A gas station fueled Penn's endowment

Illustration by Bo Brown


Dear Benny,
I heard that the University once received a gas station as a gift from an alumnus. Did we? And if we did, what did we do with it?
— Wants the Unleaded Truth

Dear Regular Joe,
“We did receive a gas station sometime in the 1980s, and we ultimately sold it,” says Peg Heer, director of investment services in the Treasurer’s Office. As the station was closed at the time of the gift, Penn never operated it, but it took Penn some time to sell the property.

Heer also tells me that Penn has received other gifts of property in the past, but in most cases, these gifts were solicited by the University as part of a strategic plan. “We prefer cash and marketable securities as gifts,” she says.

Dear Benny,
Are we supposed to turn off all unnecessary lighting in our offices on hot summer days the way we did last summer? I remember getting notices about this in my e-mail last year. We’ve had days this year that are just as hot, but I haven’t gotten any e-mail about turning my lights off.
— Don’t Want to Be In The Dark

Dear Seeker of Enlightenment,
Yes, it’s still lights out whenever peak demand for electricity is forecast, according to University Engineer Bill Anderko. Working with natural light on hot days reduces electricity consumption and saves money.

Whenever Facilities Services projects high demand—usually when the forecast calls for a high of 94 degrees or higher with relative humidity above 50 percent—e-mails to building managers and department business administrators remind them about the lights-out policy. It’s up to these people to make sure the campus community gets the word in time. Facilities Services checks buildings as a followup to ensure that conservation measures are being implemented. If you’re not getting reminders to turn off lights on hot days, remind your building manager or business administrator.

Here are some more energy-saving suggestions from Facilities: Shut off idle office equipment, close windows and doors to conserve air conditioning and close blinds or shades in unoccupied areas.


Got a question for Benny? You can ask Benny about benifits, worklife issues, University history or trivia, or other matters pertaining to life at Penn. Send it via e-mail to current@pobox.upenn.edu or via regular mail to the Current, 200 Sansom Place East, 3600 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6106. A Current coffee mug goes to those whose questions we publish.

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Originally published on July 17, 2003