Speaking Out

Are There Women at Wharton?

We all know that business people tend to be conservative, but I hadn't realized the Wharton School was still in the nineteenth century. Judging by the recent teaching awards--all 32 of them, all men (Almanac, May 16)--they don't have any faculty women over there yet. I hope the University keeps them well supplied with quill pens and plenty of hitching posts for their horses and buggies.

--Victoria Kirkham, Professor of Romance Language

Response to Dr. Kirkham

I am pleased to assuage Dr. Kirkham's concerns that there are no women on the Wharton faculty. Indeed, we have an extraordinary complement of women scholars and teachers of whom we are quite proud and who provide exemplary leadership to Wharton and throughout the Penn community.

Last year, 26 women served on the Wharton faculty, and seven of the 18 new faculty who will join us over the next academic year are women. We are encouraged by our success in recruiting women faculty members, especially in light of the competitive environment for women with doctoral degrees in the business disciplines. The International Association for Management Education issued a report last fall with data through 1997 that showed that women account for 29 percent of doctoral degree recipients in business disciplines, compared with 41 percent of all academic disciplines combined. The competition for graduates among top-tier programs--and the private sector--is very intense as a result. Wharton recognizes its responsibility to seed the professorial ranks with more women through its own doctoral programs. Toward this end, we expect that 35 percent of our incoming doctoral students this year will be women.

Aside from the statistics, I believe it is critically important to reiterate the significant and meaningful contributions of our women faculty. They are--as is our faculty as a whole--talented, dedicated professionals. To think otherwise would be a great disservice to them and to our entire Penn faculty community.

--David Schmittlein, Deputy Dean of Wharton and the Ira A. Lipman Professor of Marketing

Penn Shield on Plaza

Over the past year and a bit, I have sat at my desk with the sounds of stonecutting providing a running bass to accompany my advising sessions with students. I've watched lovely trees come down and huge cranes dip by my window like the necks of brontosauri. And through it all I have tried to see beyond the dust and noise and disruption, imagining the emerging of a lovely gathering place for students that would complement the old buildings surrounding that courtyard. I looked forward to the day when the Perelman Quad would be finished and I would see students eating lunches under the new small trees or perhaps listening to an a cappella group, reflecting the range and diversity of the university world.

Now, alas, when I look out my window, I see a gray stone avenue, flanked with lampposts like soldiers, marching toward the looming symbol of the Penn shield that dwarfs everything on the plaza that has human scale. Inevitably, all I can think of is movies of the stormy days of dictators and public harangues and the symbols of repression that served as the backdrop for the men with those bawling voices. It does not help that the shield itself is ugly, seemingly made of concrete blocks on which a dotmatrix representation of the stripes and pictures of the Penn symbol has been imposed, an object that lacks subtlety, beauty, or good taste.

I keep wishing that I could sneak onto the plaza at night and plant copious amounts of fast-growing ivy behind that shield, hoping it would take hold and mask what is there. I sometimes think that even the covering of poison ivy that grew up the walls of Irvine for many years, before someone noticed what it was, would be preferable to that great unsettling shield.

--Alice van Buren Kelley, Assistant Dean, College of Arts and Sciences

Speaking Out welcomes reader contributions. Short, timely letters on University issues can be accepted, subject to right-of-reply guidelines. Advance notice of intention to submit is appreciated. --Eds.

Almanac, Vol. 47, No. 1, July 18, 2000