Well Said

The following quotes from Penn professors and others appeared in publications across the country and around the world.

"The Christmas truce was the last twitch of the 19th century. It was the last public moment in which it was assumed that people were nice. It's the last gesture that human beings are getting better the longer the human race goes on. "
--Paul Fussel, professor emeritus of English, commenting on how the German and British soldiers swapped food during the first Christmas of World War I (U.S. News and World Report, Monday, November 11).

"This isn't of interest only to people who need livers. It is a case study of rationing. It is of fundamental interest to every American. All of us will have to confront the decision of what is fair in the allocation of scarce resources. This is a canary in a mine that all of us will have to enter. "
--Arthur Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics, commenting on the new liver transplant rules (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Friday, November 15).

"I don't want to paint a falsely rosy picture. Many of our students will have lots of money tempting them. But many ethical challenges are predictable, and our hope is that the ethics program at Wharton can teach them to identify the ethical challenges, and provide them with a framework that lets them wrestle with them more successfully. "
--Thomas Donaldson, professor of legal studies at Wharton, commenting on the need for ethics in business (Philadelphia Inquirer, Monday, December 2).

"We intend to light up University City house by house, street by street, block by block. "
-- Judith Rodin, president, commenting on a program to reduce off-campus crime by subsidizing exterior residential lighting (Philadelphia Daily News, Wednesday, December 4).

"For African-American athletes, there is often community pressure to publicly take stands on sensitive issues as well as strong internal pressure to do so. The same is not true of white athletes. Does anyone in American know where Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and other broad-based endorsers stand on any issues. "
-- Kenneth L. Shropshire, professor of legal studies at Wharton, commenting on how Tiger Woods' endorsements prospects are colored by race (Philadelphia Inquirer, Tuesday, November 26).

"I could tell you I have a statistical model where I can predict the gross national product in 2050 by cutting open chickens and counting grains in their stomachs. That's safe. No one will be around to check. "
-- Robert Stine, statistics professor, commenting on how statistics can mislead (Los Angeles Times, Friday, December 29).

"Misconceptions about race have led to forms of racism that have caused much social, psychological and physical harm. these misconceptions have their origin in various papers and books that depend heavily on old and outmoded biological concepts of race. "
-- Solomon Katz, professor of anthropology, in an article about how evidence has led most biologists and anthropologists to conclude that race has no biological reality (Houston Chronicle, Monday, November 11).

"The danger is, it brings in the wrong types of accounts. You don't want customers; you want good customers. "
-- Brian Wansink, professor of market at Wharton, on whether banks profit from putting their names on arenas (The American Banker, Monday, December 2).

"But what the hell. What are you going to do -- beat yourself up or just fix it? "
-- Dr. James M. Wilson, director of the Institute for Human Gene Therapy, expressing how he handles his frustration in getting research from the laboratory to the bedside (Philadelphia Inquirer, Friday, December 6).

"We do the best job of education in the world. "
Mary Russell, administrative coordinator for Penn's National Center on Adult Literacy, commenting on how statistics comparing the United States and other countries are misleading because other countries educate only the best qualified, and the United States has a large group of students who are studying English as a second language (Associated Press, Monday, December 9).

"Employees can be seen as an ultimate competitive advantage. If you treat them well, they'll pay you back in really hard work later on. "
-- Michael Useem, management professor at Wharton, commenting on a study showing some U.S. companies are emulating the corporate compassion shown by Aaron Feuerstein of Malden Mills, manufacturer of Polartec, when he rebuilt his burned-down mill (Associated Press, Monday, December 9).

"We are seeing all different kinds of permutations of mergers. There are lots of financial advantages even if you don't co-mingle your purses and are technically separate, the most important being your leverage in the marketplace, both with suppliers and managed-care companies. An arrangement like this can in the future change into a full-scale merger. "
-- Alan L. Hillman, director of Penn's Center for Health Policy, commenting on the parent company formed by two major New York hospitals, Beth Israel Medical Center and St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center (New York Times, Wednesday, December 11).

"It's practically impossible for the courts to ... decide when a government body should have regulated, given the enormous range of things it has to regulate and the limited budgets that governments have to regulate. "
-- Colin Diver, dean of the Law School, commenting on whether Philadelphia will be held liable for its failure to enforce cleanup of the tires that eventually, when ignited, destroyed part of I-95 (Philadelphia Inquirer, Wednesday, December 11).

"Unfortunately, the efforts to apply our linguistic knowledge in these cases has been hampered by the fact that people have violent feelings that this form of language should not be recognized or used in the classroom. "
-- William Labov, Fassitt professor of linguistics, commenting on the Oakland, Calif., schools' recognition of black English, or Ebonics (Philadelphia Inquirer, Sunday, December 22).

"I'd bet my house that nobody in the room disagreed. "
-- Ellen Prince, chair of linguistics, commenting on support for a resolution of the Linguistic Society of America commending Oakland schools for a plan to use Ebonics to teach black students standard English (Newsday, Sunday, January 5).

"There is the "constantly used argument that reading something is better than reading nothing. It is an impregnable position. But my question is: By presenting literature in this form, are we ensuring that children will never read the original? "
-- Lawrence Sipe, assistant professor in the Graduate School of Education, commenting on the return of Classic Comics after a 25-year hiatus (Philadelphia Inquirer, Tuesday, January 7).

Originally published on January 14, 1997