News briefs

Home sweet home

A recent $6 million gift from the Barra Foundation and Robert L. McNeil Jr. is making a permanent home possible for the McNeil Center for Early American Studies. The new building will be located on 34th Street near Walnut. The grant will also be used to provide a permanent endowment for the building’s operational costs. Founded in 1978 by Richard S. Dunn, emeritus professor of American history, the McNeil Center specializes in the histories and cultures of North America.


The Wharton School has launched the Jay H. Baker Retailing Initiative with a $10 million gift from Patty and Jay H. Baker. In addition to a new undergraduate and MBA secondary concentration in retailing, the Baker Retailing Initiative has several interdisciplinary components. These include new courses focusing on retailing and marketing; a multi-year, cross-disciplinary retailing research project; and internships to support undergraduate students. The gift will also endow the Baker Leadership Scholars Program, which will offer financial support to Penn undergraduates.

Smithsonian Rx

University of Pennsylvania Museum Director Jeremy Sabloff and his colleagues on the national 18-member, all-volunteer Science Commission have given the Smithsonian Institution a new vision for its struggling science research programs. The commission, chaired by Sabloff, has proposed a four-pronged core mission, calling on the Smithsonian to renew its dedication to science by improving leadership, communications and funding. In their final report, the commission recommended that the Smithsonian concentrate research on the origin and nature of the universe, the formation and evolution of Earth and other planets, the discovery and understanding of life’s diversity and the study of human diversity and culture change.

Originally published on January 30, 2003