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Transforming Residential Life: $11.5 Million Gift from Alan Hassenfeld, and Jerome and Anne Fisher

Anne Fisher
Jerome Fisher
Alan Hassenfeld
Anne Fisher
Jerome Fisher
Alan Hassenfeld

Penn's historic Quadrangle--site of the oldest dormitories on campus--has received a joint $11.5 million commitment from Penn alumni Alan Hassenfeld, C'70, and Jerome Fisher, W '53, and Mr. Fisher's wife, Anne. In recognition of their gifts, the University will rename Woodland College House as Fisher Hassenfeld College House and name an entrance to the Quad, the Fisher Hassenfeld Gate at Memorial Tower.

According to President Judith Rodin, the Fisher-Hassenfeld commitment is the lead gift in the transformation of the Quadrangle into three distinct College Houses that provide an exceptionally warm and inviting residential experience for undergraduates. "Alan Hassenfeld and Jerome and Anne Fisher have made a magnificent investment in undergraduate life at Penn. Generations of students will share our gratitude for their generosity."

Fisher Hassenfeld House
photo by Gregory Benson

Through the four-year Quad Renewal Project, which was completed in September 2002, buildings originally constructed from 1895 to 1955 have been reconfigured to create spaces supporting College House life. There are new lobbies, computer labs, fitness rooms, music practice rooms, lounges with kitchens, libraries, and seminar rooms.

The architectural features of the historically landmarked buildings in the Quad have been restored and the systems updated, including the installation of air conditioning. In addition, the landscape has been enhanced to provide welcoming outdoor spaces for each College House and for all Quad residents.

According to Jerome Fisher, the quality of life engendered by these changes inspired his gift. In the new common areas in the buildings, students and faculty see more of each other outside the classroom and have "close bonding experiences" that will lead to lifelong friendships, he said.

Fisher Hassenfeld College House is the oldest part of the Quad and has undergone the most dramatic changes. It had only one public space before renovation; now it has extensive common spaces--a hallmark of the College House system. Located at the westernmost part of the Quad, it is noted for its triple arches, which have become part of the House's student-designed coat of arms.

Fisher Hassenfeld Gate at Memorial Tower
photo by Gregory Benson

Fisher Hassenfeld Gate at Memorial Tower is an icon of the University's architectural heritage; its silhouette is one of the most familiar Penn forms. It is dedicated to the memory of Pennsylvanians who died in the Spanish-American War. The real and symbolic gateway to the Quad, it represents something even more to Alan Hassenfeld. For him, "It is like walking into a new world--a world I would love to have been part of," he said.

When he was at Penn, Mr. Hassenfeld said, there was little sense of community, with no activities in the dormitories. Like Jerome Fisher, he sees the College Houses as a way of giving students a sense of belonging. "They're about community, belonging, and diversity," he says.

Faculty Director of College Houses and Academic Services Dr. Philip Nichols is thrilled with the Fisher-Hassenfeld gift. He says, "Their contribution goes to the very heart of the Penn experience--enriching students' campus homes so that they are even more satisfying and supportive of academic life."

Jerome Fisher is a former Penn Trustee and a current member of the Wharton School Board of Overseers. His wife, Anne, is a former Overseer of GSFA. She was presented the Dean's Medal in 1999. She is a Trustee at Strang Cancer Prevention Center of New York and a long-standing member of the New York Cornell Medical Center Advisory Board, where she endowed the Dr. Willibald Nagler Chair of Psychiatry.

Together they have made gifts to the University that named the Fisher Fine Arts Library and the Jerome Fisher Management and Technology Program. They are members of the College House Advisory Board, and the Academy of the University of Pennsylvania--recently established for donors whose extraordinary generosity of at least $1 million has helped to shape Penn.

The Fishers are residents of Palm Beach, Florida. Mr. Fisher is the founder and chairman emeritus of the Nine West Group. Through the Jerome and Anne C. Fisher Charitable Foundation, he and his wife have been major benefactors of the New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center, the Israel Museum (in Jerusalem), the Strang Cornell Cancer Center, the Children's Medical Center of Israel, the Norton Gallery and Kravis Center in Palm Beach.

Alan Hassenfeld is a current member of Penn's Board of Trustees and an Overseer of the School of Arts and Sciences. He too is a member of the Academy of the University of Pennsylvania, and chair of the College House Advisory Board.

A resident of Bristol, Rhode Island, he is Chairman and CEO of Hasbro, Inc., the international toy company. Mr. Hassenfeld is a trustee of the Hasbro Charitable Trust and the Hasbro Children's Foundation, both of which provide major funding to Rhode Island institutions. He is founder and chairman of the Right! Now Coalition, which fosters government ethics and campaign reform, and is also chairman of the World Scholar Athlete Games. Committed to ending childhood hunger, he has been a leader in rallying corporate executives to work with elected officials on this cause.


  Almanac, Vol. 49, No. 16, December 17, 2002