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September 8, 2009, Volume 56, No. 02

Dr. Behl, South Asia Studies


Dr. Aditya ‘Adi’ Behl, associate professor of South Asia Studies, died in his sleep on August 22, as a result of a chronic medical condition, at the age of 43.

He earned  a BA in 1988 at Bowdoin College. He then attended the University of Chicago, where he was awarded both his master’s in religious studies in 1989 and his PhD in 1995.

Dr. Behl taught Urdu and Hindi literature and the medieval cultural history of South Asia. He taught in the department of South and Southeast Asian Studies at the University of California, Berkeley until his arrival at the University of Pennsylvania in 2001 as a visiting professor of religious studies; he was appointed an associate professor in South Asia studies in 2002. Dr. Behl went on to chair that department from 2004 to 2007, seeing it through transitions with vision and leadership. 

Dr. Behl’s scholarly interest was in the Indo-Muslim literature and culture of South Asia, particularly Sufi romances, but his competencies ranged across the history, religion, and literatures of the subcontinent and the fields of literary theory and religious studies. He published a translation, with Simon Weightman, of Madhumalati: An Indian Sufi Romance in 2000 (Oxford), and this year had completed a translation of the Mrgavati and large parts of a study on Sufi romances to be called “Hindavi Sufi Romances, Shadows of Paradise: An Indian Islamic Literary Tradition.” A few weeks ago, he wrote a major review essay on Sanskrit literature, “Sanskrit’s Hidden Gold” which was featured on the cover of the Times Literary Supplement.

“Beyond these major works and a number of influential scholarly articles, Dr. Behl was known for his love of Hindustani music, and his deep knowledge of Hindi and Urdu literature, which he often recited to the pleasure of his listeners,” according to Dr. Daud Ali, chair of South Asia Studies. “He was, without a doubt, one of the leading scholarly lights of his generation, widely known and deeply loved by his teachers, students and colleagues alike. At Penn, his service to both the school and the cause of South Asia was considerable, and he worked tirelessly to ensure that Penn remained among the top institutions in the field of South Asian Studies.”

Dr. Behl is survived by his parents, Col. and Mrs. Behl; his sister, Aradhna Behl; brother-in-law, Ashwani Nagpal and nephew, Anhad Nagpal.
A memorial service at Penn will take place on Sunday, September 20. Details to come.

Update from the South Asia Studies Department and South Asia Center:

A memorial service and reception will be held on Sunday, September 20, 2009 at 1:00 PM in the Rosenwald Gallery of Van Pelt Library to honor Dr. Aditya Behl who passed away suddenly on August 22, 2009.  We are extending an invitation to the campus community to join his family and friends at the memorial service.  Dr. Behl was an alumnus of the Doon School in India, Bowdoin College and the University of Chicago, where he earned his PhD in History of Religions in 1995.  He was an Associate Professor in the Department of South Asia Studies at Penn for the past seven years and devoted his efforts to building the study of South Asia at Penn through dedicated teaching and mentoring of graduate students and service as the Undergraduate Chair, Graduate Chair, and Department Chair.

For directions and other information related to the Memorial Service, please see the website of the South Asia Center at the University of Pennsylvania: http://www.southasiacenter.upenn.edu/


Ms. Bereznycky, Lippincott Library

Maria Bereznycky, a retired staff member in the Lippincott Library at the Wharton School, passed away July 6. She was 103 years old.

Born March 14, 1906 in the Ukraine, Ms. Bereznycky immigrated to the US in 1949. She was hired by the University of Pennsylvania in 1957 as a hand bindery worker in the printing and duplicating department in the Lippincott Library. She retired in 1977. Later, she moved to Vineland to live with her family.

Ms. Bereznycky is survived by a daughter, Natalie Redka; grandchildren, George and Natalie; and great-grandchildren, Natasha and Nadia.

Memorial contributions may be made to Sts. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Church, 77 Hogbin Road, Millville, NJ 08332.


Ms. Bolotsky, ENIAC Programmer

Gloria Gordon Bolotsky, a programmer in the 1940s for the first all-purpose digital computer, ENIAC, died June 30 of cancer. She was 87.

A graduate of Brooklyn College, Ms. Bolotsky was assigned by the US Army’s Women’s Auxiliary Corps to the University of Pennsylvania in the 1940s after working for the Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York. She was part of a group of women with mathematics degrees and other specially trained recruits that conducted ballistic computation on ENIAC. Her group followed the six women who initially programmed ENIAC. She moved with the group in 1947 to the Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland.

Ms. Bolotsky is survived by her daughters, Susan Konick, Lois Bolotsky, Robin Carroll and Nita Lemanski; and eight grandchildren.


Ms. Easley, Faculty Club

Shirley M. Easley, a retired staff member in the Faculty Club, passed away May 19, at age 78.

Ms. Easley had worked at the Faculty Club (Almanac November 15, 1979), now the University Club at Penn, for 25 years. She retired in 1999 when the Club moved to its current location at the Hilton Inn at Penn. In her role as a club room manager, she was responsible for all events in the Club Room and for catering events outside the Club. Prior to coming to Penn, she worked at the restaurant maintained in the YMCA in Center City.


Professor Goldstein, Penn Law

Stephen R. Goldstein, a former Penn Law professor who became dean of the law school at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, died in Israel on May 17 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 70.

Professor Goldstein graduated summa cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania in 1959 and from Penn Law School in 1962, where he was a member of the Order of the Coif.

Following law school, he practiced law at Wolf, Block, Schorr & Solis-Cohen and clerked for US Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg. He returned to the Law School in 1966, teaching Civil Procedure until he left for Israel in 1976.

Over the course of nearly 30 years Professor Goldstein became a leading legal scholar in Israel. “Over the years, as the Israeli legal system became more similar to the US system, Steve’s ability to translate the US experience was invaluable to the development of Israeli civil procedure,” said Edward B. Rock, the Saul A. Fox Distinguished Professor of Business at Penn Law. He wrote five books and published more than 100 book chapters and papers on issues ranging from civil procedure to child welfare.

Professor Goldstein was a member of the faculty at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem from 1976 to 2004, serving as dean of the law school for three years.

Professor Goldstein is survived by his wife, Gertrude; children, Marcie Wattelman and Dr. Richard Goldstein; and his five grandchildren, Maya, Ben, Nitsan, Roey and Daniel.


Dr. Graham, Materials Science and Engineering


Dr. William ‘Bill’ R. Graham, professor emeritus of materials science and engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, passed away July 15 from cancer. He was 70.

A native of Melbourne, Australia, Dr. Graham received a BS and an MS in physics from the University of Melbourne in 1959 and 1961, and a PhD from Oxford University in 1965.

He began his career as a research associate at Yale University, where he became assistant professor in 1968. He came to Penn in 1974 as associate professor, was awarded tenure in 1978 and became professor of materials science and engineering in 1986. He has also served as chair of the undergraduate program in materials science and engineering. Dr. Graham retired in 2008 but continued to teach until he became ill.

Dr. Graham built a scholarly research record in geometric, electronic, and vibrational structure and properties of surfaces and thin-film interface systems. He received many awards including the S. Reid Warren Jr. Award for Distinguished Teaching, the UPS Foundation Distinguished Educator Term Chair, the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching and the Ford Motor Company Award for Faculty Advising.

Dr. Graham is survived by his two daughters, Alison and Elizabeth; a sister; and a brother.

Memorial donations may be made to the University of Pennsylvania Abramson Cancer Center, Penn Medicine Office of Development, 3535 Market St., Philadelphia, PA 19104.


Mr. Gunther, Wharton

Robert E. Gunther, former Wharton Communications director of development and director of publications, executive education, passed away August 13 from stomach cancer. He was 48.

Following graduation from Princeton University in 1983, Mr. Gunther was a staff writer at the Press of Atlantic City for 15 years. He was on the staff at the Wharton School from 1988-1997 and then worked as a consultant at the Aresty Institute of Executive Education at Wharton. He contributed to Wharton@Work, the e-newsletter for Wharton Executive Education.

A founder of Gunther Communications, Mr. Gunther co-authored or collaborated on more than 20 books with leading business professors.Among his books, Your Job Survival Guide: A Manual for Thriving in Change, which he co-wrote with Gregory Shea, uses water as a metaphor and the kayak as a way to navigate the turbulence of the modern workplace.

He had been working with Paul Schoemaker, adjunct professor of marketing, on a book entitled Brilliant Mistakes, which Mr. Shoemaker plans to finish in honor of Mr. Gunther.

Mr. Gunther is survived by his wife, Cindie;  and children, Anders, Larkspur and Pelle.

Memorial donations can be made to the Cancer Recovery Foundation, PO Box 238, Hershey, PA 17033, or www.cancerrecovery.org.

The Philadelphia Canoe Club is sponsoring a Fundraiser and Barbecue for his family on Saturday, October 10, 1-4 p.m. at the Club, 4900 Ridge Avenue. RSVP at www.philacanoe.org.


Dr. Hurley, Dermatology

Dr. Harry J. Hurley, Jr., clinical professor of dermatology in the School of Medicine, passed away July 26 at age 82.

A practicing dermatologist for over 50 years, Dr. Hurley had offices in Upper Darby and then in West Chester until his retirement in 2008. He began teaching at Penn in the 1950s following his residency at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. His research with Dr. Walter Shelley, professor of dermatology, led to the development of the Hurley-Shelley axillary resection technique to surgically treat excessive underarm sweating. Dr. Hurley was the author or co-author of many professional articles and books, including the textbook Dermatology, which was co-authored with Dr. Shelley.

In addition to his teaching at Penn, Dr. Hurley served as chief of dermatology for Hahnemann University Hospital (1959-1962) and then Philadelphia General Hospital (1962-1973).

In the 1960s, Dr. Hurley was the founding president of the Pennsylvania Academy of Dermatology. He was a past president of the American Dermatological Association and the American Board of Dermatology.

Dr. Hurley graduated from St. Joseph’s College. He earned his medical degree from Thomas Jefferson University in 1949.

Dr. Hurley is survived by sons, Harry III and Jeffrey; daughters, Susan Paul, Marilyn Whiteman and Nancy Butler; 10 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.


Professor Mishkin, Law School

Paul Mishkin, a member of the Penn Law faculty from 1951 to 1975, died on June 26 at the age of 82.

Professor Mishkin joined the faculty immediately after graduating from Columbia University Law School. He also earned his undergraduate degree from Columbia in 1947.

With an interest in the federal court system, Professor Mishkin published major articles where he articulated insights into the meaning and purpose of the Constitution’s allocation of authority between state and federal courts. He co-authored two major teaching books, On Law in Courts, a pioneering contribution to the first-year curriculum, and The Federal Courts and the Federal System. He served on the US Permanent Committee for the Oliver Wendell Holmes Devise, a comprehensive survey of the development of the Supreme Court.

He also participated in a wide range of constitutional litigation in the US Supreme Court including the reverse discrimination case, Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, a case in which the court ruled that race was a legitimate factor in school admissions but the use of inflexible quotas was not. He was also reported to have been on President Gerald Ford’s short list of Supreme Court appointments.

Professor Mishkin was also a mentor to young faculty. “He was a wonderfully supportive colleague when you talked about scholarship and he was one of those who taught me how to write, teach and be an academic,” said Jim Strazzella, L’64, a former student of Professor Mishkin’s and later a colleague when he joined the Penn Law faculty and was vice dean.

After teaching for 22 years at Penn Law, Professor Mishkin joined the University of California, Berkeley’s law faculty in 1973.

Professor Mishkin is survived by his son, Jonathan Westover.


Mr. Skirkanich, Trustee & Overseer


J. Peter “Pete” Skirkanich, an alumnus, trustee and overseer, died of a heart attack August 14 while traveling with his wife and children in St. Petersburg, Russia. He was 66 years old.

He had remained active at Penn since his graduation from the Wharton School in 1965. A trustee since 2002, he served as a member of the Facilities and Campus Planning Committee, as well as the Budget and Finance Committee and its Debt Subcommittee.  

Mr. Skirkanich had also been an active member of the School of Engineering and Applied Science Board of Overseers since 1997. He served as co-chair of Penn Engineering’s “Making History through Innovation” capital campaign and as a member of the University’s “Making History” steering committee. His generous support for Penn Engineering paved the way for Skirkanich Hall, a 58,400-square-foot laboratory facility that houses the department of bioengineering (Almanac April 2, 2002). Mr. Skirkanich also endowed three Skirkanich Professorships of Innovation in support of young engineering faculty and the Peter and Geri Skirkanich Endowed Scholarships to provide financial aid to undergraduate engineering students.

Working in investment management for 35 years, Mr. Skirkanich founded and was the retired president of Fox Asset Management.
Mr. Skirkanich is survived by his wife, Geri; mother, Helen; and children, Jack, Brett and Erik.

Penn Engineering has established the J. Peter Skirkanich memorial fund. Donate online at www.seas.upenn.edu/giving/giving-priorities.php.

Donations may also be made to the Red Bank, New Jersey Community YMCA.


Dr. Touchstone, Obstetrics and Gynecology

Dr. Joseph C. Touchstone, professor emeritus of obstetrics and gynecology in the School of Medicine, passed away July 26 at age 87.

In 1952 Dr. Touchstone came to Penn’s School of Medicine as a research associate. He was appointed research assistant professor of biochemistry in 1958 and a year later appointed the same title in the department of obstetrics and gynecology. After working in the Harrison Department of surgical research for eight years, he became a full professor in 1968 and was accorded emeritus status in 1992.

Revered as a pioneer in biochemical chromatography, Dr. Touchstone studied amniotic fluid to determine the level of fetal lung viability in women who were at risk of having premature infants. He also conducted research on steroids. He cofounded the Chromatography Forum of Delaware Valley and served as its first president.

Dr. Touchstone earned a bachelor’s degree from Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas and a master’s degree in organic chemistry from Purdue University. He earned a doctorate in biochemistry and organic chemistry from St. Louis University.

Dr. Touchstone is survived by his wife, Phyllis, N’53; sons, Andrew, Michael and David; and six grandchildren.

Memorial donations may be made to Alex’s Lemonade Stand, 333 Lancaster Ave., Wynnewood, PA 19096.

To Report A Death

Almanac appreciates being informed of the deaths of current and former faculty and staff members, students, and other members of the University community.

However, notices of alumni deaths should be directed to the Alumni Records Office at Room 545, Franklin Building, (215) 898-8136 or e-mail record@ben.dev.upenn.edu.

Almanac - September 8, 2009, Volume 56, No. 02