News

Welcome Back From the President

  • September 5, 2017
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Amy Gutmann

Amy Gutmann

New Paths

Welcome back! 

Whether you journeyed far or stayed near at hand this summer, the start of the academic year is a wonderful opportunity to set off on new paths of exploration and discovery. One simple way to do so is right here. In our busy lives we all fall prey to our routines and can too easily lose sight of the splendors that surround us. We often talk about how the Penn campus is a fine jewel in an urban setting, but this past spring its unique qualities were formally recognized when The ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program certified Penn’s West Philadelphia campus as an accredited Level I arboretum. On these nearly 300 acres there are 10 specialty gardens, five parks, and a thriving urban forest of more than 6,500 trees with over 240 species of trees and shrubs—all superbly maintained to the highest professional standards. 

Our beautiful setting is truly one of the joys of being at Penn—a place where straying from routine pathways can lead you to the majesty of the Penn Treaty elm, the quiet of woodland oasis of the Biopond or the ancient splendors of ferns, redwoods and maidenhair trees that frame rock specimens spanning 500 million years in the Geology Garden. At the beginning of this new academic year, I salute the hard-working members of Penn’s Facilities and Real Estate Services who spearheaded the arboretum certification effort, and the astonishingly rich and inviting landscape they maintain throughout the year to the benefit of us all.

Amidst all this natural beauty the built environment is no less impressive or important here at Penn, and this fall we celebrate in particular the much-awaited return of Hill College House, which had been closed for major renovations since June of last year. The only Philadelphia work of famed modernist architect and designer Eero Saarinen, the building’s design in 1958 in many ways looked forward to the needs and study habits of students today, focusing on a breathtaking central atrium and a wide variety of communal spaces which have been renovated to include study rooms, lounges, music practice rooms, and even a project innovation room. Generations of Penn students have forged lifetime bonds from learning and living together at Hill College House, and we are especially pleased to see it reopen to complement the adjacent New College House that opened last year. Together, they foster a vibrant and inclusive community at the northeast gateway to our campus. 

Another restoration of a more solemn nature also occurred this past spring just four miles east of campus at the Christ Church Burial Ground on North 5th Street. For more than 225 years the final resting place of our founder Ben Franklin, the simple marble grave marker—a plain ledger tablet with the names Benjamin and Deborah Franklin and the year 1790—had cracked and warped over the years and was in danger of splitting in half. A GoFundMe campaign that garnered donations from Penn, the Philadelphia Eagles, rock star Jon Bon Jovi and many others supported a 45-day restoration effort led by PennDesign graduates that combined artistry with engineering know-how to repair, restore, and protect one of Philadelphia’s most important historic sites for future generations. 

It is these ties to Ben Franklin and our nation’s scientific and intellectual roots coupled with the serene beauty of our parklike setting that make the Penn campus feel like a sanctified space. For us, the scenes of grotesque violence on and near another great American university campus in Charlottesville this past month resonated all the more deeply. As I said at the time, the racism, anti-Semitism, and other bigotry expressed by the neo-Nazi, KKK and other white supremacist groups that demonstrated in Charlottesville are deeply abhorrent and call for universal condemnation. The hatred espoused is inimical to any decent society and anathema to the most fundamental ideals of our University. At the beginning of this new academic year we celebrate a campus that is indeed beautiful and reaffirm our commitment to fostering a culture on it that is open, intellectually vibrant, inclusive and extends a warm welcome to all.  

Gutmann signature

Harold Dibble: Johnston Chair

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Harold Dibble

Harold Dibble

Steven J. Fluharty, dean of Penn Arts and Sciences, named Harold L. Dibble, professor of anthropology and curator-in-charge of European archaeology in the Penn Museum, the Francis E. Johnston Endowed Term Professor.  

Dr. Dibble studies the origins and evolution of human culture and cognition in the Near East, North Africa, and Western Europe during the Paleolithic era. He serves as the director of Paleolithic excavations at Pech de l’Azé IV and La Ferrassie, both in France, and is the director of the Laboratory for the Study of Ancient Technology at Penn. Dr. Dibble is a recipient of the Society for American Archaeology’s 2014 Award for Excellence in Archaeological Analysis and was a 2015 Fellow of the Center for Archaeological Science, University of Wollongong, Australia. 

His recent books include Excavations at Pech de l’Azé IV, currently in press; Préhistoire de la Région de Rabat-Témara, The Cave of Fontéchevade, and Handbook of Paleolithic Typology, all of which he co-authored.  

Dr. Dibble has chaired the Penn Museum Laboratory Committee and the Penn Arts and Sciences Committee on Undergraduate Academic Standing, and has served as a member of the School’s Personnel Committee.

This chair was created through the bequest of G. Frederick Roll, W’34 and is named in honor of Francis E. Johnston, a biological anthropologist and an emeritus professor of anthropology at the University. Dr. Johnston, who completed his PhD at Penn in 1962, has been teaching in the department of anthropology for more than three decades and served as department chair from 1982 to 1994. He also founded the Netter Center for Community Partnerships’ Urban Nutrition Initiative (UNI), a project which has helped to improve community nutrition and wellness in West Philadelphia. It is now known as the Agatston Urban Nutrition Initiative.

A Message to the Penn Community Concerning Hurricane Harvey

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We are shocked and saddened, as we begin a new academic year, by the tragic events unfolding in Texas and Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. We extend our deepest sympathies to those who are suffering in this calamity and will be struggling to rebuild their lives in the months ahead.

We know that many of you are directly affected by this disaster or would like to help those in the midst of it. We have identified more than 600 students who are residents of the impacted areas; we expect this number to grow as the storm widens its path of destruction. Our Schools have been reaching out directly to these students with plans for support. The outstanding team in Student Intervention Services (SIS) is coordinating as needed with faculty, Student Financial Services, Risk Management, and other key resources.

If you are a student who is directly affected by these events—whether here on campus or unable to make it back to campus—and you need someone who will work with you, please contact SIS at (215) 898-6081.

We also urge you to take full advantage of the support available to you across campus:

  • Office of the Chaplain: (215) 898-8456
  • Student Health Service: (215) 746-3535
  • Student Financial Services: (215) 898-1988
  • Office of the VPUL: (215) 898-6081
  • CAPS: (215) 898-7021
  • University HELP Line: (215) 898-HELP 

We encourage members of the Penn community to work with a charitable organization of their choosing. Organizations currently on the ground in Houston include: the Red Cross, the Houston Food Bank, and the SAVE Rescue Coalition

Please keep those who have been affected by this catastrophe and those who are assisting them in your thoughts and prayers.

Lisa Servon: Chair of the Department of City and Regional Planning at PennDesign

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Lisa Servon

Lisa Servon

Lisa Servon, a widely published expert on economic insecurity, consumer financial services, and financial justice, has been appointed chair of the department of city and regional planning at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design for a five-year term effective July 1. Dr. Servon succeeds Professor John Landis, a distinguished educator who helped maintain the department’s standing as one of the leading programs in the country.

“A passionate and dedicated scholar, John has been instrumental in securing research funding, developing innovative programs and concentrations, and assembling an outstanding faculty,” said Frederick Steiner, dean and Paley Professor at PennDesign. He continued, “I’m confident that Lisa will extend the department’s relevance and its reach.”

“Our cities account for more and more of the world’s population, but are we doing enough to make them places where you want to live, and everyone can succeed?” said Dr. Servon. “That’s where our graduates come in.”

Prior to joining the PennDesign faculty in 2016, Dr. Servon was professor of management and urban policy at The New School, where she also served as Dean of the Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy. She conducts research in the areas of urban poverty, community development, economic development, and issues of gender and race. She is also a member of the Consumer Advisory Board at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Along with Dr. Landis, Dr. Servon serves on the Diversity Work Group at PennDesign to advise Dean Steiner on strategies and initiatives to increase the diversity of the School’s faculty, staff, and students, promote a more inclusive community, and foster a learning environment that encourages and celebrates difference. With Dan Reyes, a student in the city and regional planning department, she launched PennDesign Social Justice, a voluntary network for political awareness and engagement at the School. She teaches Introduction to Community & Economic Development and the Community Development Practicum.

Lisa Servon is the author of The Unbanking of America: How the New Middle Class Survives (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017), Bridging the Digital Divide: Technology, Community, and Public Policy (Blackwell 2002), Bootstrap Capital: Microenterprises and the American Poor (Brookings, 1999), Gender and Planning: A Reader (with Susan Fainstein, Rutgers University Press, 2005), and Otra Vida es Posible: Practicas Economicas Alternativas Durante la Crisis (with Manuel Castells, Joana Conill, Amalia Cardenas and Sviatlana Hlebik, UOC Press, 2012). She has contributed to the New Yorker, the Atlantic, and The Wall Street Journal and has appeared on PBS News Hour, Marketplace Money, Fresh Air and Radio Times and her research is featured in the documentary Spent: Looking for Change. Dr. Servon holds a BA in political science from Bryn Mawr College, an MA in history of art from the University of Pennsylvania, and a PhD in urban planning from UC Berkeley. 

Ricardo Teles: Department of Periodontics Chair at Penn Dental Medicine

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Ricardo Teles

Ricardo Teles

Following an extensive search for the post in the school’s department of periodontics, Penn Dental Medicine recently welcomed Ricardo Teles to the school’s faculty as professor and chairman of the department of periodontics. His appointment was effective August 15. 

“We are excited to have Ricardo leading our department of periodontics,” says Morton Amsterdam Dean Denis Kinane. “He has the vision from both a clinical and research perspective to ensure Penn periodontics continues to excel.”

Dr. Teles came to Penn Dental Medicine from the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry, where he served as OraPharma Distinguished Professor in the department of periodontology since 2014 and vice chair of the department since 2015. Part of The Forsyth Institute since 2003, Dr. Teles most recently served as senior research investigator (2014-2017) in the department of applied oral sciences within the Center for Periodontology. From 2010-2014, Dr. Teles also held the appointment of associate director of Forsyth’s Center for Clinical and Translational Research and served as the Center’s director from 2009-2010. Since 2003, he was also a clinical instructor in periodontics at Harvard School of Dental Medicine.  

A native of Brazil, Dr. Teles earned his DDS (1988) at Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil. Dr. Teles holds a DMSc (oral biology, 1996) and a certificate in periodontology (1996) from Harvard School of Dental Medicine. Dr. Teles is board certified in periodontology and dental implant surgery.

The overarching focus of Dr. Teles’ research is on the cause and treatment of periodontal diseases. Dr. Teles has been the principal investigator and co-investigator on many NIH-funded clinical trials focusing on the etiology and pathogenesis of periodontal diseases and the clinical and biological effects of periodontal therapies. The Teles lab also conducts bench research focusing on the interplay between subgingival polymicrobial biofilms and mediators of the immuno-inflammatory host response. In addition, his lab has developed sophisticated in vitro and ex vivo biofilm models to examine the susceptibility of these structures to antimicrobial agents.

Janemarie Schultz:  Chief Financial Officer at Penn Dental Medicine

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Janemarie Schultz

Janemarie Schultz

Janemarie Schultz joined Penn Dental Medicine as chief financial officer. Her appointment was effective July 10. 

In this position, Ms. Schultz has senior managerial and fiduciary responsibilities for University and School policy, as well as the areas of financial strategy, fiscal operations, patient revenue and grants management.  

Ms. Schultz came to Penn Dental Medicine with 25 years of industry experience in healthcare finance. Most recently, she held a position within the Healthcare Provider Practice at Deloitte Consulting, where her assigned engagements included Deloitte Global Services, mergers and acquisitions, business model transformation, and provider services. 

Prior to her time with Deloitte, she served as chief financial officer for Radiology Affiliates Imaging, a large medical practice in Hamilton, New Jersey. During her eight-year tenure with the practice, Ms. Schultz had oversight of all financial functions, designing and implementing financial systems and controls to support operational and financial strategies and existing operations. 

Ms. Schultz brings extensive experience in understanding of the “provider experience” and in streamlining workflows both financially and operationally. Previous roles included management of corporate real estate, billing and strategic growth through acquisition and joint venture, and new business development.  

She holds an accounting degree from Lycoming College and earned an MBA in corporate financial management at St. Joseph’s University.  

Ruth Sutton: Director of Advancement at Penn Libraries

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Ruth Sutton

Ruth Sutton

The Penn Libraries announce that Ruth Sutton joined its staff as the new director of advancement. In this position, she will be responsible for overseeing the Penn Libraries’ fundraising activities, board relations, internal and external communications and alumni relations. Ms. Sutton will manage an advancement team made up of two gift officer positions, two communication professionals and a research and administrative officer.

Ms. Sutton came to the Penn Libraries after three years at the Wharton School in the International Relations Program where she made a significant impact in her region (Southeast Asia). She holds an LLB in law from Newcastle University and also attended Cass Business School, at City, University in London where she studied charity marketing and fundraising. Before Wharton, she was a major gifts officer at the London School of Economics.  

Governance

Faculty Senate Executive Committee Agenda

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From the Senate Office

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 senate@pobox.upenn.edu

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

3-5 p.m.

Glandt Forum, Singh Nanotechnology Center

  1. Welcome and introductions (5 minutes)
  2. Approval of the Minutes of May 10, 2017 (1 minute)
  3. Chair’s Report (5 minutes)
  4. Past-Chair’s Report on Academic Planning & Budget, Capital Council, Trustees, and Campaign for Community (5 minutes)
    Applications are being accepted now at Campaign for Community.
  5. Faculty Award of Merit nominations (1 minute)
  6. Update from the Office of the General Counsel
    Discussion with Senior Vice President & General Counsel Wendy White (15 minutes)
  7. Discussion and vote on the draft Committee Charges for 2017-2018 Committees (15 minutes)
  8. Knowledge Teach-In planning for week of March 19, 2018 (30 minutes)
  9. Discussion and recommendations for SEC’s agenda for 2017-2018 (15 minutes)
  10. New Business (5 minutes)

University Council Meeting Agenda

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Wednesday, September 6, 2017, 4 p.m.

Bodek Lounge, Houston Hall

I.               Appointment of a Moderator. (1 minute)

II.              Announcement of appointment of a Parliamentarian. (1 minute) 

III.            Approval of the minutes of April 19, 2017. (1 minute) 

IV.            Follow-up comments or questions on Status Reports. (5 minutes) 

V.              Presentation and scheduling of Focus Issues for University Council for the academic year. (5 minutes)

VI.            Presentation of the Council Committee Charges. (10 minutes)

VII.           Announcement of Open Forum sessions. (5 minutes)

VIII.           Presentation and discussion on Penn’s Year of Innovation. (15 minutes) 

IX.            Adjournment.

Policies

OF RECORD: Revision to Academic Rules for PhD and Research Master’s Degrees

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The Graduate Council of the Faculties, in consultation with the Council of Graduate Deans, has updated the University’s policy about the composition of dissertation committees, effective June 2017. The revised language is intended to clarify University rules about who can serve on a PhD student’s dissertation committee. The new policy has been published in the Pennbook online.
 

—Beth A. Winkelstein, Vice Provost for Education 

Dissertation Committee Composition and Meetings

Upon advancement to candidacy, each student has a Dissertation Committee consisting of at least three faculty members (including at least two members of the graduate group). At least half of the members of the Dissertation Committee must be members of the graduate group at the time of appointment to the committee. Faculty who are not members of the graduate group may serve only with the written approval of the graduate group. The authority to approve membership on committees may be delegated to the graduate chair. A graduate group may establish additional requirements, such as a requirement for outside reviewers on the Dissertation Committee. 

The Chair of the Dissertation Committee must be a member of the Standing Faculty in the graduate group. If the Chair of a Dissertation Committee leaves the Standing Faculty before the dissertation is completed, then a new chair from the Standing Faculty in the Graduate Group must be appointed as chair. The Dissertation Committee chair is responsible for convening committee meetings, advising the student on graduate group and university expectations, and assuring the graduate group chair that the group’s requirements have been met. The Dissertation Supervisor may serve as Chair of the Dissertation Committee, but is not required to do so. 

The Dissertation Supervisor is the person primarily responsible for overseeing the student’s dissertation research. A student may have both a Dissertation Supervisor and a Dissertation Co-Supervisor, or two Dissertation Co-Supervisors, if that responsibility is shared equally.

Dissertation Supervisors, and Dissertation Co-Supervisors, must be members of the Standing Faculty at Penn, with special approved exceptions. A member of the Associated Faculty (such as Research Faculty or Adjunct Faculty) may be permitted to serve as a Dissertation Supervisor with prior approval of the Vice Provost for Education on a case by case basis. The Graduate Group Chair may petition the Vice Provost for Education, in advance, for an exception. In such cases, a member of the Standing Faculty in the graduate group must be appointed as the Dissertation Committee Chair.  

Questions about the policy may be sent to provost-ed@upenn.edu.

Honors

Vijay Bhoj, Kara Maxwell and Elizabeth Grice: Burroughs Wellcome Fund Awards

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The Burroughs Wellcome Fund has awarded a total of $1.9 million in grants to three University of Pennsylvania researchers. Vijay Bhoj and Kara Maxwell were both awarded the Fund’s 2017 Career Awards for Medical Scientists, while Penn Medicine dermatology expert Elizabeth A. Grice is the recipient of the 2017 Investigators in the Pathogenesis of Infection Disease Award.

Vijay Bhoj

Vijay Bhoj

Dr. Bhoj, a Blood Bank/Transfusion Clinical Fellow at Penn, and Dr. Maxwell an instructor in the division of hematology-oncology, are among 12 physicians who will each receive a five-year, $700,000 grant. Dr. Bhoj’s grant will fund his research on the development of CAR T-cell immunotherapy for the prevention and eradication of FVIII inhibitors in Hemophilia A.

Kara Maxwell

Kara Maxwell

Dr. Maxwell, whose work focuses on care and research for patients with hereditary cancers, will use the grant to fund her study of tumors from patients with inherited mutations in DNA repair genes, with a specific focus on the genetic makeup of those tumors and how those genes may affect response to targeted therapies.

Elizabeth Grice

Elizabeth Grice

Dr. Grice, an assistant professor of dermatology in the Perelman School of Medicine, was chosen for the five-year, $500,000 award for her research proposal on skin microbiome functions in colonization resistance to pathogens. She is one of 12 recipients.

Dr. Grice, whose lab uses an interdisciplinary approach to understand how microbial communities coexist and interact with the skin of their host in health and disease, will use the award to further investigate how microbial communities colonizing healthy skin are protective against colonization and/or infection by pathogenic microorganisms such as Staphylococcus aureus. 

Amy Gutmann and David Cohen: US Semiquincentennial Commission

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Amy Gutmann

Amy Gutmann

David Cohen

David Cohen

Penn President Amy Gutmann and David L. Cohen, chair of the University’s Board of Trustees and senior executive vice president of Comcast Corporation, were recently named to the United States Semiquincentennial Commission, which will plan for the 250th anniversary in 2026 of American independence.

“By law, the Commission will convene its meetings at Independence Hall in Philadelphia,” according to USA250, the Pennsylvania-based nonprofit planning for the United States Semiquincentennial. “Its recommendations will give special emphasis to locations of historical significance to the United States, to individuals who have made a significant impact on the nation’s development, and to the ideas that have advanced the ‘quest for freedom of all mankind.’”

Kang Ko: Mentored Clinical Scientist Research Career Development Award

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Kang Ko

Kang Ko

Kang Ko, D’ 15, a resident in Penn Dental Medicine’s combined periodontics and Doctor of Science in Dentistry (DScD) program, received the Mentored Clinical Scientist Research Career Development Award (Parent-K08) from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR). The Parent-K08 grant will provide support for his research activities throughout his five-year postdoctoral program.

Dr. Ko is conducting research under the mentorship of Dana Graves, vice dean for research & scholarship and professor in the department of periodontics. Dr. Ko is currently investigating the effect of diabetes on mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) during hard and soft tissue wound healing. Dr. Ko’s research with Dr. Graves has three goals—to establish the important role of intrinsic NF-κB in regulating the number and function of MSCs during fracture and gingival wound healing under diabetic conditions; to investigate whether diabetes alters the regulation of genes associated with delayed healing and determine if this is reversed by inhibiting NF-κB activation in MSCs; and to determine whether NF-κB inhibitor is a novel treatment for diabetic fracture and gingival wound healing by improving MSC activities.

Features

Convocation 2017

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On Monday, August 28, the University of Pennsylvania’s Class of 2021 Convocation was held under the summer sky on Blanche Levy Park in front of College Hall. President Amy Gutmann accepted the baton—symbolizing the Class of 2021—from Dean of Admissions Eric Furda. Below are President Gutmann’s remarks to the more than 2,600 incoming students, including freshmen and transfers. On page 5 are Provost Wendell Pritchett’s remarks to the students, his first as Penn’s Provost.

What Penn Stands For

Amy Gutmann

Members of the Class of 2021: Welcome to Penn!

Transfer Students: Great call!

You come from all 50 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico. From across Pennsylvania and here in Philadelphia. From New York to California. And from Maine to Florida and to Texas, where everyone in the path of Hurricane Harvey is in our thoughts and prayers. 

You come from 69 other countries around the world. From Canada and Mexico, Argentina and Brazil, Egypt and Poland, China, India, and the United Kingdom.

Dean Furda told me we had also expected two students from Westeros, but they had to cancel at the last minute. Something about problems in the North.

But I am thrilled all of you are here! And ‘here’ is a very special place. By great tradition, we inaugurate your journey here on College Green and Locust Walk. 

When you walk through this heart of our campus, you see our LOVE statue, which symbolizes what we stand for. We stand for Love, not Hate; Inclusion, not Exclusion; Compassion, not Contempt; Empathy, not Antipathy; Understanding, not Ignorance, and the Elevation, not the Degradation, of the Human Mind and Spirit.

We also stand for ideas freely expressed, so long as they are peacefully expressed.

Inclusion and the free exchange of ideas are foundational to innovative teaching and research, and also to democracy.

Before this became Locust Walk and the setting for our LOVE statue, it was once a city street. The cars are long gone now, but Locust Walk remains a vital thoroughfare for a different sort of traffic. 

It is a superhighway for ideas, many of which will be unfamiliar to you. They will be creative, uplifting, and challenging. 

You will have to overcome the discomfort of stepping out into new territory. Map makers of old feared it. They labeled it terra incognita—the land unknown. 

That was back when people viewed the world as flat, and I’m not talking flatscreens like the ones throughout our new Hill House. Can I get a shout out from all the Hill House residents! 

Terra incognita takes on a different meaning at Penn—here, we’re talking minds, not maps. When introduced to strange new ideas, human beings tend to become fearful. We draw dragons at the edge of what is known. That’s because new ideas force us from our comfort zones, to discover more. 

You join a community dedicated to the energizing possibility of more: More discovery. More innovation. And yes, more coffee—always of great importance to university work!

Properly caffeinated—oh, I meant properly motivated—you will energetically shake off what you think you know. You will discover truths about yourself and the wider world that you could not have imagined before. And you’ll be in excellent company. 

A few years ago, we established two unique student prizes, unparalleled in higher education. These prizes award graduating seniors the opportunity of a lifetime to bring their original society-improving ideas to life. 

They are called the President’s Engagement Prize and the President’s Innovation Prize. 

As I reviewed one team’s proposal from last year, I was moved to tears of joy. Their project is called Lanzando Líderes, or Launching Leaders, and it partners with local Latinx immigrant communities, removing roadblocks to success, especially for young bilingual and bicultural students.

Members of this team were the first in their families to graduate college. One out of eight of your class also will be, like them, their mentor Dean Toni Villarruel and me, a first-generation college graduate. Can I get a big hand for our first-gen students here today? 

The founders of Launching Leaders call their mission pursuing el camino, the pathway. It is just one example of many amazing Penn-propelled projects that venture into uncharted territory. They all build on independent research and interdisciplinary studies that you too are about to pursue. Penn students explore unknown territory to enrich their knowledge—and improve our world.

Some recent news out of Penn perfectly illustrates the power of new ideas. Just weeks ago, a new medical era dawned. 

An expert panel unanimously approved what soon will be the first ever FDA approval of a gene therapy treatment for cancer. 

When Penn faculty first proposed that our own immune systems might be directed to destroy cancer cells, they were met with skepticism. But Penn pioneers in immunotherapy persisted and we supported their work. Turns out, as the world now knows, they were right. 

Employing Carl June’s path-breaking research, great doctors and nurses at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and our Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania have saved many lives, including that of Emily Whitehead. Let me quickly tell you Emily’s story.

When most of you were in middle-school, about six years ago, Emily was six years old and had acute lymphoblastic leukemia. 

As her parents knew, she was days away from dying. Thanks to this revolutionary new treatment, Emily is now a vibrant, cancer-free 12-year-old middle-schooler like you were back then.

Saving Emily’s life was a highly collaborative effort, which began by ensuring that a new and then unpopular idea got a fair shot at being considered. That’s how discoveries are made, innovations are born, and sometimes lives are saved.

As with all things worth doing in life, there’s a secret to discovering and innovating well. I will share it with you now. To make the absolute most of your time at Penn, you must make it your business to engage with the spectacularly diverse community around you. 

Engaging with the richness of perspective and experience that surrounds you is key to making great leaps of discovery and innovation. And it begins quite simply. 

First, we’ve got to turn off Netflix. (Yes, I know; I’m a binge watcher, too!) 

Actually, we start with the touch of humanity—an extended hand, a shared smile. We feel connection, empathy, and we begin to understand the experiences and outlooks of others. We learn new things, together. From there, our efforts can spread to our communities, countries, and world.

Now, I realize that may be a lot to ask during your first week on campus when finding all your classes is a challenge. But we can certainly get started, and I propose we do so right now. In a moment, I want everybody to stand, look around and find somebody you haven’t met yet. 

Say hi, introduce yourself, say where you’re from, then take out your phones and lean in for a selfie. No exceptions, not even me! Okay, stand up and go for it!

[Selfie group exercise.

Yes, welcome to Penn, the only Ivy League university with built-in mandatory selfie breaks! 

You now have the perfect memento of the energy that comes from stepping into the unknown. Connect and swap your photos on Instagram and Facebook. If you meet again and build on this first experience, email me and share your stories. I’d love to hear about how you connected. 

Class of 2021 and transfer students: The more you actively engage with diverse ideas, the more life-changing your experience here will be. 

It will also be challenging. Remember, we are here to help you succeed both intellectually and as whole people. We are absolutely committed to helping you succeed. 

So, venture boldly into the unknown. Engage with the widest range of ideas and individuals. Never hesitate to ask for help. 

And from one binge watcher to another, go ahead and squeeze in some time for whatever helps you relax. I plan on getting caught up on Stranger Things before the next season! (Master of None; not to mention Game of Thrones)

Have fun, and welcome to Penn! 

Penn Provost and President

Penn Provost Wendell Pritchett and Penn President Amy Gutmann (above), along with the rest of the Academic Procession assembled in front of College Hall where they were greeted by the freshmen and transfer students. During the singing of The Red and Blue, College Hall turned red (below).

 

The Discoverers

Wendell Pritchett

As Provost—Penn’s new Provost, also known as Chief Academic Officer—it’s my great pleasure to welcome you this evening.

Of all the wonderful things you’ve heard about this place—yes, they’re all true—there is perhaps one aspect you haven’t heard about, because it’s impossible to truly convey: what it’s like to be new. How it feels to be in a new place; how to forge connections with the new people around you; even how to remember everyone’s name.

I’m speaking, of course, about myself. Like you, I’m new. Not new to Penn, but in a new role, as you are. Also like you, this is my first Convocation as Provost. Hopefully unlike you, it won’t be my last. We—that is, all of you, and I—are starting on this new voyage together. I can’t claim to know exactly how you’re feeling, but I can imagine a close approximation. I went to college (I know that was in the dark ages, when phones were on the wall) and I’m a parent of two daughters: one is a junior in college and one is a high school senior. So let’s just say I’ve gotten quite an education.

What I’d like to share with you this evening is not necessarily advice, or how it was back in the day, or for that matter some profound nugget of Provostial insight; remember, I just started. Instead, it’s part observation, looking out, and part reflection, looking inward. It’s some context on what a Penn education means, and how we can help one another as we begin this journey of discovery together.

The first observation: we are going through a difficult, contentious period of human history. You may have noticed. These last few weeks, especially, have shown that finding common ground seems more challenging than ever. As a professor of law, I train my students that to effectively make their side of an argument, they need to understand the other side. 

Here, we don’t ask nor expect that you agree. You may disagree vehemently, and that’s fine. But we do expect that you listen thoughtfully, and consider carefully. We don’t ask that you change your firmly held views, but that you be willing to examine them. And that you respect that your professors, classmates, roommates, or dormmates may not look like, act like, think like, or have been brought up like you. And why would you want to be in a place where they had? I know I wouldn’t. 

These diverse interactions with a range of people will help you navigate Penn and the future beyond Penn, a future of doorways and windows, not mirrors. They will be as much a part of your education as anything you learn in class. 

A second observation: our words matter. And not just what we say, but how we say it. Penn thrives on vibrant, open discussion: that’s how we tackle difficult issues and resolve conflict. No one expects you to tiptoe around on eggshells here, afraid to speak your mind. Make your voice heard. If something strikes you as unfair, say so. 

But keep in mind we can speak our minds while also being mindful. Let me be clear: being mindful is not self-censorship. But it does require self-reflection: how might my words be interpreted by someone who’s not like me? No one you meet at Penn has had the exact same set of experiences you’ve had. But that doesn’t mean they can’t—or shouldn’t—contribute to the discussion. That discussion is what makes this campus a community.

I won’t lie to you. Balancing open expression and mindfulness can be precarious, especially today, which is precisely why we seek to do so. Because it is hard, and it forces us to think carefully: about what we say, what we value, and what we stand for. About the person we see in the mirror. But don’t be dissuaded by difficulty. If the answer were easy, well, this wouldn’t be Penn. From my perspective, I will continue to speak out against hatred and intolerance, in all forms. That’s who I am, and that’s who we are, as a community.

As I said, these are difficult times. The ground is shifting—hourly, it seems sometimes. When the ground does shift, trust yourself. You’ve gotten this far already. But don’t be afraid to ask for help. That’s what we’re here for. Ask anyone in my office: I’m always yelling for help. OK, not always, sometimes.

A third and final thought: you and I may be at the start of our Penn education, but everyone here is still learning. In his classic book The Discoverers, the historian Daniel Boorstin explored humankind’s relentless pursuit to make sense of the world and our place in it. He wrote that the greatest obstacle to discovering the shape of the earth, the continents, and the oceans was not ignorance, but the illusion of knowledge.

Your next four years will be filled with the acquisition of knowledge: with your discovery of the shape of the world, and your place in it. If, at the end of that time, you believe you have nothing left to learn, then we will have failed. Education may have a beginning, but it doesn’t end. Each of us has something to offer here, and we all have much we can learn, not least about ourselves. It’s more than just what we can do. It’s who we are: who’s in that mirror and who we can become, what we see through that window. Here, we are all discoverers. And new worlds await. That is also part of your education, and mine. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to get started.

Members of the Class of 2021, Welcome to Penn.

Events

Penn Vet Working Dog Center’s Five-Year Anniversary Celebration

  • September 5, 2017
  • vol 64 issue 3
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The Penn Vet Working Dog Center, widely recognized as the nation’s premier research and training facility dedicated to the health and performance of detection dogs, will celebrate its five-year anniversary on Sunday, September 10, at 1 p.m. at 3401 Grays Ferry Avenue. 

The ceremony will take place at the Pennovation Center, with live demonstrations held at the Working Dog Center (WDC). During the ceremony, speakers including Penn Vet Dean Joan Hendricks; Cindy Otto, executive director of the WDC; and Maureen Rush, vice president for public safety at Penn, will reflect on past, present, and future endeavors of the Center.

“It is hard to believe that just five years ago we were embarking on a little experiment to see if we could create a research and training center for detection dogs,” said Dr. Otto. “Now, the Penn Vet Working Dog Center is widely recognized as a national resource for research, education, and care of working dogs, and we feel great pride that some of our incredible graduates are working to keep our country healthy and safe.” 

Looking to the next five years, the Working Dog Center envisions becoming a National Center of Excellence for Detection Dogs, extending the reach of research collaborations and education, and continuing to discover new knowledge to support working dogs.

In addition, the Working Dog Center plans to establish a national working dog breeding cooperative, in an effort to find solutions to the challenge of ensuring the availability of the healthiest and most effective detection dogs to serve our country.

For more info, visit www.pennvetwdc.org

Update September AT PENN

  • September 5, 2017
  • vol 64 issue 3
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Fitness/Learning

11 Junior and adult tennis fall programming; Hecht Tennis Center; Info: (215) 898-4741 or www.upenn.edu/recreation/tennis-squash/clinics/ (PennRec).

Special Events

14 Annenberg Center Party on the Plaza! Food, entertainment, tours and deals; 4 p.m.; Annenberg Center outdoor plaza (Annenberg Center). 

Talks

12 The Process: A Conversation About College Admissions; Eric Furda, undergraduate admissions; noon; Hourglass Room, University Club; RSVP: pasef@pobox.upenn.edu (PASEF).

AT PENN Deadlines 

The September AT PENN calendar is now online. The deadline for the October AT PENN calendar is September 12. 

Crimes

Weekly Crime Reports

  • September 5, 2017
  • vol 64 issue 3
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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 August 21-27, 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 August 21-27, 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.

08/22/178:30 AM4001 Spruce StTheftProperty taken from cubicle
08/22/179:23 AM20 S 36th StTheftXbox gaming system stolen
08/22/171:35 PM4001 Walnut StTheftMerchandise taken without payment/Arrest
08/22/174:08 PM4000 Walnut StAssaultOffender arrested for attempted assault
08/22/174:08 PM4000 Walnut StAssaultOffender arrested for attempted assault
08/22/177:17 PM3549 Chestnut StTheftPackage taken from yard
08/23/179:26 AM235 S 39th StTheftPackage taken from yard
08/23/179:28 AM3925 Walnut StTheftMerchandise taken without payment/Arrest
08/23/173:35 PM4001 Walnut StTheftMerchandise taken without payment/Arrest
08/23/173:35 PM4001 Walnut StTheftMerchandise taken without payment/Arrest
08/23/173:40 PM3910 Irving StTheftSecured bait bike taken/Arrest
08/24/175:26 PM210 S 34th StTheftTire taken from bike
08/24/175:27 PM3701 Chestnut StFraudUnauthorized transactions made on debit card
08/24/1710:31 PM3700 Spruce StHarassmentHarassing phone calls received
08/25/1712:45 AM3800 Sansom StDrunkennessDrunk and disorderly male arrested
08/25/172:52 AM1 S 42nd StRobberyAuto taken point of gun
08/25/179:39 AM3900 Chestnut StAuto TheftVehicle taken from highway
08/25/1711:47 AM4200 Locust StRobberyiPhone forcibly taken from complainant
08/25/1712:26 PM3400 Spruce StOther assaultHarassing calls received
08/25/172:22 PM3744 Spruce StOther offenseMale warned not to return/Citation
08/25/174:30 PM4001 Walnut StRobberyMale took items and fought with security/Arrest
08/25/175:12 PM4235 Baltimore AveTheftBike removed from hallway
08/25/175:42 PM3900 Pine StSex offenseUnknown male exposed himself
08/25/177:34 PM101 S 39th StBurglaryProperty missing from apartment
08/25/179:13 PM3909 Spruce StFraudMoney paid for false services
08/26/174:54 PM2930 Chestnut StFraudMoney sent for non-existent apartment
08/26/1711:58 PM4001 Walnut StTheftMerchandise taken without payment/Arrest
08/27/173:05 AM3800 Market StDUIIntoxicated driver arrested
08/27/1712:26 PM200 S 38th StOther offenseMale wanted on warrant/Arrest
08/27/174:10 PM4100 Ludlow StTheftUnsecured suitcase taken
08/27/176:50 PM3818 Chestnut StTheftSecured bike taken

18th District

Below are the Crimes Against Persons from the 18th District: 17 incidents with 4 arrests (9 robberies, 4 aggravated assaults, 1 indecent assault, 2 assaults and 1 rape) were reported between of  August 21-27, 2017 by the 18th District covering the Schuylkill River to 49th Street & Market Street to Woodland Avenue.

08/21/173:56 PM4314 Locust StRobbery/ Arrest
08/21/173:56 PM4314 Locust StRobbery/ Arrest
08/22/175:50 PM4000 Walnut StAggravated Assault/ Arrest
08/22/177:49 PM4000 Walnut StAggravated Assault/ Arrest
08/23/174:48 PM2970 Market StAggravated Assault
08/23/177:25 PM4723 Walnut StRobbery
08/23/178:30 PM4511 Walnut StRobbery
08/24/176:23 PM4133 Chestnut StAggravated Assault
08/24/1710:26 PM4600 Baltimore AveAssault
08/25/173:23 AM3700 Spruce StAssault
08/25/173:24 AM1 S 42nd StRobbery
08/25/1711:47 AM4231 Locust StRobbery
08/25/174:14 PM3400 Spruce StRobbery
08/25/176:40 PM3900 Pine StIndecent Assault
08/27/174:35 PM4823 Springfield AveRobbery
08/27/176:30 PM500 S 42nd StRape
08/27/1710:48 PM44th & Chestnut StsRobbery

Bulletins

Traffic Advisory: Two-Year Closure of Schuylkill Avenue near 30th Street Station

  • September 5, 2017
  • vol 64 issue 3
  • Bulletins
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Penn Public Safety has been notified of the following construction project by PennDOT.

Northbound Schuylkill Avenue near 30th Street Station to close between Walnut and Chestnut Streets for bridge rehabilitations.

The northbound Schuylkill Avenue near 30th Street Station in West Philadelphia was recently closed between Walnut Street and Chestnut Street for approximately two years for rehabilitation of two structures over Interstate 76, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) announced.

The closure of northbound Schuylkill Avenue will prohibit right turns by motorists and cyclists heading into West Philadelphia using the Walnut Street bridge over the Schuylkill River.

Walnut Street motorists heading for 30th Street Station, the ramp to westbound I-76, and the ramp to eastbound I-676 will be detoured west to 30th Street, then right on 30th Street to Market Street, and right on Market Street to Schuylkill Avenue.

For pedestrians, the sidewalk on the east side of Schuylkill Avenue also will close, as will crosswalks on the south side of Chestnut Street at Schuylkill Avenue and on the north side of Walnut Street at Schuylkill Avenue. The sidewalk on the west side of Schuylkill Avenue will remain open.

During weekday work on Schuylkill Avenue, the contractor must maintain a minimum of two lanes of traffic northbound between Chestnut Street and Market Street, and at least one lane of traffic southbound between Market Street and Walnut Street.

Motorists are advised to allow additional time for travel through the work zone because backups and delays may occur. The contractor’s schedule is dependent on the weather.

For more information on the project, visit Chestnut Street Bridges or PennDOT.

Volunteer Opportunities

  • September 5, 2017
  • vol 64 issue 3
  • Bulletins
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Dear Penn Community,

Thank you for your spirit of volunteerism.  Many benefit from your willingness to share. We receive many expressions of gratitude from community members and agencies we have partnered with. The University community continues to work towards being good neighbors in our shared community. Please e-mail sammapp@pobox.upenn.edu to for more information.

We thank you for your overwhelming support and for your generosity.

—Isabel Sampson-Mapp, Associate Director Netter Center for Community Partnerships

Teach at the University Assisted Community School (UACS) Nights. Have a special talent? Want to teach it to members of the surrounding community? Teach adult learners your expertise. Teach resume writing, interviewing skills, computers, employment prep, dance, hair braiding, cooking or another subject you are passionate about. Teach once a week for a one- or two-hour period for four to six weeks. We also welcome classes that can be taught in one session. Classes will be held at West Philadelphia High School from 6-8 p.m. 

Provide an internship for a high school senior. The Netter Center has developed an internship program for high school seniors from two West Philadelphia high schools. A student, at no cost to you, would work at your site for approximately four hours per week during the school day. In return, the student would receive critical exposure to a professional setting and help in developing the soft skills that employers value. The students would receive ongoing professional development from the Netter Center throughout the year, and a Netter staff member would visit the worksite on a regular basis to ensure a positive experience for both student and staff. The program is scheduled to start in late October and to continue through May. For more information, contact Theresa Simmonds at theresae@sas.upenn.edu or (215) 301-2656.

Adopt A Classroom. An exciting opportunity for you and your colleagues to “adopt” a Philadelphia school classroom. Provide needed classroom items like reams of paper, pens, pencils, tissues, hand sanitizer, notebooks, folders, glue sticks, disinfecting wipes, calculators, index cards, scissors, backpacks, pencil sharpeners, dividers, protractors, highlighters, markers, construction paper, book socks, combination locks, personal organizers, Post-its, tape, staplers and staples, etc.

Work with classrooms at community schools operated by the Netter Center. Schools include Lea, Sayre, West and Comegys. You would have the opportunity to select the age group you prefer. A classroom would be assigned to you with a wish list. You and your colleagues can collect supplies. Arrangements will be made in September for you to make your donations to your adopted class. 

Become a Mentor in the Penn Workplace Mentoring Program. Encourage seventh graders from a local school to do well in school. Talk to them about the importance of college. Share your area of expertise in your job with them and help them to think about their futures. Make a difference in the life of a young person! Mentors meet with students once a month from September-May. All sessions are held on Penn’s campus. Training is held in September. 

Leftover conference bags, T-shirts, pens, etc.? Donate them to Penn VIPS who will share them with school children and the community. 

Become a Dropsite Volunteer. Volunteers are located throughout the University and provide the sites for collections during our annual school, food, gift and change drives. All that is required is for you to set up a collection area, put up a flyer and collect the donations. There are a few activities per year. 

Join the Penn Team for Making Strides. Saturday, October 15, 7:30 a.m., Please Touch Museum, West Fairmount Park. We will be hosting a planning meeting in September.