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University Council Coverage

December 14, 2010, Volume 57, No. 15

The December 8 Council Meeting—the last of the fall semester—was moderated by Dr. Lance Donaldson Evans and consisted of an update on Penn’s Relationship with West Philadelphia, followed by the Open Forum.

President Amy Gutmann introduced the topic of Penn’s Relationship with West Philadelphia, noting that Penn has been tearing down barriers and fostering diverse initiatives that involve students, faculty and staff from Penn’s schools and centers such as the Netter Center, Civic House and the Fox Leadership Program. She quoted Ben Franklin’s proverb: “well done is better than well said” and cited the fact that more than 4,000 Philadelphia students benefited from more than 50,000 hours of Penn’s volunteer work last year. President Gutmann mentioned that Penn students and other members of the Penn community are involved in diverse initiatives including education, health, and local engagement.

Penn Alexander School students benefit from the expertise of GSE’s students and faculty as well as other Penn students who have helped the children excel in literacy, math and science. There are eight additional schools that Penn also assists in West Philadelphia.

Public health is another area that has benefited from clinics such as the Drew Health Collaborative, the Penn Mobile Trials Units, the United Community Clinic and the Sayre Health Center.

Penn has contributed to the local economy, purchasing more than $100 million in products and services from local businesses in FY 2010.

There was then a presentation by a panel of students who are involved in community outreach. The panel was moderated by Dr. Eugenie Birch, co-director of Penn’s Institute of Urban Research.

Jasmine Hoskins, C’11, spoke about the Community Schools Student Partnerships operated through the Netter Center. She directs CSSP which now has 350 students who are mentors in six public schools in West Philadelphia.

Angela Redai, a third-year law student, is involved in the Entrepreneurship Legal Clinic which provides pro bono legal services. She is working with the Enterprise Center’s Center for Culinary Enterprises.

Brian Mertens, C’11, and a Civic Scholar, has worked with the Urban Nutrition Initiative,  an organization committed to food justice and youth empowerment.

Meredith Curtis, a second-year medical student, has worked with the Hypertension Program at United Community Clinics where she has served as the medical director of the program that sees patients without insurance.

Laura Steel, C’12, is involved with Big Brothers/Big Sisters; Penn has the largest campus-based BB/BS program and their goal is to have 450 matches next year.

There were two questions raised during the Open Forum portion of the meeting. The first concern centered around the traditional “toast toss” at the end of the third quarter of the football games when the Penn Band plays, “Drink a Highball” and the lyrics include “a  toast to dear old Penn.” Pranav Merchant, C’11, said it seems inconsistent with Penn’s quest to go green and be sustainable.

Michael Mahoney, director of athletic communications, said that Penn Athletics uses only stale bread from Aramark and the bread is being composted; Athletics makes donations to food banks to offset the perceived waste.

The second question concerned the decentralized nature of alumni development which Christa Heyward, a grad student in the School of Medicine, suggested was detrimental to building loyalty to the University.

John Zeller, vice president for development and alumni relations, said that the Making History Campaign includes non-financial objectives to engage all constituents.

Secretary of the University Leslie Kruhly announced that this would be Brenda Brand’s last Council meeting as associate director of the Secretary’s Office; she is becoming the associate director of the Tutoring Center next month.


Almanac - December 14, 2010, Volume 57, No. 15