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Big Shoes

AS IN, "BIG SHOES TO FILL." It's a phrase we've been using a lot lately here at the Sweeten Alumni House. By the end of this month, we'll be looking at a couple of pairs of them, as two people who've been major contributors to this magazine and alumni relations at Penn will be moving on.
   First, Martha Z. Stachitas, CW'75, who is publisher of the Gazette as well as director of alumni relations and executive secretary of the Univertsity of Pennsylvania Alumni Society, will be leaving to move to Florida, where her husband, Leonard P. Stachitas, C'75, has been appointed director of resource development for the World Gold Federation. "It's a great opportunity for Len," she said, and "an adventure for the family." The Stachitas's have three boys: Chet, 14; Tucker, 12; and Ted, 8.
   Martha has presided over a major transition in the department. Alumni who deal regularly with this office know there are a lot of new faces here, new programs, and new ideas for more. As far as the magazine goes, she's been a wonderful supporter and advocate -- all an editor could ask for in a publisher.
   As she caught her breath following Alumni Weekend and Commencement (see stories on pages 12 and 32), Martha and I spoke briefly about life in a dual-career couple, what it's like to be leaving Penn, and what's been accomplished and what left to be done from her tenure.
   "I feel like I've prepared all my life for this job -- unintentionally," she began. Given that, she found it ironic that her "personal life is taking me away." On the other hand, such transitions are a fact of life when both halves of a couple work outside the home. "I've been rereading Composing a Life, by Mary Catharine Bateson, about life not being linear, how instead it goes in various directions," she said. Although she doesn't know what her next career step will be, she will stay connected with the University as a volunteer.
   Without "diminishing the accomplishments of the people before me," Martha cited "raising the visibility of the role of alumni in the life of the University" as a keynote of her term. Other projects under way, but not yet accomplished, include alumni education programs to give alumni more access to what "they chose the University for in the first place" and a move, through vehicles such as the alumni census, designed to "get more comprehensive and consistent feedback" from alumni.
   On the whole, she said, "A lot has been started. I'm less content with what has been completed." However, the direction set by the department has attracted wide support among alumni leaders and the University administration, so "it will not stop" with her departure, she added.
   A national search is under way for a new director, and alumni are encouraged to put their names forward. (See the ad on page 8.) "Anyone interested in the challenge of attracting the involvement of the busiest people to advocate for one of the best universities in the world," should apply, Martha said. "You have a defined client-base, great products to work with and create, and a great staff and volunteers." But a hard act to follow.

This is also the last issue of the magazine to be designed by our art director, Ezra Wolfe, who is relocating to Washington, D.C. Ezra joined the Gazette staff in September 1996, taking charge of the overall design and production of the magazine starting with the December 1996 issue. The Gazette has benefited enormously from his creativity in making the publication visually appealing and inviting to our readers. Besides the print version of the magazine, he also designed our Web site ( The Web site won a Bronze award from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) this year, and Ezra also received a Bronze Award for Visual Design in Print.
    -- John Prendergast, C'80

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