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.

Meet the Penn Grad Blogging About His Olive Garden Pass

matt pershe-beforeMatt Pershe recently graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and has joined AmeriCorps. His AmeriCorps stipend has him looking for cheap food and he’s found it in Olive Garden’s “Never Ending Pasta Pass.” an all-you-can-eat-for-seven-weeks for $99 deal offered by the Italian restaurant chain.

Pershe is documenting the time while he tries to get his money’s worth and not turn into a “pasta-sized” version of himself.

The writing draws you in and we’ll be checking back in with Pershe as the days and alfredo slip by.

Read more »

How the Penn Working Dog Center Turns Puppies Into Saviors

Logan (German shepherd), Felony (Dutch shepherd), and Quest (German shepherd). Photography by Joseph Balestra

Logan (German shepherd), Felony (Dutch shepherd), and Quest (German shepherd). Photography by Joseph Balestra

There’s a golden retriever in the ladies’ room.

It’s my first visit to the Penn Vet Working Dog Center, and traffic was tied up on the Expressway, and I had a large latte on the way here, and pretty much the first thing I said to Ashley Berke, the PR woman who greeted me, was, “Ladies’ room?” She led me through a vast concrete-floored space lined with metal crates full of dogs who yapped and barked as we passed them. Even so, I’m not expecting another dog, in a crate, in the ladies’ room.

The dog stands there, looking at me. I look back. It seems … rude not to address her — him? So I say, “Hey there! How are you?”

The dog doesn’t answer. Doesn’t even wag. Just stands and looks at me.

“’Scuse me,” I say, and duck into a stall.

The dog is still standing there when I come out. There’s something unnerving about its silent vigilance. But there’s also a need in me to try to make a connection. You can’t ignore a dog, you know? So I offer my hand, up against the metal crate. The dog sniffs it, with the merest swish of its tail.
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Singh Center Named One of World’s Best

Photo by Liz Spikol

Photo by Liz Spikol

Architectural Digest has named Penn’s new Krishna P. Singh Center for Nanotechnology, designed by Weiss/Manfredi, as one of its NINE BEST NEW UNIVERSITY BUILDINGS AROUND THE WORLD. Here’s how the magazine describes it:

Sensitive to the demands of biological research and the delicate equipment the building would house, Weiss/Manfredi worked to isolate vibrations and noise from a nearby subway line and mitigate other external environmental factors to create an efficient, beautiful research hub.

Should You Feel Guilty About Privilege?

shutterstock_hands-raised-school-chalkboard-940x540

On Monday, I lead three rotational sessions about journalism and black feminism at the University of Pennsylvania’s Social Justice Research Institute. The classroom is made up of notably progressive 15- and 16-year-olds who have words like cisgendered already in their lexicon. At the top of the sessions as a means of introduction, I asked each aspiring social justice practitioner to say their name, their age, and to identify at least one way that they were privileged.

It was an impressive mix of students, some of whom are from far-off places such as Greece or China. Each of them could identify the clear privilege that they’d had in common — an opportunity to spend the summer studying at one of the nation’s foremost Ivies — but as individuals there was some variation in the things they said. Gender privilege. Sexual orientation privilege. Economic privilege. The privilege that comes from having a supportive family. And of course, race.

“Do you feel guilty about it?” I asked one student whose face was turning red as words stumbled out of her mouth, trying to find the right way to land.

“About?”

“Being white,” I said, curious. Read more »

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