Leonid Brailovsky was a bright, promising mathematician who desperately wanted to attend Penn. And the young man received some good news in 1982, when he received word that the University had offered him admission. There was just one problem: Brailovsky was a Jew living in the Soviet Union.
In the early 1980s, the Russian government wasn’t letting many, if any, Jews leave the country, and even with his Penn offer in hand, Brailovsky was denied a visa, too. The Penn community rallied to his support. Penn students visited Brailovsky in Moscow and, along with faculty, organized a 5-kilometer run in protest of the Russian government. President Sheldon Hackney tried to gather support for Brailovsky’s release, too, going so far as to rename Locust Walk “Brailovsky Way” (as pictured here) in the young man’s honor. But while the Penn community continued to lobby on Brailovsky’s behalf through 1983, he never did arrive at Penn, and he and his family eventually emigrated to Israel.
For more on this and other notable moments in Penn history, go to the University Archives web site at www.archives.upenn.edu.
Originally published on February 21, 2008