News Briefs

Fun for the little ones

Children's Festival

Nathea Lee

The Philadelphia International Children’s Festival returns to the Annenberg Center for the 2015 season, held May 7-9. The Festival attracts more than 10,000 children and families annually, and this year’s lineup includes performances that run the gamut from dance and live music to acrobatic tricks and dramatic theater.

On the 2015 schedule will be Pilobolus Dance Theater, a renowned dance troupe that uses gymnastics, technology, and playful props in their work; the Catherine Wheels Theatre Company, which will present the play “Lifeboat”; Daniel Bernard Roumain, who will perform the show, “Orchestra of Life,” a tribute to Bob Marley; Playing By Air, which is a mix of music, juggling, and circus; Circo Comedia, which includes acrobatic tricks, students, and magic; and a screening of the movie “Watermelon Magic.” Tickets to the Festival include admission to the FUN ZONE, which features interactive performances and activities on the Annenberg Center’s outdoor plaza.

For a list of performance times and tickets, visit the Annenberg Center’s website.

Lunchtime treats

University City’s 30th Street Station isn’t just a place to hop off or on a train at the beginning or end of a workday. On the plaza outside the station, The Porch, it’s also a place to take in some midday live music, chow down on offerings from food trucks, and bask in the spring sunshine.

On Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., food trucks parked at The Porch include Say Cheese and Braz-BQ (Mondays); Farm Truck and Sum Pig (Tuesdays); Taco Mondo and Whirly Pig (Wednesdays); SpOt Burger, Mac Mart (on April 23) and Phoebe’s BBQ (Thursdays); and Pitruco Pizza and Mucho Bueno (Fridays).

Accordion player Dan Nosheny entertains lunchtime visitors on Tuesdays from noon to 1 p.m., while acoustic guitarist and vocalist David Falcone performs on Wednesdays from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. On Friday, April 17, from noon to 1 p.m., DJ Shawn Ryan will spin funk, soul, and reggae, and on April 24, the South Pacific Island Dancers provide Luau and Polynesian entertainment, also from noon to 1 p.m.

To keep informed about all events at The Porch, go to

Open Enrollment

Open Enrollment, the annual opportunity to make changes to health care benefits, runs from Monday, April 20, through Friday, May 1. There will be changes to the prescription carrier, the Health Care Flexible Spending Account, and several health and dental plans. Changes made during Open Enrollment will take effect on July 1.

An Open Enrollment Fair will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday, April 21, at New Bolton Center, Alumni Hall, and an Open Enrollment and Wellness Fair will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, April 22, at Houston Hall in the Hall of Flags. There will also be several presentations, where attendees can get more information and ask questions. Sessions take place on Monday, April 20, Friday, April 24, and Thursday, April 30, at noon at Claudia Cohen Hall, Terrace Room; on Monday, April 27, at 1 p.m. in Houston Hall, Bodek Lounge; and Tuesday, April 28, at noon at Perelman School of Medicine, BRB.

For more information, go to the Penn Human Resources website and click on the “Faculty/Staff/Retirees” portal at the top of the page.

Pennvention winners

Five seniors from the School of Engineering and Applied Science are this year’s winners of the Pennvention Competition, a technology innovation contest open to all  students at the University. The winning team, comprised of Adrian Lievano, Matthew Lisle, Aadithya Prakash, Freddy Hernandez, and Steven Xing, won for BionUX, or Bionic Upper Extremity, which is a low-cost prosthesis for above-the-arm amputees.

Lievano and Lisle were also recently awarded President's Engagement Prizes for a homegrown organic purification project.

Teams competing in Pennvention develop a new product and work with established mentors to vie for more than $20,000 in cash prizes.

To read more about all of the finalists, visit

Lipman Prize

Earlier this month, the Wharton School announced the winner of the fourth annual Barry & Marie Lipman Family Prize: Riders for Health, an international social enterprise
that enables public health care services to reach rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa in predictable, reliable, and cost-effective ways. Chosen from more than 75 organizations worldwide that devote themselves to social impact and building sustainable solutions for social and economic challenges, Riders for Health will receive $125,000 and official recognition at an award ceremony on April 30.

For more information, visit

Fast, Faster, Fastest


Kyle Toomey

From April 23 through 25, athletes and fans of track and field will descend on Franklin Field for the Penn Relay Carnival. This event—the oldest and largest track and field competition in the country—features athletes from high schools, colleges, and track clubs, as well as Olympians.

Events begin at 10 a.m. on Thursday, April 23 and at 9 a.m. on Friday, April 24. Tickets for those days are $18 for general admission and $24 for reserved seats. On Saturday, April 25, events begin at 9 a.m. and tickets run $30 to $60.

For more information and tickets, visit the Penn Relays website.

Two new deans

Two schools at Penn will be getting new deans: Theodore Ruger has been named the dean of Penn Law School and Vijay Kumar has been named the dean of the School of  Engineering and Applied Science. Both positions are effective July 1.

Ruger has served as a member of the Penn Law faculty for more than a decade and as the school’s deputy dean since 2013. At Penn, Ruger has taught a wide range of classes in constitutional law, health law and regulation, legislation, and food and drug law and policy.

He has also served in a variety of critical roles in the school, including three terms as a member of the faculty appointments committee, one as chair and another as co-chair. Ruger was a co-author of the Law School’s diversity action plan and is currently serving as the Law School’s diversity action officer. He also served as an advisor to the University of Pennsylvania Law Review. Ruger succeeds Michael A. Fitts, who served with distinction for 14 years before assuming the presidency of Tulane University in 2014.

Kumar joined the Penn Engineering faculty in 1987 and currently serves as UPS Foundation Professor with appointments in the departments of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics, Computer and Information Science, and Electrical and Systems Engineering. As deputy dean for education in 2008-12, he was instrumental in the creation of several  innovative master’s degree programs.

Earlier, he served from 2005-08 as chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics, from 2000-04 as deputy dean for research, and from 1998-2004 as director of the General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception, or GRASP, Laboratory, a multidisciplinary robotics and perception lab. Kumar is recognized around the world for his groundbreaking work on the development of autonomous robots and on biologically inspired algorithms for collective behavior. Kumar succeeds Eduardo Glandt, who had a distinguished 17-year term as dean.

Gutmann honored with ACE award

Penn President Amy Gutmann has received the 2015 Reginald Wilson Diversity Leadership Award from the American Council on Education (ACE), the major coordinating body for all the nation’s higher education institutions. The award is given annually to an individual who has made outstanding contributions and demonstrated sustained commitment to diversity in higher education.

The award is named in honor of Reginald Wilson, senior scholar emeritus at ACE and founding director of the Council’s Office of Minority Concerns.

“It is a privilege to present the 2015 Reginald Wilson Diversity Leadership Award to Amy Gutmann, whose vision and leadership at the University of Pennsylvania and elsewhere has shown her dedication to increasing access to higher education to all students,” says ACE President Molly Corbett Broad. “She has worked tirelessly to assist students in pursuing their dream of a college degree.”

Go outside

According to the EPA, Americans spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors. This spring, the Penn Green Campus Partnership hopes to inspire people to spend more time outdoors. The 30x30 Challenge is an event running from April 1 to 30 in which participants are asked to spend at least 30 minutes outdoors each day for 30 consecutive days. The Challenge is open to all Penn faculty and staff; the last day to sign up is March 25.

“Aside from the benefits of being outdoors, the hope is to ground folks and put us back in touch with why we’re engaged in climate change and energy conservation activities in the first place,” says Dan Garofalo, Penn’s director of environmental sustainability.

To sign up, fill out the form at Optional group activities will be scheduled throughout the month and a closing picnic will celebrate the completion of the Challenge. Additional suggestions will be emailed weekly, and daily tips and other information will be posted in the Facebook group:

Email with any questions.

Power is 259th Commencement speaker

Samantha Power

Samantha Power, the United States permanent representative to the United Nations, a member of President Obama’s cabinet, and a Pulitzer-prize winning author, will deliver the address at Penn’s 2015 Commencement on Monday, May 18. As U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Power works to advance U.S. interests and address pressing challenges to global peace, security, and prosperity. Prior to her current role, Power served as special assistant to President Obama and senior director for multilateral affairs and human rights on the national security staff at the White House.

“We are honored that Ambassador Samantha Power will speak at Penn’s 259th Commencement,” Penn President Amy Gutmann says. “As a national and global leader, inspiring scholar and teacher, and courageous champion of human rights, Ambassador Power has had far-ranging impact here at home and abroad.”

At the Commencement ceremony, Power will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. 2015 Penn honorary degree recipients sharing the stage with Power are Arthur K. Asbury, the Van Meter Professor of Neurology Emeritus at the Perelman School of Medicine who is renowned for his clinical studies of peripheral neuropathies; Lee C. Bollinger, one of the country’s foremost First Amendment and legal scholars and Columbia University’s nineteenth president; Joan Myers Brown, the founder and executive artistic director of the widely acclaimed Philadelphia School of Dance Arts and the Philadelphia Dance Company (PHILADANCO); Rita Moreno, an award-winning performing artist and star of film, stage, and television; Ellen Ochoa, a veteran astronaut and the eleventh director of the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston; and Cass R. Sunstein, an author and American legal scholar in the fields of constitutional, administrative, and environmental law, as well as law and behavioral economics.

Penn tops green list

Penn tops the list of the 30 U.S. colleges and universities that use the most green power, according to the EPA’s Green Power Partnership program. The rankings, which are updated quarterly, include campuses with their own on-site, direct renewable energy and/or those whose electricity is supplied by green-powered partners. According to the rankings, Penn’s annual green power usage, which comes from wind, is 200,183,000 kilowatt-hours. Green power represents 51 percent of the University’s total electricity use.

Combined, the top 30 campuses use more than 1.9 billion kWh of renewable energy. This is equal to avoiding carbon dioxide emissions from the electricity used annually by more than 182,000 average single-family homes.

Nearly half—14 of the 30 top campuses—derive their entire electrical consumption from green power. To achieve this usage, 29 campuses use wind, 14 use solar, four use biomass, and one uses water (hydro) power. The campuses are varied in terms of regional location, size, and Carnegie classification.

The full list is available at the EPA Green Power Partnership at, a voluntary program intended to reduce the environmental impact of electricity generation by promoting renewable energy.

PWCC opening

Next month, Penn celebrates the launch of the Penn Wharton China Center (PWCC), which will serve as a bridge between Penn and China. The Center launch on March 9 and 10 will include a roundtable with Chinese universities to discuss issues facing higher education, panels led by Wharton Dean Geoffrey Garrett on China’s role in the global economy, prominent scholars’ panels on political, social, and legal dynamics facing China and the world, and sessions with Penn Deans talking about the future of their fields. For more information, visit the PWCC website.

Clean-up day

The 8th Annual Philly Spring Cleanup is set for Saturday, April 11, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Residents are encouraged to do their part to keep Philadelphia clean and litter-free. For more info, go to www.philadelphiastreets. com/philly-spring-cleanup.

Philly honors Penn

Philly Penn

Scott Spitzer

The City Council of Philadelphia recently honored Penn, among other area colleges, universities, and academic institutions, for participating in higher education partnerships with the city’s financially strapped school district.

Introduced by Councilman Curtis Jones and Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell and sponsored by every Council member, the resolution noted that the school district has been “severely inhibited by budget cuts, layoffs, and school closings in recent years,” and recognized Penn as one of the institutions helping public school students further their  academic careers by pursuing higher education.

The University was praised for its support of Penn Alexander School and Lea School through afterschool programs, behavioral and social supports, and professional development offered by the Graduate School of Education. Penn was also acknowledged for its support for workforce development offered by the Netter Center for Community Partnerships, and for providing college preparatory services to high school students.

“[City Council] honors and recognizes the dedicated efforts of institutions of higher education working to improve the quality of education through the School District of Philadelphia and by increasing overall academic opportunities for the greater community by making higher education more accessible for all Philadelphians,” the resolution read.

Schwartz named LDI, PPI fellow

Former U.S. Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz has been named both a Distinguished Policy Fellow at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics (LDI) and a Visiting Fellow at the Penn-Wharton Public Policy Initiative (PPI).

Schwartz recently completed her fifth term representing Pennsylvania’s 13th Congressional District, and will bring her experience in government service and policymaking to bear in interactions with LDI Senior Fellows, Fellows, and students across campus, as well as through PPI’s Washington, D.C. office.

“We are honored to have Congresswoman Schwartz as part of our LDI community,” says LDI Executive Director Dan Polsky. “She has been one of the most effective legislators in the health care arena over the past decade. Her experience and her boundless energy will enrich the policy impact of the research of our senior fellows who bring data-tested, policy-focused research to the transformation of the nation’s health system.”

New PennPraxis leader

Randall Mason, an associate professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning at PennDesign and chair of the school’s Graduate Program in Historic Preservation, was recently appointed the new executive director of PennPraxis, the applied research arm of the School of Design.

Before joining the PennDesign faculty in 2004, Mason worked as Senior Project Specialist at the Getty Conservation Institute, researching economic and social issues relating to heritage conservation. His professional experience includes several years of consulting practice, as well as co-founding the nonprofit research group Minerva Partners. He served on the Board of Directors of the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia from 2006-2013 and is currently on the board of Eastern State Penitentiary.

“Randy’s skills in building alliances with government and nonprofits, and serving as a leader in efforts to transform cities in transition demonstrate his great ability to engage stakeholders in meaningful conversations about the future face of cities around the globe,” says PennDesign Dean Marilyn Jordan Taylor.

West Philly jobs and training

In February, the University City District’s West Philadelphia Skills Initiative (WPSI) will launch the next session of its nationally recognized “Connect to Success” training program. In partnership with one of the largest parking management companies in North America, this three-week training program is tailored to motivated West Philadelphians who want
to build their career.

As a valet attendant, trainees will provide professional customer service when parking and retrieving cars throughout institutions within West Philadelphia. While training with WPSI for this opportunity, performance-based stipends are awarded for successful classroom performance.

Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED and valid and clean driver’s license for more than three years, be currently unemployed, reside in the 19104, 19131, 19139, 19143, or 19151 zip codes, and be able to commit to at least 30 hours of weekly training for three weeks.

Applications are being accepted through Monday, Jan. 26. To submit an application, visit

Penn Wharton China Center announces grand opening

Penn Wharton China Center

The Penn community is invited to celebrate the opening of the Penn Wharton China Center (PWCC) in Beijing—the next natural step in the University’s longstanding engagement with China and East Asia.

The grand opening of the PWCC will occur over a period of six months, with events taking place from March 2015 through September 2015. Events will include the March Launch, a series of academic symposia at PWCC featuring Penn faculty experts and partners; “The First 100 Days,” a showcase of the depth and breadth of Penn’s  programming in China; and a Center Dedication and Gala Celebration on Sept. 10, hosted by President Amy Gutmann to highlight Penn’s engagement in China as a defining element of the Penn Compact 2020.

Located in the Central Business District of Beijing (pictured), the Center will serve as a bridge between Penn and China, facilitating bilateral collaboration and advancing the University’s commitment to inclusion, innovation, and impact at the local, national, and global levels.

Penn senior awarded Rhodes Scholarship

Rutendo Chigora, a Penn senior from Harare, Zimbabwe, has been named one of Zimbabwe’s two recipients of a Rhodes Scholarship, which will fund two or three years of study at Oxford University in England. At Oxford, Chigora will pursue a master’s degree in public policy.

“Rutendo is a great representative of the outstanding and dynamic students at Penn,” says Andrew Binns, vice provost for education in Penn’s Office of the Provost. “We are very proud of her success, and we are grateful to the Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships and to all the faculty and staff who supported her work.”

Chigora has conducted research on microfinance in Ghana, post-apartheid economic identities in South Africa, and the impact of social and economic remittances on African development. Chigora founded ZW Connect, a business incubator that creates economic opportunities for vulnerable communities in Zimbabwe. ZW Connect was a social venture challenge winner at the 2014 Clinton Global Initiatives University Conference. She will graduate in May 2015.

Penn ranked No. 1 for safety and security

Penn was recently ranked No. 1 in safety and security in the higher education sector, according to Security Magazine’s Security 500 list. This is the eighth consecutive year that Penn has taken the magazine’s top honors in its respective market.

The Security 500 Benchmarking Survey tracked 18 vertical markets, collecting unique data where appropriate, and applied the data to key metrics, which include the dedication of resources each organization makes to their safety and security programs. The survey received its information from data supplied directly by national universities and colleges, as well as data obtained through public resources and records.

“We are so grateful to be recognized for the eighth year in a row by Security Magazine as the No. 1 public safety organization in the country within the university market,” says Maureen Rush, vice president for public safety. “This accomplishment would not be possible without the continual support of our President Amy Gutmann, Executive Vice President Craig Carnaroli, Provost Vince Price, and the exceptional dedication of the people of the Division of Public Safety.”

University introduces new express shipping process

Penn recently introduced eShip@Penn, a new and enhanced express shipping process, to be deployed in the coming months.

While the primary goal of the new system is to minimize the University’s risk associated with moving hazardous or other regulated materials and to ensure compliance with safety and other mandates, the online system also offers benefits to all University shippers. These include allowing users to choose from a variety of carriers to determine which one best meets their specific needs; shop and compare costs to ensure that schools and centers receive the best price available; track shipments from an integrated at-a-glance dashboard, regardless of the carrier used to ship the package; and pre-print shipping labels.

For those individuals who do need to ship hazardous materials, the system verifies that shippers have the proper training and helps ensure that shipments are prepared in accordance with the most current dangerous goods regulations from the International Air Transport Association and the United States Department of Transportation. The system also provides guidance to those who need to ship internationally.

For more information, email

Tech trade

Trade-In Tech

Curious about what to do with your old laptop, smartphone, display, tablet, or MP3 player? You may be able to trade it in through a new technology trade-in program, launched by Computer Connection. Participants can check out the trade-in value of old technology at and then fill out an online form before bringing devices into Computer Connection, located on the second floor of the Penn Bookstore, 3601 Walnut St. Faculty, staff, and students will receive a gift card loaded with the trade-in value of the technology, which can be used toward the purchase of anything in the store.