Debra Fickler, General Counsel's Office

Debra F. Fickler, Associate General Counsel of the University, will become Deputy General Counsel at Villanova University starting November 16.

"It has been my delight and privilege to work with Debbie for almost fifteen years," said University General Counsel Shelley Green. "Villanova is fortunate to gain not only a skilled and experienced attorney but one of exceptional sensitivity, humanity and dedication."

At Penn Ms. Fickler has provided legal advice to trustees, administrators, faculty and staff in all of the schools and centers on a range of issues including employment law, student issues, investment, endowment, charitable giving, estates and trusts, copyright, taxes, immigration, statutory and regulatory compliance, corporate governance, and contracts.

Ms. Fickler is 1973 Temple alumna, summa cum laude, who was an actuarial associate with Tower, Perrin Forster & Crosby from 1974-79. After taking her M.B.A. from Temple in 1979 she came to Penn for her J.D., which she received magna cum laude in 1982.

A law clerk in the University General Counsel's Office in the summer of 1980 and in May 1981, she was with Ballard, Spahr, Andrews & Ingersoll as an associate attorney in 1982-84, and returned to Penn as Assistant General Counsel. She was promoted to Associate General Counsel in 1987.

She was chosen by the University to attend the HERS Program at Bryn Mawr (Summer Institute for Women in Higher Education Administration) in 1992.

In 1994-95, she was an adjunct professor of law in Temple's Integrated Transactional Program.

Chris Dennis, College House System

Dr. Christopher Dennis, who has been active in College House development for 14 years and in the Penn Reading Project since its inception in 1990, announced last week that he will step down November 15 from his post as Executive Director of College Houses.

In a written statement to colleagues, he said,

"The completion of the comprehensive College House program represents the culmination of a long-held vision to marry the residential and academic program, a vision that it has been my privilege to work on since 1984, when the Provost's Office asked me to begin work on an expanded College House system at Penn. It is clear to me that our new system of distributed academic support, as it evolves and develops in a rich climate of living and learning, will bridge the artificial division between the formal academic program and residence life. This is an important development for Penn's students, faculty and staff and for our aspirations for deepening intellectual life at Penn. And it is an important model for higher education generally. I take deep satisfaction in the role I have played, both conceptually and actually, in developing Penn's College House system over the years.

"But there is a natural cycle to such major undertakings and this phase, so truly and well begun, is at an end. With the model securely in place and so many objectives accomplished, I feel it is the right time for me to move on and to consider new projects and opportunities."

"Chris Dennis was the sustainer of the College Houses when they were few, and one of the chief planners of the new system in which they have increased to twelve," said Dr. David Brownlee, Director of the College Houses and Academic Services. "I am pleased that we can celebrate the fulfillment of this plan now, as Chris looks for other challenges. I am planning to modestly restructure the Office of College Houses and Academic Services. Rather than replace the executive director, I will appoint an Associate Director for Administration to assist with day-to-day operations."

Dr. Dennis is an alumnus of UMass with a master's degree from Oxford's Pembroke College who took his Ph.D. in English from Princeton and taught there, at Michigan and at the University of London before joining Penn's English department in 1979. While teaching Medieval and Renaissance literature he also served as assistant chair for overseas program, inaugurating the Penn/Kings College program with the University of London. His wife, Dr. Vicki Mahaffey, was also a Faculty Fellow in Hill House.

As a full-time academic administrator since 1984 he has held posts that grew from coordinator to executive director of College House Programs, serving also as acting director of residential living for a time. He also took part in the Provost's 21st Century Project, and in working groups on ResNet and the creation of computer labs in the Houses; the Wheel Project; Penn's first service-learning program in residence (at the Castle); and other projects.

Almanac, Vol. 45, No. 9, October 27, 1998