Campus Buzz

A big apple for the teacher: Perhaps the greatest testament to Dennis DeTurck’s reputation as a teacher is the presence of so many of his present and former students at his recent lecture on math education (see “Education”). They made up about one-third of the roughly 75 people who filled Houston Hall’s Ben Franklin Room. Many of them were visibly pleased to hear Provost Robert Barchi Gr’72,M’72,Hon’78 state that DeTurck would be the first occupant of a new term chair for excellence in teaching endowed by alumnus Evan Thompson W’64. So what does he plan to do during his three-year tenure in the chair?

“The answer to all of the questions you’re about to ask me is ‘I don’t know,’” DeTurck quipped to Buzz after the talk. Seriously, though, DeTurck says he is most grateful for the extra time to work on teaching. “The most precious commodity around this place is time,” he said. He plans to use that time to study how schools function—“the only way to find out is to go to them,” he said—and to be more directly involved with the Access Science program. DeTurck is the principal investigator for the program, whose goal is to help Philadelphia schoolteachers develop hands-on approaches to science, math and technology education.

Going the distance: And now for a tale of heart and muscle, courtesy of Megan Mariotti Nu’05. She completed her first Boston Marathon on April 19, turning in a time of 4 hours, 10 minutes for the granddaddy of American long-distance races. She also turned in $3,580 for multiple sclerosis research in honor of her uncle Peter, who has the disease. (Peter is the husband of Denise Mariotti in the Health System human resources office.) Mariotti ran as part of a team called Marathon Strides Against MS, whose members run Boston each year to raise funds for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Mariotti raised her share in the form of small donations from friends, family and classmates at Penn. “One of my friends gave me $1 a mile—she obviously thought I would finish, since she gave me $26.20,” Mariotti said.

Mariotti was not happy with her performance—her finishing time was 31 minutes slower than her Philadelphia Marathon run that qualified her for Boston—but, she said, “A lot of runners didn’t do as well as they thought they would. It was 87 degrees in Boston on marathon day.” She vowed to return, though. “I want to go back and do it again to redeem myself.”

Penn in ink: The transitional administrative law that will become the framework for an autonomous Iraqi government may have been cobbled together for all the wrong reasons, but it is still a solid base for a liberal democratic future, Brendan O’Leary argued in a Financial Times essay April 12. O’Leary, professor of political science and director of the Solomon Asch Center for the Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict, is serving as the constitutional advisor to the Kurdistan National Assembly, one of the groups that will participate in the new Iraqi regime.


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Originally published on April 29, 2004