Penn's not-quite-alumnus President

Dear Benny,
We have graduiates who have served in the Continental Congress, the U.S. House, and the U.S. Senate, including one of Pennsylvania’s two current senators. Have any Penn graduates gone on to become President of the United States?
—Executive Searcher

Hail to the Chief:
While Penn has conferred honorary degrees on 10 Presidents, including the first, George Washington, no Penn graduate has ever occupied the White House. One U.S. president did attend the University, though, according to a historical essay by University Archivist Mark Frazier Lloyd. As fate would have it, Penn’s dropout President is William Henry Harrison, who died one month into his term of office after catching pneumonia on Inauguration Day, 1841. According to Lloyd, Harrison had a brief (four months) and unsuccessful tenure as a student in the Medical Department in 1791.

Dear Benny,
One of the things I enjoy most about the Penn Relays is the food and crafts vendors who line 33rd and Walnut streets. Many of the food vendors offer items that I can’t get on campus at any other time of the year, such as Jamaican cuisine. Is there any chance that some of these vendors might be offered space in one of the Fresh Air Food Plazas so they can become permanent additions to the campus food scene?
—Hungry for More Variety

Dear Glutton,
Benny shares your fondness for interesting ethnic fare. So I eagerly put your question to the Relays folks and got an answer from Larry Bell, director of finance in Business Services and Penn’s point person for handling vendors at the Penn Relays. (Penn does not directly control the allocation of vending spaces.)

That answer, I’m sorry to say, is “No.” But it’s not because there are no places for them. “Most of the vendors who set up at the Relays are from outside the Philadelphia area. They come from New York or Washington specifically for the Relays.

“The people who sell at the Relays are focused on working big events. They have a schedule of all the major events during the summer, and follow them up and down the East Coast.”

Bell did note that some established Penn vendors do relocate to the Relays vending area during the event.

Originally published on April 17, 2003