Campus Buzz

D.C. beckons: Penn’s fundraiser-in-chief, Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Virginia Clark, is off to Washington to fill the nation’s attic with cash. Clark will leave Penn at the end of the summer to become director of external affairs at the Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest museum and research complex. Officials there are hoping she will repeat the fundraising success she had here; during her eight years at the helm of Penn’s development office, Clark and her team raised more than $2.1 billion for the University, including $900 million for the Agenda for Excellence, and significantly improved its communications with alumni.

Diamonds are an inn’s best friend: That may explain why Inn at Penn General Manager David Newhart is ecstatic over his hotel’s having received four of them (out of a possible five) from the American Automobile Association. The AAA’s Four Diamond Award in its 2002 Tour Book caps what he said was a banner year for the Hilton-run hostelry; it was one of only two properties chain-wide to exceed all of its targets in the company’s annual review of operations, and, he said, it has the highest customer loyalty scores of any Hilton hotel.

Talking book: The Penn Reading Project has selected Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart” as the book incoming members of the Class of 2006 will read. Faculty and academic staff are encouraged to sign up to lead small discussion groups on the book. The historical novel, published in 1958, tells a tale of personal and cultural transition as a Nigerian tribesman struggles to distinguish himself from his ineffectual father against a backdrop of Christianity challenging the traditional Ibo way of life. If you would like to lead a group, contact David Fox in College Houses and Academic Services, or 215-573-5636.

Can’t take it with you? Whatever you do, don’t just throw your clothing, computers, kitchen supplies and other stuff away when you move out of campus housing. Penn Volunteers in Public Service can put it in the hands of people in need all over the city through its Move-Out Drive, which benefits One Day At A Time, Caring for Sharing, Women Against Abuse and the Digital Divide Program. To donate items to the drive, stop by Room 504, 133 S. 36th St., or call Isabel Mapp at 215-898-2020.

Penn in ink: Doctors have successfully gotten around a genetic defect that might have otherwise led to a Chicago woman’s giving birth to a child who would develop Alzheimer’s disease by age 40. Is it only a matter of time before prospective parents ask doctors to screen their genes for things like potential intelligence or cholesterol levels? According to Center for Bioethics Director Arthur Caplan, the answer is yes. He told Newsweek in a March 11 story on the feat, “With the [human] genome mapped and new tests coming out every day, the quest for better babies is inevitable.”

What’s the buzz? Tell us what’s happening! Give us a call at 215-898-1423, send e-mail to or drop a line to the Current at 200 Sansom East/6106.

Originally published on May 9, 2002