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Life on Campus

On May 31, 2002, our daughter Sarah “graduated” from pre-school. She was dressed in a shiny blue cap and gown, marched into the gym with her classmates, received her diploma from her teacher, and they all sang, “We’re on Our Way to Kindergarten” to the tune of “We’re on the Way to Grandpa’s Farm.” (If you don’t know the tune, be glad.)

My wife Carole and I took lots of pictures of her, alone, with us, with her friends. We forgot ours, but many other families had their video cameras there. The school is hawking a video of the ceremony, too, which initially we did not order—frankly, it seemed kind of silly—but now I’m thinking we’ll probably break down and buy it. So what if she was back in school the following Monday?

There was another graduation ceremony in the neighborhood a few weeks earlier, May 10-13, when the University celebrated Alumni Weekend and Commencement, covered in stories on page 38 and 14, respectively. In keeping with our 2002 Centennial focus, we decided to offer some historical perspective on those traditional rites of spring as well—and, while we were at it, to look at some of the other occasions and activities that have given much of the shape to life on Penn’s campus over the century.

Leaving and Coming Back,” on page 24, collects words and images from Reunions and Commencements past, with an eye, admittedly, to their more outlandish aspects. It is followed by “Yea-a-a … Who?” which attempts to plumb the history and meaning of selected Penn traditions by reference to material published in the magazine. Other Centennial-related features include our fourth timeline, covering the turbulent years between 1961-1981, and excerpts from our undergraduate columnists, in “The Student View.”

(A note on the excerpts in this issue: To spare readers’ patience and—we hope—increase your enjoyment, we’ve taken some minor liberties with the original texts. We’ve condensed a bit on occasion and added a word here and there, but skipped the ellipses and brackets usually used to denote omitted or interpolated material.)

Also in this issue, associate editor Susan Frith reports on the happy collaboration between art collector Judy Goffman Cutler CW ’63 GEd’64 and architect Laurence Cutler C’62 in restoring a mansion in Newport, R.I., to create a museum for American illustration. A companion story by freelancer Margot Horwitz CW’58 ASC’62 highlights another museum in a mansion—the Neue Galerie New York, founded by Ronald Lauder W’65.

And, in “Youthland and Everything After,” senior editor Samuel Hughes talks with Dr. Michael Zuckerman C’61, professor of history, on the consequences for individuals, families, and society as a whole of the past century’s “enshrinement” of the child. (The first couple paragraphs of this column may be seen as an example of this phenomenon.)

I also want to share some good news: The Gazette has received awards from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) in three categories for 2002. Two articles by Samuel Hughes were among the Best Articles of the Year. “An Affair to Remember,” on the firing of Scott Nearing C’06 Gr’09 in 1915, won a Gold Medal. “Speech!” on linguist Noam Chomsky C’48 G’51 Gr’55 Hon’84 won a Silver. Those articles and three others (“Dinosaurs Lost and Found,” which I wrote; and “The Moral Classroom” and “The Particle Sleuths,” by Susan Frith) earned a Silver Medal for Periodical Staff Writing. And we were awarded a Gold Medal for illustration.

Finally, our sincere thanks to all the alumni who have donated so generously to the magazine this year. We truly appreciate your support, and will do our best to make good use of your contributions.

—John Prendergast C’80


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Copyright 2002 The Pennsylvania Gazette Last modified 7/01/02