January 18, 2000
Volume 46
Number 17

Remembering MLK: January 20

One of the many commemorative events being held now through January 28, is the January 20 Martin Luther King, Jr. Interfaith Program featuring William H. Gray III, president and CEO of the United Negro College Fund and former majority whip of the U.S. House of Representatives. The program--to be held at Annenberg Center's Harold Prince Theatre from 7 to 8 p.m.--opens with remarks by President Judith Rodin. Also featured will be music by R'nanah and the New Spirit of Penn, with a presentation of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Involvement Awards to follow.

This year's commemoration of the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., with the theme The Importance of King's Philosophy and Action for the 21st Century explores Dr. King's ideas and the events and issues that have arisen since his death.

Dr. Soldo: New Chair in Financial Gerontology

  Dr. Beth J. Soldo, who joined Penn last August, was named the first Joseph E. and Ruth E. Boettner Professor of Financial Gerontology and director of the Boettner Center of Financial Gerontology in the School of Social Work. She is also a professor of sociology, a research associate in the Population Studies Center and director of the Center's Population Aging Research Center in SAS and a Senior Fellow of the Pension Research Council in Wharton.

The Boettner Center studies the relationships among aging, financial issues and quality of life. According to Dr. Soldo, "...financial gerontology attempts to understand both the accumulation of assets and resources in mid-life and the conservation of these resources in late life."

Dr. Soldo took her B.A. in sociology from Fordham University in 1970, and her M.A. and Ph.D. in sociology/demography from Duke University in 1973 and 1977 respectively. She served as the assistant director of the Center for Demographic Studies at Duke from 1974 to 1977, before becoming a senior Rresearch fellow at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics at Georgetown. She became an assistant professor of demography at Georgetown in 1981, and moved through the ranks to full professor, serving as chair of the department from 1986 to 1995. Dr. Soldo has published nearly 30 papers and 20 chapters, and also co-authored a book and co-edited two others, the most recent of which is Racial and Ethnic Differences in Late Life Health in the United States. She also serves as a investigator on two biennial National Institue on Aging panel studies that focus on people in mid-life and old age. Since coming to Penn, Dr. Soldo has been awarded a $7 million grant from the National Institute of Aging (NIH) to conduct the Mexican Health and Aging Study, the first national panel study of individual dynamics in mid- and late-life in Mexico.

The Boettner Institute of Financial Gerontology (a non-profit corporation) was established in 1986 at The American College in Bryn Mawr, through the generosity of Joseph E. and Ruth Elizabeth Boettner. Mr. Boettner, a life-long Philadelphia resident who passed away in 1994, was president of the Philadelphia Life Insurance Company. The Boettner Institute established and supported the Boettner Center of Financial Gerontology at Penn. It was affiliated with SAS, 1992-1995, before it moved to the School of Social Work in 1995. To create a permanent affiliation with the University in honor of the Boettners, the Institute gave $2 million to endow the chair in 1997, and then gave $3.3 million last year to endow the Center.

Engman's Latest Sculpture at Penn
 One of Penn's newest buildings has a recently commissioned sculpture by one of the University's most prolific sculptors, Robert Engman, professor emeritus of fine arts and former co-chair of the department. A gift of former Trustee Chair Dr. P. Roy Vagelos and his wife Diana, it is located in the main entrance to the Vagelos Labs of IAST. Consisting of individually mounted stainless steel rods, on a bronze and limestone base, this piece is a variation on a helix, symbolic of DNA.  

   At the south end of the block, in the adjoining Chemistry Building, is one of three sculptures Engman did in honor of Indian yoga master B.K.S. Iyengar. This cast aluminum mobile, After Iyengar, (at left) which is suspended in the lobby of the 1973 Wing, came first in 1976, followed by two copies of After B. K. S. Iyengar, one at the Hirschhorn in Washington, D.C. and the other, a bronze at the Morris Arboretum's Step Fountain since 1988 (below).

Another geometric sculpture by Engman is Quadrature #1 located in the center of Miller Plaza, the forecourt of Founder's Pavilion at HUP. The provocative four-part painted steel curved forms rise alongside of the 30-ton , pyramid shaped MRI.
 The centerpiece of the fountain in the backyard of the President's House, is a stainless steel sculpture from his Williamsburg Series.

Standing west of the entrance to the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center, for the past thirty years is The Peace Symbol, that he turned into a work of art which has endured well beyond the era that inspired it, now a familiar site for protests.

Almanac, Vol. 46, No. 17, January 18, 2000