People make Penn go ‘round. Toddlers, teenagers, and young adults. Twenty-somethings, 30-somethings, and 40- and 50-plus. Sexagenarians, septuagenarians, octogenarians, and maybe even more. The “Greatest” Generation, the Silent Generation, and those who came before. Baby Boomers, Generation X-ers, and Millennials. Students, faculty, and staff.
People who think, study, create, build, support, give, advise, care, protect, serve, and make other people.
Without people, Penn would be a lifeless, dark, and derelict place.
“People of Penn” is a Current multimedia project highlighting only a modicum of the diverse members of the University faculty and staff community in his or her space on campus. Each acts as one of the tens of thousands of beats to Penn’s ever-pumping heart and centuries-old soul. They are, in part, police officers, doctors, curators, biologists, clinicians, and fabricators.
Each is unique in his or her own right, and together they make us whole. Me, we.
Photos by Scott Spitzer
Text by Heather A. Davis, Greg Johnson, and Maria Zankey
Dean of Admissions
What do you do in your job?
Put simply, Furda says, “I admit amazing young people to Penn each year.”
Center for Hispanic Excellence: La Casa Latina
What’s the best part of your job?
“Working with students is the best part of my job. The work I do is personal; I can relate to our students’ lived experiences and so I do my best to provide them with the resources and support they need.”
Facilities and Real Estate Services
Describe what you do.
“Trash. It’s all about trash. I’m responsible for all the floors, the dumpster, the garage downstairs, half of the lobby, trash rooms, recycling—and that’s just in [Sansom Place East].”
Penn Children’s Center
What is the favorite part of your job?
“Working with the children is the best part. You get to be silly every day and they don’t judge you for that because they’re silly.”
Kelly Writers House
What sort of work do you do?
“I have a couple different jobs. I help come up with programming, I plan events, and probably the biggest part of my job is, I function as a staff manager."
Penn LGBT Center
What’s the most unique aspect about your workspace here in the carriage house?
“Just having this space is unique. Still, 30-some years after we started, there are only about 220 institutions of higher education across the country that have professionally staffed LGBT centers.”
Practice Associate Professor of Nursing
School of Nursing
What do you like best about your work?
“The variety is very nice, but one of the nicest things is watching a student go from, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about and are you sure I can learn this?’ to say, by the end of the program, ‘Yeah, I got this.’”
Penn Mail Services
Have you ever delivered anything unusual?
“Nothing out of the ordinary, although we have delivered stuff to the Med School,” he says. “I will just leave it at that.”
Vice Provost for University Life (VPUL) Facilities
What has kept you at Penn for four decades?
“First of all, it’s a great place to work and there is the opportunity for growth,” he says. “I grow every single year doing something better than the year before. Every day is different.”
Professor of Clinical Opthalmology
Scheie Eye Institute
What kind of work do you do?
“I see patients usually for the diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma. I do see patients for cataracts and other diseases, too.”
UPS Foundation Professor
School of Engineering and Applied Science
“If Ben Franklin were alive today, he would not only be delighted with robotics education at Penn, but he would himself be a roboticist creating machines that would be both ‘useful’ and result in ‘human improvement.’”
Associate Curator and Jeremy A. Sabloff Senior Keeper of American Collections
Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
“I spend each day surrounded by amazing handmade objects in a state-of-the-art, high security, climate controlled wing of the Penn Museum—the architects designed it to look like a jewelry box, and it feels that special to me everyday.”
University Archives and Records Center
What’s special about the space in which you work? “Two-hundred and sixty-four years of historical documentation.”
IT Senior Director
Information Systems & Computing
“Every day my staff and I are presented with a new challenge and work together to find ways to continuously improve our customer’s experience.”
John Herr Musser Professor of Neuroscience
Perelman School of Medicine
Co-Director of the Penn Medicine Neuroscience Center
Vice Chair of the Department of Neuroscience
“The favorite part of my job is discussing experiments, research projects, with the people in my lab, trying to analyze an experiment and figure out what it’s telling us about a biological process, and then trying to plan the next stage.”
Division of Public Safety
“The best part of my job is when we take someone off the street who has victimized a member of our community. It’s very satisfying to know that I was a part of preventing that person from victimizing anyone else.”
Exhibition Designer and Coordinator
Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center
“I design the look of the exhibit. I work with curators on refining their selections for the different spaces, trying to figure out just how much we can fit in, trying to balance the visual with the verbal.”
Service Chief and Attending Clinician, Exotic Companion Animal Medicine and Surgery
School of Veterinary Medicine
“The best part about my job is getting to work with the same animals I read about as a kid. I live my dream each day.”
Professor of Biology
School of Arts & Sciences
“I study nature, not people, and I relate to people as I need to, to help nature stay in the game.”
Biologist, courtesy appointment, research partner to Daniel H. Janzen
School of Arts & Sciences
“We live in Costa Rica in a house that is always open. You can always hear insects, birds, sometimes it’s a frog.”
Nanoscale Characterization Facility
Krishna P. Singh Center for Nanotechnology
“In our rooms, it has to be plus or minus one degree Celsius per hour, and in one of the rooms, it has to be plus or minus .2 degrees Celsius per hour, and that’s a very difficult thing to achieve.”