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… And Many More

This is the last of our six issues commemorating the Gazette’s 100th year of publication. It is also our actual 100th anniversary issue, calculating from when the first Old Penn, as the magazine was called until 1918, appeared on November 14, 1902. So once again, Happy Birthday to us.

During 2002 we’ve looked at the University as reflected in the pages of the Gazette from a variety of angles—the faculty who’ve taught here, sports and Penn rituals, the buildings that have shaped the campus environment. We round out the series with a focus on Penn’s student (and, therefore, alumni) population and how it has changed during the past century.

That story, in its essence, is about how the campus has become home to more and more different kinds of people. President Rodin, in a comment she made in September dedicating the Carriage House as the LGBT Center, put it this way: “When you study the history of Penn as I have done since coming back, you see a university always testing and always moving in one direction, and that is toward more inclusion and greater acceptance—of women, of racial, ethnic, religious, and sexual minorities.”

That journey still has a way to go—our multi-ethnic, dual-gender version of Founder Ben Franklin on the cover certainly overshoots the present reality—but it is also certainly true that no student of University history (or peruser of back issues of the Gazette) could deny the progress that has been made.

It’s a curious fact—to some members of the mainstream culture, at least—that as new groups have made the overall campus community more diverse, they have simultaneously moved to create organizations designed to set themselves apart. The article “Safe Places” explores the dynamic involved, through interviews with alumni (who in some cases are also Penn staff) about the struggles to provide resources for women, African Americans, and sexual minorities on campus, as well as the special challenges facing international students.

For “Alumni Voices: The Deluxe Edition,” we invited about 100 alumni of different ages and backgrounds to contribute memories of their student days in search of “a multi-generational picture of life on Penn’s campus.” More than 30 responded, with recollections both sweet and bitter, and widely varied in subject. A dozen or so—which have mostly had to be edited down—were all we could fit in the print magazine. But full-length versions of those, plus all the others, are available on our Web site (www.upenn.edu/gazette).

Our hope is that these will be the beginning of a growing archive of alumni recollections, a self-sustaining oral—that is, e-mail—history of Penn. Please add a memory of your own when you visit the site. Be one of the first 100 alumni to do so, and you’ll receive one of our Gazette Centennial commemorative stainless-steel travel mugs.

Two features focus on today’s campus and students: For the photo essay, “Here, Now,” we sent photographers out to record how students spend their time, whether in the library and classrooms, lounging at a sunny table in the newly named University Square at 36th and Walnut streets, engaging in extracurricular activities, or entertaining themselves in ways both new (the rock-climbing wall at the Pottruck Center) and time-tested (hanging out at Smoke’s). For this story, too, there is much more to see on our Web site. And to get the freshest possible take on student life, associate editor Susan Frith tracked down and interviewed a sampling of freshmen as they negotiated their first weeks on campus in “2006: A Penn Odyssey.”

Last but not least, in “Finals,” we provide one more Gazette timeline—a bicentennial one—courtesy of senior editor Samuel Hughes. (For whoever is editor when that milestone is celebrated, I have two pieces of advice: Start planning sooner, and dust off the old volumes more frequently.)

We hope you’ve enjoyed the Centennial issues, and we’ll be back in two months to kick off the Gazette’s second century.

—John Prendergast C’80

 

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Copyright 2002 The Pennsylvania Gazette Last modified 11/04/02