Click for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Forecast


Print This Issue
Front Page
All About Teaching
Subscribe to E-Alamanc!


In Memory of Speaker Matthew J. Ryan

I attended two very moving services in memory of Matthew J. Ryan, Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. The first was held at St. Mary Magdalen Church in Media, PA, on April 8, the day after his body lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda in Harrisburg. Matt is the first person to be so honored since Abraham Lincoln in 1865. The service was attended by over 150 members of the General Assembly and by Governor Rendell and three past Commonwealth governors including Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge. The second service was in the magnificent Chamber of the House of Representatives in the State Capitol on April 14, a stone's throw from the architecturally distinguished Speaker Matthew J. Ryan Legislative Office Building, a tribute by his colleagues in every branch of State Government.

I am delighted to report that Matt's name will now grace the facade of yet another building, one perhaps as close to his heart as the one on Capitol Hill. Last February, the University Trustees resolved that VHUP be renamed as the Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (Almanac February 25, 2003). This is the first time a building on the Penn campus has been named for a state politician since Benjamin Franklin.

Why was Matt Ryan honored in such an remarkable way and why did we change the name of the small animal hospital? At both memorial services, the tributes were uniform in their outpouring of love and respect for Matt, he was revered by everyone on both sides of the aisle and his skills in leadership in the House are the stuff of legend. Matt loved the House of Representatives and did everything in his power to see that legislation was passed that brought the greatest benefit to the citizens of Pennsylvania. He was a brilliant leader with a steady finger on the pulse of the legislative agenda, he had a mischievous Irish wit and, despite his enormous power in Harrisburg, was among the most humble men you could ever wish to meet.

Sometimes, when I needed advice, I would call and ask him out for lunch. Matt's favorite place was a rather seedy little caf„ near his Media law office, where he would always have a chicken salad sandwich. Lunch never cost more than $5 and was fascinating as he shared advice that involved millions of dollars.

Matt loved the School and he loved his black Labrador, Magic; he probably would have been happiest if we had renamed VHUP as Magic's Hospital but this name could be too easily taken amiss. Matt was a humanist who cared deeply about the people of Pennsylvania and he readily understood that veterinary medicine was of enormous importance to the Commonwealth's number one industry, agriculture. He was very proud of the School and supported it in every way he could during more than three decades of leadership. Our current pre-eminence in veterinary medicine is a testament to Matt's unwavering support.

The University community, in expressing its admiration and affection for Matt Ryan, is honored to have his name associated with its Veterinary Hospital, an institution dedicated to serving the people of Pennsylvania, Matt's people. We cherish his memory and miss him enormously.

--Alan M. Kelly, The Gilbert S. Kahn Dean of Veterinary Medicine

Click here for the article "Ryan Veterinary Hospital".

  Almanac, Vol. 50, No. 5, September 23, 2003