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  Adjusted Expectations, Redirected Efforts

Your touching story on Susan Senator C’84 G’85, her family, and their autistic son Nat [“Notes to a Younger Mother,” Sept|Oct] brought back painful memories of the struggles my wife and I faced when our younger son, Robert, was born 38 years ago after a traumatic delivery and was left with significant neurologic deficits. Like Nat, our son was born in Boston where I was completing my medical residency. And like Susan Senator we tried to give our son every opportunity—special schooling, a bar mitzvah, a high-school prom dressed in his tuxedo, and a graduation party.

We, of course, had to adjust our expectations, a process that took many years; but were then able to redirect our efforts to helping others with similar problems. We established a nonprofit, Homes For Life Foundation, and to date have built and furnished 25 beautiful neighborhood group homes for adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities in Wilmington, Delaware. Four men with autism live in one of our homes. I suspect that many in the Penn family have similar stories. However, I suspect that very few have been as dedicated as Susan Senator in bringing comfort and hope to families facing the lifelong challenges of raising a special-needs child. Hats off to the Gazette for bringing her story to our attention.

Lanny Edelsohn C’63 Wilmington, DE

You’re Welcome

On behalf of Penn’s rock-and-roll band Wax, I want to thank the writer Geoff Ginsberg, editor Sam Hughes, and the entire Gazette staff for an amazing, insightful, factual, and nostalgic article on the band [“When Wax Was Hot,” Sept|Oct].

Sadly, our beloved friend and bassist, Beau Jones, passed away on September 3, 2010, shortly before the worldwide release of Melted, the recently discovered lost tapes of the band. The music is a living tribute to a great friend, a truly original band, and to some fantastic years in Philadelphia at Penn. The reaction from the Penn community and music fans in general makes us realize how special Wax was. Thanks again, for Wax (Rob Hyman, Rick Chertoff, David Kagan, Rick Levy, Beau Jones)

Rick Levy C’71 St. Augustine, FL

Middle Earth Memories

“When Wax Was Hot” stirred fond memories. I was lead singer in the Penn-based rock band Middle Earth around the same time as Wax. We performed in and around Philly, and also did some gigs on the Jersey shore. My son put one of our old recordings on YouTube (search “Middle Earth Bittersweet”); the promo picture was taken in an alley somewhere around 40th Street.

Bart Vinik W’71 Worcester, MA

Excellent Article, Minor Quibble

Thank you for Michael Zuckerman’s excellent, touching “Paternity Test” [Sept|Oct], which shows Ben Franklin as more than an efficiently bourgeois Philadelphia machine.

One quibble, however: when Professor Zuckerman says that the Revolutionary-era poetry of Phillis Wheatley was “the first American poetry ever to receive the metropolitan recognition of publication in London,” he is discounting the Colonial Anne Bradstreet’s first edition of poems, which were published in London in 1650. He may have meant the first native-born American to be so recognized, of course, but he should have said so.

Anthony Splendora C’83 Gr’86 Milford, PA

Somerset Case Didn’t Outlaw Slavery

“Paternity Test” was delightful and highly informative.

As the author of a book on the history of human-rights campaigns, I was interested to learn that Franklin collaborated with Granville Sharpe and Anthony Benezet, whose antislavery activities I’ve written about. In this connection, Professor Zuckerman made one tiny error: The Somerset case of 1772 did not outlaw slavery in England, although many people at the time and since have believed that. According to historian Leo D’Anjou, England’s chief justice found that, “English law did not allow the master to seize his servant to be sold abroad.” After this decision, which disappointed the abolitionists, slaveholding in England went out of fashion, although it continued to be legal in the British Empire until 1833.

Linda Rabben CGS’74 Takoma Park, MD

That’s Fredenthal, Friend

“Art History Lessons” [Sept|Oct] by Molly Petrilla is a wonderful article about Penn’s art collection at the Arthur Ross Gallery and work seen when walking around campus.

Unfortunately, in the photo caption on page 55 of my late brother Robinson Fredenthal’s great Black Forest sculpture that begins the Penn sculpture path at 34th and Chestnut streets, his name is misspelled as Friendenthal—the first time this has happened since he graduated from the University in 1963!

Robin has large sculptures all over the city of Philadelphia, the largest being a group of three—Fire, Water, Ice—at the Septa Headquarters at 1234 Market St. He has a website at, and there is a lot about him if you Google his name.

Ruth Ann Fredenthal New York

Our sincere apologies for the error.—Ed.

Wrong Rank

I always enjoy reading the Gazette, but because of my Naval service was particularly engaged while reading the “The First Day of Peace” by Frank Hurley [“Alumni Voices,” Sept|Oct].

An editor’s note at the end of the story says “Frank Hurley W’48 was a first lieutenant in the US Navy during World War II.” The US Naval Service does not have the rank of first lieutenant, but rather Lieutenant JG or Lieutenant. I believe that this was true during the war years as well as today.

Howard R. Berlin W’57 Carefree, AZ

Our apologies for the error. We wish it were the only one we made in this piece. See below.—Ed.

Do the Math (More Carefully)

In the intro to “The First Day of Peace” you refer to its being the 55th anniversary of the war’s end: 1945 was 65 years ago.

Peter J. Abell D’65 Brattleboro, VT

Long Live Ink-on-Paper!

I am writing in praise of Sean Whiteman’s essay, “To eRead or Not to eRead” [“Notes From the Undergrad,” Sept|Oct].

I am glad to read (in the paper version of Mr. Whiteman’s article) that current students still embrace ink-on-paper books. While I can envision a campus of lighter backpacks carrying only a Kindle-full of downloaded texts, hard-copy books will continue to be the standard-bearer for information. Especially in children’s literature, books will hold our hearts and imagination for generations to come.

As a lawyer, I have witnessed the disappearance of hard-copy books in the legal field, presumably because the law changes on a minute-to-minute basis. Online legal databases such as Westlaw and Lexis succeed because of constant changes in the law. However, as I age (and I am not old, by any means), I find myself more drawn to hard-copy legal texts simply because they are easier on my eyes. The glare of a computer screen is exhausting and undesirable.

Sally Carpenter C’97 The Dalles, Oregon

Loss of Privacy Old News

I read and sympathize with Professor Turow’s plaint about the loss of privacy in the computer age [“Expert Opinion,” Sept|Oct]. I could not agree more with his each and every point. But I must point out that he is late to the party. This is old news, and just as intractable today as when it was first discussed 50 years ago.

In 1967 Paul Baran testified before Congress about the loss of privacy in the computer age and discussed means of controlling or at least abating this. (Baran was one of the inventors of the Internet and worked with Mauchly and Eckert on ENIAC. One can readily Google the rest.)

Obviously, nothing was ever done, or the little that has been attempted has proved completely futile in the face of business desire for targeted sales. In fact, I doubt that any single member of Congress really understood what he was talking about.

Leonard M. Guss C’49 Woodinville, WA

What Do You Mean Saved?

I found your article “ How to Save a City in 20 Years or Less” [“Gazetteer,” Sept|Oct] disturbing in its uncritical acceptance of the basic premise that Philadelphia has been transformed. In its localism and distrust of outsiders it is the same city described by Sam Bass Warner Jr. several decades ago in The Private City. It is unreceptive to immigrants because they might upset the neat political balance that serves local politicians. The loss of immigrant dynamism will be felt for decades.

There is not one program cited by John Kromer [now a senior consultant at the Fels Institute and the former director of Philadelphia’s Office of Housing and Community Development] that was not and is not standard operating procedure in most de-industrialized cities. More to the point, none of his examples originated in Philadelphia.

Uncritical celebration of mediocrity is not really helpful.

Jack Muraskin G’06 Philadelphia

Title Correction

Jane Biberman’s article about me [“Alumni Profiles,” Sept|Oct] was so flattering that I hope it won’t seem churlish of me to point out one small error. The correct title of my biography of Anthony Drexel, published by the University of Pennsylvania Press in 2001, is The Man Who Made Wall Street: Anthony J. Drexel and the Rise of Modern Finance.

Dan Rottenberg C’64 Philadelphia

Why Only 10,000 Undergraduates?

I just received Proudly Penn with the Sept|Oct issue of the Gazette. Once again I am astounded by the University’s unending quest for financial enrichment. If you add up all the campaign goals it totals a staggering $3.5 billion! With an endowment of over $5 billion, why is it that every contact I receive from my alma mater is a request for financial support?

With all the financial resources our fine university has at its disposal, why do we have only 10,000 undergraduates? I throw out a radical idea: Why not double the number to 20,000? The University of Michigan has 24,000 undergrads and does a pretty good job of maintaining its academic standing and providing a high quality education to its students.

I believe the answer at Penn lies in the circular argument that the University needs to be even more exclusive since exclusivity creates greater prestige, and greater prestige unlocks giving from ultra-wealthy alumni who can have their name publicly associated with some part of the University. I guess that helps their personal prestige, their status in the eyes of their peers, and in many cases hoping that their offspring will be accepted. (The Alumni Council on Admissions website notes that “the Alumni Office is very sensitive to the fact that nearly two-thirds of legacy applicants are not admitted to Penn each year.” Why the University will not change this ratio is exactly my argument.)

Thus, I ask why the University of Pennsylvania can’t be a leader in the rarified world of higher education and break the ridiculous never-ending cycle of creating more exclusivity (e.g. higher SAT scores; lower acceptance rates) with the sole objective of generating greater financial resources and go back to its primary objective of educating as many qualified students as possible.

David Goldberg W’77 Pleasantville, NY

Proudly Penn, prepared by the Development and Alumni Relations Marketing and Communications Office and mailed as a supplement with the Sept|Oct Gazette, included a summary of the University’s ongoing $3.5 billion Making History fundraising campaign, along with a wealth of other information for alumni. For the latest update on the campaign see this issue’s “Gazetteer” section.—Ed.

Glanville Made His Day

After reading the very entertaining and enlightening article by Doug Glanville EAS’93 [“Desperately Seeking Blank,” July|August], I was reminded of a story about Doug that gives a little insight into his character.

My family had become very friendly with Angel Echeverria, a player on the Colorado Rockies baseball team. In 2000, I was about to undergo a somewhat serious operation for thyroid cancer, and while Angel was visiting with me, he asked me who my favorite baseball player was. I immediately told him it was Doug Glanville, who at the time I think was playing for the Phillies.

Angel smiled when I asked him if he knew Doug. He replied that he had played against him while attending Rutgers and in the minors, and of course in the big leagues. About two weeks later, Angel visited me at home during my recuperation, and handed me a signed baseball, which read:

Best wishes to a fellow Quaker.
Doug Glanville

Needless to say that made my day.

Doug, thanks again.

Alan K. Levin C’64 Cherry Hills Village, CO

A New Form of Torture?

Were the editor of the Gazette and the author of the article on the Haptics Lab [“Touching the Virtual Frontier,” July|August] resolutely avoiding discussion, or just completely missing perception, of the most chilling potential of all for the lab’s work? Considering how the article opened, with the statement that a researcher wants you to know how it feels to suffer a list of gruesome injuries (“ … to get hit by a bullet. Also, slashed across your shoulder with a sword. Or maybe a zombie claw”), I’m inclined towards the first guess.

There has been so much controversy in recent times about torture, including its definition, that it should occur to these researchers what their research in causing intense pain leaving no marks at all could well lead to. If they want to suffer the same guilt complexes as the early atomic physicists did after Hiroshima, that’s their business.

Ken Rumbarger C’78 Trooper, PA

Author Trey Popp responds: Although Saurabh Palan GEng’10’s Tactile Gaming Vest aims to simulate unpleasant sensations (at a fraction of their intensity), nothing I experienced at the Haptics Lab suggested that “causing intense pain” is even remotely an aim of its research. On the contrary, therapeutic and medical applications are at the center of many of its projects. Assistant Professor Katherine Kuchenbecker, who directs the lab, stresses that it “adheres to strict ethical guidelines” in its quest to enrich human-machine interfaces in the real and virtual worlds.

A Welcoming Intro to Penn

Concerning the article, “Admissions Targets LGBT Applicants” [”Gazetteer,” July|August], I must reiterate how important it is to make sure that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students feel safe even before accepting admission at Penn. Fortunately Penn has been doing that for quite some time.

In the publication Intro to Penn 82-83 that I received as a freshman, Lesbians and Gays and Penn (LGAP) was listed equally with all of the other student organizations. The Intro to Penn from the previous year, which I saw when I was trying to decide where to go to school, was the single most important item influencing my decision to go to Penn. I keep these documents with my most important papers because I know how big an influence they have had on my life.

When I got to Penn I found LGAP and Bob Schoenberg Gr’89, now director
of the LGBT Center, who is quoted in your article. Without either I don’t know how I could have made it through my undergraduate years. Thank you Penn and LGAP!

Randall Sell C’86 G’88 New York


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