Campus Buzz

A (relatively) quiet celebration: Although early-morning storms caused the cancellation of the academic procession down Locust Walk for the second year in a row, not a drop of rain dampened Commencement itself. The speaker, PBS “NewsHour” host Jim Lehrer, harbored no illusions about the importance of his speech: “I cannot remember what any of the speakers said at my graduation ceremonies,” he told the Franklin Field crowd. “In fact, I can’t even remember what they looked like.” His speech combined observations on journalism post-Sept. 11 (reports of its demise are greatly exaggerated, according to Lehrer) with stock advice for the graduates (to sum up: Take risks!). But the real crowd-pleasing part was a verbatim recital of the Trailways bus announcements he made as a youth in Texas. President Judith Rodin provided the event’s main dose of gravitas with her argument that foreign students wishing to study in the United States should not be among the casualties of Sept. 11.

Penn’s $407k plan works, thanks to you: The annual Penn’s Way workplace charitable campaign raised more than $407,000 for service organizations throughout the Philadelphia region this year, surpassing the drive’s $400,000 goal. Nearly 1,700 University employees contributed to this year’s drive, an impressive figure in light of the impact of the Sept. 11 tragedy on charitable giving across the nation. Noteworhy for their participation rates were Public Safety, with 100 percent of the staff contributing, and Human Resources, with 98 percent participation.

Brownlee drops anchor: For taking the helm of the College House project and successfully setting it afloat, History of Art Professor David Brownlee received a warm “Bon Voyage” sendoff from his fellow College House staff May 8. In addition to a bunch of nautical-themed gifts, including a “gargoyle” by sculptor Zenos Frudakis, Brownlee received a more permanent thank-you from President Judith Rodin, who announced that a tribute to his stewardship of the College Houses would be inscribed on the new seating wall in the refurbished Lower Quad.

Lights out at 90: When the temperature goes up, the lights go out. To reduce energy consumption, save money and ease the strain on the power grid, the University is asking that you turn off all lights during peak usage periods on days when the forecast high is 90 degrees or higher. Watch your e-mail for advisories.

Penn in ink: If you get the feeling those low inflation numbers don’t reflect your own situation, you may be right. Business Week reported June 3 that the official 1.6 percent inflation rate for last year hid significant differences based on city size. In the largest metropolitan areas, the inflation rate last year was 2.1 percent, while in small cities, it was a mere 0.7 percent. Professor of Real Estate and Finance Susan Wachter attributed the difference to housing, telling the magazine, “Housing prices have increased in cities faster than inflation.”

Originally published on June 20, 2002