September 5, 2000
Volume 47
Number 2

Ackoff Center for Advanced Systems Approaches

The School of Engineering and Applied Science has announced the creation of the Ackoff Center for Advanced Systems Approaches (A-CASA). The Ackoff Center which opened July 1 is named for Dr. Russell Ackoff, Emeritus Anheuser-Busch Professor of the Wharton School. It will operate as a think tank in the vanguard of systems approaches. A-CASA is dedicated to education, academic research, industry research and consulting, and outreach programs in the area of systems approaches.

Faculty from Engineering and the Wharton School are expected to work under the auspices of A-CASA on multi-disciplinary research topics in such areas as netcentricity and sustainability. The Ackoff Center will examine the implications of netcentricity on a variety of topics including production, logistics, trading, organizational design, and knowledge management and will examine several issues related to sustainability in both "new economy" and traditional organizations.

The Center is the result of generous contributions of the Anheuser-Busch Foundation, Analog Devices, and the General Motors Foundation, and research grants that will sustain the Center's first year operating budget of $1 million. A membership program will allow for close liaison with leading edge companies for industry-sponsored research and short-term fellows from industry to work on intellectually challenging projects with standing faculty and students. Additionally, A-CASA will provide opportunities for internships for undergraduates and graduate students from Penn and other institutions to further enhance the educational mission of the University. Jack Purnell, executive vice president of Anheuser-Busch said, "This is a unique opportunity to combine the systems theory and research capabilities of the exceptional faculty at Penn Engineering and Wharton with the real-world industry experience and wisdom brought by Russ Ackoff and his senior associates."

The director of the Center, Dr. G. Anandalingam, National Center Professor of Resource and Technology Management and Professor of Information Management at Wharton, will be responsible for directing the research activities and for general administrative decision-making. "The intention is for the Ackoff Center to develop innovative ideas in systems approaches that will enable the Center to evolve into a world-class institution with contributions to solving intractable problems, wherever they exist," says Dr. Eduardo Glandt, dean of SEAS. A-CASA will extend its offerings beyond the walls of Penn through the application of information technology and the Internet and will represent a competency bank of knowledge for all Systems Thinking related academic activities, research and practices which are scattered around the world.

New Interim Dean for School of Medicine

Dr. Peter G. Traber, M.D., interim dean of the School of Medicine and CEO of the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center and UPHS, has accepted an appointment as head of clinical pharmacology and experimental medicine at GlaxoSmithKline, the health care company to be formed upon the merger of SmithKline Beecham and Glaxo Wellcome, according to a July 26 announcement by President Judith Rodin.

While the search is underway, she said that Dr. Arthur K. Asbury, the Van Meter Emeritus Professor of Neurology, who has been serving as deputy dean of the School of Medicine, will assume new responsibilities as interim dean of the School of Medicine. Dr. Robert Martin, who has been COO of the UPHS, will assume new responsibilities as interim CEO of the health services components of the Health System.

Dr. David Longnecker, the Robert Dunning Dripps Professor of Anesthesia, will continue serving as chairman of the Clinical Practices of the University of Pennsylvania (CPUP), working closely with Dr. Asbury and Dr. Martin.

"Peter Traber has done an outstanding job for the University and its Health System," Dr. Rodin said. "We are sorry to see him go, but we recognize that this is a tremendous new opportunity for him."

Penn's Health System has achieved a remarkable financial recovery over the past year, Dr. Rodin noted. "The Health System has made great progress in its financial recovery from the deficits experienced in FY '98 and FY '99," she said. "In FY 2000, which ended June 30, the Health System's operating deficit was dramatically reduced, and we are very grateful for the efforts of the entire Health System leadership team in achieving this major turnaround."

In the fiscal year ahead, Dr. Rodin added, "Health System leadership is resolutely focused on achieving better than break-even performance." Although academic medical centers will continue to face serious challenges, she continued, "our Health System has great reason for optimism. We have the enormous advantage of an unparalleled faculty, outstanding clinical chairs and a highly talented and dedicated staff."

The Frank Wister Thomas Professor of Medicine and chairman of the department of medicine until he assumed his current responsibilities on Feb. 17, 2000, Dr. Traber will take a leave of absence from the Penn faculty, but, according to Dr. Rodin, "we look forward to Peter's continued association with the School of Medicine, and the University, in the future."

Wharton Financial Institutions Center Co-directors

The Wharton School has announced the appointment of Dr. Franklin Allen and Dr. Richard Herring as co-directors of the Wharton Financial Institutions Center. They replace former director Dr. Anthony M. Santomero, (Almanac July 18) who was recently named president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.

Dr. Franklin Allen, Nippon Life Professor of Finance and Economics, has spent 20 years as a member of the Wharton faculty. He formerly served as vice dean and director of Wharton Doctoral Programs and has served in various editorial capacities at several of the world's top academic journals for finance and economics. Dr. Allen has focused his research on corporate finance, asset pricing and the economics of information. 

Dr. Richard Herring, Jacob Safra Professor of International Banking and professor of finance, joined the Wharton faculty in 1972. Previously vice dean and director of the Wharton Undergraduate Division, he served as founding director of the Financial Institutions Center from 1992 to 1995, and is currently director of Wharton's Joseph H. Lauder Institute of Management and International Studies. He is a leading expert in the study of international banking and finance.  

Almanac, Vol. 47, No. 2, September 5, 2000