Throughout the Making History Campaign, great things have happened at each of our Schools and Centers. Today, our future shines brighter than ever—with every student who develops his or her potential, every faculty member who discovers and shares new knowledge, every program that fosters cross-disciplinary learning, and every facility that enhances our beautiful, sustainable campus. Take a look at some of the advances that have taken place at our Schools and Centers over the previous academic year. Witness what is made possible thanks to your generous support.
"The right to free communication carries with it the responsibility to respect the dignity of others. Educating students to effectively communicate this message and to be of service to all people is the enduring mission of this school."
– Walter Annenberg
With this strong statement, publisher and philanthropist Walter Annenberg established the Annenberg School for Communication at Penn in 1959. Since then, ongoing support from the Annenberg Foundation enables the School to be recognized as one of the foremost research centers for the study of communication, where faculty and students stand at the forefront of education, research, and policy studies on the process, nature, and consequences of existing and emerging media.
The impact of the Annenberg School is far-reaching. Faculty and doctoral students at the School study new media and its effects on society, analyze political discourse, chart health trends through the Annenberg National Health Communication Survey, and examine communication and culture from a domestic and global perspective. The School provides input on policy issues as diverse as campaign finance, children's television, Internet privacy, advertising, and political discourse. Recent projects include developing more effective public health messages to slow the spread of AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, examining the flow of information in Iran, and analyzing how language can be wielded to create effective substance abuse campaigns.
The Annenberg School for Communication continues to attract top researchers thanks to the Annenberg Foundation, which has endowed several named professorships and chairs. In providing financial support in perpetuity, the Annenbergs’ visionary philanthropy stands as a lasting legacy to the mission of intellectual freedom and civic duty.Learn more about the Annenberg School for Communication
"Alternative sources of energy are critical for the future, and it is of the utmost importance that we give students the formal background to address this need. VIPER will lay the foundation for careers with limitless opportunities."
– P. Roy Vagelos
P. Roy Vagelos made his career as a successful scientist, physician, and executive by identifying problems and solving them; he is confident that Penn students can do the same. He and his wife, Diana, have bolstered their belief in the next generation of innovators with a gift establishing the ambitious Vagelos Integrated Program in Energy Research (VIPER).
Drawing from areas of study at the School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering and Applied Science, VIPER is a dual-degree program that takes direct aim at a burgeoning problem: the world's dependence on nonrenewable energy. Students in the highly selective program—only 25 per year are admitted—take advanced science courses, study in specialized seminars, and work side-by-side with energy researchers at Penn. It is the third interdisciplinary program in the sciences that Roy and Diana have established for Penn's undergraduate students. “Throughout its history, Penn has been especially good at bringing together different disciplines. That success was very important in my thinking about VIPER," Roy says.
Roy says his involvement with Penn keeps him energized, as well as informed about young people's concerns about the future—the changing climate, the country's ability to keep pace with other world powers, and on a personal level, their ability to make a living in a way that is meaningful. “The undergraduate years are when students are choosing the basis of their careers," Roy says. “For those trained in the sciences and engineering, energy research is going to be a source of great careers for the next 50 to 100 years."
Among Penn's most dedicated supporters, Roy and Diana Vagelos are visionaries whose passion for science, innovation, and education are generating the ideas and solutions so necessary for our time.Learn more about the School of Arts and Sciences
"The new Endodontic Clinic will finally give us the technologically advanced clinic that we deserve, and make an already popular graduate program even more appealing for prospective students." – Samuel Kratchman, DMD
Drs. Samuel Kratchman, Kenneth Lee, and Allen Yang know that a state-of-the-art facility can enhance the standing of private dental practice. The partners at Exton Endodontics, all associate professors at Penn's School of Dental Medicine, hope that their gift in support of the Endodontic Clinic renovations will shine a spotlight on the stellar education and clinical care available at Penn Dental. "Penn Endo is considered one of the best, if not the very best, endodontic program in the world," Sam Kratchman says, "and we want to build a new clinic representative of this reputation."
A key project in Phase I of the School's 10-year plan for facilities improvement, the new Endodontic Clinic will significantly expand the current facility, transforming the space into a modern environment featuring 23 chairs, two surgical suites, a consultation room, and a handicapped-accessible reception room. The clinic will be as much a model of innovation, dental education, and optimum patient care as the school itself. "When candidates come in for interviews for the graduate endodontic program and see the clinic in full bloom," Sam notes, "it will be so impressive that Penn will become their target program."
Drs. Kratchman, Lee, and Yang are just as enthusiastic about the world-class faculty at Penn Dental Medicine, as is Dr. Syngcuk Kim, Chair of the Department of Endodontics, to whom the new clinic will be dedicated. "We recognize his global accomplishments and are proud to support this project in his honor."
Outstanding faculty and superb clinical programs are not the only features that place Penn Dental Medicine at the forefront of dental education. "We distinguish ourselves by being a school where we do not train dentists to be dental mechanics, but to be thinkers," Sam Kratchman adds. "Penn offers every means to pursue careers in research, teaching, and, especially, advanced dental training. You can choose any path you desire once you begin dental school at Penn."Learn more about Penn Dental
"We were given a gift of a fine education at Penn that has served both of us well in terms of establishing a professional practice in Philadelphia and a reputation worldwide. We believe it is important to acknowledge that gift in kind." – Stephen Kieran and James Timberlake
Penn School of Design alumni Stephen Kieran (right) and James Timberlake (left), partners in the award-winning, Philadelphia-based firm KieranTimberlake, are committed to maintaining an ongoing connection to education. Both currently teach in the School from which they've gained so much. Now, their gift to renovate student studios in Meyerson Hall will redefine how future architects develop the ideas and the skills that make for successful careers.
"Architecture in the 21st century is being taught in new ways and in new spaces conducive to contemporary teaching, which is collaborative, interactive, multidisciplinary, and multimedia," KieranTimberlake says. In keeping with this philosophy, Meyerson Hall will be transformed to include open, adaptable design environments, with workshops adjacent to studios, a move that supports what KieranTimberlake describes as a "fundamental shift from one-on-one desk critiques to collective intelligence."
In supporting the Meyerson Hall studio renovations, Timberlake and Kieran were impressed by PennDesign's bold fundraising initiative, which focused on three important areas: fellowships, faculty, and facilities. "This initiative is the most comprehensive effort ever taken by the School of Design, organized to address the global needs of the department and at a level of support that will make a true transformation," they said.
KieranTimberlake's own global imprint will soon be seen in London, where the firm won a rigorous design competition for the new U.S. embassy there. The project is slated to break ground next year. Closer to home, the team is responsible for the award-winning design of Penn Engineering's Levine Hall.
Despite their achievements, the pair remains humble and excited about the possibilities for PennDesign. "Our modest gift is significant to us personally, but we hope others will step up and go beyond it," Kieran and Timberlake say. "Why now? It hasn't been done this way before. This is the time to make a difference."Learn more about PennDesign
DONOR PHOTO by Ed Wheeler
The Graduate School of Education is a place that supports innovations that will change the landscape of education in this country. I encourage all alumni, no matter what your field, to help GSE in their efforts."
– Joshua M. Berlin, MD
A man of wide-ranging pursuits, Dr. Joshua Berlin is a proud Penn alumnus with a degree from Wharton, a thriving medical practice, and a long-standing interest in education. Having endowed the Berlin Family Scholarship for undergraduate students during his 15th reunion year, Josh recently expanded both his giving and his leadership by establishing the Joshua M. Berlin, MD, W'95 Scholarship at the Graduate School of Education (GSE), where he is one of the youngest Overseers in the School's history.
GSE's interdisciplinary perspective and commitment to teacher education and research were instrumental in attracting Josh's participation. The School actively collaborates across the University to develop programs and initiatives that break down the barriers between education and other fields of endeavor. Partnering with educational entities locally and around the globe, GSE is markedly entrepreneurial in finding ways to connect research with practice, a fact that also spoke directly to Josh's concerns. "After my niece was diagnosed with autism," Josh said, "I read voraciously about this growing epidemic and was taken aback by the lack of research being done on how to educate teachers on the best methods to teach children on the autism spectrum."
Josh was also drawn to Dean Andrew Porter's vision for future developments at GSE. "He is genuinely interested in coming up with novel concepts that will make a difference in this country," Josh noted. With his recent gift—which garnered an Abramson Challenge Grant match of an additional $125,000 for GSE—Dr. Joshua Berlin is helping to assure that the Graduate School of Education continues to provide opportunities for practicing and emerging professionals to develop innovative teaching methods and explore new paradigms of learning.Learn more about the Graduate School of Education
"Philanthropy often has a viral effect, building on itself as progress is publicized. Hopefully, as all of the exciting things happening at SEAS move to completion, more alumni and friends will be inspired to participate." – Ofer Nemirovsky
A managing partner of a leading private equity firm, Ofer Nemirovsky understands the importance of a sound investment. He also recognizes outstanding talent and leadership. It was these two instincts that led Ofer and his wife, Shelly, to establish the Nemirovsky Family Deanship, an endowment that will provide financial and research support to the dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science in perpetuity, attracting the most successful scientific thought leaders in academia.
"The knowledge that the position of the Engineering dean is comfortably funded is gratifying," Ofer says. "In the short term, I am honored to have our family name paired with Dr. Eduardo Glandt, for whom I have great respect." Glandt is known as a warm, friendly professional whose bold and progressive vision has brought visibility and prestige to SEAS. Applications have increased by one-third since he took the helm, and the School is leading some of the most exciting developments at Penn, including the Krishna P. Singh Center for Nanotechnology.
The pair developed their relationship through Ofer's tireless involvement at SEAS. He has been active in the Dean's Boston Advisory Committee since its launch in 2007, and was central to strengthening the School's alumni network in that city. Ofer is also a SEAS Overseer and is known for going above and beyond to make the Board's work more efficient.
As the Board continues to enthusiastically support new laboratories, curricula, and programs at SEAS, Ofer remains energized by the School's momentum. "I'll be committed to Engineering under any circumstance," he says, "but all the buzz certainly makes it more fun to be a part of this community and to spread the word to others." The Nemirovskys' gift will provide Glandt and future deans, the resources to continue thinking far outside the box and elevating the School to new heights.Learn more about the School of Engineering
"I've been proud to observe and participate in numerous advances in the educational experience at Penn Law, and to meet young graduates who I know will lead positive change in the profession and society for years to come."
– Paul G. Haaga, Jr.
Paul G. Haaga, Jr. has seen a sea change in legal education in nearly 14 years as a member of the Board of Overseers at Penn Law. Among the many advances he has witnessed are the School's distinctive interdisciplinary curricula, designed to produce lawyers with insights and skills in the various fields in which their clients operate. Now Heather and Paul Haaga have further enhanced Penn Law's innovative programming with a generous gift to establish the Paul G. Haaga, Jr. Lectureship in Leadership and Government.
"Great law schools like Penn must continue to equip graduates with excellent basic lawyering skills," Paul says, "but it will be increasingly important that those graduates also excel at critical thinking, entrepreneurship, communications, and managing group situations." The Haaga Lectures will bring a spectrum of experts and scholars to speak at Penn Law who will, in Paul's words, "challenge the students and faculty on various topics, expanding their critical thinking skills as well as their knowledge."
Paul Haaga has steadily increased his personal involvement and leadership at Penn Law since joining the Board in 1999. Currently serving as Chair, Paul is an active presence at many Penn Law events; he recently moderated a panel at Penn entitled "Future Impact: Leadership and a Legal Education," and has lectured for the Institute for Law and Economics. Paul has further demonstrated his leadership by naming with his wife, Heather, the newly renovated Haaga Lounge and the Haaga Classroom in Gittis Hall.
"The main reason we like naming opportunities is that we hope to inspire others to give," Paul says. "My involvement with Penn Law has been personally rewarding on so many levels—I've made and renewed great friendships with special people. I've gotten to know many students and, I hope, been able to affect their careers positively with coaching and connecting. I've had the immense satisfaction of being part of a transition at Penn Law from good to great to excellent to eminent to pre-eminent. I hope other alums will realize that they can have as much fun as I have had if they re-engage with Penn Law."Learn more about Penn Law
"With established resources and leadership, Penn was the right place to create a centralized hub for the study of BRCA mutations. We hope to accelerate progress in clinical studies, treatment, basic research, and the essential counseling needed for patients and their families."
– Mindy and Jon Gray
Mindy and Jon Gray are deeply committed to cancer research, specifically research centered on the BRCA gene. Though normally beneficial, abnormalities of the gene can lead to breast, ovarian, and other cancers. After Mindy lost her sister to ovarian cancer caused by a mutation in the BRCA gene, the Grays stepped up their efforts to find the best place to start a center that would match their own sense of urgency to find a cure. With a transformative gift to Penn, Mindy and Jon have established the Basser Research Center for BRCA, with the goal of eliminating BRCA-related cancers and providing a roadmap for the cure of other genetic diseases.
Located within the Abramson Cancer Center at the Perelman School of Medicine, The Basser Research Center (BRC), named in honor of Mindy's sister, Faith Basser, is the only center in the world devoted solely to research into the harmful forms of the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genes. Penn researchers and clinicians now have the crucial resources needed to take a comprehensive approach to tackling BRCA-related cancers—from prevention to early diagnosis, to treatment and innovations in all areas of care delivery, including support for families dealing with the complex issues arising from a BRCA diagnosis.
Mindy and Jon Gray believe that there is no better place than Penn to lead this vital effort. "Penn offers world-class faculty, talented researchers, and dedicated physicians who have a history of focusing on this issue and are practicing on real patients," the couple says. "Additionally, with Dr. Chi Van Dang at the Abramson Center and Dr. Susan Domcheck heading BRC, we have terrific leadership in place."
The Grays' gift also endows the Basser Professorship in Oncology, supports additional faculty and staff, and establishes the Basser Prize, which will award funding to promising BRCA researchers across the globe. "Unfortunately, BRCA is a global issue affecting patients all around the world," Mindy and Jon say. "The Basser Prize will reach beyond Penn's borders to honor cutting-edge BRCA research."Learn more about the Perelman School of Medicine
"Loving Penn as much as we do, and fully understanding the unique power of Penn's interdisciplinary approach, how could we not extend ourselves and our philanthropy to this extraordinary opportunity for deserving students?"
– Jan A. Sigmon
Jan Sigmon and Andrew Dworkin are children of feminists who fought hard in the 1960s for equity in the workplace; they are also parents of one son and two very motivated daughters. Inspired by the leadership of Penn Nursing Dean Afaf Meleis and her groundbreaking work as an advocate for women the world over, the couple established the Jan A. Sigmon & Andrew L. Dworkin Endowed Scholarship II to support an undergraduate in the dual-degree program at Nursing and the Wharton School.
"Our eldest daughter, who will graduate from the Vagelos Life Science and Management program next year, has received the extraordinary benefits of interdisciplinary education," Jan says. "My sister's son graduated from the Huntsman Program in International Studies and likewise has reaped the benefits of a wholly integrated program."
Jan and Andrew endowed a scholarship in 2007 to support a female undergraduate studying math or science. Their second endowed scholarship will be awarded to a student who will graduate with two bachelor's degrees – one in nursing, one in economics – and leave Penn equipped to become a leader in shaping the delivery and financing of health care policy, one of our country's foremost concerns.
Dean Meleis, who has led Penn Nursing for a decade, is without question an authority in the field of women's health. She established the Center for Global Women's Health at Penn Nursing and is President and Counsel General Emerita of the International Council on Women's Health Issues. "Her groundbreaking work and leadership as a champion for women and girls throughout the world was utterly and completely inspiring for us," Jan says. "We are incredibly proud to support Penn and the program Dean Meleis envisions."Learn more about the School of Nursing
"By combining clinical research and education with programmatic solutions, SP2 ensures that our graduates are equipped to redefine the possibilities for the clients they serve."
– Ann Nolan Reese
Ann Nolan Reese is a dedicated child advocate and founder of the New York-based Center for Adoption Policy. Her generous gift to the School of Social Policy and Practice (SP2) is now bringing needed attention to those at the other end of the aging spectrum. "My family recently faced the decline and death of my mother in the U.S. and my mother-in-law in Amsterdam," Ann says. "Of all the caregivers with whom we interacted in both countries, it was the geriatric social worker who had the greatest impact on our parents' quality of life." The Ann Nolan Reese Penn Aging Concentration (PAC) Program will develop a new cadre of social workers especially trained to "address the needs of the elderly who have complex health issues, but want to maintain independence and dignity," Ann says.
Ann shares with SP2 Dean Richard Gelles the belief in developing evidence-based solutions to today's complex social problems. SP2 students in the PAC program will earn a Master of Social Work degree with a concentration in services to older adults and their families. The only social work concentration of its kind in Pennsylvania, PAC will place students in internships at community-based senior centers, VA hospitals, and retirement communities, as well as in positions at agencies working at the policy level.
A member of SP2's Board of Overseers, Ann also avidly endorses the School's other transformative social outreach programs. From providing services to Philadelphia non-profits and correctional institutions, to a partnership with China's Beijing Normal University, these programs provide opportunities for local and global engagement for SP2 students and extend the knowledge and expertise at the School.
A dedicated alumna and a member of the Trustees' Council of Penn Women, Ann credits her time at Penn with teaching her "the power of a collective voice." She adds, "I tell prospective students that a degree from Penn is only the beginning of a lifelong relationship with the Penn community."Learn more about the School of Social Policy & Practice
"The more we learned about the Working Dog Center, the more we knew that this was something we were going to be passionate about. Not only would it benefit Philadelphia and Penn Vet, but it has the potential to be much more far-reaching." – Robin Rubenstein
Robin Rubenstein and the doctors at Penn Vet share at least one thing in common: they are enthusiastically committed to the care and well-being of man's best friend. Robin and her husband Mark's involvement with the School began when they received the troubling news that their beloved yellow Labrador-German Shepherd, Punki, had liver disease, with no chance of recovery. Even so, the doctors at Ryan Veterinary Hospital spent nine months working diligently to reduce the dog's pain and suffering. When Punki's final day arrived, "the doctor and her team were waiting for us at the door of the hospital! I could not believe it," Robin reminisces.
From that day, Robin and Mark were among Penn Vet's most energetic supporters and champions. Their gift will support the work of the trailblazing Working Dog Center, and Robin is ready to roll up her sleeves to work alongside director Dr. Cynthia Otto—no stranger to intensive on-the-ground work, having cared for dogs on-site in New York City after 9/11.
The Working Dog Center's efforts will impact the world in countless ways, analyzing genetic, behavioral, and physical data with the aim of boosting the success, life span, and well-being of working dogs. The local Philadelphia community, including at-risk youth and war veterans, will also enjoy the companionship of the Center's dogs by helping to socialize them so they will one day make lovable pals. "I liked the idea that people all over the country and potentially all over the world could be reached by the impact of this center," Robin says.
Robin Rubenstein plans to indulge her love of animals by working directly with the adorable puppies that make up the Working Dog Center's freshman class. It is only the beginning of a lifetime of service to our animal friends and to Penn Vet.Learn more about the School of Veterinary Medicine
"China is growing in importance on the global stage. The Penn–Wharton China Center will provide Penn and its greater community with first-hand knowledge of what is happening on the ground."
– Michael Moh
Michael Moh is a proud Penn alumnus whose philanthropy and engagement with Wharton is a family tradition. His father, Laurence Za Yu Moh, WG'53, established two scholarships for MBA students from his native China and endowed two professorships at Wharton, including the first Wharton Chair ever endowed by an alumnus from outside the U.S. The family foundation's recent gift will help establish the Penn–Wharton China Center in Beijing and continue the Moh family's interest in building bridges between China and Penn.
The Penn–Wharton China Center will offer an impressive menu of conferences, executive-level courses, and opportunities for faculty research and academic collaboration, extending the School's leadership in research and education throughout Asia. Moreover, the learning experiences for Wharton students will be significantly enhanced by the Center's physical location in Beijing, headquarters to many of China's largest companies. For Michael, the significance goes even deeper. "It demonstrates a strong commitment that Penn and Wharton believe in the importance of China."
"Having the honor to serve on Wharton's Executive Board for Asia allows me to understand the direction and needs of Penn and Wharton in Asia," says Michael, whose family has long supported programs to deliver executive education in China. He applauds Wharton's commitment to lifelong learning as well as the increasing outreach activities that invite alumni in Asia to stay engaged. "We have been fortunate to benefit from a Wharton education. The more opportunities we have to reconnect with the School and to learn, the more one wants to give back."Learn more about The Wharton School
"Penn played a key role in cultivating my own creativity and continues to do so for my family. The Annenberg Center is doing great things for children, and Cynthia and I are very excited about supporting this festival."
– Richard Gay
Richard Gay played varsity football while a student at Wharton, but he also cultivated his creative side by participating in the Black Theater Ensemble. On his path to becoming an executive vice president at MTV and VH1, as well as the proud parent of five children, Richard developed an interest in how arts organizations and higher education intersect. So it's no surprise that after thoughtful consideration, he and his wife, Cynthia, chose to support Penn with a donation to the 29th annual Philadelphia International Children's Festival at the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts.
"My children are involved in both athletics and the arts, and I see firsthand the positive impact that this kind of involvement has on academic achievement and social skills," Richard says. "In addition, I have the privilege of working with some of the best Creatives in the world every day. This has enabled me to see firsthand the tremendous impact unlocking someone's creative talents can have on culture, business, & the world." The Gays' generous gift to the Festival's annual fund not only helps bring in renowned performers, but also allows the Annenberg Center to keep ticket prices affordable for schools and families in the Philadelphia area.
As the oldest celebration of its kind in the country, the Philadelphia International Children's Festival provides high-quality arts experiences to thousands of young people, with events held in all of the Annenberg Center's theater spaces, lobby areas, and outdoor plaza. The Festival sparks a vital connection between children and the arts; research shows that arts education improves student behavior, school attendance, test scores, and self-esteem. With arts programming in schools being diminished in recent years, the Children's Festival is redefining how children engage with the arts.
"Exposure to the arts is fun, but can also be educational," Richard Gay says. "It is very important to our family that our children have meaningful experiences with the arts, and we want to extend that opportunity to as many kids as possible."Learn more about the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
"Among Ivy League institutions, our athletics program stands out. That said, the renovations to the Palestra and Hutchinson gymnasium will create a hub, for basketball and other sports, which will help us attract even better student-athletes and staff. People will come in and see a real commitment to athletics." – Rick Rockwell
Rick Rockwell (pictured with Jerome Allen, W'09, the John R. Rockwell Head Coach of Men's Basketball) forged his Quaker pride early. He can still remember accompanying his grandfather to the Penn Museum and to Penn sporting events during his childhood. For him, healthy minds and healthy bodies naturally go together. As a student, he rowed lightweight crew and developed a lifelong interest in Penn's basketball program; almost everyone who played on the team in the early 1960s was, with Rick, a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity. After graduation, Rick deepened his connection with Penn Athletics by endowing the men's basketball head coach position. “There are tremendous lessons to be learned from athletics,” Rick says. “Things like teamwork, the necessity of putting forth effort, earning something instead of it being given to you. These things can be learned in the classroom, but in an athletic endeavor they come to the fore, and make for a well-rounded student.”
While fond memories may last a lifetime, facilities don't always fare so well. The aging Hutchinson Gymnasium and iconic Palestra compelled Rick to join the initiative to revitalize the face of Penn Athletics. At the Palestra, the new John R. Rockwell Gymnasium will provide a state-of-the-art facility for the basketball and volleyball teams to practice their jump shots and digs. Renovations will take place not only on the court, but high above it, where offices for staff and coaches will provide a bird's-eye-view of the action below. Additional updates to Hutchinson Gymnasium will help Penn Athletics continue to provide recreational opportunities that enrich the lives of the Penn community. Whether housing intramural teams or hosting Ivy League or Big 5 competition, the Palestra-Hutchinson complex will become an even more desirable destination for prospective student-athletes, staff, sports fans, and one very special constituency.
“One community we can't forget is the alumni, who I know will take great pride in this facility,” Rick says. “I hope it will encourage even more alumni to come back and support the athletes and Penn.”Learn more about Penn Athletics
"We are big believers in making art, especially contemporary art, as accessible to the public as possible. Free admission at the ICA means everyone in the community will have access to all the great programming there. Hopefully, more people will experience the ICA than ever before."
– Glenn Fuhrman
Glenn and Amanda Fuhrman believe that greater access to contemporary art can be a bridge between people and the communities they share. Thanks to their far-reaching generosity, visitors from throughout Philadelphia and beyond can experience the trailblazing exhibitions at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) undeterred by the cost of admission. The Fuhrman's gift will ensure that admittance to ICA remains free for the next 20 years.
"Free for All" is more than a slogan at ICA; it's an integral part of the museum's mission. Contemporary art can be challenging to viewers whose experience of visual art has been nonexistent or limited to the traditional. Repeat visits are often a must for those who want to fully explore specific elements of an exhibit or participate in the informal educational programming presented at ICA. "Free admission," says Glenn Fuhrman, an ICA Overseer, "means the entire audience can come see the shows as many times as they'd like."
ICA has made an indelible impact on the Fuhrmans, who collect as well as exhibit the work of contemporary artists. "We have always been huge fans of the ICA, dating back to our days at Penn," Glenn says. He credits cutting-edge shows such as the photographs of Robert Mapplethorpe, the Richard Pettibone retrospective, and the 'Ensemble' sound exhibition with expanding the definition of what contemporary art can be.
Amanda Fuhrman says, "I remember so clearly the works from "Ensemble" that Glenn and I first experienced together. The Christian Marclay, Yoko Ono, and Jim Hodges works in particular stay in our visual memories to this day.” Amanda adds, “Seeing works at the ICA has often led to new discoveries for us."
Through their insightful philanthropy, Amanda and Glenn Fuhrman extend an open invitation to all to make their own discoveries at ICA.Learn more about the Institute of Contemporary Art
"Brian and I believe that Penn's library system is a hub of knowledge and learning at the University. Both intellectually and geographically, it is truly the heart of the campus." – Cynthia Chang Scanlan
Cynthia Chang Scanlan and Brian Scanlan met at Penn, married, and grew a successful software company together. Yet before their paths ever crossed they had something in common: both of their mothers were librarians, and fostered a love of books and learning in each of them. The renovation of Penn Libraries' Special Collections Center touched a chord for Cynthia and Brian, and they are supporting the project with a generous gift.
"I suppose a respect and reverence for libraries is in our blood," Cynthia says. "We hold a strong commitment to the preservation of old books and manuscripts. Without enough support, we fear this physical, tangible connection to the past might be lost."
Located on the fifth and sixth floors of the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library, the Special Collections Center will be home to Penn's Rare Book and Manuscript Library, a treasure trove of books, handwritten manuscripts, maps, images, and sound and visual recordings from centuries past and present. The collections range from Medieval manuscripts, to Shakespeare's first folio, and items from the personal archive of famed contralto, Marian Anderson, to a cookery collection spanning 500 years. The new Center will provide a state-of-the-art facility for scholars to study these distinctive materials, including a new reading room, class and seminar rooms, an exhibition gallery, a digital media lab, a conservation suite, and public and private programming space for the University community.
"It seemed natural for our family to focus our philanthropy on Penn Libraries—our son, Kevin, C'15, W'15, uses its diverse resources as a Penn student now," Cynthia says. "What's more, the continued expansion of science and research at Penn has inspired our ongoing support. We could not find a more deserving outlet for our family's commitment to education than Penn!"Learn more about Penn Libraries
"It is very rewarding when I see the schoolchildren wide-eyed, enchanted by our very special place. They, like most of the Arboretum's visitors, will never understand the energy, commitment, and resources that are required to produce the effect—but I think they will remember it." – Jane Bradley Alavi
The Morris Arboretum became a special place for Jane and Abass Alavi while they were each completing fellowships at Penn's School of Medicine in the 1970s. Starting with her days teaching hematology and oncology at the medical school and continuing through her retirement years, Jane has volunteered in virtually every capacity at the gardens. However, it was her experience as a guide that revealed the Arboretum as a home of living history. “I had the opportunity to work in one of the historic buildings, and to observe the stunning restoration of a number of the Victorian era fountains,” Jane says. “It became clear that preservation of these structures would enhance the beauty of the gardens and also give our visitors a glimpse of local history.”
Built in 1888, the Widener Education & Visitor Center once served as a gardener's cottage, carriage house, and stable. Today, it houses a gift shop, café, and facilities where visitors enrich themselves through the Arboretum's lively mix of offerings: from botany, plant physiology, and birding to photography classes, art workshops, and wine tastings. The Alavis' generous donation to the renovation fund will go far in making the Center a comfortable, inviting space with a new kitchen, new restrooms, and updated audio-visual equipment.
Elected to chair the Arboretum's Advisory Board of Managers this past July, Jane will bring her extensive involvement with the gardens to that leadership position. Moreover, she will continue her deep commitment to the Arboretum's guide program. “As a guide, I came to appreciate the broad spectrum of activities and the impact of the gardens on the community,” Jane says. With the Alavis' ongoing support of the Morris Arboretum, the gardens will continue to showcase history and educate future generations.Learn more about the Morris Arboretum
"We believe very strongly in the importance of digital projects, and in particular that museums must make their collections available online. The beauty of digitization is that what was previously available only in a locked basement can now be seen by scholars around the world."
– Lisa Kabnick and John McFadden
In the 1940s and 50s, Penn Museum archaeologist George McFadden (pictured, left) unearthed objects that revealed secrets of the Kourion kingdom, a civilization more than 3,000 years old located on the eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus. Now his nephew, John McFadden, and John's wife Lisa Kabnick, want to make sure that the world has access to George's unique findings housed at the Museum. The McFadden Family Fund will provide the resources to do just that.
"Digital Kourion" will showcase online the objects McFadden collected from Kourion and other Cyprian cities—bowls, jewelry, lamps, statue fragments, and other relics. The project is part of a larger undertaking: celebrating Penn Museum's 125th anniversary with the launch of the online Collections Database. Scholars, teachers, schoolchildren, and anyone with access to the Internet can explore a region's cultural materials from Penn Museum's homepage. A work in progress, the public database already contains digital records for more than 660,000 objects and 51,500 images from the Museum's impressive collections.
"Initiating the Digital Kourion project was a way to provide support to an important institution at Penn, to honor a member of John's family, and to continue the McFadden tradition of Penn pride," Lisa and John say. Both share a Penn heritage: George McFadden's father and uncle were graduates, and the couple previously established a scholarship in honor of Lisa's grandfather, Herbert Henry Kabnick, a 1912 graduate of the Dental School who also taught there. His brother, Stuart Kabnick, was also a Penn alumnus. Lisa serves the University community today as a member of the Trustees' Council of Penn Women.
Through their gift, the couple is helping to redefine the possibilities for how museums preserve the past for future generations of scholars and history enthusiasts. "Possibility is the key word here," say Lisa and John. "The papers, photographs, and film clips about George McFadden will now be available to everyone interested in seeing how a dig was organized in the first half of the 20th century."Learn more about Penn Museum