Getting It Right
In 1994, when the Gazette ran a story on Penns newly elected seventh president, Yale University Provost Judith Rodin CW66, the article was headlined, The President Who Wants to Get It Right.
Ten years later, as she prepares to leave College Hall, there is little disagreement on that score. Todays Penn students are more gifted than ever, and can get a better education here than they could when Rodin started her term; for alumni, the retrospective value of their Penn degree has increased markedly. The faculty is stronger and more productive; the campus facilities both far more attractive and much better able to serve students, faculty, and staff; and a concerted and sincere effort to improve relations with Penns neighbors and revitalize West Philadelphia is paying dividends on a number of fronts.
We detail some of the specific accomplishments of President Rodins tenure in the cover story and interview that begins on page 32, but her greatest contribution may be that she raised Penns sights, convincing a great University that it could be even more than that, could take its place among the handful of very best institutions in higher education.
Typically, Rodin herself says it best. Asked what she wanted to be remembered for, she replied: I want to be remembered as somebody who led Penn into the next part of its future, gave Penn back much-deserved self-confidence, and helped to transform the University. Again, she seems likely to get her wish.
The other two feature articles in this issue are otherwise very different from each other, but both revolve around a meticulous attention to detail and an acute awareness of social and emotional cues.
In Whos Who on the Savannah, associate editor Susan Frith profiles Penn primatologists Dr. Robert Seyfarth and Dr. Dorothy Cheney, whose fieldwork involves intense, non-invasive study of baboons in the wild to parse out how they establish and enforce social hierarchieswhich, as it turns out, they do with a nuanced sense of distinctions that demands comparison with the novels of Jane Austen.
In the case of alumni Peter Shelton C68 and Lee Mindel C73, partners in a New York-based interior-design firm, the species under observation is the client. In Creating Space, freelancer David Perrelli C01 tells how the partners figure out what their client truly wantseven when it is a couple who say they want opposing thingsto create their award-winning and very livable spaces.
Another presidentthe one in Washington is getting it all wrong, at least according to Richard Clarke C72, the terrorism expert whose testimony before the 9/11 Commission and recent book, Against All Enemies, launch[ed] a thousand op-ed columns, says our reviewer, Dennis Drabelle G61 L66. Besides laying out the case against the second Bush administrations response to terrorism before and after 9/11, the book is also a valuable primer on terrorism and offers a way of looking at the last two decades of American foreign policy that makes sense of any number of heretofore disparate phenomena, he adds.
Two stories in our Gazetteer section also relate to Iraqand
provide some slight counterweight to the rising violence in the country
as I write this. In his second letter
from Iraq, the Asch Center for the Study of Ethnopolitical Conflicts
Brendan OLeary gives a restrained yea for the recently
approved interim constitution, or Transitional Law, describing it as
far from perfect but a possible basis for a workable government. And
we also report on an exchange visit
by a group of Iraqi museum specialists to the University Museum to view
its Sumerian artifacts collected in the 1920s from what is now Iraq,
described by one Iraqi visitor as a courageous step and a smart
by both Iraqis and Americans.
John Prendergast C80
2004 The Pennsylvania Gazette