The One Constant
It’s hard to imagine a more committed Penn alumnus than 2007 Parade Marshall E. Craig Sweeten C’37 (which explains why the Alumni House is named for him). Besides having worked at the University for more than four decades, he’s been president of his class—which celebrated its 70th Reunion this year—since his student days. Sweeten (right) was presented with a “resolution of appreciation” by the Penn Alumni Board of Directors on Saturday morning of Alumni Weekend, and offered this response, echoing remarks made at his retirement as senior vice president for development and public relations in 1981:

Long associations spur convictions, and I have my share of these. More compelling perhaps than any other is the conviction that you, you the alumni, are the rock upon which this institution rests and which fortifies its being.

Generations of students come, each generation important in its day, and then they recede like the tides. The faculty—and there are notable exceptions—are here for the most part because the working environment at the moment suits them. And administrators, when viewed in historical perspective, also are fleeting. But you the alumni are the one constant in the enduring nature of universities.

You are tolerant of the mistakes and ineptness that sometimes flaw our undertakings. You are firm, forthright, and constructive in your criticism, without becoming adversaries. You constantly put at the University’s disposal without thought of personal gain your experience, your prestige, your time, and your substance. Although your individual and collective interests are far-reaching and enormously varied, you never lose sight of the fact that the basic mission of the University is teaching and research, and, in the last analysis, it is the quality of the educational experience that holds us together.

Of all the institutions that have emerged from western civilization, nothing compares with the grandeur of a university, and universities will endure—their permanence assured if you continue in your traditional role of overseer, critic, protector, and provider.

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Alumni Weekend 2007
Photography by Addison Geary

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