The Penn Women’s Center celebrates five decades of providing advocacy, advising, refuge, counseling, company, and tea. From its origins in the struggle against campus sexual violence, the center has evolved to tackle a range of concerns, from wellness to combating racism. The latest debate: Is its name, meant to be welcoming, too restrictive or exclusionary at a time when gender itself is contested?
The great-grandson of a famous founder (of the nation and this University) and “boyhood’s friend” of the president of the Confederacy, educational reformer and onetime Penn professor Alexander Dallas Bache made his own reputation by championing the professionalization of American science in the mid-1800s.
Michael E. Mann has been a central figure in the battle for the environment since the “hockey stick” graph made him a target for climate change deniers 25 years ago. Now on Penn’s faculty and heading the Center for Science, Sustainability, and the Media, he’s fending off a new generation of “inactivists” comprised of climate change deflectors on the right and doomists on the left to get out the message that it’s still within our power to save the planet.
Thirty years after starting the basketball juggernaut AND1, Seth Berger C’89 WG’93 continues to live and breathe hoops—as a father of three (plus a guardian to five Nigerian brothers), a venture capitalist affiliated with the Philadelphia 76ers, and the longtime head coach of a suburban Philadelphia boarding school team that his AND1 cofounder calls the “Duke of high school basketball.”
For Liz Theoharis C’98, activism has been a way of life—from assisting her parents with their justice work, to community service as a Penn undergrad, to cochairing the recent revival of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign of 1968. The Presbyterian minister, social justice leader, and biblical scholar is committed to reframing the narrative around poverty and the poor while pushing for lasting policy changes.
At Penn Live Arts, the legendary Negro Ensemble Company is creating new work that explores this country’s racial tensions and challenges. A February world premiere, Mecca is Burning, brought together five playwrights to imagine how four Black families in Harlem might navigate a white-supremacist revolution.
If there is a crisis (and there have been a few lately), Andy Slavitt C’88 W’88 knows which expert to bring “in the bubble.” When he’s not taping his award-winning podcast, the former insurance executive and federal administrator has a day job:funding innovation in healthcare for those who need help the most. “I have one thing I care about,” he says. “Making this country better for the people who have been ignored for too long.”
On her inauguration day as the University’s ninth president, Liz Magill shared a vision of even greater impact and influence for Penn’s next chapter, picnicked on Shoemaker Green with members of the Penn community and some favorite musicians, and hosted a wide-ranging conversation with Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan at a critical time for the institution.
The Penn Athletics Wharton Leadership Academy aims to turn varsity athletes into lifelong masters of team dynamics. Among the obstacles? Snowplow parenting, youth sports, self-reinforcing gender stereotypes, and the culture of leader-worship itself. Oh, and possibly a rattlesnake or a freak mudslide.
Penn’s new president says growing up in Fargo, North Dakota, is the most memorable thing about her, but former colleagues and University leaders would rather talk about her warmth, attention to others and their ideas, and ability to bring groups together for a common goal (though the Midwestern thing is interesting, too, and perhaps related).