New Roles for Lilvia Soto, Lisa Prasad, Beverly Edwards

La Casa Latina: Dr. Soto

Dr. Lilvia Soto, assistant dean for advising in the College of Arts and Sciences since 1993, has been named director of La Casa Latina: The University of Pennsylvania Center for Hispanic Excellence, the new center that had its formal opening last week in the complex at 37th and Chestnut that also houses the Iron Gate Theater.

La Casa Latina is expected to help in recruitment and matriculation of Latino students, and to develop programs that will "integrate their academic, social, cultural, research, and community service activities to enrich their Penn experience and enhance their professional careers," said Dr. Valarie Swain-Cade McCoullum, Vice Provost for University Life. "The Center will also conduct and facilitate academic research to better understand the factors affecting Hispanic recruitment, retention, and academic success and to advance scholarship on Hispanic issues," she added.

Dr. Soto helped form Penn's Latino Faculty and Staff Association five years ago, in addition to being one of the founders of La Casa Latina. While directing the Center's activities, Dr. Soto will also foster relationships with Hispanic leaders through a Latino Professional Network, and under a Provost's diversity grant she will also help develop La Telarana Latina: Penn's Latino Pipeline, an initiative to build stronger bonds with Latino alumni.

Dr. Soto grew up in Mexico and is a native speaker of Spanish, as well as a published poet in the language. She earned her B.A. and M.A. from Washington University/St. Louis, and her Ph.D. in Hispanic Languages and Literature from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. In 1980 she joined Harvard University as assistant professor of Latin American Literature, later also directed the undergraduate studies for Spanish students there, 1985-86.

Taking up a Ford Foundation Fellowship in 1986-87, she was a visiting scholar at the University of Cambridge in England. She returned to the U.S. as visiting associate professor of Romance languages at Illinois/Urbana-Champagne, and in 1991 she came to Philadelphia to serve as a lecturer at Penn, Temple, and the Community College of Philadelphia until she joined the College full-time in 1993.

Dr. Soto has served as a consultant to businesses on international and intercultural communications and multicultural management. She has lectured widely on Latino issues, and her publications on Latino and Latin American literature have appeared in Mexico, Chile, Venezuela, Spain and the United States. A founding member of the Penn & Pencil Club (an organization of Penn and HUP staff who meet at the Kelly Writers House), she has recently published poetry in several literary journals in Spain. She also recently completed a manuscript on La poetica de la simultaneidad en Carlos Fuentes, and is at work on a book called Una Familia Lejana: La novela-espejo.

Associate VP/Business: Ms. Prasad

Lisa Prasad, who has been executive director of the Office of the Executive Vice President for the past two years, has been named Associate Vice President for Business Development, effective September 13. Her appointment was announced last week by Vice President Lee Nunery of the Division of Business Services, where the new position is lodged.

Ms. Prasad will be responsible for the coordination of Penn's strategic product branding strategy, and for identifying "new and enhanced revenue generation opportunities for Penn," Mr. Nunery said. She will also have direct oversight of the Penn Bookstore.

A graduate of the University of Michigan, Ms. Prasad holds two Penn degrees--an M.A. in political science and a Master of Government Administration degree. After serving as a consultant to the Pew Charitable Trusts she was in Penn's Office of Resource Planning and Budget from 1988 to 1995, starting as a budget analyst and advancing to acting deputy director. Spending the next three years in the Higher Education Consulting Practice at Coopers & Lybrand, she rejoined the University in 1997, overseeing the day-to-day operations of the EVP's office working closely with John Fry and the Senior Management Team on a wide range of operational and strategic issues. "I am delighted that Lisa has accepted this new position," said Mr. Nunery, "and am confident that her skill and enthusiasm will be an asset to the Business Services team."

Learning/Ed in HR: Dr. Edwards

Dr. Beverly Edwards, who has been senior director of training in the Wharton School's finance division since 1998, has been named Executive Director of Learning and Education for the University. In this new post, which reports to the Vice President of Human Resources, she will work with key administrators of training initiatives in the Schools and Centers of Penn and will provide leadership in the new Center for Professional Development as well as in HR Training, Finance Training and ISC Training.

"This restructuring of training operations in the University has been undertaken to enhance learning and education and to provide continuity in all facets of professional, personal and technical development," said HR Vice President John J. Heuer. "The new structure will afford us the opportunity to synergize our resources and better serve the needs of the University community."

Charged to develop a "comprehensive, multi-discipline training program for the University," Dr. Edwards is to provide "strategic leadership in the assessment, design and delivery of training opportunities and programs for the University; oversight of the multiple training programs including leadership development, technology, human resources, financial and skills development training; and development of a plan for coordination of training University-wide." A Board of Overseers, which will include Executive Vice President John Fry and others from a cross-section of the University, is to provide advice and direction to the new operation.

Dr. Edwards took her B.A. in English from Albright College in 1979 and continued in English with an M.A. from Bryn Mawr and Ph.D. from Lehigh. In 1993 she added an MBA from the Wharton School, and soon became a principal of American Management Systems in Fairfax, VA--where as a member of the Achieving Breakthrough Performance (ABP) Core Team, she developed the methodology for AMS's approach to strategic consulting. In 1997 she returned to Penn as director of Wharton's Aresty Institute of Executive Education, which offers custom executive education programs for corporate clients, and she became head of the Division of Finance training program in 1998.

"We are confident that she will continue to build on the ongoing fine work of the training offices of Human Resources, Finance, Information Systems and Computing, and the Center for Professional Development," Mr. Heuer said.

Almanac, Vol. 46, No. 5, September 28, 1999