Ask Benny: Presidential scholar poses math problem

Dear Benny,
I read in your last issue that Amy Gutmann will be the eighth president of the University of Pennsylvania (Current, Jan. 29). Yet in your Jan. 15 issue, a story about the President stated that “Judith Rodin is the ninth person to occupy the office.” Wouldn’t that make Gutmann Penn’s 10th president?
— The Figures Don’t Add Up

Dear Mathematician,
No, it doesn’t, and here’s why.

Of the nine people who have occupied the Office of the President since its creation in 1930, two were temporary—William DuBarry, who served as acting president on three separate occasions in the early 1950s, and Professor Emeritus of Nursing Claire Fagin, who served as interim president for one year just prior to Rodin’s arrival. So there have been nine occupants of the President’s Office, but only seven Presidents.

Dear Benny,
My 21-year-old child is covered under my medical insurance, but he recently decided not to continue full-time in college. Can I continue his medical coverage?
— Proud but Anxious Parent

Dear Worried,
Dependent children over age 19 can be covered only if they are full-time college students age 23 or younger or disabled. If your child voluntarily drops out of college, coverage under your plan ends on the last day of the month in which he or she was a full-time student. Your dependent may continue coverage through COBRA, though. You must notify the Penn Benefits Center within 30 days of the event, either online at or by calling 1-888-PENNBEN.

Got a question for Benny? You can ask Benny about benefits, worklife issues, University history or trivia, or other matters pertaining to life at Penn. Send it via e-mail to 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.

Originally published on February 12, 2004