The Towne Building exemplifies the architectural character of Penn’s large laboratory buildings from the early 1900s. Constructed in 1906, it was originally known as the “New Engineering Building” and was the University’s largest structure. Later renamed in honor of industrialist, Penn trustee, and donor John Henry Towne, it is currently home to the office of the dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science.
In the history of Penn, Alice Emerson is the only person to hold the title of Dean of Students. Emerson came to Penn in 1966 as the Acting Dean of Women, and two months later, she was named Dean of Women. In 1969, the Penn Board of Trustees changed the Dean of Women title to Dean of Students, and Emerson became the first woman at an Ivy League school to hold the position.