Penn Researcher Identifies New Dinosaur

Two Saurornitholestes sullivani raptors attacks a subadult hadrosaur Parasaurolophus tubicen. | Illustration by Mary P. Williams.

Two Saurornitholestes sullivani raptors attacks a subadult hadrosaur Parasaurolophus tubicen. | Illustration by Mary P. Williams.

A University of Pennsylvania doctoral researcher has identified a previously unknown species of dinosaur — a member of the velociraptor family that was probably particularly good at sniffing out its prey. Read more »

The Real Reason Penn’s Tuition Is Going Up Again This Year

Penn has just announced that the cost of its undergrad tuition will go up by 3.9 percent this year. This is the sixth year in a row that our Ivy’s tuition hike has been 3.9 percent, demonstrating either that Penn thinks 4 percent sounds like a lot more than 3.9 percent, or that 39 is Amy Gutmann‘s lucky number.

If you think paying $63,526 to take courses like “Poetics of Screenwriting” and “Witches, Whores and Rogues” sounds a little steep, that just shows you don’t know the value of a dollar. Neither do I, apparently. I’m puzzled, because while Penn announced the tuition jump, it also announced that it wasn’t really a tuition jump, because financial aid would also be going up, to an all-time high of $206 million, which, the Daily Pennsylvanian assures us, “should keep attendance relatively affordable.” Hang onto that “relatively” like a drowning man. Read more »

Philadelphia’s New Boom

A view of Center City from Penn Medicine’s Center for Advanced Cellular Therapeutics, taken on a February morning at sunrise. Photograph by Chris Sembrot

A view of Center City from Penn Medicine’s Center for Advanced Cellular Therapeutics, taken on a February morning at sunrise. Photograph by Chris Sembrot

Were you here in 1987? (Actually: Were you even born?) If you were, maybe you remember the thrill of One Liberty Place rising in the sky — an honest-to-God Philadelphia skyscraper at last, looking down on Billy Penn’s hat. How about the early ’60s, when Society Hill emerged from a hardscrabble neighborhood and Penn Center gave a new sleekness to downtown?

We find ourselves in one of those moments again — a period when our physical surroundings are changing quickly and drastically around us. What’s different this time is the breadth of the change, with new buildings and revitalized neighborhoods and inviting public spaces emerging all at once all across the city. We’re calling it the New Boom, and on the following pages we give you an inside look at the eight trends that are fundamentally reshaping Philadelphia — and a sneak preview of the revitalized city we’ll live in for the next half century.

Edited by Ashley Primis

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Art Installation Puts the Spotlight on a Long-Shuttered Chapel in University City

Image courtesy of Lori Waselchuk.

Image courtesy of Lori Waselchuk.

After years of sitting in quiet disuse, the St. Andrew’s Collegiate Chapel at Spruce and 42nd will open its doors to the public for a three-day-only installation by artist Aaron Asis called “Ci-Lines.”

Given that the site-specific piece is in conjunction with Art in the Open, an exhibit by the University City Arts League that celebrates artists “and their relationships with the urban environment,” the long-shuttered chapel seems like the perfect spot to have it.

According to Hidden City’s Michael Bixler, the Gothic Revival building, built circa 1924, was designed by Zantzinger, Borie and Medary for the Philadelphia Divinity School who used it to hold “sermon lessons and school services” until its closing in 1974. Today, NewsWorks Peter Crimmins reports, the chapel is owned by the University of Pennsylvania.

Under Penn, the structure has remained closed for about two decades. (UCAL executive director Annie Monnier tells us rumor has it that it would take “over a million to renovate” the building, which doesn’t have heating or working plumbing.)

So how exactly did the non profit come to temporarily occupy a building the public hasn’t yet foot in in years?

WATCH: Anti-Comcast Activists Disrupt Penn Trustees Meeting

Protest at Penn Board of Trustees

[Updated with David Cohen comment on FCC vote.]

Anti-Comcast student activists disrupted a meeting of the Penn Board of Trustees this morning, protesting the company’s stance on net neutrality and its proposed merger with Time Warner Cable.

They took video of the event, in which they unfurled a banner emblazoned with the hashtag #Don’tBlockMyInternet:

“Students demanded that Comcast stop its advocacy and lobbying against Title II net neutrality at both the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and in Congress,” the activists, who are working with Philadelphia’s Media Mobilizing Project, said in a press release. “They also spoke out against Comcast’s push to merge with its biggest competitor, Time Warner Cable.” About a dozen students participated.

One problem: David Cohen — Comcast’s executive vice president and chairman of Penn’s board — wasn’t there to see the protest directed at him. According to the video, however, the meeting was adjourned rather than have trustees persist in the face of the disruption.
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Madison Holleran’s Notes Dispel the Myth of the Selfish Suicide


Family, friends and scenes from Madison Holleran’s Instagram feed.

The family of Madison Holleran — the 19-year-old Penn student who jumped to her death a year ago — provided her suicide note to People magazine, for publication in its February 2, 2015 issue. It might seem a painful reminder of their beloved daughter’s death, but it was done as part of what has become a beautifully altruistic impulse on their part: to raise awareness of the struggles college freshmen face and to propel dialogue between family members. Her father was quoted by People’s Nicole Egan as saying, “Parents, if you see a huge change in your child and you haven’t discussed suicide with them, open that discussion up.” (See the Madison Holleran Foundation for more information on the mission.)

Her family found two suicide notes, actually. The one in her dorm room read:

“I don’t know who I am anymore. trying. trying. trying,” the note said. “I’m sorry. I love you … sorry again … sorry again … sorry again … How did this happen?”

The second, accompanied by gifts for family members, read:

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Penn Profs: Bring Back Mental Asylums


The mental asylum of 2015. Photo:

A group of bioethicists at the University of Pennsylvania have taken a bold stand in a paper published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association: They say the United States should bring back mental asylums.

Dominic Sisti, director the university’s Scattergood Program for the Applied Ethics of Behavioral Healthcare, along with co-authors Ezekiel Emanuel and Andrea Segal, write that there are a whopping 10 million Americans today with serious mental illness. But there are only 45,000 inpatient psychiatric beds in the country. Today’s per-capita bed count is about what it was in 1850 — 1850! — according to the paper.

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Penn Employee Asks University to Reconsider Hosting Anti-Gay Red Cross Blood Drive

Blood Header

University of Pennsylvania Administrative Coordinator Joseph Hallman was taken back when he received an email from the Penn Professional Staff Assembly (PPSA) announcing that Red Cross would be holding a blood drive on campus. The reason? The Red Cross excludes gay men from donating blood, a touchy topic as the FDA recently endorsed a lifetime gay blood ban. In response to the University’s announcement, Hallman composed an email to the chair of PPSA, expressing his concerns regarding the discriminatory practices of the Red Cross: Read more »

ThinkFest Preview: Amy Gutmann Discusses Penn’s Next Decade With Jim Gardner

University of Pennsylvania president Amy Gutmann and 6 ABC anchor Jim Gardner.

University of Pennsylvania president Amy Gutmann and 6 ABC anchor Jim Gardner.

Now in her 10th year as president of the University of Pennsylvania, Amy Gutmann has a decade of educational, institutional, and civic accomplishments behind her: the greater diversity of Penn’s student body through the expansion of financial aid, improved relations with the university’s West Philadelphia neighbors, the 2011 opening of Penn Park, and a record 2013 fundraising effort that brought $4.3 billion to the school. (She was even at Davos this year discussing women and leadership with U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill.)

But as Gutmann once said to Philadelphia magazine, “people and places should never rest on their laurels” — so we’ve invited 6 ABC’s Jim Gardner to interview her about the next decade at Penn. Hear what’s on the drawing board at one of the city’s largest employers and economic engines, from a far-reaching Compact 2020 plan that seeks to increase the university’s local and global impact to the latest on Penn Connects, the university’s development and urban design vision.

Join us on November 14th at Drexel’s LeBow College of Business for a day of the city’s smartest people sharing their biggest ideas. Read all of our ThinkFest 2014 previews here, and watch the livestream, starting at 9 a.m. on Friday November 14th.

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