Renaming Bennett Hall In Honor of Richard L. Fisher
SAS will rename Bennett Hall as Fisher-Bennett Hall in recognition of a leadership gift from Richard L. Fisher, C '63, G '67, a former Trustee and SAS Overseer.
SAS is engaged in a $21 million plan to renovate the 80-year-old building, once home to the College for Women. In addition to the English Department, Bennett Hall has housed several humanities programs and provided teaching space for courses across Penn.
In announcing the gift, President Amy Gutmann said, "By renovating Bennett Hall, we will strengthen the liberal arts at Penn. We will also help to maintain Penn's overall excellence and enhace the learning experience for students across the University. I am enormously grateful to Richard Fisher for making this possible."
A campus landmark since 1924 when it was built as a home for the education of female students—for 50 years women passed through its marble corridors in pursuit of knowledge. Since 1974 when the English Department moved in, Bennett Hall has become one of the most used campus buildings. It has served not only 500 English majors a year, but also nearly 10,000 undergraduates, who must take English and writing courses.
The renovation will increase seminar rooms, create a lecture hall, and undergraduate study center, and refurbish 13 classrooms. Soundproofing will diminish the intrusion of street noise on class discussions, while comfortable seating and better heating, lighting, and cooling will further enhance the learning experience.
The building will also be home to cinema studies and offer classrooms, practice rooms, and performance space for the music department. While it will be outfitted for the latest methods of teaching and learning, its distinctive architectural features, such as the main lobby, grand staircase, and marble hallways, will be preserved.
"Bennett Hall was my home at Penn," said Mr. Fisher. "As an English major and graduate student, it was in this building that I learned about myself and the world. Later, when I taught in Bennett Hall, I was able to share this knowledge with my students and continue to learn from them. Today's faculty and students deserve the best environment for their own work. I believe this project will provide just that. I am very pleased to be able to contribute toward its success."
Mr. Fisher, a senior partner of the NY real estate development firm Fisher Brothers, has had a long relationship with the English Department. He earned a B.A. with honors in English in 1963 and completed the coursework for a doctorate in 1967. Before turning to real estate, he was a teaching fellow and wrote for the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin and Philadelphia magazine. He is a generous supporter whose other gifts include the Richard L. Fisher Professorship in English.
Almanac, Vol. 51, No. 11, November 9, 2004
November 9, 2004
Volume 51 Number 11