SLIDESHOW | Photography by Tommy Leonardi C’89
A Decade of Arts at Homecoming:
A new tradition has taken hold at the University’s big fall event.
Homecoming Weekend at Penn didn’t always mean gallery hops and architecture tours.
Until 10 years ago, it was a more traditional affair, with a football game at the center and a varied (if sometimes bewildering) slate of events and lectures. But in 2008, the University decided to reimagine Homecoming and turn it into “Arts at Homecoming.” The game is still there, and it remains the single highest-attended event of the weekend, but it’s now surrounded by targeted programming that showcases Penn’s busy arts and culture scene.
A full decade in, the arts focus has become a tradition—and one that people seem to like. F. Hoopes Wampler GrEd’13, associate vice president for alumni relations, says the number of alumni registering for Homecoming Weekend has more than doubled since it started highlighting the arts. And when alumni relations surveys attendees on why they came back to campus, 30 to 40 percent say it was because of the arts and culture programming.
The 10-year anniversary of Arts at Homecoming kicked off at the Arthur Ross Gallery, where leaders from four Penn museums talked about the past, present, and future of their institutions.
“The past 10 years have been simply amazing for the arts and culture at Penn,” said Anita Allen, vice provost for faculty, in an introduction to the panel talk. She cited a slew of initiatives that arose over the last decade, including Arts and the City Year, the Provost’s Arts Advisory Council, and the Sachs Program for Arts Innovation. It’s clearer than ever, she said, that “the arts are alive and well and highly valued at Penn.”
All four museum heads said that this is an exciting moment for their institutions. The Arthur Ross Gallery celebrated its 35th anniversary in 2018 and has doubled its annual attendance since 2014. The Penn Museum is in the middle of a major transformation [“Gazetteer,” Sep|Oct 2017], with several renovated galleries and upgrades to its Harrison Auditorium and Main Entrance Hall, all slated to debut in Fall 2019.
At the Morris Arboretum—which its executive director Paul Meyer noted is, indeed, an accredited museum—improvements are also underway, as is a project to digitize plant specimens. And the Institute for Contemporary Art is focused on drawing in more attendees who are new to both Penn and contemporary art, and to presenting “the kind of work that changes the world and makes history,” as ICA Director Amy Sadao put it.
“The Future of the Museums at Penn” panel led a diverse slate of arts events at Homecoming this year. The weekend combined annual favorites—a tour of Penn’s architecture, a hop across its galleries, an alumni arts fair on College Green—with one-time discussions and presentations.
“Growing Up and Getting Old in Philadelphia” brought together a Penn Museum curator, an anthropology scholar, and a doctor of radiology to examine how living in the city affects a person’s health, starting with children’s growth and development.
A PennDesign panel talk, “Design with Nature NOW,” considered how landscape architects are approaching urban and environmental design in the face of global climate change and urbanization.
“I’m very proud of the quality of our programming,” says Sheila Raman, the director of development for arts and culture at Penn who curates Arts at Homecoming, and has since its inception. “We’ve been able to maintain a consistently high level of rigor.”
Raman strives to highlight each segment of Penn’s varied arts and culture portfolio over the course of the weekend every year. “Our original goal was to raise the visibility of our arts organizations among alumni and to give alumni even more reasons to come back for Homecoming,” she says. “It’s a nice way to continue lifelong learning and to appreciate parts of Penn that maybe didn’t exist when you were here.”
She says the architecture tours have been especially popular, reaching capacity within a week of being posted—in part because they’re capped at only 35 people per tour. This year, one tour stopped at campus mainstays (College Hall, the Penn Museum), while another headed to some of Penn’s newest buildings (Perry World House, the Levin Building).
Other annual programming includes “Drinks with the Sphinx”—a tailgate alternative at the Penn Museum before the game on Saturday—and a Sunday morning brunch at the Morris Arboretum.
In 2009, the first Arts at Homecoming weekend, Penn added a Creative Spirit Award to the Alumni Award of Merit Gala. Recipients have since included Broadway producer Hal Prince C’48 Hon’71, actor Candice Bergen CW’67 Hon’92, and this year, author Lisa Scottoline C’76 L’81.
“Now that we’re a decade in, I think students expect that we’re going to have this kind of programming after they graduate,” Wampler says. “There’s a huge group of young alumni that come back for their first reunion at Homecoming. I think we’ll continue to see growth in attendance—I don’t think it will level out over time.”
“We look forward,” Wampler adds, “to the 25th and 50th anniversaries of Arts at Homecoming.”
— Molly Petrilla C’06
Portraits courtesy Penn News
Dean John L. Jackson, Jr.
Faculty Award of Merit
As the first appointed Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor (PIK), you arrived on campus with considerable fanfare. The Pennsylvania Gazette depicted you and your fellow first class of PIKs as superheroes, able to leap multiple disciplines in a single bound. By forging novel connections across diverse academic fields, you do just that, enhancing our understanding of the world in the process.
Much of your work in cultural anthropology and ethnography addresses the multifaceted issues surrounding race. You tackle this topic with unflinching courage and open-mindedness, embracing debate and pursuing rigorous research on perhaps the most divisive subject in human history. A consummate teacher, you bring your research and insights to life for wide audiences, not only through your classes and mentorship, but also through books, newspaper columns, academic journals, and film.
With appointments at the Annenberg School for Communication, the School of Arts and Sciences, and the School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2), your plate was full to the brim. Yet, you took on even more, chairing Penn’s Committee on Diversity and Equity to help the University uphold a commitment to inclusion at all levels, serving as Senior Advisor to the Provost for Diversity, and assuming the deanship of SP2. In addition to forging strong multidisciplinary partnerships like the Penn Futures Project, you went the extra mile—literally—to help keep alumni and friends connected with Penn today.
You have enthusiastically shared your work with the Penn community, time and time again, at alumni outreach events across the country, including the “Future of Social Change” tour that was highly successful in reconnecting alumni with SP2. As a frequent guest speaker for the James Brister Society and Penn Spectrum, your engaging presence enables our valued alumni and friends to participate in our University’s vibrant intellectual life. What’s more, you teach them to be courageous in asking challenging questions and facing difficult answers. Like any great hero, you show us how we, too, can be heroes.
On top of all this, you have undertaken ventures to share useful knowledge with the world. Under your watch, SP2 launched SP2 Penn Top 10 Social Justice & Policy Issues for the 2016 Presidential Election . This multimedia initiative provided resources voters could use to make better-informed choices—the very essence of democracy. And as a filmmaker, you understand the vital role of this medium in our culture and its power for disseminating messages beyond academic walls. To that end, you advanced the Collective for Advancing Multimodal Research Arts (CAMRA) and Penn Initiative on Visual and Performative Ethnography (PIVPE) at Penn, not only endorsing the production of visual and performative research projects, but also producing rigorous criteria for assessing them.
Your passion for expanding your own knowledge across disciplines, telling the human story in a unique way, and sharing your academic and cultural insights knows no bounds. We know this is going to serve you exceptionally well when you take on the mantle of Dean of the Annenberg School for Communication in January.
In recognition of your extraordinary abilities and outstanding scholarship, and for teaching us all how to be heroes, Penn Alumni is delighted to present you with the Faculty Award of Merit.
Lisa Scottoline C’76 L’81
Creative Spirit Award
Following your instincts—and early Penn inspiration—you detoured from a career as a trial attorney to become one of America’s most popular and beloved authors. Combining big talent with an equally big heart, you have entertained us, inspired us, and kept us up reading late into the night.
At Penn, you pursued an undergraduate degree in English with a concentration in the contemporary American novel, taking two seminars with then-faculty member Philip Roth, where your dream of becoming a novelist began. After graduating magna cum laude in three years, you matriculated at Penn Law. “The law is dramatic” is how you’ve explained its appeal, and your Penn Law professors did not disappoint. A recipient of the Henry Loughlin Prize for Legal Ethics, you infuse your novels with questions of morality and justice.
You began your legal career as a litigator at Dechert, Price & Rhoads, where you found great success. But after stepping away from it to raise your newborn daughter—and future writing partner—you found the inspiration that would launch a wildly successful writing career: the idea of injecting a female protagonist into the predominantly male genre of legal thrillers.
And so, you began writing your first novel, Everywhere That Mary Went. Your rookie effort was nominated for crime fiction’s highest honor, the Edgar Award, which you would capture with your second novel, Final Appeal. This was an auspicious beginning to a remarkable body of work, including a staggering 31 novels, as well as a weekly Philadelphia Inquirer column—co-authored with your daughter—where you showcase your irreverent, witty, and poignant musings on life. These columns would form the basis for nine hilarious nonfiction books—and counting!
Even with your prolific output, you still find time to give of yourself to Penn. Perhaps it is your “rosé-colored glasses” that gives you such boundless energy and enthusiasm for your alma mater. You have returned to campus often, illuminating rooms across campus with your wisdom and warmth. We were delighted to welcome you back to the Law School in 2005 to teach “Justice and Fiction,” a course that you designed and for which you would later be recognized with the 2009 Adjunct Teaching Award. Beyond that, your dedication as a Law School Reunion committee member and Law School Overseer is no mystery to anyone.
On the national stage, also, you have opened up the world of reading and writing. As President of Mystery Writers of America, you put special emphasis on getting young writers into print. For your contributions to law and the arts, you have been awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from West Chester University and the Distinguished Author Award from Scranton University. You were recognized as a Fun Fearless Female by Cosmopolitan and a PW Innovator by Publisher’s Weekly. Penn Law has honored you with an Alumni Award of Merit, while Penn Women in Business bestowed on you their Paving the Way Award.
“I write what I know,” you have said of the rich literary worlds you create. Here’s what we at Penn know: you are one of our most radiant stars. It is with profound gratitude and great pride that we present you with the University of Pennsylvania’s 2018 Creative Spirit Award.
Austin Leo Lavin C’06
Young Alumni Award
As a former Penn rugby player, you understand that teamwork is key to winning the game. Fortunately for Penn, the esprit de corps that you first displayed on the rugby field continued long after your playing days, as you united with your fellow Quakers to score points for your alma mater.
Your energetic involvement on behalf of the University began just after you earned your degree in art history. You set out to connect Red and Blue alumni in the Philadelphia region by using a brand-new networking tool then known as “The Facebook.” Within a year, you had joined the Executive Committee of the Penn Alumni Club of Philadelphia, where you helped to strengthen what had been a quiet group. As its treasurer, you worked toward greater transparency in club finances, even issuing an annual report. Thanks, in part, to your leadership, your club went on to win the 2009 Penn Alumni Club Award of Merit.
Around this time, your younger sister, Celeste, turned to you for advice in finding her first job. You responded by creating a start-up—myfirstpaycheck.com—for those new to the work force. It was an immediate hit. As were you. Less than two years after you graduated from Penn, you were named by LEADERSHIP Philadelphia as one of 101 Next Generation Connectors.
In 2010, you moved with your wife, Beth Shapiro Lavin C’06, to her hometown of New Orleans, where you would eventually welcome daughter Amelia and son Max. There, you kept up your entrepreneurial winning streak, founding WorkNOLA.com, a nonprofit that highlighted opportunities for local employment in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and earned you inclusion in the New Orleans Gambit Weekly’s “40 Under 40” list in 2010. The following year, you assumed your current post of Sales and Leasing Associate and Director of Marketing and Communications at Corporate Realty, Inc.
Just as you had in Philadelphia, you assembled a Quaker team in the Big Easy to carry the game. Under your leadership, the Penn Club of Louisiana sponsored half a dozen regional events each year, many with strong Penn connections, including a gathering at the New Orleans Museum of Art’s Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, named for Sydney Besthoff W’49. Partnering with Tulane Law School, you hosted a fascinating conversation between Professor John Hollway of Penn Law’s Quattrone Center and John Thompson, who spent years on death row after being wrongly convicted of a crime. Thanks to your leadership, the Penn community in New Orleans is more engaged than ever before.
Your work on behalf of your alma mater has never flagged. As an alumni interviewer, you have met with countless prospective Quakers and, together with Beth, hosted Penn Club of Louisiana Student Send-Offs that were festive enough to be covered in The Times-Picayune and other local publications. In recognition of your success in rebuilding not one but two alumni clubs, you were invited to join the Regional Clubs Advisory Board of the Penn Alumni Board of Directors, where you were a key member of its Action Plan Committee.
As a reunion leader, you have lifted the Class of 2006 to the top of the scoreboard, helping both its five- and ten-year reunions reach participation milestones. A generous and unflagging donor to the University, you have been a member of The Penn Fund Ivy Stone Society every year since your graduation.
With gratitude for the way you have helped your alma mater win the game time and again, we are thrilled to present you with the Young Alumni Award of Merit for 2018.
Allan C. Bell, Esq. C’81 PAR’11 PAR’14
Alumni Award of Merit
Your place as the most avid Red and Blue fan imaginable was proven beyond a doubt last March, hours after the men’s basketball team beat Brown to win its 26th Ivy League championship. After celebrating in Providence, the ecstatic Quakers raced home to The Palestra for the ritual cutting down of the basketball nets. It was 2 a.m. when the players, coaches, and cheerleaders arrived at the arena. The stands were empty—with the exception of two longtime season-ticket holders.
Anyone who knows you will guess that pair’s identity. You and your wife, Dale Borenstein Bell MT’81 PAR’11 PAR’14, were there, cheering on your beloved Quakers, just as you have at more than 500 games in Philadelphia and across the country.
You have been an unequivocally engaged Penn citizen since your college years, when you developed your love for Penn sports, particularly basketball, during a period in which Penn made the Final Four in the NCAA Tournament. You served as a Kite and Key undergraduate ambassador and joined Zeta Beta Tau. After graduating magna cum laude, you went on to Columbia Law, earning a JD in 1984. Three years later, you received an LLM from the New York University School of Law.
You and Dale settled in New Jersey, where you went on to raise your children, Brittany C’11, and Brandon C’14, both of whom would follow you to Locust Walk. As a partner in the Newark firm of Sills, Cummis & Gross and Chair of its Trusts and Estates Practice Group, you have earned a place on “The Best Lawyers in America” list for the past nine years.
Even as you forged a stellar legal career, you kept the University close at hand. You have shared your expertise with many Penn boards, including the Penn Alumni Board of Directors and the Basketball Board, where you chaired the Development Committee. Your dedicated service with Dale on the Penn Hillel Board of Overseers earned you both recognition as Mentors of the Year from Penn’s Jewish Heritage Program. Later, you were appointed to the Board of Trustees and took an active role on the Student Life and Local, National, and Global Engagement committees.
As a member and long-time co-chair of the Class of 1981 Gift Committee, you inspired your classmates to philanthropy. You have also been a tireless mentor to young alumni in class leadership positions—fostering their connection to Penn, and, in the process, developing the next generation of alumni leadership. This is a topic on which you are an expert, given your many years of service both as member and president of the Alumni Class Leadership Council.
You have helped fire up capital campaigns, from raising funds to restore Zeta Beta Tau’s fraternity house to the record-breaking Making History Campaign. Not surprisingly, when the University launched its new campaign, The Power of Penn, it tapped you as Chair of the Alumni Engagement Committee—a role tailor-made for you.
Your philanthropic support of your alma mater has kept pace with your energetic involvement. You and Dale marked your 25th class reunion by creating the Allan & Dale B. Bell Family Endowment Scholarship in memory of your father, Harold Bell. Your many other gifts have supported Penn Athletics, particularly basketball and football, and The Penn Fund, where you spent several years on the Executive Board.
You are the ultimate embodiment of your own favorite axiom: “Penn is not four years. Penn is for life.” In gratitude for your diehard fandom and lifelong engagement with the Red and Blue—including nocturnal visits to The Palestra!—we are delighted to present you with the Alumni Award of Merit for 2018.
Dr. Mitchell J. Blutt C’78 M’82 WG’87
Alumni Award of Merit
President Amy Gutmann once described you as “truly interdisciplinary, in perspective as well as accomplishment.” You have proven that to be true many times over—continually challenging yourself to learn something new. As you do, you set a terrific example for the entire Penn community by channeling your passions and interests into ventures that enrich the University.
As an undergraduate, you designed a special major at the School of Arts and Sciences (SAS), combining psychology, biology, anthropology, and statistics—a precursor to today’s Biological Basis of Behavior major. You were elected to Phi Beta Kappa and the Sphinx Senior Society, earning the Spoon Award. From there, you went on to the Perelman School of Medicine, where you were a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar, and earned an M.B.A. from Wharton.
One of the first physicians to have a prominent role on Wall Street, you spent each Wednesday in the hospital and the rest of the workweek in the financial world. At J.P. Morgan Partners, you ascended to Executive Partner, your inimitable knowledge of medicine and business helping the firm acquire the most promising health-care companies. After leaving the company in 2005, you co-founded Consonance Capital, a healthcare investment firm. “Consonance” happens to be a perfect word to describe the harmony you have found in balancing your hybrid career, your creative outlets, and leadership roles where you demonstrated exemplary loyalty to Penn.
In 1998, you joined the SAS Board of Overseers and were appointed to Penn’s Board of Trustees, where you offered keen insights and strong leadership as Chair of the Strategic Initiatives Advisory Board and Vice Chair of the Ad Hoc Committee on Diversity. As a member of the Penn Medicine Board of Trustees from 2002 until 2011, you sat on its Executive and Finance committees, earning the Perelman School’s Alumni Service Award in 2007. Whether hosting and attending events or taking on numerous other volunteer leadership roles, you always answer the call when Penn needs you.
True to your nature, your philanthropy is expansive, including scholarships at SAS, the Mitchell J. Blutt Visiting Professorship in Entrepreneurism and Medicine, and your endowment of the Perelman School’s first M.D./M.B.A. scholarship fund. In 2017, you and your wife took the extraordinary step of endowing Mitchell J. Blutt and Margo Krody Blutt Presidential Professorships at SAS, Perelman, and Wharton as a tribute to your eclectic Penn history.
When you began writing music later in life, you approached it with characteristic verve, producing songs that appeared in two films. As always, you shared your passion with Penn. Today, students continue to learn musicianship through the Blutt College House Music Program; the Blutt Band Slam remains one of the most popular Homecoming events; and the Blutt Singer Songwriter Symposium brings legendary musicians like Lou Reed, Questlove, and Patti Smith to campus.
Like our famous founder, you refuse to be bound to one vocation. Your “militant curiosity,” as you call it, guides you to new endeavors, and to success in each of them. In doing so, you inspire us all to challenge ourselves and expand our horizons. That’s what makes you a true “Pennaissance” man.
For your countless, generous efforts on behalf of the University, and for being a superlative example of the powerful potential of Penn’s ethos of interdisciplinary learning, we are delighted to present you the Alumni Award of Merit for 2018.
Louis Kozloff, MD, C’65 M’69 PAR’92 PAR’97
Alumni Award of Merit
To say that Penn is in your blood is an understatement. The Kozloffs—affectionately known as “the Kozzes”—can boast nearly 40 Penn alumni. Your family’s roots at Penn are as sturdy and strong as those of the century-old American elm tree on College Green. But what might be even more durable and enduring than that tree is your Penn pride, described by School of Medicine Dean J. Larry Jameson as “legendary.”
Your Penn journey started at the College of Arts and Sciences, where you excelled as a chemistry major, were inducted into the Phi Kappa Beta and Friars Senior societies, and met the love of your life, Rene Chalfin Kozloff, Ph.D., Nu’67. After graduating from the College, and then the School of Medicine, you moved to Bethesda, MD, where you and Rene raised two future Quakers, Laurie C’92, and Howard C’97. A consummate physician and professor, you were beloved by all who had the pleasure of benefitting from your care or guidance—and especially by the extended family you built at Penn.
In knowing you, one can truly understand what it means to love Penn, and share in your infectious enthusiasm. Yours is an uncommon and extraordinary level of loyalty, and you serve Penn with vigor. You have taken part in each of your medical school reunion committees since 1979, and you raised your engagement to a new level in 1990 by joining the Medical Alumni Advisory Council (MAAC), chairing it from 2012 to 2015. No matter the audience—staff, friends, family, or fellow alumni—you are passionate about singing Penn’s praises and offering sage advice.
A basketball player and swimming star for the Quakers, you have a special, longstanding connection to Penn Athletics. You and your father, Henry H. Kozloff, M.D., C’35 M’40, share the distinction of being one of only two father-son pairings in the Penn Athletics Hall of Fame. A member of the Swimming Sports Board since 2015, you give generously to help ensure that future students can enjoy the kind of enriching experience you had as a Quaker athlete. Though you were celebrated for your individual feats in the water, you have always been a true team player, rallying your family, friends, and classmates to come together in support for the Red and Blue.
Indeed, much of your philanthropy demonstrates this team spirit. You joined your “Penn brothers” to establish the Edward T. Anderson C’65 M’69 – Louis Kozloff C’65 M’69 Scholarship Fund and the Anderson Kozloff Thompson Classroom in the Jordan Medical Education Center, and you brought the Kozzes together to support the Kozloff Family Room in the Tse Ping – Cheng Cheung Ling Sports Center. You also were a major benefactor of the Class of 1969 Scholarship Fund, and, as head of the School’s 40th Reunion Alumni Class Committee, you were widely credited for that year’s remarkable class gift. Your unanimous selection to receive the School of Medicine Alumni Service Award in 2011 was richly deserved.
Your accomplishments reflect both your personal connection to the Red and Blue and your family’s strong Penn legacy. Tonight marks a new chapter in Kozloff/Penn history, as you join your father in the annals of our most venerable alumni.
With gratitude for your exceptional dedication to your alma mater, and for treating the entire Penn community like an extension of your own family, Penn Alumni is honored to award you the Alumni Award of Merit for 2018.
Andrea Berry Laporte Nu’69
Alumni Award of Merit
Some people—like you—have a rare gift: the ability to go wherever they are needed and make a difference. You have shown that talent again and again in your commitment to Penn. Your contributions are as wide as they are deep, from helping shape the Institute of Contemporary Art and advance nursing education to helping steer two capital campaigns.
The daughter of Penn alumni Dorothy Thornburg Berry DH’41, and Harrison M. Berry, Jr., DDS, D’43 GD’52, you graduated from Penn Nursing, where you were a member of Kappa Alpha Theta. From there you went on to earn a master’s degree from NYU. In 1977, after meeting your husband John H. “Jack” Laporte, Jr., you moved to Maryland where you raised two sons, Christopher and Timothy.
Always an enthusiastic alumna, you stepped up your Red & Blue activism in 1989 when you co-chaired the Undergraduate Advisory Board’s Legacy Campaign to endow the Theresa I. Lynch Fund. Within two years, you were an admired member of Penn Nursing’s Board of Overseers, co-chairing Penn Nursing’s Where Science Leads Campaign, which raised $109 million—at that time the largest comprehensive campaign ever run by a school of nursing—and establishing the Killebrew-Laporte Center for Admissions & Student Affairs.
In 2010, you joined the Board of Trustees. Besides taking on your new role as a Trustee, you joined both the Penn Alumni Board of Directors and the Board of Overseers of the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), where you quickly rose to the position of Board Chair, where, once again, you made an indelible impact. You served on the hiring committee that chose Amy Sadao as ICA’s Daniel W. Dietrich II Director. Within six years of your leadership, the ICA’s endowment had doubled.
Even as you helped reinvigorate the ICA, you were an active member of the University’s Board of Trustees. Named a Term Trustee in 2015, you became an integral part of the committees on Facilities & Campus Planning, Academic Policy, and Development.
Perhaps the greatest tribute to your leadership is the fact that the University keeps asking more of you. After Trustee Emerita status was bestowed upon you in 2017, you were invited to remain on the Board’s Campaign Development and Academic Policy committees. Similarly, in 2014, when your Alumni Board term was over, you continued on its Nominations Committee. In 2016, at Penn Nursing’s request, you returned to its Board of Overseers, this time as chair. A fervent supporter of the University, you served on the Steering Committee for the Making History Campaign and bring your expertise, energy, and deep Penn pride to the same position on The Power of Penn Campaign.
Your gifts and service to the University reflect your commitment to advancing nursing education and contemporary art at Penn—and, through Penn, advancing quality health care and forward-thinking art to the world beyond. You have established the Andrea B. Laporte Endowed Professorship at the School of Nursing and given generously to benefit the Center for Global Women’s Health. You created the Andrea B. Laporte Curator Fund at the ICA to expand curatorial capabilities.
For taking on so many diverse, challenging, and critical leadership roles at Penn, and for many years of unflagging support of the University, we are thrilled to present you with the Alumni Award of Merit for 2018.
Cindy Shmerler Levy C’81 PAR’15 PAR’18
Alumni Award of Merit
Succeeding at tennis or journalism is tough. Acing them both simultaneously as you have done, even tougher. An award-winning print and broadcast journalist, you have spent 40 years reporting, with a particular emphasis on professional tennis, for such outlets as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and ESPN. As both a tennis player and a reporter, you have kept up the pace, skillfully returning any trick shots that came your way.
Even as an undergraduate, your life was action packed. While working towards a B.A. in English with a minor in Spanish, you made your mark in Quaker athletics, playing on both the Women’s Varsity Tennis and Squash teams while becoming one of the first women sportswriters for the Daily Pennsylvanian. Amazingly, you also found time to take part in the historic Bloomers, America’s first all-female musical and sketch comedy troupe.
As the daughter of an active alumnus—the late Edwin Shmerler W’42—you sought to emulate his commitment to the Red & Blue. After graduation, as you embarked on a career in journalism, you joined PennNYC, the alumni club in Manhattan. You married a fellow alum, Ford J. Levy EE ’79, in 1991, then moved with him to suburban New York to raise your children, Kristen C’15 and Maxwell C’18. In no time at all, you joined the Penn Club of Westchester & Rockland Counties, becoming its vice president. In 1998, you were elected president, a position you held until 2008.
Over a twenty-year period, you transformed the club through your leadership and well-honed journalistic skills. Acting as a kind of Penn correspondent, you have kept the University alive in the hearts and minds of your fellow alumni. The events you organized tended to draw an audience, and in 2000, just two years after you assumed its presidency, your club was awarded the Alumni Club Award of Merit.
You have propelled the University forward in so many ways, including as mentor to the women’s tennis and squash teams and DP sportswriters, and as a member of the Penn Alumni Board of Directors. After joining the Trustees’ Council of Penn Women (TCPW) in 2000, you co-chaired both the Committee for Athletics and the Communications Committee, for which you created a popular newsletter.
Your generous gifts to the University include the Paula Shmerler Endowed Fund for Alzheimer’s Research at the Perelman School’s Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research, which honors your mother, who died of Alzheimer’s in 2010. After her diagnosis, you joined the Hudson Valley branch of The Alzheimer’s Association, where you have been a top fundraiser. You also support a cause close to your mother’s heart—summer camps for financially-challenged youth—by serving on the boards of Camp Walden and Surprise Lake Camp.
For keeping your fellow alumni cheering from the sidelines, recruiting them to join the game, and leading them to new heights of engagement, we are thrilled to award you the Penn Alumni Award of Merit for 2018.