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Coverage of Trustees’ Stated Meeting
October 31, 2006, Volume 53, No. 10

At Friday’s Stated Meeting of the Trustees—their first full meeting of the academic year—Chairman James Riepe mentioned the inaugural Leonore Annenberg Lecture in Public Service and Global Understanding which had been held the previous evening. Ambassador John Negroponte, Director of National Intelligence, had spoken on The World of the 21st Century—International Careers in Public Service.

Memorial resolutions were passed for two recently deceased former trustees: Fitz Eugene Dixon and Richard L. Fisher (Almanac September 5, 2006). A resolution of appreciation was passed for Leonard A. Shapiro. Stephen Heyman was elected as an emeritus trustee. Three trustees were elected to five-year stints as term trustees effective January 1, 2007 upon the expiration of their current term as alumni trustees: Paul S. Levy, Edward J. Mathias, and Susan Taylor.

President Amy Gutmann announced three faculty appointments that will be effective January 1, including two new PIK Professors (see page 1). Dr. Gutmann said that next year the University will be converting some parking lots into green spaces as part of the Penn Connects master plan, and the University’s largest fundraising Campaign will be officially launched. She noted Skirkanich Hall, the new engineering building, was dedicated last Thursday (see below), and Hill Pavilion, the new veterinary medicine building, will be dedicated next month. Dr. Gutmann announced that Penn will keep Early Decision since it helps the University enroll a class that is enthusiastic about being at Penn, but she said that Penn will lead the national debate for more need-based financial aid for middle- and low-income students. The president said that as of last week, there was over $1 billion for the upcoming Campaign’s nucleus fund. Dr. Gutmann presented the resolution, which was unanimously passed, to reappoint Dr. Arthur Rubenstein as EVP of the University for the Health System and as Dean of the School of Medicine. Also passed were resolutions to appoint Joann Mitchell as Vice President of Institutional Affairs and to appoint Anne Papageorge as Vice President for Facilities and Real Estate.

Provost Ron Daniels said that he was pleased to announce Dr. Steve Fluharty will lead Penn’s research efforts as Vice Provost for Research (Almanac October 24, 2006). Provost Daniels said there will be a new pilot program created by Dr. Walter Licht, for undergraduates. The Provost also mentioned that the School of Design’s Praxis team of faculty and students is working on a design for the seven-mile stretch of the Delaware River from Oregon Avenue to Allegheny Avenue.

EVP Craig Carnaroli reported that Penn had a very successful year for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2006. Contributions grew significantly; total contributions exceeded $408 million in FY06. The University’s AIF endowment returned 12.5%, exceeding the benchmark and the FY05 performance of 8.5%.

Dr. Arthur Rubenstein reported that the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine (Almanac December 6, 2005) is rising up from the foundation; phase 1 is scheduled to open in 2008.

Paul Williams reported that two new alumni trustees will begin in January. This past weekend, Homecoming consisted of more than 50 activities including a panel on Access to Education and the premiere of a landmark documentary presented by the James Brister Society, chronicling 125 years of diversity at Penn. Mr. Riepe noted that 27 former trustees were back for Homecoming weekend.

Dr. Deborah Marrow gave the Academic Policy committee report, noting that faculty recruitment and retention requires a multi-faceted approach.

John Clark presented four resolutions from the Budget and Finance Committee which were all approved: to authorize use of the Erdman Trust to acquire property in Tredyffrin Township for the Erdman Educational Center; to proceed with the design phase to renovate the Music Building and add an extension, $1.55 million; to renovate Stemmler 5th floor for rheumatology and geriatric divisions of Medicine, $1.16 million; and to expand the zebra fish facility in Johnson Pavilion, $1.615 million.

David Silfen gave the Development Committee report and noted that Penn set an all-time high record: $492 million in new gifts and pledges had been received.

Andrea Mitchell’s External Affairs Committee report noted that as the mid-term elections are approaching, the Annenberg Public Policy Center’s FactCheck.org has become the industry standard for verifying politicians’ claims. Justice Talking is now not only a radio show with a website, but has branched out with other initiatives to reach a wider audience. The student group, Penn Leads the Vote has been active during this semester.

William Mack’s Facilities and Campus Planning Committee report described the Weave Bridge, a pedestrian bridge, that would cross the Amtrak rail lines near Bower Field next summer; it was designed by structural engineer Cecil Balmond, the Paul Philippe Cret Professor of Architecture. Mr. Mack said there were ten landscape projects recently completed, including the Trolley  at 37th and Spruce Streets.

The Neighborhood Initiatives committee heard a report on Penn’s retail strategy, Gil Casellas said. Many of the independent operators have sales exceeding national average.

Ribbon-Cutting on Skirkanich Hall
Interior - Skirkanich Hall

At last Thursday’s Dedication of Skirkanich Hall (from left to right) Trustee Chairman Jim Riepe, and Erik Skirkanich watch as the ribbon was cut by the donors—Geri O. Skirkanich, and J. Peter Skirkanich, W ’65—and President Amy Gutmann applauded a new era in Penn Engineering, SEAS Dean Eduardo Glandt, and Brett Skirkanich.

A view of the interior of Skirkanich Hall, a 58,000 square foot research and teaching facility—the new home to bioengineering.It is located at 210 South 33rd Street. The architects for Penn Engineering’s  newest building are the husband-and-wife New York team of Tod Williams and Billie Tsien. This project springs from a $14 million Leadership Development Award from the Whitaker Foundation, and a generous $10 million gift from Overseer and Trustee Peter Skirkanich and his wife Geri—the largest gift by an individual in Penn Engineering’s history.


Almanac - October 31, 2006, Volume 53, No. 10