent upon their natural surroundings to provide their movement. They are also intended to make observers think about their surroundings and their own relationship to nature. His compositions are all hand-crafted in his studio. They range in height from 5-27 feet tall and can be installed alone, in small groupings, or in Wind Forests. The kinetic shapes are bold and distinctive, and are fabricated from copper, steel and stainless steel that provide beauty and strength.

All sculptures are available for purchase through Leopold Gallery and 25% of all sales will benefit Morris Arboretum.

This exhibit is supported in part by the Madeline K. Butcher Fine Arts Endowment. For more information, visit the website.

Penn’s 30x30 Challenge

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Now that springtime is here, it’s time to get back outside. Join Penn's 30x30 Challenge and challenge yourself to spend at least 30 minutes outdoors each day during the month of April. 

As you may know, the 30x30 Challenge is an effort to encourage the Penn community to get outside, learn about local ecology, and appreciate the beauty of nature. The Challenge is open to all Penn faculty, staff and for the first time—students. It runs from April 1 to April 30. Register and participate here. Sign up ends March 31.

Optional group activities will be scheduled throughout the month, such as:

Monday, April 3, noon-1 p.m.: Kick-off Picnic on College Green, near the Peace Sign sculpture. Come picnic, bring your lunch and meet other 30x30 participants. Light snacks will be served!

Thursday, April 6, noon-1 p.m.: Schuylkill River Trail Walk, a 1.5 mile walk along the Schuylkill; meet in front of the Penn Museum. Pocket Naturalist Guides will be handed out; try to identify local trees, flowers or birds. Rain or Shine. RSVP.

There will also be food and giveaways at some of the other events.

By participating, you have the chance to win a hand-painted S'well water bottle for: signing up for the most events or taking the best pictures on Instagram—use #Penn30x30Challenge or tag @pennsustainability.

The 30 x 30 Challenge is sponsored by Human Resources, Campus Health Service, Penn Rec and Penn Sustainability. For more information, email


Weekly Crime Reports

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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 March 13-19, 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 March 13-19, 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.

3/14/20171:04AM51 N 39th StAssaultOffender struck complainant in the face/Arrest
3/14/20172:57 PM3604 Chestnut StAssaultOffender struck complainant in the face/Arrest
3/14/20173:23 PM3819 Walnut StTheftSecured bike taken
3/14/20178:01 AM51 N 39th StTheftWallet taken from counter
3/15/20174:37 PM3925 Walnut StTheftMerchandise taken without payment/Arrest
3/17/20172:30 PM3701 Chestnut StFraudUnauthorized transaction on debit card
3/18/20173:22 AM4100 Walnut StDUIIntoxicated driver arrested
3/18/201711:11 AM4108 Spruce StFraudBad check received
3/19/201712:26 PM3817 Walnut StTheftFrame taken from living room
3/19/20173:37 PM4007 Baltimore Ave.TheftJacket and phone taken from residence

18th District Report

Below are the Crimes Against Persons from the 18th District: 5 incident with 1 arrest (1 assault) were reported between March 13-19, 2017 by the 18th District covering the Schuylkill River to 49th Street & Market Street to Woodland Avenue.

3/13/20176:28 PM4500 Walnut StRobbery
3/14/20173:27 PM3604 Chestnut StAssault/Arrest
3/16/20177:42 PM47th & ChestnutRobbery
3/17/20175:51 PM46th & ChestnutRobbery
3/19/20174:59 PM4800 Yocum StAggravated Assault

Talk About Teaching & Learning

License to Fail

  • March 28, 2017
  • vol 63 issue 28
  • Talk About Teaching & Learning
  • print

by Jim English

Most teachers who are serious about their work do a lot of experimenting. They invent new courses, change up the authors, texts or media on their syllabi, test out different pedagogical methods and platforms, link up with diverse collaborators and co-teachers, or even shift over to a completely new field or discipline. Any notion of having already and forever mastered the mysteries of the classroom, so that one need only repeat oneself to succeed, is unlikely to survive the actual dynamics of higher education, which demand a lot of adjustment and adaptation. But while our work encourages experimentalism, any genuine experiment is by definition uncertain in its outcome and susceptible to failure. Fortunately, most of us find this condition more liberating than stressful. Experimenting releases us from the oppressive ideal of mastery and grants us license to fail.

My own experiments, and concomitant failures, go back a long way. When I first started at Penn 30 years ago I was responsible for teaching a general survey of 20th-century literature every autumn. Tackling this course for the second or third time, around 1990, it already felt stale. I redesigned it to incorporate music videos, a rapidly emergent and arguably “literary” form. What I hadn’t reckoned on was the difficulty of obtaining the specific videos I planned on using. I had to rig up a video cassette recorder with a long-playing VHS tape, leave it running all day to record six or eight hours of MTV programming, then rewind and spend my entire evening watching the tape on fast-forward, looking for the videos I needed and copying them onto fresh VHS tapes, one for classroom use and another for student reserve. It was a maddeningly slow and dubious process that yielded wretched video quality. I still recall the frustration of viewing 15-20 hours of MTV on fast forward in search of the “Cult of Personality” video by Living Colour, only to give up in the end and rush together a lecture on Billy Idol’s “Rock the Cradle of Love,” a slickly produced video that was running hourly in the primetime rotation but was only marginally relevant to the concerns of the course. The students were frustrated as well. A number of them wanted to write essays about videos other than the ones we studied in class, but were discouraged by all the technical rigmarole of recording, capturing and copying.

A failed experiment, then, at least in some ways—and one that anticipated my struggles two decades later with a class on the audiobook. Once again the course was a basic survey (The British Novel Since 1900) that I had taught before and wanted to shake up by introducing a new literary medium. Audiobooks had been helping me maintain sanity as an I-95 commuter for years, transforming the dull hours of driving between Princeton and Philadelphia into an extra novel per week. And with the rise of mp3 technology and the smartphone, the old “talking books” were suddenly the fastest-growing segment of the publishing industry, spreading more rapidly even than e-books.

The course I designed covered the same British novels I had taught just one year before, proceeding from Conrad’s Lord Jim (1903) to David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas (2005). The experiment, as declared at the top of the syllabus, would be to do it with “no reading allowed.” We would not only study the novels by listening to unabridged recordings downloaded from Audible, but we would rely on the audio format for nearly every aspect of the class, with no recourse to printed text for help with preparation, discussion, or written work. Indeed, “written work” in this context meant students’ recordings of their own essay-performances, submitted, revised and resubmitted as digital sound files.

My students and I soon realized that, even though the mp3 is a digital format, for classroom purposes it can be just as clunky a technology as the VHS tape. In an English course, quotation is an essential tool; close scrutiny of specific words, phrases and short passages is our bedrock practice, providing the evidentiary basis for nearly all good arguments about literature. In an ordinary class my students and I all have a book in our hands, with key words or passages indicated by earmarks, sticky-notes, highlighting, marginal scribblings or other ready and familiar means. Page numbering lets us all quickly focus on the same passage. The shift to audio disabled all these standard features of the book. Our playback app contained no search function and no provision for bookmarking. Even if we kept track of the exact hours, minutes and seconds corresponding to a passage, it was no easy matter to manipulate a timeline scrubber to land on that precise moment. To cope with these disadvantages each of us had to extract and edit any sound clips we might want to discuss, label them according to agreed naming conventions and place them in a shared folder prior to class. Of course, after doing all that advance work, we would inevitably find our discussion leading to some passage in the novel that none of us had thought to upload.

Both of these classes were at times pretty shambolic, more like collective trouble-shooting and gripe sessions than proper teaching. Such has been the fate of many of my pedagogical experiments. In a recent class on Empirical Methods in Literary Studies we attempted as a kind of side project to learn the programming language R, an overambitious task that soon had me floundering to the point where students spent a good chunk of their learning time helping their professor get up to speed. In a class last semester on the National Book Awards, we devoted half our time each week to a “literary research lab” where student teams gathered and refined data about the system of status and reward in contemporary literature. Among other lab projects we attempted to predict the winner of the 2016 NBA by feeding our data through a computer algorithm. Developed at McGill, the algorithm appeared to work well for Canadian prizes, but it didn’t work for us. Worse, the data that emerged from our lab proved in the end too spotty to support the kind of empirical claims we had hoped to make.

And yet, messy and muddled though they were, I think these classes were productive. Confronting the limitations of our hard-won data about literary prizes and prestige helped us to think more clearly about forms of evidence and levels of argument in our discipline. The struggle to extract particular music videos from hours of tape raised for us an important argument made by the cultural theorist Raymond Williams, that when literary scholars study television they need to break their habit of close-reading individual texts and focus more attention on the general stream or “flow” of programming. Grappling with audiobooks taught us much about the unique affordances of the codex and the significant challenges of superseding it even in the digital age; as my colleague Peter Stallybrass has stressed, the audio or video recording is essentially a scroll, a primitive technology in comparison with the printed book.

It may even be the case that students learn more from participating in these kinds of failed experiments than they do from sure-fire standard classes. Learning is bound up with failure, after all. And equally with pleasure. For many of us, teachers and students alike, there is considerable pleasure to be had in trying out something new, embarking on a collective enterprise of discovery with no guarantee of success.

Jim English is the John Welsh Centennial Professor of English and
director of the Penn Humanities Forum and the Price Lab for Digital

This essay continues the series that began in the fall of 1994 as the joint creation of the
 College of Arts and Sciences, the Center for Teaching and Learning and the Lindback Society for Distinguished Teaching.
See previous essays.