Speaking Out welcomes reader contributions. During weekly
publication, short timely letters on University issues can be accepted
Thursday noon for the following Tuesday's issue, subject to right-of-reply
guidelines. Advance notice of intention to submit is appreciated.--Ed.
The following was sent to the Board of Governors of the Faculty Club,
and to Almanac for publication.
Faculty Club: Questions
Before the Faculty Club was created in its present form, there was a
private Faculty Club on a small street running parallel to 36th Street.
My recollection is that the land on which it stood was needed for the construction
of the present Faculty Club and was deeded to the University for the purpose
of a Faculty Club. The previous club was known as the Lenape Club. The
thought in terminating the existence of the Lenape Club was to permit the
present larger club to come into existence and serve the larger interests
of the University.
In my thinking, the University has an obligation to continue to use
this building as a Faculty Club and not put it back in a large closet in
the inn. It has a certain presence and status where it is. While the accountants
have come up with rather high operating costs and members are indebted
to the University for supporting a large portion of these costs, the amounts
are not important in a billion-dollar budget and the faculty of the University
of Pennsylvania is important to its continued operation. In other words,
I view the costs of the University as a very modest fringe benefit for
the faculty. The fact that not all of the faculty utilize it does not detract
from its importance for those that do. Furthermore, I would be interested
to know how many official University meetings are held there and whether
the University pays rental for the rooms that the administrators use. In
short, I find the decision to condense the Faculty Club to a second floor
spot in the inn very disappointing and from the standpoint of a previous
member of the Lenape Club rather deplorable.
We have not heard of the proposed use of the present Faculty Club building.
I note also in your mailing that the facility in the inn would be closed
by 5 p.m. except on Wednesday evenings and also closed Saturday and Sunday.
In short, the proposed change seems to me to deal unfairly with the
old Lenape Club, unfairly with the Skinner family, unfairly with President
Harnwell, who had the vision to build a Faculty Club that all could belong
to, and an affront to the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania. Furthermore,
I was unaware that we were operating under a lease and I am not sure that
this was ever made clear to the Lenape group when they agreed to give up
-- Jonathan E. Rhoads, M.D., Professor of Surgery, Provost
The Board's president responded personally to Dr. Rhoads and gave
Almanac the gist of her reply. It is followed by a response from the administrative
unit working with the Board on the proposal to move the Club.
Responses to Dr. Rhoads
The Board of Governors of the Faculty Club received your letter expressing
concerns about the projected move of the Club to the facility across the
street called the Inn at Penn. The Board of Governors also is concerned
about this matter.
You have raised issues that have not been raised previously, related
to the Lenape Club, land transfer, and the intentions of the individuals
involved in those early days of agreements. I will ask the Board attorney
to look into those matters on our behalf. This individual is not part of
the University community, so does not represent the Administration or Trustees.
The terms of the arrangements for the Faculty Club at the Inn have not
been discussed in any detail. It was premature to publish times of operations
in that earlier issue of Almanac,
October 21, 1997, duplicated in the Faculty Club Newsletter.
An ad hoc committee of the Board has begun a second round of meetings
whose focus is on refining the physical design of the space, deciding on
the interior decor for the Club, and defining carefully the many issues
related to time of operation and use of space, personnel, costs of food,
privileges of membership in other areas of the Inn (such as reduced cost
of food in the Inn restaurant, and room rental for meetings), and many
others. There is no agreement on these items to date. They are all under
My personal objective is to "institutionalize" the concept
of a faculty/university club at the University. Should the Inn be sold
or converted to other use, and the Faculty Club no longer fit well in the
new configuration, I would like guarantees that other appropriate space
be available because the Club is a integral feature of the University.
But there are many factors to be considered.
Are you aware that the University Health Center is constructing a Medical
School Faculty Club within the medical center complex? This development
will effectively remove that constituency from the existing Faculty Club
in the near future. We simply do not have the financial resources to create
a Penn Club at Penn on the scale of the one in New York, or the one being
developed by the Medical Center. The current University administrators
do not want to continue to support the Faculty Club, neither the indirect
costs identified in the lease agreement, nor the direct costs that run
These and related problems have consumed a great deal of my time over
the past four years, and I feel strongly about many of the issues involved.
I am grateful for your continuing interest and support of the Club.
-- Elsa L. Ramsden, Chair, Faculty Club Board of Governors
Dr. Rhoads raises an interesting point regarding
the history of the Faculty Club and we will work with Counsel to understand
what, if any, implications this may have on the future use of Skinner Hall.
We will certainly research the issue thoroughly.
Our current understanding of the documents is that a possible move was
contemplated by the original trust and that it is the role of the University
to decide on the most appropriate use of Skinner Hall for the future.
As Dr. Ramsden notes, planning for the new facility commenced immediately
upon the Faculty Club Board's approval for the move and has been quite
intense over the past several months. An ad hoc committee of the Faculty
Club Board of Governors has had several meetings with the Office of Business
Services to determine the operational and contractual issues involved with
the new facility. While many issues remain, discussions have been constructive
and we are hopeful that most of the pertinent issues will
be addressed this semester. Competitive pricing, member benefits and
discounts, and availability of meeting and conference rooms for faculty
use are some of the important details we are working through.
At the same time, a separate ad hoc group of the Board (joined by a
representative of the Faculty Senate and a GSFA faculty member) has been
focusing on the interior floor plan and decor of the space. We have made
great strides in this area and are confident that the final product
will reflect both the importance and individuality of the Faculty Club
within the Inn at Penn. The current design will provide a beautifully appointed
buffet dining room as well as a more formal dining room. It will also
continue the tradition of the Club's gallery area featuring rotating exhibits.
Club members will also enjoy using the "living room" of the Inn,
immediately adjacent to the Faculty Club entrance. This will be an exceptionally
lovely space, with two fireplaces, a bar, comfortable sofas
and seating, and will serve as an area to meet colleagues and guests.
This continues to be a cooperative effort between the project planners,
the administration, and the ad hoc committees of the Faculty Club Board.
In short, there are many more details to finalize as we work towards the
opening of the new facilities in fall of 1999 but we are excited about
the progress made to date.
--Marie D. Witt, Associate Vice President, Business Services
The letter below replies to two letters that appeared in Speaking
16/23 and two others published January
Response on Vending
Over the course of the past several months, my staff and I have been
working with all interested constituencies in crafting a well-balanced
and appropriately regulated framework for the future of sidewalk and street
vending in University City.
The culmination of these efforts has been a legislative proposal which
we believe strikes a careful balance between the needs and interests of
all affected parties; maintains one hundred  public vending locations,
a number well in excess of the approximately eighty  vendors now conducting
business in the area; creates an additional forty-five  Fresh Air Food
Plaza locations on campus; and empowers the City's regulatory agencies
to better enforce critical public health, safety, and noise standards related
to such vending.
In keeping with the goal of communicating widely with the University
on this issue, Almanac recently published the full text of this
proposed legislation, along with a map illustrating the exact locations
where vending would continue to be permitted if this proposed ordinance
were adopted by the City Council. In response to the publication of this
information, we have received several responses, including some letters
that have appeared recently in Almanac. We have duly noted the comments
and suggestions made in these letters, e-mail messages and phone calls,
and we will continue to keep them under our advisement and consideration
as the legislative and development processes go forward.
We expect the next steps will include further consultation by Councilwoman
Blackwell with interested parties, followed by the introduction of a proposed
ordinance. This ordinance would then be the subject of public hearings
in City Council prior to any enactment. The University intends to move
forward expeditiously with the construction of on-campus vending sites
so as to minimize any disruption.
-- Carol Scheman, Vice President,
Government, Community and Public Affairs
Correction and Comment
- The column "Beyond Orientalism" in Almanac/Compass
Vol. 44/16 (December 16/23, 1997), p. 12, gives some undeserved (and undesired)
credit to my work: The decision by various academic departments or programs,
including Penn's Department of Oriental Studies, to drop the word "Oriental"
from their names was in no way influenced by or related to my writings.
Professor of Indian Philosophy
- During the period of merger between Almanac and The Compass,
it has been customary for us to run corrections on behalf of The Compass,
as above. This seems a good time to remind that the merger has ended and
that in place of The Compass the Office of University Relations
now issues a biweekly tabloid called the Pennsylvania Current, shown