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Deep discussions, healthcare questions, Heisman’s legal eye, McHarg’s influence, sports dreams and downfalls.

Well Done!

My congratulations to the editor and staff of the Gazette. In my opinion, the Sep|Oct 2019 issue was the best in many a moon! The depth of the public health [“Healthcare’s Hard Choices (and How to Stop Avoiding Them)”] and veterinary [“Unleashing Hope”] discussions was important and excellent. Indeed so was the football article [“Heisman’s Game”].

Well done, guys!

Charles Walowitz D’62, New York

Billing Issues

In the article “Healthcare’s Hard Choices (and How to Stop Avoiding Them)” Jonathan Moreno seems to ask for detailed cost and price information when he states, “The billing issue could go a long way, if there’s enough pressure, to helping institutions figure out what costs what. There’s such a difference between pricing and billing, and even institutions seem to be unsure themselves. That could have good effects beyond just letting people know what the heck the value—you know, how do you determine the value of something? To a great extent, it depends on what the dollar sign is behind it. And so we really need to know what those dollar signs look like.”

Given the goal of informing consumers so that they make better healthcare decisions—since “we now widely recognize that patients come first in medicine,” as coauthor and Penn President Amy Gutmann says—could a collaboration including Wharton’s esteemed finance and accounting experts calculate and publish detailed “dollar signs” for the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania’s services? (Note the added benefit of setting a transparency standard for our nation’s hospitals!) And now, more than ever—and perhaps with a “nudge” from Gutmann—could “dollar signs” itemizing Wharton’s $81,378 graduate tuition, Penn Dental Medicine’s $74,974 tuition, Penn Law’s $63,610 tuition, and Penn’s $51,156 undergraduate tuition be published to help consumers make better educational decisions, as well as set a transparency standard for our nation’s colleges?

Roger A. Urbancsik WG’85, Marina Del Rey, CA

What Are the Ethics?

After reading the article in the recent Pennsylvania Gazette on biomedical ethics I have one question: What are the ethics of our University and medical system that has created over $1 billion in retained earnings, is exempted from paying over $500 million in taxes every year, is located in the poorest big city in America, and yet refuses to make a $6.5 million payment in lieu of taxes to the city that makes this huge wealth-producing enterprise possible? Penn is the 17th wealthiest charity in the world, and we are in a position to help Philadelphia on a scale that begins to equal the taxes we are exempted from paying each year.

Hanley P. Bodek C’77, Philadelphia

Lawful Revenge

Great article on John Heisman. Just an interesting note to that record blow out game between Hesiman’s Georgia Tech team and Cumberland College.

Heisman used his law school knowledge to force the game with Cumberland. Angry that Cumberland had used ringers in a baseball game, as mentioned, Heisman wanted revenge on the football field. Just that year Cumberland had disbanded its football program. All the other teams on Cumberland’s planned schedule agreed to let Cumberland suspend its games for the upcoming season.

Heisman, though, read the football contract, and saw that Cumberland would have to pay a $3,000 penalty, a large sum back in those days, if it didn’t play. Rather than forfeit the money, Cumberland agreed to play just Georgia Tech and lost by the 222–0 score. Legend has it neither team had a first down.

At halftime, Heisman told his team, “We’re ahead, but you just can’t tell what those Cumberland players have up their sleeves. They may spring a surprise. Be alert, men.”

Joe Glantz C’74, Levittown, PA

Invoking Ian

I very much enjoyed JoAnn Greco’s piece on Ian McHarg [“A Man and His Environment,” Sep|Oct 2019].  Since it focuses mainly on landscape architecture, I wanted to mention a couple of ways I was able to invoke Ian’s regional planning principles in international development. Once the connection was direct: Ian came to Indonesia and served as the keynote speaker in a workshop I arranged to kick off the planning aspects of a Bali Urban Development Project being financed by the World Bank. In the other, a World Bank project currently ongoing in Indonesia, the influence of Design With Nature is reflected in the consulting contracts for the preparation of Integrated Tourism Master Plans for three tourism destinations in Indonesia. One of the consultants’ tasks is to identify the environmental, social, and cultural opportunities and constraints to be taken into account in formulating the alternative development scenarios from which stakeholders will select the preferred alternative.  

Tom Walton GRP’72, Silver Spring, MD

McHarg in Full

The following letter, from one of Ian McHarg’s first students at Penn, arrived too late to include in the print version of the Nov|Dec issue.—Ed.

As one of the two surviving members of Ian McHarg’s first graduate landscape architecture class, I enjoyed JoAnn Greco’s portrayal of McHarg in “A Man and His Environment.” I had never known that Mrs. Barnes had been our benefactor. McHarg would not reveal her name, saying she preferred anonymity. 

I responded to an advertisement in The Architect’s Journal, a UK publication, which invited applications to a graduate program in landscape architecture at Penn, offering tuition and a $2,400/yr stipend. Those with an architectural degree could complete the program in “one year.” To a young English architect, $2,400 was a lot of money, which is why McHarg dangled the bait overseas, knowing that to an American $2,400 was not much of a stipend! McHarg had another reason for wanting architects to apply: we would be able to prepare professional quality drawings which would help him gain ASLA accreditation for the new program. I was accepted at Penn and invited to apply for a Fulbright Traveling Scholarship, which paid my way to and from the US.

Of the eight original graduate students, six were architects, one had a degree in horticulture, and I had degrees in architecture and city planning. Two were from Scotland, four from England, and one each from Australian and Holland. There were also four American undergraduates in our group; they did the same classwork but received BLA degrees.

Things got off to a rocky start when we discovered that Penn was going to take tuition out of our stipends. Tuition at that time was $600 per semester, so all our stipend money was committed for the duration of the program. Also the program would be an “academic year,” which was four semesters lasting a year and a half. Not to worry, said McHarg: he would find us part-time jobs in Philadelphia. And he did. Most of us worked in architectural offices and were receiving salaries equivalent to McHarg’s Penn salary!

Initially, the new program’s agenda was similar to other landscape programs in the US, Our early projects included an urban subdivision, urban park, rehabilitation of an industrial island on the Schuylkill River, and a plaza design for the Seagram Building taught by Phillip Johnson. In spring semester, however, we started to tackle a design involving natural processes: this was a project sponsored by the National Park Service to articulate a development strategy for the North Carolina Outer Banks. It was McHarg’s first opportunity to teach his theory of design with nature. But there would be many more iterations of his method before Design With Nature was published and became the agenda for the Penn program.

Following graduation the Scots returned to Scotland, the Australian to Australia, and the Dutchman to Holland. One English architect remained in Philadelphia, one returned to London and opened a landscape practice, another took a teaching post in landscape architecture in Edinburgh. With McHarg’s help I began a teaching career at the University of Georgia. In 1973, I became the second dean of the School of Environmental Design and set about adjusting the curriculum to emphasize design using natural process. With McHarg’s advice I hired five Penn graduates (20 percent of my teaching staff). Today, and following the tenures of four subsequent deans, the school has become the College of Environment and Design and is one of the leading programs emphasizing natural process in its design curriculum. 

In 1965 I invited McHarg to be our featured speaker at the annual alumni reunion. He agreed to come “for expenses only.” I also invited Eugene Odum, the very distinguished professor of ecology at the University of Georgia, to attend. McHarg knew of Odum, but was surprised to find he was at Georgia and going to be in his audience. This caused him to consume a bit too much alcohol before his lecture. As he gave his lecture, his Scottish brogue became much more pronounced and a wee bit slurred. The audience loved it, even if they could only understand half his words. Odum was enchanted and they both talked for a long time after the lecture.

In 1997 Ian McHarg returned to the University of Georgia at the invitation of the Institute of Ecology, for a lecture promoting his book A Quest for Life. His fee was $10,000. I asked him how he could charge so much. He said his secretary now booked his speaking engagements, and she had found that each time she asked for a bigger fee, no one ever refused! 

Next morning I invited McHarg for breakfast. He consumed almost an entire jar of Scottish marmalade! And that was the last time I would ever see Ian McHarg. I miss him. He (and Mrs Barnes and the University of Pennsylvania) put me on the path to professional success. I am grateful to all of them. Each year I make a donation to Penn in Ian McHarg’s name and to repay the funds which helped me through Penn and established my career.

Robert P. Nicholls GLA’57, Athens, GA

The writer is dean and professor emeritus at the College of Environment and Design (formerly School of Environmental Design) at the University of Georgia.—Ed.

Plastic Problem

I enjoyed this issue of the Gazette, as I always do, but was surprised to see that the print edition came wrapped in single-use plastic. Recyclable at the local grocery store, sure, but … you know … don’t use trumps reuse/recycle.

I didn’t miss the irony that the article on Ian McHarg referenced the first Earth Day.

Curious about that decision.


Richard Donze C’74, West Chester, PA

The packaging was to accommodate an annual supplement called Proudly Penn, which generally mails with the Sep|Oct issue.—Ed.

Major League Dreamers

Dave Zeitlin’s entertaining article “Professional Grind” [“Gazetteer,” Sep|Oct 2019] captures well the many joys and sacrifices young ballplayers encounter pursuing a chance to play in the major leagues. I had the pleasure of watching one of the players profiled, Billy Lescher, close out the 2018 home season for the Connecticut Tigers (Class-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers) shortly before he was called up to the West Michigan Whitecaps. He’s a terrific young man with a bright future. Kudos to the Gazette for recognizing and celebrating Billy and his Quaker contemporaries who have chosen to put their careers on hold to pursue a dream.

Ed Mattes C’79, Tuxedo Park, NY

The writer is co-owner of the Connecticut Tigers.—Ed.

Penn Shares Responsibility with Allen

Removing Jerome Allen from the Penn Hall of Fame [“Gazetteer,” Sep|Oct 2019], thus casting his accomplishments down the Orwellian memory hole, is a mediocre attempt to salvage the University’s institutional reputation at the expense of fairness. Are his images on the Palestra walls going to be excised as well?

In my opinion, Jerome Allen took the head coaching job at his alma mater for what he thought was one year, or the part of one year, after the firing of Glen Miller. He had no coaching credentials and he knew it. But the former athletic director somehow convinced him to stay. He knew chances of any success were thin. He knew another head coaching job would be difficult. Of course he was wrong to be involved in bribery. Of course, he deserved conviction. Of course, he and his family are humiliated. 

The bribery of athletic coaches by the super-rich in order to get their offspring into a good college has been at epidemic levels. Another example at Stanford was uncovered recently. The dynamics of this particular example of abuse will take years to bring to light. Acts like that of the Penn athletic department are of no help in that process.

Perhaps in the future guilt will be distributed fairly. And those who will be praised for that process will not include the University of Pennsylvania. Why did not your article say whether or not the father (“wealthy businessman,” name not given) who approached, and flattered, Coach Allen has met with any sanction? Was his son enrolled? Did the University return his monetary gifts? Why did not the current athletic director or president make any direct statement, instead of leaving it to a subordinate?

I hope fervently Jerome is able to recoup his reputation. The athletic director or the president, not so much.

Jay A. Gertzman Ed’61 Gr’72, Edgewater, NJ

A Bit Imperialistic?

I have been a great fan of the Penn Museum from the day I set foot on campus back in about 1956. My best friend proposed to his girlfriend in the Sumerian section.

I was fascinated to learn, in “A Century Later, the Sphinx Moves Again” [“Gazetteer,” Sep|Oct 2019], that the sphinx came to the University in 1913 after it was discovered in Egypt “by English archaeologist Flinders Petrie and offered to the Penn Museum.” At this sentence I went, “What?” Mr. Petrie just took a 25,000 pound artifact out of Egypt and with no questions asked gifted it to the University? Doesn’t this sound just a bit imperialistic? Could we find out more about this transaction, please?

Martin Oppenheimer Gr’63, Princeton, NJ

The Penn Museum was among the supporters of Petrie’s excavations and shared in the artifacts he uncovered. As for the sphinx coming here, the Museum’s website notes that Petrie’s offer was made “with the agreement of the Egyptian Antiquities Service.” Much more information is also available in the book The Sphinx That Traveled to America, which is referenced in our story.—Ed.

Another Franklin Field Moment to Remember

On occasion, I get to read the Pennsylvania Gazette before it is relegated to the pile for kindling. Such was the fate for the recent issue. Tossed casually about, it opened to your piece titled “125 Seasons of Franklin Field Football” in which you select a “dramatic, important, or otherwise memorable game” from every decade [“Gazetteer,” Sep|Oct 2019]. A category which allows much leeway of choice!

I offer the November 5, 1955, game, back when Penn still played big-time opponents like Army, Navy, California, and Notre Dame, as well as Ivy League teams. It was Penn versus Notre Dame that comes to mind as memorable. 

On the opening kickoff, halfback Frank Riepl W’58 received the kickoff eight yards deep into the end zone and made his way through the opposition to score a touchdown. Penn [which had not won a game in the last two seasons] kicked the extra point and was actually beating Notre Dame [which was ranked No. 6 in the country].

Penn later led 14–7 and the game was tied 14–14 after the first half. Singing the “Red and Blue” at halftime was never more spirited! After halftime, Notre Dame regrouped and won, but just imagine the pride all the Penn men and women felt worldwide before then. Hard to say this game was not the most memorable of the ’50s!

Robert A. Rosin W’58 L’61, Blue Bell, PA

What About Weegee?

We really have become a country of wimps and snowflakes. Editors and station managers will not show pictures with blood because they may offend someone [“Expert Opinion,” Sep|Oct 2019]. Yet in the 1940s, New York City newspapers published graphic pictures by the famous crime photographer Weegee, who I saw when he gave a lecture on crime photography at Penn in the late 1950s.

Robert M. Rosenthal W’60, Burbank, CA

Examples of photos by Weegee (Arthur Fellig) are plentiful online.—Ed.

We’re Pleased, Too

I am delighted that Dave Zeitlin (no relation), whom I’ve followed for several years, is carrying on the Zeitlin name in Penn sports that started when I was sports editor of the Daily Pennsylvanian in 1952. I don’t know for sure, but I doubt if there were any Zeitlins reporting on Penn sports before that time. We had a talented staff then, including Fred Walters C’53, who helped start all-news radio in Philadelphia; Jim Kensil C’52, who became president of the New York Jets; and Frank Dolson W’54, who became a long-serving sports editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Arnold Zeitlin C’53, Centreville, VA

Early Decision Was a Good One 

A recent letter [Sep|Oct 2019] proposed eliminating the early decision program because it favors more advantaged students, who either know how to better navigate the admissions process or are the children of Penn alumni. The assumption is that this pool of applicants is less diverse and more economically advantaged than the regular decision applicant.

Back in 1985 I applied early decision. My foster parents, staunchly middle class and having attended state and private universities in the south, were out of their element. A foster child applying to an Ivy League school was a first for them. But they supported my process completely. They took me to my interviews and financial aid meetings, and thoroughly proofed my application. 

My high school guidance counselor wasn’t much help. After reviewing my SAT scores, he simply said, “looks like you have a lot of a choices.” That was it. And my high school coach worried about me going to a school like Penn. He favored Bucknell, believing it would be less of a cultural shock. I understood his point and know he had the best of intentions. 

Who recommended early decision? None other than Penn! The admissions officer was very kind. She tried to fill the inherent knowledge gap. All the admissions and financial aid staff made me feel like I belonged just like everyone else, and it was this person who advocated for an early decision application, which my foster parents supported.

It feels uninformed to assume that early decision solely or predominantly favors the advantaged—the children of alumni and the well advised. Before rushing to judgement, it would be wise to collect some actual facts. Can the Gazette provide data on early decision applicants? I wouldn’t be surprised if the early decision pool more closely mirrors the general population than many may think.

Ian Juliano W’90 C’91, Atlanta

In Debate, “Opposite Ends” Too Close

I was not present at the debate at Penn Hillel between Bret Stephens and Peter Beinart, and therefore cannot comment on the report of it in the Gazette [“Gazetteer,” Jul|Aug 2019].

However, I wish to comment on the description of them as “thought leaders on opposite ends of the Jewish American political spectrum.” To have a true debate on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, Penn Hillel should have brought someone who is against a two-state solution and is therefore, truly on the “opposite end” of the Jewish American political spectrum. The selection of debaters who both believe in a two-state solution assumes that there is no such group who believes in a one-state solution, obviously incorrect, and leaves the debate between two persons on the same side of the fence with different outlooks, minor or major.

Albert Goldis MtE’58, HaShamron, Israel

Van Dyke’s Message 

I enjoyed reading Marian Sandmaier’s article about her interview with Dick Van Dyke when she was a young journalist and he was at the apex of his career [“Alumni Voices,” May|Jun 2019]. Van Dyke was so respectful and kind to her, with an important message to share about his hidden struggles.

Meryl Weiss C’79 GEd’84, New York

Green Godfrey Recipe Wanted

Whenever I am back at Penn, it is always the absence of the old Eatery in the Christian Association that I miss most. I’ve always wondered if someone might have compiled some of the recipes or else perhaps reverse-engineered the recipes on his own. What I am most anxious to recover is how to make the Green Godfrey yogurt salad dressing. It was substantially just organic Bulgarian yogurt with herbs and spices and probably some finely diced cucumbers or other vegetables. Of course, most of the recipes would have been very basic hippie cuisine that would not be hard for an experienced cook to figure out … but I’ve never figured out the particular way that the CA made that dressing! There is a bottled Green Goddess dressing (I always thought the Green Godfrey name was a play on words from the bottled dressing), but it’s just not the same.

Lee Joffe W’74, San Antonio

Send replies to [email protected] and we’ll be happy to pass them along.—Ed.

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